... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Friday, 5 April 2019

The poignant ephemerality of dereliction

It's not putting it too strongly to say that I love decaying and derelict buildings, especially industrial ones, and especially ones that were well built, beautiful and proud in the first place. It's not the sort of love that makes you happy.
It's not that I get pleasure from seeing them in the process of ceasing to be; of dying. It actually makes me sad that that's happening, that their glory days (no matter how hard or cruel) are gone, and that soon so will they be, replaced by something bland and banal, or maybe strikingly ugly, that won't last a quarter as long. Or maybe an even worse fate, to be gutted and cleaned and made fit for consumption and occupation by the ever-so-slightly edgy...
So it's sad, but it's moving; it's stirring, and it's magnetic. That's still love. It's the romantic longing for something lost, and the safe yearning for something unattainable.

When things are gone, I can't remember them. When they are half gone, I can't remember them as they were. The awareness of this adds an urgency to my need to assimilate this frozen moment of super-slo-mo collapse.

Autistic people are supposed to be bad with change, and I think that's true up to a point. We're bad with impending change; the knowledge that change is coming throws us into a panic. But, apparently ironically, we're really good at embracing change once it's happened - and I think these are two sides of the same coin. What we can't do is handle two possible realities simultaneously - so we can't cope with the current reality alongside the possible future reality, and that makes change difficult in advance. But because we equally can't accommodate the past alongside the present, we have to let the past go, so we don't keep harking back to it and comparing present reality with it - once change has happened we just get on with the new normal.

And this, maybe, is why witnessing the process of change is a big deal for me; knowing that this state is ephemeral makes me uneasy; seeing something proud and beautiful corrupted and dying makes me sad, and angry, and I don't want to turn my back and walk away in case it's not there when I look back.
Whoah! Didn't see that flash of insight coming.


  1. Wow! Now that's set me thinking.

    And in light of the first paragraph, you really must visit The Brickworks.
    If you do, let me know in advance and I'll give you a guided tour.


    1. Thanks - that's certainly a tempting outing next time I'm in the area.