Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our peculiar distrust of isinglass comes up so frequently in conversation you might almost say it filters the view. It takes its place on the list of items to receive thorough exegesis once the business of everyday survival is no longer paramount, no longer takes its cue from the enormous beasts that used to frequent this place. My wrist still aches but it has stopped speaking its own language, it has stopped talking to me at night the way people in dreams talk to you without always moving their lips appropriately. They occupy some ethereal midrange place the rest of us are excluded from if only because we haven’t yet figured out how to read minds. Still, we are trying to learn. In fact, you can make the case that everyone is engaged in very little but the attempt to learn and master this skill from the time they become aware that other people seem to be possessed of minds that can do trigonometry when called upon and can remember the principal players at Austerlitz this many centuries after the fact. I consent to x-rays and wait the interminable wait and then a woman is standing beside me in a blue smock. Her breath smells of gin, of elderberries, and it throws me back to a time when the world itself was as timid and dull as a healthy neck joint, was designed to turn in but a few directions and when you asked it to move beyond these, to behave in ways that it was not intended to, a gloom settled over the mountains and made them seem distant and artificial. I don’t particularly want to return to that place but I am forced to by the fact that the entity we call a memory has its own itinerary. The journey doesn’t last long, though. Praise heaven! the woman’s breasts under the blue smock are beckoning. They sway in familiar ways. She stands to the right and operates the machinery and I wonder what actually happens when electrons and positrons enter the memory where they do not belong. Do they alter only other subatomic particles like themselves or do they enter the world created and stored by such and bounce around in there as happily as butterflies? Do they build nests high up in the cypress trees in the cypress swamps and stare stupidly at the ascendant moon? As usual, the woman knows what is on my mind and finishes quickly, writing something no doubt caustic on the chart and mumbling a farewell before disappearing behind a curtain I hadn’t noticed before. When I picture tendons they almost always come in a dull gray color and flex and spin and seem on the verge of snapping at any moment. I have no idea how accurate this image is, but the more I think about it, the less it seems to matter. Everything is a model, an approximation, of everything else and when you begin to insist on precision, on an accuracy relying on nothing but itself, you are just a step or two away from a particular form of madness, from an isolation so complete as to suggest volcanic islands, or worse – stagnant ponds on those volcanic islands full of turtles and bones.          

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