Saturday, 26 February 2005

Shade-Haunted Space

“Limitless night ceases to be empty space.”
(Bachelard)

Often the outside encroaches on the inside. There is a draft which is not secured by the closing of doors or the drawing of curtains. Instead, things press down. Space becomes a retreat in which the divisions between presence and absence are revealed. We would do well to dream of a shadowy retreat in which these divisions were subtracted. What would be asked of you? Treacherous words are spoken in the moment where the inside is protected. There is a shuffling that only intimacy brings about.

Thereafter, an entire world is summoned which demands understanding. For a while things endure, as nightmares are shared moments not yet overturned by the collision of fate fall freely from above the alcove. But can the opposition between inside and outside ever be overcome without this void lurking? Isn’t there always something which disrupts the intimacy of cloistered space?

Bachelard was entirely right to ascribe, by way of an “ontological amplification”, the characteristic of being/non-being to the division between outside and inside. This “implicit geometry” follows us with every tread and is marked most explicitly in the breeze which sweeps through enclosed space. Conflict, not merely confined to the laws of gravity, nor to the boundaries of the built environment, discovers itself in being itself. Here is a line Bachelard quotes by Henri Michaux:

“Certain (shades) especially, girding their loins one last time make a desperate effort to ‘exist as a single unity’. But they rue the day. I met one of them.”

There is regret to this entrance in which sound “no longer existed” and instead became a drone “as though it never existed.” Ruins, overarching and bearing down from above, partake of this drone through annihilating the distinction between inside/outside. “It once was”, writes Bachelard, “but wasn’t it merely the noise it has become.” A drone is an echo that never derives out of itself. There is always an origin, now lost, that it depends on for the sake of communicating the negative space.



I find it in that deserted centre: the drone remembers. I return to words that have now grown extinct. Only a reverberation recalls the movement of conception. Instead, the smell of things pervades. Even now,I am able to smell you. It is a suffocation of being to impose oneself on a lost outside. “Unuttered words and unfilled intentions”, haunt that space that ceases to protect us from the outside. Things, moreover, refuse to surface. But why? Reticence does not begin to account for the resistance to expression. There is a trace of impossibility which accommodates all situations. It might well be experienced in solitude or otherwise in the company of others. In both occasions the intoxicating disorientation precludes clarity. We quiver in that shaded alcove and think only of the moment in which retreat heals the barriers between space and time.

Tuesday, 8 February 2005

The Approach

Often the gaze is met by its own intention. We call that an awkward moment in which staring becomes a form of indirect communication. There is no space for movement; with the head fastened to the body, the eye takes on the form of navigator. All the while, the remaining self dissolves into the background. Within this framework of carnal desire, things pass by, and the interchange forces a divorce in time. Afterwards, very little is remembered despite attempts to re-trace, re-configure and re-play the moment.


Seeing through things: how is this possible? No collection of impressions can provide a platform, upon which transparency can emerge. What happened to that moment? Was it left in the area besides the wooden seats and shuffling of feet, on the train? Overhead, wires charged with current provide passageway between leaving and arriving. For a while the moment is resuscitated like a childhood episode. The flinch of acknowledgment. I remember. Realizing something is emerging even if it is shrouded by obscurity and transience. Remember what was promised in contact.

Who can be seen in the traces? What does seeing want of you? No, don’t answer that. Aware of the frayed occupancy of things, the inclination to speak emerges. Just as you spoke to me, so I speak aloud from outside of myself. It is true: some things are written only to confirm a moment that automatically endangers itself to the void. It might well have already been swallowed by the few seconds that swept in-between the moment of vanishing and contact.

This is the problem with the abstracted image, be it a memory or a photo: the spatial correspondence it has with the viewer is undermined by its remoteness. Memory alone does not secure transparency when it comes to evoking the original imprint of the object. I inhabit a space that is no longer your own, and when I attempt to position myself in the image there arises nothing more than a vague uncertainty as to where I was originally stood. I am back on the train.

Fix yourself, therefore, in the reflection of another’s gaze. It is your own gaze that determined the moment. Quieten the temptation of things that appear in the non-space between moments. It can disarm and afford the illusion that correspondences are met. Thereafter, there is only the exit; slam door reverberates in the real world. Outside: the forgetfulness of the body is awoken. Those that walk in parallel with us, and you walked with me. Now is the time for movement: aware of the gaze lingering from the train, no longer able to identify its origin, encoded for the sake of preserving its anonymity. The awkward silence. Nearby events that summon trouble. They are close by. Remember what was promised.