11.5.09

re : vision


For weeks now all I have done is re-read my own work, looking for errors, infelicities, omissions. Not big picture mistakes, those are irredeemable now, however distressing the contemplation of them might be. After a while even the halfway decent sentences blur into a fog of prepositions, adverbs, copulas and the like. I become aware of words I perhaps over use; like perhaps. There are odd discoveries. Coruscating, which for years I have thought of as a synonym for corrosive, as in coruscating doubt, turns out to mean something completely different: to give forth flashes of light; sparkle and glitter. Well, I was pleased to find that out. But most revision is unedifying, as if those flashes of light were tamped to darkness by some grim implement held in a dead hand. The end of the process is not a perfect text but one abandoned to its fate out of exhaustion. And the impulse to write seems at the same time to fade or diminish, to become lost in the welter of the already written. Even my dreams have gone awry: night after night I am troubled by a recurrence of one I have had for years now, in which I must move, against my will but without any other choice, into a decayed and leaky mansion inhabited by ghosts of people I hoped never to see again. (This is clearly the House of my Work.) It's like the rot has leached into my very soul. As melodramatic as that. Today, walking back after my yearly visit to the doctor for a check-up, I found myself planning how to employ myself over the next fifteen years ... fifteen years! I who never used to think more than a week or so ahead. Anyway, now I can take a break for a few days, hop across to New Zealand, and come back to, more or less, a clean slate. Of course, perverse as I am, the thought of the lack of a defined agenda of work is almost as enervating as what I have just been doing. Almost. But there is an image that has been floating before my mind, that might be the beginning of something. It is of a man washed up unconscious on a beach, barely alive, who once he is rescued is found to have no speech, no identity, not even a name. This being Australia, he will be called, what else, an asylum seeker. But is he? Or is he something else entirely? Perhaps, that word again, he is from the Andromeda galaxy, our near neighbour, only 2 million light years away. Perhaps he is from the past. Or the future. These are the kinds of things you think about in a doctor's waiting room in Ashfield, surrounded by the multicultural poor with their infinity of ailments and their histories that span the globe and seem both timeless and irretrievably time-locked; with their obdurate patience and their unquenchable, hopeless hope. The doc said there's nothing I can do about the wear and tear but that with a proper regime of daily maintenance, I should be able to keep this up ... for a while. Long enough perhaps to find out who that stranger may be.

pic: another view of Andromeda.

6 comments:

Ian said...

Martin

what about something around the baxters - father and son (jk) - there's a journey and a half....

Martin Edmond said...

... being disingenuous here Ian - looking for sympathy - know exactly what I'm going to do next - but thanks.

Ian said...

thank god for that - I nearly enclosed a postal order - really enjoyed the supply party incidentally - I guess my suggestion re the baxters comes from the NZ connection - Waimarino county really spoke to me as did that account of you going back to the old school reunion- so few writers get the register of the NZ life that you manage - it can be so easily over-dramatised or given that "estranged " thing whereas it is so much more ordinary and alien than that. I thought the return to taxi-driving was serious - more fool me...

Annandale Dream Gazette said...

Hi Martin,

I'd like to excerpt the dream for the Gazette, but not sure if it's proper to ask since it's embedded in this piece of writing. So please let me know.
Best,
Lynn

Annandale Dream Gazette said...

Martin!

Congratulations on the review of your book in the Sunday New York Times book review today! I almost never read it, but today scanned it online, and there was your name.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/books/review/Shepard-t.html?ref=todayspaper

The Paradoxical Cat said...

They never did find Harold Holt did they?