For those who owe their allegiance to a different order, life passes at a tangent, massive and undeniable, and yet with its intractable and relentless entanglements, which may lead to great suffering and despair, irrelevant.

The sun of the astronomers is not the only sun. And the geometers should not ignore their own shadow.

Supermarket chains. Conductors on buses, dabbing themselves on particularly hot days. Hunting for the tickets. Waiting at the hospital.

British Empire, with tattered colours, pith helmets and khaki. Musty aromas of kerosene and camphor. It is as if these uniforms are still worn, the lingo of wallahs and jolly is still being spoken. This, for big data or meta-fiction, for ripping up the clubs and click-bait.

The mass wearies with its noisy ghost, its unwittingly belligerent parade.

Won’t they ever shut up?

A distance enters all things. Our human distinction: our world of choosing. What power do we have over things — what power more intense and more extreme — than the power to forget them, to take the next corner? And the manner of our choosing is significance. Once, the Taj Mahal meant something to me. Once, the post box; once, the Who; once, the teardrops of Burmese jade. You open the old shoebox: you climb the ladder to the attic. Plato’s attic. The photos, the wallpaper with storks, the optical disk…

This too-solid flesh?… No, not at all. The body is a haze of arrows, a mist, a project forever postponed. The shoebox, the ladder — the souvenirs, the footsteps of climb: but each thing is only a honeycomb of distance, a spectral object constructed of the almost infinite number of ways we leave it. Will you ever kiss again, for instance?

The angle of the spirit is wrong. You don’t understand their slang, or want to take the drugs they take. But neither do you want to offend. It isn’t moral, this difference, or not especially: ultimately, maybe, it’s a question of mood, a particular gravity to your sensibility, a way the birds of prey fall in you, and not in others.

The distance. Locations, barren, remote, such as are sought out by lovers of glaciers and volcanoes.

Yes, of mood. The melancholy of looking at a person you were once in love with, but no longer love: the time that has passed, the water under the bridge, and then the bridges fallen into the water, and carried away. Later, the stream diverted. Later, the sea run dry.

The gulls in the centre of London have a particularly melancholy cry, as if they were mourning the loss of the waves and the end of land, but they no longer need either. Let the cold, beery waves crash on Silurian pebbles, the land bite out to its own gape and quiet, and the dizziness of the purely inhuman begin: the gulls on the roof of King’s Cross station have other interests, a separate limit to their concern.

All men are islands. All women, too. The continent is the sound of a stone rolling very slowly, gathering smaller stones to it — a dry, dusty rattle, and close up, a clicking and crunching drone, sometimes a roar. From the peak of the high summit, you feel as if you can hear the wispy clouds tearing on the sides of the mountain.

Blindly, from a memory that is only loosely your own, children fumble through the darkness, wanting what they must have.

It comes to them.

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

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