Archive > Vol. X no. Z
1 He woke to find himself next to himself or it might have been herself, it was hard to be sure. His face was dissolving or it might have been his eyes or her eyes or even his skin, and he couldn’t remember his name or anyone else’s, such things being dreamlike right from the beginning, and the bed was snow or an image of snow and the sound outside was of something completely outside any outside of which one might once have been sensible. And there was the mirror, of course, because mirrors are primary, a mirror no longer him or her or even quite human but faintly bestial yet helpless and as much himself as anything had ever been before it all started, before the body he wore or inherited was his or hers or, if either’s, or just a projection that someone projected. 2 It was morning in winter coming around again for the tenth or eleventh or sixty-ninth or seventieth time, one without name or identity, simply a presence of which no one was ever quite sure, a usual, everyday of season and presence, not a convincing model of the potential blossoming into the frozen air of the future where everything is suspended in its own hope and desire according to condition. So he rose, or she rose, and they entered the bathroom together at once like a double-act in its own isolation and stood at the basin and washed a face very like someone whose teeth they remembered brushing though the teeth were gone, mere ghost teeth in a ghost mouth that was saying something ghostlike to the dream in front of them, which was a thing seen in a mirror. And Who have you been? came the question and there was no answer to be seen or heard. But this, said the questioner, is your identity, this your fixed form and the form of the world beyond you. Go out into it and confront the terrifying question of its enormous clamoring mouth with its real teeth, its sickness and grave-clothes, and greet it for me, just as you are, it is that kind of party, you need not change anything. And it put on its hat and grinned and went on its way as any respectable ghost would. 3 So out into the world, to the familiar street that had never been familiar, past the war memorial where names yawned at him as they might at a tedious story that he knew to be tedious since she himself had told him so often, and there was the cat in the doorway and two dogs sniffing and the man with the bent back shuffling towards a corner that was tedious yet strange as if yanked into daylight just as a shadow suddenly appears when the sun demands it, and there was the butcher with his aged hands at the counter hauling his goods into the light of the window, smiling at something, at a child with a fistful of ham, and all was familiar, the child, the ham, the butcher and the light because it was that kind of party, with sickness and grave-clothes with the beauty of the street as footnote or afterthought in which he or she was looking to enter the world by way of that street and that street only, passing the war memorial and the yawning tedium of a past that was potentially his for the taking, so he took it and said, This is my past, this tissue of lies and inventions, just as the woman with the bicycle passed him tinkling her bell in a version of madness that was certainly one of the world’s faces, which was not his face or her face, not even exactly the world’s. 4 She rides by and waves, wearing gaudiest colors, an angel unto herself and the world in her head that may become the world. She is its avant-garde avatar and he, or someone else, marvels at her progress which is historical in the chronicled manner, so she, so the street, so the world of the mind, where the aged are rejuvenated and have never grown old. You are ageing, says the voice in his own head. You too are chronicled and gaudy and avant-garde, ahead of yourself, speeding down the street in your angelic livery, in the world you imagine she imagines. It’s a dark place in there but here are angels and avatars and it’s safe in the street where light constantly shuttles between day and night, between darkness and safety. Then she is gone round a corner, into death or the next thing. 5 The next thing is this. It is being addressed by the world as a next thing. There are too many faces, he thinks or she thinks, too many presences, alighting as from a horse in a parallel yet incomprehensible universe. Why can’t a horse be human, he thinks or she thinks, why must it be alien and extra-planetary? And he notes horses in a field, ambling into their own graceful yet lopsided future. Are they too migrants? Could they have smuggled themselves into the country like shadows of horses, or traces of horses, equipped with fake documents? Where is the familiar world in which a horse is a horse and yet human? Where is the familiar terminology in which one might address the world as condition? It is as if there were nothing in the field, she thinks or he thinks, nothing apart from the wind on the grass smoothing its back with a tender familiarity he or she, or she or he remembers from infancy as a faintly maternal exhalation, a hand through a window, a smell in a wall, a social something into which a horse might be dropped as by parachute and be human and horse-like and hovering above the field like a shadow becoming itself in the light.