Posts Tagged ‘Sven Birkerts’

In Speak, Memory Nabokov links the memory of watching his son bring him shells and pebbles at the seashore to his own childhood experience collecting shards of pottery at the seashore.

I do not doubt that among those slightly convex chips of majolica ware found by our child there was one whose border of scrollwork fitted exactly, and continued, the pattern of a fragment I had found in 1903 on the same shore, and that the two tallied with a third my mother had found on that Mentone beach in 1882, and with a fourth piece of the same pottery that had been found by her mother a hundred years ago — and so on, until this assortment of parts, if all had been preserved, might have been put together to make the complete, the absolutely complete, bowl, broken by some Italian child, God knows where and when, and now mended by these rivets of bronze.

I love the notion of reassembling this broken piece of pottery by reassembling shards gathered over generations. Continuing with the seaside theme, I experimented with this concept in my own writing by comparing the thrill of finding sea glass during my childhood on the beaches of Cape Cod with the treasures my daughter found across the world on a beach in Australia.

‘Look,’ Corinne says pointing at thousands of tiny shells that have been washed ashore, ‘We’re rich!’

Indeed the beach is filled with an assortment of miniature conch shells, about the size of Corinne’s baby toe. Mother Nature has given them patterns detailed enough for a man’s suit — herringbone, tweed and plaid.

I look down at my daughter’s white-blond curls and the newly sprouted freckles sprinkled across her nose and it feels as if I’m looking back at myself on Nauset Beach, oceans and years away. We bend down to start collecting her little treasures. We share the most beautiful ones with each other before tossing them into my overturned baseball cap. I wonder how Corinne will choose to display them when we get home? On a shelf, like I used to do? In a tiny box. Probably more likely.

Thanks to Sven Birkert’s for pointing out Nabokov’s obsession with joining what appear to be scattered elements of time in, The Art of Time in Memoir

Read Full Post »