There is a walk. Within the borders of your county, in lines that you have not traced, you go. It is advertised as a social walk, as a re-enactment of the pilgrim way, and something to do with Ben Jonson. You arrange to go with your most equivalently not really misanthropic friend so that neither of you feel alone whilst pretending to be consistently social of requisite. You hear of the witches of Fife who were flung under stone in mudflats of social suction and wonder about the instruments of torture, real and of the mind, to determine stratified truths. Pass sheds that peel off time with their absorption by coast of weather. Spot berries that remind you of cellular data stored somewhere within. Frozen in territorial time. *Who has the right to take the picture? *You feel uncomfortable. You are used to walking alone or with one other variable person of choice who happens to look at different things. Should you reach for the green polka dot dress before they buy it. Hide in the corner of the changing room. Will it look better on them anyway because they understand the theory of sewing and wearing and not just the feel of it, the lichen that just is. You walk and talk of none of this. Feel furtive in your dipped fronds of wantings. Self-conscious in your actions of intended you are watching yourself as the watcher, flooding your mind with brake fluid. It builds and bubbles and froths corrosion at your daydreams.
The Second Person You
When all that is there falls into the after you plunge with it in skirmish of self. Simultaneous traces of
blunted polished broken expansive corroded isolated melded
confirmed edges of you appear in colours
seeping from eyes
folding with grey of always known but never seen.
You are neither a nomad nor a pilgrim. You are unsure if you look to affirm or negate or with no apparent reason. In seeing you feel the movement of unworded on your tongue. The answer to can you touch your eyeballs with your tongue is always no. To which you both agree and disagree. You are a swirl of outlines that merge in points of tip.
You find yourself in the place that you live more often than expected. Perhaps you begin to dwell there. Eyes and body are opened more fully to the discovery. On days when your waters are stagnant and flood your mouth with before, you roam the virtual world where you can participate without pretending to be. Photographs on a screen are distended reminders of parts of long ago that bring life to the present. Existence of future you.
You have no thought of how you are seen by others because you do not yet believe again in possibilities of future. When you are undammed from stasis perhaps you no longer care.
Except you do.
You know this because you have stood on a beach and silently mouthed your lexicon of self.
You know this because you have tossed the words in salivate and spat them on eyeballs to see if they sting in spirals or syncopated lines.
You can sink into other people’s sockets, curl into position as an unfurled fern of hidden knowing and look as in hum of static.
You do this perhaps because you want your eye to speak your soul in order to find out if you have one.
It makes you aware of how you look if not how you are seen.
There is no shuttering or enclosure, words smear the photographs you take with the you of unreplicate.
Eyes polish them with stones of others and their way of seeing until all is absorbed in acts of seen and said that are not catharsis or copy.
Do you believe that contemplation is not feeling?
The Collective I
You are sent his book that looks from hill to sea by an individual man of psychogeography who is a collective in the truest sense of spirit. In watching him look in virtual duplication of the real, his way of seeing has shown you that your eyes of own are not faulty and that you like the word inherent. In the acknowledgements he thanks you amongst others and says you may not know why. You do not. And this acceptance of unknowing is your reciprocation. On the day of walking reality, you walk at self conscious intersections and you listen to his local knowledge of ways.
After lunch at a village pub where the others sing traditional songs whilst you and your friend drink pints of Guinness in homage to no-one except your buds of taste: you walk on. You are struck by folded white clothes in a window and linger to take an image that for unquantifiable reasons has made you bold. You finish and turn into a country lane and there lies Dead Car Alley.
You have no idea why you call it this as the immediate response in both your mind and body tells you they are very much alive. You hear a silent hum of your choosing as you see two others crouch and photograph with reflected animation. Feel the ricochet of rust enliven them but you walk on. Much later you read Susan Sontag’s On Photography and her thought that ‘beauty requires the imprint of a human decision’ and you think that your decision to walk on served to reinforce the beauty because you wanted to see it for yourself, unhampered by the eyes of others, not wanting to edge into their locus of vision so that they may see unblurred in dance of desire lines of sight.
You could say that as you walked that the lane undulated with apparently strewn cars, many unseen until the next visit, and the one thereafter. Accumulation of visits culminating in an almost end point of these words. You could spiral and spin and birl and fossilise them forever or you could contain them within a square and test their kilter. You could redirect the flow to the shortest route of meaning or do as Agnes Martin did and raze all other options and make the flow your own in small acts of mourning.
Could count the ferns growing among them whispering secret spores of past lives. But you don’t. Could choose your own beginning that is also the end. You could put words under above these pictures and have people tell you they are extended captions but you do not like the word and it does not express what you are implying, which is perhaps nothing. You invoke only the cartwheels of self that allows you to unword the words. Only much later do you learn that caption is intellectual shorthand for having read Walter Benjamin, Berger and others. This makes you question your instinct of intuitive bias as pre-ingested foreknowing of the subconscious, and your eyelids lower.
Do you believe in serendipity of instinct or intellect?
Instinct made verbal streams out words of glints and traces in flow and flux of merge and syncopate. Words that you read later in books and wonder whose they are.
And if the words are not yours where do feelings belong.
You are taught by others without their knowledge. You are seen by others without your knowledge. You isolate these thoughts in skew of straddle and move on.
You all walk on past the cars and handful of houses up the lane and are seemingly equally struck by the sun sky soil shapes of the field. This is psychically permitted as a universally acknowledged picture. It is not so-called ruin porn or chromatic fragmentation. It is simple beauty and not a decisive act of intervention in the flow. Do you despise the word trope? Struggle with the word beauty? Feel shy of your eye?
Some barns are held up by rolls of hay whose contours shadow everything a wild cornflower blue and the woman with whom you are walking—who can see you see it—says she much prefers to take pictures alone. You do an inward dance of saying in agreement and feel free.
You go home and later the singular person of the collective posts his image of another blue, the vibrant blue of a dying car, and you relish the unatrophied resplendence of it as seen by another.
Thoughts of Dead Car Alley seep and lurk inside for months. You think that you may have said you will write about it and the individual collective kindly did not, to leave you the space to do so, but you do not know how to negotiate this terrain and may have imagined this in rehearsal.
Weather the thoughts and see what happens. Taste the corrugated lick and drip of someone else’s edges. You are unschooled in the academic words and the intellectual ways and rely in the truest sense on instinct. Your propulsion is just that in growing spirals of zoom, crop, zoom, crop, lick. You are a Venn diagram of not quite anything and perhaps this is why you taste the cars leach without words.
You wonder about the cars and what they mean. You could search online to see if there have been complaints to the council but you don’t. Perhaps the cluster of houses on the lane rotates inwardly around hoarded acts of spoken or unspoken aspiration or failure. Neighbours might campaign about the anti-social behaviour of decomposing dreams by their lawns. You have an online conversation about the wonder and talk of how you might go back and chap the door because you agree with John Berger: ‘there is an element of curiosity in shyness. It’s to do with daring. That’s the paradox. It’s the adventurous who are shy.’
You go back to the beginning and return. Not to the actual beginning of the walk but to the real beginning for you: the window of clothes and the turn of the corner into Dead Car Alley and you think about Pina Bausch and the dance of spectate and repetition that can never be true. In true ironic mimesis of cars that cannot drive neither do you, so ask your friend to take you. He does and finds a tree that he likes.
Later you find out that the individual of the collective also returned, the day before you in fact, and this act of almost synchronicity makes you smile. You wonder about the improved quality of experience and images for the unselfconscious. You share a place of silent solidarity on the sliding scale of unvoiced minor explorations.
He does not chap the door and neither do you.
zoom crop zoom crop all is reduced to lines of lead given the independence of transcendence. ZOOM CROP ZOOM CROP all is weathered by personally imposed narrative.
Instead you stare and reduce, stare and expand. See detail spore in front of you. You feel added sides of the puzzle as the geometry of cars grows ever more present in the code of shaping. You are taking a photograph of the rain ripped insides of a previously unnoticed car when a man appears. He seems curious but friendly and you hope his eyes mirror this in you. He visibly takes a mental snapshot of the situation and approaches you with unspoken question. You catch his eye as it touches on the car and feel his connection to them vibrate. His cars are beautiful you tell him, say that although you don’t drive and have no interest in cars you have been thinking about them since you encountered them the first time. Encounter is the correct term. You surprise yourself by having thought he might have a gun. You feel the silhouette of assumption and imposition bulge free from your eyes. You are scared he might cry and tell you of a dead wife and how his life and time stopped, that his grief is embodied in the unrestrained silent transition of the cars. You feel advance guilt at forcing him to excavate his past and present to unearth how this lane of cars can be.
He contorts your expectations as he talks you through the cars, breathing them emphatically as a project that is very much alive. He tells you that he has another in the garage that he is working on. He shares his imaginings of them, when they will be like new again, as if that were possible, and you wonder if he will think that recovery will also be a loss. You now have dates of when they were new and he lets you take more photographs of the marks of organic life inside and out. He points at one that has been in the same spot waiting to be fixed since 1972 and you marvel. At him, at the cars’ irrefutable presence in all tenses, and the ability of those you see walking by with dogs and children not to notice. You would like to ask him more questions but the line is invisible and you have already skipped around with it.
After 1, 2, 3, visits you think of Agnes Martin and tone over colour, rectangle over square, weaving of thought and seeing and you feel the generosity of spirit of those who share their connections of mind and body as they trace their outlines allowing kilter of others. You laugh at Agnes in her cabin with no water, miles from human contact, preserving her sports car as trophy of freedom, of hard won solitude. You would like to think that she would laugh back at you for seeking to isolate personal words as universal.
You sit on your beach of remade structures and question the placing of your words. You think of decomposing memories of blood, muscle, ash, water, bone. Swill of before in gristle of after.
You notice the edges of unknown others, the flowers randomly but precisely placed, the half crying half celebrating families in smart clothes walking away from the water at its most private, flowers strategically placed to rot, wither and merge in unseen acts of beauty.
After 1, 2, 3 visits you see new shapes in the sand.
You have been back to Dead Car Alley for a third time and cannot shift the automatic title although you know it not to be true. You were driven once more in an act of pedestrian dichotomy. This time there is no human touch of intervention and you are left alone to look. This time though you can see his face hover and it alchemises the experience of looking. The cumulation of cars unseen continues. You count two additional. Your lines of seeing reinterpret previous reductions. There is no chaos. The cars are all neatly parked beside well-tended human habitats; there is a noted absence of fused leaf metal hanging in mercurial tendrils on public pathways. Romanticised presence of decay is not here. Instead there is demarcation. You walk between tidy thoughts of hope and previously held despair and wonder about personal responses to what we make public, public reactions to what we make personal. The cause and effect calculation means that you have hundreds of photographs of his cars, some of your favourites you will not use because they have numbers of tracking, of identification and this would be imposition. You like the word intervention but this is defiantly not it.
The public sand is gouged out with words of private memorial. If appearances have their own language then this one mouths with forceful unsilence. You feel conflicted in your recognition of the rhythm of R.I.P. and your rejection of its meaning. You hear the sea unable to read the public words of we love you always, its waves unseeing of the balloon and plastic flower that it will swallow to muffle the identity of mum, the adjective wonderful, a woman lost in anonymity twice over. You took a picture after you made the decision to intervene. You stood between sea and grief and chose the hidden life of the waves. You moved the balloon and plastic flowers that would never be fully watered down. You removed the presence of their thoughts without knowing who they were. So you took a picture to preserve the tableau and to demonstrate a level of deference that you felt emotionally constructed to feel. You took a picture to avoid feeling angry at the thoughtlessness of the blurring of boundaries of dead and damage to living, and then you left the scene.
You wondered about all the secret words that have been buried there by your own eyes and moved to places of public by your mouth and fingers. You thought about your words of dead babies and no ashes to throw in the sea with fake or appropriately environmentally dying flowers and you felt glad that you had circumnavigated some boundaries in real life if not on paper.
You will keep the picture to show perhaps only yourself that you did not walk casually over the dead of unknown others, and the memorial of anonymous will have a future in parallel with its other ways of continuing to be. Until it is perhaps deleted. Or forgotten.
You send a photograph from the book On Photography to a friend, without comment because further verbs and adjectives are superfluous. Later, a musician who writes with his eye from inside and out , and whose images from his often above the clouds parachute into your timeline with quietly felt landing, posts the same picture. Of the same chapter that simply says ‘On Melancholy’. You laugh at the thought of chords being struck and comment online that you also took and sent this picture. You joke that there is potential for a book about the photographs taken of this page but think seriously about the iconography of words.
Another musician is missing. You did not know his words but have friends who know them, and you know of the mass devotion. You listen to his words for the first time and look out at your sea which flashes granite of landing on its false curves. He wrote about floating down your sea and you listen and are choked with the inhale of others. There are many searches, real and online. You look out at the sea and try not to imbibe the unusual sound of the water as the helicopters accompany the irregular pattern of the lifeboats. You see the churn of others but can only now fully see the procession of solitary shoe soles washed up in mud. Flat evidence of material unknown. You remember the time you saw him sat at the beach wall looking out at this sea and now you look at the waves and cannot unsee the toss of all that is contained. You think of the cars and the longings and despair that cannot be held in sentences by others. You think of his words that hold others in echo of him and watch the flowers of memory crack through the concrete of the sea and think of the oddness that at least for his family there is a body of knowing.
You think of Anselm Kiefer and the red berries of vision appear again to remind you of his thinking that no atom is ever lost. You wonder if there is ever really such a thing as infertile landscapes and sometimes walk willingly with others to understand thresholds of disintegration and formation. You contemplate if you can create chaos of liberation in words. You zoom crop zoom crop and all reduction is expansiveness of feeling. You summoned your nature in Dead Car Alley and you are enlivened by the eyes of other and the applicable tenses of knowledge now dance in shapes of you.