“More and more, it’s more, mostly, sensation. And how does that get translated? Into any communicable format that’s viable interchange? Or relevant to anyone else. Snips sharding, pictures, scenarios, scenes, images fleeting by and flashing through altogether in an overlaid, alternating, overlapping simultaneity – like being mentally, multiple squint.”
She gestures with her eyeballs.
“Mouth-mind coordination can’t compete with it, the tongue-lip-larynx faculty would need to split into 40 channel capacity – large scale production – I’ve been working out stage and studio versions of this type of thing for years.*1 Or, fingers and toes would have to collude as manifold pencil scribblers concurrently inscribing compound sheaves collating into many different, multi-parted writings. Qwerty? Even the swiftest, most adept adept’s got no chance of capturing the data store careening through the entire being; the physicality of it, the emotions, the feelings? I try to impose inflicting myself with practising the art form of going blank, intellectual cauterisation, grey matter amputation, just sit really still, blot the passage of consciousness, head-non impact. Halt. Quiet. Nothingness.”
She stretches for a 5 litre plastic bottle on top of the cupboard, “hot air rises” she says, and braces herself against the weight of its descent with gravity. “We keep it up there to pre-warm it. “A high to low swing has landed the bottle on the sink. “Phenomenal how such a small thought and arrangement can save so much on gas; although, of course, visually, it’s just so NOT upmarket and, the plastic’s xeno-oestrogenic!” She’s unscrewing the lid, lifting the container under her arm and pouring. “Those who don’t visit anyway would be totally confounded by it – amazing, people are content to witness something they haven’t comprehended, neither pose questions, nor ask for explanations, then snap uninformed, condescending judgements upon what their prejudice thinks it has seen. Makes them small, and me narked.”
She’s lighting the cooker. “We get water from a well. For cooking and drinking. It’s probably got all sorts of scary lurgies in it, but at least we’re not being orally poisoned by the fluoride and chlorine coming out the mains – though we’re being contaminated through our pores when we shower anyway. But, this sensation thing . . ..”Stopping, her eyelids closing, she rests her pineal on the palm of her hand.
“. . . there aren’t conventional, lingual correlations to convey the feelings or the way they feel”, her mouth and body begin shaking, an avant-garde type jerking shudder, a choreographical quiver, the limbs exacerbate themselves, lunges, swirls, precisely, aimlessly, a managed, wild gesticulating through the air space that happens to be surrounding proximity, synchronized with successively sounded, staccato plosives, “blerr plurry ruargorglickerk, grock-cruck, pflung, plickook, schlerk, quariorurk”, modulating into a glissando, pitch-bending all English vowels comprehensively, (she’s a voice artist!); it conjures up sensation that there’s just been scoop of an exclusive ‘Cave Woman’ expulsion accurately expressing articulates of profound, conceptual intention.
“Everybody always tongue flapping, babbling on – I wrote this thing, a while ago, it was part of a missive to an old drama lecturer of mine, Professor Ian Steadman, I had a life-long, awe filled crush on him. For some reason the total insides of all of me just simply knee-jelly adored the all of everything of him. Mesmeric! I’d dream deep, archetypal dreams with him in them and there was a great embarrassment, think it was second year, I’d rushed into class lugging the non-portable, Masterpieces of the Modern Drama textbook compendium, he’d asked to borrow my copy, my head was down in my bag, scrabbling for my exam pad and pen to start taking notes, then I looked up because everyone was laughing – he was in a bashful grin, holding up a picture of himself he’d found in my book – my pal had meticulously cut it out of a newspaper for me. I kindive disappeared behind singeing scarlet for the rest of the day and for the rest of term, whenever he got into the elevator.”
She’s talking from the next room over the low hiss-hum, click-clack background of an obvious delve into her digital hard drive, “this is the bit I wrote, from our huge piece of nowhere in the middle of nowhere where everyone thought we were nowhere while, actually, we were doing this miraculous, fundamental, human-eco exercise, which then actually ended up being an in-depth study of the total insanity of Keylanders*2 with their nowhere thinking, thinking we were nowhere”, (she’s reading round the corner off the screen):
“‘The word-stream aglow, and juxtaposed to it, for an imploring year I have been attempting to impose on my little ‘home-school’ [sic] tribe, an attitude of, no-speaking-to-each-other-at-all during the day, in order to commend mutual talk to a special, evening, fire time. Within my own hermitage, and from here, I observe western society, forever and always, in frenetic, babbling prattle. (We watch a battery-powered TV, tiny, B&W, fuzzy, with manual tuning. It is an Orwellian scene.)’*3
I was on a hunt to create a mode I call ‘brainspace’ – that’s for the individual, combined, in the communal setting, I call it ‘brainzone’, focus, calm, stillness, following throughlines – divergences and tangents have to be taken, to explore the throughlines, by which, throughlines start to change, then it gets tricky to find a way back to the beginning, to round-off, neaten, complete, finish, square away what was begun before following direction along another or the next throughline. Lucidity is difficult in an environment of constantly infiltrating blather. Then it can take you years to get back to a point where, one day, you suddenly say, ‘Oh that’s where I was!’ and ‘that’s where I was heading’, meantime your whole life story has misfired because you’ve been half-cocked in repetitive cracking of distractive triggers.”
The kettle whistling off the stove is reminiscent of the warmth and security of an olden day time.
“The electric fandangos stop working, just summarily cease functioning, they leak and drip from the day you buy them, they’re just designed for throw away”, she turns a knob on the gas and a last burst of steam decrescendos a perfectly smooth, sliding scale out the nozzle as the hissing, bubbling water slows to gentle simmer. “There’s a 12 month ‘no-quibble’ replacement policy on them in the stores – I emailed the manufacturer. We went through two in quick succession in less than a year. We exchanged the first for a 2 litre Coke and another model. With the second return we bought boy’s clothes and mugs because we’d remembered we could grip the exponentiality of inevitable electric consumption by boiling water off pay as you go gas.”
There’s a little red lever she’s pushing on for the spout to issue a cascade which intones the spiralling, frothy, foaming of filling cups. “The electric things do nothing other than simulate boiling, make steam and incur unconscious, switch flipping expense, whereas the gas boil method requires attentiveness and supplies inclusive heating as by-product. It’s intelligent. With sensory warmth. Like being in a large, bygone kitchen, the wood burning range cosily orange, always with pots bubbling on it and bakes coming out the oven. So, I’d set my mind scheme to find an old fashioned kettle again. Like we were, before, in Africa. “She’s stirring at a vigorous whisk. It’s a Turkish brew.
“We were boiling water in our heavy bottomed pots, which was energy and cost inefficient and also that meant we were down on a cooking pot, always having to keep one readily assigned to the water purpose. I was waiting for the chance to go on a shopping sortie and I’d said, ‘ten euro, that’s it!’ – that’s what there was in the budget, I knew it was likely a way off impossibility. Never mind finding non-aluminium, old style whistle kettles in stock anywhere. But, they were there, in a few shops actually, a variety, only, crazy, in the region of fifty, sixty!”
The steel teaspoon holder clinks, she dips to lift the coffees, twirls and puts them down on the table.
“We had to carry on using the pots, it was disruptive, a hiatus and the back of my mind was niggling that I’d set myself an inanely naïve quest to fetch an exact gem out of the torpor of materialistic retailery, but then it happened, one of those rare, excellent little miracles of life, as precisely as my imagination had predestined it.”
She’s through the door at the end of the room and returns to sit with a yellow pouch, a little blue pack, a glossy tourist brochure and a sturdy twig.
“I think, deep down, I harbour rebellious, people’s conquest sentiment that it’s still possible to pry prizes out of the trading system. Some sort of tenacious knowing in me apparently hadn’t given up the search; it had only, really been local forays to that point. “She loosens a red lug, measuredly pulls back a strip of tape on the pouch, opens the flap and methodically resticks the tape on the inside.
“It was on a gig. It’s always stressful for me. I hate that part of the career, it’s draining – stopping what you’re doing, getting washed, dressed, made-up, ready, packing up, loading, the leaving pressure. Sometimes travelling is far, with the tick-tock impending, delays on the road pending. Then. Arriving at the venue. It’s like transition through a wormhole, especially if it’s a new place, venue owners tend to be an indifferent bunch. In the larger cities there’re always the off-load anomalies, where you’re gonna pull up, how far you’re gonna have to carry and, the clock’s still ticking till show time . . ..”
She’s pushed her hand into the pouch, extracted a clump of tobacco and is plying it on the flap, her fingertips in cyclical, horizontal movement, diligently disentangling the strands. One hand reaches to take a sip from her cup, then puts it down and returns to the plying motion.
“The car was on the walkway, I was sitting hyperventilating, looking out front, to the side, in the rear view mirror, sweat accumulating under my layers of clothes, on my top lip – I get inordinately hit up about these ventures into the city. I dunno. Law enforcement can just be so officious, so unpleasant, so heavy. I’d just rather not have any encounter with them at all, never . . .”
Preparation of the portion of tobacco arrives at fulcrum satisfaction – she plumps it up and down in three short, swift, finalising plops, flips the lid of the little blue packet, pulls on a rectangle of tissue paper, shapes it into an arc with two hands, balances it ready in the left, with the right lifts the tobacco onto the paper which she then props on her thumbs, forefingers spread the tobacco outwards to the side edges, thumbs and forefingers begin to rock the paper back and forth, the forefingers pull the spreading tobacco back from the side edges, “. . . so I was literally prickly and hot under the collar, or the scarf rather, gear half in the venue, half out on the pavement, a few bits still in the boot, a rehearsed, speedy, off-pat set-up in sight,” the rocking smoothes into a revolving, rolling motion as a tubular shape emerges between her thumbs and fingers, “the driver needed to get back to the car to move it, “she spreads the tobacco back to the centre again, plumps it with forefingers, “before I’d have to climb over into the driver’s seat, pull off and negotiate busy traffic lanes. “Thumbs rotate upwards, turning the tube, almost imperceptibly forefingers reposition themselves where the thumbs were, and with third fingers as back prop, thumbs and forefingers make one upwards fold. “Then I realised I was being surreptitiously distracted from my heightening panic by the stock in a little bric-a-brac shop next to the car,” the tube is raised to the lips, “and hey, “the tongue tip runs a light, linear lick right to left along the paper, “suddenly,” her fingers twiddle, “I saw her!” the moistened paper is brought around and pressed onto the tube. “There she was. My perfect, little whistling girl, sitting on a shelf, watching me behave like a terror stricken idiot while waiting for me to notice her.”
Protruding tobacco strands from both edges are separated from the tube and dropped onto the pouch flap. She puts the tube down, bends the pouch open, lifts it vertical, ricochets the strands down inside by flicking the flap which she folds over, she lifts the tape, folds the flap again and resticks the tape securely on the outside of the pouch.
She picks up the tube and inserts the twig, alternately, both ends, pushing the tobacco. “I have a special, what I call, ‘pronging thing’, it has to be the right diameter, a pencil is too wide for example. I keep my pronging thing in my handbag, a solid metal, micro pipe, I don’t know where I got it from, I horde all sorts of arbitrary haberdashery that appears anonymously – I live with three boys. Somehow this twig is my pronging thing at the moment. It’s off my voluptuous Rosemary, from my Bower, in Africa. Can’t work out how come I still have it around me.”
Turning a page of the tourist brochure and announcing, “precision gerrick engineering!”, she tears a neat 3×4 strip, folds a lip along its width, adds sardonically, “with stand-by material”, rolls up the strip tightly and gripping it firmly, slots it snugly into one end of the tube. At the other end, she pinches the paper with thumb and forefinger and twists it, so that it looks like a miniature bowtie from a flat fortune cookie vendor. Then she begins to massage the tube, her fingertips stroking it from ‘gerrick’ to ‘bowtie’, until its destiny manifests its identity as a cigarette.
“The kettle was just dinky. There wasn’t any information on the label, but the guy in the shop – he was lovely and interactive – he seemed to think she wasn’t aluminium, though we had to get home to confirm conclusively, with a magnet, that she was really steel. The coup was that she was raring to go at eleven euro forty eight!”
She’s tap bouncing the cigarette on the smooth back of her Capricorn engraved, Zippo lighter, her thumb flips the lid, spins the wheel, a spark flashes, the flame ignites and takes on the bowtie, she flicks the Zippo closed, blows the bowtie gently till the paper’s flaring and curling into ash, then she blows at the ash plosively and a dispersal of fluttering flecks disappears into the air.
“I was well prepared to accept the minor, eleven forty eight incongruity in my expenditure projection, but then,” she flips the Zippo lid, spins the wheel, “such fortuitousness, supreme blessing mundane, perpetual zing that my mind was part of bringing it in, “she puts the gerrick end of the cigarette between her lips, touches flame to the now seared tip, draws, clucks the Zippo closed, exhales a trail of smoke, “when we were at the till with the kettle the guy said, ‘she’s the last one, just give me ten’ and that on-the-nose, synchronous perfection blew me into another dimension. But I had to go and sing!”
With a sip of coffee and another draw on the cigarette, “yes,” she exclaims, “we are going to get into smoking! And into our individual, cosmic right to reconnoitre our own consciousness – on whichever of the varied pathways each of us finds, elects to respect, trust and follow! Should be inhaling healing herbals instead of this criminal toxin legally pimped by the monopoly industry. The little bric-a-brac shop sells big bags of herbal smoke. At a good price really. It’s pleasant. The ingredients aren’t on the pack, think it’s Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, when I get back there I’ll get another stash.”
Meanwhile, the gorgeously special, steel whistler sits smug, ready for another song on the warm hearth.
Sendings from Acerbica
Conversing in Acerbica
will continue exhalations on sensation, communication, inhalation and managing gerrick material
*1 from 1993 on-going, for staging in contemporary, people’s venues, a progressively scripted, dramatic lyric in music, culminating in a Five Act, Psychoacoustic Theatre Experience :
üü – überklang überallem. eco music factory
*2 Keylanders: A hoypalloy stock that ravages and wars and lives in extreme plenty and in assumed prejudice of the other community that lives beyond their precinct on the other side of barricades
The Droughtlanders, Carrie Mac, Penguin Group, Canada, 2007
*3 extract written, 28 February – 5 March 2003, Mulísa, Candlelight, from THE VITRIOLIC LETTERS, pan, WOoden family publishing
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