Wednesday, 22 April 2009

In recession

Everyone I went to school with passed along the wall in twos or threes behind the rope barrier. What light fell into the chamber fell through the shivering of the bead curtains at either end of this passageway. I felt rather than saw their shifting gaze, sensed rather than heard the shuffling footfalls – here a pair of trainers, there office shoes, now again trainers, expensive ones – a set of motorcycle boots, even. After the first few months my exhibitors laid an anti-electrostatic pad along the walkway, which intensified the sounds I could no longer detect while distancing the vibrations I could. I can remember the carpet in the room where their obliging arms laid me to rest, can remember its patternless field. I am glad they’ve seen fit to protect it. It bodes well.

I still knew a few things about my self, and prize these shreds of knowledge like talismans. As my skull has steadily softened in the darkness, my eyes have grown, now many times their original size. Blind and opaque, they register only the dimmest distinctions in a broad field of unchanging blue. In early life I might have called the sensation that at times overwhelms me ‘skin-crawling’ – the great expansion of the surface area has led (indirectly or otherwise) to a remarkably increased sensitivity in its registry of sensation. ‘Crawling’ is not it, though: it puts me more in mind of a harbour or a sea, a crystal sea. It is like the motion of wind through a vast cornfield. (In the midlands of the Transkei, or in the fields of Oklahoma. How soon such images are so cheaply forgotten.) Clearly in my mind I can see the landscape of a deep harbour endlessly shifting, each instant a fractal landscape that came so close to never happening. In this way I am at peace for months at a time. Though I would guess my outward appearance became horrible or freakish a long time ago, I suppose I am rather like a plant. A cactus, perhaps. I always admired trees.

The room is in darkness. I feel rather than see those shafts of light from the room beyond, where the assembled can bear witness to the projected memory of every thought that has struck through my mind. Every dream, every aspiration, every sinful thought is registered. Eager graduates synthesise untrodden philosophies from fantasies of debasement that to me have long become mere amusements. Emotional biographers step outside in tears, overwhelmed by scrying fugues of pain and thwarted need that I lost the ability to hear decades since (“I call this one Five-Part Invention for Wounded Father, op. 32”) but whose turns and deliberations I can remember with fond affection. Compassionate physicians swaddle their terminal cases in blankets and chairs to audition pleasant daydreams recovered from ribbons of magnetic tape that would circle the globe.

I’ve welcomed this sense of departure, ascending confidently if slowly from the anguish of the flesh into the harmonic mechanisms of pure language and mathematical systems. No more the mean temperament, the guilt-ridden attachment to anaesthetic routine. My future is a blue heaven, and I may decorate or empty it as I please. I am not alone. There are others. I cannot see or speak to them, but they are everywhere, and they are glad that I am with them.