Ryonusuke Akutagawa brilliantly treats aspects of this in a pair of stories which were later combined and made into the much more famous film Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa. Aaron Shurin writes, in passing, in his 1990 essay "Narrativity,” of the 'irreversible solidity of the past tense.' I've lately begun to marvel, because of this generally ascribed quality, that History continues to be written in it. It was Herodotus, Father of History, who kicked things off—neatly blending directly observed incident/object with reported incident/object with rumored incident/object with imagined incident/object. At least a good part of what gets built into the past tense, then, is hardly irreversible, hardly solid. Pretty slippery, in fact.


Back to The Avenue