Verrition: an untranslatable term Césaire used to indicate a kind of sweeping. Not really: it was a term to indicate the double jouissance of licking words, over and over again. But that is not unlike sweeping, and sweeping is not unlike action painting, your heft and back pushing bristles as they sound off, marking the floor with a tacky rub, or licking the ground, over and over again.
Maybe we could buy a new broom at Bunnings? That question hovers for minutes, days. Maybe we could find ourselves licking the ground at the interval between days, between minutes, between the 59 and the 0? What is the interval between days, between night and day? (Le petit matin, Césaire called it, which Walcott translated, and I find plausible, as foreday morning.) Cognitive drowning, or a tortured landscape in foreday morning, then. Drowning before or at the fore of the zero, which is day. What I mean is that this is not the only thing tethered to the fore of a zero thing, the foreday thing, which is not only an aesthetic thing. And the inclusion of human references here will not be decorative. Except the conclusion here might be decorative, assuming the human will have already existed.
I can’t open it, I say, when I can’t open a file or a link, when I don’t have the password anymore. I can’t open it anymore. But then I thought I was in a landscape or countryside. The file or the link was in the countryside. How do I open a link out there? What if I don’t know the password? What if I don’t know the countryside—which countryside—the institutional countryside—that has disordered my relationship with passwords? My body seizing, pushing bristles as they sound off. This would be me, from the countryside.
Glissant says, I am less interested in your origins in the countryside than in how you would draw a tree, for instance, which is no longer genealogical nor biographical when the picture includes the soil, the manure, the grasses, the birds, the water in the air, the water in the ground, the water on the leaves, the adjacent trees, all the condensation from all the leaves, the clouds humming in the blue hinterland. Humming is historical. Is it biographical, but no longer intimate? Or is it intimate, but no longer personal; that is, no longer a person? Waiting for a live one in a tortured landscape: humming. This is not Glissant talking anymore, this is someone else. This would be me. The notion of privacy is an intensely held public notion; quite the sacred notion, if a notion can be spoken about as sacred. This morning me and my notion tentatively called the Magistrate’s Court, passing through a number of institutional countrysides into the sacred countryside where the private matter could be dealt with. Then, more boldly, we called the Carpet Court. We ordered 59 kilometres squared of carpet. We wanted to lay it down and lick the ground, over and over again.
At some point I try to tally roughly how many times I texted ‘Leo is leaving this Monday’ or ‘Leo left this Monday’, usually prefaced with ‘I’m not sure if I already told you, but—’ or suffixed with ‘—I thought you should know’. Three times would have been ideal. I went for a walk at night in Lorne, at some point I thought to do it, as a context. Shape of the bay and shape of the moon, plausibly analogous. A plausible analogy. An old Italian man in my car is at me about poetics, because it takes me a long time to understand things I love. A woman eats a rotisserie chicken. One hand holds the chicken. The other hand, covered in a plastic bag, prises the flesh apart. Her mouth holds something key—the neck?—in place. I wear the new PSG jersey to the little bar they have here and the staff at the bar go absolutely nuts. They go absolutely nuts. Which was probably, somehow, key: the neck of the plan.
Last night on the phone to Cam he told me he was the Ian Thorpe of chillin’ and I said, yep, you’re the chill-pedo and we both laughed and laughed, because my god there were so many levels to it. Like, two levels! And then because I was already getting off the phone I said, how the fuck can you follow chill-pedo, and at the same moment Cam said, who the fuck can I call now?
The thing with protest is that it involves a lot of singing. Protest is the thing that involves a lot of singing. I am sitting on the Rathdowne St side of Carlton Gardens, near the corner of Victoria Pde. I have just finished work and I’m wearing my stupid work clothes, which protect me from being mistaken for a member of Extinction Rebellion, who set up camp here only a few hours ago only a few metres away. The XR camp is enclosed by an improvised fence made of washing line from which XR logo-ed tee-shirts hang. When I sit down, a trio of women are singing the Stop Adani song and I’m reminded of the claim I overheard once at a meeting to organise a protest immediately following the detention of DW embassy leader, DT Zellanach. Some guy in a wide-brimmed hat and hiking clothes was rifling through his soft briefcase full of sheet music, explaining to a pondy young woman that he is responsible for a number of the ‘current chants’, and that his authorship extends to ‘Coal, don’t dig it / Leave it in the ground it’s time to get with it’. I don’t know why I don’t believe this easily plausible claim. The same week I attended that meeting about DT Zellanach, a local squatter in the house near the bike track told me he is currently involved in several legal cases, including one with Jay Z for part-songwriting credit for Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. He told me this after asking me if I worked for the local council, thinking he was about to tell me to get fucked, concerned about the meaning of my work clothes. That claim about ‘Umbrella’ is a claim I am willing to entertain because it’s more entertaining and therefore more plausible.
A few police shift about in the park, looking embarrassed, perhaps by XR’s singing or perhaps by their own patrolling. They are humming, their own singing. I keep going to these things, though I keep reverting to this abstract journalism. Patrolling the singing, oh, the bloody singing: this is a wild desire to leave. Though we believe it when the protestors say this is an emergency.
There is a ‘smoking area’ that XR has set up near a river red gum outside the tee-shirt fence. On the back of a placard, the painted words say: ‘Smoking Area: Bin Your Butts!’ I stare at this sign for a long time. Under the river red gum, a young man and a young woman are slowly, but slowly, kissing. Last time I looked at them, before I began staring at the Bin Your Butts sign, they were simply staring into each other’s eyes, legs crossed. I can’t decide whether it is weird or completely unweird that everyone at the XR camp is white. I can’t decide if it’s weird that I wear a suit to work when there’s no dress code at work and basically no one ever sees me at work and, basically, I’m not even sure I’m really in work.
As I leave for my conventionally parked and recently washed car, I see the XR march coming up Exhibition St, singing the Stop Adani song. People clap on beat. People beat a drum. A police car parallel parks in the space behind me. The song sounds like what I imagine a dirge must sound like. Only now I realise I’ve never knowingly heard a dirge before. The policeman in the car scrapes his left wheels against the kerb. He nearly doors a cyclist. I have a feeling I shouldn’t leave. The feeling is a dirge.
As I drive away, the radio plays an article about how the number of volunteer firefighters has been in decline since Black Saturday, in part due to the trauma of that event, in part because the weather is changing in a way that’s unpredictable, so that no training can prepare someone to do this job. The weather is changing. Verrition, over and over: something so plausible I’m swept away.
The water in the kettle is dancing, says Leo. Can I use that, I ask.
Do you guys have any money, I ask. Cash money. Good point, says Mel, walking a $5 note to the man sitting on the ground in our path. Actually, I say, I want to go use the photobooth on the other side of the station. It only takes one- and two-dollar coins. Six bucks for four photos, I say. This is taken as a passing comment, because we never cross the bridge to the photobooth, not heading out west and not coming back east to the car.
We should go to the Skydeck when this is over, I say. The path to the Skydeck crosses our path, reminding me of the time I went to the Skydeck in a fever after speaking at the photography college. I’m afraid of heights, but sure, says Mel. That feeling of heights, explains Leo, is the body recalling a previous experience of falling. You feel it in your groin, I say. Yes, they both say. The past is a feeling in the groin, no one says.
Somewhere after Queensbridge we lose our bearings following the river west. In an alcove under the Bolte Bridge, a department relevant to the river or the bridge has left a notice on a door. Do not venture further, it says. We look at the West Gate Bridge, which is closer than we remember. It’s a destination we don’t make this day, but a few days later those boys will get there. It doesn’t make it to the news, but when they make the middle of the bridge, those boys start dancing.