One week into being at Vermont Studio Center, things have evolved. The edit of my manuscript is in progress, and I'm working on getting 15-20 pages in the shape I want in order to give them to Sigrid Nunez, this week's writer in residence. Sigrid is a fiction writer, whose texts seem to be memoir, but she says are really fiction. She did a reading last Thursday, and it brought to mind how the best fiction does make one question whether the writing is autobiography or is constructed. I personally think it is some of both. Jumpha Lahiri and Augusten Burroughs straddle this line (among many). If you think about visual art, the same is always true in some way; the work is more or less autobiographical depending on the creator, but if you probe a bit, the personal revelation eventually becomes evident.
One thing I have been interested in for several years is sound and the sound of places. Jane Trowell, James Marriott, and Dan Gretton, who jointly founded the artist collective Platform London, talked about this when I first met and interviewed them in 2001. One of the many walks we took in London, they pointed out how various streets had been paved (many with cobblestones) by the Romans more than 1000 years ago, right over existing rivers. Fleet Street covers part of the Fleet River, and there are various other examples of this. They described the loss of voice of those covered streams as "aphonia," and I have mused on that idea of loss of voice ever since. How we have silenced rivers; made them mute; stolen their ability to speak.
This has been brought to mind by the river that runs through the Vermont Studio Center, and happens to be directly outside the writer's studios. It is a constant auditory presence, though usually a quiet and "white noise" one. However, listen to it on this video.
PS The sound you hear is only the river.
There is a long planned construction of a new bridge over the river, which began just before we arrived last weekend. It doesn't really bother us, but this is what it looks like:
Today, the river is quieter, and this is what I saw and heard outside the window.
Last but not least:
This week's Bonus image: what is it?
Let me know and I'll tell you what it is, and what it reminds me of.