Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

New York City. Sunset: 6:30pm. A new moon. Heavy clouds and damp air, a high of 66 and a low of 57 degrees. My father would have turned 73 today, and I still do not know how to mark days like this, which I suppose is why I work on projects like After the End: the need for ceremony, for some patchwork kind of faith. This afternoon I went to the museum and sat among the busted statues from antiquity, and I felt so damned lucky that I had the chance to get to know my father in his last year, that we were no longer baffled by one another, which is too often the case with fathers and sons. I wish we had more time, and once again I found myself reciting these instructions from Epictetus: do not say something is lost, only that it is returned.

Although they were two thousand years old, these broken marble bodies from the Hellenic age felt illustrative of our current moment: an exhausted and fractured dignity amidst the decay of modern living. As I moved through the galleries, I listened to Lawrence English’s Observation of Breath, which captures the respiration of a 132-year-old pipe organ, a sound that reminded me of my father’s machines as the two of us sat in a small room, waiting for a lung. And the sheer miracle of being here, right now, and simply breathing.

Lawrence English – The Torso

Observation of Breath | Hallow Ground, 2021 | Bandcamp

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