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“Inaction in action has the same meaning. Notwithstanding, there is much humour.” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter V)

As Iain Sinclair has observed, Makin’s “writing is that it is. This is prose you must learn to experience before you begin to interpret […] the pages in their beautiful and delirious abstraction are ordered poetry.”

Richard Makin’s Work continues the “work” of Mourning by taking stock of “the minutiae of the view, the dissenting details,” and dealing with the processes of passing, disappearance, & death. As David Vichnar has observed (see here), Makin’s is writing born out of “the obsession of the I that wants to die without ceasing to be I.” In the excerpt published below, one finds the similar pressing, disconcerting and richly bewildering tone that fills the pages of Mourning, and also something more.

Work is forthcoming with Equus Press in early 2020.

V

By spy I mean espionage. I felt hunger. Beneath me, kitchen sink port, sluiced to a nullity — a sunken haven, silted riverbank streaked with rust, estuarial. See, I am dwelling on your suggestion: sursum corda et cetera. Gelatinous colonies on damp earth were once derived from the stars. 

Now for the improvement of soil in accordance with a demented plan: teeth poised in neat rows, beaded filaments, brief mineral thought, the lost tooth of an irreplaceable rake. A peculiar kind of quadrant was formerly used. Turquoise, olivine, chrysocolla, green feldspar (amazonite), jade, fluorite and malachite are all found in predynastic settings and attest to a love for the colour green. At later periods of history this list lengthened greatly. The collective noun is a happenstance of witches or an impossibility of hares. 

Signs of experience, mistyped ecstasy; I hear your shriek, propose a new metabolism, conjuring numbers at the rim of an insular life. He’s a rebutted witness of the assault, a division of prey. Scant meaning is scribbled into a little talking book: discarded flask, a bottle, an unnoticed failure in a musical recital — a complete failure of any kind — a closed sea within the jurisdiction of one state. He has repeatedly said that he is worried about the new normal. 

 

Mountaineers have died in a savage snowstorm. An expert in toxicology and fire chemistry is speaking out loud. The year is 1349 and time is running out. A tall figure hovers to the left of the window; he is top-hatted, brushed silk — gaiters and pearl-grey — a well-cut trouser, as they say in the trade.

 

A wind is blowing steadily toward the equator from the north-east in the northern hemisphere or the south-east in the southern hemisphere, especially at sea. This is all very likely. At the other end a ball-bearing mounted pulley contains the shaft attached to a horizontal revolving disc. 

Now I feel myself positioned a little too far to the right. [Moves chair slightly.] The biggest challenge this year is that the jury are all fallen pianists and chamber hermits.

 

A short section subject to ablation through melting or evaporation, e.g. ‘the spacecraft’s ablative heat shield.’ 

Lying bound, glued together, a man writing a book about a man who wrote a book about a man who wrote books (i.e. something of a crisis). A viscous brown acid is poured into the couple’s eyes and over their faces. Their torturers — the whole family has turned out — and the observer (me) are clad in smart twenties garb. Father burrows into the man’s skull with his bare hands before introducing an animal to gnaw at the victim’s interior. A carefully chosen insect follows swiftly to finish off the job. And after a while mother reproached herself for being as she was, increasing her grief by imagining that she deserved nothing better than indifference. (Is it the folds of the eyes that are performing these antics?) I did not feel lost. Something waits inside me that exists completely independent of people. 

An adder is a snake. An elder is a tree. This cannot be the letter I’m expecting. It is a very thin letter. The hand is uncertain. No one’s going into the kitchen until I know what’s happening.

‘It’s still a lot of money though.’ 

‘Must get myself ready,’ says our blueprint apprentice. 

There is no rain at any time on the mesa. This is an example of a true idea; inaction in action has the same meaning. Notwithstanding, there is much humour. But there is no such number, no such house charged with misdeed, the sought-for thing. The cathedral’s northwest transept collapsed in a storm. The spire was the tallest. 

The first two years one might always return a loss — I tell everyone I meet. While pointing at the stairs to the river I say go down there. Whisper very loudly. . . . Through the gate, wooden steps lead from the towpath to a flooded water meadow. An aqueduct bisects the swollen current of the river; a collection of oblivious cows are stranded in the lee of a stone bridge. Jesus he murmurs yes I say. . . . You enter the nerve in all its leanness, floating above one of the few remaining areas of undrained fen, a temple of silt. 

Cut from the oldest quarry on the planet, two granite figures face one another in the herb garden of a hidden cloister. The inscription reads ‘those who sharpen the tooth of the dog’ — meaning death by assassination, apparently.

Do something — silent, nocturnal, with disenchanting eavesdrop. We can no longer avoid considering the case of the iron plate.

I really don’t need this right now; apparently it’s an unexplained idiosyncrasy of the iris, probing through the cataract and penetrating the eye — of one who watches, he who delivers. I am right now dredging your etymology. He has all the volumes in the world at his fingertips, and yet. 

The square root of the trouble (in this archangel’s view) is ignorance of our true character. A sword made of light appeared to move in the photograph, five tiny discs poised at its hilt. 

Father: But I’m not going to, I want to explain things to him. . . . I can smell burning. . . . Hello. . . . People could put your life in a book and no one believe you. 

Among the articles he enumerates are nose-jewels — amulets protecting the nostrils against the entry of demons — and crescent-shaped ornaments, tiny symbols of the moon god which have been found in profusion under the soil.
Loss of breath. For some reason the virus had descended slowly after entering his spine. It turned the flood or the ebb, as the case may be. Thus all airfields with hard surfaced runways long enough for military aircraft to use (i.e longer than 1,800 metres) are targeted, as are army command outposts, barracks, naval bases, conventional weapon dumps, and second level communications, radar and intelligence centres. And crossing the sky in a parabola is the sun itself — the carelessly upturned eyeball would melt. When a stroke is not convenient, -ing is expressed by a light dot at the end of time. 

I hereby solemnly renounce and swear an oath to leave the country forever. Double check this.

Few reach me, or I them. The very air seems in dread. They sent us off to be checked, hacked. Dead air, cells within cells, are expanding to approach a body whose tissues decompose at the lightest touch. Back to his epistle. 

‘The people are divided into opinion, I resume my journey onto the peninsula. . . . The first lieutenant carefully approached the jackal with an improvised wooden cross. . . . Salute the love that labours without compare. . . .’  

I get shut down tonight. (We have an old ’70s air-condenser, that’s my only worry.) As humorous as this is to behold, the events that followed struck me as utterly barbaric. They’ve got a history of doing, that’s all. 

He needs to make his own mind up when it is daylight and when it is dark. He’s alone in the cell, lying on his stomach against bare boards, recollecting. When siege and artillery bombardment began, the book was buried in the hills above the city. There is a naive expressiveness in his eyes, pin-pointed in black after completion of the picture. He repeats a single word across an imagined page, gradually building an oblong of fourteen lines containing six words each, a cell of eighty-four to each lyric. We’ve been here before: note the critical censorship and output of force. There remains the possibility that a weapon might be launched by accident. A raid is being prepared to break into the edge at low tide. His assassins are extensions of himself.

 

Only then will I come to terms with my accident. This is how the people around here speak. Unwanted material or goods thrown overboard from the ship have washed ashore. Years after losing her husband (as in lost not dead) a young wife tracks him down to the family estate, where she discovers that a failed medical treatment has turned him into an alligator mutant. A lot of research has been done on their embalming techniques.

Location, county of. Time: wayward any. This passage advocates a social framework centred on family relationships, an ideology which harks back to peasant origins, for example. 

Thing: letter of apostle (evangelist). The object is this object. We have retained the orthodox interpretation of being — any word steals its meaning from the fictions that guide our understanding. A greenish-blue mineral consisting of hydrated copper silicate occurs as an opaline crust.

She is sleep-derived — homunculus, manikin, one dark and full of days. He cut his sac; another spills out. Together they stride from shore to shore across the earthwork that marks the border. A familiar rhythm beats, the heart (viz. reciprocal influence). There’s no choice living. 

Chimes on each hour: I use them as seeds from here on, being daily swallowed by men’s eyes, this twofold force.

My graphomania is diagnosed (yes, cold warrior, eaten live). The story had been too late for the morning papers. Subtract the fifty assigned to naval aviation, and then take seventy-five per cent of the remaining figure. A blood vessel has burst behind the eye. He grew a companion to the common streets, every atom of him doomed to incessant revision. Acting skills have become transparent as more people attempt the craft — probably by now he is tantamount to death itself, a state brought on, as they say, by too much rehearsal. Each of the glittering lines is breaking open like a seed pod. 

Stray punch. If nothing else, nowhere, if not elsewhere, nothing. (What’s in a name.) I know how such books are produced — or rather, I believe I know. 

‘Is anyone in 311.’
That was some punch. At the centre of the maze is a plaque that confirms there is a single path to the centre and innumerable dead ends. Cross-staff, back-staff, astrolabe — the instrument I used is so named because in taking altitudes at sea the observer turns his back to the sun. Malachite, a green copper mineral, was extensively used as an eye paint.

There must be something wrong with my bones. The wheels are squeaking, feet numb. Aware of my diminishing lack of rule he climbs on the table, squats, shits on table, shits on floor from table height, hurls faeces at contestant. He has no friends. These are not reasonable actions, but then, our subject never had much truck with logic — and besides, these are unreasonable times. (That’s the trouble, we’re all so damned original.) Never touch your own eyes, or anyone else’s for that matter, even as a feather. I am entirely emptied and numb: that passing tram has more sentient feeling.

Flip side example: ferryman. The first page is left blank, yet she hopes one day it shall manifest a narrative and deliver her up. An irrepressible force of evil lingers near the outhouse. Where three roads meet I spotted again that noble white horse, so serene as it cantered on its way to refuge. I  wrote this for her hands alone. This last remark brings forth a fresh burst of laughter from the group around the campfire. 

The other retorts. The pages form part of a vast unreadable corpus. (Remember that unscalable wall of white ice?) Few men were on the wharves; the one I found looked at me and turned his back unspeaking. 

What had he writ so long ago, at pilgrimage, on packhorse, soaring above the floodplain, the basalt rib? Elongated spores probe beyond the extended limb of the structure. A waterwheel, once portrayed, corrodes in winter sunlight.

Two belts of trade winds encircle the earth, blowing from the tropical high-pressure belts to the low-pressure zone at the equator. The stencilled number nine visible toward the left of the picture plane lacks a clear outline. He wants something that no one else can deliver. And besides, there’s a big thick needle all the way up and out the other side of him. My veins were too deep and too narrow. 

This static, attenuated existence: accidie. They had to oil his rectum first. 

Sacrifice here is equal to a catharsis — that which is exposed and spoken once, hapax legomenon. I really enjoyed living. Two belts of trade winds encircle the earth, blowing from the tropical high-pressure belts to the low-pressure zone at the equator.

A court of law. They exchange inscribed copies of each other: perfect, malignant twins. (I think the first rehearsal we suffered took place late October.) Only one performance extended to the region of pure line. 

Dust on the steel plate, a miniature platform — a gentle layer of dust (as it turns out, a poison). These were the only thoughts that brought me a measure of solace. Next came an interrogation during which I had to stand with my hands and feet clamped to the wall and my head held in a metal brace. Projected on the ceiling was a film of someone being alive eaten by an alligator. Projected on the ceiling was a film of the same man being bitten by a snake. He also had a compressed disc. He had to face up to things — he has a good eye our apprentice, the untried lad. He was always artistic. Hand him over. There is much humour. There is no such number, no such code word. Goodbye. His insignificance is a matter of shape, of siege. Imagine the bear song sung in the round. 

Here once again we touch upon the story of Ambassador C — a roll of the drums is followed by emerging brass. He genuinely doesn’t remember me telling him anything that night. (Does he still do his own cage fighting?) In the palm of his hand is a deep cut. That’s the reality. An overabundance of signs is admitted; we are now within the gates of the compound. The heart has not attained complete peace. I rupture. A system of lenses for collecting light was invented.

‘Such experience can only be hinted at in myths and images.’ 

‘I suppose the season’s over now, isn’t it.’  

A failed medical treatment has turned an ordinary man into an alligator mutant (see above). It seems to me that he was carrying the burden for us all: a haunting, a path so narrow it’s cast entirely in the shade, a cantilever bridge that spans an apparent nothing, an occasional floodplain, pyramids of basalt lined up on the far bank. But our job is not to remember. At the crest is his monument. As objects begin to break through the surface, someone speaks: you don’t think there’ll be wolves, do you, do you. . . . 

Either wing of a part that runs straight across. Strait-gated polity, capitulation at the windmill. In the midst of this flourish we remain silent.
Gare de Lyon: back, come wife ascend we. . . . In a cross-shaped church, either of the two parts forming the arms of the cross shape projecting at right angles from the nave should be enough. Alone in the desert, boulder for a pillow, my physician wakes to find the venomous fangs of an asp sunk into his left eyelid. He cries out, wrenches the snake from his flesh and flings it aside. Before the poison can spread he must surgically extract his own eye — applying a metal clamp, his lids are forced open and the orb held fast in preparation for the ordeal. He raises a primitive suction device to his face.

She answers. Evacuation of cities might be feasible in a conventional war, but impossible during the present conflict. A balance of diversity is one characteristic of death, of natural and social ecology. She answers. 

But on the other hand, the blindness of the father as he gropingly feels his son’s clothing is well conveyed. Fallout precautions are now applicable. 

Thus he splits himself into many parts. They exchange a vow three times –– a murder of crows, signalled by a dash of light.

‘Who knows.’

Who crossed that line, the threshold. Material has been discarded, flung overboard to unballast the vessel. Her flight is burned.

‘Who knows, who knows.’

Spurred thus by a sense of lack I had no wish to find her. But o yes she has been here. And her body too was thrown into the sea. 

His relationship to physics has left me perplexed. We abandoned the lion in a field at the dead of night beneath the stars; it was the time of a new moon. (He was never very good with combustion.) Much of this is ruined cladding — remember this and do something, see to it and don’t forget. . . . I have some evidence, but it is of a very scattered kind. Tonight’s password is ‘Thrownness’. I have heard, seen and read various things. I am not going to witness another soul until next spring.

Synaesthesia for all: general considerations, recruiting methods, extinction protocols et cetera. In medieval times such mazes were often run or crawled on festive occasions. I cannot pay the rent but possess a piece of bark I’ve carved with my bare hands and carry about with me everywhere. An elaborate ritual involving palettes for preparation of the colour green and utensils for its application seem to have existed.

His lead rises. He is harmoniously terminated. His model is intricate and not altogether clear between the starry forces of the firmament. He is the only one who ever speaks in my head — voices need to stick. I have learned to become invisible. I migrate. I am manifest in your product. I am an isolate myself. I need to work on my five thousand steps. Everything had to be renamed. The central problem with orthodox marxism is that it alienates the average occultist. 

See, a system of names now considered loose. Other word classes are also found at this stage, including several words it is difficult to assign to any group, such as Fuck off, Sally. The only surviving map charts the movement of people out from the garden. 

We are renowned as astronomers and astrologers.Colours break down — the blue waterlilies are now rare — and this narrative is accurate, I cannot be making a mistake. Come, break the restraints from he who passes. Let me come forth. 

Is there anything to be said against doing this? Does the analogy with glass break down at any point? (It’s hard to tell from this vantage.) I showed him how you could beat the nerve fibres back into shape using a small hammer. By now, both assailants are on the table attacking his face. One of the twins gets the wrong idea and starts striking out at random. (I have shit ideas all the time.) We share a joke about feral goats, names that don’t mean anything. We were driving and saw this sign that read danger feral goats and a little further on we saw a fucking goat climbing a tree. There is something about the word goat, is there not? 

My companion’s husband died four years ago. We could have this big drawing of a line of wild goats. This conjures a charming vision of my correspondent giving a luckless strip of hessian a damn good thrashing for no reason whatsoever. Perhaps he is angry. 

A disconcerting condition of things. It’s all about placement, not grammar. The image looks like someone using a telegraph wire to garrotte an innocent tourist. 

Any shape: natural dug — the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding via thought and experience and the senses. In my cell at night I hear morse-tappers from the other side, semaphoric newsboys. It’s a long way off, the metaphoric jugular. I need an ontical foundation. I note the effect of chloral on my skin, thick patches emerging like make-up. Through sacrifice and invocation one hopes that nothing will recur, that moments will be unalike.

Impromptu, from my fathers. Cardinal shadows: the settlement forms a perfect circle. We reinforced the four gates with heated stones. The neolithic pistol I’m handed is made entirely of granite. The details don’t matter, but I want to make my overall strategy completely clear. 

We weighed the scribe against a feather in the balance — the committee finally had to acknowledge its own impotence. I scanned the deck fanned out across the baize (any deck, it matters not in the scheme of things). The two of batons came up next: strength of will brings ideas to pass, you will soon emerge victorious from the maze you’ve been travelling through et cetera. 

He looked again at the tiny black notebook filled with cryptic initials and hieroglyphs which were meaningless to anyone but himself. Given the money available, maker and reader are as alike in appearance as possible. The advantage to the reader of this book is that she need not concern herself with remembering what has happened or why. How beautiful, etymology of martyr: witness I love thee.
West road. North sanctum. He is afraid of his own. [Moves chair slightly.] To speak about this we talk of darkness, labyrinths, Minotaur.

‘Where it fell open it war revealed to me, and very suitable also to the time, that I had gone astray like a lost. . . .’ 

She too then went away. Once you have that mentality to savagely protect what you’ve got, things start going badly wrong. It’s all about history today. Geoff had to somehow exercise that injured leg or he would lose it. That district of the city was a fucking shapeshifter in itself.

The life and adventures of a typical atom — iris powder, iris root. There, he’s lost it. I told you so. Someone did. 

Gallop and frenzy at dizzying speed. We arrive. A tunnel at the disused quarry leads deep inside the mountain — the golf course was a clever decoy, so too the lightning strikes. (I might survive.) We found the entrance to the underground passageway and its promise of looted Nazi gold. The views were magnificent, all the views were in flood. 

After so long a lapse we are each of us today attending an incineration. This seem an odd decision, given her previously stated desire for burial, based on the conviction that bodily resurrection is attainable. I felt like a second skin. How grand we look on this dazzling winter morning! . . . We are only now able to recollect these events for the first time. Someone else talks of a previous love, a real and a void boy. (There was a void in my mouth that day.) As we passed a field of stubble a parliament of rooks rose up from the scorched earth. Did she change her mind in later life? Thank you and fuck off. 

Origin is late middle of unknown origin. This theme was already hinted at in dream 9, with its pendulum clock, a perpetuum mobile. Pall bearers slid his sheathed body into the embracing bog. He’d been garrotted, belly stuffed with seed — a circuit board sticks out of one pocket. The corpse had been weighted with stones and stale bread. We gently dusted the bones free of earth. Nearby, giant bales of hay clad in latex are stacked to burst — white, black, pale green — a perfect contour that mimics the swell of a nearby earthwork. 

Origin is mid-century, denoting various bodily fluids, especially the watery part of blood or female ejaculate. That was a dark grim place where there are wolves and great purple foxgloves brimful with dew.

Say it’s not so. All he had to do was add the words I am swept away, and he’d have been spared. He sheltered in a Clerkenwell poorhouse, up to his shins in excrement, weltering in his own blood. He hopes to achieve a breakthrough before he has to face the terrible obstacle of old age.  

He wanted once to touch this new instrument, to break news between shifts. He had no interest in the future, no interest in fame. (Who would want to be visible in such a world?) He had little use for money. It’s a terrible time to be on the planet if you’ve no wish to know anything. Totally disengaged, he was visibly obscure, or if you prefer, obscurely visible. He moves as if held in a frame, shutter by shutter. Against his forehead dangles a three-inch nerve, raw and desirous.

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About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.

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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
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