Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The specter that occupies this space (if in fact it is something otherworldly and not prosaic – a stray item of laundry, say, blowing in the wind, someone traipsing about at night because he can’t sleep) seems to have very little it wants to communicate. Its back is almost always turned to the witness and the sounds emanating from it remind one of the sounds of jumbo jet engines rumbling far away in the sky. You could never decipher them unless you too were only partially present at any given moment, distracted by memories that may or may not have happened to you, but which are so vivid nonetheless they seem like straightforward experience – getting stuck under a limb in the river, the cold clear water moving past just above your eyes, the sunlight intensifying and decreasing at intervals with the volume of water passing between you and it at any given moment, or with the frantic movements of your body become now its own agent, its own material thing completely independent of the rest of you, whatever that might consist of. What you don’t recall is the panic, the fire caused by lack of air in the middle of your chest, sensations that must have been present, must have been so overwhelming as to erase themselves finally the way desire is said to consume itself when given nothing but the empty past on which to feed. We borrow our concepts of the places we can not see from those we have formed of the places we can see – the desert riddled with canyons and red earth, the mouths of caves where we hesitate a moment before climbing in. This hesitation is so common as to suggest a form of ritual, a means of taking stock and re-creating ourselves, of generating a coherent whole from the myriad, untidy fragments we were composed of just moments before. Of course, the cave itself should, logically speaking, operate in a similar, if much more thorough manner, and so we are expected to move beyond the mouth of it; we can almost feel the pull as if an enormous invisible hand had emerged from the depths and grabbed hold of our lapels, or our elbows if, as would most likely be the case, we weren’t wearing the sort of thing that had lapels on it. This is why, when we venture down we almost always find others have been there before us, making charcoal reproductions of bison on the walls and other beasts fairly accurate in their physiology, all as part -- so we are told and so we believe because it makes perfect sense, it jibes with our own experience of this damp and alien place -- of ancient fertility rituals and shamanistic religious practice. For my part, I prefer the names or initials of people more recent scraped into the rock with car keys or other implements, frequently in conjunction with those of their purported lovers, heart emblems with bloody arrows through them conjoining the pair forever in the otherwise non-committal bowels of the earth.          

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