I’ve been off away the past few days – first on Sunday to Lake Louise. I’d like to have one of those old Canadian Pacific Railway paintings of the lake – it being a kind of arena of magnitude and textures and all kinds of whites and blues. I suspect that each image would include the Chateau Lake Louise, a thing not exactly to my taste. To me it looks a little like a cross between a prison and a yellowed wedding cake left out by some giant Miss Haversham. But beyond that, the landscape is something else.
It seems to me in the face of things like this – a wall so high that it stuns you, makes you pause – that art will never be sufficient. I suppose that’s why I try to focus my attentions on the smaller, fragmented, unlikeable, un-magestic. Or when I try to write of place, I do it with an acknowledgment that my perspective is limited to the limitlessness. Two little blue-green eyes squinting through white to rock that is older than humanity. Silence. Or taking what you can and stretching them until they break, break down. And in the space you hope others will find what you could not or could not bring yourself to write.
Up beyond the wall and the lake is the plain of the six glaciers.
I like the sky best here – though it made me dizzy. Always while I’m here in Banff I’m struggling with the task of making – how to make when I am struggling even to be. To exist without a sense of vulnerability, incorrect response. English is a language where ‘to be’ is writ into everything. There is a mountain. There is a glacier. Without another verb, the thing cannot. Be. ‘There, mountain’ is not possible without being a sentence fragment. But I’m always on the verge of fragments with this – white, ancient, and myself – small, shaky, falling over in the deep snow. So how can I settle myself long enough to make. Writing is. Writing escapes. I take a picture. It is insufficient. It just about is, and that’s all.
Perhaps my perspective is more limited than others. Perhaps my approach is through the deep snow, where others see a path (or make it themselves). Sometimes I laugh and dust myself off. Sometimes this is not a metaphor and at other times there is no is, just pages of failing, and shaking my head at my foolish self.
But for now I think, for me, it is a necessary imprecise process. that there is no make, only try – whether I knock myself for six doing it or not, that is all. I’ll fail and fail to make. I’ll make myself a missionary of my own failure and bittyness, weird takes.
Tomorrow I’ll be back again, perhaps in a lighter mood, with photos of the second trip I took. Off to be uncertainly still, for now.