Lines

Experience is a fault between people. You cannot speak of things, you must see them, feel them flapping around your ankles, like mud and refuse on your hem before you are changed by them. The same thing touches one and brushes past another and suddenly the limits of our beings are reached. There will be no breaching, no new entrance into new knowledge together, no paucity of doubt and difference now.

How does one mourn something one never had? ‘Everything’ is beyond reach. More than this pouch of skin can carry. But we are used to coin — that measurement of time and material and life and human things in small holdable bits — so we make ourselves the things we can count everything with.

We say: ‘Everything’ is here, in the maps of the stars, in the seas that pull up in tides, in the astrologies of our hopes, the transit of the cosmos measured in the hourglass of a human life. We pretend it is here, and give each other everything in consolation.

 


Ref: From Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity:

“let them accord value to one another in love and friendship, and the objects, the events, and the men immediately have this value; they have it absolutely. It is possible that a man may refuse to love anything on earth; he will prove this refusal and he will carry it out by suicide. If he lives, the reason is that, whatever he may say, there still remains in him some attachment to existence; his life will be commensurate with this attachment; it will justify itself to the extent that it genuinely justifies the world.”

Silt

She noticed the fine triangular fissures of her hands, and thought of floors and pans and doors. Of all the years, and cried a little for the girl she had been long ago in a sunny land, sitting by her desk and bed looking transfixed at the translucence of her blood and skin in the strong light. The wonder of that same hand. The form had taken shape now, the lines of life written, self-made, choices coarsened, and many doors had closed. Youth in its exuberance had taken flight and this remained. The clay after the river had receded, this mortal wrapping, the life and debris of the river, the mud of idols, a corpse or two. The ghats of a few lives. And so recollecting, she sent the remainder down the same river of lines. If it got away it would live. As hopes and floating lamps and idols and bodies did before their journey immersed them whole.