November 26, 2004
Another explorer

I was never a Lethem fan, but then on the plane read his piece "Speak, Hoty-Schermerhorn" in the December Harper's, the best meditation on place I've read for a long time (and better in whole than in part).

“ spying at Hoyt-Schermerhorn triggers a rustle of disquiet. I’m not here for a trian. What I’m trying to do maybe can’t be done: inhabit and understand the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station as a place. Worse, I’m trying to remember it, to restore it to its home in time. There’s no greater perversity, since a subway is a sinkhole of destroyed and thwarted time. By standing here trying to remember Hoyt-Schermerhorn I’ve only triggered its profoundest resistance: I’m using it wrong.

Yet I’m stubborn. This was my first subway memory, the tunnel, those ruined Loeser’s windows. I’ve returned to reclaim the seed of a lifelong romance, a New Yorker’s typical romance with our limitless secret neighborhood, the one running beneath all the others. Nothing subsequent, not The Warriors, or my own feeble crimes, can displace this memory’s primacy or fade its color. I held my mother’s hand. I was being taken to her office, in Manhattan. Perhaps it was a day off from school, I don’t know. I rode the subway for the first time I can recall, but I don’t remember the train. I remember the station.”

Posted by dbrown at November 26, 2004 11:20 PM
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