This surging and bubbling and irrevocable second will grow dusty and gray and dim as soon as I write it.
It is noon on South Street in Philadelphia. It is a Monday; it’s a day, just a day like any other. It is an hour, a second; a moment in time. The sun is shining with the ferocity of an Indian summer - startling this late November day with a heat it should no longer possess. I am sitting in one of those deliciously small and eclectic coffee shops on the very edge of the city - steam from my (skimmed) latte making swirls and coalescing magnificently with the diluted haze of the sun. A frantic, but also a strangely calm place - I feel bound to relax and to write and to wonder.
Nestled on the southern border of center city, South Street reminds me fondly of Camden Town in London, with its bars, vintage stores and vegan eateries. It is a place where art, culture and the man-in-the-street reside side-by-side...’Gosh, it is hot!’... The heavy coral colored sweater I wore here hangs superfluous and limp on the back of my chair, the sun capturing the frays and imperfections of the stitching. And what strikes me in this ‘affective’ moment - this surging and bubbling and irrevocable second, is that this is a fragment, a moment of reflection and appreciation; a moment of pause which will sit docilely and insignificant in my mind - will grow dusty and gray and dim as soon as I write it.
There is beauty, perhaps unutterably so, in this largely deserted street; the busboys and waitresses flitting in and out of the restaurant across from me - hurriedly placing tables outside - outside in this unnatural, cloying heat. It is strange to think, but 5 years from now I will not sense the exactitude of this moment: the way the sunlight hits and refracts off the tall chipped coffee cup in front of me - the way the cream-brown foam sits on the rim melting into nothingness - the sense of frustrated anticipation I feel as I sit here and write or the dusty beats of some 70s rock song droning just-audibly in the distance.
There is a strange feeling of oneness, or perhaps more accurately wholeness, one feels when one is brought so willingly into a “bloom space”. I do not live here. I am not even an American, yet I feel a pulse, a pulse external to my own. It is the feel of being a part of something, of being, for a fractionary moment, ‘affectively’ whole. Indeed “all the world is a bloom space” a series of connections, estrangements and ‘affective wholes’. You may ask why I feel this so acutely, sitting here as I am, in the path of this ominous winter sun. And it is simply the connections, the symbols, the little incidents of life - the graffiti, the more refined artwork - that captures me, incites me.
Accumulated from the trash and the junk of decades, perhaps centuries past, Zagar built his garden from the wreckage he found on and beneath this once derelict plot of land. To call it an installation, though accurate, is, I think, too sterile for such a personal and all-encompassing achievement. For Zagar brought the elements together. He took me, you, the man-in-the-street, the man (or woman) of the past and told their stories. His mosaics, intermingling with used wine bottles and rusted wheels, form a bloom space in which the now - the beating November sun, the sugared steam of my coffee, the soft tread of my boot - may stretch out and touch those lost moments of the past.
It strikes me that what is achieved here, is a connection of fragments - a connection that goes beyond the physical reassembling of broken ceramics. Indeed, almost a century ago T.S Eliot would have had us live in a wasteland of gray sterility, and to a certain extent his forecast was not so very inaccurate. In the metropolis’ of the Western world: in London, New York and even here in Philadelphia, we often refuse to acknowledge one another’s existence, let alone sense some inaudible connection. Yet in this moment, as I sit watching the world outside, as I chew the fresh green salad the waitress just delivered to my table, I sense a wholeness. I sense, as you will too if you ever have the chance to visit Zagar’s magic garden, an inexpressible connection to humanity - a whisper that assures me it is not a wasteland.
by Sarah Wingfield
In her own words:
Sarah is an English major at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She is 21 and originally from Cambridge, UK. One day she hopes to become a professor of literature, and if she is very lucky, a full time poet.