In Memory of Barry Hannah, by David McLendon

 

 

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I

Walk with me. Walk with me through this. Through all of this. I want you to know. I want you to know everything. I want you to know everything I know. Listen. Please listen. Please pay attention. Do you know what I know? Let me tell you what I know. It’s simple. It’s complicated. I don’t know anything. I don’t know anything about anything. It’s hard to imagine. It’s hard to explain. How a person can walk through the world as long as I’ve walked through the world and know absolutely fucking nothing about anything. How a person can walk through the world as long as I’ve walked through the world and know absolutely fucking nothing about the world. Are you with me in this? Be with me in this. There’s no need to explain. There’s never a need to explain. Walk with me now. Let me follow you through it. 

II

A decade ago today Barry Hannah left the world.

A decade ago today I was in Puerto Rico when I heard the news of Hannah’s passing via a series of exchanges with my dear pal Brian Kubarycz:

BK: He’s gone.

DM: Who?

(Radio silence)

DM: Who?

(Radio silence)

DM: Who?

(Radio silence)

BK: I’m not sure I can bring myself to say it.

DM: Just say it.

(Radio silence)

(Radio silence)

(Radio silence)

BK: Captain Maximus

(Radio silence)

 

III

The evening before I arrived in Puerto Rico, I packed five books for the nine day trip:

Airships, by Barry Hannah

Captain Maximus, by Barry Hannah

High Lonesome, by Barry Hannah

Wittgenstein’s Nephew, by Thomas Bernhard

Plainwater, by Anne Carson

NOTE: Immediately dismiss any irony (or even coincidence) regarding the books I chose for my trip. I had been in contact with Grove Atlantic for months, soliciting the house for a short story by Hannah to be published in Unsaid. That I took three titles by Hannah on my trip reflects only my love of his pages and the excitement I felt in regards to the prospect of publishing a story by him in Unsaid.

 

IV

In the stead of knowing anything about the world, I feel the world.

In the stead of knowing anything about the world, I feel the world and distill what I feel with a necessary form of attention.

In the stead of knowing anything about the world, I feel the world and distill what I feel with a necessary form of attention, thereby creating a world inside the world.

 

V

A short walk. Let’s carry this walk a stretch farther. Or, in this case, a step further.

Today as I was walking around Ann Arbor, thinking about Hannah, thinking about his pages and what his pages mean to me, I thought of you, how I wanted you beside me. You being whomever you are. If you are reading this and paying attention and feeling this, you are the person I wanted at my side. This is to say that as I walked through a dirty but not unbearable alleyway in Ann Arbor, I was feeling what I felt and paying attention the way I pay attention when I noticed a sort of world at my feet. A crack in the cement. Two stones. Water in the crack. And a film of something atop the water. The film was what first caught my attention. Beautiful and gossamer and kind of fucked up. I stopped and gave it my attention. Then I shot a photograph of it. It’s the image at the head of this post. It conveyed to me all I was seeking. My sadness for Hannah’s death. My gratitude that his sentences remain in the world. I entitled the photograph, “A Sentence by Barry Hannah.”

I know nothing. I feel everything. And I pay attention. I feel everything and I pay attention. It’s a way to create a world. A world inside the world. That’s all I hold. That’s all I know. Thank you for listening. Thank you for walking with me. Now you know everything. Know you are loved.

 

VI

“Whosoever you are, be that person with all your might. Time goes by faster than we thought. It is a thief so quiet. You must let yourself be loved and you must love, parts of you that never loved must open and love. You must announce yourself in all particulars so you can have yourself.”

– Barry Hannah –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Response to In Memory of Barry Hannah, by David McLendon

  1. Richard St. Germain says:

    He is well-served by this, David. I’ve read only Ray, but recall it often for its humor, lack of pretentiousness, but unfailing sincerity.

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