Palimpsest

     In Palimpsest, Ben, in his sixties, speaks to us from his study at night, defining palimpsest as “dark scribblings, half erased, partially obscured by later scribblings,” equating them with love as a collage of superimposed images of past lovers creating unexpected meanings.  He realizes that “every love is a mosaic made of fragments of old loves,” the only constant being his pain, his being alone in a reality that has no relationship to what he desires or loves.  He says he is driving a friend on New Year’s Eve through a blizzard.  His friend, a 26-year-old Mexican woman, is “absolutely enchanted” by the snow while he is trying to keep the car on the icy road.  “Analogy,” Ben says, “is the key, to thought and to creation.”  When the woman asks if he believes in anything, he says he is drawn to animism, the sense that everything around us is alive.  He tells us he is driving her to the airport so she can spend New Year’s Eve with someone she loves.  “For a moment,” he says, “I am in touch with what I have felt in other lives.  Women I have loved.  Some now dead.  There are layers and layers.  The snow falls.  The spirits are all around us.  We move through them in silence, like a dream.”

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