Something lost can be recovered there

Tiffany Bozic @ The Morning News

Alec Wilkinson goes underground in New York City @ The Believer.
For a long time I have been drawn to places that are underground. I often dream that I am in a basement, or descending the stairs to the subway, or walking in a cave, or swimming toward lights at the bottom of a river, or finding rooms below ground that no one else knows about and that aren’t there later when I try to go back to them. The world of symbols is impenetrable to me, but I am not so thick that I don’t see that the underground stands for the unconscious. I sometimes think of the unconscious as a series of rooms, each opening out from the next. In one of them, perhaps, a book lies open on a table. In another an old woman sits in a rocking chair while rain beats against a window. On the wall in another is writing that you can almost decipher, or a mural depicting a scene that turns up later in a dream. Or maybe not as a series of rooms but as a landscape. It has weather and there is night and day, but it is not always a landscape I recognize, and it changes all the time, as if each vista were a fragment of another one, like the planes in a Cubist painting. I am drawn to the unconscious for the reason I assume most people are, which is the belief that something it contains, if recalled and examined, has the power to release you from torment. Or that something lost can be recovered there. Whatever the explanation might be, it accounts, I think, for my interest in underground places. Occasionally I read in the newspapers about subterranean locations in the city such as the corridors and tunnels under Grand Central or the railroad lines along the West Side, by the Hudson River, where until a few years ago, when the railroad police began chasing them out, squatters lived in the cinderblock chambers that the railroad had built in the walls beside the tracks for its workers to use while they were constructing the tunnels. The darkness in the chambers was so complete that the men and women who inhabited them couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces.  read more