Friday, October 7, 2011

Szymborska and note-taking

I once had to speak formally about the Denys Arcand movie "The Barbarian Invasions". Latent fastidiousness, was it, that got me to watch the movie four times before I spoke? The more times I watched it, the less I had to say, and after the last viewing I had only a few disembodied phrases I felt were still worth stating. These had mostly to do with how the film, whose culminating message was one of death/friendship/nostalgia, combined different forms of humour to pleasing effect.

The take-home lesson of this experience, for me, was that if one is to repeat something under the belief that this will somehow deliver "more meaning", documentation is quite crucial. I ought to have recorded my feelings subsequent to each viewing of the film. I ought, maybe, to have listed the extent to which a word, a scene, or a face, appeared intricately different each time it was encountered. The extent, I mean, of filigree. 

Today I read a poem by Wislawa Szymborska that made me think that perhaps each day is worth some kind of note-taking. Notions of calendrical time must be misleading at least insofar as the suggestion that each day is a repetition of the one before it because each is comprised of the same number of hours (minutes, seconds).

This is the poem.

Nothing Twice

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice. 

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once. 

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses. 

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent. 

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock? 

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow. 

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
--