12 December 2011
The story I have to tell must begin with a description. No; the story I have to tell is a description. Yet that which I wish to describe defies description. Even so, I am writing, so you understand that when I say, ‘the story I have to tell,’ I mean, I must tell this story, I am compelled to tell it, even in the absence of a way to begin. Or perhaps end.
I want to open with, ‘I woke up,’ but what do the words ‘woke up’ mean when the utterer who utters them was, at the time, deprived of all information from or about the world? No touch, taste, smell, sight or sound. And no sense even of their own body – no bubbling stomach, flickering heart or grumbling liver.
All I can say is, ‘I know I woke up,’ but as my fingers bring the statement into our shared world the idea fades away as something of nothing. While it stays with me it is indisputable, unquestionable, a fact, simply. Nothing is truer for me than that, at that moment, I woke up. But when I wrench it out into space, when it basks in the light of here, when I offer it to you, it crumbles. Then, now, I understand it as nothing, worthless. Nothing has passed between us.
You may believe me, of course, and I may even hope that you do, but then you may believe many things. It has no bearing on the fact that you will know nothing, will have learnt nothing, understand nothing. And I will be left with doubt and uncertainty for however long it takes my meditations to readmit the unassailability of the knowledge that I did, indeed, wake up.
The accident, however, is verifiable. Apparently it even featured in the event-starved local newspaper, but I must be clear that I only have that on hearsay – I have not seen the edition myself. I’m sure there’s a website you can visit.
In any case, it’s not a particularly interesting story. I was crossing the road, recently purchased slowly cooling baguette in hand, when a car hit me. Its metal met with my flesh and bone at speed. That’s it. There are many gaps to be filled out, and I’m sure you’re already working at that, so I’ll leave you to it. Anything I say on the matter is questionable anyway, as I was too busy being physically assaulted by the barbarism of modernity to gather any reliable information.
The memory of this fleeting intimacy closely followed ‘I am awake’ upon my waking, turning my thoughts to my body. I began to search for pain, and when I found none I was at first pleased. But there is a difference between not feeling pain and not feeling, of which I became rapidly aware. Panic; ‘I am paralysed’. Maybe I was. But, following and rising with panic, recognition of the lack of sound. ‘I am deaf’. Then, ‘I can’t even feel my face. Can my face be paralysed too? But I’m still alive.’ Quickly, ‘Am I dead?’ Then a chuckle. ‘Can you not even hear yourself from the inside when you’re deaf?’ Pause for sensation. ‘Where’s my tongue?’
My thoughts, or thinking, or think – words are so much more confusing now – shifted when I realised that the orangey-black-pinkness of light I usually found within my eyelids was absent. ‘Am I blind too?’ See. As I put this down, the various explanations and possibilities and potentialities and maybes and perhapses pass before and through me like so many fixed grinning garish pole dancing wooden horses. But I was awake! How can I ask you not to take that fact from me when it is my own need for explication and –oration that effects that theft?
I was awake. I was awake, and I could not hear see smell taste or feel. My body existed only as a memory, albeit fantastically crushed. I was pure thought, I thought, and smiled. How can I possibly explain what it’s like to smile without a face?
I’m stuck again. What will I be able to say regarding the between of there and the moment at which I ‘re-entered “the world”’? Surely it will be nothing more than a list of thoughts. I shrink from that as I shrunk to it.
I must avoid references to time, because they would be lies. I think I still experienced linearly, an unfolding of thoughts from one to the next to another to this after that, although at times – now, that is, when ‘time’ has returned in all its prisonistical glory – I cannot be sure everything didn’t happen at the same time, or not at all.
So. All I can do is release my grip on my desire for poetical prose and state it as a surgeon might. I know what it is to be everything and nothing at the same time. To be trapped inside a marble with the weight of the cacophonous world pressing your walls around you. And yet to engulf the world, swallowing up histories and systems and attempts and the insectnificant worlds that wander around on two or four or more leggies. Legs, no?
But it is so dissatisfying; un-? I don’t want to blurt. Which is something else it felt like there, in the-bodyless-place. Blurty. I blurted. I’ve been watching myself since ‘the world came back’ (sung), and I don’t think it was the blurting that was unusual – I blurt all the time. But when there’s only you and the blurting, when there’s no possibility of not blurting, you experience your blurting very differently. Like, a waterfall and an open door. Tumble through [reference]. Then, I experienced myself as a blurter, a blurter for all (time). Now, I don’t see how I cannot blurt, but lament it.
When the world came back, later (now it’s okay), everything worked. Despite bruises, fractures, swelling, I worked. There had been no invasive surgery to release my brain from a haematoma – a teleaural word. Splints and casts and pins and things. But, movement and feeling and odours and bangings. Disgusted morning mouth. An intact spinal cord; per-twang.
To return, as I did and do, I was wrong to say this story is a description. It needed to begin with a description – did I? have I? – but it comes back, as all things do, to the world, to this world, to our sharing. Everything that is shared, I realise, is, as such, of relation to our sharing. But as the keys are stroked substance falls in as something faded and fading yet risen and rising throughout and within me. Nothing has truth; I am speaking with myself as I write this for you, my love.
At first, once I had knitted, I found it difficult to leave the bed. I was taken from it – physiotherapy – and replaced. But as the days passed this place forced itself upon me with an unalarming regularity. I donned a habit, and rejoining you all began to feel reasonable again. Cloaked in conspiracy I pass through it with you once more, pretending not to notice as I weave that the spaces between are more numerous than not. I slide through the world on a sheen of comfortable unbelief, chuckling, plucking out my steps as I choose. As I write.
Only, when I shake back the hood, the weight settles on me again. This world will not go away, so it must. Be. It says. A meal laden with memory and discovering, opening and the closed, wraps me up in itself, in the it-ness of it. No doubt or uncertainty – flesh and sweet and crunch and oaky. Later, alone, accompanied in the dark, surrounded in a reverie, I contemplate that meal and its (m)e)nvirons, and there is but. Words cease to be senseful and ‘I’ drops out of consideration, the first predicate (that then is not).
Rambling? I did warn you. I can assure you that it makes as much sense as our language allows. If you do not understand, that is hardly my fault. Stop reading.
Although, I am concerned that my closest will be, if they comprehend, concerned for themselves. Of course, they may be concerned for me, but I am not concerned, as my behaviour, other than this, is, I can assure you, impeccable (and to you, isn’t it? These are just words), as people go. But I will tell them (you) that you are still very much for me, that I still love and fear and want and relax, even as everything shimmers with a pleasing whiff of unreality. If anything, and there must be, I embrace you more fervently now that we are clasped by possibility, in its true sense. But I do not dangle or hang all on you or me or us or it.
So do not be sad when I say I am resting comfortably in the knowledge of my solitude, for even then we are still together. Do not be afraid when my muttered musings seek a space between our thoughts and you cannot follow me, for we must be together as I wend. And do not be alarmed when I blurt, because then I am more me than I have ever been in this place.
Copyright Dan Sumners 2011