The Past is Nothing New

My Dad was a theoretical physicist, and was always open to answering any questions that I had. I owe my father a great debt of gratitude for his voracious appetite for life. Some of that rubbed off.

I am reminded of him because I just found something interesting in one of my journals from 1993.

“My Art Philosophy” by Jack Davis

The old physicists used to think that if you know the starting mass, force and position of every particle at the instant of the big bang, you could predict the future. By the same token if you know your current emotional state: your urges, loves and hates, you can follow them back and recapture the past.

How Newtonian of me. This statement does indicate, however, that my fascination with the past is not a new thing.

A talk with Mom

In the same journal, a few pages before “My Art Philosophy”, I found notes about a conversation I had with Mom.

November 25, 1993

I had a wonderful talk with Mom. … Sometimes when I talk to her about the past, and about Mike [my older autistic, nonverbal, low functioning brother], I get this feeling of timelessness, like it is a conversation, the last word of which was spoken 30 years before and we both remember and are continuing as if it was the next breath. As if I have been inhaling during all that time and exhale in relief to know that she was there and knows what I know and I don’t have to explain. I think I know what she knows and can be another person who understands her struggle more than anyone.

She told me the story again of how hard it was to live with Mike and how hard it was to place him out and how no one would take a little boy with multiple handicaps. And how she was totally out of her reserve energy and how they finally had to get Mike out of the house…

Mom said she knew that they had kept Mike home to the detriment of the other children. I told her the story about L___ and how he went to Willowbrook at the age of 5 and could talk a little when he went in, but not when he came out. She said she knew that it was better for Mike that he stayed home as long as he did.

She said that she became hard and callused after a while with Mike; that [my book project about Mike] is a project that I have to do; she’d like to read it; that she might cry, but she could take it.

She said that if Dad didn’t agree [after reading my book] he would tell me. He stopped his sulking habit a while ago, she said. She said she thinks it’s wonderful that I am continuing to work on this project.

Time capsule

“My Art Philosophy” is a message sent to me by the ‘me’ of 20 years ago. Time capsules are meant to show how attitudes and styles change over the years. How boring is it to find that not much has changed with me. I’m still mining the past. I do take comfort knowing that Dad inspired me to looking for the causes of things and Mom showed me how to deal with things as they are.

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