What I wrote previously about my relationship with Toronto during 2010-2015, and the subsequent deepening of that relationship during the following six years while away from the city, and my eventual return last year, places the burden of agency exclusively on me. After I finished writing, a different way of looking at those years and the relationship occurred to me. A way of looking that recognizes an agency that is external to me.
What if, instead of you remembering a city, it is the city that is remembering you? What I regard to be “my decision” could be an answer to a call, an affirmation of something–a narrative, a fate, a relationship–that had already existed. A reason that had already been present. If you don’t like the word “fate”, can replace it with something akin to a “gambler’s urge.” Responding, surrendering, to a gambler’s urge is still responding to some-thing that is there, something from which you can dissociate yourself.
The switch in perspective–the relocation of agency–should be considered with reference to the activity of writing. When I sat down to write about returning to a city, my explicit intention was to write about a decision, my decision. What interests me the most, now, is how the opposite sentiment emerged as I wrote about my decision. Through writing about my decision, I realized how it was not completely and purely mine. The initial image was centered around my choice, whereas the image that emerged was centered around a place, like the transitions we experience with bistable images. In the new image, I became a participant, a part, no longer shouldering the entire burden of the decision. I found and began settling on the position of having been remembered, even though I started with writing about remembering and returning.
Could we general this observation and turn it into a principle? Could we say, “You write to unburden yourself, to relocate yourself from the center of the narrative to a place with a better view, a place that recognizes others …”? This process, however, depends on the intention to start at the center and speak from the center. Enantiodromia. The complementary perspective emerges with the continuity of thought.