The passing the undying

Ray Wagner Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum, catalog no. 16_003979. Detail restored.

Falling astern, the obelisk of the Washington Monument sank back into the rainy horizon. As it passed below, it had momentarily been interpretable as a realized intention toward history. But what had passed above it was innocent of intent. Instant by instant, it was only passage. Eventually the silver-tinted body took on a name (USS Shenandoah), a terminus (crashed 9/3/1925), and thereby a history, but that descent from wordless air into inked words was only the end of the body’s passage, not the passage itself. As long as it remains, a shadow cast along time by passage is not history but memory: never not vanished but nevertheless not yet known not to be.