Expiration

We are not doomed.

We may well be determined and we may be defined but we are not definitive and we won’t go on forever and we won’t ever die. Immortality is granted, though the wish is monstrous, as long as we take it upon ourselves to be the centre of our attention.

Conduits to the stream. The energy, the code, the connection. We may yet go extinct; we need not mourn ourselves: we leave behind perhaps no legacy but our intention to do well.

Complex situations, simple choices: do you put anger in the world and hatred and want and division and them versus us and incomprehension and rejection hostility enmity loss, or do you put hope. Do you put recognition, respect. Enjoinment. What we call empathy. Different, diverse, differentiated manifestations of one and the same.

Never even mind that we’re human: remember we are god. When every mistake we’ve ever made is multiplied with every other mistake we’ve ever made, our hearts may hurt from the unwisdom that we yield to. And yet: we can make it so, we can make it other.

The thing that we’re a part of may yet lift us up. We can, whether we want to or not, and wanting to is harder than saying no. Everything is known, everyone can be understood.

Accept as the deepest part of you that which you loathe most. The person you despise: you are him, you are her. Embrace them. The child murderess. The suicide bomber. The bludgeoner to death. You celebrate, you cheer, you dance your pride when your football team wins. When your psychopath strikes: suffer him to be your disaster no less than you appropriate your goal scorer’s triumph to be your own. The medals on the athlete’s chest are badges of your honour no more and no less than the bloodstains on the knife stabber’s hand are witness to your failure. Own it.

Grow up into the painful truths and free yourself. There is no freedom without truth. There is no truth without pain. There is no pain that does not carry a reward. When all is said and done: start again. There is no reward without loss. There is no loss without self. There is no self that stands alone.

Surrender to the motion of a greater purpose. Even if you don’t understand. Even if you do not believe. Even if you’re not convinced. Your heart knows long before your brain, because your brain is much more powerful than you think: when knowledge is you and you are the world and the world is an instance in just one universe and the universe is a thought and the thought is expressed then you are god: you are god.

Accept the burden of being all powerful. Make good on your promise. Dare love.

305834590834590 Whist

‘My girlfriend is getting texty,’ the man who ticks every box and makes me go aglow inside tells me. He’s a trombonist and that alone should tell me everything I need to know. Except he’s also tall and blond and a bit Scandinavian looking and exceptionally friendly, and he has that borderline cute proportion of a long torso and comparatively short legs that make him simply adorable.

I have nothing to say about this. Therein lies the ‘interesting’ realisation. It’s ‘interesting’ in so far as I normally have something to say about things. I pride myself – not ‘pride myself’ so much as take a certain degree of satisfaction that I take pains not to let leap into smugness – in being able to find words. I like words, I love – nay, adore! – them. I use more words than necessary. What is necessary? I get admonished for being verbose. What, pray, is verbose? I say things for the sake of saying them. Thrice. I use language people don’t understand, but I get tasked with making things understandable, as a job. I like that. I like ironies, I like perplexities, I like conundrums and calling them conundra. I have said so before, but I like saying things again. I like repetition. Repetition.

In the game of love & chance – I like ampersands! And I love interjections, or little asides… –  I am particularly useless, but I have of late started to enjoy that fact. It used to trouble me. Astonishing men like my trombonist right here and right now used to send me down a spiral of remorse and regret about what I knew not. About not having loved. About not having lived. About not having taken the chance. Now that I’ve taken the chance once or twice and then thrice or several times more, and notwithstanding the fact that this has sometimes but certainly not always paid off, and now that I realise that a ‘girlfriend getting texty’ is just exactly the kind of thing that would drive me up the wall, even if it were a boyfriend as handsome and delectable as her boyfriend right now, I can smile at the man’s beauty and charm and listen to the resonance of his torso and admire the sounds he produces from his instrument and say to myself: that has nothing whatever to do with me. It’s wonderful, and wonderful for him too. And I wish him to really, and genuinely, fare well.

I love that kind of love. It’s taken me maybe thirty-five years – five heptades! – to get to this point, but I’m now at a point where I can absolutely love a man like that and know his life has absolutely nothing to do with me beyond the set of fortuitousnesses that brought us together in this context, at this moment, for this short period and then let that be as it may. And should our paths cross again, then so much the better, but it would still not mean anything else or anything more or anything less. And should we become friends through our paths crossing further, that too would be just that, and it would be just fine. Trombone man shows me that I am all right. He is marvellous, in my mind; and let that forever be so, and I am perfectly all right about that.

We part and go our separate ways and I think of it or of him no more and I am where I once was and where for a long time I longed to be anew: unencumbered and free. I use these words a lot, I now find, it must mean they have become important to me. I see on the social network that he’s doing something exciting with his trombone and his musician friends and the band somewhere and I am deeply happy and unreasonably proud. I have no cause and no reason to be proud, I have nothing to do with his or any of his colleagues’ achievements, but I still feel a little proud of him and of them as if it had something to do with me. And maybe it has something to do with me in as much as I know him and we’ve once tangentially worked together (worked on the same piece, at least, for a very short while) and so at least in as much as everything is really connected and this therefore perhaps really also connects us it may have a tiny little something to do with me, and that thought alone makes me happier still.

And now the words are there and they are no better and no worse than any other, and that too is just fine and dandy. All words need not be weighty and grave. Some could do with being a bit more poetic probably than they are, but mostly they merely need to ring true.

51 Indiscretion

The man who runs the studio where we’re filming has everything he needs to be happy today. A smoothie, the sun and a freshly cleaned lounger. His is an oasis of rare and extraordinary freedom, and encroaching on it, from all sides, is the capital, the investment, the development, the oppressive tentacles of material wealth.

‘Do you live here?’ I ask him.

‘Yes,’ he says. And then, after a moment’s reflection: ‘you know, if you’re an artist, you have to live differently, otherwise I’d be working for some client now in some graphic design studio.’

He reminds me of me when I was young, just as young as I was when I was sitting across from me at the Beyoğlu. Except he’s nowhere near as young. He’s maybe late thirties? The space where he has made his room at the back looks and feels like the kind of place that is about to fall victim to the machine that is parked outside the ramshackle rust-eaten gate. He keeps the gate locked with a chain and a padlock, ‘because it’s market today.’ But as we’re having a break, he unlocks it so those who want to can leave; and some do, while I’m having my lunch in a moment of quiet in the little courtyard, in the shade.

A young man with an oddly styled haircut confidently opens the gate and confidently crosses the yard. He has the knack: he has done this before. Confidently, a little, perhaps, cocky, he strides to the staircase that’s next to the door that we use and that leads up to the first floor.

Earlier on, our host had shown us a picture of the series he was taking this afternoon. It showed a man completely, fully encased in latex. Not some latex suit or fetish costume, but encased in a frame which was covered in latex, from beneath which all the air had been drawn. The man was at the complete mercy of our host and photographer. ‘I could kill him,’ he says, betraying no intention of doing so. ‘It’s incredible, the amount of trust.’ And it’s incredible, the amount of trust. Earlier still, he had been chatting to us about the gate and the need for keeping it locked, certainly on a day like today, when ‘it’s the market.’ Then he’d said, ‘I better get back, I’ve left somebody in there, he’s waiting now.’ 

That was earlier on. Right now, nobody was waiting, but the noticeably confident young man had stridden past me and our host looks troubled. ‘That’s not a good sign,’ he says, this time only to me, because there is nobody else around at the moment. We’d already been made aware that we needed to treat the ‘issue’ of ‘upstairs’ with diligence. ‘If there’s any issue,’ we’d been instructed, ‘tell me, and I will go and talk to him.’ The he in question was a gentle looking creature whom I’d briefly met, the day before. I had just arrived and was not quite yet in the process of setting up, when the door at the top of a short flight of steps inside the building opened and down came a young man who looked not unlike you’d imagine Harry Potter aged 23, sans scar.

‘Do you have a safety pin?’ he asked me, which I counted as one of the less usual opening gambits, but not without charm. He then proceeded to explain to me in terms almost apologetic that the top button of his shorts had come off, though I didn’t quite catch the actual circumstance of this miniature calamity. I could not, regrettably, help him with his request, but suggested that our host might have a safety pin for him, with which the young man concurred, wholeheartedly.

The next thing I heard was that there was always the potentiality of something of an ‘issue’ with ‘upstairs’, and I naturally assumed that this must entail some ogre, some burly old man, some exceptionally unreasonable and possibly violent landlord, and so I was not unsurprised to learn that the ‘issue upstairs’ concerned none other than this young and tall and a little lanky young man. By now I had met him a second time and enquired after his shorts, which he was pleased to inform me had since been mended. Again, I somehow did not quite catch everything that he said, so just how or by whom or when precisely the button had been decalamitised I still didn’t know, but I fancied it was a matter of not such great import as to warrant my further enquiry.

Now, through the arrival of confident lad who had crossed my metaphorical path in a striding fashion and who had responded to my ‘hello’ with a curiously curtailed, not necessarily curt, ‘hello,’ in which I detected not curiosity, not friendliness, but a perfunctory, it seemed to me, utilitarian tone that signalled the greeting was there purely because by convention it needed to be, while he, in his stride, cared neither for me nor for the convention. I’d thought not much more of it at that particular moment, because there is only so much significance you assign to a greeting, the greeter’s stride not so withstanding, but it had registered as slightly odd, slightly off, to be more precise, and so now it did not altogether surprise but nevertheless a little perturb me that our host had so quickly assumed an expression of quite so much worry. ‘That is not a good sign,’ he said and I could tell from the way that his eyes glanced t’ward the windows upstairs that he meant it. Still I envisioned the ogre; a hideous mountain troll.

‘Why,’ I asked, doing my best to sound light of heart, ‘is this not a good sign.’

‘He’s a pusher,’ our host explained unequivocally. That meant nothing to me. This must have shown on my expression, involuntarily blank:

‘Do you know what a pusher is?’

‘No.’

‘He sells drugs.’

I wondered – though only a little later, not right at this moment, because right at this moment my brain was still trying to process the to me as yet causally unrelated facts that a) there is an ogre, a cataclysmic beast of doom, living upstairs, and b) there is a ‘pusher’, somebody who sells drugs, with a strident gait, now up there with that Thing of Terror – why he was calling him a ‘pusher’ and not simply a ‘dealer.’ To me somebody who came to your house or your place of work or leisure delivering drugs would either be a delivery person, such as a courier, or a dealer, or a dealer’s courier, or maybe assistant. I had no experience of anyone ever coming around to my house or place of work or leisure delivering drugs and so I could not be entirely certain, but ‘pusher’ was a term I would have reserved for somebody who hangs around school yards and ‘pushes’ drugs on kids who would not otherwise want them.

This was as much an explanation for the perception, on the part of our host, of the circumstantiality of our shoot having acquired an additional layer of anticipated complication, as was for the time-being forthcoming; and he said: ‘I’ll give them half an hour until quarter past three, and if they’re still here then, I’ll go and have a word.’

What there might be to be said to the ogre, who surely by then would have devoured stride-boy, high on the drug same boy had delivered, I could not imagine but I let that be as constructive a prospect as was to be entertained for the while, and in any case I remembered clearly the serious counsel that we were not to – under any circumstances, as was implied – approach the upstairs den and who or whatever dwelt in it ourselves. And I had no intention of doing so, ever, under any circumstances.

At one point a little later, newly-buttoned-shorts man and the unlikely though strideous ‘pusher’, together with somebody I hadn’t yet seen or met, left the building, the delivery boy, to my mind incongruously, holding two cardboard boxes of a smallish-to-medium size, one under each arm. He looked every bit now the delivery boy, and whatever was in those boxes, I thought, if that’s drugs, then you three are going to have one hell of a Sunday afternoon.

The ‘issue’ had thus left ‘upstairs,’ at least temporarily, but when I told our host this, the next time I caught his attention, he was neither convinced nor impressed. To my ‘I’ve seen three of them leave, I think they’ve locked up’ (an impression I got from the fact that they took pains to put the chain and the lock on the gate upon leaving), he, our host, with that ominous glance t’ward upstairs, said, portent weighing on his voice: ‘they haven’t. They’ll have to come back.’

By now, I had me a regular mystery. Since mysteries, regular or not, can only be entertained for so long before curiosity gets the better of their recipient, I now asked him outright what the ‘issue’ was, with ‘upstairs’. Young Shorts Man, to me, I volunteered, seemed like a thoroughly harmless guy.

‘Oh he, is; he’s all right. The problem is just that he likes to get high,’ and then he revealed a personal predilection of the young man’s and what he enjoyed having done to him when high, over his desk, that didn’t shock me for being unusual, because that unusual it was not, but startled me a little for coming – after all the mystery – as a delightfully insouciant indiscretion, of the kind that plants an image in your mind that is maybe just a smidgeon too personal, too, maybe even, graphic, to entirely belong there.

It still took me another moment to compute why any of this happening ‘upstairs’ should, if it were to be occurring even this afternoon, be such an ‘issue’ for us: clearly no monster had there his habitat, just a friendly young man who liked to have sex at his place of work while on drugs. Until the penny dropped and it occurred to me that the ‘issue’ in question was entirely one of sound intrusion. And maybe a little bit of dust too, because the floor boards of the ‘upstairs’, which were old and creaky, were also our ceiling and we were shooting a dialogue scene of quiet intensity.

They didn’t come back, after all. Or maybe they came back later when we’d already wrapped. There was no ‘issue’, that afternoon, happening ‘upstairs.’ Yet still, the images linger…

The Snowflake Collector – 6: A Snowflake Not Unlike Him

Some of the snowflakes came down in clusters, others in twirling jumbles, and others still in flighty twists, but he knew he needed a steady snowflake that was on its own, a lone snowflake, disentangled, unburdened, unencumbered, free: a snowflake not unlike him, a snowflake that had been gently descending along its unspectacular way through the world and was now ready to leave its most particular, most individual mark.

Such a snowflake soon caught his eye, as it approached, a little slower than some of the clumpier ones around it and a little faster than some of the ones that didn’t quite seem formed yet, and he held out his bare hand with the glass plate on it, and as if a little curious, as if attracted, as if called by this strip of translucence in its path, it settled, and lo: it stayed. Like a bed made for it, like a throne on which now to sit, like a home that was primed now and ready for it there to live, the snowflake accepted this destination and delivered its presence onto the plate; its intricate shape, its form, its identity kissed into the fast drying liquid.

The Snowflake Collector looked at his treasure in sheer wonder. ‘My dear good friend, I can’t presume to know you, but may I name you Ferdinand.’ The snowflake did not object to being so named; and The Snowflake Collector solemnly took him inside, looked at him closely, as closely as he could with his bare eyes, under the light, and he dabbed one more drop of superglue over him to fix him and then lay another glass plate on top of Ferdinand, to protect him. Also, he realised, to encase him: his bed, his throne, was also his tomb.

A deep pain and anguish drove through The Snowflake Collector’s heart at this moment: am I committing a crime, am I stealing Ferdinand’s soul? Should he not have been allowed to ease himself onto the ground or the bench or the table, among his companions, and then melt away with the sun, seep into the ground, dissolve into his watery molecules and find his way back into the rhythm of the universe? Is my keeping him captive here now for as long as these glass plates will last not depriving his spirit from turning into something else, something different, but equally wondrous? Is somewhere in the cycle of nature something now missing, because I have named this snowflake Ferdinand and declared him mine own?

This so deeply troubled The Snowflake Collector that he spent many hours sitting at his table in his very small kitchen, not eating anything, not even Bündnerfleisch and barely touching his Chrüterschnapps, wondering how, if ever, he could atone for this act of appropriation. Who am I, he thought, to claim such a beautiful thing? How dare I deprive it of its link to its past and its future? Is it not insufferably arrogant and presumptuous of me to make me his ‘master’?

He felt the abyss of despair open up its gaping void before him, and the urge to throw his third, his successful case for the snowflakes into the fire overcame him, but he felt no power to let go of Ferdinand. Could it be, he wondered, in passionate silence, that I am already in love with him? Has making him mine already made me his just as much, am I already, only hours after capturing him, entirely under his spell? And this is only one, my first one, how will I bear adding to him? Will he and the power he has over me not become so overwhelming as to be meaningless? Will he and his fellows, his peers, entirely take over? Will I succumb to their unbearable potency?

The Snowflake Collector did not go to bed that night. Slumped over the table by the flickering flames in the stove he sat there, clasping the glass plates between which he had immortalised – by, he felt, killing – his snowflake friend Ferdinand, and when he woke up in the morning, the blood from his hand where the sharp edge of the glass had cut into his flesh had encrusted his hand and the table and also the glass, and a drop of his blood had seeped in between the two glass plates, and so together with his first snowflake there was now preserved there also a drop of himself and he said to himself: so be it.

I shall surrender to the will of the universe, and if it is not the will of the universe it is the frivolity of my imagination I shall follow. Ferdinand will forgive me. Or maybe he can’t. But I shall make his agony worthwhile: I shall share him with the world. And that way, maybe, he too, not just I, can have a purpose beyond our mere existence.

He put Ferdinand in his pocket and, still not having eaten anything, made his way down to the inn on the edge of the hamlet, an hour or so from his hut, and there introduced him – holding out his still unwashed, bloodied hand – to Yanosh. ‘Look,’ he said; and Yanosh took the plate from his hand and held it up against the light, and his eyes lit up with equal awe. Yanosh, after a minute or two of examining him took out his smartphone and photographed him with the light shining through him, and handed him back and asked: ‘what name did you choose?’

‘Ferdinand.’

‘I like Ferdinand,’ Yanosh said. ‘I’ll have to get hold of a macro lens for my camera, so I can take better pictures.’


5: He Had Abandoned the Notion of ‘Hurry’ <

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