Friday, August 13, 2004

A Shell of History, Room for Experience  

The Poe House tour was brilliant because it called nothingness into question. Tom utilized the nothing as an opportunity for us to envision something (with some directional pointers from our tour guide, of course). In a time of information overload & mental fatigue, the Big Nothing made space for us to envision the amazing and/or ridiculous.

The imaginary PowerPoint presentation displayed important Poe-related figures on a blank & crumbling wall. Some were stately gentlemen with high collars & strong chins. Others had a sense of madness about them- with their unkempt beards & wild hair, staring back at us with murder in their eyes. There never was an image on the wall, only Tom's verbal suggestion & the crowd's memory/vision gumbo.

In one small room, the crowd squeezed in against the walls. Once everyone settled in & quiet fell, Devaney said "In this room, nothing happened at all." We filed out the narrow doorway in single file. I walked up the staircase creating my own narrative history of the room we'd just left. In a house filled with genius & illness, tenderness, suffering & rage- something had to happen in that room. "Nothing happened" equals nothing was recorded. We were graciously left to our own senses to reconfigure experience by dropping the tug-of war rope of present/past. We walked away from the mud puddle of history fueled with our imaginations, in search of a new game.

Frank Sherlock

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