The Zero Sun
I am glad no longer to have to move wearily, as though no nervous excitement attended my actions, no buildup necessitating discharge in some kind of super-moral bookkeeping, to try to move unguarded through streets filled with quasi-guards, to keep my hands out of my pockets, concealing nothing. Today, all motions of this kind can finally stop, and I can sit in this room, if that’s where I am, where this is, and reflect rapidly and at ease, looking back over my life, wondering (with statistically justified regret) what I would still be enjoying today if only I had not . . .
So you see these regrets, this whole reminiscence, must fit into a calculus of need, as I proclaimed aloud at first, now only silently, since being dissuaded by the masters of my fate, whose acts conceal everything here, altering the traces left by other warders, shuffling landmarks from floor to floor, where x or y can stand in for any desire and the “purity of [the] operators” centers the discussion. To come to a complete and completely convincing formulation of the contours of such a system is the sole and secret purpose of these notes. Every object that appears in them will, then, be an exercise in surprise, of simplicity and violence enough to become an event having the innocent, excessive value, expectation in its undifferentiated form as terror and eagerness, of something that is now impending. At any rate to give myself a chance of surprising myself it is very important to work as quickly as possible. To work very quickly at first, and then only later to move over the pages left behind in haste and mark through what seems superfluous, indicating the scars by means of ellipses – a process which I have come to love much more than writing itself, since it gives ritual form to the narrowing down that has been happening in my mind for the last decade or so, ever since my doctors began to conspire together against me.
They claim that the planet is warming, and as the ice goes, so goes my mind, and that whole psychic continents are being submerged therein, and that, since all the land is only there to invest the sea with urgency, thus forcing from black-blue depths all the animal and plant life one now expects on the dry places of the earth, which manifests all at once in a kind of gigantic vomiting or coughing fit lasting many years, my whole case is losing its impetus and exigency, in the eyes of the doctors. As I have said this will not be the first time I have gone about it, writing down the things that appear in my case, on the floor of this room I am told I inhabit, and have for many years. But soon there must emerge a kind of overarching, speculative power that regulates things that are happening on scales I do not yet even suspect.
Dream of Sunday, February 3. My body no longer riveted to my will, I greet the stranger within me; he is disguised as an automaton, an ingenious puppet, and he challenges me to a game of chess. I do not play, I explain. All these things seemed to go on getting more and more tangible with every word that was added, all the words significant, all working together in some way, though it was too much, it overburdened both the grammatical machine and the machine I had made out of the others who live inside me, I too can construct a brilliant puppet as it happens, and fight fire with fire, or wood with wood, or stone with stone, or water with water, or flesh with flesh; but I myself detest the act of choice as most men do murder.
This traumatic sense of having to choose, as it turns out, is only a symptom of something much deeper. But has the great thaw actually come, as I am even now being persuaded? How do I speak for the others that inhabit me, who articulate themselves in my dreams? Must I disarticulate myself to get material to fashion them? Are the Northern Passages connecting myself to them along the spherical surface so much less perilous now that those meager travelogues have come back to me, through the mystic corridor of dreams. And what now that the tongue has again retracted its claim, retraced its movements, an unsaying that surpasses any crossing-thru in recent memory as the age of rocks surpasses that of men? But we go on building with them, forgetting that stopped clocks can countenance no consequence.
Dream of Wednesday, February 6. In the folds of flowers there is honey formed by their torsion, in the same way that we dipped cups into our own mute stalks, thru which the flavor of our roots had seeped. As I watch, our lungs spread out like them. It seems important not to allow myself to think in this way. In a cozy nest that builds in and baffles me, there resounds the amplified, overlapped noise of pages being crushed, until a sky filled with huge pigeon-flocks appears above me. This distraction allows me more easily to ignore what goes on by the poison docks on which I am suddenly sitting, near the in-and-out joints where the city gets fed, whole ranks of them and I am among them, yes I am among them perpetually. No, I remind myself, redoubling my resolve. What is proper now is to reflect peacefully about the one I used to be, to remember those days which seem now, as they did even then, to have so much in common with one another. But not to sit pensive, as though there were some watchword I ought always to be saying instead of this, no, to go on quickly, even hastily, a bit disregardful, forgetful or even, someone may contend, deranged. On waking, it occurs to me that I would welcome such a judgment, since vigilance is all that is required of me now.
What were those days but cul-de-sacs and accidents, the disappointment of finding traces of others in places where you wanted above all to be alone? Or else fences, shallow creeks, verging on impending baseness, the business of getting to love, allowances, the inevitable gift stripped of its giftedness, the nastiness of compulsion in love, the impossibility of remembering, and a lack of recollection centering the whole sphere like a giant absent axis. First mother and then father vanished into it. Only much later would I think of pouring myself in. One can imagine only cups, cups on cups, absolute endlessness of cups filling space, a cup-plenum, pregnant with emptiness.
I have intimated that my position here is not exactly that of a free man. It is true, I am being institutionalized, it happens more or less occasionally, here in this room. Still I exercise a very active and varied will, with little impediment, most of the time. I have learned one or two things so far about the terms of my internment here, such as that there is some means of escape that is both completely obvious and somehow totally unavailable to me. For I can no longer concentrate at length as I once could, can no longer smell properly and have little or no sense of touch. I can scarcely hold a book, much less read one, to my chagrin, at this time, I assure you.
Perhaps I am most grateful for the freedom to dream, which has been restored to me here in this room of mine, after a long period at H— Gardens, during which time I was denied participation in that fundamental and constitutive nexus with a rigor approaching outright masochism. Assured as I am now of the goodwill of the physicians and attendants, but being deprived entirely of a proper dialogue with the Director, in which I could, I am sure, have appealed to him as a thoroughly reasonable man despite my incoherent manner and obscure words, and convince him to reveal to me his professional reasons for such procedures as were being enacted on me then, I am forced to conclude that all were somehow elements of a cure by maltreatment that was then in its experimental stages at that hospital, at that time. But since being moved here, to this room where I am now, my material conditions are much improved: instead of prolonged humming, there is this interminable stitching of sound and vision, this looping in which one at last begins and at once returns: a museum devoted to a little slip, mausoleum of the essential human comma, the moment of the present distilled and informed as punctuation, the tear, the break, the gap between one and two, the zero-sun, the funnel dissembling as fountain –these are the ghosts of departed quantities, and they haunt the orbits of this, my aftermath, out of one of which I am writing now, in a landscape full of moraines cut by regret. But as for me: the essential thread was still there to be lost, despite all their attempts to dissever it.
Sometimes, this thread appeared to me in the form of several burning tethers which had replaced the stars as the luminous element of the night sky. These tethers, like the thread of my own self identity, dwindled to an infinitesimal size while hardening to an infinite tensile strength, for it is the thread of my mastery over all this, the noose so easy to slip, so impossible to break. Indeed, the moon itself has once or twice appeared to me as a clutch or tangle of microscopic sentences and mandates that stared down, bored even of themselves.
My former master had a beard that was not at all affected, but seemed as natural as a steel bridge across American water. I know off-hand that it was blond, but could not say whether or not it was well-kempt, nor whether kempt at all, really. If someone asked me to ascertain where, on a given scale of kemptness, the beard of my former master fell, I would be seriously doubtful, though bound by all laws of courtesy to do due diligence with regard to the task, of the outcome. Sometimes I think it may have been overkempt, like those ‘stately’ gardens one sees in 18th c. daguerreotypes, to which our modern so-called ‘lawns’ nevertheless absolutely pale. And yet, some days I thought the beard to be shamelessly unkempt, to be the most godforsaken vision of unkemptness I had ever witnessed in man or beast. In all, it seems that the matter of the kemptness or unkemptness of the man’s beard will remain unsolved, which is just as well, considering the matter is absolutely irrelevant to the issue at hand.