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On the movement of static things #8:
Fixed qualities make objects and states appear as if fixed permanently in place and time. An object or state can be static but bounded so that, in this time and this specified location, a quality is evoked of permanence, but when tracked longitudinally, the same object or state can show evolutionary transformations and even incorporeity. How objects and states are classified determines how likely we are to recognise these changes. Static objects like the moon, the sea, mountains, are unbounded, unchanging and resilient in time and space, yet we know they move constantly.
‘Is this a pattern or just an incidence of, an event? You need to tell me when and how often this happens and we’ll need to track it.’
‘Look, this’s not my field. It’s not marked on the calendar: when or if it’s has happened before, if it happens regularly, I haven’t a clue. We only caught it this time because of the flying matter. We know the flying creatures that clog up the ventilation come around in batches, but we haven’t seen their little biting companions until now. Is it a correlation or a causation? You can tell me.’
‘Joy and rapture, that’s what she said,’ I said.
‘I didn’t know that was your thing.’
A flat response and lack of eye contact, and therein he drilled a wormhole right into my heart. He was avoiding something – was it confrontation?
‘She seemed your sort. I hope you’re both very happy.’ I was still trying to catch his eye but raised my glass so he couldn’t read my face. The beer tasted salty with my swallowed tears; my voice already had a blurry edge. It was that time of day, after all.
‘I’ll let you know,’ he said moving away.
I would like to draw your attention to words littered through everyday speech that add little to meaning, or nuance, or texture, but instead act against the momentum and energy of the message. So much of what we say is from habit and is to pad and cushions with embedded sentiment any new content. Content might be completely absent in extreme cases, and the intended message, what the writer or speaker is trying to convey, could be said with a grunt. On hearing the words - “let’s talk” – many feel threatened, knowing a grunt will not be enough.
‘Come out, come out.’ The chanting sounds stripped of meaning as though made up of jangling tones and resonance, held together by cascading notes and rhythms. ‘Come out, come out; come out, come out.' A fast clip of a beat rising exponentially to a howl that captures all the anger and frustration and sends it skywards. Only pain will result, there is no pity or kindness here. This is a deserved punishment and the longer the waiting, the more riled up and intemperate I will become, the more immune to logic and leached of empathy. There is no more waiting.
Some objects turn into relics. These can carry meaning recognised by an owner, a group or even random people. The key criteria here is that they bear the history of their journey from the past to now, in scars and scratches, worn patches and dints; the veneer or superficial qualities, that new objects cannot replicate. Even the purpose of an object can change, overwhelmed by the perceived qualities and values, the weight of memory. This is more than luck or random assignment that can be discarded and attached at will; these objects survive, perhaps even outliving their owner.
Again, it’s texture I see: disinterring one object from another in this vista gives me no licence to assume. I see branches crinkling, their twiglets angling off, until the branch itself is a twig, flying dry leaves; and behind and below, a wash pushing small wrinkles along the lake and breezes blowing dimples down, coloured in shaded reflections of buildings and clouds and opalescent shimmers; and the straight lines of the red-bricked buildings with in-between windows and balconies like eyes looking out; and between the cold and wet, grey cement bollards rising like teeth along the footpaths skirting the lake.
Life as documentary #12:
I have been pondering on the difference between ‘place’ and ‘space’ as they are used interchangeably to describe location and have separated these terms apart, to my own satisfaction in the following way: place as the physical representation derived from sensual impressions, whereas space becomes the conceptual or interpreted and analysed impression of a location. Place tells you about where you are by how you react with your environment where perception is constructed from numerous, often unrelated, sensations. Space is everything you can potentially perceive or interpret, that can be reasoned into forming a seamless reality.
The evidence of experience #12:
Kindness is a cruel and deceptive action, often perpetrated by those who feel superior or who wish to undermine the long-term confidence of others. Someone I knew saw fairly regularly recently said she liked what I was wearing. I had noticed an odd reaction when she came in and saw me, but she covered it with a compliment. Later when I looked in the mirror and saw how my top had dropped down there and pulled over here, and I felt worse because my embarrassment was tinged with hatred of the person who deceived me.
You may recognise me as the voice of Tula, but I am not saying this to get attention for myself or to take any of her glory: I am a voice only, not her words. Tula is known by those who listen to her words and followed her journey. I am here to tell the parable of her life to those who listen: her journey and the people she meets, her heroic actions and achievements, and how she has overcome the forces opposed to her. It is a story of profound suffering and conflict, and her dynamic will to endure.
For those who knew her, Tula was a blazing example of everything that was worthy and honourable. We watched as she defended us at the risk of her life, throwing herself at our enemies and fighting them on their terms, regardless of the disadvantage to herself. To win, Tula had to beat her opponents on their own ground, constrained by their rules and conditions, risking everything. To us she gave a future, the prospect of survival, and yet she took nothing in return. She was our champion, and she wore our hearts and our honour as her armour into battle.
Why would he think differently? It’s not like I’m someone who’d just come by and wasted his time when I want to, although many do. Just because I drop in daily here for a drink didn’t mean I can’t respect his space, that I can invade his privacy. I know nothing about him, except maybe his sports teams or who he is backing on the day, and I see no reason to change that. I know enough to leave people alone: I come here for the quiet; I know I will be left alone here. He wouldn’t want my pity.
‘Just a donation for Doug,’ he said, rattling a tin.
‘Who’s Doug,’ I asked. It’s not often anyone will talk to me; then again, mostly I don’t listen.
He pointed to the seat at the end of the bar. ‘He sat there most days.’
‘So,’ I asked. ‘What’d he do?’ My response was not friendly, I don’t often talk and when I do it comes out as a rusty growl. I saw him take two steps back.
‘Thought you two knew each other.’ ‘Not likely,’ I said. ‘He never shouted me a round. Not likely he’s going to either, now.’
The house stood braced, leaning back on the hillside as if defying gravity to pull it down the slope. With this slight tilt, daylight glanced off the clean windows in a blind stare, so that across the valley light flashed out from the mounds of bracken and stunted gorse bushes. The walls, washed in blue paint that barely covered the planks many years ago, now seemed raw and bruised. For those thinking of approaching, the path to the front door, as it wound up the rise, was soon hidden and overtaken by the untamed wilderness that escaped on all sides.
Cubicles, an offstage discrete cough, some rustling pages, muted clattering from typing. Closer, I hear the crackle of my neck as I pause and rotate my head. Physical places cling and wrap themselves around you, yet moves away, and turns away, when you look directly, when you watch them. A physical description is as elusive as the frenetically waving branches outside when looked at through glass. I could tell of the graffitied desk, the fingerprinted laptop, and my hands holding up my head as if in prayer, the draft and shuffling of feet behind me, but what does that mean?
The weathered house stood defiant and aloof, wrapped in an aura of neglect, yet the windows were bright and the vegetation and weeds beaten back from the walls showed that the paving stones outside the front door had been swept recently. There was moss and lichen growing on the roof, but that as the case in even the best-kept houses. The feeling I had approaching the house seemed to be derived from the mist in the valley that had thinned but no lifted all day and was colouring the landscape with gloom and the eerie voice of the high wind.
I rarely do this, but the shoe in the advertisement seemed more like a work of art than footwear. And I am highly resistant to marketing in most forms, often through pecuniary constraints and if not then by an aversion to modern styles and fashion. The shoe was beautiful, yet I know wearing it would be painful: there were straps and gaps over the surface that would pinch and cut into flesh and thick stitching toughening the pattern. Even this did not put me off following the link to the internet store and consider purchasing an object I wouldn’t wear.
When I read plastic and empty words like, “art is the glue of society” I want to throw things and shake apart the person spouting these platitudes, before disappearing into a distant vortex where there is room to live and breathe without being judged. My world doesn’t need glue, it hangs together valiantly, no matter how hard I pull and twist and tear. I see art as a poster that is pasted over a derelict building where the image represented is of an ideal world: an idyll filled with only beautify, nice smiling people at peace. Art only displaces reality.
‘I just had something I had to sort out. Everything was getting out of control, I needed a time-out, that’s all.’
It was hard to tell if I was getting the whole story. There was no eye contact. His evasiveness and anxiety could be from cabin fever, a complaint most of us up here have had at some time. The weather and isolation often limit life choices.
‘Not turning up for work is a problem we need to talk about. Did you get your business sorted?’
‘You know she left me.’ The twitching, jumpiness was concerning. There was pain here.
Draw out the ranks, parade them to the front line; the untrodden ground, the fields and forests sacrificed to the boots and tackle, the trucks and convoys that follow, mark their path. When the battle is over these tracks will record how the challenge was answered. When movement is challenged, when progress slows to a stall, and momentum inhibited by bodies and blasting and bullets, this is when they throw down their arms and retreat. And the chaos that ensues, in the rout when their banners fall from shoulders and are trodden into retreating muddy tracks, then red poppies bloom.
This morning visiting for the first time the Recycle Café and Bicycle Recycling factory, I was reminded of life before, in an earlier era of my life, when these types of initiatives were driven by impecunity and not by the need to conserve and reuse limited world resources. Now a large part of the value derived is from a sense of well-being for doing a good thing, not the joy of having something again that had become worthless though damage or overuse; that in repairing an object you have saved money. Frugality is an aspirational behaviour, no longer a necessity.
Who is the top dog? From the distribution of groups, I couldn’t see who held power here: I felt a wariness, a shifting, an undercurrent. There was guarded resistance, each party holding back, no-one taking a stand or tilting for the centre because then they would be out in the open: then allegiances would be on display, or they must launch their own claim, and the battle lines would be drawn. The first to rise is often the first to fall: a challenge carries the weight of surprise, but the strength of opposition is untested and might easily displace them.
The guns were loaded, weighing heavily in the hands of the three men, yet carried loosely and swinging easily on their long arms. As they entered the door everyone turned to look at them at their easy strides, their height and width, and the smooth tension and flex of muscles as they moved with purpose and without hesitation into the dark room from daylight. In one sweep the gun could be raised, aimed and fired. In the seconds that it would take for their eyes to adjust, for them to re-focus to the dim light, the room cleared of people.
I would like to say that it all went well, and certainly no-one was injured this time around, but the reality of the situation is that each time we meet, every time we need to collaborate or engage in the same project or participate in an event with a common goal, there is dysfunction and discord and failure. No, the truth is harsher: every time we fail it becomes harder for us to be in the same room, space, environment or even hemisphere with each other. We arrive with knowledge of our failures and leave even more burdened by them.
A dream woke me at 4am and I had to get up and wander around checking door and making sure no-one had entered as I slept. A sound that caused this disturbance, I am almost sure, was of the screen and sliding doors being pushed open and the displacement of objects inside the house. When I checked the back doors weren’t locked, yet the house was empty and no-one had made their way in. Everything was in a normal place and I could find no evidence of an entry. Although, if they’d come in and tidied up, would I know?
An emotional energy caught in my mind, an anxiety that pulled and tangled with my thinking; no doubt triggered by an irrational fright that woke me pre-dawn. I thought my worries had settled, that I’d laughed off the dread and regained my equilibrium, but the calm was only superficial. All morning my attention seemed heightened, the light brighter, and this I put down to my disturbed sleep. I rely on routine; it soothes me. When later I didn’t find my keys where I normally put them, I panicked and the buried sense of dread rose up and caught me unawares.
Losing control of my reason is my worst fear and it is the force of emotions that wash over and trip me up that take my reason out. I suppose, after a lifetime of suppressing my feelings, this happens. I know they don’t go away but flow into the subconscious and seethe, waiting to surface. The very illogicality of feelings gives them their power: they are immune to being talked away or quietened; only lifting them out and bleed them dry will expose their feeble nature, their fragility. This will give some respite, at least in bright daylight, when calm.
Why are there demons terrorising me at 4am, blowing debris around that rattles and clatters pre-dawn, and where have they come from with their malevolent energy and tremendous strength? I wake with a start, a tightness in my chest and heart racing, to their nightly excursions: I hear them at the front, to the side tapping windows, and running over the backyard into fences and sheds, lifting and dropping the patio roof, pushing down branches that scratch the roof. My light switched on, these sounds recede, and my attention is drawn again to my books and notes close at hand.
This day is for writing: churning and chugging out words, spinning off into random ideas and scenes, going wherever my mind takes me. I am past the point of discrimination and clarity – this is about completing the month, tying up half-worked ideas. For most of this month I have been sinking into a strange state, sensing physical deterioration, a lethargy, a loss of function, yet I know, with my brain fogged and cramped and unwilling to open to new ideas, that my mind is behind these thoughts, and I remind myself that this is probably just depression and the weather.
Paraphrasing Wittgenstein: the answer is in the question. If you believe this, then it exposes how logic results in humanity’s circular thinking. Herein lies the danger: we only question what we can perceive and know, and the answers we can give are from what we already understand. Let me apply this to a thought experiment: it is proposed that we have no absolute proof of aliens on earth because evidence of alien existence is explained away by logic that applies to other phenomena. We haven’t criteria for collecting evidence of something we cannot understand: we don’t question from first principles.
Think of a question and draw a narrative that arrives at an answer: this is advice I have armed myself with, on how to construct a story. The question is the ‘why’; the answer is the story that follows the breadcrumbs of ‘what’, ‘who’, and ‘how’, to arrive at a resolution. All crime stories are wrapped around the question of will the people or person who did the deed be punished; the answer depends on what happened, who perpetrated the crime and who is pursuing them, and how the evidence is found to prosecute the guilty parties and achieve justice.
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