The longue durée is an expression used by the French Annales School of historical writing to designate their approach to the study of history, which gives priority to long-term historical structures over events— what François Simiand called histoire événementielle, “eventual history”— the short term time-scale that is the domain of the chronicler and the journalist; the longue durée concentrates on all-but-permanent or slowly evolving structures and substitutes for elite biographies the broader syntheses of prosopography.
ibex and chamois
microliths and debitage
a fine-grained grey-buff silt
bands of black chert
cutmarks from disarticulation, removing meat from the bone, and fracturing the bone
“Hinterglasmalerei”—the German term for reverse paintings on glass
house altars, reliquaries, and kissing paxes
ochres and azurites
brazilwood and buckthorn
smalt and zwischgold leaf
from the top of the rooming house I had to run down four flights of stairs to get to the pay phone outside the building. out of breath I held the receiver to my ear, to a small voice coming from what seemed very far away, asking “can you take me to dinner tomorrow?”
the sun drops its bucket of milk on a boxwood hedge, a splay of lilacs spelling out the words pinned up on the refrigerator. I have learned how to set the table. I balance myself in front of the house, sweeping debris and clippings of the morning onto my lawn—you, walking up, clueless and feathery—you, the blinds half open—the summer in which we fall blank again and gather crooning into the nook of the rough wild of a flaring skirt.
I tuned out as usual to wander around the comfortable house. what was unforgettable was the color of the walls. cool milk blues, raw pink, spriggy wallpaper, old furniture and a palette standing in the window. to be married to a painter means to be told: don’t take the pajamas off the breakfast table. leave it, don’t touch anything. the bluestriped cloth, the milk carton, the red and blue flowers on the egg cups, a gram of sunlight on the coffee pot. bits of the kaleidoscope fall into place. forgive me, but here is the brightness and mystery.
outside a watercolor and trees like hair brushes, starry-eyed ladies carrying odd vases. the figures were unfinished, half wiped away, careening madly into the softened dream that cleaves along the paved road beside the train. I had seen this all before.
a dog is at the door waiting to be let into the farmhouse. in a moment the door will bang and he is let inside. outside, the blinding white house, the brightness of the meadow and its deep shadows, the clear summer and hazy sharp light remains. everything was yellow or grey.
indolent fields soaking thru oaks before the sunset thins & calls at the more distant nets of high noon. brush-covered slides scud across the road like little hens, half-tones between a pair of thick hours bent low beneath sweeping branches. a curtain of water, immense blue curves. a brand of light wound thru undergrowth, swarming toward the head of the valley. at night I would identify with the delights of standing still.
The first time I lingered in the desert of a Rothko exhibit was when I found you for ice cream after.