The young do not know they are young. But the old know they are old.

Monuments in moments.

I have the sensation that the subtle glue holding the world in one place is growing dry and brittle. Is this what trauma feels like? A breakage, a lack of sublime continuity, so the parts no longer seem to relate to a whole.

I thought of a building, long since demolished, I used to pass on my regular commute: wittily, a graffiti artist had painted DEJA VU in huge letters on the wall facing the train tracks. Passengers, like myself, travelling at the same time each day, and with each day broadly similar in terms of work and routine, every so often over months might look up from a book or a paper out of their mild morning abstraction, and see the building floating past again, with its DEJA VU…

She was cynical in the fresh, irritating, but charming way the young are cynical — with a certain enthusiasm and sense of style. They affect to know things you can’t possibly know until you’ve been alive for many years. She was all Oh yeah! So? Whatever. She didn’t understand that a sphinx should pay attention to the desert. But he was genuinely cynical: old, and bitter, living in a used-up world, among fools and wolves.

He was one of those Sauls who, on his way to Damascus, realises he’s left his laptop at home, and needs to go back to collect it, and thus misses his own conversion.

Buddhas and dust.

It was a lament for buildings as yet unbuilt.

I don’t think I will ever fall in love again. This is partly a matter of regret. Can one love enough? I don’t suppose love can be measured very easily, the “how long” or “per cent” of love… But I’m grateful to have loved. Although, like the Chinese philosopher and the butterfly, the status of such things must surely be uncertain? Perhaps I only think that I have loved? And when love does arrive, it will be a noon inside a noon?

“It will do for now”.

The edifice grew more and more transient, more and more speculative. It was an assemblage or accumulation of illusions. He understood that the desert doesn’t pay any attention to the sphinx. It continues on its granular way. It doesn’t even note its essential continuity with the statues of mythical beings, warriors, queens and gods. Mao masses in suits. The edifice is the whales, not the krill; the ship, not the waves. The patient, not the virus.

The broken with their begging bowls, the dazed rich, languid in their limousines; the celebrities, seduced by their own cults, the anonymous, duelling with their shadows; the fashionable, fixed on the pin of a spotlight, the poor, prescribed their ghettos and their early deaths: he saw them all as part of a fabulous economy, each playing their part, each equally unimportant.

She had lived only long enough to realise that life was wonderful, but complex. When she’d been a child, life had simply been. Ambiguity and motive began to perplex her: injustice, cruelty, pain. He had lived too long: for him, life was simple and terrible. Of course, he had known a time when life was complex and wonderful. But then things had grown at first too complicated, then progressively similar and repetitive. The patterns became too easy to recognise. Death, at one time adored but inconceivable, began to take shape. Death was the only edifice that he could believe in. It was the only substantial building. Everything else was just life.

On the first truly cold day of winter, she breathed with a huff and watched the vapour of her condensed breath float in a cloud, and it was important.

She sensed she was young.

The young do not know they are young.

But the old know they are old.

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

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