The Social Life of Ruins
blank spaces, imagined as continuous.
the centuries, hemmed in and packed
to the times before.
the cycle that began terra nullius,
between the fragile writing,
ruins and abandons.
We created new vacancies
because they involve some sort of trespass.
as negative spaces depicted as
negative spaces or scenes of negative value,
ruins are negative, even if
tracts of abandoned land are left behind,
consciously or unconsciously.
this is the melancholy
storm. This is.
In my own memorial ruins,
often described as abandoned and unkempt,
I excavate to make use of wild gardens and yards,
a gap-toothed ghetto of narrow alleys,
poor suburbs in the form of
children’s toys and feasting pits.
I am ruination and vacancy.
Exceptions to the rule:
I am in the strata, in the end being
evidence of the speculative nature of the process;
I am fenced off;
I am outside the total institution of the
much less official land;
I am aligned along the landscape of neglect
and at least two periods of abandonment and dereliction.
Archaeologically and stratigraphically,
there is a small but growing clearing for
livable houses, room for new
ruins and vacancies. My ruins,
left vacant and abandoned amid the fury
of interpretations, are those which the garden was.
Note how living in small neighborhoods looks.
Notes on the Poems
The poems were extracted from the essay “Clockpunk Anthropology and the Ruins of Modernity” by Dr. Shannon Lee Dawdy, published in Current Anthropology, Vol 51, No 6 (December 2010), p 761-793. The poem titles are taken from the section titles in Ms. Dawdy’s article and the contents of each poem were taken from their respective sections in the article.