In the end, I managed to find my way or a way out of the wastes and wandered through a time through Mile End. My stops were not plentiful. At a cellar level tea shop, I politely inspected the list of offerings for a moment before turning away. Likewise, I took a moment to compliment the owner of an organic store on her collection of powders and ground plants but came away with nothing. After a stop for iced tea in a café courtyard, I was underway again and bound for the city center. This did not stop me from admiring, along with a small strand of bystanders and a considerable knot of Orthodox Jews, a most unexpected sight across the way: a building from the facade of which there hung chains of birdcages, white, square and regular, representing, as it were, a Katherine Mansfield story taken to its perverse conclusion. I was, all the same, unable to discern their purpose nor that of the shopfront.
Treading the length of Waverly Street, I turned over in my mind such topics as were like to come to me at such times. Among them numbered lifelong reflections of a sort on which I had, over the course years, lingered and brought to a certain refinement. Consider merely those long hours during which I have dwelt on the various pieces of knowledge that will die with me, farming practices refined through the generations. I represented perhaps their last knower who found nothing fit to make of them. I concurred, as I had on other such occasions, that with selection, there was ever mortality. I pondered, perhaps somewhat desperately, that there might just as well exist states without selection. By way of example, I could only invoke a creature bereft of perception, though I could find nothing like it in the way of example. If a creature without selection existed, I would hardly recognize it as such.
From a stoop to my right, a squirrel stared at me so fixedly, straight on that I thought for the space of a minute to have been the victim of an elaborate dupe on the owner’s part. I stood, caught there in the gaze of an unseeing lump of synthetic hair and rubber. It would be difficult to capture my surprise at seeing a small muscle quiver in its leg, which was then followed by the rotation of its upper body, as I moved to continue on my way. If only the reader could imagine the mundane objects in her life suddenly become witnesses to her every movement.
Some time later, back in my room, I thought on the various parks, squares and green spaces with which the city abounded. Each possessed its own charms or distastefulness. I attempted to represent again for myself one such park, which I had previously glimpsed from the airport bus on my first day in, and to one side of which a church may have once stood. There, a white-grey stone belfry stood at half its original height, scaffolding about its top and a walled-off worksite at its foot. The spot was bounded on two sides by city streets and on the others by glass-plated high-rises. Standing as it did, at its halfway point, the half-spire presented something of a puzzle for those who cared to see it: was the lower half going up or coming down?
For those not in the know, the site itself presented few clues. Certainly, the stone seemed inordinately clean, even polished, given the traffic around. Yet, I wondered quite reasonably, no one raised a lone stone tower at the corner of a complex of modern buildings. On the contrary, if coming down, the stone’s aspect again came to the fore. Indeed, it proved further unclear what motivations the authorities might have for tearing down, stone by stone, a historical structure of its like. Then again, I had always been given over to creating mysteries where none were otherwise to be found, if only for diversion. Wherefore perhaps a lifelong interest in philosophy and architectural ambiguities like that between raise and raze.