Thursday, October 02, 2003

Today, today, today

Sometimes I understand that I don't have enough solitude. I have never been able to function very well without at least some. Aloneness has never been a problem for me, although loneliness is; but that is another matter altogether. (It puzzles me that French doesn't have separate words for aloneness and loneliness, it seems such a necessary distinction.) So, for the first time for far too long I have had a day and a night (almost) entirely alone, apart from the talk I gave last night to a local SFF club, which provided the excuse I needed for farming out my remaining children between their friends. And all that's happened is that I have spent the past twenty four hours feeling as if I was made of glass, as if I was something fragile and hollow which might shatter at any moment, a curious mixture of plenitude and emptiness. I think I am not used to myself, or perhaps this solitary person I have met is not someone I quite recognise, as if I have changed behind my back, while I was busy with other things.

Was it Louis XII who thought he was made of glass, and had to hide in corners because he feared he might be broken? That used to make me laugh, but I think I understand the feeling. Not that I am going to hide in corners: this is after all a metaphor, not a delusion. And the metaphor isn't quite apt; to fit properly, the glass, besides being sumptuous, would have to be molten, fluid, as well as brittle and cool. A cross between silica and silk and animal membrane, with a slight exhilaration thrown in, an inner lifting of air and light. Ha. This is where words begin to fail you utterly; the mind wants to make objects of itself, in order to understand what is happening to it, but the objects are all nonsense.

An illusory presence, as if a light became visible where it had previously been unseen, although it might have always been there, unnoticed. A sense of a threshold. A simultaneous desolation. Very sharp, a poignancy, in the sense that I have always understood Francis Bacon used it, a very particular sense, a kind of puncture which destroys any tending to illustration, the merely literal re-presentation of reality. But illustration, illumination, all the business of light and seeing, the making lustrous, the endowing with shape and colour and form and distinction and majesty, is inevitably ambiguous, surely - strange how all these words immediately shade towards the making of authorities, the commanding Eye, which sends out rays of light itself, like a little sun. That anti-illustration Bacon wanted is also a business of light, but it is a disturbance of such hubristic trajectories; it suggests light in all its indistinctness, how it hides as much as it reveals, how it makes shadow and absence, ambiguous and evanescent. It obliterates the Sun King of the self, blazing on its foolish throne, and shows that behind it exists something of opaque flesh, permeable, vulnerable, estranged, with no clear outline: a kind of blankness.

Well, maybe it's just as well the children came home.

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