I’m not sure what to think of it. Of what? I don’t know, pick something. Dance. That ad in particular that appears before the French news at 6:00 p.m. It’s been running a few days now. A woman dances in the Louvre, at night. The lights are off, the museum is closed, but there’s enough ambient light that you can see her movements around the corridors, a swift, graceful imitation of Giambologna’s Flying Mercury in which a lithe, bronze Mercury is poised on a zephyr with one arm lifted toward the heavens and the other bearing a caduceus. The dancer is wearing leotards. Her moves are complicated. There’s one in which she’s lying on the floor and seems to blossom, unfold, ramify into a figure of fluent transformation.
It has often been my opinion that the color pink drives the other colors on the canvas into fast regeneration. Of course, the canvas I refer to is one of honesty, coalition, and garlic.
And then there’s the guy I saw today holding a device over the street, moving it along, it had a pointed rod and a meter at the other end, I think it was some form of sonar, radar, it made pretty sounds, melodic little bleeps, I assume he was trying to find a pipe. Devices like that are so wonderful. They help us make connections between appearances. We can know how things appear to us, but very little about the things themselves since we must rely on our limited faculties to arrive at even a superficial understanding of what they are. By device, I mean of course, metal detectors, ultrasound, psilocybin, peyote, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The romantic spirit isn’t dead. It’s all about spontaneity, isn’t it? We’re stuck in a world of rampant imitation, and the only way out is through the door of authenticity. But what is that door? What does it look like? Is it a door that opens in the head, or does it open elsewhere, in a different time zone, in a different state?
Maybe it’s not a door at all. Maybe it’s a truck.
Or a stepladder.
My search is my explanation, my explanation my search. A condition is defined by its confections. There were Parisian crowds gathered about our stove during the preparation of food one night. The recitation of Dickens stirred among its dollars. There was a sense of liberation, and a cart of fancy drinks. The narrations were titanic, the tapestries full of prophesy. We found the simulacrum of a worry ventilating in a corner.
I realize, of course, that a worry is a vague emotional state. Intense, yes. But worries tend to run wild and multiply. It can be difficult to pinpoint the actual source of the worry. The worry itself can be anything. Driving, postage, germs, time, death.
You can worry about the government leaders so consumed with greed and power that they go mad and blow up the world or declare martial law and shut everything down. The streets are empty, the houses full of fear. But who wants to feed that monster? I don’t. I just want to back away slowly and go look at something far away.
Something like Egypt. Or outer space. I imagine myself in that place, the non-place of space, far away and unreachable. Like Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Lost, quietly resigned, gazing at a panel of buttons rendered in Mandarin.
I like to imagine distant bodies. Distant belts. Distant worlds.
Like the moon. Wandering the moon. Dune to dune. Crest to crest. Crater to crater. But like I am now, in a pair of jeans and a cardigan, not hopping around like an astronaut in a bulky space suit. Though I could, I can do that. I can imagine myself in a space suit hopping around in that super serene moon dust. I can do that here on the ground looking up at the moon. I can do it indoors. I can do it sitting on a chair in the bedroom. I can imagine a moon and imagine myself looking up at the moon.
Here is the chair, here is the room. And when I look at the moon I do see a face. The face of a rock. A vague, punch-drunk kind of look. The face of a celestial body traveling through space. Infinite space. Not the space of Arizona highways or dirt roads in Alabama. The space of earth below the sky. Twinkling lights, gas stations, trees silhouetted against the dark.
Whatever eternity is, which I for one cannot fully imagine, I can barely think of it. Eternity. The word, sure. I can say the word. I can say it aloud or say it in my mind. But that’s the word, not the actuality.
The actuality is unimaginable. I’m only a human with a human brain. Lots of neurons, sure, but they can’t do that. Can’t let a thing like eternity bounce around in there. My head would explode. I’d splatter the walls and ceiling with eternity.
Because if you get out of the city and far enough away from sources of light pollution where nothing obscures the night sky it’s mind-blowing. You see so many stars it’s stupefying. So many stars that you cannot help but grant the possibility of things existing that you’ve never thought of before.
Try it. Give it a shot. Try to think of something you’ve never thought of before. Never imagined. Not even in numbers on a blackboard. Invisible things, phenomena without palpable form, cause and effect, quantifiable features. And in contrast, because eternity needs contrast, it’s too much for a brain to swallow, wouldn’t you say?
Here’s what I do: I think of something my brain can swallow, a parable, a pretty arabesque, the way a woman’s legs sound on the floor of the Louvre. And I feel better. I don’t deny eternity, don’t block it out, but I do filter it. I let it percolate in slowly. I see hints of it here and there in the beauties and diversions of this world. The pyramids of Egypt, the leap of a frog, the sway of reeds in a Missouri breeze. Things like fire. Like smoke. Like the phosphorescence of foam at the stern of a ship. Which exists in eternity with all the other haunted ships of this world.