i’m living history. and time is getting faster.

Dear Cettefemme,

So many things… where to start.

My friend J came to stay a couple of weekends ago. I was telling her about an article I’d read in the 2nd–15th February edition of The Big Issue, where the author had been taking photos of decaying shop signs in his neighbourhood, prior to the buildings being demolished, and in the process had met an old lady who remembered what all the shops had been when she was a little girl. The encounter had been magic but reading the article I’d felt nothing at all, except a vague sense of impatience to get to the end. I was almost angry about the exquisite piece of writing he could have created, but didn’t. How much he could have made me think and feel, but didn’t. Though there was one sentence I loved: “It’s as if the woman is picking up pieces of a jigsaw and showing them to me”. Then J told me about a website she’d discovered that showed the work of a photographer called Sergei Larenkov, who has overlaid photos of modern-day St Petersburg with photos taken during the Siege of Leningrad. Examples can be found here and here. Astonishing. If only I could scratch away at the surface and find the living history on my own city streets.

Which brings me to a quote by William Faulkner that I found by accident yesterday: “The past isn’t dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” I haven’t had time to even start thinking about the implications of what that means, or researching the context in which he said it, so I think you’ll be hearing more about that from me later.

I read Jeanette Winterson’s Tanglewreck last week. It was exciting to discover that a writer I love is interested in the physics of time, and has used those scientific ideas as the basis for what is such a good story. I recognised loads of the science but learnt about new things too: wave functions and entanglement. I think I need to read a book about quantum physics. (An easy book. Written for the lay person.) And she had some wonderful images/metaphors: entering a building via the past (absolute genius), and reality being like a series of radio stations all available on the dial at once – a brilliant description not just for alternate realities but, to expand further in a direction that interests me, for the all the different moments of our lives. I’m going to read this book again.

And to end on a scientific note, I read yesterday that the the Chilean earthquake from last weekend has shortened Earth’s days. As did the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. Time is going faster. What does that mean?

Hope all is good with you. Lots of love,


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