The Art of Losing Isn’t Hard To Master

A friend from long ago posted some pictures of me & others (circa 1975) on Facebook recently that really, as they say, brought the memories flooding back. For many reasons -- some of which I'm aware of & some probably not -- I have been the sort of person who leaves people behind, a trait I have often regretted, but never managed to change. Perhaps I have been too selfish to exert the effort to maintain friendship across time & space. Perhaps I have wanted to preserve my memories without the complexities of present time. An only child, I have always tended to be secretive & emotionally distant, I think. The internet, though, has provided something I never could have expected, putting me back in touch with people going back to when I was 14 years old. Here is a picture with Mady Lund, taken by Jim Cervantes in 1976 -- it captures an era & for me at least a whole universe of feeling.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Losing Isn’t Hard To Master”

  1. joseph, i don’t think the moving on is due to some personal style or “failing” as you seem to think. i remember lawrence fixel (around the time a handful of years before he died at 86 and was quoting Tennyson’s “Ulysses”) saying about forgotten and then renewed friendships/ acquaintances that it didn’t refer to harm but that we are in passing worlds that intersect for a time and then we more on in our own little bubbles and then sometimes drift through eachother’s orbits again. and we wonder he would maunder somewhat as i do now about if there might have been some problem and what may have happened. and it seemed to him strange at first that we would renew our friendship as if nothing had happened. (that’s how the “orbits passing” theory of his began: how we pass through other’s orbits, stay awhile, and drift through and away.) (i had had my own theory if “theory” it could be elevated to that “we grown, sometimes we grow together” as if maybe tree limbs crossed or somesuch nature-driven explanation.)
    looking back we find threads that don’t explain the whole picture but rather some events or series of actions we take for the whole (as when when i went to see Children Of Paradise less than a decade after i’d seen it in Washington, D.C. in the mid-60 and been indelibly affected and would recall it as if visually replaying it. then in san francisco in the early to mid-70’s richard steger said that that film was his favorite, we went to see it together. and WOW! what i’d been replaying in my conscious memory was only the parts with the mime and his public life. the rest of the bigger film i did not recall.)
    memory, recall, and how we might judge ourselves are not so very simply explained.
    yesterday i spent the afternoon over in sausalito w/the film critic john stackpole (he was the director of puppets, and i was one of them in 1971 –hand and rod puppets– in lou harrison’s YOUNG CAESAR puppett opera abt ceasar’s gay gambol with the king of bythinia) and john and i were talking about just this, he being maybe 79 or so and me 73. and we both talked about ulysses and the desire to make some new start.

    here is a related piece i’d written the day before that (i am getting so retrospective and thinking of very soon getting rid of my archives — what a connection?):

    it’s a dream. but dreams have mobility. feet have wings. the future is always happening.* ________________________
    *happiness is not vanity nor symptomatic of social deviance.
    today’s social norms become monuments to passing fashions
    (not always bemoaned either).
    past and the present are not bi-furcated styles.
    nor are the successions that we call “futures” some over-arching judgements on pasts– maybe merely “passing fancies”?


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