Location: Iceland (5)

The extra terrestial gets forgotten here. Everything is pulled down to Earth-scale by the canopy of paper mulch. It blocks out the sun, stars, and on most nights, the moon too.

The disk visited last night, ejected from the insulation. It was a perfect circle. There will always be something suspicious and superstitious about such perfect geometry. How can something be so perfect without machines manufacturing it? I wonder about the moon often. Often seen as lesser than the sun. It is more like the sun’s over-polite cousin. It can’t give us all that the sun can because it doesn’t want to accidentally harm us by scorching their retinas or making them develop skin cancer. The sun is a big, compassionate risk taker, a fun aunty who buys you a snake and a drum set but has an addiction to online gambling sites. The moon is the quiet aunty with little to offer in terms of goods, but she lends you obscure poetry books and taught you about self-care and helps clear up after the loud aunty when she has had a few too many drinks at the family Christmas party.

*

One week’s holiday (read: respite from normal responsibilities: work, socialising, family, etc) is not enough. The first week is decompression. A stumble forward as the carriage lurches to a halt. It is a bloody battle. If you leave at this point you return with fresh wounds. The second week is reeducation. You learn to walk again, with tottering steps beginning to match the gait of the new environment. Then reflection can begin. We shall see what week 3 brings.

*

Anyone who says that the eyes are the window to the soul is a filthy liar. Here is why: The eyes project, rather than receive. The first example of this is when you have had little sleep and your eyes feel like an overfilled lung. This is an internal state. No matter what remedy you try (cold water, standing in the wind, slices of cucumber), your eyes remain stubborn. Their allegiance is with the body.

Similarly, sight works like this: your mind contains a prediction of the world based on previous information. This is the image you ‘see’. Your eyes simply peep out, checking for any important contradictions. But being wed to the inner world as they are they often allow information to go missing. Such is the case with optical illusions and misrecognising someone or something. 

Why has this deception been allowed to exist?Two possible reasons (or, more likely, a blending of both and others that are unknowable to me in this moment of writing.)

First: it’s a simple misinterpretation on a grand scale. Until recent developments in brain-mapping there wasn’t such solid evidence that our experience was mediated. Philosophers have talked about it for centuries, from Plato’s cave to Buddhist text, including this gorgeous passage:

Whatever pours forth from the mind, possesses the nature of the owner. Are waves different from water? Their nature, like that of space, is one and the same.

While philosophy offered a perspective on how our experience of reality worked, without evidence why not assume the eyes receive rather than project? We had a 50/50 chance and got it wrong.

Secondly, it was in the interest of religion to support the idea of the external world being what we perceived, rather than something we predict to be the way we perceive it. Followers are much likely to worship God’s world if they can’t trust what they see. A direct reality is needed to assure the masses of God’s power and divinity: Just look at all he created, rather than Just look at what you’ve created. 

*

All writing is an obituary. In writing, as with any confrontation with reality, the person writing begins to change. Once they write they admit the thoughts of the person now dead: a new self-emerges, with a more refined or more confused idea on the subject that they have discussed. However, unlike a rabbit trying to escape a fox, or a plant getting repotted, this is self-directed. This is an object of the universe allowing its own internal logic to alter itself, taking experience (known or projected) rather than living it. It’s an alchemy of the self.

It is cheating. So far humans have been the only creatures to manage writing. Of course – our nature is to find the less arduous way. We could have fast legs or excellent camouflage or fierce claws, but too many of us would have to  die first. Natural selection is sacrifice intensive and inefficient. So we chose to remain, however flawed, the same and quite ourselves. The original fear is of death. That isn’t so much so with animals: They fear the predator, fear the fight, the chase. Death, in this case, is just the aftermath. We fear death first, in all its forms. That’s why the urge to write exists. We know we cannot be stagnant. All beings are Being . But confronting the world is difficult for little humans, and being over-thinkers anyway we decided to choose safety and efficiency. We cut out the predators and the middle man in our overcoming of ourselves.

We are all ingrained with this miserly spirit in some form, except perhaps for adrenaline junkies, who are afraid of what we are now, a physical death, and so return to the world and its dangers.

*

Okay, writing in gloves isn’t going to be [unreadable].

*

The lighthouse makes a soft mechanical noise, like if you slowed down a cough. It’s hard to hear over the wind but its there, reminding you that it has a pulse. If that’s too phallic an image, imagine instead it’s the movement of food through the digestive track: a continuous process of living.

The mast next to it is more like a high-pitched whistle, still mechanical, as though underneath the island’s belly lies cogs and belts and ball-bearings and gaskets and all sorts of other bits and bobs chugging and coughing away, hard at work, like the lungs of a heavy smoker. Their purpose? I’m not sure.

If someone were to live in the lighthouse they would be very lonely and very small, just like the plants around here, trying not to be buffeted by the wind. The lighthouse is tiny too, barely enough for two people to stand side-by-side in. It too has a lonely vigil here, an eye abandoned to a barren outcrop. But the view is magnificent, a humbling expanse of sea and mountains. Confronted by this every day, one would feel that this little existence would be enough.

And there’s a small grey plastic lump outside of the lighthouse, to the left of the door. It must cover some switch or electrical wiring or something. It has snapped, and this must be from the years of wind sinking its claws into the odd pimple. It is a mystery.

 

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