Sidewalks of New York
February 3, 2020

Seeing

One of those days when the moon is perfectly visible in an empty blue sky. It’s unseasonably warm for February in New York. Riding the train along the Harlem River, I finished the last pages of Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, a stunning book dedicated to the artist Robert Irwin’s singleminded quest to understand awareness and presence. Of attending to the world. Asked in 2008 if technology will enhance our sense of perception, he responded: “The point is to get people to peel those visors off their faces, to remove the goggles, to abandon the screens. Those whose very purpose is to screen the world out. Who cares about virtuality when there’s all this reality—this incredible, inexhaustible, insatiable, astonishing reality—present all around!”

His enthusiasm is infectious. Walking down street tonight, I find myself paying closer attention to shadow and light, reminding myself that yes, this is plenty. This is more than enough.

Meanwhile in Iowa, the first caucus is underway for the 2020 election. Citizens clump together in the corners of gymnasiums and cafeterias, waving signs for their favorite candidate while reporters explain the byzantine logic for assigning delegates. It’s a portrait of American democracy: needlessly complicated spectacle, even in a recreation center in Des Moines. The television babbles through the night about “the viability threshold” and “the realignment procedure” like some kind of bad science fiction.

Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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