Mar 13, 2012, 07:03AM

Morning at the Window

T.S. Eliot's vision revisited.

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I like to think of the Internet as a little secret that few people know about. At its finest, as in Elizabeth Leaving, an anonymous person sort of wastes a bunch of time in an unnecessary way that is unexpectedly profound. In the democracy of taste, I'm voting on this gem.

Elizabeth's presumable boyfriend or husband (though, for some reason, the former scenario seems more romantically ephemeral) takes a picture of Elizabeth as she leaves the building every morning, always turning left, where we imagine her bus stop, or coffee shop, or parking spot a few blocks away. The weather; the light; her outfit; the aperture, resolution, a tilt in the angle: these things change, though find themselves a twin image in a loop over time, as one venture's deep into the website's archive. With each click backwards, she gets younger day by day, until the day she falls in love with our sentimental chap who takes photos from his window above.

In "Morning at the Window" (1916), T.S. Eliot speaks of "housemaids sprouting despondently at area gates," and "an aimless smile that hovers in the air," images which I cared for, selfishly stashing them away over the years. We often curate our vision of the world, mold it into beliefs, jutting proving fingers at it. Poetry is often better sad, but life's version of it—uncollected, un-anthologized, unbound; simply sprouting from the sidewalk cracks—may well be simple and content, a celebration of what is. I am grateful to look out this new window, and offer my regrets to T.S. Eliot. Elizabeth is not mine, but in a way she is.

Of course, the cynical part of me wonders when they'll break up, or when our photographer will lose interest. Part of our subconscious relationship with the Internet is that it will not last. I imagine these very words archived, then obsolete. What matters is today—you, me, and Elizabeth on her way to whatever her day entails. May she do this thing forever, each picture a different frame in the ultimate animated .gif of her timelessly doing some dance, the occasional blurriness brought on by her suitor's fumbling hand, a crisp shadow trying to make her again. A smile we sometimes see.


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