Friday, December 4, 2015

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Boston's Quilt have a new album, Plaza, coming out early next year, and as per custom have released an early track, Eliot Street, titled, I presume, for the street of the same name in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.  If so, it's a fitting title, as a sense of wistful nostalgia and longing pervades the song, perhaps evoking the band's memories of the neighborhood, or their childhood, their adolescence, or romantic entanglements of the past.

Like Proust's Remembrance of Things Past before it, David Foster Wallace's encyclopaedic novel Infinite Jest, set in Boston, consists of fragments from various years written under wildly differing circumstances.  Toward the end of Time Regained, Proust compared his work to that of a seamstress sewing a dress made from disparate pieces already cut to form, or who was patching a dress in tatters. In a similar way, both novels are made from fragments that had to be pieced together in order to preserve a psychological truth.  Both authors were constructing figurative quilts, just as Quilt (see what I did there?) conjures composite impressions of Eliot Street. 

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