Do all the pieces fit together / like a shattered egg by Escher?

Jul 10, 2004 11:58am

More than one person has recently commented on the fragmentary nature of my writing, which though surprising was somewhat of a relief to me. A relief because I always have the feeling when I write that someone is about to politely point out that I keep banging on about the same damn thing and could I please find something new to babble about?

Lately I’ve experienced several times that rather curious revelation of seeing something everywhere as soon as it’s brought to your attention. Learn a new word, and suddenly it pops up as the cryptic clue in the crossword on the side of your cereal box; look closely at the toilet door, and there it is engraved in the paint. Occasional words are one thing, but obscure myths? Some call it synchronicity, others sleep deprivation. Either way, it’s slightly disconcerting, awakening in me a certain gnostic paranoia. No doubt the same paranoia which convinces me that my spam knows who has been emailing me (is it just me, or are you getting spam from Chris?).

It’s probably nothing more than confirmation bias, of course, but conspiracies are so much more interesting. It’s all about connecting seemingly unconnected details. The spam of life. Not tinned manna, but the deluge of information pouring into our minds everyday. Almost all of it is shunted aside, filtered out, flushed away, but what if there was a way to access this lower level of consciousness? To sink into the sewers of spam, sludge sort of … slurping … past your ears, meaning mingled with meaninglessness.

One way, I’ve discovered, is to become a writer. It’s rather unpleasant, writing, creating conspiracies of meaning. How to pierce to the very centre, when every word obscures it further? There are probably easier ways than writing. Music perhaps – although if one of the bands I saw last week is anything to go by, carving notes is just as difficult as carving sentences. Fortunately a few, like The Necks, manage to arrange them in just the right order:



<The Voyage of The Hound, being an Account of the Quest of the eponymous Boat and its Company up The River in search of its Source, undertaken in the Year of Our Lord 1776>

December 22nd. Saw a Packe of strange Dogs drinking at the water’s edge. They were tawney colour’d and had long thick Tailles. Upon spying us They stood erect at once on their hinde legs, ears prik’d forward. Mr Gibbon attempted to shoot us a Specimen, but fail’d to hit his mark, and upon hearing the report They fled silently into the Wood.

What endless and delightful Forms the River offers up for our consideration! Not a day passes but some new Wonder is reveal’d to us. What Power quickens neath the Veil of Leaves and tangled Vines, that Conjures up these Phantasies of Flesh and Hide, that crumples the Cloth through which this mighty Serpent weaves? ‘Tis a Mystery that spurs us on, like hot irons in our side, and we hasten slowly in our little Craft towards our Bourn, the Limit and the Source of all this Bounty. Each day our anticipation mounts to greater heights. What shall we Find? What Knowledge shall be glean’d? What then? Why? The quill shakes, so fever’d is my agitation, and pierces the Parchment. The candle burns low; I must finish presently. And yet I cannot bring myself to put down the Pen and retire. Questions swarm the unquiet Mind like mosquitoes, sucking out all the Words that Name them. Ink drips from my sweating face and soaks into the Page, the Shapes coalescing of their own accord. I must Know; only Truth can slake this awful Thirst. What is next? What comes next? What shall we find at the Nave of this Great Somnolent Land?

— fragment from The Book (coming soon to a decade near you)

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