For my Next Trick

Mood: We all know that magic is not real. The Rambo bamboo boom boom guy on KBC had us convinced for a while, but as soon as we figured out you can tie handkerchiefs together, we were done. Still we kept watching. Not because we thought it was true – because we know it isn’t. But because the things we don’t know manifest in unexpected ways. And that’s exciting. Because we just want to chant Rambo, bambo boom and watch the impossible possible.

Take a sample group. Any group will do. The group I happened to find involved three geese, a professor of marine botany, two pencils, a bucket of water and oil extract of the milky way (125 ml, I hear they are it’s really cheap if you know where to look). Gather them around the idle wounds of history. Watch as they stew around where they are placed in the larger scheme of things. As the scars open their own scars. As the coal burns fires into their soul, further into themselves. Watch as they react differently to the same stimuli. Watch where they look, what they look for, how they find it and where they find it.

This, you think, means knowing more than the sample group. Perhaps a warning, as I came to learn, you will not be the least knowledgeable – but you won’t be the most either. But, being the gatherer, you will have spent more time on fire. As science has shown, one cannot observe without changing the experiment in certain ways. And even as we gather around the embers, we stoke them. And even as we gather around the embers we stoke them.

(who wins in the game of depth? The Marriana trench is 10,994 metres deep – many still call it home.)

After an adequate amount of time send the sample into the world. Watch as the excesses of their open histories burn those around them. Watch this burning stabilize the flame.

(brightest wicks burn fastest they always say – but surely everyone is just trying to make it to the end)

Watch as those they burn open their own wounds.

Watch as they wander in search of a good gathering.

Take a sample group.

Still Looking

Mood: The mess in the room is spectacular. Weeks, maybe even months of accumulated filth lie everywhere. Dishes have grown mould. Curtains are stained everywhere. Clothes are strewn on the floor. Pictures, once hung, now broken on the floor. Pictures, still hang, with broken frames and missing faces. In the middle of the room there is a chair, where a perfectly poised pinky finger sips tea from a cup, ‘lovely, just lovely.’

They first time you told them you never loved yourself they gave you a list. It was a strange list written on a small parchment. The items seemed strange to your person. But they seemed to know things. And you wanted to learn to listen.

The second time, they told you a story of time traveller. In the story the traveller was given a seed that would slowly birth into a traveller like them. The task, it seemed, was to find whether the dimension of time had an end. Carrying the seed, the traveller was to travel into the future as quickly as possible. As the seed got heavier it would begin to feed on the traveller’s energy. At critical mass traveller was to give the new traveller a seed and, with one final push, fling them into the future that the search might continue.

You were not sure if you were the traveller, the seed or time.

The third time they sent you to the forest. There, they said, you would have to look for the bark of the mugumo that refused to fall when struck. Legend has it that it was there that the spirit came from the shadows and boomed, ‘you shall not take what is not yours.’ The tree, that grew weaker over the years because of neocolonialisation, still had a few branches left. But it was buried deep in the forest. And no one was really sure how to get there or whether it could really be found.

You’ve been walking ever since.

Burns

Mood: To milk, sugar has always been a sign of turbulence to come. The violence of stainless still cutting through the surface tension and causing chaos. Unlike a tea bag, that often settles in slowly, infusing itself and absorbing culture – the violence of a teaspoon was the origin of the storm in a teacup (history they never teach us). It is hard to convince milk of the importance of sugar to a good cup of tea.

You know that
you carry their history.
But you also know
you don’t carry their scars.
And that, you hope,
will make all the difference.

You have no memory of ever being young. In your mind you have been consistent through all ages. As if somehow you have always been in there, knowing what is going on. Which is not to say that you have never listened to a story and thought “that was immature, wasn’t it?” Or that you have never seen pictures of yourself. In the inexact way of memory you remember all of these things – you just don’t ever remember being young.

In your mind, you have always been levelheaded.

Perhaps this is why this whole idea of youth is muddled to you. Like a place you know, in theory, but are still learning how to navigate. How to see yourself, not the way you are seen. Not to allow the way their eyes burn touch your skin and set you ablaze. After all, flames fan flames. And if you put two embers and fan the flame the result will always be ashes.

(no, there are no phoenixes in this story, only flames and wind)

Although you’d think one would remember fire.

Except if they’ve always been burning.

Except if they’ve always been burning.

Run

Mood: Monday morning. Coffee station at the office. Outside the window behind you outside calls with yearning. An eagerness that reminds you of last night. Of running barefoot singing your love to the moon. Sigh. Everyday shit.

And with his last breath he whispered, ‘run away, run as far and as fast as you can. Run, run and never look back.’ Then, nothing.

As if he were never there. As if the image of the man, grasping at the air, was nothing but a whisp of a borrowed imagination. Perhaps not borrowed but imposed. As if, if life were nothing but frequencies, a bump had you tuned into the wrong station for a while.

(run)

But you distinctly remember his voice. You hear him whisper to you in the evening as you do the dishes. In the moments of silence and still he is there. Sometimes, when you go for long walks at night, you catch a whiff of him in the alleys of town. And you could have sworn there was an image of him in a tunnel under a bankslave graffiti tag.

(run, as far and as fast as you can)

As clear as the faint construction sounds that you have now become accustomed to. Clear enough to exist. But hazy enough to create doubt.

(are you still running?)

Did he die? You remember it as his last breath but modern medicine has shown you that more often than not, death is curable. More a minor convenience than something that actually happens. Except of course when it does. And then we can come out in the competition of grief. Perhaps then, it was best for you to imagine that he was dead because you would like to hold on to the idea of sadness. To use his death to carry sentiment and to use this sentiment to give his words weight. His words, ‘run’ whispered with the distance of a man calling far from the shore, one hand on Katsumi’s shoulder, sailing into the sunset.

So you’re the one that needed him to die. For if it wasn’t his last breath then it could just be another thing that he said. A thing, in the delirious moment of near death. A thing deniable.

(do the dead run? How many countries participate in the Zombie Olympics? If you are dead, what are you afraid of? Run)

But, you know, you know because you know. Because you were there – until you weren’t. Even now, you wait. You wait for a resolution.

But only a whisper remains.
A whisper and a doubt.

They only noticed you because you were invisible.

You know how sometimes the only reason you get caught is because everything is so perfectly planned? Like how when every story adds up you begin to question whether that’s because it was though through deliberately? Or how you forget to put off the lights so often that your neighbours think you have a roommate? The problem with patterns then, becomes that they aren’t what we think that they are – are they?

But sometimes they are.

And because they sometimes are, then it’s difficult to ignore them. Does that person liking your posts mean they like you, or what you’re saying? Will united ever know what it is to be a mid table team again? Just how many times will billions of shillings be stolen before Kenya is a officially a corrupt state? Does the sun rise every morning on purpose, or does it snooze its alarm as often as I do? All valid questions to ask of a repeatedly occurring phenomenon. Which is to say we know for a fact that the person has been liking the posts. Or that united hasn’t had an idea of how to win a trophy since Ferguson left and so forth. What we don’t know is the possibilities that rise from these patterns. Which is to say, how these things manifest themselves is mostly mystery.

What, however, is apparent, is that these things exist.

Patterns are a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature. And you know this because the only real evolutionary advantages you have as a human being is opposable thumbs and the ability to recognize patterns. And because there are so many in nature it became easy for you to quickly adapt and locate yourself according to the situation.

But this, this is not nature.

And adapting and co-opting are very different things. The ever shifting nature of your co-option made you invisible. In constantly reading the patterns and adjusting yourself accordingly you lost sight of who you are. You, in many ways, became the act of adapting. You existed in a temporal state. Only the version of you that was allowed to exist in any space at any time existed.

And this is why you never go home isn’t it?

Do they know? Do they know that when you go home and sit with your thoughts you have no idea who you are? Do they know that you are only systematically looking through them for traces of where you left yourself?

And of course this is a self fulfilling prophecy.

In constantly changing to fit a mould you are never really sure which one is you – and which one isn’t. Now there is a simple answer to this. They are all you, for you are all these things at different times to all these different people. But even this isn’t the truth. Because you remember. You remember being all these things in these different ways and being centered in yourself.

And not constantly adjusting yourself.

While still maintaining some level of anonymity. A way to disappear without becoming invisible.

Because you knew that’s when you’d get noticed.

When did you realise that you could work against pattern? That with the right questions and pauses in the right places your pattern could be less apparent? Did it make you feel powerful? It must have, at least the first time. How they didn’t quite see you. How their eyes held questions. You could see it. You could literally see them trying to find the words to ask you. But you had made sure to keep even those out of their reach.

 

Secrets,

real or imagined,

rule the world.

 

But, because you were doing it – and you knew you were. They knew you knew. It’s impossible to observe without being observe. And as you saw so you were unseen. Always a question mark. Always a question mark. And another day comes, and the sun stays on time, and they still look at you with questions.

Rugs Needed

“My Freedom and I, we were live to be together.

Men live and die,

But a dream can live forever”

  • Lindsey Abudei

“But what do you know of the freedom that you seek?”

Freedom interrogations

Here’s the thing. After minding his business for longer than he needed to it was no longer about minding his business. And no one was really sure where the change at happened. After all, they had only looked away for a second – hadn’t they? And it wasn’t like there was no other thing to turn to. It wasn’t like there was no other way to ensure that the search – futile from the beginning – was brought to a non violent close.

Which was all that they were trying to do – create a non-violent close.

The problem, of course, comes with trying to end the big bang by calling parapet cleaners. And no matter how many workers you employ you will never be able to sweep stardust under the rug. Especially not if the rug you plan to use is an already dusty five by six that was bought at an expat sale for “I have privilege and I don’t need the money from this sale” price. There’s just not enough room.

So of course it was a little cramped.

In fact, it was so cramped that it became almost impossible for him to mind his business. After catching glance blows from all the fights for space, it quickly became important to create space of their own. And, being part of them, participation became prudent.

And besides, it was a little cramped.

But glance blows are designed to only bruise bystanders – and his freedom was yet to experience a full frontal attack.

Still, it was no longer about minding his business. Surely, at the very least, things were about to get interesting.

In the distance

a man placed

a phone call

“Yes, send me all the cleaners you can get.

 

To Throw a Straw on a Camel’s Back

Clarity is what broke them.

The problem with time is that it doesn’t have a respite. It can’t be saved, banked, stored for future use, traded or even farmed. For all it’s infiniteness time itself is a finite, indefinite resource. With the rise then, of the control of time came the rise of clarity.

Which would be perfectly okay if clarity itself didn’t imply a deliberateness.

When the marketplace of the deliberate met – doubt was weakness.

 

We assure you

that this product

will be 100% everything

that you can imagine

it will be.

 

When clarity becomes currency then imagination, invariably, becomes a liability. To imagine is to open possibilities. To show what can be. To be clear is to know what is. To have control. Possibilities increase within themselves infinitely. Which is to say, to open up a possibility is not just to open one possibility – but to open a number of possibilities. Any number of which, by the way, can birth possibilities of their own.

Which, of course, would be fine if it wasn’t for time. Because with the happening of time comes the compounding of possibilities and there is little time(HA!) to comb through them all. (Time happens realtime). The only thing, then, to do is lock the possibilities in place. To be clear – and to be clear now. It is in this way that with the rise in control of time came the rise of clarity.

Clarity is what broke them.

See, a Man.

See a man stand, his left hand rests on the nape of its neck, his right hand tugs at its strings. His lips kiss the mesh.

His truth a whisper and a pulse.

A whisper and a pulse.

A whisper and a pulse.

 

See a man, see him call to the past – and feel it respond.  Feel the sway as it carries the illusion of sound and time to your bones.

As it carries the illusion of sound,

the illusion of sound and time,

into your bones.

 

See a man, see him smile.

See his eyes light with answers, his tongue dance with questions

See his heart in and his mind out

See his mind in and his heart out

 

See a man, see him see you

See you, see him, see himself, seeing you.

And the lights call for you to play, something sweet and slow

something sweet and slow.

 

The Wander’s Dilemma

But suppose you were given the key to begin a desuggestion of evolution. A dream, a whisper, a love note – blown away in a dustball kicked up by a screeching matatu and caught in the wheels of a passing bodaboda. Would the cycle disrupt its message? Perhaps it would break some sort of spell. Unwinding the careful whisperings of the witch who refused to be burned.

Did rebel witches travel in groups? Or did they hover above cities alone, marking their territory with piss every five meters? I digress.

Suppose you were the one who rescued this note. Which is more dramatic than to say – suppose a paper oddly lodged in the spikes of a parked boda caught your attention. And that at the moment they caught your attention you had time to kill. Which is to say that perhaps you were seated on the curb with half a burger in your hand, waiting. And so you are bored enough to chase after a curiosity as trivial as a paper lodged in the spikes of a parked boda.

Now, just because we’re making this up as we go along, let’s assume that the symbols were in a language that you did not recognize – but bore some form of familiarity. A different form of alphabet, you told yourself.

By this time, of course, the wait is over. Would you put the note in your pocket? Would you notice as the words ceased to become part of the note and part of yourself? Would you be there to catch the words as the formed themselves and began to leave your own mouth? Would you be cognizant enough to realise the silent obsession with the code? The “I’m just keeping it so I read it later.” The “I’m laminating it because I really want to get round to giving it a good read.”

Would you begin to see the whispers drive another? Another? Would the whispers begin to appear? Or would the words have slowly etched their way into your being, shifting just the perfect number of strands in your DNA to present the change.

It’s a simple enough change really.

But whispers know nothing of simplicity. And the problem isn’t in the drop – it’s in the ripples. How one simple, meets another, meets another – and how these simples add on themselves and have impact on things that were not even part of anything to begin with. A long sentence to say that the universe has not yet decided whether it is a form of order or of chaos yet. Either that or we are yet to decide what works best for us. Generally, we agreed that some form of ordered chaos is going on. But now that scientists figured out that things happen different when they are being watched the observable universe feels more like a wierded out game of cat and mouse. Or like the universe has been showing us what it would like us to see.

So even if you eventually noticed the words when one too many slipped. And even if the process of ink becoming skin startled you out of yourself. Even if the note itself revealed itself and its significance to you – how would you be able to know it’s authenticity. After all, the need to understand the universe is steeped in the need to control which, often, is driven by fear. To be afraid, then, is to be driven to find out more. Which makes this a zero sum game, right?

But whispers know nothing of simplicity.

And even when they do they are travelled through too many media to maintain their original truth. And because truth is relative – which is to say that no two memories are alike. And knowing that memory distances itself from pain, then the search for an original truth is like trying to say there is a beginning. Which is then a trap of form – a trap of a way of thinking. It is to be trapped by the idea that there is a beginning and not a continuum. And that there are multiple phenomena at play in any given situation at any time. But at the same time that you are part of that phenomena. But even further that this phenomena is not actually real. Because it is a series of calculated actions and response. A series of ‘others,’ equally observing and equally observed.

And so knowing that even the uncalculated is to be read as calculated then it makes sense that you would try to distance yourself from this paper. And besides, it was burning a hole in the side of your pants. What would you do with it?

Would you burn it? How many years of bad sex would one get from burning a paper that held one of its deepest secrets? Is there any mythology around flushing a flyer down the toilet? Would you be fundamentally considered a bad person if you slipped it in a friend’s bag while they told you (again) about how important it is to floss and proceeded to show you their entire mouthful of teeth?

Or, it could just be a flyer – right?

For the artist formerly known as Alice.

Did you listen when they heard you speak? Or were you caught up in chasing the every elusive thought down the rabbit hole? Not seeing any reason to identify with alice, it made no sense to you to say no when the mad hatter offered you some tea.

As a matter of principle it is bad behavior to say no to a cup of tea. And who is to have tea with a stranger without at least asking their name? They always said that bad behavior can get you in trouble – no one told you that good behavior could do the same. And that there is nothing like bad or good – there is more a grey area of behavior and perception.

Were they shocked when you told them that this was your home?

Did it hit them harder than they thought? When those that heard stories of hurt glory shook their fists to the moon – were you there? Did you hear them whisper in corridors and scribble on the walls? Did you attend their meetings? Did you see the fire in their eyes as they recited their chants? Were you there, in the middle of the night, as they swore on gods that have long lost their lustre?

Or is it because, acutely aware that they were listening, you found yourself doing their dance? Right foot, left foot, shuffle – right foot, left foot, shuffle. A simple enough pattern – or so you thought.

Do you ever wonder why the first dancer moved? What the first beat was?

Or were most people born dancing to the rhythm of their mother’s hearts?  What does this mean of those who have irregular rhythm? Do we dance because we were born out of tune and are always just trying to catch the beat? Or do out feet learn to move because they are not allowed to stay still? When we dance, then – we are not still. But still, we dance.

Still.

What does it mean to claim still when the elusive thought continues to be dangled right in front of us? Did you notice it was dangled – by some mad hatter closely watching his brew? Or were you distracted by the scent of tea? Perhaps it had more to do with the nature of rabbit holes. After all – didn’t the prophecy say something about the path being less lit, less traveled?

Had you found out how many rabbits had been down the hole before Alice? After? Or were the discarded wrappers too many to count?

Would you do it again?

A dilemma crosses your mind as you read this letter and the waft of fresh tea drifts into the room. Even before the wind whispers its question you already know your answer.

“Black, two sugars.”

Signed,

A Dependent Observer