Sac·cade (să-käd′, sə-) n: A rapid intermittent eye movement, as that which occurs when the eyes focus' on one point after another in the visual field.
The rooftop where we currently reside is of a shop that I walk past nearly every day, a woodwork shop which, like all of Florentine’s numerous manufacturing outlets, is small, covered in graffiti, and open for viewing of these artisans going about their craft. There is a vase with a flower on the window sill that sits abreast of our place in this wide expanse. A woman tends to her food behind the flower. We ruminate over an army of subjects, captivated at every turn. There is something about this place that makes me examine the dust of life. It breaches thoughts I thought unable to be imagined. My mind is afire.
Theroux was wrong about one thing. It doesn’t induce a good feeling, luxury. What is luxury anyway? I knew I was in for trouble the moment I caught sight of land from the plane, Gran Canaria staring up at me, sucking me into the hole it was purported to be, as if Jabba the Hut and the quicksand had become a metaphor for my life. I hit the tarmac and immediately felt uncomfortable. Six months off the map and now this. Package tour busses. Vending machines. Schedules. Smooth and painted roads. Tourists. Complimentary toilet paper. Set costs. Consistent electricity. English that sounds like English. High rise buildings. Steak. Scratch free cars. Water pressure. Not naturally heated hot water. Potable water. Real cigarettes. Prices that don’t necessarily include zeroes. Nightlife. Regular signage. Sex that does not require a questionnaire in advance. People who ignore me. Information boards. Recycling. White people. All on an island off the west coast of Africa. I can almost see the car ferries I caught with thousands of locals and no white folk, sitting in a sea of urine going across a river in Senegal a few days before. There was a purity in Africa that was missing here, despite the smell. Here, nothing felt real.
The African Road;
He watched her from that seat. His backside was destroying him, and he couldn’t sit still, but yet he wondered whether that was because of the arrangement or because of her. Perhaps he picked that seat because she was always there, visible in the mirror, while she continued to be what she was. Every time he looked at her, his mind stopped beating, and a beautiful calm enveloped him. The man to her side was someone he could never take umbrage with. Generous and clever and witty, and she was besotted with him. Hell, he would have been too, probably, if only the man was female. It was clearly a magnificent relationship that they had fostered; and so with a lucid burden he realised he could not attempt disruption. Yet still he felt he must, and so he fought himself. She was there. She was like the girl he had met a million times before, but never in reality, only in the reels of his imagination. She was the girl with which he wanted to hear every story she had to tell, the girl he had had a thousand conversations with, the girl some part of him knew and some part of him knew he was looking for, even though he had never seen her coming.
It is somewhat intriguing and amusing to observe that the crisis in Ukraine, the downing of the Malaysian airlines flight and the loss of all lives on board (let alone those who never got into the air), could result in heightened progress in the renewable energy realm. Via the sanctions the West has placed on Russia and therefore the handicap being placed on their fuel and the West’s ability to procure it, there is a renewed drive to supplement the energy losses in the West by alternate means given the implicit instability in the relevant geopolitics, which could ironically lead to a better world for us to live in, rather than just one of escalating conflict. Whomever says war is wholly bad just doesn't look hard enough. Our reliance on each other through the effects of globalisation and free trade has, counter intuitively, weakened us in some key respects. We do not always find our own way, which would breed variety (or simply new perspective), and instead go for the easiest option rather than the best.
At birth we are given all the knowledge we need to know, and then we spend the rest of our lives relearning it. But there are some moments, aside from birth, some sets of circumstances, where everything is perfect; there is no past, no future. There is now. and at that moment, everything has a resonance of the sublime. The reason for this corollary is pretty obvious. The two are the same. You strip down everything in your life to what matters. Past and future coalesce. You understand yourself, or at least everything that is around you at that moment. You glimpse life without all the external paraphernalia. At birth, it is because there is nothing else to you but the air you breath and the arms that hold you. At later transcendental moments, these other moments, it is simply because you don’t care any more, you refuse the impact. It is as if you are discovering an old forgotten secret, a secret that the rigours of your life have buried deep in your subconscious. Whether it be out of protection or practicality, you don’t know. Perhaps both come down to the same.
I’m finally on my own again, in a region devoid of tourists, a region devoid of prospect for tourists. I am beyond weary as the bus begins to hit unsealed roads and the small children to my north, south, east and west in the enclosed space continue their cries. The sun is blazing overhead in the midday sky, my legs have not been straight since getting onto the bus seven hours prior in Lusaka, and I had begun to reach that stage where my own body odour was beginning to become apparent to me. I actually started my transit in Livingstone the night before, sixteen hours in the rear view, and a sighting of the end of the tunnel was not forthcoming. We are on the doorstep of Chingola, the last town before the border, and by this stage I am acquainted with the two burly middle aged men on my right. They are Congolese, their English nigh on understandable, and they are stoic while my body starts to shred. The bald one is strength personified like a father, a father to my growing isolation; gives the right answers badly. Scottie Pippen. The bearded one is stoic in that he reveals little, brevity being his sword and his armour; whether for effect or for nonchalance, I cannot tell. Karl Malone. Both wear three layers of increasing thickness while I struggle to wear one. Scottie tells me thirty percent of Lubumbashi, our final destination, speak English. I don’t believe him but tell him that I do. Karl glowers. The three of us talk sparingly, particularly Karl, and when we do it’s with Scottie as a mediator. I’m going to have to work for their companionship.
There is a certain clarity in drama. If you allow it, whether it be breaking up or falling in love, whether it be getting shot at or burying the hatchet, whether it be losing your brother or losing your inhibition, where there is conflict there is also meaning. Your eyes widen and every pore and every sense works in unison. You see - feel - beauty in the tree you pass by every day. You smile at the old man on the street. You engage the world, discover truths that you knew but forgot how to find. You smell the insight and you forget yourself as the world’s beauty hits you, transforms you. Nothing is heard more viscerally than a message conveyed while you are stripped bare, naked from the rigours of life which eat at you like a biting wind. There is a focus that comes when knowing you are building or destroying. You place each comment, each action, with precision, with care, with an honesty that is too mundane for the bits in between, even if the middle is important in and of itself. You make love with an intensity unmatched except only by the barbs of creation or anger you throw before. All is honest; there is no façade.
He remembered the first time she used the word ‘boyfriend’ to describe him to someone else. They were walking down the street hand in hand and they had come across someone on the corner that she knew from Imperial, her madcap international house on the other side of town, one whom I had somehow not met yet. Another Chilean. Because of the brokenness of their English, and the level of shorthand developed in that building, I had become accustomed to being on the periphery of these Imperial conversations. This time, though, I found myself front and centre, as she reverted to English and brought him into the fray. The best thing about it to him was that it felt subconscious. She had engaged him without thought, and used the word with even less thought. Perhaps it is the muscle memories below the words which are those that can be read most lucidly of all.