PROJECT Y-Y -
Hello – my name’s James. I have spent the last few months collating and compiling various scattered and fragmentary notes I made while living and working in a geographically marginalised society in the Northern Hemisphere, here code-named ‘Y’. The pieces I am about to read have been collected sporadically, sometimes in rushed circumstances and settings such as street-corners and drive-in churches, and others more lengthily in lounges and home-offices, over the last three years. Five years would be closer to the truth, but I don’t trust odd numbers.
I have used the question and answer structure with liberty and abandon, building various fragments in as poorly constructed stepping-stones. You don’t need to know these facets of my research - I am only telling you this up front in order to set you very slightly on edge.
Question 1: why question?
Answer 1 – Deke, aged 41: "Ah. What? A question. A statement? I'd say fear is a chance. To ask. Try traversing the dot under the hook. Round the corner there. Catty-corner. I'll see you later."
Bio Piece 1 – Deke:
Born: Lenexa, 1970
Star-sign: Co-axial Cable
Wait: 4 seconds prior to talking
Prevailing emotion: taught concern
Phobias: dot matrices
Answer 2: "Am I? Who's in charge of its edges? Each fissure might show me a loose nail holding up the gilt-framed mirror. I'll see me later?"
Question 2 – Deke, aged 41: why defend?
Artefact Piece 1: Conch Shell
5 inches long, rosy peach in colour yet pearly grey inside. Someone has removed the spines of the shell in order to smooth the back ridge. The 8 small spikes are arranged, nestled in the shag of the green carpet, against the soot-stained forehead of the hematite fireplace. They sit and watch, at times being balanced against their smooth former points of connection to be photographed or for the carpet to be cleaned.
Question 3: why protect?
Answer 3 – Aneka, aged 29: “there’s a dust-cloud on the horizon. Some of its outer tendrils drip off as lions, running. A many a grey paw claps the earth. All our legs are becoming fizzy in our pants. A flat stone takes over the balls of my feet. My island is under attack. The trees begin to howl at their own photosynthesis, wishing to be petrified. Do you run? yes toward? no away?”
Bio Piece 2 – Aneka, aged 29:
“I was born in that house there. The one with the yellow circles on the door. I have an older sister and a younger brother. My mother was into studying crystals. My father ran a bottle-washing plant up there by the correctional facility. He used to employ a lot of ex-cons. He’s retired now. I went to school in Y and then off to college not far from here. I met my boyfriend in junior high. He died in a car wreck when we were both 19. My brother was driving but survived. Where were we? Me? Oh.”
Question 4: , and what?
Answer 4 – Aneka, aged 29: “, and, all soft-taped to the felt, it is the thing held together by sitting under my collection of hats. Who should I point the microphone towards? Any more?”
Memory Fragment 1 - Mine: It was hot. Unfathomably hot. Dry heat that made one’s ears ache. I saw Jim coming around the limestone edge of the house in his underwear. Past the inlaid woodwork. A ship’s wheel, or stern. Or was he in a shirt? I can’t remember. All that matters is that his feet were tracing the same pattern I had sensed when he walked out of his office at the university close to Y six months earlier. There had been one cold day that torpid summer. He had been wearing a similar shirt. Or had I?
Question 5: what are we thinking in?
Answer 5 – Jim, aged 63: a projector. Or a series of them. I am projecting this sentiment into the ether around me as I talk. I am, I think, aware of my environment. It looks as if it holds water. And releases it. I cannot find where it has all come from as my blood and birth are alien to me. I could be anything. My environment and the thing that passes for “me” are linked, perhaps, in a vaudevillian embrace that makes Al Jolson’s face turn white. I am hugged and being hugged by the violence of dead suns. It’s all heating up. We’ve all got an agenda - an agenda of wakefulness that, here, becomes an agenda of wanting-ness. I want my space. You want yours. The concept of “my space” is preposterous. There is no space unless it is there to touch, and my fingers and thumbs and toes are confused by the profusion of complicit particles. There is a bullet making contact with a child’s head somewhere, in my name, and my name means nothing. My sound, however, “means” something as it ties this body to the structure of the universe, loosely. It is all knots and paradoxes, and joy and fear, until we start to buzz in a lower range of hertz. More of you is filling the CRT screen than me. Wide sockets point electricity back towards the sun. Or moon.
Question 6: how archive?
Answer 6 – Jim, aged 63: an empty hard drive. a dry mouth and salty eyes. “what’s it like, this series about desperation?” This fear is within itself, looking out through kaleidoscopic prime lenses. I was heard because I was heard muttering I was here. I am moving around the seventh portion of desert with an avuncularity that verges on ridicule. You do not need to know my uncle to know this, I am merely telling you for the exposition of his petroleum-covered lips. I am trying to connect with his photograph, but a concertina of justified (left) images keep passing water through my screen. I am always looking up into the base of puddles, dreaming about what the world might be again. Once. There was a small button hiding in the back quarter of a box. I hid from it for a year or two, looking in to see by how much the dust had grown. There was a thin film, then a slightly thinner film, then the film tripled, and I took a scalpel to the top layer, saving it for a felt disc that supports the tongue. I am constantly pressing it - pressing my dry mouth to her open eyes. I am looking with my tongue for what I might have saved. Yesterday. Or none.
Memory fragment 2 – Darlene, aged 59: 21st June – “I just stood there. The press in the basement could be seen through cracks in the lacquered floor my father had laid in the 30s. I never thought that burning ink would smell so sweet. Jim had shaken me awake 15 minutes earlier and my robe licked my shins like so many soft tongues. I hadn’t had time to tie my shoes. One sock was slightly lower than the other. The newsprint was singing small squeaking tunes in the air as embers. It was already getting warm, even though the sun was only just above the horizon. I was distinctly aware of my front being warmed by the fire and my back by the sun. It was as though each were there to insure against the other, assuring themselves of their violent efficacy. We’ll rebuild. As soon as I collect the damp headlines.”
Question 7: archival circularity?
Answer 7 – Darlene, aged 59: the internet acts; an invisible cyclical web. an inter-temporal spider with crystal legs. We are saved and saving on the blue light flicker. my hands are shaking from password paroxysms. I hear three faint clicks when I am falling asleep. Some nights my head explodes. As I fall I am leaning on a graphite ledge, looking into the steps to see the tracks of boots. The scarf around my neck starts scrolling, looking for a moose with which to trade aesthetics. I was a French artist. The year was 1643 and my hair stood on end constantly. The rats played with my daughters and taught them how to sing. I am the rooftop and the door-latches and my fingers do not quite understand the lightness of air. Or where I? When? Italy - 40,000 years hence - my mother sits in a terracotta cave, contemplating the landscape and the river that runs through it. The past is hugging cotton candy, and the love of a good man stretches the edges of my future.
Question 8: how have we come to absorb things?
Answer 8 – Jim, aged 63: “Under these circumstantially-ascribed simulation-realities, “I think, therefore I am” becomes by necessity “I think, therefore I think I am”, which, in turn, morphs into “I think I think I am, therefore I think I am” and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, until the basis of all thought becomes so totally abstracted as to render an “abstract” thought more concretely “provable” than a “concrete” one. I feel a little seasick. I think. I think I feel it. I feel it.”
Question 9: 3 doors at once?
Answer 9 – Deke, aged 41: “if there are two doors, there can be three. Step through with arms first and legs after while waving tips at diner chicks. I can only wiggle my toes to prove my dimensionality. Are we just soft cubes in this all this? Pixels? How might these doors look with our eyes closed?”
Question 10: soul-inversions in bi-personal autocratic realities as iterations of pendulous emotive neuro-plasticity?
Answer 10 – Deke, aged 41: “is there time?”
Geographic Memory 1 - Mine: Outside Y
“I am standing on a mushroom shaped rock. What would be the gills are sandy. Generations of Y’s youth have walked here through the grey-green grasses to carve their names and the names of their lovers. Or enemies. One inscription is merely a pictogram of a pistol. Perhaps the wind drew it. Over nearer to the horizon I can see the wind drawing power from turbines that look like a static missile defence system: one button and the world shifts a few metres right or left. There is a small snake at the base of my mushroom. He stares at me for a long time and moves on. I am alone once more and the sound of resting cicadas fills the air. And the stalk of my mushroom becomes imperceptibly thinner.”
Question 11: why me?
Answer 11 – Darlene, aged 59: “me? … well …. this is only a slice in time to illuminate the idea of intra-temporal self-reflexivity: a conversation between one “self” and the infinite other “selves” that “my” existence on this timeline proves the existence of on other timelines. Everything one can and can’t imagine is happening simultaneously. Not somewhere, but somewhen. The English language falls short - “I” am a conglomeration of selves along infinite timelines that exist outside this dimension; outside the linear conception of time, yet I cannot refer to myself as a plurality: “mes” does not make sense here. Yet.
Our lines through time are strings made up of angles, not rulers. Potentiality leads to a net of diverging and consequently converging timelines - timelines converge without warning or “reason”, other than to form part of the fabric of a temporally delineated experiential reality. Is mass time if it becomes experiential? We are, after all, part of the fabric of space-time - why have we been given the ability to sense parts of what might be around it? Can we at all? Do decisions let time expand? Is time a tyranny? What actually happened, ever? Why time not space?
I’m currently in conversation with one of my selves who is becoming greener and greener as the moments pass. She is becoming emerald. Another is fighting back tears on the precipice of a glacier. Many more are jumping on the spot. Many more are yet to. I am also trying to pat a Chinese dog upside down.”
Question 12: why ‘Y’?
Answer 12: I am still awaiting a full response from all participants. Aneka is still setting up an email address. Deke has moved from Y to start a business repurposing spent batteries on the west coast. I cannot think what he dares to make. Darlene is losing time in scrapbooks and Jim, unfortunately, has passed away since my time spent interviewing him. He would be uncertain of his answer I’m sure, and not all too sad.