Across the Mississippi

I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.

—-Anais Nin

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.

—-Susan Sontag

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

—-Gilbert K. Chesterton

Every tourist in New Orleans has their picture taken in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. Usually, they climb the levee with a lump of sugar-slathered fried dough washed down with bitter coffee sitting in their stomach like the grease of doom to grin at the camera while facing the river.

I prefer this view of the Cathedral, from across the Mississippi at Algiers Point. The water flows by… always different, always the same.

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.


Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

—-Jorge Luis Borges

“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and he Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers.

Are people like that? I wondered. Am I like that? Always me, like the river itself, always flowing but always different, like the water flowing in the river, sometimes walking steadily along andante, sometimes surging over rapids furioso, sometimes meandering with hardly any visible movement tranquilo, lento, ppp pianissimo, sometimes gurgling giacoso with pleasure, sometimes sparkling brillante in the sun, sometimes lacrimoso, sometimes appassionato, sometimes misterioso, sometimes pesante, sometimes legato, sometimes staccato, sometimes sospirando, sometimes vivace, and always, I hope, amoroso.

Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?”

—-Aidan Chambers, This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

How could drops of water know themselves to be a river? Yet the river flows on.

—- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

9 responses to “Across the Mississippi

    • Thanks.

      I’ve read most of what she has written. Though her diaries are what she is known for – I’d start with a book of her short stories – maybe Delta of Venus or LIttle Birds. I think she is more notable for her audacity and passion than her skill in writing – but give it a shot and see if it speaks to you.

      • Great. I like the sound of ‘Little Birds’, not that you should judge by a title alone, lol. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation. I’m sure the racy nature of her writing will appeal to me! 😉

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