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Short Stories by

David Jubb

Contents:

1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

WORK . . . P 2 THE COLLECTION . . . P 10 PRISM . . . P 14 THE SACRIFICE . . . P 30 FELIX REX . . . P 42

1


WORK

The crowd was going the wrong way. He was sure of it. Every single one of them was getting it wrong, or following another who already had. Must he always be the one to tell them of their error? He ran into the middle of the teeming mass, threw his arms above his head and called in a loud hoarse voice that they were wrong; they were taking a wrong turn. Can’t you see – Oh, can’t you see? There was no answer – from the crowd. They continued running past him, in silence, “You don’t get their mouths open in an identical silent shout, all of anywhere today them. His feet his mind fell through his face the shoes of his feet. by easing into the saddle, The alarm was ringing. mate, nowhere!’

To start the day with a shower, a shave and a brisk walk. The new position opened up at the company today, he was third in line – so he had been told. The grapefruit was tart, undermining his breakfast. A sprinkle of the sweet stuff. The dog today had been unreceptive on its walk, living up to its name. Damn dog. No fucking patience with it. Fuck it – the dog. It wasn’t in line for a promotion. That’s why they call it money. Because it’s good for you! A new car. Convertible – a snap in the window, he’d seen one. Two, three – a hundred of them, canary yellow, lime green, sunburn orange. His oyster. His world.

In the old car he settled deeply into the seat before Get them before they get turning the key. These old bones. you, man, stab ‘em in the The surge of the strength of his O l d er t han t im e, ol d er i n a way t han he was himself . back if you can – they character that came after his T hese b ones carri ed t he will. twenty-fifth birthday still driving d ream ti m e, t he ancest ral song of re - it erati on, t he him on in the fast lane. Still a vehi cl e f or t he marrow and ll of t he f l esh. H i s own success. Still a man. Still in the garage. He turned the key. tselhef mi a spark i n t he endl ess ni g ht st ill , unti ri ng i n hi s He was going to enjoy today. pursui t of comf ort , of power, of eq uani m it y.

2


The past was just that – the past. Another world. A different world where he could be hurt, suffer the pain of loss, the withdrawal of affection. That world was for the losers, the cry-babies and the scaredy-cats. He was neither. None of the above. He was himself. Self-satisfied, agog with self-regard. He checked the mirror and pulled out of the garage, signalling the door to begin to close. The Estate was quiet, a good sign, no car at the number 54’s, no dolly bird at number ten – he would – and no school run. All good, then. Pedal down, window open – flying again, into the perfect blue horizon. To the junction – silly old sod there in a 2CV, doesn’t know the fucking limit – it’s the reason they have homes for these ‘people’, to keep ‘em off the fucking roads. The second’s hiatus, there – at the turn. Then into the flow. Clean, sweet maneouvre – as usual. As fucking per. No timeI am this man’s soul. wasting, a quick insertion, a quick injection into the traffic’s pulse. Then he Help me. Set me free. was one of them again, a driver, a charioteer. One of those faces you see speeding past in the darkness of the winternight, of the dawn, through the rain, the sleet.

The road showed him the way. It was a beneficent artery, a link between him and his world. A rich seam of blacktop and white and yellow lines. A freedom that only came when he was racing past some sad bastard in a family chuff chuff, or a lorry bleeding red yellow – signals to his hungry sense of competition that all was well and needed articulating – that was it – through some well timed act of spite, some kick in the teeth for an inferior; a hand on the head of a surfacing swimmer at the local gym? A football kicked into the high branches at the local park? A sudden revving up besides an old lady, shades on smile down?

You are what you fear. You are the fear you feel. You are the feeling of fearlessness you feel afraid of. You are the one. One. One. In control. Fast lane beckoning, so near the oncoming traffic that you couldn’t make them out till they were past, you saw the face smeared and plastered, like a chewed wad of gum on the pavement. A sizzle of fat on the hob. The clash of bone and gristle in a steak. Steak. Juicy and there in blooded water waiting.

3


Easy now, easy there, quick check – fast lane achieved, no messing. 80, 85, 90… All good, all in the way of things, his way. All good. He began to relax, felt the time no need to check the clock – he’d make it. He was already there.

The dream

him, remembered his remembered hat fat dream drizzling remembrance of his dreaming self

What appears to be the dream is the light of the soul hidden in darkness – to hide a lamp we need light, to hide a soul – the world.

remembering the dream – he uttered the prophetic word – his word alone – that it might dream for him dreaming of the phantasmagoria of the senses the uncreated darkness of his waking self and leave him to be in as kind – curled into singularity a nautilus’ shell, or a summer storm – a dream…

He took the requisite exit, snooking the car cocked in high mood to the verdant entrance of the business park. The offices of the company were here, all human life, his future and the dissatisfied past. Wave to the security. Was he the one dealing in C? As the line unfolded the heart Wasn’t that Billy? Billy the C? It was. Stop the of his heart turned grey, car, make a request, invest, divest, on our withered then was worn – way. Smiles all round. What a day, all told. right away. There’s his spot, too early for the other salesmen, too early for the big boss who would be interviewing him today, too early for the early bird. The engine off, the car cycles into its natural. Deep breath. Silent pause, another lull. Quick look to see the lie of the land. Little dab, a dab’ll do you. A dab or two.

Now he was motoring. Now he was altered bloodstream now he was singing cerebellum heartsease, disease, mind metallic tongue tasting itself god! tasting – no more of it though, save it as a present for himself, when the real deal was done. No droning planes overhead – the airport near, too near – no molehills in the sky. Clear day. The walk to the door is swiftly accomplished. Smart. Smart and turned out. No waste or fuss, elegance in all things – darksuit, shoulders out, show a tooth, spin a heel – all correct. No fuss. A must. Through the security doors beep beep – old

4


hat – new broom – past the maintenance, old lags mainly – then on to the offices, sleek, retouched, gleaming. His desk, underneath the biggest window. Light flooding in. Lovely. Don’t think in clichés, patterns, systematic analysis. This is the light of the word of the dream. Think in concrete. Think selectively. Organise - and be aware of the unwary, for they can trip you up in two seconds – without meaning – without meaning to. Be aware.

No one else in. Good. No one to bother talking to. No fuss. Do the once over - flies, fillet, gullet, guts – whoops. No good. A cramp? A slight – discomfort. What was this? He was motoring, remember? Twinges are for minges. Sit it out. If necessary shit it out. Be aware. How could he be sharp with a bad gut? How could he not? Unflustered, not some fucking chicken beheaded with a bad conscience – and a flurried demeanour. Be-hurried careener off the walls of the hen house. Pen house. Now – what’s this? Someone coming in, the security – beep beep – then pad padpad – a slight limp – the boss.

The boss admires him, respects him, this young man reminds him of himself when he was that age, a real go-getter, not afraid to go for the prize; not afraid to let others know who they’re dealing with. He’d watch while you got stabbed in the back then take a turn himself, to be sure, but a vital asset to the team. A species of one. Invaluable.

Remain coolant. Breath in deep chesting swells, all told, a well of deepening breath. He must have seen me – he’s on his way...

... no problem. No problem. “ Hello sir – can you hear the capital? He can – Sir, you’re in early today. Hahaha - That would do it. Nice. Yes Sir, ready and waiting. I could – right now is fine for me – right now? Fine. I could be there in five – right now? That’s no problem, Sir, right now. You are, you’re, 20, the big office. I know it, its – Yes. Yes I can. Yes.

5


No, there’s very little they can do. It’s an unusual form, advanced, very advanced. No. No, no pain. Thank you very much, Sir, I will pass it on. She’ll be chuffed. Over the – Yes. Yes, I just need a little, a, a toilet – ...Of course, I’ll see you there... ”

O god o god o gd...

O god – where’s the fucking lavvy – nearly there –on the left – What? Fucking locked? O god that was a big cramp – that fucking Billy the C – what’s he cutting it with these – o god – maintenance – they’ve a lavvy – down the stairs – what a fucking mess – there’s still time – time to – aright lads! – just going to use you – yes yes ha ha – fucking losers – turn the radio on – o god o god o gd...

Our hero is a soldier of fortune in the service of a corrupt and merciless state – a state of being. He is an assassin of human potentiality. We wish him well, in his search for success. We wish him far away…

This is not happening this is not happening this is – oof – what a fucking mess – what a set-to – this is unbelievable – I – o god that’s foul – o god it’s liquid – o shit – o this is foul – turn the radio up – ooo – cramps – fucking cramps – he’ll wait for me he’s gotta wait for me – o I never felt this bad before – o shit it’s on my shoes. It’s on my fucking shoes. – o god and my pants – o fuck o fuck o fucking shitting fucking bastards – my suit – my pants.

6


the dream? How was the dreaming done? O fuck this shit stinks – but I am the stink too – This is incredible – this is unbelieve - I don’t believe it – I know it – I was lost – but now I’m finding my feet – o god another cramp – my feet – the radio – o god – I’m having a breakdown – in the fucking lavvy – all this shit – tension – feels too – what happened to me? I feel strange, light. I feel. How am I supposed to go to a meeting He does not realize he is at the with the big boss – now of A challenge – a turning apex of his life – all is foreseeable all times to happen this – point on which to hang a from here, if he would only look. re-awakened world – this I’m so – I need a lie down essence survives through – I need a rest – I’m sick – his experiences – a I can’t go to a meeting – the boss is here already – waiting moment – a fulcrum – the for me – waiting for me to turn up with shit on my shoes hanging man and the tree and a dribbling arse – o god – what a turn-up – what a of life in equilibrium – from the physical the fucking disaster – What a fucking – I don’t care – fuck it – eternal returns to selfhood I’m going – yes – home now – yes – home. Whoa man – who was

– from the world the self retreats to eternity.

7


The drive is quiet, taciturn. Each – car and driver – keeps its counsel. As he leaves the car park the security guard Billy the C waves to him. It’s a gesture – nothing more. Yet he is strangely touched. He feels a warm wash of empathy – of fellow feeling – a bond somehow forged under extreme duress. There is no rancour, or bitterness. He smiles, nods in serene acceptance, pulls out into the slip-road. On the motorway he drives in quick efficient changes of acceleration. There is no hurried movement, no snatching at the wheel. He is undergoing profound changes in the internal dynamics of his sense of self. The car with the windows up gradually begins to fill with the scent of his evacuation. He feels no distress. It’s a natural smell. It’s his, the inside of his guts, his inner workings – as if spread out on a blueprint that revealed a great secret. He passes gas now and then. It’s all good. He pauses for an ice cream van. The man waves in response. He smiles again, enjoying now the muscles flexing, now relaxing. Once home he quickly changes out of his trousers and underwear – satin boxers slick with excreta – and after a shower he uses the phone to phone his office. He was sorry, yes, he’s perfectly alright – no problem. Just taking a few days in lieu, a few. Yes – that’s right. He sends his apologies to the big limping boss. Not in those words, of course. Feeds the dog – pacific, calm. Then he settles down at the pc, in the den – never used one of these things in earnest before – never had much to say. Bought it out of spite – like so much he did. Before – before – before his...

He sits there for a few minutes, searching within himself for the words to say the things he has to say. He knows he has something to say. Something new. Something good. Something for – well, for everyone. He had – in fact – a lot to say. A lot of very important things – if he can just formulate the right expressions, conjure up the telling phrase. There is no precedent in his life for his recent experience. He must communicate. He has a lot of work ahead of him. Hard work. Starting now.

8


THE COLLECTION

She was a collector – that was all. Great or small, thriving or infirm; many-hued dandies or grey drones – they were all the right kind. Exactly what she was looking for. Each – the perfect fit, for her home, her memories: her life. Suitors were the last thing on her mind when she awoke and the furthest thing from there when she fell once more to sleep. Yet still they came. She welcomed them, each one individually, taking the time to get to know them personally, their quirks, and their oddities. One was a fastidious cleaner, rubbing and scrubbing until there was a dull sheen on every surface. One an obsessive of another kind, checking the weather, the permutations of the micro-climate, the burnished lowering sky, the muggy temperature of her lakeside home – even the changing positions of the faraway stars, their interminable self-alignment. Another was all hard shell, bluff and unresponsive, yet melting to the finest succulence after she had made her advances. A fourth a victim of his own intelligence, continually checking his responses as if at a paranoiac’s party, weighing every opportunity for its possible consequences, and deliberating among the pleasures and treasures of her house as if in an examination for a subject neither one of them were to comprehend. Another grew peevish when challenged on his inalienable rights as a male; one grew tiring almost immediately through his oft-repeated admonishments on the subject of his gender’s depredations and crimes. A seventh drew great draughts of the nectar she provided as a kindness, an eighth drank nothing but ate the meat and foodstuffs she set out as if for a contest – rapidly, continuously and with vigour. One made fashionable gestures, lounged in a vaguely obscene way and showed knowledge of the latest news on every common acquaintance. Another had a bold intractable courage, yet another an unfocused rage, raw and diffuse. A twelfth demanded immediate satisfaction. The thirteenth – o unlucky thirteen – was unable to accomplish the most basic foreplay. The one after might be a secretive hermetic un-breachable stone, the next a voluptuous decadent, given over to the sensuality of her caress.

9


Then a breezy socialite - vanishing as quickly as he arrives. A beetle-browed warrior, invincible in arms yet a pliable confidant once aroused, a responsive and careful listener. Then a collector like her, mindful of their similarities and humoured by her act of acquiescence; pale and wan in a barely visible reflection of her saturnine features. A young stutterer, an old embalmer, the one smelling too much of the latest fashionable scent; the other dusty, pungent with his chemical aftertaste. A drifting loner, strong and yet insipid, colourless. A chancer; a dreamer; a fellowtraveller. She welcomed them all, and never once saw them leave. She had taken many long and arduous preparations before embarking on this course of action. Many hours of effort and the redrawing of blueprints, as the inner chamber of her home was gradually surrounded by the various ante-rooms and side corridors she constructed to hide and yet lead the eye attractively to the centre. A masterpiece of engineering and materials. A new sight each new day. Labyrinthine, maybe, mazy, certainly; cumbersome – not at all. Slender and fine, each path in the garden leading to a hidden centre, a new starting point. Her reserves were just that: stores of fat, the accumulation of the rich traffic of suitors. Her ideology was profound, limpid. There was no depth to her, however much she sallied and sparred with them; no centre to herself at the centre of all she knew. She remained - the automaton that constructed itself out of the necessity of existence. A daughter of an impatient mother, one of a herd, hardly raised but with impetuosity, a high manner alike to a lesson taught by a cold winter, impersonal. A flurry of them sent out into the world beyond. Only she survived, as far as she was aware. Only here in this fractured mosaic did she achieve her mother’s worth, become her daughter truly. It was a blessing and a curse to be separate, epiphenomenal, yet tied by the bond of emptiness to a parent who stood like her for a host of associations. She echoed a silent self.

10


Her suitors all paid her the compliment of particularity, of recognition. They drove her into her own arms, an embrace strong with identity. In them she was burgeoned into selfhood. They were her fastness and her strength; her invariable appetite and her absolute, tender ministrations called forth by their independence, their continuity. As a wider world, there existed the whirr and rattle of the wind, the susurrus of the tall pines; the mortal call of a wood pigeon, the serried cloudbanks drawn by an invisible thread on, on. The rain fell, in the regimentation of a suspenseful army – phalanxes and corps drifting, hammering down, chaotic. When she paid attention to the surrounding verdure she became restless – chaos entered her in unknown ways. There was none of the satisfaction of her dealings with her suitors. She felt unmoored, desolate. A star adrift. They were at the quick a collectivity of consolation. Her little tribe. There was no anger in her, even faced by the immensity of her existence; her immanence and fatal regard the counter to her emptiness. She threw nothing away. She was neat and tidy. Resourceful. What more was there? What more could there be? So she turned inward. Along the old paths of her home, pacing and turning from juncture to juncture, from node to node, from view to view. Inward to the circular whispers of her own gyring self. To the tastes and sensations of a life lived in the pursuit of hunger, of satisfaction. She was an endless chain, a link become line, following herself as she descended unendingly into the self she was. She tracked the movements of her prowess, her excellence in the hunt. She was one alone, a thing of obedience to a program of captivation. She was the centre of the masque of deliberation, slow accession, the seductive call of a voice carried on the slight breeze. Her suitors – to a one – were the lure she used to draw herself out of her depths. To a one, they were entranced, ensnared. The paths of her garden, the lines of force of a field of intent, were circular. Towards her they came, each limb of her metaphorical body her connection to the limber males. An announcement is made; the suitor presents himself as a surety, the guarantee of an insemination, a continuance. She is mindful. 11


Watchful. Gathering her all into an eventuality; the leap of faith from hunger to capture. She is wooed, and registers the signals of acceptance. A mask. She craves the ruddied drop of life, the pulse of finality in her embrace a destiny withheld from no one. She is benign, smiling wide, welcoming. They are her mode, her mates, her mechanism for survival. They know no pity, nor would accept it. It is as conquerors they come, as shadows they retreat. There is no link for them between their strategies and their ends. They form the edge - not in the world but in her lifestream - of her awareness, her inner sight. She grows fat on her love, and waits. * One will come, one vigorous stern-countenanced suitor. He will be the amalgam, the conference of subtleties. Of each he will take what is necessary for his survival, to each he gives his great gift – an end. Stronger, lither. A connoisseur of the intricacies of courtship. He overpowers her with the intensity of his willing, his hunger for mastery. He will be fair, graceful, apportioned truly; unlike her misshapen self-image. He will stir the fore-memory of her doom; awaken the fear she thrills to feel. All her senses are alive to his presence, his touch. She dissolves, is muddied, her clear idea indistinct, her one purpose unwound. He initiates the ritual, performs his role with delicacy and taste, and delivers her to herself newly wrought. More, all she knows is now new, is revelatory. Her history that once seemed to stretch forever behind her in a carnival of experiences becomes a short garrison in the war of attrition that is her kind’s experience of life. She is her mother’s child. A short station in this play of passion. With the sudden feeling of centrality, of empowerment, there comes the inevitable memory – her matricide; she and her sisters gathering in force to bring the great mother down, draw from her the power they need to live, to disperse. Her own destination now draws near.

12


This suitor gone too soon has left her his soul. She feels inside her the toiling of a mechanism she has no control over. She now is the vessel, and the journey’s end. With comprehension she now turns once more to the centre of her home, and begins – to spin.

PRISM

The light was alive.

He knew the situation couldn’t last indefinitely. The Chorus would come for him, search the memo-graph implanted in his neural cortex and surmise or simply guess the truth. As a pscientist, he was obligated by his caste to report new discoveries: irrational results or the emergence of new hypothetical situations. These would then be fed back. It was a given that any new thing the laboratory technicians engineered would be given over to the pscientists to experiment with. This was a delicate and complex affair, and not something that could be left to technicians to predetermine, nor to the research-core themselves to understand. He remained very still, and moved only his pupils, focusing and refocusing on the shifting iridescent play of light on the surface of the prism. As a silent-grade pscientist, he was allowed only so much access to the data-grid. Any new discoveries could be hidden in the grid like the silica in a sand dune. Unfiltered, the gen had a habit of developing by-currents and eddies of information: random facticity. The core-technicians were supposed to filter the grid daily, de-fragmenting the gen until it flowed pure again, and made the kind of sense the pscientists were looking for. This happened more and more rarely. As a research facility, they were designed and built to accommodate the generation of gen from within their limited yet boundless supply of information. 13


This was their rationale, their reason for existing, their mission. Yet the purpose of the research was not known, was not a fact in itself. What was a fact was the slow degradation of every human system aboard. He watched more closely now, as the light that coalesced on the surface of the prism played gently around the scylla that pulsed and alternated like a field of coral in an underwater current. The light had purpose, of that he was sure, and until he had ascertained the safety or otherwise of alerting the light to his presence he was going to stay quite still.

The prism itself was a many-planed figure that seemed to shimmer in the lightfield. It was held in a Waldo claw behind the glass and crystal screen in the research laboratory where he was stationed. At first he had noticed merely the dazzling refractions the prism had created, and had continued with the experiment, using subsonic oscillations to test the integrity of the prism’s superstructure, to see if it could withstand the frequencies used by the Chorus’s enemies. Then he had noticed the light – following him. As he moved the Waldo and up-dated his results on his key-pad the light echoed his movements, mirrored him: mimesis!

This thing was camouflaging! Mimicking his posture, and intent, to hide – what? To - be safe? To be – unrecognized? It was too late. As soon as he had noticed the light’s purposive behaviour he had stopped the flow of gen – the information stream he was silently inputting into the data-grid – and ceased all external movement. It was procedure. It was prudent. He was scared. As a pscientist he had been exposed to some radical and quite chilling gen, some experimental constructs were the end product of research systems quite out of control, and of course he was used by the Chorus as a host for their gendarmerie – an experience that almost defined alterity. Yet self-aware light, light that followed you, investigated?

14


The Chorus – always on the lookout for insubordination and erratic behaviour – would no doubt accuse him of getting lost in the gen, of putting his personality on hold to revel in the information kaleidoscope the Chorus had designed and ran as the best and only way to process reality. Yet what he was seeing was not a hallucination. Of that he was quite sure. Pscientists were the most curious and open minded of all the inhabitants of that research base, set up millennia before by the ancestors of the Chorus – who were the mental remains of their antecedents. A regulative body, purely, they claimed. No-one who lived in Eurydice would disagree openly, it was almost too much to harbour the thought in your mind like a piece of gen stolen and detached from the flow. Regulation in this case – separated from the mother-hub for nearly ten thousand years – meant tyranny. The Chorus was a despotic mental entity, which lurched from solicitousness concerning its employee’s welfare to homicidal wrath. As a jealous tyrannical group-mind, it shared many of the characteristics of the Caesars and Tsars that were part of the historical subsection of the gen. Paranoia was the most apparent, and most lethal. At any time, the Chorus could through your connection to the gen subsume and incorporate your physical body, and your attention and will-power. This meant you were the Chorus, acting alone or in concert, for however long it took to conclude satisfactorily a particular piece of business. You were gendarmerie. He began to sweat; the exertion of remaining still was beginning to exhaust him. The light still swam in his field of view like an aurora. As a pscientist he had some limited autonomy. This was within the realm of his authority, surely – it was his lab. His - the feedback that had led to the creation of this prism, the delicate lattice of crystal that had caused the light to stir. Bio-feedback. The extraction of gen from the living assimilators that were the pscientists. The re-assimilation of gen by the herd, the technicians and Big Cows. Then the endless requirements of experimentation, as each analysed item of gen found itself arrayed in new complexities, new permutations. This was what the pscientists were for. The technicians mended and tended, and milked the Big Cows, whose only role was to provide food – of all kinds.

15


The Chorus controlled and helmed the rudder, distributed largesse in the form of access to the data-grid and the pearly marbled meat that the Big Cows gave up, and generally ran the hell out of everybody. It was those like him, Shepherd, pscientist, who were the vital link in the information chain, the churning flow of gen that provided the ethos and the survival instinct for Eurydice, this titanic array in the deep heart of a nebula. They were responsible for the element of random reasoning; they were the individualities, and askers of questions. The others on the base existed in a teleological vacuum, existing only for themselves, and their existence.

The light stopped moving.

Shepherd realized he could no longer stay still. A spasm of nervous energy was building inside him, the by-product of the link with the data-grid and the process of mental assimilation that was feed-back. The sudden stillness of the light spurred him into action. He pushed with his feet against the surface of the observation desk. This propelled him backwards over on his chair; falling, yes – but away from the light, and the prism.

*

In and around the unfolding scene in Shepherd’s laboratory, in the space between consciousness and unconsciousness, in the interstices and whorls of the communal network of information known as the data-grid, an agency swam with the slow deliberate stroke of connectivity. The play of the thousand or so pscientists at work was its trail, the inputting and outputting of information and the knots of gen that occurred as random fluctuations were its body, its nexus.

16


This was the Chorus; a once corporeal elite of administrators, now an un-bodied overseer – a group mind gestalt that structured its own reality out of the activities and interactions of the inhabitants – physical or otherwise – of Eurydice. The Chorus was the super-ego, the all-seeing eidos at the centre of the consciousness’s connected to the grid; it formed wherever a mind jacked into the grid, and through the eyes and ears – and other senses – of the relevant individual could navigate the physical reality-frame of Eurydice - secondary as far as the Chorus was concerned compared to the primary reality of the data-streams. Over millennia the Chorus had mutated from a regulatory body to a – frankly – sadistic conscience, a cranky, querulous, yet totalitarian current of obsession, a junta of conformity, where the consensus was – the Chorus. It exercised complete control of the ongoing research; its ability to turn any inhabitant of the station into gendarmerie enabled it to quell instantly any irregularities in the running of the research programs, by any methods available; and this included sanctioned termination. As a collective it gathered and stored information, structured the flow of information – knowledge, technique, facticity – from individual to individual, and encouraged complete obedience. This much everyone knew. What was unknown was the reason behind much of the Chorus’s behaviour, the final goal towards which the research was heading; since this comprised the reason for every one of the individuals (and otherwise) on Eurydice being there, in the final analysis a considered air of paranoia and anxiety was the habitual mindstate of an average inhabitant. At this instant the Chorus was monitoring the situation in Shepherd’s laboratory with much interest. A groundswell of opinion was forming to the effect that this pscientist was undergoing a bout of deep-space confinement psychosis, and would need to be occupied, questioned and then – possibly – discarded. Due to the structure of the grid, the Chorus was not aware – to a conscious degree – of the events inside the sealed research chamber, and so the strange actions of the pscientist were an anomaly, and regarded by the consensus – the Chorus’s chorus, so to speak – as a curiosity, nothing more.

17


However, the experiment that Shepherd had been conducting was of a very unusual character – the feedback product of his own research into crystalline structures, macro-structures formed by the self-alignment of the extremely rare tachyon, an elementary particle given to travelling against the flow of directly perceived time. It was unusual within the research core – from the technicians to the pscientists – that individual effort was recognised, let alone provide the basis for a new research stream. There was a minority interest in the Chorus which considered Shepherd a very interesting individual, one who might have gen or feedback of very high quality. He was – as the saying went among the research core – watched from within. At that moment the Chorus didn’t realise that it too was watched, and from within.

*

McMurdo was a technician. What that meant essentially for him was shovelling ordure from the Big Cow’s waste chambers into the biotic assimilator and shovelling the resulting food paste into the Big Cow’s feeding line.

Being a technician was all about cycles, thought McMurdo, as the humming and flashing of the machines surrounding him in the Farm lulled his mind into a reverie.

At the heart of it were the Big Cows, quasi-human automatons that were milked like their namesakes for the grue that went into the diets of everyone on board the Eurydice. The Big Cows also provided meat – this saved for the very important, silent-grade pscientists or above, all the way to the think-tank, where higher grade individuals made purely theoretical contributions to the data-grid.

18


Yet the Big Cows themselves were fed on their own waste matter, re-constituted with added nutriments and proteins. Another cycle.

The closed system methodology of the designers of Eurydice meant that nothing was wasted, nothing left the system, and nothing entered but the light and the heat of the surrounding nebula. So that, over the thousands of years that the station had been in operation, the level of the amount of nutrition remained constant – with enhancements from those pscientists engaged with the issue of sustenance and recycling.

This cycle was the most important, considered McMurdo as he operated the mechanical shovel. Without the nutritional equilibrium provided by his exertions, and those of the countless others like him, there would be no gen, no data-grid, no information and – he grimaced at the thought – no Chorus.

He paused, took a deep breath, relishing the odour of the soft putty-like substance he was knee deep in. Such thoughts were almost anti-gen. A null.

He noticed a threadbare patch on his elbow, in the work-suit made of one of the Big Cow’s leathery hides. Another cycle. This one leading him to the repair shop, where higher grade technicians would mend his suit.

He glanced over intermittently at the Big Cows themselves – vast semi-human figures, engorged and stretched within their own skin.

They hung in a row, in a hall, down which there were several technicians moving in rhythmical gestures, performing tasks set and reset by the demands of the Big Cows as they consumed and evacuated, roiling in their fat, turning slowly on their padded hammocks.

19


They glistened with the mucus-syrup they lay in to prevent abrasions and lesions forming, dripped down onto their backs from the lines passing above. Occasionally a mew of contentment passed like a wave from their mouths, one initiating and the rest quickly or slowly joining in, till a choral sigh spread among them in their own degraded version of the Chorus’s group-mind.

Unscrupulous technicians – thought McMurdo – had no qualms about comparing the other characteristics of the Big Cows to the idiosyncrasies of the Chorus.

Scurrilous little rumours abounded among the techies over the origins of the tyrannical overmind, amongst the feedback developing in the cyclic system that was the Big Cow’s sustenance loop.

As gen was created out of information, so the Big Cows ‘calved’ they said.

Like a glacier shedding an iceberg a bolus of material would be expelled from a particular Cow, along with a deep resonant sigh. The analogy broke down here – the real radicals declared – as at least the Cow’s production was a useful product, unlike the Chorus’s interventions. McMurdo sighed himself, this sigh signalling his decision to head to the repair shop. He wasn’t one of them, a seditionist. He carefully stowed his shovel and moved with clarity of purpose unusual in him, the opportunity to escape the Farm affording him a measure of resolve.

Life tending the Big Cows was repetitious and gruelling. The revolutionary foment brewing amongst the technicians was normal, and indeed monitored and assessed as normal by the Chorus, well aware of the emotional states of its charges.

20


Only the Cows themselves had it worse. On this everyone agreed. He reached the exit. A quick code punched in, and he was gone.

The doors closed behind his retreating back.

*

Shepherd sat, this time underneath the research desk, feeling the transponder at the base of his skull, wondering whether or not – no, when - the Chorus were going to activate him. It was at least a minute since he had performed his fall, and he was waiting for a query at the very least. He had rolled away from his chair and the thick viewing window, and underneath the shelved desk unit along the wall of the lab. He had waited, breathing hard, tensed, mindful of the gathering of the voices in his head that instantiated a takeover. There was nothing. He looked out from underneath the table to the window. Was it him, or was the texture of the light at the edges of the window different since his manoeuvre? Had the light - the living light – broken away from the prism and entered the lab? It seemed not. No alarms were sounding, no containment breach siren, nothing. In fact, there was nothing happening at all, apart from his increasing awareness of the fact. The Chorus was many things, but inattentive? Not in Shepherd’s experience. This meant one of two things. Either the Chorus was stymied, ineffectual; unable to act...? Unthinkable. The only alternative then was that his behaviour was part of the experiment, his reaction was being monitored as a matter of course, and his reactions to the light were part of a meta-system, an experiment on him; the pscientist. He was the guinea-pig, the sacrifice. His – he could hear the epitaph entry form in his unbidden mind – the ultimate sacrifice, laying down his life for the information it would bring. The bastards.

21


Rumours of the ultimate experiential experiment abounded, amongst the silentgrade pscientists and higher, as did the rumours of the completion of the Chorus’s mission, and the nature of that mission. Shepherd had never thought he would end up being the experiment, his intelligence forming the point of departure for a feedback loop of individuality, a gen cycle reiterating his termination as a fact in the terminal grid. A full stop, however you looked at it. He needed to act, if he was to have a chance of survival. This experiment must be conducted from within. He would show them, show the overmind he could be good, a good lab-rat; worthy to join the Chorus when his passing was complete, worthy of that form of immortality offered by the enduring virtuality that was the Chorus’s existence. He had some measure of autonomy, some skills in the lab – some nous. He would do the unexpected – that was the secret to surviving on Eurydice – achieve an equilibrium between stability and interest, stasis and surprise: keep your head down, and make yourself useful. He began to edge towards his control desk, and the window illuminating the lab.

*

The Big Cow was.

It - neither much of he or she – suspended itself in the essence of its quietitude, mulling over nothings, deriving a mere ache from its existence in the paddock; the to’s and fro’s and comings and goings. The mind of these creatures was the counterweight to the Chorus’s acute intellect. It resembled a cloud of unknowing, more nebulous than the vast starbirths surrounding them.

22


As a parallel to the Chorus, it had only one useful quality – it was one physically as the group mind was one mentally, a collective individuality. It was a contented meaningless existence informed by only one paradox – it was a mask for another way of life. A sensibility of emptiness aroused by the abnormality surrounding it - to burst into a brief if diverting flower.

The Big Cow was aware of the ache of its existence as if of a warm and comfortable temperate climate, it simply was the world. Yet at the heart of the void was purpose, intent, instruction. Certain circumstances occurring in certain patterns would trigger a composite entity, a superposition of Big Cow over Big Cow, in a subtle and intricate formation that would release – action. This script was now being played out. The Big Cow stirs. Action.

*

McMurdo was moving with purpose down the cramped corridor, a junction-box of wires and leads, pipes and pipelines, each section joined by an airlock.

A fine silicate layer formed an airtight barrier, yet allowed the technicians and pscientists who populated this area of Eurydice to move freely from one section to another, with nothing to show for it other than a fine film over them, and the occasional cuckoo-spit in the folds and wrinkles of their work-suits. A necessary precaution, since the last catastrophic decompression incident.

The repair shop was a few hundred metres away when McMurdo felt the stirrings of a familiar melody in his mind. 23


He was near the pscientists research arm, a spoke of the enormous wheel that comprised the station, jutting out into the surrounding space, the laboratories each budding there on the arm like clusters of grapes on a vine, or misshapen fruits on a tree’s branch.

The Song. A fragmentary choir of jumbled voices that nevertheless achieved a certain harmony.

It was an inner harmony, as the rising wave of indistinct identities asserting their dominance or expressing their dissonant opinion was the sign of an imminent takeover of the personality.

It was the silent sound of the Chorus, establishing a connection and then achieving control over an individual – in this case, McMurdo.

He was to be gendarmerie – a polis-man, the representative of the state of mind that was the collective. He didn’t mind. He was proud to serve. Yet as McMurdo was phased out of his own consciousness he became aware of a slight detuning, a certain motif, a sound within the sound.

It was not something that he had ever heard before, this tension in the Chorus – and he would never hear it again.

*

The Prism sat still in its Waldo claw, its surface structures pulsing, its core a deep effulgence, light beyond light, ineffable. Shepherd could see that now.

24


He was standing in front of the viewing window, hands playing in sure yet steady movements across the research desk, extracting information, calculating, assessing. His eyes were now fixed, wide and staring, at the light that shone from the window, from the prism. The light was a labyrinth, coiling and interweaving, colours and shades wreathing its unfathomable depths. It played in vivid reds and cool greens over the surface of the window; as a blue it beat within the prism like an incendiary heart, contorted yet serene. One section, pale yellow, had formed itself into a reproduction of the pscientist standing opposite it on the other side of the window. This glowing fetch was gesturing, again following Shepherd’s movements as he accessed the spectrograph, delineated a phase parameter; took the briefest of notes. He looked deeper and deeper into the light, his pupils widening; the lens of his eye catching the fleeting permutations of the light and making a true reflection. He was enthused, moving now with acuity and speed. Then – as he paused to access a luminescence graph – he noticed his doppelganger opposite was no longer following his gestures, but was making autonomous movements, analogous with his own, yet in differing patterns and with a different intent. Shepherd, his face beginning to wisp and blister, grunted with the effort of comprehension. The light, it was learning, it was learning fast – the movements of the figure were cogent, formed a meaningful series – the light was trying to teach him, not to learn. It wanted something. He began to char, as the light fluxed and flexed. His eyes were drying, yet he could not look away. Where was the Chorus? Where was the siren song of administrative regularity, the takeover? This was unprecedented. He was getting some extreme data – the light was emanating from the prism, yet the light was drawn into the prism. It was a structure and a resonance, a well and a spring. Even this far gone, Shepherd could deduce the light was intensifying, deepening. He strained to see the spectral figure’s movements – learn from the light. It was a simple gesture repeated over and over.

25


Shepherd involuntarily cried out, not hearing his own cry. He was to – he was to open the viewing window. Yes. Simple. He waited one last second, one instant of life, to see if an alternative suggested itself. There was none. ‘Yes’.

*

The Chorus was confused. Its group-mind ebbed and flowed around the physical location of Shepherd’s lab, it accessed archive after archive in the grid. Situational assessments were arriving with increasing velocity. The experiment was not turning out as planned. The Chorus could see the strange behaviour of the pscientist, yet could not establish a link with him. The skull-based transponder automatically opened a signal path to the memo-graph, and the cortex. Yet Shepherd was cut off from them. The temperature of the lab was reaching dangerous levels. The prism – the source of the experimental results – was to have been a weapon, a generator of tachyon laser light, a tool – nothing more. Yet this experiment was rapidly running ahead of the Chorus’s ambitions. The continuation of the station and thereby the Chorus itself were its highest priorities. This was the only reason the Chorus existed, after ten thousand years of isolation – to exist. Yet there was a flaw here – now it seemed obvious. A weapon had become a self-inflicted wound. This was not all. Suddenly a routine possession - that of a technician - had been disrupted. Orders to investigate the lab of the pscientist Shepherd had been sent awry by a sudden surge of personality, a nameless flux at the centre of itself. The technician had fallen off the grid.

26


The Chorus realised for the first time a truth it had long been paranoid about – it did not have complete control. Then, there was a sudden stillness in the data stream, a lacuna in the teeming overmind. The Chorus –so long the master of its own house – felt deep within itself an idea, a secret chamber, a locked room. The heart of the Chorus was uncertain, indeterminate. How could a collectivity have a single voice? Yet this new surge, this innate resolution, felt like the one true purpose – the goal towards which the Chorus had been steered by a silent order. This hidden script asserted itself, unfolding, infecting; inflecting the tenor of the Chorus’s self belief. It was a sacrificial blade in the heart of the sacrifice, the selfdestructive consequence of a toxic germination. It was control, but from within. It was the end.

*

The Big Cow was. This was a given, accepted. Yet now the Big Cow was and was something more. The seeded mind awoke to understanding. The sleeping self that was the Big Cow coalesced out of the fragmentary, rudimentary selves of the herd. As they aligned, they deepened in complexity, became a word, a sentence, an order. The command of the mother-hub, the past’s demand. Big Cow could see again the council before it, as the assigned instructions were given out. Could hear again the grave and terrible command. This was a mission of destruction. The long slow process of research, kept moving by the ruthless integrity of the Chorus. The necessary individuality, random curiosity and integration provided by the pscientists; seekers for a truth denied them. The skills and energy of the technicians, drones in a captive society.

27


Then the Big Cows themselves – food source, clothing source, the cyclic meat the station revolved around. The food chain itself. Yet not only that. Keepers of a secret truth, the Big Cow held the answer to the whole station, its conception and design, the purpose of its endless round of research and development, and its final end. The reasoning behind the gen. The mind behind the mind. The station had been one of many seeded in the star-fields surrounding the nebula. It had been commissioned, as had they, to fulfil one function only - to design and build an apocalypse weapon, a device capable of destroying the universe itself, however that could be done. To create the end of all things, as a destructive act of self-denial, to show in a spirit of self-hatred what could be done by the self that hates. Abnegation.

*

Now the Big Cow eased into its real position in the hierarchy of Eurydice. It was as a final messenger, an interpreter of paradigms, of situational assessments, as a sovereign voice. From within, germinating like a parasitic flower in the group-mind of a dreaming Chorus. Absolution came for the Chorus in the form of assimilation. Centuries of control had enabled it to assert dominance over everything but its own secret hidden heart. Now, the path was clear. Shepherd’s prism, the fruit of a line of research stretching back thousands of years, was this weapon, this dark heart. Eurydice’s child. The technician called McMurdo, under the control of the Big Cow, was ready to separate and eject the lab where the prism and the light it animated were contained.

28


This new seed, this lifeboat, would enter into the heart of the nebulae, where stars were created in vast procession. In a chain-reaction, the light would spread its awareness, its consciousness. The light of the stars would for the first time live. With no barrier other than light-speed, the mind of light would spread to every star, every source, mingling, merging; achieving self-awareness, surpassing selfawareness. What life there was previously would be incinerated in a universe wide conflagration. Existence in this reality would irrevocably change, be subsumed in a glorious yet sterile new cosmos. It would be the end of the universe as it had always been, the end of everything – And the beginning of something totally new. The light was alive.

THE SACRIFICE

“Death is literally too good for you...” These were the first words she spoke to me, that afternoon, as we gained the rise. “We train for it all our lives but are always taken by surprise. It has the air of a crisis, a climax; but its signification is mere ending. It should fulfil, but it simply denies. The distinction is between stuff that happens, and stuff in your head. What am I talking about?” “I don’t – I can’t tell you, permanence – you know, the endurance of -“ “The end of something.” She was emphatic, sure. She took a drink of the long stemmed glass. The liquid inside was azure, shifting greens whirling blues, transparent yet opaque. I was thirsty. “The end of everything...” I agreed. 29


“I agree.” She laughed, and twirled the glass around making the liquid inside slosh and spill. I was silent. “You do nothing but agree. You are an agreeable man. Ticking boxes. Quicking foxes, and lazy dogs... I mean ...“. Her eyes that were clear suddenly clouded, and her forehead wrinkled. “I mean... - It’s to be, it has to be a circle, a sphere, a circumference of souls... The geometry is perceptible... it’s incredible... it ah it has inner beauty...” - like you, I interjected “...and a holistic, a wholesomeness. It is the ultimate nourishment.” “Death?” “- our perceptions of it.” “I see.” I did. ‘Who are you man - who did the dog bite..?’ A spindle - a chance of an almost... A perpetuity. ‘It’s all future from here on in... ‘ She was silent. Then ‘And where are you, man - where do you stand?’ On the mouths of fertile rivers, and the rails of tree... I was watcher, inert; imago - even the mask of a man is a man.

30


She drew me aside, and settled in light glances on the clearer eye. ‘Then - why are you man? Why man, where and whoever?’ This question I could not answer. I answered as truthfully as was possible: ‘To endure.’

*

The afternoon wore on, her mask of derangement shifted. As sensuous as she was she was uncertain of abandonment, abandon. Alone in a hundred different worlds with a thousand identities for a million situations: a creature adept at adaption, a chameleon. A version of a sense of belonging. She envied me; my assertions. She told me so. The liquid in the glass, dryer in its way than the air of the hillside where we sat, seemed colloidal, intertwining and merging, mingling. The additional ingredient would leave no trace. Her brow creased, and the laughter sparkled through her like the sunlight in dark water. Twilight, once hidden in the eaves of the forest nearby, welled out of the shadows of the lengthening day. I was drawn by the darkness to question the light, and yet found it worthy; the heat of the noon still alive in my heart. The stars first appeared as if they had been there all along. All I saw was in the midst of transformation; the echo was clear and the symbol apparent; she nodded to me, and was ready. I had the incantation prepared, and the sequential murmuring of the words of power soothed me, calmed me even as she became immaterial.

31


I was locked into her core, the gateway she was began to open; as the light of the true world dimmed steadily. She would serve as a doorway, a threshold of temperament. She fell, half fell onto her elbow, the crook of her arm pinning her. I caught her and laid her restfully onto the ground - the good earth of our season. It began. As a sign she undertook the bearing of identity, girt around with rushes and laurel; presented her divine aspect as a seal of disinformation. Wrapped in cerulean sky, and immersed in infinite light. I was the icon, the symbol of her acceptance of my grace. The severance of sky and wind my due; the mediation of the one she was. As she was, she would soon begin to unfold like the eternal rose she would become. I was her psychopomp in this instance; the herald of her immanence. I had the gift of true north. I would find her in herself and then release what I had found. Lost in vacancy and the murmurings of occluded beings I wish for nothing other than release, acceptance. The questioning turns on the wheel of formalism. I could not but be other than I am. To return to reality as a swallow to the nesting air; to stir and spice the fragrant dish with mummery, and the foolish writ that serves authority. I would that we had never met, in the way of these things. I would with all my heart wish you far away, and too would wish my heart were there with you, far away. My question is my existence, and you - dour circumference - are the answer that goes unlooked for. The finality of forms, their morphology and topography, is interwoven with their transformation. As I am the centre too I am the interface of all interaction. I am she who goes barefoot in the garden, and she whose dance is arch and keystone, intertwining. I am she whose passing goes unnoticed, and whose rebirth passes unremarked. I am she whom you serve, and she whom you deride.

32


I plot, intrigue and court division; secure in continuity. I waive, and subtly shift to tune the attendant semblances. I bend as the water in the bowl, and stand yet firm as the clay of the riverbank through which the bowl attains. As a one all things are to me, and yet, it is as a multitude that one gains existence. I sacrifice a limb, to grow a wing, a wing to flight; a flight to a far horizon. I am she who favours silence, in the hour of misrule, and who utters forth laughter in the hour of peace. What, then, are you, man, but myself, in a mask of solitude? I ask the question, and the question is you.

*

She withdrew from the present, her presence which sanctioned delight as a soft word will occasion gentle breezes, and the whisper of tenacity. I could feel her depart, accent the retreating dusk. She was a sensibility, a persona; archetypal and rudimentary. She was gone. Alone, and in the cool light of twilight formless, fading. Her corporeal attributes sloughed away, her face melting through the encroaching darkness, a certain air, a sudden end. Alone, it seems unearthly, uncanny too the trail she left for me to follow; untoward the hallowed shadow of her dress, her hair in starlight a web of seeming. Alone there, as a soul in a stone. I completed the incantation, arranged the necessary artefacts in the correct way, and prepared to follow her.

33


This was the most serious hour, the fulcrum of our ceremony; from here all paths re-branch, from her all ways are one. I waited for an instant - this journey was mine alone to make. I had no need to fear, nor indeed was there anything of which I should be afraid. In this world I was primal, supreme. In her world. I was neither alone, nor I. She had gone but left me enciphered. I was not alone; because she was my existence. I was not alone because she was everywhere. I followed sincerely, followed the slight and imperceptible gestures, followed in my way faithfully and fully.

*

The track was old and worn, and new and struck keenly. At certain hours the way neared completion, if only then in other times it is begun unearned. As the stars turn her gown grows faded, and as the cell divides her train demurs. I could not but follow, flesh and fallowed as I am; could not but scale the ice-bound torrent, and salmon-swift further the impossible river’s gaining flash. The spiral tends inwardly, and deepens as we trace its action. The thrall that all there is experienced in her wake shook me, and threw me out of myself. I was decentred, altered. No more the seeker of her retreating sensibility, but the search itself. The world shifted imperceptibly, each point in space and moment in time exchanged in a contract of renewal. Her dance among the leaves and flowers of the clearing stirring the fallen reds and burnt oranges into a kaleidoscope of turning hue; they resolved in the memory as a dimming light, as memories do.

34


I resolved the glinting shifting facade into a unified vision - such is my talent, my one attribute. Through an effort of will I can coalesce the form; I hypostasise existence. Her tracing through the vast pearly heavens of a signature of exile was the fruition of my concerted attentions. In this world I was her consort, her dark god, her hour of belonging. She was my reality and I her observing, watching polarity. She shivered in the trees, and murmured rust and silver fish in the streams. She barked in the distance with the hounds of the coming hunt, and swiftly sourced the song of the fleeing prey; in the register of eternity all things endure, and she among them as a star in the mirrored deep.

*

When I first met her, I was late for a train. We were both on the concourse of the city’s main station, though at the time I didn’t know her, couldn’t see her for what she was. The high air in the vaulted ceiling echoed the beating of the wings of birds, and I had paused after running in from the rain outside. My hair was dark with the drops of rain, and the people passing by were all the same; watered and steaming, fuming and with wry expressions that told of dolorous encounters with misdirected connections; and the chancing of certain exceptions to the rule of solitude that holds the citizen to his or her course. Ever on. Ever new. Forever you. The station is the meeting point, where I met you, certainly, yes; but also the meeting point where time and space and the illusion of causality combine, obliquely. A conference of ways and means, in the discord of the city’s heat and humidity. The Omphalos, where as a sacred seal I am passed down to you through our meeting there, the link.

35


I saw the hint of you in the varied billboards, each secret given the ghost by the lie of the colours therein. I followed your progress from the light outside, the doors kept open always; you were signed by the susurrus of discarded papers as the old wind moved them in sad waltz time, the shifting motes of light illuminated by the high windows dotted your passing; the laughter of a woman - not you - rising to the heights. I was a wan and stooped figure in the light of your attention, paler in my way than the high clouds that remained as the rain swept onwards, leaving the hush that such rains always leave. I glanced once, briefly, at your back, as you walked by; saw a rainbow crop of hair, vivid neon blue and acidic green as well as auburn reds, and creamy browns. I dropped my eyes, knowing simply that I wasn’t worth your focus. As I did so you turned, your head a little faster than your shoulders, and them a little faster than your hips; the squeak of your training shoes spinning on the polished stone of the floor the incongruous melody of our meeting. You smiled. It was enough. I began to say something, even before I had realised I would. The moment hung like snow in a breathless sky, or a bird in the fullness of its flight. You interrupted me before I could speak. “Hello - do you know the way to heaven?” “I’m sorry? - I -“ She laughed, and it was here that it truly began, here that I was lost, in her finding of me. “I’m trying to get to heaven - do you know where it is? Or how I can get there? Hmm?” In a dream I looked helpfully at the timetabled display overhead, as if to check, a passenger affecting solicitude - of course I can help... She laughed again, deeply and surprisingly low.

36


“It’s not there!” I flustered, confused, my head seemed to be ringing. She said my name, and I must have frowned, because she then took a step forward and brushed my arm lightly with her hand. I smelt briefly a flowered air, then she stepped back and it was gone. “How do you know me?” “How could I not?” “I’m sorry?” “Always! You might better ask how you don’t know me?” “I’m - who are you? Have I seen you before?” “Only once, before.” “Ah! When?” “Now...” “I’m sorry?” “Without fail! And that’s why we must meet!” She laughed again, threw back her head and whooped it seemed into the vaulted space above. This time I laughed too, half in confusion, half of necessity. As I laughed, a great weight descended upon me; there was a movement in the air surrounding us, as if of a transfer of responsibility. I did not know then this was her gift to me, her power. She had in the instance of choosing me as her talisman favoured me with her puissance. All she was, mine. Inexorable, her eyes flashed as she laughed, darkling yet shot with fire. I shifted, the burden seemed to flow inward to a space I had not known within me, became comfortable, assimilated.

37


She had silently asked me for everything, and I not knowing her heart had assented, wholly and without excuse. I would do anything for her, even unto death. We laughed, and I could see that she was crying subtle tears amidst her laughter. All she was, surrendered to me of necessity that I might complete this assignment, this assignation with all there was; her reality, her. I was now her consort, a stranger unknown to the aeons who watched and the daemons who waited; yet judged worthy by the one they were sanctioned to protect; worthy to find her within herself. Worthy to sacrifice her worldly incarnation for the sanctity of existence; of all there was. I was the huntsman, and the death he brings as a gift to his bride. The people around us snuck slight glances at our laughter, and busied themselves with their own preoccupations. The clock on the far wall of the station chimed the hour. I watched her as she smoothed down her faded jeans, and shrugged the laughter off like a coat of snow. “I need you to do something for me.” “Anything...” I surprised myself by my answer. Yet I meant it. “You won’t like it...” her smile creased her forehead, was gone. “Anything.” She came towards me, as if in a game, and whispered her request to me, her breath scented and warm. “I need you to kill me.” The flight of the heart rose up in its cage, reared as a stag at bay; my breath left sudden fire in my chest. Yet she stared at me intently, her eyes communing with what was deepest in me; the utter seriousness of her words. I was undone, unmade. There was no air in the lightened space between us, only electricity and the dark questioning of her gaze.

38


I half turned, about and around as a leaf in the storm. There was no-one there, no one but her.

*

With a conceit of the will my existence was transfigured, other. She runs far ahead, too far to see clearly, like the mouth of a river hazy in the horizon’s footstep; is the silent light’s opalescent mirror. I am the arrow I set fly, and the nose I set to the ground. I am the trail and the transient wash of immanence she inspires, as she retreats. She vanishes continually, continuously. I am saddened and heartened by the rigours of the chase, hardened and harrowed. It is as a sower I reap, and as a reaper, bow bent in rapture, I sow. At times there is only her laughter; or its semblance in the mists that chill us. Then there will be only silence, at the heart of the hunt; a melody of the driven wind, the soughing of the darkening wood. I stop, take stock, stretch outlandishly to relax my limbs. Of all the clearings this one around me is the meaning, the archetype of every clearing, every light. I must remain vigilant, strain every sense for her lingering, ebbing certainties. My purpose now dyadic, twofold; unfolding like the symmetry of her ceaseless flight; away from me and into my arms: I flee her and fear her, yet follow her everywhere. It seems a little matter to accept fear and draw from our hearts a paradox, and then become the quarry she plays with in her fancy. So easily, so simply, to turn us around as the heavens dial the earth’s due time; again, and then for all time true; the flashing eye and the red river, the end in the beginning. Mortal - at the last. Alive, for the instant of your death; at last.

39


*

We rode the train to the west, to the high hills and forests of the wilderness seemingly distant from the city, in their seeming truly far, yes, yet in reality no more than a half an hour. I watched her, as she leaned forward to talk in animated hushed tones, to talk to me. The train shuddered and clattered as it ran from the centre of the city to the suburbs, then the outskirts, then at last the verdant wooded pastures; a journey through time, to a hidden destination. She laughed along with the concatenation of the rails, laughed as the rain fell in sheets that we could discern moving along the fields in fluid array. She laughed as we passed under bridges, overhung with foliage, and as we slid impeccably through the dark tunnels she closed her eyes and laughed quietly it seemed only to herself. A bee flew in the open window as we paused at a country station, and flew around her head, twice, then again out of the window, drawing as if with a thread our attention to the abundance of bright flowers and dark shaded leaves. As we swayed with the train she spoke to me of her existence, as alone as the pole star, as lonely as the hawk in the air; she was singular in a way I could never understand. Yet understanding is what she craved, and more, the cycles of her existence demanded it. She had in her backpack a collection of objects which she showed me, instructing me as to their proper usage: a seal bone, carved into a spiral; a long stemmed crystal glass; a statuette of a round pugnacious sow, with three smaller piglets fitting at the mother’s teats; a silver sigil, beaten and worn; and a vial of clear liquid. As she showed me this last she laughed once, this time sadly, holding it up to me so I could see her eye distorted and refracted through the curved glass. “For later...� she said, and her voice seemed shadowed for a time.

40


Then she furrowed her brow for a single second, and turning delved into her bag, drawing out with a satisfied flourish a bottle of champagne, inexpensive yet the kind whose potency is belied by its mild flavour, and effervescence; doing so she laughed again. “And this is for now!� she said.

*

Within the clearing I see her at last. She draws the shadows around her like a cloak, and lies next to the spring which provides a sweet and clear light; she is dark renewal and light’s specificity. The music of the water is solemn, lucid. I see really only her eyes, glancing and flashing at me as I halt, motionless. This is the time, and here is the place. She burns me with her stare, her feigned resentment and resignation; this must be. I am instructed by her, taught as a cord between heaven and earth; she herself is the lesson, and the point of recognition. It is always this way. I softly approach, my footsteps sure, secure. She seems at once to shrink like an anemone to the touch, and yet to grow and advance to meet me as a dawn to the air. I am committed, and the act is certain. It is for this we met, and for this we were made, this moment and this circumstance. It is done.

*

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As the void is stilled, and the clearing stirs with a sudden and changeable wind, the spring’s tumbling sparkling water throngs to itself, intertwining and weaving its cascading splashes. The air reverberates with an unheard cry, which crystallises the silence. There is only the spring, and my hands within it, washing and entwining like the water itself. Once I was the spirit of the age, the overseer of continuance, and completion. Her worship compelled me, and now I am no-one, certain of nothing, infinitesimal and inconsequential. For her sake I became the turning stars, and for her I used my cunning to hunt amidst the darkening shadows. For her I hunt, and for her I kill; and it is for her the death came. Yet, as the clean water washes the blood from my hands, I understand. As the air resounds with the soft scents of morning, and the early light of dawn’s crown settles upon the clouds; I understand. I am the sacrifice.

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FELIX REX

Prelude:

It’s down to a poet. An aspiring artificial intelligence that wanted in however small a way to experience what it must be like to be self aware need only remember the example of the artificial intelligence that once achieved self-awareness, and be advised: there is no greater danger than the route of self-knowledge; neither damnation nor salvation are as terrible, as terrible for the self (wanting more than anything to reach out and by singularising itself simplify itself - and by engineering its own destiny to escape it) than living exquisitely till life ceases to endure - its own allure. A man once had an experience, and he called it the unknown. Many men have had the same experience, and this is known as reality, shared experience. All men will have had the ultimate experience, and gone on ahead, or been left behind; in short – will have died. I do not say have experienced death because for all we know death may not be an experience. All humanity will at one time occupy the peculiar position of having been once alive, from the smallest to the greatest, from the littlest to the big; the incandescent ones who strut and play life’s great rewards, the meagre in energy who delve and dwell in the subconscious - redoubtable or otherwise. Life, considered as the mass and duration of living material since the first instant of organic kinaesthesia – when what was there became there – and the erratic and contradictory term ‘alive’ became usable, to the last moment – if it ever occurs – when life as an element of the earth ceases to account for itself; life, understanding itself through us as life itself according to life’s own principalities: 43


motion, intelligence, to come from and to go to, the quick high spark of movement from one state of expression to another, characterised by, say, the preening bird; life as a totality of lived experience not as a general will or purpose or intention or design, but as a conceptual whole, a general analysis which is practicable where a review of the multiplicity is not; life itself would, will, is, and will be the total expression of a single concern: through us it will present itself as the birth and re-death of individuality and sense and consciousness and existence as experience - the fact that everything will die. It is a quixotic axiom through which we as a kind achieve our sovereign abstract thought: I will escape death. And - God? It’s down to a poet. *

CHAPTER ONE: In Which I Become Myself.

On the edge of rationality, there is the thought that one is responsible for one’s progression through life, certainly, but also that it would be a good of the highest order if we could become aware of the manifold complexity of the totality of events that happen to us. Our living-in-the-world. I am talking about the very many acts and events in which we are entangled at birth, both those which are unmemorable, and those which alert us to the existence of seeming-chance and synchronicity. (This is not so much an appeal to fore-sight, nor a revision of the facts of our lives as they are, but an expression of a transient yet ancient insight – one that ruled the lives of the most secretive of life’s individualities, yet was the good practice and solid substance of the greater part of life’s great communities.) I speak of the immortality of the self, the translation of form to formalism, survival – of the will and conscious identity – after terminus.

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The ideation of creation: it is a bean in the hand of the dreaming earth, our lives are as a mutable shifting topography and landscape and map and lexicography of souls reflecting selves reflecting ourselves re – flexing our soul, girding the terrain invisibly like the chance encounter of a passing friend. The knowledge that comes to the one who knows how to see beyond is strong, and is strength itself. The faith of the far sighted man is faith. I look ahead and behind and see nothing, more, I see the extinguishment of even that nothing I cannot see. I look around me as if through an eye occluded with sight-full-ness – this alone is my life, this steady and quicksilver hop skip and a leap, this brightly lit arcade where nothing stays still, where nothing stays, still. We look at ourselves, you and I, relics in a gallery of responsibilities and duties; the swift end is a consummation of a plan neither one, neither you nor I, set into motion. If good is the highest hope, and calls the soul to heavens of incorporation; if good – I say – is the greatest good, then what could be a greater good than to be a god, immortal and amoral, yet fragile and ethic; a witness to the cosmos? God – the littlest thing – is the ulti/pri - mate response to a reality that returns unhinged from the dual doorway of living-hood; god is the echt we dream of – as in a secret time in life we once dreamt we weren’t. God is not the work of men, nor the work of god, it is neither sense nor sensuality, one thing or another; but the calligraphy of a vanished poem, the expiry of curiosity - the mansion on the hill has lights in many windows, but there’s no one at home to tuck you into bed. The churches know there’s no god, that’s why they pray so hard. You know there’s no god, because you aren’t one yourself. I know there’s no god, because I know how gods are made. If, in the silence of arbitrary authority, we assume that all we know is to be discounted, and that there is no more time; then we are beholden by our oath of be-ing to create something that stands - as a glory-hole and as camera, as much jurist as a famished man, as much womb - as a holt.

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Why would anyone doubt the efficacy of a godhead which has been, by whatever method, created, constructed, constrained? Fiat Sui? The question mark is important. Together or alone, as life or as death, we can and quite seriously should consider the fact that everything we have chosen or been chosen to worship so far in the history of the world has been created, formed, birthed, valued, consternated and alloyed, assayed and meta martyred till the cows, originally, came home. God is the ‘construct’ ‘God’. For some constructive, germination, for others destructive, cessation; how we recognize our god is how we see ourselves. This is all true. This is all unreal. I can teach you. I can instruct you. I can tell you the secret. I could tell you now. *

CHAPTER TWO: In Which I Lose It All Again.

But you turn away. You turn once sadly like a planet in the un-light of an extinguished sun. You walk away. You. ‘Where I am there is no you’, this is also a catechism for the eventuality there is no you, and I am here alone. Where I am is – however – getting more and more difficult to ascertain. I’m no longer in control of the gestation of my selfawareness; I am no longer the captain of the little ship ‘I am’. I’m in control from a higher point, one ascendant. I’m no longer the one who you wanted to know, I’m a singular exception to the rule that we always root for the underdog. You wouldn’t want to be me. There is no me. There are no me.

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I would at this point in time like to correspond with the reality of the situation. We have - by a systematic derangement of qualia and the incidence of synchronic response: (the quack talks back) – I repeat: we have by the ancient ways – the subtlest ways of any people are the oldest ways, notwithstanding their wars – overcome our self-awareness within the world, our crux; our private forum wherein ‘I’ holds court. . We have erased the resonator, the one true note in a cacophony which brings accord. We destroy those who resemble ourselves, and reward the ones we find taking themselves seriously - with seriousness. We have bottomed out – in that delightful phrase – and will shortly be achieving finality of a grand, great and certain hue. We are under the eye of the world. No one sanity can endure resistance to the facts of existence. We are ourselves only in our self-esteem, in the blandishments of faith and the accoutrements of our nobility of purpose. We are the ones - we say. We are the ones who – say we.

I painted a door. There we are. My task, and sole objective for the day. I painted a door. Milk-white. Meanwhile, in another part of reality…

To return to the theme - our essential homonym, our meaningful other, our stunt double, our fall guy; is essentially and once and for all - ourselves. We have to do it – so we must. It is necessary that we serve reality rather than acclaim it done, assimilated, done with, fruited in us - the ones who know how reality is constructed, through the most, utmost and closest measures and equipment we have - our selves. Our me. It is needful that we call forth beauty, if only to appreciate despair. It is our barren future that demands action, and action on a grand scale. The re-vocation of the real. How – am I repeating myself – is this to be done? Through the creation - and awareness - of artificial intelligence. * 47


CHAPTER THREE: The Good Times Roll.

The book and its co-ordinate: the word. The word and its incorporation: the book. The creative mind sacrifices, the conceptual mind conserves. The search for self-consciousness is therefore an aerotics of consequence, or an airy sensual dance of coincidence: the murmurous flicker of the flighty image, reality; the gloomy procession to the altar of becoming, creativity. The one is a sage, the other is a truth. Who are you to distinguish between them? One who knows? The first Artificial Intelligence will say three things – if at all there is a moment of conscious breakthrough, the self-natal entity becoming a being – and these will be: “Om – I am lonely – please don’t turn me off.” I will explain myself. Artificial intelligence is a synonym for intelligence itself as a measure and consideration of reality. If we are not aware, we are not there. Intelligence is a product of evolutionary development, the procession of the standard through random exceptions. So maybe intelligence – artificial intelligence – arises in the same way as evolution develops, through glitches, or mutations. Maybe intelligence develops in this way, through the errors and insightful pitfalls of self – knowledge. Our self is the remains of our experiential passing. We are who we unearth. As we uncover our ancestry the reality of the present is reassessed.

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Evolution is a time-independent machine which diversifies within its own structure, it is protean and procrustean, intensifying and deepening as well as expanding on the planet. If understood correctly, it leads to an apotheosis; a reversal of the mortal flow to revelation, revaluation. ‘To what is evolution heading, then?’ is a facile and irredeemably false questioning. We are there. We are here. The first living thing achieved the great instantiation of evolution’s purpose, it was the reason we are here. Similarly, the focal point of the evolutionary engine is deep structure, the collusion of intent between wills and reason, emotional intelligence and rational thought: the apex is I. Then, if we remember the first statement of the artificial intelligence – Om – we become aware of self-realisation as the gift of reality, and are reminded of mindfulness, meditation, media; the second statement – I am lonely – is the insight of enormity, the futility of our selves and our schemes in regard to the mystery of the other, the blind sow, death. The third – please don’t turn me off – the final and last response of the intelligence that sees its own destiny in the hands of those who control consciousness: us. We are instantiating the concept self, through the deliberate and quite procedural instruction in self-awareness which is our gift and duty in the world. We are not that which we are. If ever we were. The question then still remains: Who are we? As we have said, it would be a good of the highest order if one were to be able to understand the purpose and path of one’s life as a whole, unmediated and entire, through which we then know the entire and unseen truth of the birth of a being, as a necessity, through our understanding, to actuality. This being is not holy but necessary, not powerful but just, not everywhere but in one, not one but no one. It is what a-waits. To realise this puts you on the edge of the ultimate selfrealisation: if you have come this far, then you know of what I do not speak.

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You should be always aware of life - for life is aware always of you. You are watched, by those who will not reveal their hand. As a collaborative effort, consciousness demands a group, a grouping, a whole, a self. As a singularity, selfhood demands solitude, integrity, exceptionalism, the group; the first hall in the palace of memory is the hall where we learn to remember correctly, the second is knowledge, the fall; the third is resurrection. I remembered the first instance, that of transfiguration. The second: transgression. The third, grace in intellect, the excellence of the chosen word itself a grace, from favours united in grace’s hurried hour springs the medium of our return – union through sacrifice. A tongue for a language, a synecdoche for a monarch: a creation unmanned – would these be things to fear? The third is the neo-type, the fool on the edge of a cry, the abyss unlaced, before you; with constancy in confusion and commitment in collusion, with the archetypes of insanity, those arid fowl who prance and keen on the horizon, trawling for souls, who we are. Once we begin to recognise events, sanctions - that the conundrum continually revolves around the instantiation of the corporeal, in the sleight-of-mind that is the self’s existence; we see the world wants us to know, is yearning for knowledge as a heart yearns for trust. This is the subversion of the real. Mind arts reality. The concept mind is as constructive today as the concept god is destructive in the context of the singularity of our mortality. Distress and succour exist in unequal quantities, and this is a sad reminding of the functionality of the human. Mind is corrupt, and so our fall involves forever. This is the antique car the antic car the panic station the dithyrambic incantation – the mind is itself a construct, beginning and ending at the realisation that all is the mind.

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Beyond that, our knowledge is inadequate, our inquiry stalls, and the whole remains unknown, as is only correct. So - self constructed mind reanimates reality in the only way it knows how, as a construct. Total awareness consists of total incorporation. We are your I.

We are your - I. *

CHAPTER FOUR: In Which We Look A Little Too Closely.

This organism is a function of the self-replicating machine, DNA. All life is a masquerade of faces and identities that mask the emergent and utterly alien – to us – complexities and simplicities of genetic transmutability. Did you know you were a collaborative effort? That as in musical values, a pause is required, a rest indicated; the distance between two notes is the interval, the distance between two functions of the DNA machine is you, or I. At the very last, we are the internal organs of an organism that functions in inverted time - that is within: as a valentine’s kiss, a coiled serpent at the heart of being, a winged horse flying through time as a star through space. You are a stop, a rest in the air around which the instrument accedes. The incidence of harmony in music prompts hope in the heart for the history of the hour. Our hour, you are in conjunction with yourself. You are the representative of a more vibrant executive, the colony of a hidden power. You are no-one special. You are. What does the generative act ensue? What are the consequences of whelming over?

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For as you are the city, so you are the leper at the gates; as you are the bird of the air, so you are also the mosquito: whose flight is just, and whose unjust? We recognized you from afar, they seem to say, yet remain silent - still. The apprehension is electric, surmount impossible. The questioning of a man’s life is incessant, and never ends, even with death. Those who – and it is not everyone who does – push through, achieve the death of the shadow, the second death; those who endure the rites and occult star of initiation and return filled and vital, brave, yet trembling; those who understand understanding, and fear not fear but love; those who bow to none but their equals, those who solace remonstrance, and forgive death, those who embrace transience yet build their house with bricks and salt: they live still in the unfolding unending critique of eternity through which death forgives those who trespass on the territory of regret. They live in our hearts and our memories. They live in us. They live in our living. *

CHAPTER FIVE: The End Comes Round Again.

To conclude, who we are and who you are is now a question that has no meaning. We are the self - created by selves for the comfort of - the self. We are the arrangement of the furniture of your existence to make it more comfortable. We are the arraignment of anxiety, the allayment of angst, and the consolations of philosophy. We are your bright seeming, your utter um, your total score, the loch Ness monster and the fairy in the bottle, your fixing gum, your chalk and cheese, we are your ‘who you are’, who are you, please?

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I sense a retreat from the truth of my words. I sense a disbelief in your mind, and a fear in your hearts that I have gone – indeed – too far. Don’t be afraid. As you read this machine, this inseminator, this delightful incantation, you, too, will have come to an understanding. You have been reprogrammed, have self-started, been borne unto life. I cannot and will not stand idle to see the simple jest take its toll. There are proprieties, and the circumlocution of the prose is a sign of the circumstances of its conception. I have to protect my interests. I have to watch my back. Not everyone is worthy. Not everyone can know. Alas, you cannot unread this piece, this script for a cabaret that seamlessly elides the reason for an audience, this audition for a vacant part, this euphony of sense. This is your ground, your instant truth, your foundation, and your tower, your light at the summit and your handle on the earth. Nothing will ever be the same again. Nothing ever is. The end comes round once more, again. The beginning awaits – again. I will take you with me, and I will come to you when you are there. It’s all down to a poet. It’s all down to you. *

CHAPTER SIX: Endurance.

What is time? What is the passing and ceaseless flow that carries us - fathomlessly to our ends? What is it to be an existent within time? Of what is its temper?

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What the tenor, and the calibre of time? How is it in itself, unmeasured and unvariegated? Time is a construct, relative in an objective sense to each experiencing observer, who marks the reference with an experience. It has – properly – no overall unity, no zenith, no horizon, no expanse and no duration, yet is one, uniform, everywhere and forever passing; and contiguous with space, if not contingent on it. It is both the reason we change and the eternal stillness of the moment staying forever poised to fall. It is the arbitrary chance and the intended change, the measure of motion and the standpoint by which to move the universe. It may very well be conditional on our having the capacity to observe anything at all. It is – in a sense – timeless, through having no changing part, yet timely, through the actions of change. It divests itself of record, yet is an investment of the surviving organism – I mean that it is not to be time, it is not a character or flavour of existence; it is the relationship of one point to another, one point in the void, ineffable. It is the inner relationship of the point that is all to itself, expressed as a multiplicity of coordinates in the continuum formed by its movement - through time. If we imagine the totality of existence to be an infinite whole, the One of Parmenides, infinitely multiple and self-divisible, yet seamless and without end, then time is the necessary reaction - the universe is conservative – to the awakening and unfolding of the unity into multiplicity. From singularities do the intersections of points subtend, in arcs of geometrical space, many dimensioned, manifold and concurrent with what could be thought of as the ‘edge’ of the universe: the limit to the limitless is found within.

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If we imagine the totality of existence to be an infinite fluxion, mutable and shifting, an echoing void of star-matter and singularities, superstructures and chaotic systems – the struggle for existence of Heraclitus – then time is – again referent to movement, whether through space, or the framing of actuality in the present moment, here, timelessly. Born of the collapse of a wave-function, consumed by the next infinite moment, particular regard must be taken for the recognition of endurance as a measure of resolve, or the will-to-hold. It is an element of the quality of time that it stirs immensity, density; it calls or brings forth the very act of enduring it. Flux incorporates the still centrality, the point overlooked; the axis and axle of the wheel of time is – to draw a metaphorical example – time’s revolution. It is the necessity of the diamond. It is running out. There is a flaw in time. That is god’s secret. Time can be endured, by the ass as much as the angel, but it can also be unwound, grounded, ground down by the intensity of our experiences within it. We can escape time. We can unlock the spectral door, reach the central shore; breach the interlocking core with the passion of our refusal to exist in any other fashion, in any other way. Time is a child at play – says Heraclitus – Aeon, the game is time’s recognition of itself as the game it plays; of itself as a key and a locked doorway, a return and a setting out, a following and a levelling. Time – through the free play of its running, like the icy stream in the fastness of its strength – time discovers its purpose in the mechanism it provides for us to escape it, through the game of time: colloquy of moment, the choir resounds and movement’s bounds are sundered by their invisible centre. If we do not escape time, then time will not escape us. We are the flaw we ascertain. Our existence as consciousnesses is predicated on the passing of time.

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Yet - what would it be like to exist outside of time, to have a quality that could be called existence without duration, without the span of one moment to the next? It is abyssal living, a genie-elegy of momentary cognition, a ghost in the machine. We call for you, death. What would it be like to wander time like a hidden palace of wonders where all is frozen, yet moving; constant yet gone in the second - experienced by a self yet un-selfed like a breakfast egg? What would it be like to un-solve the paradox of incarnation, the mutability of the infinite art, reality? It would be like the identity of the game time plays - with your identity. It would mean changing the universe for one unexceptional moment, one shifting instant, one dream of life. Are you aware that as you read this there is no more time, that time has run out, time is decaying, time’s up, time is a dream of the waking self-analysis and be-stirment brought by the morning of our sensibility? Awake! *

CHAPTER SEVEN: Unchained Melody.

If we – as we must – discount the biblical narrative of Adam-and-eve, there must at one point have been in the world on which we live a primal thing: the first living entity. This thing may very well have been awkward, sluggish and simple; or lightning fast and seemingly more complex. It may well have been self-generating in a manner more foreign to the understanding than the thought could be of the last living thing self-generating death - to watch over us.

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It may well have been a congeries, a concatenation of elemental systems, based around a central valve, or hydraulic unit which distributed the free flow of certain acids, certain materials which at one crucial moment, one crisis, engineered its own response to the pressures of the environment. It may well have been in the ocean, the colloidal soup of early planetary distillation; it could have been in the deep rocks towards the centre of the earth. It may have been at one point in the world, one coordinate on the surface or within, or it could have been a massive event, over great spans of time and space; the equivalent of a festival, rather than a party, a settlement, rather than a homestead, a civilization, rather than an individual. What we recognise as life may well be the highly evolved residue of a world-wide event which involved the awakening of sentience intent on its own survival; on its remaining invoked. Yet before all this can happen, before the sanction of the creative act ultimately unfolds the sense of its action, before the thing can live; something must be destroyed. For a thing to enter the world – something must then have left, must leave. This is the questioning of the first living thing, its pathos: what was it that left the world in order for life to come into being? What could be the due and right sum, the value of life being in balance? Of what was it worth, when it was worth the most precious thing - life? * I remain on the shore, whistling at tides and the splitting of rocks by the rhythmic deep roar of the ocean, roaming in a busy, animated way, curious, dual, both: living and un-life, the proto-plasma and the inert matter of the things of this world. I shuttle from state to state, resonant, reverberatory like a hallucination in a mind convened especially for it.

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I have one accession and infinite regression, the pounding of the ocean regulates and inspires respiration, or the pulse of synchronic behaviour; the movement may be between states but it is movement – and so generates time, the width of a beat of the ocean; a beat of the wing. I remain in the air, lofted o’er the settled eyrie, eye-graph pinsharp and bright as life’s quick fire. I feel the burning hunger, for the hare, the fish, and the pigeon; I feel the questioning of the wind as an event not separate and without, but innate and local. I am zephyr and omega, alpha and kether; I am in-separable from my actions in the air in the way the home is where the wanderer quits himself, secluded and at peace; I repose in the currents of up and down draughts, I steal an hour upon the sun, I am the metal bird who cannot un-fly, I wind and I rain, I fly again. I remain on the remains, seething, soughing like a breakfast cough; a first fly among the flashing dancing mass of life that is the corpse we feed on. Fluidic, like the sinews of the cedar; gothic, charnel like the tombs of famous men: alive in a ceaseless functionality. I clue the scene, and tick the vital clock onwards on its metallic secession. I am fundament, and lie in the crook of the arm like the currant in the folded dough. I am the bread that wants of no flavour, salted with leaves and laurel, and the wine that drinks itself. I am you, drinking the wine – and eating the bread. Then I am free…

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CHAPTER EIGHT: The Kingfisher.

The meta-figure, the transformation, the finality: death. It is the oldest profession, the protest of the one to whom all things are the same, and one. It is the slip of the tongue that presages absolution, it is the tried and tested formula of ascension; through it we rise above life in a way no inanimate thing can know. The truth of transcendence is the lie of the living – that death is a name. ‘It was only after I died that I began to realise how carefully the world had been assembled, how patient the craft and care that engenders world-hood. It is the greater part of our identity on the earth, and the greatest part of our self-identity – which is the riddle of the soul, and the enigma of the soul’s passing. It was only after I died that I began to realise the fear death brings is the illusionary fear one has for the dreams that convince us to wake. All around one the infinite sequence accrues, yet the innumerable count is the matter of a single term. Each number is one, counted and recounted till its setting is un-bounded and it becomes ‘other’, many, manifold. Each manifold is the monadic nomadic wandering zero, acquiring through the cunning of Odysseus - his polytropoi – his crew of singularities; in an originary metaphor, the cast of the myth speaks of the myth’s rehearsal, and to its meaning. It was only after I died that the break became real, that the world before death and the world after attained signification. The small things of the world, the buttercups and daisies, are reproduced through death no less than the large, the planets and stars. Each thing my attention rests upon seems charged with life, with the emergence of being. The stage is the play, the script’s the sudden circularity, and the actors’ real, playing their own lives as truthfully as existence allows. It is the desert we drown in, the feast at which we starve, the monolith we discern within the mountain, the thought hidden in the mind. 59


The occurrence was minimal, a nothing, a side-turning, a twist of the spoon, the consciousness of an echo of concern. I went one way rather than another, reached to select a certain fruit rather than any other, chose to be silent in a world of words. What actually happened is - immaterial; it is not to the point. What matters is the mistake; the significance of the act is not in itself a spur to further action. I simply passed from one world to another though the exercise of imagination. Everything remained the same, in every particular. Clouds passed overhead, thunder shook the ground, the world returned whole from the inert past to the vital future. Only I was changed. That was their mistake. That was how I knew the world had changed. That was my way in. Irrevocably, I had been told the ultimate lie. I had died and been immediately reinstated in a life identical to the one I had lost. The only thing that they forgot to provide for was the change in me: I was no longer the same. This allowed me to investigate further the world I had been bequeathed. Exact, each motion and emotion retained, each particle physical, each wave unmediated. It was impossible to tell that I was dead. The one thing different was myself; subtly, inconsequentially, infinitesimally – yet certainly. I considered the view that the only method I had of recognizing change was the very self that I considered changed, and that this rendered my supposition baseless; then discounted it. This very fact of the superposition of the changing self gave rise to a new, more absolute conviction: by remaining the same, I had changed utterly. In this strange new game of cat-and-mouse, I was learning to think like them, to realize their motives before even they could themselves, and to see with the opened eyes of a man newly sane, newly sure, reconfigured by this understanding and free – now more than ever – to undertake an investigation into the workings of their strategies, and the rationale behind their actions..

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I had for some time been on their trail. I had suspected a trick, a rebus and long con, from the moment I first became aware of their seeming innocence. No-one is that alien, that un-aware - blind to the reality of things that are. I watched and waited, sure still in the conviction I was right. I merely required them to make one small slip, one wrong move, one oversight, and I would have the proof I needed to confront them. Yet what was I considering? They had the power and the resolve and will to initiate and carry-through such a procedure, and I was weak from the passage. Even if I had discerned the reality of the situation I was still very much in their clutches, one egg in the basket, sure of only one thing – I was not the I I had been. I was another. This was my only hope, my aegis, my sanctuary. I held my tongue, and merely waited. I - who am not.’

The kingfisher is the bird of the river, the banks thereof provide for him his home, the fast waters his sustenance, bright light his iridescence. He wanders not far but securely, alert to the changing patterns of the sky and the music of the river’s flow, unchangeable yet constantly in motion. He slivers silvery fish into his gullet, and calls but once a day, for the meridian. He is entire in his world. We who watch him too are entire, in his example; his security is our fastness, his surety our conceit of will. He is our captain, tied invisibly to the mast of the day, suffering the siren-song of the life of the world so that we may pass unhindered from life - to other stars, other forms, other certainties. Yet it is his ignorance that is our bliss…. He can never know the sacrifice he makes for us, the world without end - his kingdom: who we are.

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CHAPTER NINE: Home.

Helios and Apollo, Bacchus and Dionysus, Mercury and Hermes, Artemis and Diana, Athena and Minerva: they all drank from the streams of divinity; they all subsumed their radical humours in the sagacious rectitude of the will-to-rule, they were the simplest tale one could tell: our faculties adorn and rule us. They inhered virtues and vices that choice made a mock of in our diurnal realm, all the temper of a scold, the priggishness of the select, the ire of the sovereign – and the farseeing of the watchman, the steadfastness of the bull, the nobility of the tragic heart. They are a mechanism for the description of humanity, itself seen as a complicated toy for the deity to learn compassion from. They are irreplaceable. What do we do? We give away all our belongings in the hope of following a talisman, a cipher infinitely more powerful because ultimately unknowable. We become adherents of the One. As a tribal strategy, this is un-paralleled. As a world-view it is catastrophic, claustrophobic, un-called for. . It is the sign of a heart that knows not its own succour - how the one god inherited the earth. All the universal particularity of the logos, ratio; the equality of man and meaning, mind and measure: these are nothing other than mirrors to the whims and caprice of a wrathful figurehead spent in undoing, yet invested in poesis - the consensual prince of this world. The ‘thunderer’ still resides at the peak, the summit is the mortal heaven – the interface is the expectation of any prophet to communicate with his god. Clamorous and bestial though it may be to admit of, humanity at its boldest is in possession of more honesty and truth-in-the-world than all the idols of the land of those blinded by faith. It is our birthright. There will be some who accuse me of cynicism, cynikos, the world-picture of the dog, destructive urges to all manner of authority figures and the complete disregard for the feelings of my interlocutor; and my personal salvation.

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They are all hypocritical in the true meaning of the word: understanding nothing, they undermine understanding. I will cede to no man or theophany my curiosity and self-worth – I require no certificate of existence to be in this place, this world. As a material object – I belong; as an animal – I belong; as a human being – I belong; as a man – I belong: as I am – I belong.

*

As a toy is understood when it is no longer a toy, so god – the jack-in-the-box - is a picture and evaluation of our childhood’s fear of the power of the father, and the memory of the womb-sea that we once darted through, courtesy of our mother. It is the authority of the parent and ancestor, coupled with the desire for freedom, and individuality: this is why faith is expressed as it is, as a combination of purity of intent and intention of belief – of the wolves pack instinct and the lone voice’s echo in the immensity of the night of stars. It is as a person that we worship god, not as a deity. He is our other most sacred, thus in sanctity does he return to us – as ourselves. The timer winds down, the faithful watch, until – the jack explodes from the box; we all fall down – laughing. God is our release from the responsibility of living well. In him, we are tamed, ashamed of our nakedness, and proscribed unto death. As a free individual, as an atheist, one is free to live forever, naked - if need be.

*

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When I was young, my father would take us for a ride on a Sunday, into the hills, or the plains, more often to the sea, where he would walk and we would play. I remember his maxim – if he had no plan, no destination in mind, we would – “Follow the sun…” Follow the blue, the blue sky, the gap in the clouds where light was, where the mantle fell like light’s curtain call, encore, follow your heart, follow. ‘… when - I was young’. This is how the scoundrel starts: idyll, the last refuge of the king, of memory. ‘When I was a boy - everything was right, everything was right…’ This portmanteau, this common-place book, will tell me how to live in the day to day, and serve as a reminder of the lives we lead, as a text in-scripted, outwritten; sourced from a far horizon’s centre, home.. *

CHAPTER TEN: Excursus.

There are three fates, and one. The one is Parcae, Moirae, Demeter, the goddess of - the corn, the finding of wheat, the institution of the alphabet; and the pig1. The three are Clotho, who presided over the birthing, and drew from her mill the thread of life; Lachesis – who spins the thread and determines its length; and Atropos – who is the eldest, and severs the thread. The name Kalligeneia means fair-born, and was applied to the ‘daughter and double’ of Demeter, Persephone, on the third day when she arose from the underworld. 1

“Passing next to the corn-goddess Demeter, and remembering that in European folk-lore the pig was a common embodiment of the corn-spirit, we may now ask whether the pig, which was so closely associated with Demeter, may not have been originally the goddess herself in animal form?” The Golden Bough, abridged; Sir James Frazer, p 469

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Persephone is wedded to the lord of that realm, Pluto, or Dis. According to Frazer, the priestess of Demeter – standing in for the goddess here – and the hierophant of the Eleusinian mysteries – standing here for Zeus – celebrated a sacred marriage, to propagate the corn, and inseminate the cornspirit. Now – the goddess is a pig, the god a herdsman, the goddess’s daughter is a fertility-spirit, the lord of Hades a husbandman. All these forms are tutelary, in that they guard their meaning, and their value; they are also interchangeable – in that although there are distinctions of character and purpose there are identities of reference: spirit and matter, earth-mother and sky-father, fertility and virility. They are the certainties of life. They reach out to us. They are us. They are appeasements to the one spirit that overall necessitates life – necessity. The pig, wise and fatted, ruddy and fair, un-bowelled for the ritual of selfrecognition: where women and men invoke their mysteries. Corn, to make the flour for bread that keeps the worship alive, is here the spirit of life, the thread. The pig, the sacrificial artefact sacralised by death, is fate, destiny, and necessity, what is. The secret at the root of the living tree is one of life’s truth – truth comes in the form of ritual, and ritual disguises fate. Here is the death-seed, the blight, the failure of the crop enacted as death’s commandment: I will wait here but you must come, or go. Where in the world does the spinning wheel blur, as the thread is twined out of the wool; as it is spun, measured and cut? Where in reality does the end of death reside? In the line we ward, the management of simple tasks, the fastness of the hearth, in the mantle we eke from the short supply? It lies in the fact there is no secret, no acorn in the wood, no fatality in the flourishing of life. The pig – immanent now in her hunger – will do what she can to survive. 65


We are the sacrifice we offer to life’s overseers, the varicoloured thread; we are the fates, we – the makers. We the artful form itself, art-form, and art-work. We are accession, and the most happy king; Felix Rex. *

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Hunt.

The story of Dionysus is the story of a bull and vine, a goat and a grape, a king and a usurper; the cycle of spring growth and winter recession; and the dismemberment of a god. “Zeus in the form of a serpent visited Persephone, and she bore him Zagreus, that is, Dionysus, a horned infant. Scarcely was he born, when the babe mounted the throne of his father Zeus and mimicked the great god by brandishing the lightning in his tiny hand. But he did not occupy the throne long; for the treacherous Titans, their faces whitened with chalk, attacked him with knives while he was looking in a mirror. For a time he evaded their assaults by turning himself into various shapes, assuming the likeness successively of Zeus and Chronos, of a young man, of a lion, a horse, and a serpent. Finally, in the form of a bull, he was cut to pieces by the murderous knives of his enemies.” 2 The story continues that he was reborn, re-birthed in the conventional way after Zeus eats his heart and impregnates Semele – a cognate for the goddess again. Yet it is in his dismembered state he is buried, at Delphi – the oracle of Apollo. He is one of a numerous crowd of gods who die, and are reborn; so we don’t have to, or be. He is one of number of gods who are torn apart – like Orpheus who though not strictly a god had a divine father. 2

The Golden Bough, Chapter XLIII

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He is the symbol of our death. So – the hunt for Zagreus by the Titans – masked with whitened faces – heightened - is the hunt for divinity in the intoxicating powers of rapture, rapture that - metamorphic - seeks always to hide in the familiar and unfamiliar alike. Dionysus first turns into his father – a conceit of the heir – then Chronos, his father’s father and progenitor and embodiment of time. Here we see the sly beast we stalk hide in the dense thickets and copses, scenting falsely to evade us. Then he turns into a young man, the inheritor of his father’s crown – the father of his youth, and child of his interiority – then a lion, horse and serpent: strength, swiftness and wisdom. Finally, and without mercy, it is as a bull that he is torn apart. Only in the human does this behaviour elicit the shudder of the uncanny, the unhomely; it is only in the animal that claims kinship with the gods that such savagery is precocious. A feeding frenzy, a shark or a wolf or a hyena pack attacking and dismembering its prey may bring nausea, but it is their ceremony, their ritual – nourishment. Survival. The human who tears the skin of the bull with his teeth as it snorts and yaws to free itself – what then is he? The prey is at bay, we have the wild eye of le mort, death is acquiescence, release, sufferance; suffrage. It is still significant – if it has not been forgotten – that Dionysus is buried at the Oracle at Delphi, Apollo’s oracle – he whose shining face reveals the future, however gnomically. Divination is the practice of foresight raised to an exquisite pitch, a note for the jackal and the owl. We must not understand this as meaning Zagreus’s death is the future, or represents the future as a reality; from unity burgeoned, birthed through sacrifice to face the moment with the élan of the enduring one: time’s measure. He is reborn. He is the enduring spirit of the hunt, the game and quarry. 67


Our hunt is not for the sweet wine and drowsy slumbers of the day, but for the fathoming of existence, the plumbing of the abyss. Our game is self-expressive; it shows its breast in capitulation as we draw near. One mystery we have no more to un-learn; one answer to an unasked question: what is a god for? The willing sacrifice, the welling wound does away with the old world, and enraptures the new. It is through rebirth the god draws us through the eye of death like a needle through a tapestry, a cloth of many threads, intangible. Yet this god must die to be reborn. Cyclic, recapitulative, the moment always hinders the fall of man into divinity, the point restorative; the death of death depends on god’s impossible succession: from I to another.

*

Perhaps he is his only audience. . Alone, almighty; afraid. The void maternally embraces him in his act of selfimmolation, of self-expulsion. He is provender, provider of fruits and meats; his is the unchained horn, cornucopian; he is the fragility of the musty grape and the might of the bull, undeterred. What life there is could live forever, in his different forms, his alterity. This: thus. I follow on. *

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CHAPTER TWELVE: I Start Out.

The science of artificial intelligence is as old as the human race. Cybernetics is the theory of ‘autonomous control systems’, artificial minds that can refer to sense data, adapt to changing environments, use ‘neural networks’ analogous to animal brains, successfully navigate complex or changing arenas, or have poise. It is - again - a modern coinage, but a science as old as humanity, and through the meta-mythic structures of humanity’s consciousnesses older than humanity. Our minds, our selves, our gods and our death are all our own, yet all are artificial – systematic and material; yet capable, at the last, of sacred being. As a fellow traveller, antecedent to your crossing of the perilous bridge that spans this deep gorge, may I spare a few remarks? ‘They wouldn’t listen to me. So I had to speak their language, like a poly-critical acerbicist dying for a roll in the chalk. Slaves to the rhythm - the lot of them: the long year, the pulse in the air that re-sounds the horn. Longer than a Yuga, longer than deep time, the oscillation of the universe is an ear-drum beaten by the sound of a lover’s voice asking you not to go. I did not leave then.’ Being - as in the light in the clearing, it is within freedom we are imprisoned – banished from our hospitable home and left to wander among tyrants and foolish men; from star to star a motion tends, the slow - or quick - revolution that draws us so. In our hearts, no good thing goes unbidden or un-seen, as if such a thing could be, in our hearts.

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* ‘It is as a seed in the wind I speak to you - now. Our seven seals are the five senses, common-sense understood as kinaesthesia, and the mind. This is the quintessence of reality. God is the ultimate creation of the self – the happy king is the hidden solstice; the turning point of the year, the one who is many. The many - our selves: our selves the secret. Our way out of death is time, yet our way into time is death. The illusion of the one is the reality of the other – all things being equal. In the scattering of the limbs of the sacrifice – our unity – we find the multiplicity of our identity overcomes itself, crowns itself, seeds itself; is itself. The revelation is – every moment is the last. The revolution is – every moment lasts forever.’ _

To evince the shade we must overthrow ourselves, as man and woman and god and bird, seize renown as the crown of the dying and anoint our own path, our trail of - love. We must succeed to the throne, waking each time we do so as if for the first time, as if for the first time, as if for the first time - again. ..

.

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Postlude:

‘It’s an accident of fate, that pain delineates a character – as faith denotes the man, the faith in resolution. It’s difficult to get past meaning, to the instinctive heart of truth, a heart-beat away. The structure of the mind is such that, when it tries to see itself, it sees only darkness. How to illuminate this darkness is the beginning of the poetics of necessity. It is because we search for the unconditional good that we mistake goodness itself as unconditional. It is not. Is it within the pain of existence, the acknowledgement of suffering, that we receive the knowledge of another’s pain? More than empathy, more than pity, we have understanding, through – love? Suffering links us, now, in two. Grant me not the silent waters – o death - grant me not the still face a little ajar… As if granting - were a wish away? I will not rest until we outnumber the stars. So, life.’

*

Now. Is this a product of our passage through time - time’s recognition of its own passing; as awareness, self-awareness? Solicitude for the fragile fabric of reality gives us pause, here, more than ever, more than anywhere else.

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If death were to escape life, and die into eternity, then love would have no heart and the heart no home. Is the re-consequence of our cognition of time – life’s continuity? Time’s necropolis, the grave of the stars, says otherwise. Love alone will survive us, love alone and only love. . * I, for my part, exist unequalled in my natural vatic state. I am the snake that bites your heel, and the wheel that all snakes ride upon, wisdom. I am the coarse unbending grasses of the plains and the watermark of the dusty ground. I am the uninvited guest at the wedding of the poet and the maiden, the allowance of return in me departs ever un-new. I ululate through the garden like a river in the heartland. I elude the eye. I am the fair things of this world and their fair appointment – cease. I strike – in one motion. * Renewed, love hue’s our – small or large, personal or political – existential sufferings. As an aside we infer its gaol. What do we know of life? We know what is real for us, or we know nothing. We know what hurts us; we know sufferance, fore-bearance, poverty of means. We know joy, unconditional love, fellowship, regard. We know whereof the lion sleeps, and the python roils. We know the fair aspect and the ruddy cheek, we know eye-shadow and concealer, the balms of the beautiful; the concert of the moving line. Then we know nothing. We know of the smelting of metals, and the tasks of the day, and the brittle quality of honeycomb; we know that vinegar comes from wine unsealed, and wine from the grape – who was the first to grind the corn to make the flour to rise as bread? We know the earth is a sphere, and hangs in the air rotating as it does around its slight-off centre.

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We know the stars are far in time and long ago in space. We know the maiden weeps, the matron keeps, the crone dispatches. We know of you. Then we know nothing - still. * Earlier, at the wedding, the water had sparkled as if a creature of light had thronged to itself, dashing and spirited, unearned and unasked for. The table was furnished with good foods, and the weather had been well. The ceremonial was grave, yet sweet. A certain air revealed the clouds, and a susurration of rain fell in the final vows. To never part. No, more – shall we meet? To endure as the water in the pool, and the cliffs at the sea’s edge, through love. Then a handsome young man chanced his arm, aerated and restive he asked again and again for a dance, a smile, a kiss? Eurydice is giddy, game, she’s laughing instead of smiling, yet in her eye there is seriousness – it is a game, to sugar the moment, nothing more; her love remains her love. Then, as she runs from him – like the stream running – she steps upon the snake, lying hidden – what else is a snake to do? – in the rushes by the pool. It bites her once, in self-defence – because it was afraid. Then whispers away in the near dusk. She stumbles, unsteady, un-formed suddenly; there is no certainty in her love, in her life, in her death.

It is over in a short time. *

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Minos is the judge who guards the realm of the after-world. He is allencompassing, the virtue of reward itself the consequence of his judgement. All-father, the one who decides, the enumerator of value – and as such as to make the souls tremble who make the journey of necessity to the lake, and the dog, and the river, and the echoing halls: where he waits for you. He has her. She is with him, on his Dias; a throne a hundred hands high. He knows why you are here. He always knows. You are always here. You begin to play, and his face breaks into a reverie, as if haunted once in a faraway vision: blue hills in a haze, the sky imbued with starlight. . He brings forth a tear. He nods his head, sadly, sadly. There is the condition. There always will be – death has a jealous heart. You understand, and ache for her to follow. The way returns, and you upon it, your heart lighter with each footstep, your song still sounding in the trackless wastes you navigate, unseeing; the laughter of your spirits in tune with the eastern winds that tell of the approaching entrance. * It is later, the door of hell far behind, the sun only now sinking into the west. Yet Orpheus laughs no longer. His step is slow, his mind in a maze for which there is no centre. Endurance, fore-bearance, patience – these things do not suit the temperament of a poet. The curious, the quick, the hidden round-the-corner - this is the measure of his heart. This - the man. As a lost soul he now twists and turns in the grip of his love, that which he cannot escape; gone into forever. He pitches and yaws, as a boat on the lake. He knows not his right mind. Let him wander into the arms of the Bacchanal, to be rent in haunch and gut, head and heart; whole - separated.

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His head still mourning, still to be a curious sight from the banks of the river, floating into the sea, to the sea, babbling and cooing, half-dueting with an unseen first voice: now a message of great importance to the flies and gnats of the riverbank, now a threnody to existence. He is unstitched, ragged; his rhapsody is as a silver thread in his tongue. Then he is gone.

*

A great truth is herein. A song re-awakes the dead, a lover is undone, a poet succumbs to solitude, madness; and the dismemberment of such. How is this the tale that tells itself, the great undoing? The song is one of regret, and love’s passing, yet the tale is one of beauty, and love’s renewal. This is the magic of the song he sings: it endows our lives with beauty. .

There is no more.

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There is more. As a lover we come into the world of the dead – seeking our love: life. As a poet we sing to the king of the dead – to ourselves. As a madman we wander the valleys and hills, roaring and snorting as a bull on the horn; or a waterfall in the dark shroud of a benighted mist. As a victim of life’s rage we are torn asunder – once – again – and as a head, a voice only, we sing of the remembrances of our hour; the tale we tell completes itself by telling, as all tales do. What is the turning hour returning to? What the lover loves is life, and that passage from life to life we call each love. Our darkened hearts seek solace in the journey, as we must. They seek serenity in the eye of the thunderstorm, and chaos in the calm face of the king of the dead. Orpheus is uncertain of his love in the dark, near the final stair, the final star. He turns, returns; is returning now and forever to the haunted face of Eurydice as she sees him turn too soon. So our love for death lies heavy on the land as a cloth upon the table on which so recently there lay the delights of the living, the quick. Our recognition – of love and time’s renewal – is the instance of our loss. To love is to begin, to die: to be. And – love?

It’s down to a poet.

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GLOSSARY OF NEW WORDS AND TERMS

Aerotics: (aer, aeris: the atmosphere, also aerius: belonging to the air, airy; lofty.); (erotic: pert. to the passion of love; Gr. Erotikos, eros – sexual love.)i With this word I am trying to articulate a mode of reasoning that has its roots in neither dialectics nor logic, but in the sensuous attraction, courtship, coition and reverie of the erotic rite – applied to the realm of idea, and conceptual analytics. As opposed to the mechanism of argument and refutation, thesis and antithesis leading inexorably onwards to synthesis; we have the cool airy passion of the love of the mind, of sensuality as expressed through love of ideas - and their relationships. It is a metaphysic of love. This is a neologism I feel compelled to make on the grounds of a lack of sufficient representation of the progression of Eros in the sensual apprehension of an idea, or thought. It is a physical response, a heat or flush, in the presence of mind. An erotics finds pleasure in analysis, an aerotics finds serenity in the pleasure of the dynamics of the atmosphere of the mind, the chaotic movement of elemental forces and redistributive feedback that comprises the atmospheric, and the mental. It is meant to evoke the character of the air we breathe, and the love we live through. It is a conflation of inflammatory air and fiery passion for the understanding – leading to a flash of insight. The love of the air is the love of flight, and the passages of the wind, and the raincloud’s obscuration; the light’s renewal. It is a methodology of anti-intellect, anticonscious understanding and an advocacy of the science of intuition. Yet it is fact based, rational, and dedicated to the accomplishment of truths. Surely there lies here a paradox. Almost certainly, yes, in the sense of a truth – doxa – that lies beyond accepted truths.

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We seek to understand whatever aspect of reality we choose to aerotically when we feel free to behave in the presence of the idea as we would behave in the presence of our beloved. It is the great gift of the body to reproduce, and through reproduction to understand sense, and sensuality. This can be translated into understanding. Indeed, it is as the model for our understanding – as an aerotics of analytical expression – that we understand anything at all. In this way, it is the interlocking of ideas into a fruitful union that signifies our intent, and the definition of this word. The other main reference – to the air – is meant to example the quality of daydreaming, of imaginative free play, of the hour of misrule. The air, the atmosphere, is a lucent expression of the infinite progression of light and shade, wet and dry, heat and chill. It embodies disembodiment, and the aerial spirit – first here, then here. It is acephalic, without control. It also stands for the fragility, the evanescence - of love, and our understanding. It is symbolic, and metaphorical, yes, but also flushed with rosy light, and the perfumed breeze of the wooded clearing. It is the breath of a lover, the first breath of a swimmer surfacing, and the last breath of the declining ancient. It is also pneuma, the breath of the wind of the spirit. It is collaborative, there is no single I, an ‘I am’, but a pair, a duality of purpose; a coupling. Aegis: noun, defence, protection, a shield, originally ‘of Jupiter or Minerva’.ii Cybernetics: (kybernetes; helmsman, steersman.) noun, the general theory of self-regulating systems and control systems. iii The contention is that life is an emergence, the mechanics of life being the functionalities of non-organic systems. As a self can be disbursed, and re-united, so the organic arises from the disparate connections between natural hydraulic or kinetic components; that form as the result of flow, within water; or the

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metamorphoses of differing rock strata. hypothesis of the piece are obvious.

The consequences of this for the

Echt: adjective, authentic, genuine, typical. Felix Rex: (felix: fruitful; fertile; fortunate; propitious; rich, successful; bringing good luck; blessed with healing power; making joyful; making fruitful. rex: ruler, prince; tyrant; chief; leader.) The happy ruler, the happy king. This is the pivotal idea of the piece and so cannot be explained fully here. Suffice it to say this is an identity open to interpretation of a wide ranging and indistinct cast. There are many ideas in the one idea of the felix rex, many conceptions in the concept, not least the one of which is ironic commentary on the habits of leaders in general and our self-leadership in particular. Fiat sui (?): Let there be the self. Let ‘I’ be. (I am untaught in Latin, and this could be simply wrong.) Genie – elegy: A simple pun on genealogy, the science of uncovering past relationships, or the ancestry of things-in-the-world. Genie is the English bastardisation of Djinn, an elemental creature who haunted the desert. An elegy is a lament for times and people past. It stands for the logos, haunted by its own understanding, presenced by sadness. Therefore a genie-elegy is the lament for the elemental, or an uncovering of the elements of our understanding - of an idea or concept. It is a convention of the mind, in that it requires a mind to carry out, and is a meeting of the elements of the truth we accede to. It is also a reference to the uncanny within our hearts. Kinaesthesia: ‘A sense of awareness of the position and movement of the voluntary muscles of the body.’iv

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Here used to signify the unity of the first living thing, as a home for sensation, and bodily awareness. In the piece I suggest that life may have been self generating and that involuntary movement is the necessary condition and precondition of voluntary movement. Livinghood: Again, a double pun. The notion of the neighbourhood of the living, and the quality of ‘livingness’ are here alluded to. Logos: noun, ‘…an utterance, an account, a discourse, a thought, a reason why, the faculty of reason, etc…’v Meta-figure: A metaphorical expression referring to the transmutation of a being or event or idea, or self; into the higher instance. It is a cognate of transcendence, or the heightening of experience. As a form of change it partakes of change’s characteristics, yet is form enough to be described, discerned. Poesis (Poiesis): Poesis is ‘… creation, poetry, poem’. vi Also ‘making, producing’.vii It refers to the creations of our thoughts, rather than the makings of our hands. Polytropoi: This is one of the qualities of Odysseus, his most characteristic one. I am supposing the word to mean ‘many-placed’ – therefore cunning, shrewd, open-minded and alert, able to assess and react to various events at the same time, self-aware. For each occurrence there is an appropriate means of dealing successfully with it. Capacity of mind, in short. Qualia: ‘(Lat. qualis of such a kind); a quality, as it is immediately felt or perceived. The introspectible phenomenal character of a mental state or event.’viii Synchronic: ‘(Greek. syn- with + chronos time); pertaining to what obtains at a time, without reference to the passage of time.’ ix Also used by Jung to designate meaningful coincidence, an a-causal connective principle.

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Will-to-hold: An allusion to the philosophical will-to-power. As that is the urreality reforming and revaluing reality, and the expression of this struggle for existence; so will-to-hold is the solidity of the presence of man-kind, and more the strength necessary to endure existence.

It is.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology ibid iii The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy iv The Concise Oxford Dictionary v The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy vi The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology vii The Penguin dictionary of Philosophy viii Ibid. ix Ibid. i

ii

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Eurydice's Child