(a work in progress by Richard Makin, author of Mourning)
Work develops further the poetics pursued in Makin’s earlier books, Dwelling and Mourning. Makin’s is a highly fragmented, cut-up textuality (in the present excerpt, divided up into discontinuous numbered paragraphs), full of half-formed sentences, jumbled quotations & paraphrases, obscure allusions, oblique references, and ambiguous pronouns. These fragments oftentimes take on a rather ominous, mysterious tone (cf. the opening: “1. We entered the dig in spite of fierce resistance. She is the king’s man – folding space, skirting about an emptiness. After several days the hostage confessed to his crime, the exact nature of which I dare not recollect.” – what dig? what resistance? who the hostage? what the crime?). Just as in Mourning, this mysteriousness is deepened by lists of arcane (“deasil,” “withershins”), archaic (“cloyment”) and scientific (“subterrene,” “theriomorphe”) vocabulary and ever-shifting pronouns (“10. You all know the rules; we are rumoured over a thousand old. All his centres have split. He says it was the worst piano he had ever met.”). And just as in Mourning, Makin’s textuality becomes “a terrain without edges,” always positioned in a direct, pressing, almost pleading address to the “You” of the reader (“3. Do not look up.”). DV
1. We entered the dig in spite of fierce resistance. She is the king’s man – folding space, skirting about an emptiness. After several days the hostage confessed to his crime, the exact nature of which I dare not recollect.
2. She is built up recovery by recovery. Hers is a settled standard. She has one projecting tusk and carries about her person a new translation of the rule.
On my first visit, everything is delicious and we complement one another. Familiarize yourself with all possible courses of action, consider yourself as background noise: this screed has taken away the breath et cetera.
3. What strikes me is the speed with which he performs every action – he anticipates, knows precisely what is needed. (Do not look up.) The extra space means we never have to be in the same room together. He is frantically digging a deep trench in the garden. The future occurs. He is crested. The sash bisecting his chest is held in place by a silver clasp; sweet-smelling grave clothes are the order of the day. Property is protected by a translucent screen.
Because you do not know where it will turn up, when it will end. (The pebble beach.)
4. He has burst from the dental pulp. Her story was leaked. She could be neither driven nor wiled into the parish kirk.
Origin is middle, perhaps from old, and related to craft. The smoke from her burning hair caught my throat. And I, asking, ‘When will you build it, this great silence.’
The answer is obviously someone talented, yet notwithstanding, somewhat thwarted. I list
a) A pair of connected or corresponding things.
b) A tide just after the first or third quarters of the moon, when there is least difference between high and low water.
c) Heavy-earth spike rotation, electricity leaking from the core.
d) Thin copper tracks link the components in a measured fault loop.
e) Terminal artery with grazed clavicle, low noise.
Diversity factors may have to be applied; he is rewarded with a fresh name.
6. First light tomorrow. I lay frontward for my addiction. He closes the message. This gives me way too much to respond with.
‘Your missive,’ he says, ‘should make an intriguing read.’
I ask for very little. I admit. I quickly slipped eyes. My book is near complete – and a mighty canny story it is indeed. I never made any progress, not even a sigh; ’twas not half so good as some pretend it was.
A pretty when youth, I come to infringe. I live regret.
7. As they speak he keeps his face pressed against the stones. (Instruction: fill matte box to void.) We often round the story out by tacking on an ethic or two. Non-actualization leaves this merely as something which might exist.
I thought I would dwell in that room for ever, but now it seems I must quit. He is master of the occasional instant: a rough trade in thoughts, the body nourished incrementally.
8. Regulus of antimony. Impure metal. I am fabricating imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory. He has castrated and deposed the father. He ate all his children.
Such confluence. Write it out in full or it doesn’t stand a chance. Nurture the Yes-constant option.
9. A stain on the heart, claret spreading, oozing across coarse fibre of hessian. I cannot guarantee first light.
Primarily, he is an occupation of the surface domain, collected later when the peace is forgiven. This resembles more and more an act of dictation.
10. You all know the rules; we are rumoured over a thousand old. All his centres have split. He says it was the worst piano he had ever met.
11. Further futility and other short proverbs: a man still young in age, a truce in name alone. Everybody present is executor. Letter writing has become conditional. I read myself; he could find in this matter two creatures according in fear. The characteristics of sound-sources are revealed in the actual sound itself.
This alterity, it must be repeated, makes him neither another self for me, nor another existence.
12. Heraldry (of the moon) depicted as full.
This demands troubled affect, memory samples of the wastage – informally used to indicate that there is no possibility of the person mentioned doing what is specified. They’re all dark up there. They’re all terrified up there. He’s painted nothing less than the end of the world on the ceiling. I don’t think my limbs are up to this any longer, but still there are the generous compensations of the sea.
Treat of these separately. He is valued no more, so I return to your realm. Sometimes I start by reading backwards (that business with the ear). Unhinged things made of sound are drifting back into the funnel. This contrivance was developed in the seventh – mass nouns, the countdown – whereas the humanistic hands of the fifteenth were based on a minuscule.
13. From to make round.
You may gather up your equipment and leave. It’ll be quicker if we do this my way, laughter in all the corners. The remaining space is an auction house (the plot has nothing to do with the stars, it’s all to do with the wavelength).
What will you do she say [sic], when the real war comes. As a test, the reader is required to supply the words that have been deleted – formed from closure, and driven in with the nail. You get the idea, now annul.
During that time, beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung. . . .
14. It’s rumoured he has this fever for shipping forecasts. Check the horizon, the arbitrary routes followed over the past decade. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to join once more the long march.
That’s enough for a stiff reprimand, wandering the corridors of imperial sequester, into whose enclave the mob has broken, uprooting the cobblestones.
15. From a depositary, from apart.
We may have to quit before time. The life sketched above is a customary life, with steadfast clairvoyance. Nostalgia is always present, somewhere; he is seeing what is not there.
16. Researching his hymn to promiscuity.
When I was a child he took us with him. We lived on an island. He revealed the credal error of remaining in any one place.
That rock was a life-pivot – you could see the blue, an ultramarine, from any point. The peacock and the eagle and the snake remember nothing. People are turning ashes into jewellery; it’s like wearing a corpse on your finger. We’ve got the same taste in shopping bags, anyway.
Now, truly break away. In the sense of a horse-drawn carriage.
17. We swung back through the village. People ran out under the hooves. Panic takes hold. The guard who brought him in locks the door and is posted outside. The prisoner waits beside his bed and takes off his hat; the gesture is gentle, as if in deference to one who has received a wound. A voice from without shouts.
‘Invisible companion, hence!’
To avoid the same fate, we rendezvous at moonset. He bore a white shield and on his helmet a red scarf fluttered as he galloped into the clearing.
18. And as I navigated impassive rivers, saliva dangling from the lip et cetera.
One confronts here a value antithesis that seems irrefutable, yet is held in a shoddy binding that undermines the whole. (He knows all about that pantomime business.)
19. Low winter sun, turning deasil, opposite to withershins. This section calls for comment on several levels, but I perceive what you’re trying to do.
21. To resume her treatment of the quotidian. It’s a real nerve distiller; I so desperately want to stop.
She’s rather instructive – if blinded, we’re in real trouble (so far, at least, as the general character of the universe goes). I’ve been doing this for seven years now.
21. And he found himself a further null expanse, the desert spread out across, before ascent via swaying antennae. You might as well use up the remaindered light.
i)I am an intermediate product in the smelting of ores.
ii) With cap) a first-magnitude star in Leo.
iii) (With cap) the goldcrest genus of birds, diminutive of king.
Once she substituted a stone. The child grew up to castrate and depose the father.
22. Picture a makeshift bed, what’s called a shakedown. Who taught the theory of harmony in a class they once shared? A style of handwriting developed at about that time.
23. A warm horizontal, rising heat corrugating the static. The strange thing is that I can’t think of anything to sleep about. (That’s how it gets its name.)
‘She ought herself to slay and berapt her life, skip down into the flames, and choose.
24. Sometimes the post comes late. They who suffer surfeit and an absence of revolt are to be excluded.
He has the faculty. I tire. A watchword – the battle-cry – rises up, the call of the steersman giving time to every oar. Hymns and psalms were sung in vessels. Words were frequently repeated. Then synchronized volleys of applause, probably the anti-demonstrations of ’28. Nobody else cares.
25. A unit of dynastic viscosity, one hundredth of a poise. —A moth, the male of which has orange. —A rough dragstone from the lower greensand. —Pig iron in the ship’s hold, for ballast (also kintledge). —A redress or hairnet. —A native of west, one born east of the hindwings. — The film or membrane. —A caul (caul).
This has ken, but too little for my life to be adequate to the task.
26. To catch an approaching object or falling liquid.
See, when he is alone he’s different from when he is talking to people.
27. ‘Bring armour, and observing strict ritual. . . .’
She is twinned with another who resembles. I don’t like the overall tone of this passage, as though something is owed. Subterrene nature comes in the guise of a bird, the celebrated theriomorph.
28. ‘Are you walking aground.’
‘I stay too long. But here my father comes.’
Without a word, he returns the object carefully to its place on the shelf.
29. Expression of a living unity, the preface, the role of further contributions.
At the back of the tomb is the golden reliquary containing the head. I meant above the Carolingian.
30. Who understands this – the human elements are too diverse to cohere, except under pressure. Here we usually say that in one case we can imagine the colour, and in the other we can’t. The door to my chamber is all a-tremble. Nonetheless, he prevents the company from breaking in.
For a second, I thought I was dead. (I prefer the original ‘to remember’ for ‘the thing remembered’.) When contact finally takes place, it will be indescribable.
‘Me bereft of sence, with spasms of fury that flesh cannot circumference.’
31. It’s a big river. You can see it on the map; it looks like a snake. He coils the shed skin about his bicep and forearm. This worn strip of ground beneath your feet represents a weak link. Across the span of the bridge bolts rattle, then one by one pop loose from their sleepers.
Conceive of a terrain without edges (i.e. any unsuccessful piece of literature). I have decided to stop here because I almost had an accident, just as I was jotting down the last sentence.
22. I am doing this, the total press of all possibilities, to shrink myself out of the picture. I thought of him only the other day: you are a break in time, exiled to a spit of shingle. You may not be aware. We are buried up to our necks along the line that marks high tide. (What will happen if I decide?) He is snared beneath the signs of his own conjuring.
33. Who has hitherto passed over to the pursuit of lack, of error? He declines the customary blindfold. I confess (Dear etc). His mind turns around the detail, distant in time, numberless opportunities passed over. He thrusts his errant hand first into the flames.
This could be called an essential mediumship: being exposed to every blow once the strategy no longer holds.
A fragment of dead bone has become detached from the healthy bone, as in acts of trepanation.
34. ‘Why are you here, sequestered from the rain?’
‘You are such a cloyment and cumber unto me, that I must leave.’
Answer: the autonomic nervous system.
35. Chairmanship papers, the memorabilia – we got the full moniker. And still they ignore our petition.
Just a fleeting thought: falling down is the emerging motif. I recall the signals.
Make an indelible design on a randomly selected part of your body. Insert pigment into punctures in the skin
36. There is something discomfiting about my cell, but the compression of the light is glorious. Most of the strangers are like fine particles floating in the air, and come at an instant. The fallen angels were imprisoned in stone, crystallizing in hexagonal prisms.
Your voice rises up from beneath the ground; speech whispers out of the dust. All cries drown one another out. At nightfall, stars emerge, transfixed at the rim of the land.
37. See, his mind is going in eight different directions at once. The actual origin of this phenomenon has not been precisely explained (viz aorta).
38. An earthenware lamp.
We are travelling in a direction contrary to the sun’s course, considered as unlucky: anticlockwise.
Parousia. Origin literally being present.