how my mortality can be insulted

I don't believe I can bear witness to [suburban] landscapes for long without feeling merely exhaused, drained, and spiritually beaten. In these places I must do all the looking, all the gazing. Because no one has ever died into such landscapes, it may be that no one can live in them, either: I don't know. I do know that as I watch my eyes pay enormous tax while the gazer inside me dies for a few moments.

This death has something to do with time. Tract housing, most suburbs, malls, and shopping centers on the perimeter of any city or town seem to wish, in their designs, to be beyond time, outside time. To stare for three hours at a Kmart is to feel myself rapidly aging, not Kmart. And this is not an experience of my own mortality, either. It is only a way of feeling how that mortality can be insulted.

- Larry Levis, from his essay "Some Notes on the Gazer Within", originally published in Field in 1986, and republished posthumously in Levis' The Gazer Within.


Chris Banks said...

Oh, man. Such a good book of essays. Masterful. Thanks for sharing this Rob.

Rob Taylor said...

Well, it was your original recommendation of Levis that got me started on this kick. So thank you!

A couple more quotes to come over the week. It was hard to narrow it down to just three...