Be here now

The internet being what it is, I don't even have to take a photo of what I just saw ten minutes ago on the bus. I can come home, find someone else's picture, and use that instead. NOW_near

This graffiti is on the top of a building in the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, once a modernist dream but now slated to be demolished as part of the regeneration of the area. And by regeneration, what we really mean is gentrification at the expense of its residents.

'Now' is on the left side of the building as you face it going south, and on the right-hand side is this:

Heygate Estate - HERE (and NOW)

Now. Here. I like how the words are the wrong way around; the "here and now" is a cliche, and any piquancy left in John Lennon's phrase has been sucked and spat out by Oasis.

The two words would be pretty empty without the knowledge that soon the bricks they are sprayed on will crash down in a cloud of dust. "Now" makes sense only when we feel it is about to end. Its real essence, what Buddhists strive for and self-help books tell us we must attain, is meaningless: endless, formless and, perhaps, happiness. But we only have a sense of it when it is about to come crashing down on our heads, when this now-ness will stop, and things will be different. Or when we sense how far we have come, how changed our lives have become since an earlier time. Now looms then, filled with tension and suspense or the sweet pain of nostalgia. Only when we imagine its before or after can we really get a handle on it.

And here? What is here, if not simply not-there? Those bricks will soon not be there - here - and, already, nor am I. The bus passed quickly, and now they are there. Not here. Presence is as difficult to pin down as the present.  What does it mean, to be near something? To be in its presence? So much is written about the formlessness of time, I wonder if the same is true of place.

Of course, put both these words together, and you have "nowhere".

That's as far as the bus-thought went unfortunately. Perhaps if I'd stayed there - here - it might have become more.