Leo is my power sign. It is amazing what I accomplish in late July and early August, when I am a real low ebb in my life and there is so much on which I have almost given up the ghost.
It was under this sign, my birth sign that I first experienced the dark flow.
I had always wanted to be a writer but have a simple problem. The problem of not being able to write. I suppose that the frustration must have got so great that something happened inside of me. The procrastination and then all the wasted efforts that ended up going nowhere. The cutting out of imagination and inspiration – or rather it’s taking me down totally unproductive paths.
For years I had told myself that this was cool. There was a new concept, a new metaphor floating around that was perfectly suited for people like me. The interminable ones. That concept was: “non-linear”. But people want to see development. They want to feel resolution. They do not want to go round and round in circles going nowhere. There is now far too much of that hellishness in life as we know it, so why on Earth would anyone want to read it.
I hate sitting at a blank screen. Or a screen filled will meaningless cyphers. Perhaps that is even worse. The world out there so convinced of its need to do stuff. To be, to endure, to complete. To move at an ever-increasing pace. Change is good. Revision is good. Good is good. Why all the stupid mantras. Busses, trucks, taxis, cars with sound systems playing as loud as at a live concert in a massive stadium. Cars with through-flow exhaust systems and some special tune-up that allows the owner if not to live, but then to think they live some high –speed fantasy at the movies, or perhaps in a video game, or perhaps in the movie they made into a videogame, or (the current trend) a videogame they have made into a movie. The roar of the machine as it speeds from street to street as if other cars and pedestrians did not exist.
But I should be careful what I say. I lose my temper on the road so quickly; am perhaps a really terrible news item of road rage just waiting to happen. I’m pretty sure that this barely suppressed, seemingly uncontainable rage has something to do with the flow.
I write now and I disappear. And then I wake up. It’s as if my machine cuts out – or rather, that the machine becomes unconscious, invisible. And this is the problem – when it happens I do not know whether I have sunk so deep inside the metaphor of writing the real that I disappear. Or whether the writing becomes the real, and I live it as recollection on the page. I think I must have experienced dark flow sometime before I actually realized what was happening. If there is a life after this one and a life after that, and if this life is one of a series too (which it would then have to be) how come I do not know. How come nobody remembers? Some people have intimations of what might have been a before, but these are –again – the mind’s workings on things they must have read or seen – perhaps in a magazine, a book read as a child, ditto a movie.
I was – rare for me – in the situation of having sex – when the thought occurred to me that maybe something happens when I writing and I “go”. She came (or pretended to come) and I wondered about what it is that women commune with during orgasm – because it is not entirely, and sometimes – perhaps most times – absolutely not the partner. I was thinking of my issues with assertion and power that seemed at the heart of my litany of failures including my failure as a writer. Maybe there was a power that had always held me in check which I was now – by disappearing – able to evade, able to escape. Maybe my cutting out was very quietly my own little triumph of human liberation. And I thought of the connection between woman and history: that history was nothing but – at its deepest level — the expression of male power over women. The key to the horror of history was what men do to women.
Then I began to wonder if in my moments of absence – what I presumed were cut-outs from writing – were not in fact moments where the writing had taken me to a whole new level, something beyond mere everyday consciousness. Beyond the mundane tapping at the keys on a keyboard or scribbling with a pen.
Then I began to create the figure of a very different muse for myself. An avenging harpy of a Muse for whom writing was a kind of vengeance, revenge on men and on history. A dark flow.
After a few writing blackouts I returned feeling something really strange and significant had happened, but there was never anything to show for it.
But then, after a particularly long absence, text –writing—began to appear.
The crazy thing was that what I read initially didn’t seem to make sense. I thought something was off, that it was just random stuff my fingers had produced whilst I was unconscious. But then I began to detect a pattern – and then to see the intricacy of the pattern. And then overwhelmed with the complexities that were suddenly appearing before me, opening up to me – interacting with me as I read, that I realized here was something that I could not fully understand not because it was incoherent, random, lacking in meaning, but because it was seeking at so many levels at once – that it was an interplay of things – a dance, if you will, beyond anything I had ever encountered, thought or imagined. But not a good dance. A dark dance that spoke in a dark language – or perhaps in all the dark languages of the Universe. The image that came to mind was of a nest of writhing snakes all intertwined, copulating, hissing – all of their eyes filled with the yellow fire of a terrible wisdom. And then the image shifted to something much more peaceful – a field of grain – of billions of wheat sheaves moving in harmony. But then, the snake darkness reasserted itself and I imagined a reaper cutting the wheat with a sickle. And every decapitated stalk of wheat bleeding. Of the field covered in blood – like a medieval battlefield or the Marne or the Somme. And then I realized my role in this. That I was the reaper. An avatar of something I could never even hope to understand, but which had selected me – me — one poor limited human being from all the billions of possible choices.
My novel will have three sections (traditional three-act structure). These I shall call: snap! crackle! And pop!
Perhaps Mr. Copycat is here – watching me from inside the mirror. We shall have a talk.
My story starts with the faces of those who have disappeared – on the milk cartons or cereal boxes so everybody gets to see them at breakfast. I imagine the face on my milk carton – belonging to someone slain with a double-headed axe.
A television crew are coming to town to make a feature story programme on the horrible killings. The producer wants to speak to me (I think). It seems that since the murders started children are drawing disturbingly dark pictures in art class, writing disturbing poems and stories when it is time for them to pick up their pens and be creative.
On the outskirts of town it seems an epidemic has broken out. Virologists are watching this with great concern and interest,
Have I become what I fear the most? Driving to work on the car CD player I tried to play the Doors’ Break on Through to the Other Side, but there must have been a terrible surface scratch because it kept jumping all over the place.
In this town people secretly fear falling off the map. It is so flat here that the idea that the world is a flat map still persist.
I heard someone walked into the police station and started blasting away with a shotgun. Apparently the blood of those killed had sprayed over the walls forming a particular pattern. This had perplexed, confounded and –well, really scared the shit out of those who first arrived on the scene – and after weeks of investigation no rational explanation had emerged that would allay fears that something truly diabolical had been at work here. And that the wall pattern – as if the whole thing had been a work of art – a grisly kind of Jackson Pollock – would be repeated elsewhere. That suddenly an entire grisly gallery of wiped-out police stations would be produced. I was desperate to look and see if I could understand the pattern – see if it had some kind of connection with my “dark flow”. My friend Jamey thinks there must be a connection: that in some way I am implicated in this. But exactly how he cannot tell.
Perhaps it is the work of a kind of copy-cat killer. A copycat: that would be the greatest tribute. Proof that one could find oneself on a shared wavelength with another human being. And a very special wavelength at that.
Custodian of a dark power. I wanted to distinguish myself from other white people with their unresolved racial angers. Peel a layer of that skin away and see what you see. Where are the contradictions they did not see? Was it that the white light of religious certainty blinded them for so long? And then – historically they fell – not from grace, as they thought, but towards humility. And the real grace that is to be found in humility – even when it appears most to crush and dispirit. How assured they had been! The sharp steeples of their faith (each with its obligatory lightning conductor) pointing the way to God like an infallible compass needle. Unless God isn’t, never was, above.
He took a stroll outside the complex gate and was almost immediately accosted by a prostitute who – excellent entrepreneurial skills – quickly rattled through her picks of the week, special deals and star discounts (appearing to her as someone closer to the attractive pole of her clientele than the unattractive – not to speak of the abject and unspeakably negative). He wondered about the relationship between inner and outer scars and wished to ask her – but she did not seem interested in pursuing any conversation if there were to be no sexual transaction. He was struck by the heavy makeup. What was that covering (this after his thought regarding inner and outer scare, not after). Her skin was a lightish caramel brown. Her eyes must once have had real life in them. This he observed.
Gravity and time. Gravity and time. The force of gravity so strong that a star collapses in on itself and never stops. That’s a kind of machine – a perpetual machine. A dark machine filling the Universe with holes that swallow whatever comes too close – becomes their prey. Charybdis. He had forgotten how Odysseus was able to escape that whirlpool monster.
The local radio station was taking calls on the grisly place station slaughter. Callers were phoning in asking questions and making points in Afrikaans, Setswana and English. Some speaking a mixture of all three. He listened for as long as he could. Soon what had happened would become mythic. Already there were signs of it going viral under a particular set of related hash tags on social media.
I speak to my psychologist about the killings – she too seems to sense something. She asks me about what I have written. I think I passed a sheaf of typed pages to her – but maybe I am mistaken. Maybe I did buy she can’t read what is there and it’s a matter of professional courtesy (not wishing to break my one remaining sense of meaning and significance as pure delusion – or that she can’t understand what is there – but thinks, given her intense training in the workings of the human mind, that she really should and that she can’t put her credibility on the line. Does she see me as an actor – and believing it is the killer inside that she wishes to and needs to speak to and is trying to winkle out. Or is it the actor she sees as real – and in need of learning to expose himself – show his real face, discard his mask?
It’s hard to let go of this surreal, irrational fear – but something in me feels that all in this branch of the medical profession (psychologists and psychiatrists and other therapists in whatever shape or shade or form) really want to take off the top of one’s skull – peep inside, poke around, rearranged the furniture, pull out a few things they don.t really like. Should this ever happen – I/m sure that the exposed brain will allow a magical ladder to appear – and I will simply climb up it and disappear.
Synesthesia. I think Mr. Copy Cat can smell it when people are on to him. He has really good; truly X-file developed extended senses that allow him to do that.
The killings have stopped. The flow has gone. Who is to say it isn’t all about our Mr. Copycat. Perhaps he was a road accident or crime statistic. Life is cheap here: why should he have escaped being a victim. In South Africa we must all suffer – it is our democratic right to. Only those immune are those rich enough to immunize themselves as best they can. And, as all the faith will bring you material happiness preachers proclaim, the beloved of and blessed in the grace of God.
Or maybe he changed. He no longer has the inclination. He himself found God. Perhaps he has found something or someone else to copycat.
I had a dream after reading some French poetry, in my dream I am drinking absinthe with the copycat, though I do not see his face. Perhaps he is a she, a woman. I have not been open to that consideration and wonder why this should have been the case. I pick up the glass of absinthe and peer through it, the green liquid changes the way the world appears – to a far greater extent than it does when the liquid is drunk. We talk about smelling colours, that sounds have a particular colour – the whole synesthesia thing. There is a bond – but I can’t infer anything about him from the voice. It could be the voice of a woman very cleverly disguised to sound like a man.
Suddenly cats appear. We are surrounded by cats. The dream has started to pun.