The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 23rd, 2013

shimmers weirdly

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

note: I’m moving around the time at which NP posts will arrive, and will be for the next couple of weeks. Daily updates are still coming, just not at the predictable 12:15 a.m. There’s a lot of “under the hood” reasons for this, and necessary, sorry for the inconvenience. Best bet is to subscribe to the blog in the box at the upper right hand corner of the page. No spam, I promise.

Lost as always in self referential spirals of shame and sorrow, your humble narrator has found himself drawn into and subjected to Manhattan over and over during the course of the last several months (which has been referred to a few times in recent postings).

Nepenthe has been found in using the East River Ferry to translocate between boroughs, rather than suffering within the sweating concrete and tiled corridors of an underground light rail system, powered by electrical means, which is simply referred to as the “Subway” whose best quality is discovered when one encounters its exit.

That particular sense of sacred rapture men say they experience in contemplating nature- I’ve never received it from nature, only from. Buildings, Skyscrapers. I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pest-hole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window – no, I don’t feel how small I am – but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.

– from The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (1943)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Truly, I should never leave this place. When l’m near, the fires of a thousand suns ignite in my heart, whose timorous action quickens in response. Even the Megalith of Long Island City, and that unspeakable thing which cannot possibly exist in its cupola, stirs a warm sense of nostalgic yearning and a feeling of familial homecoming within me. What can I say, other than that the only place where a creature like me seems to make any sense is within the confines of the Newtown Pentacle?

The heaviest burden: “What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!’ If this thought were to gain possession of you, it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “do you want this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?.

– from Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For one such as myself, the only place one can actually hope to call home might be the  lamentable and oft commented upon tributary of a river which is not a river called the Newtown Creek, a place which is neither good nor bad but rather just “is.” This is where I belong.

The opinions of the masses are of no interest to me, for praise can truly gratify only when it comes from a mind sharing the author’s perspective. There are probably seven persons, in all, who really like my work; and they are enough. I should write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression. I could not write about “ordinary people” because I am not in the least interested in them. Without interest there can be no art. Man’s relations to man do not captivate my fancy. It is man’s relation to the cosmos—to the unknown—which alone arouses in me the spark of creative imagination. The humanocentric pose is impossible to me, for I cannot acquire the primitive myopia which magnifies the earth and ignores the background. Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty. Like the late Mr. Wilde, “I live in terror of not being misunderstood.”

– H.P. Lovecraft, “The Defence Remains Open!” (April 1921), published in “Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 53.”

Also: Upcoming Tours!

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

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