‘Elusion’ is a beautiful word.
My favourite sort of writing has always been the kind that strives to be unseen. Like a torch held up to a favourite shadow, it cannot withstand the illusory brightness of midday consciousness, and withdraws into a more tenebrous time, when our ignorance is not afraid to subdue itself. It is an imp, a goblin, the outline of a wraith – a bandy-legged, hidden hoard, affronting the besmirched realms of silence.
Pursuing this, I take ignorance as my plaything. I call “Here Ignorance! Come here, boy!” and it comes gambolling up to me like a tongue-lolloping dog. I play with it, I stroke it, I teach it tricks. Then I kill it, and lop off its head, throw it in the fire, and wait for it to breed.
The intercourse of ignorance is the first-start of the alchemical process. I love to watch it fornicating in the flickering embers. Fire is always revolting against itself. It is never certain whether to illumine or destroy. I am not certain about such choices much of the time, which is probably my biggest source of self-pity.
But the pet-shop seller will not sell to me anymore. He looks askance at the frequency with which I visit him, and suspects I am ushering all of my store-bought ignorance into the furnace. People do not understand these things. They place too great a stress upon informational fliers, and people like me end up outcast and alone, skirting the floorboards of polite society with our crafty hearths and holographic histories.
I have a screwdriver that is completely silent. I swear to God this is true. If you’re not busy of an evening anon, you can come listen to it, if you so desire. We’ll have a right old knees-up, I can promise you. It’s very useful, because I tend to do most of my DIY at night. I can be wretchedly tired during the day, but as soon as evening trickles on, a purposive restlessness enters my bones, and I find my eyes casting hither and thither, looking for something to mend. I fitted my basement with a miniature Roman bath one post-midnight morning, and not one of my neighbours knew until I informed them through pamphleteering the following morning.
I am head of the local Neighbourhood Watch. Okay, I will come clean: I am actually the secondary Head of the local neighbourhood watch. There are actually two factions of the local Neighbourhood Watch, and as mine is the lesser attended of the two, I must be contented with the sub-title secondary. Many’s the night when this pejorative word has scarified my civic pride. To consider, even for a second, that my love of neighbourly interconnectivity and surveillance could be considered secondary to anyone’s is an insult I can scarcely bear. So, to have this cavalier reminder daily brought to my attention due to the titular succession inherent in our historic traditions is a pain I hope the reader may never be wounded with.
What is the disparity betwixt the numbers of our groups, you ask? To this, I’m afraid, I cannot give you a straight answer. My dearest statisticians are endeavouring to realize the results around the clock, but they have yet to factor in the stochaic anomalies. I have suspected, for a time, that they may have been withholding the true results in the full knowledge that my morale is not built to withstand such a blow. But during my darkest moments, I must admit, such sensibilities as this may hold little meaning for them, and the aggrandizement of their bread and butter may be a truer motivation for their Saturnine slowness. For it is a pretty penny that I pay them; and pennies such as this they must perforce nurture and prolong in a neighbourhood such as this, where few fancy they must needs have recourse to their service, no matter how mistaken they might be in thinking so. All the same, I cannot fault their thoroughness, and I am grateful for their patronage, as they three comprise a triumvirate of the most dedicated attendants of my Neighbourhood Watch Meetings, when their duty does not call their attention elsewhere, as it so often does. I often hold a dear picture in my mind of the three of them, in their matching – personal deviations withstanding – waistcoats and bifocals, sitting attentively, clipboards before them, hanging on my every word, as a man from the gallows, in the peculiar umbrage of my basement studio. There is something unknowable in the luminescence of the projection screen I project my Power Point presentations on that reflects in their physiognomies, that elicits a tenderness in me that few other things warrant. If I could but afford a photographer to capture this ephemeral moment, I would count myself amongst the happiest of men. But, alas, my funds are already spoken for – and the contrivance of the occasion would add a soupcon of falsity to their rapturous poise, that would strip pleasure from it with every review. No, I must content myself with my memories. And no matter how it may blur with the headlong passage of time, the warmth it invokes in me will be none the lesser.
I always miss them when they are away. Statistic accuracy aside, the desultory rate of our membership fluctuates between 3 and 9. So, when my favoured triumvirate are missing, it is like taking the Purkinje Fibres from a heart, and still expecting it to beat. Some sessions, no one attends at all. These mass absences usually occur at the time of our Neighbourhood Watch Christmases Dos. And as my faction of the Neighbourhood Watch is markedly less in favour, it is here when the quantative acknowledgement of my secondary status is most fiercely felt.
Spending so many of these nights with my face pressed imperceptibly against the frosted glass, watching everybody inside having fun in time with somebody else’s PowerPoint presentation, these memories have formed a cluster in my mind, all so alike, they could all be superimposed on one another with only the slightest discrepancy. I find my life is made up of a multitude of these. So many different clusters, in so many different quadrants of my brain; a vast, intensive filing system, with one file stuffed to surfeit, with so many cold, empty drawers. I wade through the corridors of these lonely cabinets from time to time, and dream of all the things I could put in them – I do have a secretarial mind by nature, and with a more sensitive selection system, I could easily redistribute all of these files in a way that would be more economic and evenly dispersed: but every time I think I will start, I find myself back outside, face pressed against the frosted glass, with another cluster to add to my collection.
How can a man rail against such odds? One answer. Persistence. If you enshrine one thing over all others, no matter how fortune may flirt against you, eventually other aspects of this your life will reluctantly have to submit to this obsession. How do you think I managed to make such a silent drill? Persistence. That’s all it takes. The willingness to lay down one’s life in the face of all achievements, no matter how trivial. I like to think of myself as a samurai in this respect. As the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi said “It is important to pay attention even to trifles”. Trifles are the maggots that breed tomorrow’s flies. What kind of fly do you want? A bluebottle? A fruit fly? An anopheles mosquito? The choice is yours based on your treatment of trifles. Following this, I invest sacrifice into all of my actions, no matter how trivial. Going to the Post Office, I smell the potential of death. In the supermarket, the grim reaper brushes against my coat sleeves. Writing poetry in the yurt in my garden, I feel the necessity to lay down my life in every brush of the pen (I use a Japanese writing brush. I like the way the bristles present such a vivid friction against the pages, a soft scalpel against callused skin. This is what I like).
Can you follow my way in the enactment of this? Are you committed enough to life that you can stare death in the face over every candle-lit meal? Of course you’re not. At least, not yet. That’s why I see you all, agglomerated at somebody else’s Neighbourhood Watch Christmas Do. The betrayal cuts deep. But I have the forgiveness in my heart to forebear it.
This forgiveness is important. I feel it is the last drawbridge remaining between me and madness. I can almost twirl it in my hands like a fragmenting nunchuck, feeling it whither and whither. Sometimes, the borders are so slight, I feel murder pressing gently against my heart. The borders are so porous, so permeable to my barely retained hate, that I’m amazed I can even go out any more. Blood would spill the sidewalk in droves, if my resentment were allowed to spill over. All it would take would be the release of one little drop, one little bead of sweat, and the drawbridge would be lowered forever. Out would come My Crazy like an Agent of Fortune, severed heads in garlands and leis, like Kali, the Hindu goddess of war, my patron, my totem, my inspiration.
Don’t we all carry these severed heads around us? They are the past wounds that forgiveness is just too weak to dislodge. Though my forgiveness might be keeping me from here and the jailhouse, it is flimsy as an out-of tune wobble board, or an aging pane of Plexiglas. I just don’t understand how people make it stronger. When Pandora opened her verboten box, Hope was the only virtue to come out. But what of Mercy and Reprieval? They came out too, but in forms so small, even an astrophysicist would not be able to seek them out. If only someone had the strength to pray to them, they might get bigger, fattened on our prayers. But hungry demons suckle most of our strength, and invest their blood in the night.
In my quest for rectitude, I did try to remedy this. I bought a statuette of the Japanese Goddess of Mercy, Kannon, and placed her in the hallway. There she sits, on a plinth, directly opposite Kali. This is a little test of mine. Between War and Mercy, Blood and Fortitude, I want to see who will win out. But, against the pleasure of my patronage, I just can’t commit to Kannon. With her aureole of supplicating arms, and bland, oriental expression, she just can’t seem to compete with the power of Kali, and her wraith-like superiority. Some days I am so angered by her, that I just feel like taking my drill and trepanning her; sticking it right into her third eye, and fucking her with it; boring a great big hole into her cosmic brain, and lobotomizing the universe. Even then, gone, pineal in tatters, she would still forgive me, and that knowledge torments me. If only someone would resentment me as much as I hate others, I would feel somehow freed from my own. Exposed to the clammy cold of their hate, my own would move on, and I would be able to dwell in moral rectitude once again. I cannot contend with the banal lack of extremes. Give me hate or give me love – I want nothing in between.
This is unusual, as I am so balance in other respects. Like my silent drill, I can walk around my house, making no noise. Even on the way to my bedroom, where I installed squeaking floorboards, in the memory of the old shoguns, lest someone endeavour to assassinate me, I can still retain my aura of silence. But no one comes to assassinate me. No one hates me that much. But if I did, one night hear those floorboards creaking, I would lie there still and accept.