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 pointed out (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.
Hers is autographic: mob-battery, internal cut with organ lift to switch room — straight lines meeting and crossing at the rim of a stone. Apparently this denotes surprise and unpreparedness.
It’s official. Their primitive brains will not notice that their comrades are falling all around them.
Do not in any circumstances fling across. There is the memory of a woman in a cerulean blue dress at the crest of a hill — no cloud, another country, another century.
Isolate and quarantine. I sat up for a while watching the cracks open, all those tiny craters. Come dawn, green lights meshed and flickered on the ceiling. (It was probably father.) This area is a self-consuming area; halos were beginning to form around the street lamps. Abnormal matter consists of elementary particles which are the antiparticles of those making up normal matter.
She says I once had.
It is rumoured. It is rumoured he is a bad keeper of time and a compulsive maker of lists. This is the chapter of accident, all heads refusing to transfer. We are redefining your story — in many places the earth is spotted dark green, like oxidized silver. But who, who should we see a-coming, swaggering into the drawing room?
Where to if anywhere next. The whole project collapses. We recede — footpads on the cellar wall, straight up the star well. To brighten the party and properly round off the comedy, I continue to write standing up. I have a firm basis in reality and am important, meaningful and considerable; I possess a separate and independent existence. I have no a rank or appointment. I am not acting or temporary. I am a permanent re-enactment, static motion, the impossible solution. I am made in due form as such, not amended. Origin too has an independent existence (see corporeality).
This is what he had always wanted, an emptied room with canvas divide: visionary collage on pasteboard and gouache, distant thunder. I am mindful of the silk road. The vessel is a vessel from which all substance has been pulverized.
These words remain unforgotten because they are not strictly present — thistle spirits crackling on a wire, the underknife, with Nothing too soon — a number of red dragonflies dead on the cill.
As it passes through, it’s given intelligible form through the medium of mind — distorted and coloured abject. . . . (What is ‘it’? You don’t say.) This is how he communicates his strategy as a potential war game: we had but little time, reckoning the details of expenditure, both at home and at the front.
I meditate on my state of mind in all the various dramatic circumstances. I’ve been slung out for using language; the chancellor suggests a fine of two thousand crowns. Sometimes a connection between epilepsy and some previous injury to the head can be established: hard intrusive igneous, typically found — quartz and porphyry. . . . There is no longer any workable arrangement. There is no longer any attachment. There is no longer any agreement. (May I interrogate him first?) We ran a lie detector test. Any number of subatomic particles carrying a fictional electric charge are building blocks of the hadron. A randomly selected volunteer may, under certain circumstances, be added as an afterthought.
The date of corresponding intensity and direction in the magnetic field is also the date of the object. This can be hung upside down: the reflected door, its oak panels, the polished walnut box lined with tulip. . . . Rubbings in carbon were taken and are mighty compressed, like a lagoon. (Picture an optical illusion buried deep in a Neolithic wardrobe.) In contrast to earlier medievals, this made the first creative act a concealment, a divine exile rather than unfolding revelation.
‘No,’ he says, exasperated now: ‘The mid-zone should be the colour of Naples Yellow’.
Flakes of ash fall from the sky. Throw the possessed objects out of the window, defenestrate immediately.
‘You’re not supposed to have touched the blue electrode.’
‘It closes down and then somebody opens it up again.’
You are sorrow and I have been most cruel; my wildest thoughts, when I recollect you, would diminish me — the burden of evidence, ballast of indifference. . . . I have the mourning too, fingernails gouged into face, casing smashed.
Her hands firmly locked around his throat, she pressed into the jugular with her index fingers, the windpipe her thumbs. We found bits of old porcelain stones and layers of glued wallpaper, two elm clubs, a ukulele, a tin pipe with six holes, a toy ocarina, a brace of masks and a packet of wormwood buds — all artefacts unknown in this territory. And there was a child’s tin drum, with numbered foliage and sticks to beat. The principle in operation is that entities are not to be multiplied beyond orgasm; love and loathing ride knuckle to knuckle. I am full of optimism, what with my telepathic complacency — nonetheless, there is a system in operation here.
She tastes of liquid copper, a major third closing a piece otherwise sung in minor key. And here comes just the ticket — it’s like someone has placed a sheet of gauze over your eyes (viz. cerecloth).
During this unusual work a bitter remark is needed, an occasion for extravagant gift-giving and auto-destructive property. Antimony was known from ancient times, the naturally occurring black sulphide was put to work as maquillage.
Initiate: anoint the face, anoint the remaining limb.
He anoints his own face. (Equanimity is a pile of shit.)
The wound dresser.
Big tall amber stripe down the front of the face. They looked for a flag that wasn’t there. There’s no written record of what happened next, but the tension between the two households persists. And just as she was taking the shortcut by the footbridge over the railway, she heard steps behind her.
Frottage has been suggested, cudgels in the course of the game, a thorough defeat: exit by a head. Note how the body in a great wave retreats into itself.
Transcontinental linguistic unity was achieved in less than twenty-four hours, followed by a sudden inversion of night and day (the masculine substantive). Resume at ‘seizing’.
Can we talk, or must communication be strictly semaphore? Mysterious retreating perspectives beneath thick shade.
Change everything at the last minute. (So you too refuse to accept my right of inheritance?) Tell me about the deluge, tell me about the forks of lightning at the rim of the earth. His book is unsane, that stray eye — nonetheless, it redeems him. Go, cut your hand with the knife, compose your own lifelines. He had been surprised to discover that the other man had no method at all, not at all.
An i is missing from his name. I reckon him in to exist from the outside up. The wound suppurates after a day or so, a weeping friction burn. What is in a name. He claims he wrote the composition from scraps found on the library floor.
This is called a cento. We don’t hesitate to claim as our origin certain fundamental intuitions — first we do the Anglosaxons: there will be mosaic pavements and gas-lamps, war machines and so forth.
in hand passed; he held it well
fifty winters et cetera
They may even, he heaves a forlorn sigh, become.
She dreams of being drawn backwards through a dazzling white passage, a helix that resembles a gigantic drill. (The man-eating tiger is not happy being photographed, and pads nervously about the restaurant among the diners.) Somehow she has her counsel miraculously deliver, through the sealed edge of my laboratory door, a writ contained in a flimsy envelope of facial tissue.
The exotic name connects us to wild places which are impenetrable to modern urban man, projected into a technological world; we are, literally, second in excellence, next-door’s bricolage.
He dreams he’s an engineer trapped in an egg timer, surrounded by unbreakable glass. Suddenly his beak splits open, feathers fly, and it’s exactly one hundred years later. (Did they tell you about this transformation, there and then?) I could not distinguish what he said — something about the extinction of all bacteria, capriccioso salad, a plastic astronaut tipping over the edge. . . . We’ve got a lovely erection though.
The men at the beachside café had just fled from a suicide epidemic. (What date is it.) O yes, and I couldn’t get back in — I had not realized that you did not know, could never have known, that day’s shibboleth. . . . One of the insects in my collection is related to the wasp, with a sawlike ovum tube used to cut into plant tissue before depositing eggs.
Of a dye, not needing a mordant.
This denotes a sudden change of mind — extreme slowness at work again, despite all its treasures: a sea change. He thinks I’m someone else I am not; such opulent possibilities, but justice is real enough in the hearts of men.
If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune. Here is a man who, turning the emptiness of space across a sheet of paper. . . . I’m incapable of believing in the future of my regrets.
Her heart is arhythmic. He wins sympathy by his capacity for sympathy. She craves detail. He covets a stratagem. The bear meat tastes good, but it’s still fucking cold, despite the camp fire. The results of lie-detector tests are generally not accepted for judicial purposes.
Observe how you cannot share life as it happens. He actually said this one day, apropos of nothing.
A man with rotary teeth. Beads of gold pour from the ship’s prow. A tympanum is a big triangle balanced above a ridge of columns. The day is blazing brightly as we peer out from the vacuum in the cupboard; our five comrades point the way to victory. I’m reminded of Trieste, years back in that obscure film, the starborne Istrian sky. . . . It seems after all that we haven’t neglected any valuable spaces. For a moment, this thought consumes me; it’s within these wavering grounds that I shall wait for her.
Don’t understand me. I did not lightly take that leap from the bridge, singing shall I, shan’t I.
I think a rubber stamp would be worth getting made, a portable rubber stamp, yes.
She always champions dexter to avoid ambiguity, ever adroit and subtle, lying dorsal side up. The element is used in alloys, often with lead — such as pewter, type-metal, Britannia.
What’s that noise for. It won’t go away. She’s hanging out the window now.
‘Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said et cetera.’
Some scholars believe this to be an obscure reference to the chemical element of atomic number fifty-one, a silvery brittle semi-sentient.
That’s how they move across the earth. That’s how we sell your product. If she were a spiral shell, she’d turn in the normal manner, planetwise, spinning madly from top down. (The closest one can come has more the meaning of ‘glide’.) They have found one another. They did not know.
Then a system of classification based on division into numbered classes had to be invented. This is the so-called death time, an ‘unattainable evening’. The noise with which they have been trying to wake me only feeds the deluge.
Knife grinder with oil on canvas. She stations herself every day in the turret to paint. About the circumference of the circle the text reads it’s a fluke. (Do you ever have the feeling of having gone too far this time?) Three things are necessary to render the defendant’s anatomy acceptable — a movement is to be performed, a somewhat slow moment, the very last instant, inertia.
‘Stay away a few days more. Save yourself.’
Somewhat slow, but not so slow as I. Occasional whiff of used face, bruised torso, swollen jaw. They are the subjects here — fall, knock, blow and suchlike, culled from a mediaeval medical treatise.
Blood plasma in transfusion. Piss Rorschach. Britannia tiles: spoon carp syndicate (again) — a crude metal with sediment of liquor lees, thin mortar in its wooden conduit — the filled yet unfinished sac — thick, muddied and sulky. Gobbets of clot on the pavement, the page. . . . ‘Still none more less than thee.’ . . . And the elder says of the younger, forgive him, he’s a budding mechanic of the unsaid, an engineer of words. Then a tiny man is lowered onto the stage by a mechanical device fashioned from the worm-string of a dog’s tongue. I could hardly breathe, which explains why.
‘I’ve no yen to hunger; this is the same conversation all over again.’
I’ve got places to go.
I’ve made up my mind
and I’ve got to let you know know know.
Tannis root is a unique ingredient, used for centuries by witches in their evil spells and rituals. Then the window caved in, crushing his legs; the body lies broke within a chalk silhouette. An act of possession is evident in this scene — it was the camouflage all along, heavens, the blasted firmament.
Price of chassis: a condition in which the heart lies to the right of the chest. In the next half hour, should you need any new spores, speak to him: he’s your man. We are calling it planet nine, until some other arrangement can be made.
Click of squashed can in the car-park below. (Material that has a mnemonic charge.) Wires from the generator were attached to various parts of his body.
A voice comes to question: ‘Is there a grail here, named and sequestered?’
‘I suggest that you were in there alone for a couple of hours, contriving an inartistic solution to a difficulty in the plot. Do I make myself clear?’
A machine to determine whether a person is telling the truth, by detecting and recording the changes in pulse and breathing associated with lying, was then wheeled onto the stage. By multiplying the number of husbands, convincing comic effects may be secured.
This man has no trouble keeping mouth — he even volunteered for questioning. The old tune is an adaptation. (You can never change the meaning of ‘Here’.) Behind him flashes the legend.
That day I cast no shadow. It was September.
No signal. That’s two less bodies to account for. It’s only a matter of time before someone starts complaining about the corpse. It is night and they wait in silence for the attack that never comes: ‘It’s too quiet, I don’t like it,’ et cetera.
Despite this fact, of continuing to look down upon the earth from a great height there is no end.
A sudden enclosed space, like this very corner, or something. Origin denotes a lead-grey mineral, striated prismatic crystals.
We became earthbound. Superheroes have become more troubled, more human — he has grown accustomed to these nomads, forever at home in the elsewhere. I can’t recall a single stretch of time like this single stretch of time. The dwelling is actually part of an old haunted manor house; you said you wanted to endure one more night (the survivors have fallen out here by chance). He’s suddenly tangled up with the cord and ascends. Folk have become petrified. . . . I belong to you and you belong to me. (That’s the worse thing.) He drags himself about like some polyamorous cadaver. The only favour she dared beg from her husband was to prevent S from being punished further.
Nexus — a blinding, a typically linked group of ancestors: naevus hub. A fever of inactivity consumes him, the heavy chain which drives on until all the letters are deranged in sequence. Nothing specific regarding background noise suggests itself. I have the notion of something subtle and persistent, repetitive and barely audible, the hum of body or machine. The freezer’s crammed full of bloodpecked muzzles, rhesus macaques.
Interesting, the moribund white nights, struggling northbound, all Brit-safe and shapeshift.
This needs more work: his heart’s in the wrong place. He recovers. It’s a question of numbering. A few spare objects ricochet about the room; if we all stick together, life gets cheaper. The series now runs: A and (B or C).
Idea for a novel: the search for a lost painting.
But he didn’t change how he expressed his accusation, just kept repeating it in the same way, over and over. Thanks for the message; delete me by preference from your pallid core. I sense some antagonism, I sense some obligation. (Learn to run from what exactly?) We should secure our land elsewhere: there comes a time, lover, when one has had one’s fill of memory.
What we see as luminous we do not see as grey — i.e. certain laboratories, submarines and other feuding vessels. As we waited on the platform she explained the distinction between the two yeses — one was used exclusively in the context of negative assumptions, such as the ritual cleansing of a siege toilet. Someone should be willing to produce a colour chart, a transition between the two: ash genius with litany, from our ember days.
He’s still not trusting the glimpse. (Well, space here was once Slavic.) The correct number is eleven or twelve; it’s a terribly long way back. The list is a catalogue that boasts two abducted muscles; we’ve never seen a place quite like this. The table doesn’t really need to be manned.
A resit is demanded — we are secreting today much volatile oil. I can only fix the following fragments.
I want to stop here; I rarely overreach. Everything you say is negative — has a negative taste to it. I think the best thing is to find out. I am on route, decayed at the tongue. I’ve got to figure this out. You know the rules: we make it happen, you watch the heist go down and pick up the tab. . . . I can only receive voice, not convey. It’s an emergency situation. (Isn’t there an easier way of doing this?) Why can’t we take the flanks — microwaves, red shift, atoms of light and that sort of thing?
Point (6) is dangerous ground. Are there any in the audience left unchecked? I think we can be ruthless. I shall take some postcards out of the rotating wheel, just to preserve a handful.
Sound is deflected. I hum the tune again in a desperate attempt to convince the nightwatch to let us pass. We’re thirsting (think vacuum). Today is special. What day do you want. I have the instructions, I gather up and discompose. We’re getting closer: vertigo, night sweats, numbness at the back of the legs, the self-assault of panic. . . . It might be worth doing a skull and crossbones, but be warned, this is not my native land.
Hurriedly, he dresses. At the outskirts of town his likeness is painted on a board and raised in the air before the multitude. Then the subject dreams up another of his fucking lists: the liver of a calf, kidneys skating in butter, split cow on the salver like a head of John. . . . At last I am off the hook.
You’ve had your eyes burnished, haven’t you? Sparks fly from the scalpel. We’re a group of three, something which resists in a community of other species — conversion into substance of tooth: ripcurl.
I mislaid trust a full seven years ago.
That’s a most palatable attempt at a bridge. It’s the same when you get a constellation of sisters, an evidence cluster in the night sky, forensic architecture. At that point she leant forward, her face quite close to mine, and said: ‘That word cluster, I can’t bear it — I’m a trypophobe, I have an aversion to the sight of irregular patterns, clusters of small holes or bumps.’
See, there’s a conspiracy. The municipality is cultivating lawns on the elevated. Others are constantly sacking and hiring; I got nought percent. I’ve had another of my moments. Further subdivision is shown by digits pursuing a feudal point.
Background of Victorian street noise — hooves sparking at wet cobble — then the mechanism jams; the chassis was skinned years ago. I’m an amateur interest, a sideline, a divertissement (i.e. displaying my technical skill without bothering to advance the plot or character development). Observe his likeness, spittle running from the mouth, snot the nostrils: find a new word for name, whichever sound emerges first.
At about this time he succeeds the apostolic see, withering loose: imprint of offal, viscera, interior lying tripe-side up. (Errors are avoidable among the unexceptional.) All affected beasts were destroyed, consistent with sanity; I am putting you in possession of all I know.
Before his departure he receives a letter: ‘We are busy founding an alchemy of letters’ et cetera.
How quickly are these people. We are nominated; what a shame. If I stay, who goes, if I go, who stays? I’m really flagging — it’s an empty sack, indeed. It happened so because of the light.
Please have your kidneys ready at the barrier. The stone was removed by the protector’s own master surgeon, who then spoke in his own defence. Quick, one who has the condition has arrived, and has only one hour to live. Nonetheless, he looks grotesquely reassuring.
See, the number four again! An alloy of lead, tin and antimony was used for casting type for the briefest of moments.
Distant Early Warning is the title of the movement’s magazine. Thus my name is unbecome — and I traced her footsteps in the snow, a life refashioned as spilt blood. Talk to us.
They marched the streets. Each year they accompanied the first rain, after a long arid period in the certain region. Only twenty-five of our lunar cycles can be accounted for. An odour concentrates itself, an oily perfume absorbed into the ground from the air. I know you’re close — just do what you do. The mineral division has discovered it is not dead vegetation that’s producing the smell. And what of those mysterious quicksilver globules that have appeared on the pavements of our city?
Of a regal abscission — every three months, within mine eyes. . . . I am disturbed by anythink talk. It marched the streets. The island fell. As feared, our pilgrims perished in a storm. Wherefore I advise thee: go to the wicket gate yonder, over the plain, see what stands inside the head on the way up, which thou must tread. Take the air around your own fiefdom for a spell. . . .
He befriended while circumnavigating the lake. Our tribe migrated to the north; I am never going back: ekstasis is removal from one’s intended place, standing outside oneself.
Scent of rainfall on parched ground. . . . Maybe we could spread our purchases across the ploughed earth: tendrils of coloured paper at the wicket-gate, fascia of dried grass, the bungled axe. It’s the same idea, but this one follows you around.
This account is set in a future where dissidents are sent to the moon, everything’s made of concrete and giant insects patrol the streets. This is why we hear dissonance as essentially uncomfortable — the undersounds that occupy two positions in spacetime simultaneously;
Most of the above was done by eye; communication with people who are negotiating with death is the new narrative. Origin is the 1940s, punningly from the hobby falcon represented on all our products. It was like staring into an abyss, an abyss of our own making. Thousands of people claim in Barcelona the unit.
I can’t see four, only five. Still, I press on as best I can, scouting around the rim of your head. The one who had the most convincing excuse for silence before The Word emerged is unforgiven. I ask for compassion, love and ire being two flanks of the same catastrophe.
Exegesis in your head — let’s assume this is your head — misery punctuated by rare epiphany. Punishment is death by sewing into a sack and ignoring. His story is contradicted by his own testimony.
The point is this: a game of chance played by betting on the uncertain order of events and appearances. Get yourself a stapler and just finish the job; expect less, pay more. The ink fades. We now have just blank sheets of paper —he deselects, abandons form, never writes anything legible. He instructs his letterman to make the image of the head by marshalling thousands of minute glyphs — memory pins, if you will. Uncertain memories include the big oven, the yellow ribbon around the tree at the top of the lane, a creosote alley baking in the heat, rank straw at the back of a kennel: ghost of thousand, ghost of rain.
Are you at all enthusiastic about this. One day he was viciously attacked by lightning in the guise of fog.
Rising canine, stench of darkening piss, a drawn down constellation — bare limbs thrashed by nettle and thorn — a crude passageway, planked conduit, is set down between impassable routes. (My brilliance doesn’t come into it). It was language; I’m next. But I am open to such a treaty: this island, across a channel with its unnumberless ports, that may only be traversed in a vessel of uncertainty. . . . The main fault was deregulation, amateur exorcists on a minimum wage.
The head is dispossessed. She once visited me in a hotel room. Nothing happened.
The head is crammed full and renamed the seventh circle: the violent, the monitor lizard, the first and last round, the uncensored self.
The head is condemned; analysis isn’t interpretation. My centre is pounded out. She is risk. See what happens (perhaps from ‘pharaoh’). Reason is unknown and hence abandoned, left uncalled.
This is the place where we come for our descent, a place every eye would shun. We slide down on borrowed trays; it’s a hobby. Why don’t you pause a few moments to think about that.
This one’s going to be mobile, undulant — if it fractures let it fracture, a fissure against which the bud aloud. . . . Outwide, mucus sheath of liver, drift of lung (we are none of us hang-on specialists). That preamble went on too long, but circumstances could still open up for him here. I imagine somewhere might happen.
He waits for an event to break the silence. An i is still missing. This is not officially recognized as a mental disorder, but may be diagnosed as a phobia if excessive fear and distress occur.
The battle, its indecision.
The aorta, great arterial track bearing blood from the heart, leading down and out from the body. A moaning sound dwells here — repetition or the like — the sound of a woman’s voice rapidly yes-yessing, feeding the swollen lips. (Oh no.) We should retreat. Hence the saying: one may know how to conquer without being able to do so.
To struggle across, a passage must be cut, the slice of a tissue of shares. There is one who speaks with me when I express, when I fall silent.
Form bending over him. That’s enough. He throws his arms; the goal will surely come. We glimpsed movement beneath the surface of the ice. It was impossible. I want to go to a place where we get shot of possession.
He sketches two divining rods, one collar set lower than the other; his window disconnects at the top. Two sheets of space collide at the gentle curve of a line — perfect cleavage, laminae flexing and elastic. For many years his compositions were regarded with fanatical admiration by a handful of disciples, and equal scorn by a much larger cohort of magicians.
‘I suppose it’s your desire that I challenge you now.’
He felt an inexplicable fright in noticing that the room was a perfect square, including the temperature of the walls.
Above: move and isolate the neutral.
‘You can’t do that.’
‘I did it.’
‘But you hooked your legs up.’
‘Why did you do that when I was already walking, had already made up my mind to walk back?’
She’s back in service. She’s potent, counterpotent. (Just don’t say vanilla.) Her name is a made-up name.
Shadow of death from a heart through which he sees the surface of the earth from a great height.
‘Are you lost?’
There’s no substitute for glass, perfectly terminated crystals.
Local name of sarsen. The corridor suddenly aged. An elaborate kite has been constructed in the garden. (Can we talk a little more about that film.) The shots can picture events and objects in different places at different times; I think we absorb things in a different way when we’re alone.
He calls to return the borrowed carbon, finds her weeping at the kitchen table. There’s an unmistakeable interior trace hereabouts — has all the repose and silence in the world embarked upon our heads?
File under dietary abstinence: religious, and sometimes magical practice of the fast. It’s somebody else’s turn to pound the ivories. All the seats have restricted sensibility.
Adopt the version who came earlier; I thought it would be nice for us to operate on the same level for once.
So he has a plan — enough already.
Prototype: the famous dicing terrace. He says there’s something here that wasn’t here before — still not dead, yet no longer living. The market has improved.
This must be one of those occult sites she keeps talking about, the platform upon which everything is present: raving madness versus melancholy madness — Bishopsgate, Moorfields, Lambeth war — underplayed ghosts of refracted light snared in the iris, package by package. In fact this is not necessarily the case; there is an enormous amount of our solar system that I have never looked at.
And again, she: ‘What will you do when a real war comes?’
Origin is 1960s, see rhesus factor.
Not quite as legendary, but still legend enough. Up a side street one bell tower survives, red bricks of adobe clay, sun-dried.
A long tube with limbs spread out, nailed flat and lentiform. . . . We were preparing to dig a trench when it happened. (Why persist.) At the very margin of the land, I realized what was missing.
We arrive in bitter shapes. If there’s no alternative, expel her from the bureau; she is most elated at the complexity of her oppression. You know her, everyone knows her. But there seems to be no brain damage, fingers crossed.
I was finally tracked down in a sunless netherworld, scavenging along my regular route.