Some electric fish can give off up to 500 volts. The
electrical fiend that silently surrounds them is the
ancestor of eyesight.
Speaking forcefully diminishes one's force. If you
shout, "I love you," you have already lost your sexual
potency. You have to speak with your eyes. Between
hunters, the intense, decisive exchange is a silent
exchange of glances.
We are still living in the interglacial period of the
Pleistocene which we sometimes call present time.
Which brings us to Mallarme's remark of February
1895: "There is no present.
He who thinks himself his own contemporary is
There are streams that meander about long before the
human beings who follow them, the birds that fly
above them, the flowers that border them. Secret
traditions don't go back to historical periods. They
re-emerge from the secrecy of the unmediated dispel
station itself, beyond history, in the fons tempers.
Mercury is a hard metal, dense and elusive.
Only the real is harder and has more holes in it; is
more truncated, more sexed, cutting, dying.
Writing is closer to the real than speaking.
Writing is a denser material than mercury. I call up
a face which each secret I divulge pushes further and
further from me into the shadows, so true is it that all
attempts to call out to people actually abandons them.
Hadewijch says that above scripture, above all that is
created, the short-circuit of the mind-that-loses-track-
of-meaning recovers the lost element at the root of its
Vision, the reading, then dazzlement,
Vision become reading.
Reading become dazzlement.
Vision, reading, then dazzlement recapture the
irradiating intimacy of the wandering planets, letter for
letter, atom for atom; they communicate at full speed;
without mediation, sonder middel,
they stream at once.
There are men who follow the banks of rivers with the
aim of getting back to their source. They climb mount-
tains. They come up against solitary wild beasts. They
discover wondrous women. They think of themselves
as the companions of the great silent birds of prey
flying at great heights — on top of the world — sweeping
up the moon and sun in their talons, and swooping
down suddenly amid the steep rocks and fearsome
flowers to crush their prey and drench them in their
blood. They keep watch over some harrowing spots.
They live for a time in caves inaccessible to ibex and
bears. They fear neither sky nor night.
Most let the breezes carry them along and dive into
the sea before suddenly turning around as the sun does
twice a year.
Some men go against the flow.
There are centrifugal men, men who go against the
flow, just as there are rivers that flow into others. From
the beginnings of time, there are anti-focal, anti-festive,
anti-social men. Mountain men. Stag men. Fountain-
Marcus Aurelius wrote: "The sunlight spreads
everywhere but never runs out."
The Fear of Forebears
Fear of mice is the fear of forebears. There are 4,5000
species of mammal.
The ancestral form of mammals is a kind of shrew
that lived in the Eocene.
All creatures with breasts derive from a sort of
tiny insectivorous rat that makes us scream the way we
might at a witch jumping out or a ghost appearing.
We are screaming at the sight of our ancestors.
Animal husbandry on horseback, which was
extremely unusual in human history, beginning in
2,800 BCE and ending in 1789. On the hillsides of
Afghanistan in 2001, men on horseback were still to
be seen fighting against aircraft.
The European twenty-first century is a thing of mean-
choly, knowing, as it does, for the first time, that
humanity isn't special, that meaning is constructed,
that truth is unknowable and nudity unrevealable.
An age of intense wonder where the excavation of
the most distant things is concerned. The modern
world is wrong to complain of the Unanswerability
that has accompanied it — this is its extraordinary, ever-
ally unpredictable good fortune.
Its sudden silence.
I went hunting for antiques.
Loosening the ties a little.
A B Y S S E S
Seagull Books 2015
translated by Chris Turner