Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Well-Written (About) Rubbish

I just read a fantastic essay on rubbish by the novelist, Margaret Drabble. At age 69, I doubt Ms. Drabble is doing gymnastics, but she sure does back flips with the English language. Here are some niblits from her essay on rubbish, written around the holidays, as well as some photos from London.

Drabble writes:
There are days when I feel my only achievement has been a successful trip to the recycling centre. It's an age thing. "The waste remains, the waste remains and kills," as William Empson insisted in perhaps his best known villanelle, Missing Dates. We need to get it out of the system. At the end of the year, it weighs more heavily upon us. Christmas means rubbish, piles of rubbish. Cardboard, paper, polystyrene, bubble wrap, plastic, the withering leaves of sprouts and the scraggy bones of poultry and the scrapings of grease and the indestructible shreds of tinsel - they disgust us, they depress us. The memory of six weeks without refuse collection at the end of 1973 haunts my generation, and so does the three-day week that followed. These events brought down a government. We fear a recurrence of disaster. We fear the clogging of the arteries, the overflowing tip, the choking planet, the slow march of death.
A bit grim, but she makes it work.

I can relate to her satisfaction in visiting a recycling center. I didn't own up to it in my prior post, but one of my highlights of the Christmas holidays was digging a hole in the backyard of our rented house so my family could compost. I was in a beautiful setting surrounded by loved ones, and my favorite part was digging a hole in the sandy earth? Sometimes I wonder about myself.

To that end, here is another quote from Ms. Drabble:
My finest acquisition in 2008 was a green fox-proof beehive-shaped Swedish compost bin. I love it inordinately, which is, I know, a little sad.
I think I need to meet this lady. Maybe she is a glimpse of my future self. Maybe she is a glimpse of my current self (with better vocabulary).

Here is the link to the entire essay, titled, "There's no such place as away."

[photos: recycling centre in London; Meredith holding up domino phone booths; Seth doing a backhanded glass recycling maneuvre]

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