Lately when I take a walk at night I have the impression that I am walking down a massive set of stairs and that my arms are softly flapping a small pair of cheap novelty chicken wings. I could be walking uphill and the sensation is still the same. My arms swing in their usual day-metered rhythm still the sensation sneaks in somewhere between the truth of the motion and consciousness of the movement. I have no memory to link this to. I do not recall ever dressing as a bird and walking down a huge set of stairs at night but the impression is there, assembled from a diverse array of physical or muscle memories.
Some time ago, I was living in Washington Heights where a huge set of stairs are set and connect to 181st street. Down those stairs to the subway each morning and up those stairs home each night. They were massive and made of concrete. The paint long worn away from the steel tubing that ran as rails up the center and sides of the stairs. Climbing one morning, after grabbing coffee and the Times, my hand idly gliding above the rail, the oxidation and subsequent polish by hand oils of the steel reminded me of a piece of playground equipment from my elementary school that blurred with a kind of polygonal climbing structure from a park I used to play at and the two seemed inseparable until my hand grazed an overgrown bush and I recalled a hedge I used to pass every day that was filled with little pumpkin shaped berries. There was a scent of spice and dusty wood that the hedge emitted. I realized then that I had been living in Manhattan in the same location for over five years and that the duration of my stay was second only to the house I grew up in and how little prepared I was upon leaving home for the constant transition that would mark my life in college and after. A welter of memories unlocked there and I stared emptily at the overgrown bush. I was alone on the massive stairs but could sense the city's eye on me, but I stayed still there and seemed to cache the memories there- that bush, some unnamed city shrub that grows despite all odds out of arsenic, cigarette butts and urine, became an outpost - a lobby for my long gone home.
The method of loci is a mnemonic aid credited to Simonides of Ceos. Simonides was a poet known for his odes to Castor and Pollux. Castor and Pollux were mythic twins born from a giant egg laid by Leda after she was raped by Zeus. Zeus was a swan that time. Other times he was other animals. One time he was a shower of gold. Some versions have Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra as co-incubants in Leda's egg. Castor was mortal and Pollux was immortal, but when Castor was killed, Pollux made a deal with Zeus. They would split Pollux's immortality. As a result, the twins split their time between Elysium and Hades.
In 2005, scientists discovered that the hippocampus houses a type of neuron that controls spatial location, called a grid cell. The grid cells are so named because if you connect the center of their firing fields they create a triangular grid. Images of this grid look a little bit like a flattened segment of a geodesic dome. Early in his talk, Everything I know, Buckminster Fuller describes how the triangle is nature's essential structure, that is, how anything in nature can be broken down into a finite number of triangles. That the triangle provides an irreducible stability. Likewise, scientists claim that grid cells in essence project a Euclidian space upon our environment, that as we plot our way through any given space a neural grid lights up and guides us forward. We naturally triangulate.
Female seahorses spray their eggs into the male. The male fertilizes the eggs and carries them in a pouch until they're term.
A woman with a dress like a lost book of the bible, the book of stars, billowed by on an August morning breeze. This coolness is temporary but it calls out the signal changes soon to come. The light is changing. The sliver that cuts down Maiden Ln and bounces off of tower 4 has shifted by a degree that reduces the ambient refraction on the eastern bank of Broadway. A second beam from the east still creeps up Maiden Lane on a delay. The zip that people cross on the east bank of Church street has moved further west, lengthened past the point where I can catch the gap in the shadow. The light is starting to shed some of its summer leavening. The weight and scorch of July is all but lost within a given ray. Though the heat has returned, it has be born out differently- a trapped heat, a leftover heat, fuming down from the upper dome of the atmosphere laden with vaporous cargo.
It will be hard to forget how merciful an August evening can be in Brooklyn. The trees that line the street, mostly plane trees, have grown lusty from the sun and rain. The leaves, heavy and thick, lace above the street to form a tunnel of green. Prospect Park lies ahead. In the tumble down dusk the shadows of the park's shaggy trees pulsate with all of the life missing from the hot cement streets, where the day's last heat radiates out leaving only a perfect cool respite. The city's details dimmed down to points of artificial light.
As I pass each plane tree on my walk towards the park, the space between the nearest trees becomes apparent and while the tree from afar still look like a continuous canopy, the nearness reveals the character. Just as when we look up with our naked eyes and the stars appear to be little more than pin points, with a telescope the difference that distance hides is revealed. When looking to the past the events all cluster and it may seem for a moment that they disappear into single swathe of time, but taking a walk can open things back up.