God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who are to come after us, and whose names are already written in the book of creation, as to us; and we have no right, by anything that we do or neglect, to involve them in unnecessary penalties, or deprive them of benefits which it was in our power to bequeath. And this the more, because it is one of the appointed conditions of the labor of men that, in proportion to the time between the seed-sowing and the harvest, is the fulness of the fruit; and that generally, therefore, the farther off we place our aim, and the less we desire to be ourselves the witnesses of what we have labored for, the more wide and rich will be the measure of our success. Men cannot benefit those that are with them as they can benefit those who come after them; and of all the pulpits from which human voice is ever sent forth, there is none from which it reaches so far as from the grave.
—John Ruskin, from The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849)
In the very earliest time
When both people and animals lived on earth
A person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen—
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That’s the way it was.
Inuit woman interviewed by ethnologist Knud Rasmussen in the early twentieth century.
Everything you are not stares back at what you are.
—The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters,
Jesus lying in his mother's arms
is a photon released from a dying star.
We move through the forest at night,
the sky is full of momentary light,
and everything we need is just too far.
We are photons released from a dying star.
We are fireflies a child has trapped in a jar,
and everything is distant as the stars.
I am here and you are where you are.
We have lived a long time here in the forest.
We lie beneath the heaps of leaves.
We are partial to this partial light:
we cannot sleep and fear our dreams.
There is no order here and nothing can be planned.
We are fireflies trapped in a little boy's hand,
and everything is as distant as the stars.
And I am here and you are where you are.
We lie among our atoms and I speak to you of things and
hope, sometimes, that maybe you will understand.
There is no order here, and there is no middle ground,
and nothing can be predicted, and nothing can be planned.
A star is just a memory of a star.
We are fireflies pulsing dimly in the dark.
We are here, and you are where you are.
We are here, and you are where you are.
—"Fireflies", Ghosteen (2019)
Which, when she sleeps, seems the carved face of an angel.
Her hair a harp, the hand of a breeze follows
And plays, against the white cloud of the pillows.
Then, in a flush of rose, she woke and her eyes that opened
Swam in blue through her rose flesh that dawned.
From her dew of lips, the drop of one word
Fell like the first of fountains: murmured
'Darling', upon my ears the song of the first bird.
'My dream becomes my dream,' she said, 'come true.
I waken from you to my dream of you.'
Oh, my own wakened dream then dared assume
The audacity of her sleep. Our dreams
Poured into each other's arms, like streams.
BEN: ... so then [the radio] won't mute while it scans between stations.
BOB: OK. Cause that's where they live, right?
BEN: Um. No, you just want that constant static noise.
BOB: Right. The noise, that's where they live.
BEN: They don't "live" anywhere, dude. They're ghosts.
EMILY: I didn't hear a voice at all.
BEN: I guess it doesn't matter - the ghost voices don't really come out until you play back the recording later.
BOB: They only exist in recordings, like a copy without an original. A mirror reflecting something that isn't in the room.
EMILY: Like the mounds.
BOB: The burial mounds here in town? You think they're haunted?
EMILY: No ... or, sure, probably. But I meant they're like the reflection. The people who made them lived hundreds of years ago. That whole society is long gone, and now we just have these lingering echoes, without any trace of context.
BEN: Yeah, that is kind of eerie.
BOB: So the ghosts speak and we can't hear it, but the tape recorder can hear it? Is that right?
BEN: I don't know. Sometimes I think it's more like the recording itself is a ghost. Like, that's what ghosts are. Recordings of events that didn't happen. When something keeps leaving new marks even after it's gone. False memories.
EMILY: A ghost is just an absent person, whether they're dead or not.
—Un Pueblo de Nada (Episode 4.5),
Kentucky Route Zero