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Eeva-Liisa Manner
  Translated from the Finnish by Ritva Poom

Primum Mobile

Love is a strange construct of torment, which grows inward and cannot be undone. Among the new gears are old, ancient ones, like the implements of a medieval physician, familiar from infancy, and even earlier, from the infancy of culture. This whole ponderous, delicate contraption, the gauntlet of religions, the absurdity of philosophies, the beautiful neuroses of the arts, are the secret writings of love, variously construed, spiritual love, which has been stalwart in seeking its trajectories, and has lost the light, spirited joy of the senses. It derives its strange contrivances from the head, its energy from the thymus, and from the early years its characteristic hue and longingpersistent, monotonous. A voice, a scent, the creak of a wooden stair, the mauve of old wallpaper, or a hand extended, open, the movement of a shadow, a father's heated flashes of genius, a mother's face like a large sensual flower; and then the face withered; lost its grace but nothing of its demands: all obstacles to love, retrograde gears in the system, now functioning erratically, deriving the most complicated and precise of its winding motions from the past. The machine, ponderous, strange and beautiful, gets its impetus from obsessions, and its fleeing parts drive one another. Most of the machine's motion is a fictive, repetitive series of movements, like the fluttering of a mobile, spirals in silence, the rasp of bows (as if mechanical dolls, a tiny man and woman, were making proposals to each other but always destroying them: a repetitive circular motion, an intense, futile scrambling). The love machine is a planetarium in which everything is predestined, yet uncertain: random, imagined, but complex and rich: a chain of randomness so dense and blind, that nothing is random any longer.
    Inside the moving machine, an immense storm, although motion is avoided and barely perceptible. But love arrested is paralysis and solitude, a groping for shade in the sun, flecks of shade when the sky is like a hot stone; a shadow glints on a shoulder, memory moves through sealed rooms, and a leaf quivers, the timorous green of a tree, and the sky revolves like a hot stone. And perceptions are ground between two stones, reason and the heart, reason and the heart, which turn in opposite directions, shunning each other. If this love, the most finely ground and least studied of all substances, were to rise and spread, it would conceal the domain like ashes.