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2005 03 31
Empire of Bricks - 2
imageActually I have a few brick image memories come to think of it. But this early, early memory has set me on a bit of a mild quest. I say mild because I don’t do any kind of active research I just take mental notes when I come across a bit that adds somehow to the image, the understanding, a kind of passive research, I suppose. This image has to do with a bricked street. It’s in some part of the city where there’s a little geography. Its an uphill curve. I don’t know why I think of it as uphill when I suppose it could just as easily be thought of as downhill. It may have to do with an adjustment to the memory when I was told years later that a few hilly streets in Toronto were bricked so that horses could get traction as they hauled wagons uphill. I am loath to admit at this point that I actually have a memory or two of milk being delivered by horse and wagon. The scary edge of this particular pastoral memory has been somewhat dulled recently when I learned that during wartime, to save on fuel some delivery had reverted to horsepower and that the practice continued for quite a while after the war had ended. I think the delivery people became quite attached to the pace and the fact that they were inadvertent local heroes mobbed as they were by children trying to feed and pet the horses and pestering the driver to choose some one fortunate child among the gaggle to help with the reins for a portion of the route. At any rate I think we must have been visiting cousins in the east end perhaps the beaches. There are certain streets in those neighbourhoods that seem to have that same combination of hilly and curved. Wherever these streets are, I imagine that the bricks are still under the asphalt. That would have been the most cost effective way to deal with changing traction requirements.

In the Gutenberg Galaxy McLuhan was working out ideas about literary and pre literary conceptions of time The discrete units of the alphabetic mode relate somehow but I’m not quite ready to understand it intellectually I first want to indulge my poetic connection between bricks and memory. Here’s McLuhan:

Homogeneity, uniformity, repeatability, these are basic component notes of a visual world newly emergent from an audile-tactile matrix. Such components the Greeks used as a bridge from present to past, but not from present to future. Van Groningen writes: “The Greek knows and the oriental knows not, how uncertain the future is; an undisturbed past and a prosperous present are in no way a guarantee of a happy future. So we can only value a human life . . . when it has become a complete past, at man’s death, as with Tellus the Athenian.”
[email this story] Posted by Bernie Miller on 03/31 at 08:04 AM

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