Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The return train from Portland was on time and mostly took place in the dark. Internet was intermittent, but I had the NY Times Sunday crossword and Faulkner’s Light In August as detours.

At Chapter 6 I noticed Faulkner’s increased use of compound words, such as “cinderstrewnpacked,” “childtrembling” and “parchmentcolored.” There were more, many of them gender- (“womansinning,” “manshape”) and race- (“womanshenegro”) specific, but I will leave it at that.

Portland is a white city. I brought this up with Matthew and he said two things: first, that the KKK has had a long presence there; and second, that Portland was built on what many believe to be a site that is not recognized as the site of a former aboriginal settlement -- implication being that history begins with its settlers (unlike Seattle, which, prior to contact, was the site of a stratified Salish village). Something Matthew did not tell me, something I learned while hitch-hiking in the 1980s, was that Oregon was the last state in the union to encourage tourism.

Although I did not see all of Portland, I could not help but notice a number of bookstores and DIY publishing outlets in the downtown core (one of which was Matthew’s Publication Studio). I noticed also a lot of people in restaurants and cafes reading, which is usually the sign of an advanced interior life. Portland does not have a contemporary art museum, though it does have a Contemporary Craft Museum, the emphasis on “craft” over “art” being a deliberate one, I am sure.

After my last trip to Seattle I came away with a description of the city as a cross between Chicago and New Westminster. To apply a similar comparison to Portland, I would say that it is a cross between Brooklyn and Prince George -- if it were not so blindingly white.

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