Jewish World Review August 5, 2013/ 29 Menachem-Av, 5773
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My soul is in the streets
Not the greedy streets
jostling with crowds and traffic,
but the neighborhood streets
where nothing is happening,
almost invisible by force of habit,
rendered eternal in the dim light of sunset,
and the ones even farther out,
empty of comforting trees,
where austere little houses scarcely venture,
overwhelmed by deathless distances,
losing themselves in the deep expanse
of sky and plains.
Some places are empty not because what was there is gone, but because nothing was ever there. Other places present legendary ruins that never fail to move us. Still others have been replaced by cities of the same name but changed to such extent that what gave them character is gone, never to be retrieved except in memory and imagination. And then there are the places that never took shape outside some developer's failed plans and ambition.
Such a place is the Villages of San Luis, a grand dream of suburban living outside of
You can almost hear the guitars and stamping feet in the background as you read the names of the roads that never lived up to them: the boulevards Salinas de Hidalgo and San Luis. Olé! But all is quiet here. There are not even any ghosts, for this place has no past. And an uncertain future. By now the dream has gone through Chapter 7 bankruptcy and, like
The largely empty development is covered with a poignancy as thick as the dust. There is nothing to be heard but the quiet. In a field far down the road, cattle are lowing. The straggly lots stretch into the deep expanse of Borges' deathless distances. Such a place cannot be said to have died. For it never lived.
Other places live only in remembrance and literature. For their successors bear no real resemblance to the cities that once occupied their locales and cast their spell there. Think of Cosmopolitan Alexandria, which by now has become the standard term for that period of its history somewhere between the construction of the
"At night when the wind roars and the child sleeps quietly in its wooden cot by the echoing chimney-piece I light a lamp and limp about, thinking of my friends -- of Justine and Nessim, or Melissa and Balthazar. I return link by link along the iron chains of memory to the city which we inhabited so briefly together: the city which used us as its flora -- precipitated in us conflicts which were hers and which we mistook for our own: beloved
Not that the face of the beloved is that of some perfectly coiffed beauty: "Streets that run back from the docks with their tattered rotten supercargo of houses, breathing into each others' mouths, keeling over. Shuttered balconies swarming with rats. ... I wish I could imitate the self-confidence with which Justine threaded her way through these streets toward the café where I waited for her ... and smiling at her I inhaled the warm summer perfume of her dress and skin--a perfume which was called, I don't know why,
One can imagine, but would prefer not to, what
"I have found myself wondering what Durrell would have said about
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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