Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Time travel

Discovering a great-grandfather’s pipe:

Papa Joe’s pipe had been tucked away in a drawer somewhere for years, and was in good condition when I found it. I ran a pipe cleaner through it, filled it with some tobacco I had on hand, and settled down to read and smoke. After a couple of minutes, the most wonderful and foreign blend of smells began wafting from the pipe. All the various tobaccos that Papa Joe had tried at one time or another in his life, all the different occasions when he had lit his pipe, all the different places he had been that I will never know — all had been locked up in that pipe and now poured out into the room. I was vaguely aware that something had got delightfully twisted in time for a moment, skipped upward on the page. There is a kind of time travel to be had, if you don’t insist on how it happens.

Alan Lightman, “Time Travel and Papa Joe’s Pipe,” in Dance for Two: Selected Essays (New York: Pantheon, 1996).
See also David Owens on Old Spice and other smells of childhood. See also that Proust guy.

Thanks to Stefan Hagemann, who recommended Alan Lightman to me.

comments: 3

Stefan said...

Thanks, Michael. Now if I could somehow recommend, say, another thousand writers who you didn't know, and if, during that time, you didn't recommend a single new one to me, I guess we'd be close to even.

Michael Leddy said...

I think it’s reassuring that we’re all just scratching the surface.

Pete said...

I wish there was an analogue for my dad's bourbon.