9 January 2002 the eternal return

13:53: Outdoor cafe. Sunny morning, misty sky, the air is cold and almost still. Warm enough to open my coat while walking - but now that I'm sitting still I'll button it up.

On the way here I felt somewhat weak at first but, as often happens, I felt energetic after walking for twenty minutes (a mile or 1.5 kilometres).

I passed five humans in the top hats, frock coats, bustles, etc. of 1840 or so and I asked them how they liked being in the twentieth century (forgetting that it's now the twenty-first). They replied in the spirit of my play and told me they were Chartists and that they were waiting for a carriage (and also for the camera crew - they are taking part in a documentary... that would be a new word for them...) As I write this I realise that Henry James was born about 1840 - and so was one of my grandfathers. My father was born in 1880.

Before setting out I'd begun to re-read Mircea Eliade's The Eternal Return* and was astonished to realise that that tribal conception of time (not as linear but as repetition of times already experienced, but changed) is close to what I am exploring in the internet and everyone (especially in letter 25) and in these notes - and more recently in afternature.

On looking out from the train I was pleased and surprised to find that I was suddenly seeing everything anew, as new creation, or as if I too am a visitor from another time. I felt, and still feel, invigorated, enlivened, inspired.

Some of this may come of my having consulted the runes (on waking this morning to a sense of having lost my way in life). The rune (18 upright) told me to recover contact with my intuitions - and this I did by giving myself permission to abandon various external aims and obligations and to stay in bed reading Eliade, and then dozing (for that was what my intuitions were wanting)!

While I was writing all that a robin came within 40 centimetres of my hands to eat the crumbs left on my plate. As it dipped its beak, to eat, its wings vibrated rapidly. Was this to maintain balance or to be extra ready for take-off from a dangerous situation? Perhaps both.

I feel as if I am at a real turning point in my life and thought (in all these time-changing incidents)... but just now I'm too cold to continue...

On my way back I found that two of the people from 1840 were sitting in a cab drawn by a grey horse and they were holding piles of yellow documents, bound in red tape. They were too busy to speak to... I was brought up to dislike Victorian things - my mother had the spirit of the nineteen-twenties and thirties. I felt this dislike again as I looked at this re-enacted piece of history... To me the nineteenth century was a time of false pomp and economic slavery.

* Mircea Eliade, The Myth of Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History, Bollingen Series XLVI, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. 1971.

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(c) 2002 john chris jones

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