chapter  16
16 Pages

Leavings

Complete absence, total emptiness, is an aesthetic other than melancholy. Daunting, desolate, inhumane, a complete absence may instead enter into the sublime. It is the hint of presence which moves a scene, an image, into a melancholy state. The intimation of things being left, or having departed, opens the door into the realm of melancholy. Like fragments and ruins, leavings is the state of things no longer whole. The leftovers that persist, the remnants which endure, hint at other realms beyond the place of the present. As triggers for involuntary memory, leavings can sabotage the most innocent of gazes. When the eye rests upon an element in a scene, something out of place, out of time, a reverie opens out, a recollection, a recall of departure and loss. As Trigg explains, ‘The phenomenology of involuntary memory resounds with melancholic fascination as we encounter an object that, while still persisting in space and time, is displaced from its narrative context and so points to an elsewhere that is no longer’ (Trigg, 2006, p.29).