W. S. Di Piero: “On Neighborhoods” – A Symposium on Neighborhoods

1960s: Days of Rage

49th Street at Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia

“In Hardy’s ‘The Self-Unseeing,’ he visits the remains of his childhood home and recalls where the door was, how the floor felt, how his mother sat ‘staring into the fire’ while her fiddler husband ‘bowed it higher and higher.’ The last two bittersweet lines, ‘Everything glowed with a gleam / Yet we were looking away,’ remind him they couldn’t possibly have been aware of the harmonious moment while living it. They were oblivious, happily so. The moment is what the poem tries to catch up on. We’re always late for consciousness, neuroscientists say. And there are durations and degrees of lateness. When conversations turn to the trials of keeping up with the accelerated present, I say I’m still trying to keep up with the past. If you grow up in a concentrated, tribal, old-style working-class neighborhood, as I did, you’re in the dream and…

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