“The Anthropology of Memory” by Dane Cervine

The Anthropology of Memory

Death swallows all. The existentialists, particularly the French, understand. Still, there are the small rebellions. There is memory. Digging for the forgotten. Holding fragments in hand, lifting them into light.

So after Paris, I buy a used book cheap to remember the French existentialist Henri Michaux, who in turn remembers an Ecuadorian poet named Gangotena who was possessed of genius and ill luck—who died young, along with his poems, most of them unpublished, burnt up in a plane crash.

 No internet search will find them. No Library of Congress hold them. Even then, the great library at Alexandria burned, and some future viral plague may yet take every word now saved in the world’s great memory banks with it into oblivion. Of course, there’s always our own Sun’s eventual solar demise, against which all human arrogance, and every poem, will fail. Unless that beautiful arrogance find us, somehow, a home on another world, a younger world, where Henri and I may yet reside side by side in gold or titanium memory chips, or even subtler clouds of data. But the Ecuadorian poet’s poems are, despite all arrogance, despite love, forever lost. Except his name, Gangotena.

That he was a genius. That he had bad luck. That someone remembers.


Dane Cervine’s new book is entitled How Therapists Dance, from Plain View Press (2013), which also published his previous book The Jeweled Net of Indra. His poems have been chosen by Adrienne Rich, Tony Hoagland, The Atlanta Review and Caesura for acknowledgement and have appeared in a wide variety of journals including The SUN Magazine, The Hudson Review, Catamaran, Red Wheelbarrow, anthologies, newspapers, video & animation. Visit his website at: www.DaneCervine.typepad.com Dane is a local therapist, and serves as Chief of Children’s Mental Health for Santa Cruz County in California.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s