A waterfall pours into a still pool.
Everything that is contained within the water–all minerals and bubbles and dirt particles; all hopes and wishes and dreams; all discarded pennies; all that is upstream–falls with the water.
It plunges in dagger-like droplets. It crackles with the living everything-ness of white noise. It clings and breaks and shatters and reforms in swirls and eddies, it is separate and it is one–like the atom and the nucleus.
It is a never-ending sentence without punctuation. There are no commas to disrupt the flow. The cascade is eternal and it pours and foams. It collects all things whereupon they are brought together and dashed against the pool at the base of the falls; a carcass, a blade of grass, a stick.
A child’s toy, an old newspaper, a new newspaper, a mobile phone, a child’s toy, a foil crisps packet, a plastic bottle, a carcass, a blade of grass, a child’s toy, a stick. A stick, a wish, a dream, a hope, a penny, an old newspaper, a carcass, a glass bottle, a memory. A pair of pants, a child’s toy, a stick, a stick, a bone, a carcass, a feather. A feather, a new newspaper, the pit of a fruit, a foil crisps packet, a dream.
Now we will do something special. See how time has frozen and the water no longer falls. See how the static is hushed. There is no movement unless you move, there is no sound unless you speak. The water falls. The water falls. The waterfalls.
But today, we defy gravity.
Today… the water rises.
Water spouts out of a still pool.
Everything that is contained within the water–all minerals and bubbles and dirt particles; all hopes and wishes and dreams; all discarded pennies; all that is downstream–rises with the water.
It ascends in dagger-like droplets. It crackles with the living everything-ness of white noise. It clings and breaks and shatters and reforms in swirls and eddies, it is separate and it is one–like the atom and the nucleus.
Punctuation without sentence never-ending a is it. Foams and pours it and eternal is cascade the. Stick a, grass of blade a, carcass a; falls the of base the at pool the against dashed and together brought are they whereupon things all collects it.
A dream, a child’s toy, a newspaper. Watch as all things rise on this column of water, surging on the column of time. Watch as all things lost are returned. Hear the roar of the reverse cascade, indistinguishable from the roar of the fall.
Behold, for I have shown you the cosmic wellspring of creation.
Betwixt, between I drift and lean.
Betwixt, between the sheets I dream.
Betwixt, between the years I’ve seen…
The year is stretched, it’s almost over, but like the tortoise inching closer to the finish line it still feels so far away. If the hare and the tortoise raced to a rainbow, neither of them would win. And if they ran for long enough they’d end up where they begin (begun).
So we begin to run towards the next year. January 1st. January 1st. Sheets fly off an imaginary calendar. Boxes marked with red Xs. Where did this year go?
Where did this year go? We’ll wake up soon and it will all be over. Like a fever dream that tangles us, sweat-dripping, between the sheets. But what’s in a year? A clock ticks and December becomes January, transfigured. A day becomes another day. Yet in the West it’s still last year a while longer.
A while longer. So we wait and we hope that as each year ends we pass through some mystical barrier that separates us from the past, like a car wash, scrubbing us clean, suds in our eyes so we can’t see.
And yet the past remains, like a blight (or bite), infected and coursing through the veins of time. Time surges downhill like a mudslide after a flood. The water is dirty and filled with rocks and snakes. Here now, give me your hand, I’ll help you up and we can both stand here on the tin roof of a rickety shed and wave our hands and scream at the rescue helicopter.
On its side the helicopter says the word NEWS and they are not here to help, they’re only here to watch as the water surges past us and the village is washed away.
And, eventually, perhaps the water will recede and only then will we see the true damage that was wrought. Beneath that dirty water lay the remnants of what was and, perhaps, what will be again. Among the ruins there are still sharp rocks and even sharper snakes.
With bare feet and wet clothes and the weight of a village on our shoulders we pad through empty streets as the sun rises. A new day. A new year. Somebody hands us a broom and asks us to help them sweep the mess away.
And so, we sweep.
The red bauble hangs from the tree branch. We can see a young family in the reflection of the bauble; a family inverted and flickering. The bauble catches the light from a nearby fire, crackling in the hearth. The family are shadows sitting down together between the fire and the tree.
The girl unwraps a present and clutches it excitedly to her chest–it is exactly what she asked for. The boy plays with his wooden car, rolling it back and forth upon the rug. Mother and father laugh as they exchange gifts with each other.
The camera pans away from the tree. No longer are the family a mere reflection in flame, but solid colour. Warmth floods the room: warm tones, warm feelings. Discarded wrapping paper litters the floor. Reflective surfaces–drinking glasses, seeing glasses, eyes–catch the light of the flame.
Still further away and we are standing outside. Something could touches us. It is a snowflake. They are striking the window of this cabin where it is forever Christmas and they are melting against the glass. Outside, standing in the snow, a man in heavy black boots is watching them. His clothes are all red, except for his sleeves with are edged with thick, white wool. He has a thick and a moustache and eyes that twinkle as he watches the family. He smiles.
The camera pans back further and everything is lost in the snow. There is the sound of jingling bells. A sudden flash of light. Bulbs hum as they are switched on, blazing through the snow. The sign reads: Merry Christmas.
It is an advertisement.
Across the dusty, distant wastes,
The writer sets a meandering pace,
Scratching words with fountain pen,
He creates reality again.
I recently began working on a speculative cosmology. My strongest influence, so far, is the philosophy of Empedocles and his concept of the four classical elements (Air, Earth, Water, Fire) as well as the dualistic/opposed forces of Love and Strife. It is also influenced by Einstein’s theory of relativity and scientific theories of spacetime.
This cosmology is, very much, a work in progress and these words and images are intended to be foundational rather than explanatory.
Image one displays reality separated into three distinct layers. These layers may be described as follows (from top to bottom):
Layer 1: The Grid
This is the world of matter which “the living” inhabit. It is a structured, deterministic system of inconceivable complexity that arises from the existence of the lower layers of non-matter. This is primarily the domain of the four classical elements and the reality we see arises out of the combination of these forces in the form of chemical reactions.
Layer 2: Styx
This is the domain of darkness and death. This is primarily the domain of Strife. The souls of the dead arrive here after departing from The Grid, into ankle-deep water and soft sand. Many wander in this realm for an eternity until all their Self is absorbed into the waters of the Styx and, eventually, falls as ashes into the layer below. Others–those who Remember–will journey through the Styx towards the pillar of light at the centre: there the Styx becomes a Maelstrom of Memory as it rises to re-join the Grid. In this way, Knowing Reincarnation is possible and the memories of the past give literal rise to the future.
Layer 3: Love
This is the region of the Amplituhedron and of Love as an intangible force made tangible. I have depicted this region as a ruined and overgrown garden at the centre of which the Amplituhedron beats like the heart of all reality. It is impossible to reach the region of Love, except through total disintegration of the Self in the waters of the Styx; this process is also known as Forgetting. The falling ashes of those who have Forgotten maintain the growth of the garden–for although memories can fade Love never does: it is the ultimate, indestructible force. The garden feeds the Amplituhedron (heart) of this realm and through the very existence of Love, undying, the Column of Cause pierces through the Styx where it gives eternal (re)birth to the fundamental structure(s) of the Grid.
In this alternate depiction: the forces of Love and Strife entwine themselves both around (and through) each other but also around the four classical elements. In this depiction it could rightly be assumed that the interior of the sphere is the reality that we know–the Grid and the exterior are the warped, incomprehensible regions of Love and Strife respectively.
Edaf I. Shot of coffee brings me back. Through countless millennia the mind races and that whoosh is the sound of time. Who will I be? Who will I be?
The answer, of course, is: me. Yet still I fade.
There is no cause for alarm. I cross the room and adjust an aerial. I come into focus. I try to pick something up but my hand passes through it; I am not here, this is a memory.
Whoosh again. I am here now. I am sat before a scream and I am typing. The scream was blank but I fill it with words. I give voice and volume to the scream before I loose it across the horizon.
Nobody will call the police. It’s not that they are used to people screaming, but they’re used to not caring. They’re used to shunting thoughts into that part of the brain that tells them it has nothing to do with them. It is right alongside damn fool, kids and what-was-that-I-thought-I-heard-something-but-now-it’s-quiet-it-must-have-been-my-imagination.
But it’s nothing, of course. It wasn’t even a real scream. I just made it up with words. I doubt the neighbours even heard it. Originally it was supposed to be the word “screen”. It was a typo. A misfire of neurons.
Edaf I. In and out of reality I step; between rooms of memory and illusion. And then I am Here Again and I am typing as I try to convey these sensations: words on a scream.
A thin line of light appears on the horizon. It reaches halfway up the sky. It is like the light that seeps through the edge of a door not set flush with the doorway. It is like some celestial mistake; off by millimetres.
Everyone can see it. A man stands in the Outback looking for gold and he finds it, not beneath his feet but in the sky. Workers on a freight vessel crowd along the railings, pointing and shouting; and even the dolphins see it where they surge ahead before the ship. People in cities see it, except for when their view is obscured by a billboard or a sky-scraper. Poor people see it; rich people see it. What is it?
It is a thin line of light upon the horizon. Like a crack in the sky except it is perfectly straight. Like a perfectly straight crack in the sky, like a seam. And the citizens evaluate it. Some say it is aliens, others say it is God. People on different sides of the planet compare photographs and try to triangulate its position.
It is moving, they say, there is more than one beam of light, the say. There is not; but we will let them hold onto this comforting belief a while longer.
It is not visible from space, they say. It is caused by a particular type of particle they say. An as-yet-undiscovered cloud of somethings in the upper atmosphere. It is a refraction of the light of the sun. It is like a rainbow. It is nothing that we understand, but we will. We’ve got our best men (and some women too) devoted to figuring it out.
One country thinks they’ve found it and they send fighter jets that spiral into the ocean. What was the last thing they saw as they approached that beam of light in the sky? Nothing. Suddenly: it was behind them. They send research boats into the ocean. They perform all types of radio-spectroscopy. They align aerials and antennae and point them at the thing.
It gives off no readings and no radiation. They cannot reach it. They cannot hear it. But they can see it and worse–so can Everyone. And Everyone wants answers. What is the light in the sky? Where did it come from? The sky is falling, some believe. This is only the first crack: soon there will be others.
A church begins to worship the line. A mad man leads the church and makes up almost everything he says. The line is the face of God, he tells his worshippers. The line is a sign. That part, at least, he is correct about.
And then? There is some international incident. A bomb goes off. There is an election. Another election. A political controversy. There is riots on the streets and the entire time the line is visible upon the horizon; but they are not fighting about the line, they have–in this moment–forgotten it.
And so too does the rest of the world become accustomed to just having it there. Another thing we are yet to understand. It is just like a rainbow, they decide. And we all listen because it’s the closest thing we have to an explanation that makes sense. Sometimes there is a news story about it, but they become oddities and jokes.
Human history continues to unfold, with that mysterious line on the horizon. People shop, people fight, the Church of the Line fractures and three others spring up, each more obscure in their beliefs than the first. They do not receive so many new members any more. The line, it seems, has lost its allure.
And yet, the line remains.