02 January 2007

"Exploding Wildly Outward"

From Black Sunlight by Dambudzo Marechera:
"You know about changelings? I feel them all the time. As though we were all changelings and not exactly what we appear to be. That's what I was trying to sing to Nicola. There's so much missing inside where things ought not to be missing. As if something indefinable was taken out of us long long ago. Don't you feel that sometimes?"

I could have said I felt like that all the time. I could have said that's how everything seems to be. Most of the time. The ghastly emptiness that was always there. The feeling of having died and yet not really died, of how one had been subtracted from all that makes life a living experience. I could have said it was the fear inside me of a world whose changes would never include a change for the better. Like hearing in the middle of the night some phantom figure moving about hammering nails into all the things one had learnt to take for granted. Discovering how infinitely a human condition despair was. Hammering nails into a coffin in which the image of a whole historical notion lay with its arms crossed over its breast. Hammering nails into the dog-gnawed palm of Jezebel's hand. And the blood streaming eternally in the firmament, with not a single drop to save Faustus from the hour at hand. All this which was happening out there in the grim outside of our thoughts and emotions was finally approaching nearer and nearer to the unrefusing mortality of our blood. I could no more have convinced myself that it was nothing to do with us than have hypnotized myself into believing that every ache out there was my ache and every bayonet flashing in the sun my bayonet. I could have thrown up my hands in disbelief, parried all questions and happenings with Pilate's question: What is truth? These incredible situations which this impossible creation makes possible. But all this had nothing to do with the small lightning that flashed suddenly from the touch of Susan's hand on my index finger. And there was the thunder incredibly uncoiling and uncoiling down to the last tendril in the innermost cellular world. Matthew Arnold's still sad music seems to have ceased utterly, leaving us the sole inheritors of a silence-divining wasteland. Here was no pilgrim's progress, no mythical Sisyphus bound forever to push his rock, no Prometheus hurling defiance at Zeus even as he watches the vultures engorge themselves on his chained body. [...] We had I suppose talked and behaved ourselves into a mood whose shadow would always outgrow us. No longer could we register the temperature of the blood in ourselves. The reading of the instincts and archetypal triggers. We had so given ourselves up for lost that there was only a meaninglessness which perhaps cybernetics could trace on a graph. At the same time the thoughts that controlled our feelings were not those of where straightlines come from nor where they go. There was no centre either, no circumference, but as it were spiralling nebulae, galaxies beyond galaxies, exploding wildly outward, hurling away toward the incredible infinite that lay beyond the bounderies in which we had lingered.