Thursday, 11 March 2010

A pair of sketches

Finally, it’s a matter of letting the mind relax, an appropriation of automatism replicating the process of discovering the world anew, Yes, but also replicating the fantasy that is a fantasy is a fantasy, that childhood was always better, brighter, more immediate when it’s only memory that makes it so… memory and those moments of neural flow and rush when we know we are immortal, that we were once the one…

…who stayed up late in the library, who read the logs of all the ships, all stored in their pigeonholes, each log being a ship, each ship a dozen or more lives, a double-dozen set of eyes on the seas that they sailed – the sea that was a tongue; the sea beneath a sky full of eyes; the sea they sailed without a following wind for the voyage was ever downwards, [not along] – those ships’ logs read night after night before climbing the thickly carpeted stairs that ceased to be steps, but undulations, more like villi, exercising a slow peristalsis upwards, up the spiralling passageway, to dreams; dreams of ever more impossible places – and possible too – but for the faces that traded places, slipped round the back, perhaps, and saw all retreating as the body strode breast-forward.

Dreaming and waking and unable to wait, always for the next dream, though surely the greater dream was [of] having come into consciousness, only the blur of days before the present continuum (the blur of days on the beach where all the lost things washed up… on the hillside with the strange yellow fungus that exhaled as you passed) a clue that you might have come from an elsewhere, an elsewhen, even, at a different pace to the Now, the dragging, drudging, sluggardly Now. Some you, you surmised, had fallen, ill-equipped, ill-served by being dropped, into this world, as that pipistrelle fell, the one fallen from the eaves of the house at dusk, panting concussed on the path where you almost stepped on it – but didn’t – and held it, fearless of rabies or lice, and saw the tarsals stretched absurdly, the veined webbing stretched over your own hand, entire, and its snubnosed long-eared but not far off human face looking into yours, all of which told you your own shape’s provisional – isn’t it? – no more or less equipped to see the total shape of the world than the great [sky] whale, the dark leviathan that swims the skies overhead, and the stars are mere barnacles in its hide.

Better to turn your attention from the possible boundaries of the universe to that other shape seen through the windows at dusk, gliding across the little bridges among the ponds, the same shape you saw on the edge of the viaduct, spine-curved and feet-dangling in space – the shape of a question-mark hanging in space – who alone might understand that intuition: there is a way, a sure way, to make all learning, all time, all being, all knowing bleed together, and unbleed…

{drafted 22/02/2010}

All of them came, in time, to that place between worlds, the place to which they were beckoned, by the man cut in two, by the pane of glass (Breton tells us), or summoned by a letter that accordioned from the envelope, then origami’d out with side-flaps and with under-folds, hinged portions, expanding across the table you laid it on, and rose step-wise, as you propped those grey sheets on the desklamp, on the birdcage, up the bookcase, into a ziggurat of paper; all of it the colour of slate or of granite, though its grey was the colour of ink on paper, tightly-written in words that were not words but were hieroglyphs in the shapes of animals or animal-men whose costumes – No, whose costumes and poses – were concepts, all executed in such fine detail, in hair-fine detail, a hundred thousand characters, and all of them around you, holding a city in the left hand, a curved dagger in the dexter, moons caught in their antlers, or a spear through their neighbour, to signify the conjugation of a verb, or the negation of a mood, and still the folds unfurled, until you stepped out, into that courtyard of letters, to read the words beneath your feet, and the words on the step-pyramid rising to the clouds, and saw the words were not meanings, or not meanings alone, but the patterned emplacement of words, as the eye detects them, in ripples on the surface, were a kinaesthetic form of stories and decrees, and songs that when sung could demolish a city, if taken back to the world, intact, but you won’t, you only remember in snatches that otherworld where the letter lay unopened on the desk by the jade Buddha paperweight, and the trophies from schooldays that you’ve started to doubt, because they seemed so long and so dull, in the school by the lake –

A part of you is back there, though, and a part of you is asking, how can there have been bonfires in the dunes in the Autumn? How can there have been prizes for best lantern in the festival? Why was it you who won the annual race to navigate the cellar-maze? How did you win that medal for the star-charts in the observatory, naming the stars as the ancients named them, and naming the stars as the ancients before them? What kind of school was that, where the inscription on the chapel read Absentes Adsunt; what did it mean that “the absent are here” (or there)? What was the story of that much older chapel, the ruins of a chapel, with just one wall left standing, the one with the rose window, you climbed each Founders’ Day, up the cracks between stones, to bring back an egg, or a feather, or a chick, from the rooks that nest there? You did, after all, you won, you were the one who stood on that stone-shelf, and felt the zephyrs shoving you, you don’t belong, just get down, but you didn’t, you held firm, you saw the fields and the rivers, and the roads that were rivers, and the rivers as roads, but don’t know how you descended, how you could, having been there. No, you know now, that world is only as unreal as the next, where the words form steps that lead down, and lead down, and the destination is darkness, yet the patterns are stable, all the characters you see, all the grey of these steps is formed from rows and rows of animal-men and animal-women with eyes down their spines, and tusks in their mouths, but all posed the same, all in ranks, and all of them prayerful, all bowed or inclined to that greater darkness, with knives at their flanks and quivers of arrows, topped with letters in alphabets living and dead, and yet-to-come or conjectural, and all facing the same way, to that darkness that isn’t darkness, but pure ink, a whole lake, a liquid core to the universe, the ink you scoop up, the ink you reflect in, a hollow-eyed face in the ink you will use to write worlds on your return. {24/02/2010}