18 November 2010
13 the haunting
we are trying to write about the south. sensei and i. it is not an easy thing and we do not want to do it.
we are sitting in the naked lady bar talking about the south when dananator says again that this is what we must write about. when she asks why we cannot, we launch into faulty metaphors that lead nowhere but that same phrase we've said before. we shake our heads and, with the resignation of celebrities justifying their hijinx to matt lauer, we say again, you don't know. dana, you just don't know.
sensei is our source for all things japanese. dananator has read something about the japanese suicide forest and she asks him about it. she is referring to aokigahara, an inaccessible stretch of rugged land in which people disappear to die. the part that gets her is that most of them are never found. they are lost forever in the woods.
when sensei talks about how the bodies swing from the trees, dananator shudders. she says, i do not want to confront extant remains.
she says this and i laugh. because it reminds me of home.
the south is riddled with extant remains.
a statue of nathan bedford forrest sits atop his grave in memphis. the mayor has, on several occasions, interceded to prevent it from being taken down.
the first african american mayor of memphis protecting a monument to the man who created the ku klux klan.
carnton mansion is famous for having had the bodies of four confederate generals laid out on its front porch following the battle of franklin, in which there were 8,578 casualties.
according to their website, you can get married at carnton and treat your guests to "a true back-in-time experience," bloodstains and all.
sensei has very aptly likened the south to a haunted house. he has made the observation that "the history of the South is a tragedy, written in blood and shadow, and it’s hard sometimes to not feel like a bit of that’s settled on our sleeves like a thin layer of dust."
i would argue this is the crux of the problem. we should have cleaned that shit out long ago. this blood and shadow that has settled on our sleeves. the stains on our porches. the statues in our yards.
instead, we let it sit, let it fester, like the broken plastic lawn chairs and abandoned big wheels and discarded toilets that liter the yards along highway 371. so that it is no longer an eyesore but a part of the landscape.
it is no longer an eyesore.
it is a part of the landscape.
we no longer even see that it is there.
dananator wants us to write about this. she asks why we cannot.
if the american high school education system were a thing in which one could put one's faith, i would assume everyone has read "a rose for emily" and say that dananator is asking us to pull an emily grierson.
but i don't know if you have read it. you may not have any idea what that means.
and so, instead, i will say this.
we are sitting in a haunted house, sensei and i, drinking mint julips alongside extant remains. we've spent our lives being careful to stay still, not to rattle the ghosts.
dananator's asking a lot. she's asking us to dance in a room of bones.