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.
My game was called off. I can remember today, coerced into utterance as I am. I accept the ordeal, return myself back to the present: behind the vision a sunlit immanence, a dead line of my own making.
I will sign this document now, please — I’m forever thinking thither, on into fugue et cetera. That man is the head of symptoms. A glomerulus is a cluster of nerve endings, spores or small blood vessels.
It’s hard to see clearly with the light in front of us; nothing in this book should be construed to represent. (In such plight, why don’t they simply call out to one another?) It’s all over in one minute. The process is predictive, the arrival of the sun, moon or a planet in a specified constellation of the sky: sleight of hand, the beginning of a transit.
They surrendered their organs. I emanate from the body of my medium; the rules can always change. The book is morphing into a volume of mechanics. I connect, as if two sides of the same coin (symbolum). I forgive myself —notwithstanding, I am removed and delivered. I forfeit myself. The popular cosmology runs three strikes and you’re out. You speak your own tongue, the minder language.
How can this be sustained across a field of all possibilities, i.e. a work of comparable military relevance? What we saw did not correspond to any living being; the object was transparent. The crew carved triangles across the air; scratched out a crude design; I desired something that wore a slight and worthless look.
Visualizing every surface of a coloured cube simultaneously seems to help. These are incorrigible times, punctuated by irreplaceable names; all spoke in his own demented voice, this thing of abyss.
Under the word, common talk and hoax. I counterfeit, map myself out beside the cliff path, half-way between the cove and the end. Find a situation before it destroys you: swallow this wafer of bone.
Things are listed: narrations, family tort, candlelit readings, the random flutter of psyche, child rotting at the wayside. But there are contraindications to suicide; the body is a vessel in which the transformation process takes place. For example, why is she squatting here, instead of there? Why the head aligned magnetic north, and the grains within that meteorite?
A rapping noise rises from parched ground. Everything tremors. She hides her face in her hands, while he goes back inside the yellow house to the left. All this happens as we’re writing.
The subject is two aimless young people. Soft rumours reach us from beyond the stockade; I counterfeit myself. But of all the names found upon gnostic gems, two are of the most frequent occurrence. Do you do that every week.
He has a couple of spent lives languishing in his pocket; anything left over is relegated. This last-minute set piece is perfectly poised; it’s like spearing fish on the great reef — a sort of arcane attachment, basaltic magnetism. He finds to his astonishment that about one hundred and ninety miles off the southern coast there is a dramatic decline in the local gravitational field.
He says he dare not touch anything at the scene — and indeed the items, mottled with lichen, do appear long unused. I read objects with a subtle eye.
He never came back after that. He sees clearly what ought to be done; it’s said he’s good with money, good with memory, good with the placement of things. The knowledge that there are physical objects comes either very early or too late. All writing is prayer — to be sitting without aim, without profit — something you hear, but not clear enough to catch the memory of. I murmur a little in the passage of time; nearby a glass shatters (the snails).
See sheaf of notes, the enviable work of forgetting. Don’t lose your nerve; you’ve no need to be present, to be perceived. I think a better translation would be ‘a yearning to dwell again where one has always dwelt’.
Country of dead saints.
Being suited him, to be fair; it carried him well. I think you may need your touchstone, fossil reptile of the era (often reaching enormous bigness). Some have liquid chlorophyll for blood — our closest living relative is the raptor. Great cake, but we were all extinct before the afterword.
No, we do not have transmission. By this I mean an irresolvable contradiction or logical disjunction in your argument: rhetoric of mass noun, any expression of doubt. The scheduled massacre still took place in the park that afternoon.
Seems we’re going on a long journey. The proportion of incident light or radiation that is reflected by a surface, typically that of a planet or moon, is unbearable.
‘Yes, I know.’
Fragments of a forgotten teaching, two unknowns desperate to define one another. site: the old watch-house or cage. Nature, he wrote, knows no metaphysical frontiers — behind the head sits the mantle, a large bulbous structure that contains the vital organs.
I think I shall purchase that caul, now that push has come to shove. You choose: the amniotic membrane enclosing a foetus, a woman’s indoor head or historical net, the anatomic momentum. O dear, O god she cried, they are reforming custody.
Footfall above nucleus of head. Names are spelled out across the ceiling, residual carbon of naked flame. Note the aforementioned sword and spear, his gilt sandals cum talaria as he descends to walk among us. That statement may be one of my own devices for distracting the attention of the world from your nefarious machinations. According to oral tradition, hiding in the back seat lurks the murderous hookman. You must assert everything in such words as will carry conviction.
‘Really, sir, this is a very supernatural question.’
Origin is late to escape. See, by craft and insidious purpose, events will always unravel toward an omega point, albeit fashioned of clay. Among the earlies was through a glass darkly.
Take accident versus substance: I feel very calm on the English stage, relieved of all mutation. My accidents are those of a child. My own substance, as with the wine, is merely the hoax of translation, a slightly unpronounceable name. A hormone is produced in the pancreas by the islets of Langerhans. . . . I’m forever thinking thither, on into fugue, a cluster of capillaries about the head of a nebula.
She delivers him to the terminus, thereby relinquishing her tactical advantage. The circumference is closed and his centre begins to decay, withering but still attached to the stem. The trick is to believe there will rise another dawn, silver with black wheels. It was only then that I conceived of the book as something with which to strike, beautifully balanced in its destruction.
The ditch has been ploughed away, except for a low section of counterscarp on the north side of the fort. The west entrance has been blocked. Meetings began to collapse with the introduction of written language and the emergence of the state.
In front of us flickers a luminous screen. The nervous tic below his left eye has worsened. I am squeamous of blood, the crossroad clue.
We’re building something. A pistol flares in the mist and contours are roped off.
‘So you know my name.’
His cries decline to groans, and because the dark, some police. The bullet version has enjoyed a very successful tour of here and there, in every corner used teeth and shoes — a lime-pit, condolences, a severed head — yet the details remain obscure. The only witness claims the suspect strode into the room and pitched the victim a glance. Incisions bespeak a murder committed under the influence of frenzy.
‘Duplicate any information you’ve carried within you for some time. Dispose of any copies.’
Origin denotes an apostle — from creed as the mark, from token, from sun plus to throw. Listen, he’s like some newfangled Diderot, all homemade pies and violins in the park, while she sits entranced, superimposing a china doll on to cellophaned sweets. The silhouette, reversed, conjures a Maltese falcon.
See what little control we mandate. To here speaks of the twenty submitted to the gun. Do you need cornering? Are you still interpreting?
End of forerunner.
The nineteenth Sunday.
I feel as if I’ve been ignited inside, every time. (My friend has a phobia, I have seen my share of devils et cetera.) The aim is to bring on lucid dispatches, a temporal schism, indifferent food. His roll is a cameo. I think the event enters the body first, a moment before it occurs, literally possesses the sleeper. The phrase has gone underground.
The following forces may be recognized as having a share in the visionary lexicon: ashlar, triple barrow, menhir, fogou, earthwork, quoit, circle-henge, burial cist, altar dolmen. Origin is diminutive axis of punk.
She says she hates cleaning. An L-shaped creep tunnel, ending in a false portal, leads from the west side of the main passage, just inside the entrance. The lunar maria have a lower albedo than the surrounding terrain.
‘But, your honour,’ I said to him on another occasion, ‘through your public fiction you have cooperated in the destruction of this fuckless victim.’
He cannot believe. Slowly he fingers his way through the fugue, demonstrating the purpose and courage it takes to simply pass from one step to another, showing us all the minuscule tensions contained in each fragment. We call these chamber epics; it sounds like everything. The other knows. We are forbearance personified. Was she not threatened and constantly dominated?
In this version, under pressure to conform, she murders her son. She is priceless, lacklustre, so strung out in your process.
He refuses to take fodder for a season and wastes away; the well is poisoned. Leaning upon the speculations of the kabbalists, he no longer takes the written to mean what is meant; a pus-yellow fluid trickles down his face. The massacre occurred at saint the field when cavalry charged into a crowd who had gathered to demand the same.
If only I could take thy place. Such moves are made by mutual consent. (I still don’t trust semi-colons.) All the hats are old hats, but we’re still allowed to use the same word twice. The end of the wars had resulted in a period of famine and chronic employment, exacerbated by the introduction of the first laws. A young officer is peering intently through a spy-glass, replaced with a shot of a tumbril jolting over the cobbled street.
To nurture growth in a secluded enclosure, a fragile memory has been embedded behind your eyes. A squat obelisk rises from the mud before sinking back into the earth, its decent halted by the bones of gigantic reptiles. Three ruinous huts have been arranged in a close triangle and set in the midst of an extensive field system. An assemblage of beasts from the region must be composed, an urgent list and account thereof.
Tattler deities murmur and gossip, give warning of approaching artillery — two new species are recorded, in particular, the Wandering. A vast region extends from the mountain range to the ocean and from the coast to the northern borders. It’s noted for the severity of its winters and was traditionally used as a place of exile; it is now a major source. We shut down for years and years and then reopened again. The only fat people there were the bouncers.
Attend well to taxis; there’s only one species that eats each other. (It’s as if we are translating.) The whole organism moves in response to a stimulus. In his book a line is scored, a thin seam of letters enclosing sour berries and carbon. Nightly, before bed, she smears aromatic gum resin over her skin before carving more letters into her flesh. This can’t be an objective analysis of judgement about what’s right and what is rumour. A decade-long debate on the theme of abandoning kicked off at that very moment.
She is burinist from root of bore, with chisel of tempered steel. She became a ubiquitous figure on the London; we all had the same black shirt. Suspects should be found behind the hinge, and also behind the lock.
Fifteen fifty-four was a year of many Te Deums, further clues to a mystical objection (some form of redundancy). Origin is old head cowering but recorded earlier; there’s loads of documentation. A tongue-like structure with toothed rim has been wheeled into position.
A sudden thrust, the forward plunge — black poplar with deltoid branches — profile cutters, industrious fleas and spotted boys — blind paper-cutters, pig-faced ladies and striking machines, writers without hands and readers without eyes. . . . A piece of fine-grain schist or jasper was formerly used for testing alloys of gold. I thought of this in terms of pierced holes.
See, the time is just before the outbreak, time is a little above our heads. (Above and left: the slaughter bridge stone.) Using a cocoon and hydraulic press he managed to derail the whole train. Yes we cry, Electro!
Stiff as a board in my bed, do not think about me when I am no longer here. I misunderstand. This is the sort of deduction we should be making, and does not take much preparation. I enjoy talking. Then came a catastrophic asteroid impact, straight into the gulag.
He would have appreciated the significance, but he was not; some people have just got the gift. Nothing really came out of his eyes. He strikes his mark on a sheet of newsprint and slathers this with glue. (Does it ever come to the light why things happened?) Next he reaches for a quill pen and reservoir of ink. He famously removed the chains from the saltpetre inmates; a posse of crabmen (yes) swarmed toward the only exit, a portal leading to a black void. I keep on changing. Everything’s over in an instant; it’s the only way to find out.
I’m sure none before has ever recorded anything of the kind, such voices. Grown from melancholy adust, those men, saith he, are usually sad and solitary, and more than ordinarily superstitious. I am including three hearts which pump blue-green blood, the lamentations of a Jeremiah.
See, he is insensible; you did not mean to injure him. I spent the rest of the evening reworking my letters home.
‘And that, is how I survived at the front.’
Knowledge and uncertainty belong to different catalogues. At the base of the structure sits a manmade haven. By observing the colour of a mark which has been made upon it, we could plot our own location. There follows a litany of causes:
i) The great O of angular frequency.
ii) Chassis resistance.
iii) The twenty-fourth star in our constellation.
iv) In what respect do the disyllabic diphthongs differ from the monosyllabic?
v) And the question of those furnaces: I think they’re holding you back, devoted as you are to terror.
The object falls and severs an artery, face tilted upward to the nearest star. He thought, during the lucid intervals of that long night, that he was going insane. Wings shutter across the lowered lid, something breaks the surface tension. Things slowed down to a point where almost nothing happened. This is not at all like getting to know you, to know the shape of things to come. And immediately it struck us that our vast journey had been made in vain.
The wind hurls me backward into another collision. We stand clinging. She screams into my ear, rupturing the labyrinth. And her bust in heroic size still figures on structures erected in the ironic style.
Internal refuse. The capstone stood about a metre higher than its present elevation, and there were four uprights, one of which is too short to reach. The west jamb of the entrance bears the relief carving of a human torso and head, perhaps representing.
I scream into his ear. He cannot hear. Three attendants perished in the whirlwind and the ark was lost. Maybe we’re due another case of autodefenestration. Origin is an irresolvable contradiction or logical disjunction, impassable from without. Having done this, you must at once place the box upon the sundial, as directed.
Note how his heart jubilates — then comes the hideous utterance ‘I meant’. Security thought it might be something to do with the valerian tablets. In the night, every night, I heard the crunch of footfall on gravel; normally, you don’t remember the times that you wake if they last less than two minutes. Day breaks loose to parse the body out of reach, its syntactic roles reversed.
I remember anatomy residing at a building on the corner, I remember it being gunmetal grey. At the outset, the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the relative lack of suffering, had enhanced the appeal of ornamental radicalism. A migratory sandpiper with grey plumage is breeding, or eastern. There’s no body like you.
A pittance for the recollection, please, summoned to mind. (Now locate this evening’s speakeasy, go on.) Did you make the revelation in time? Beyond this circle that’s been placed around me there’s only part-time existence, indeed, this wood has it in its nature to become a stone.
I enter. He’s busy. Tread lightly, go well.
‘Captain, permit me to sink that suspicious-looking vessel to starboard!’
In the tumbril is a young woman, her hands tied behind her back.
He’s mesmerized by the sound of his own footfall upon the gravel courtyard. The constellations are glinting, under the darkness he calls up to her in vain. That’s why I always had a bell on my desk at work. Here they come.
‘Step free, tempest — a bar to all, and farewell awful et cetera.’
‘About midnight, come make a tryst inside my oxygen tent.’
Picture a scroll containing this — we got into such trouble when the director’s cut was released. A low angle shot is a shot in which the subject is photographed from below; there is of course no reason for denying that a stimulus to dreaming can arise within the dreaming mind itself (e.g. an amphibious situation). The realm is circumscribed by itself, contains concrete amendments and prohibitions to which the oral law subtracts only further. The lamentations are traditionally ascribed to my nextdoor neighbour.
That’s it, my signal’s done; I am disappeared. My signal has struck, through an unbound medium. The familiar cycle of collapse, damnation and reprieve has arrived.
© Richard Makin, 2020