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Tel Quel

je sais bien mai quand même

Tag Archives: Jeanette Winterson

I have been away for longer than expected, but I owe nobody explanations. Between the familiarity of pages and irregular pagination, I remind myself that it is my handwriting that gives (my) memory a voice, not this Georgian type-face; a feeble projection of the binary-coded decimal.

It’s been unsettling, the past few nights. I wake up, mildly lamenting my painful inability to have bearable dreams, much less brilliant ones. Mendeleyev dreamt up the Periodic Table, Lederman conversed with Democritus in the dreamscape of Fermilab’s Collider Detector Facility… I, on the other hand, was more inclined to hover between life and death situations in my lucid dreams: reversing the Euclidean condition and the accidental discovery wormholes, conspiracies, the Venus Project, the cognitive asylum between the humanist and the futurist, the scanners, the All reet! All reet! of Bester’s mad android, and in particular the neanderthal child. As usual, Asimov had the most influence on my dreams (the last time it was the Blood Daubers by Kosmatka and Poore in Asimov’s Science Fiction however indirectly) and I’d wake up with a queer feeling of physical and mental displacement that lasted well throughout the day. On one occasion, I solemnly watched my lunch travel from one end of the table to the other. These dreams were wearing me out and I could feel it.

Nonetheless, I earnestly swear by Asimov (and Bradbury, and Sturgeon). They are immensely enticing and horrific but I suppose that’s the fundamental premise of science fiction – hypotheses as infinite possibilities, the existence of the multiverse; the spiritus mundi as a thought experiment. Every night I found myself walking into Schrödinger’s Cattery, surrounded by cats and un-cats alike.
I can barely tell them apart sometimes.


Piece by piece the fragments are returned; the body, the work, the love, the life. (…) And which is true? That is, which is truer? Memory. My licensed inventions. Not all of the fragments return.

It was an irreparable vacuum of every other farewell. I turned towards the source of stillness so that none may see my face but you called out, like a wreath cast into the ocean. I let you take me in, coaxing me with an unspoken promise before releasing me once more. This wasn’t freedom, I did not want a choice and you didn’t give me one. On the contrary, we remained as lovers in a quantum entanglement; never one without the other, with the variability of motion and stasis in the same breath of logic.


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In this life, we are the sum of all our journeys made, the greater part of us perpetually in medias res, always the becoming of time and events; most of us already seasoned travelers. “I want to be happy, sleep in a bed, have roots. And you’ll never be alone again, Mathilda.” And all this while I thought having roots meant a particular spatial-temporal groundedness in (or attachment to) community, society, culture. The idea of a home, and a family.

When I hold you in this night-soaked bed it is courage for the day I seek. Courage that when the light comes I will turn towards it. It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be harder. In this little night-covered world with you, I hope to find what I long for; a clue, a map, a bird flying south, and when the light comes we will get dressed together and go.

More than we realize, we have a tendency to be inconsistent. We carry our hearts everywhere, when I think of rootedness I think of two things: How easy it is to cultivate one from youth, and its occasional abandonment with greater rapidity. We are always growing up, but most of the time, unconsciously, apart. We carry our hearts everywhere, therefore our roots. A composition of internal systems, memories, individuals but never quite a specific place, or the larger Ding an sich. People die, but people have meaning. Places without people are just spaces, white-noise. Empty spaces and points of light. I’d like to think I have my roots in people, or more specifically, persons as Léon is to Mathilda and vice versa. When I say I want to have roots, I meant the rhizomatic interdependency of souls.

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Five more days.

I am a dreamer. It was said that one day I would lose myself, and everyone else to (my) dreams. But did I not dream you into life? Or was it you who dreamt of me first? It’s hard to believe oneself immaculately conceived from dreams alone. Dreaming, alone; dreaming alone.

Let me see your face. You face lit up by twenty centuries. Who told me you had stars in your eyes? Let me see your heavenly body. Star-proof I am not. From a hundred billion others, you hurled yourself down in gassy form; no definite boundaries, no fixed volume. You could have filled any space but the space you filled was me. I saw you drop from the roof of the stars, and in the moment of your falling, you began to be defined.

I picked up the flickering body, frozen in crystalline form, kissed the place of your face and the solid geometry of each limb. Five points you; legs, arms and face, a pentagon of hope, and me a talisman at your hand. Revoke me; You do. Call me back and back through the wastes of time, here, there, nowhere, carrying white roses never red. Not a dead poet but a living love, and if the words I bring are dusty, I will renew them in your mouth.

But I am also a realist, brutal on my own fodder of Truth/truths, savage as any uninhabitable space. In my dreams I give you the living word, not promises but the living word: let the blind lead those who can see but cannot feel.

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Every movement necessitates an overwhelming sensation. The air grew cold, and for a moment, smelt of Melbourne: careless, sleepless, tireless; free. That particular street with the imposing french windows and screaming typography on every pane beside the quaint cafe with cheap pots and skull-warming heaters hung aloft, the same street where we walked until our feet hurt our pockets empty but our hearts full of purpose and possibilities and eventually we bought a pair of pumps each, in feeble surrender. Those were the nights of milk and honey, and cheap cigarettes. I had so much less of everything then.
This is my fourth night, completely clean.

And here I stand again, waiting in a different time and place, where all of the little rights and wrongs dissipate beneath the lights of a false, obscene winter in quiet contemplation of aesthetics over ethics; like Winterson’s Picasso and Sappho intertwined. Why are we moved? Because there is an excess within our lack thereof(s); a thousand things, people and events at any given time for which and/or whom we have no language for.

“Why do I long for another turn of time? Why do I want the clock to go faster when my life depends on holding back the hands? Why? I want to kiss you.

Kiss me with the hollow of your mouth, the indentation of desire. Kiss me with the pulled-apart open space, demolition of propriety, rebuilding of a place of worship among an upright people. She kisses me. The words that there are, fly up from her lips, a flock of birds cawing at the sky. An engine of wings migrating through the world but she makes her home in me.


Love me (…) through time, beyond the clock. Help me forget my life.”

They say the heart is a weapon the size of your fist,
(but how terribly small)

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In certain lights it is easy to see the towers and the domes, even the people going to and fro. We speak of it with longing and with love. The future. But the city is fake. The future and the present and the past exist only in our minds, and from a distance the borders of each shrink and fade like the borders of hostile countries seen from a floating city in the sky. The river runs from one country to another without stopping. And even the most solid of things and the most real, the best-loved and the well-known, are only hand-shadows on the wall.

I have never been more certain about uncertainty, the lucid and ambiguous are as the bones beneath (my) skin, like the clavicular rise and fall with each breath. When I am tired of running, I will stop. To be worthy of the mirror-bearer, I will breathe slowly, if measurable at all; out of fear, out of mysterious revelation. I am my own person; afraid and independent, careless and carefree. Start as I mean to go on, and then I realize how vast it all is, this matter of the mind. I am confounded by the shining water and the size of the world.

She wades into the water with me, deep enough to wet the bottom of her hair, and takes my face in both her hands and kisses me on the mouth. Then she turns away and I watch her walk back across the sand and up over the rocks. I begin to row, using her body as a marker. I always will.

Mine is a sea-faring soul in the light of boundless oceans and the shadow of the gulls.

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Time that withers you will wither me.
We will fall like ripe fruit and roll down the grass together.
Dear friend, let me lie beside you watching the clouds until the earth covers us and we are gone

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The lights didn’t take my eyes, I’m still alive, I still know how many fingers any-generic-you are holding up: two, three, four, six, two point seven. It’s difficult to accept reductive quantification. I am a number. Technically, the intransitive aspect (despite the absent verb) invalidates the clause. Metaphysically speaking, again, it’s all part of one giant antipathic cosmic equation. This time, I used antipathic as a derivative noun. Because language is such, as such, that is why two point seven is not blunt force trauma, it’s plain trauma.

It’s a travesty because sometimes I refuse to explain (to) myself. In spite of language being and extending outside of everything if possible, the structure (I don’t like the word structure) of the word as in morpheme and phoneme being the process of sign, signifier, signification is premised on the assumption of one meaning at any one time and space. One suggests wholeness, an absolute, finite and in terms of the Boolean constant: true; the markers of perfection. It’s a simultaneous breath and death in every word and sentence, and punctuation. Punctuations have souls you know? They aren’t linguistic accessories or by-products of academic ignorance, with much respect to Vonnegut and Brian. What they might have liked to imply was its flagrant misuse and misrepresentation instead. But coming back, I know my fundamental logic has been compromised along this paragraph but it’s the same difference between a structuralist and post-structuralist. To use Barthes’ metaphor, a camera lucida. However, it is so much more alive than I can even begin to describe and since I like cats, I’ll use Schrödinger’s cat as an allusion, metaphor and everything else.

It’s a misunderstanding. Language does not fail per se, it is hyper-effective. Dualities are also pretty bogus sometimes so it’s not an Either/Or logic, especially so in this context. Just as I cannot adequately, conclusively process the prospects of forever or use Kepler’s Laws to measure the meaning of always. I am finite.

Yet sometimes I just trust, and feel, in spite of; to just stand within  (and not just to hear, according to Kundera ) the semantic sussurus of the tributaries whose nature resemble the Mandelbrot set, and breathe. I revere them because they protect me, and they protect me inside. If I repeat this number and several other concomitant facts long enough, they will gradually become awkward phonemes and empty sets, all over again. So Winterson is relatively wrong when she said, “As though repetition might achieve what faith could not.” But I still believe her anyway.

This is all displacement, so they say. Ego and Superego protecting the Id from material consequences: just an extension of the continuously evolving socio-cultural mores of modern society therefore law, logic, empirical reasoning for quantity control at one one-trillionth of a scale. I did mean quantity, not quality. Maybe not one one-trillionth because Jung postulates the presence of Synchronicity, or the collective unconscious. It came to a point where the numbers broke my heart: 945, 1216, 2020, 0525, 2.7…, but it doesn’t mean enough anymore. Numbers don’t protect me, all the little earnest love-making pairs of morphemes and phonemes do (and also incidentally reminding me of mome raths)

Thus weary of the world away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves; by whose swift aid
Their mistress, mounted, through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is convey’d;
Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen
Means to immure herself and not be seen.

11. 1189-1194

Apparently Paphos is the Southwest of Cyprus, nice. And if not Milton or Shakespeare, let there be no other. (Also because it is one of my favourite paintings from Vecelli) I have absolutely zero technical eye for Renaissance art, but it’s beautiful in a Shakespearian-Threnos kind of way therefore unconditional, because sometimes I really don’t have a reason for everything. The world spins madly on.

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