hypnogeographies [ 5 ]

There is a third place that I have been to only a few times and then much against my will; although its grandeur and its gloom linger like a prodigy in the waking mind. It can be reached only by traversing, one by one, from zero to a hundred, each of the massive steps strung out and bending like the bridge on Jupiter over the methane haunted abyss clouding the planet below. Once you reach three figures you will find there, on the right, an adamantine gate into the Encyclopaedic City beyond. It is laid out on an infinite grid whose streets are designated only by combinations of letters and numerals and whose dwellings, halls, palaces, utilities and vacant lots resemble volumes which no sight can resolve, no eye can read, no thought may comprehend. To enter therein is to become lost without recourse, without hope and without egress. I have been stranded on the corner of K and L in great fear of my life, while avenues of gloom temples stretched north and south into the murk forever. I have seen the shadowy arcades opening before me, with their impossible illusions, their unsaleable goods, their currency that is made up of whispers and sighs, their denizens who are without faces or names or even bodily form—and yet they persist. There is no sky above, no earth below, the air is made of darkness and yet you can still sense through the grey insubstantial atmos the rows of buildings curving away down the endless streets. Perhaps after all it is the city of the dead and that is the source both of its horror and its grandeur. Once I visited a house there, which was my house, or at least it was the house where I lived. A rotting mansion built on the side of a gully, where one wall, the east, opened onto the nothing of a vista of roofs like clouds. There were many storeys to this mansion, five or six, but most of the rooms lacked floors and some lacked ceilings too: so how could they be rooms? The walls were bare wood where ragged sheets of scrim hung and breathed in the wind of souls. There were gowns of satin and ermine thrown over chairs and eaten away by mould; piles of paste jewellery gleaming before mirrors on falling down dressing tables; wardrobes in which black undertaker suits greened in the damp; velvets whose plush was devoured by rodents. We who lived there were the outcast, the deranged, the unregenerate, the free; we never went out. Brezhnev and Hood and China West; Jenny Tits, Help Help Me Rhonda and the rest of the Hole Sick Crew. To keep ourselves entertained we made extravagant costumes out of that lordly detritus; played music that came from I don’t know where; took drugs of whose nature only traces remain in the demonic visions of PCT; and comported on beds that floated somehow above those rotten or absent floors, beneath those rumoured ceilings. Our lives were made of confected drama and real grief, we were fictions in search of a plot that would restore us to meaning, bodies without souls or souls without bodies, who knew? And when, in a terror that had no motive but which I recognise from my most alienated waking moments, I tried to flee that place, it was down a hallway of infinite extension, pursued by ghosts, that I ran. One of those nightmares from which you implore your own self to wake you; and wake I did, but only into another fragment of the dream. On the north side of the house, below the crumpled iron of the balconies, tough pale grass grew among white fallen stones, the grey lead of water pipes, festooned with defunct taps, stepped down the hill to where the letter box leaned on its splintered post; there was a wire gate half off its hinges and through that I went into the nameless beyond: turning once to look back at the ruin looming above me, white faces, red mouths, black eyes, imploring at every window for my return.



Elisabeth said...

Brilliant and haunting writing. It's hard to find more to say. You create such a picture, such an internal space in the mind. I'm there with your narrator's terror.

genevieve said...

Martin, these are great. Nos. 1, 2 etc. already up? or to follow? (Particularly love no.6).

Martin Edmond said...

Thanks, Genevieve. 1 & 2 are adapted from the post, below, called Chalk and Cheese - now exist in a slightly different form.