Monday, October 29, 2012

Circles rise to the surface, exhibit themselves wantonly, and then descend again once they have caught the attention of those who respond at a visceral level. In the light bouncing then off the unseen oceans, the red sands and mountain peaks twenty miles away, I discovered circles everywhere, unearthed them from substances not made of earth with the persistence of a feral cat stalking chameleons in the treetops or a Geiger counter sniffing out particular isotopes. A mode of transport yellow in body and long as an end table, it had wheels of course because how else was it going to get anywhere? And these I’d turn with my hands and watch turn and see inside the movement something that is as yet missing from my vision today. Something mathematical certainly and of the genus of law, but without name or substance and apt to disintegrate when I looked too closely, hoping to pin it down on the surface of the retinas and keep it there for future consultation. But what need have we of that which is beyond the tongue, beyond the capabilities of the tongue to morph objects that never come in contact with it, as if effect at a distance is not the purview finally of alchemists dead and gone but a day to day reality for anyone who can speak? Who can muster enough words to regenerate that which was swallowed up by time and sunlight and generate that which has still to solidify around its own marrow, still to take its first heady steps? Some of the obsessive appeal originated not in the tactile, not in the rough plastic passing more and more quickly beneath the fingers, but the sound, a rattling just this side of order-less, without music. I could alter it, make it sing, generate a primitive phrasing, if I struck it just so, and the perfecting of this technique accounts for hours during which I was completely unaware of the concern on the faces of the male presence and the female presence watching from a window or the front door. The unlocking of patterns, of mysteries buried deep within the soil by someone secretive and all-reaching trumps the ordinate kindness to others, the empathy one ought otherwise to foster as one fosters an appreciation for Hyden or dry wine. And it is especially so when such circles, such infinite and unwieldy treasures reveal themselves in earliest childhood and promise to abandon us again in something clearer than words or phrases. We can see it in the orbit itself, hear it in the cotter pin and washer beginning to freeze up on the axle from overuse. We can hear it in the lunatic fury of the birds.

The post-simian figures occupy space without -- it seems from this distance, at any rate -- moving, without lifting a leg and then placing it down again somewhere close by or operating their lips in such a way that words escape them, or at least the facsimile of words. I stop no higher than the knees of some of these perpetual shadows and feel at ease for perhaps the one and only time in my life precisely because they have no faces to decode, no agenda hidden away like gold bullion in subterranean passageways. All is still within the jurisdiction of my will, a blueprint I will mislay for many years afterward, only to pick it up again in middle age. Our systems creak and mutter when placed in operation and we can almost imagine the steam and smoke rising off them in the morning, the smell like that of turnips gone bad, but we cling just the same because without the systems of our own devising, without these grand schemes and philosophical edifices, our bones are no more than scaffolding and our dreams pile up against the doorstop like laundry. Many of our dreams look back on a past spent among dervishes and beaded lizards, our bodies prone on the dry soil and racked with pains we no longer even have names for. One of the frozen human totems gives his name to my brother, stands almost directly beneath the sun and if I can flesh out the countenance at this distance, it is only with the assistance of tales told between that place and this one, and not the memory which is full of holes the size of universes. This is a pattern that will persist, will seem at first to grow weaker over time as if it can’t keep track of its own comings and goings, but the illusion reveals itself as illusion when I sit down to compose the melody for a dirge -- something meant to evoke a particular time and place and the people who occupied that place beside me – and I find myself staring instead at my socks. Outside the wind arrives from the place where wind originates and the screens in the windows complain that they too are expected to make do with next to nothing. Our lives, despite all evidence to the contrary, evidence we would spend twenty times that one lifetime and a fortune acquiring if it were possible, belong to empty rooms, and everywhere you turn there are books with familiar names on the spine and titles and the occasional picture of someone’s eighteenth century face starting out at you, just as vivid and haughty as a king’s. And you know that the face will be there every evening until you turn the book around backwards or upside down so as to assert the primacy of your own existence, your vision. So as to prove once and for all to any Hobbes or Rousseau who has the audacity to gaze out at you like that in spite of the grave that it is you who will be calling the shots now. It is you who will decide what solidifies and what dribbles away to nothing on the Earth’s innumerable white hot sands.

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