Mark making as continuity

through life and through drinking and eating. The mark is made, here in the utensils, here on the utensils, here through the utensils; marks made, teeth sown, hands gripped; the shapes and traces speak of hunting, reaping, death, burial, copulation and birth. All this made in a mark, a scratch, a pattern grown from haptic necessity.

In the proliferation of mark making which follows the first indent… It is always possible to follow that continuity.

The continuation births the mark, the mark propels continuation, and that which continues follows awareness.

Our awareness scribbled in the perception, the contemplation, the rumination; our idling, our doodling, our wasting time, and this is the sacred boredom which becomes manifest in a visual itch. 

The scratched becomes imagination, the rubbed imagination produces a sign. A sign is a made mark. The marked is also an extension of reflection through body, through the fleshy extension, through the hidden electrical discharge suddenly becoming an expression of skin and chemic. 

This is movement. 

Movement is called imagination; the tracery of gesture is mark made toward the real. 

Going toward the real we discover only the ever new. 

The real is the future, which is not here; therefore the real is not reality. Therefore we store up our mark making against the possible betrayal of actuality.

Splendid rebirth, when black and white are together
and do not make grey.
“Who you are” is not to be considered the spurious identity of who one thinks one is; or who one imagines one would be, could be, should be… “Who you are” is not the product of who, or what, others would have one be.

This identity we are edging towards, which is the actual of your personality, this is a base subjectivity, a raw understanding, and it is here alone where one is able to make some account of experience.
Memory is that which negotiates between raw understanding, with its account of experience, and all other forms of identity. All other forms of identity cluster around persona, ego, and expectations. These forms each in turn offer up something of use, beauty, and desirability.
From use and beauty and desirability come a seductive insistence.  Use, beauty, and the desirable will be; in so being these qualities do not easily yield to having their persistence questioned.
Persistence of form above content will break memory.
If one cannot remember then one cannot trust who you are.
The breaking of memory is a complete undermining of identity.
The identity which is undermined does not then surrender to a state of being without identity. Much worse; the memory which has gone leaves raw understanding as neuter, and in this combined absence all those other versions of “who you are” are set to pillage, plunder, and expose themselves.

If memory is not to be trusted then self cannot be trusted.

If the landscape and the recognisable journeys around these spaces are lost, shattered, or stolen; then it is memory which suffers. If memory suffers then identity becomes a competition between phantasm, ideology, revenge, and general bluster.

General Bluster demands bloodshed. War is always raged over the corpse of remembering. 

Here it is where black opposes white forever, never to mix, and all that results is grey

Ownership is a drapery
and the deep is an act of the imagination
which cuts

a hole in the drapery.

I see through a hole the clouds. The enormous volume of these clouds, stretched height and length, give to the panorama an assurance of the land’s enormity.

John Constable, “A Cloud Study, Sunset,” ca. 1821.

And the volume of the land below, stretched and pushed, still conclude in the vastness of rock below. The visible land drapes across an invisible mantle.

The roots underneath and the clouds above and my time as a smeared volume running between. 
There is a mereness to the meeting. 
We can peek; these the meek scales, these the timings we cannot attain; these are journeys already made, the length which continues 

beyond and outside of the seen moment.

Our imagination is continually absconding from the tumult of dimensions, but vastness is the duty of imagining.

Here is the urban drapery.

Here is the studded surface of attentiveness.

The chemical and the electronic gather as the armed do muster in the feld and as castle formed the manor. The robes of the legendary are not long enough to cover our immodest awareness.

Often the shallows are as impenetrable as the deeps. 

Often the greatest depths will flit away without note, entirely insubstantial.

Often the surface of a building will stimulate one’s memory. Memory is another drapery.

The imaginable shallows are a drapery of heavy grief, sometimes lifted in order to flirt with the disowned and unseen depths.

Vastness is the calling, the horrified call. And response to the call devastates chronological time.

These devastation are moments of transition.

We are in transit.

We are devastated

therefore the drapery has been lifted ruffled cut

or otherwise


other-wise is 
and will be therefore 
the irruption in moment. 

Non-time in time and no-place in this place. Therefore the irruption of moment in moment is this

and this is forever transformative.

To give back

rending consciousness.
To give back
consciousness to consciousness
rendering life unto life

and really no one likes to do this. 

Really, we are very uncomfortable with most expressions of life. Experiences which call life; life must be ushered into another category. Even disguising life as consciousness is on occasion preferable to simply listening to breath, following the pulse, processing spit, excreta, and other such extremes of attention. 

The improbable liveliness of living, this is an extreme activity. It can be disguised behind perilous sports or transformed into a fitness regime. It can be sunk into jigsaw and card games, made monomania or hobby; even so, it remains difficult to like. We tend not to befriend living, and this not because of morbidity but precisely because death is an intimate and necessary aspect of life. Consciousness is easier. Consciousness can be risen, trained, focussed, farmed, warped or expanded and, as such, it is subject to treatment. Consciousness becomes a thing.

Become conscious of consciousness and it begins to belong in that separate slot, this other groove, the thing that runs along-side and helps to frame your identity. Indeed, identity without the sidekick consciousness might be deemed frivolous or fly-by.

Awareness partakes of all these games, and many others. If there is no awareness then there are barely any games.

Also there is a must. There is life, there must be. Life must be, despite our flight from it.

Our shapely and eloquent perceptual apparatus partakes of life-must-be and life in game and life in its ending. 

Life in its ending is beginning, elsewhere, of loquacious sensing and lush inward rushing patterns of being.

Cohabiting and collaborating with these spacious patterns, awareness in its “must” partakes of the giving away; it continually gives itself away. It is rendered unto fear. 

Fear is rendered unto life in the moment. 

The moment is a rent in the perceptual field. 

Rendering covers, flows over, and adorns the perceptual field. 

Consciousness is ornamentation. 

The ornamental can be found as irruptions of deathly life and as rosy living, these symbol lives forced into the not yet lived life. The ornamental simultaneously soothes a consciousness into mediated unawareness and renders it naked before its own symbolic fecundity.

We give back the ornament to the symbol. We give back the symbol to the awareness. We give back the awareness to its living root. We give back the root of our being to the greater self. We disappear. This disappeared appearance is given back. No loss of freedom there, but perhaps a decimation of identity; the fat of ego is ten times reduced, and should the entire process be repeated then the fat of ego may fully depart from fleshy participation.

Consciousness consciously rendering consciousness is as if a melody drawn from out its own song, the unease of living easily alive.

The mastery of chance

that the array of happenstance (a deflated pink flamingo) will show itself as it shows itself and this self will be instantly recognizable.

A light fog, almost mist now, is hanging as a cloud over the junction. This complicated knot of roads is surrounded by tall buildings, some of the towers are still being built. Reflected from a façade, sun is shot through the glass sides of a stairwell and this creates a series of golden strips in the fog.

A set of gold stripes hover in the air above me as I wait for a gap in the traffic.

There is a vocabulary of patterns. The mastery of chance is in perceiving pattern and then patterning patterns. There is no mastery, only endless collaboration.

To cooperate, one awaits for shared characteristics.
Meeting and agreeing patterns in order to expand into a never before seen pattern

as a lock recognizes key
so do new vistas open

and yet the door has never before seen this manner of turning.

Chance is an associate of shock because our brusque and amazed encounters describe those moments

when an array of characteristics that are logged, identified, and presumed stable, suddenly expand.

To muster toward chance is an acknowledgement of a primordial lack. Without that lack there can be no complete. 

The complete mastery of chance, thus, an energy to share characteristics as if an organic pattern; despite the radical newness of the patterns, there is agreement.

This new passage is not directly related to the fresh characteristics which make lack and key so agreeable to one another.

As a concession to mind 

we make art.

A falling through action allows that we may show that which must also be seen through.

In sight of this concession the vertigo decelerates to a mere hovering. 

One holds up a symbol, it seems robust, almost solid, and yet it is designed to be looked through. A lens does distort the view, even as it enables it.

We make and making will be.
We will be including art, play, pathway and the lunch in our making. 
We make as a concession to the nature of mind. 

Mind is constructed of elemental forces, forces are construed of almost nothing, and yet this elemental quality has material requirements. Materials require form to give form. We come as gift.

Coming into our inheritance, the shell opens to reveal coiled levels of rest and each level behaves as if entirely permeable to the other even though, when we step back from this treasure, these consensual nests return to an impenetrable aspect.

There is no exclusion, there is only articulation.

The apparatus of consciousness is narrative. (One seeks inside the shell not by skewer but by story.)

Narrative brings awareness closer.

In the play of pattern and seeking sequence consciousness functions so as to shape and ascertain its own double edge.

Such concessionary play is carving order of the real and cutting its own reality as a key to unlock this conundrum. Clavis cleaving, being close to and opening.

Conundrum, a word of unknown origin.

The drum of consciousness, the beaten timing of narrative, rung rhythm of awareness. This need never be stopped as understanding; always there is the lure of standing under the fount.


Ornament as detritus.

She got her TV Eye on me, 
She got her TV Eye… 

Two cartoon figures raise the “mano cortuna” and headbang. 

Across the window sill are arranged a series of scale models, although what scale is surely a moot point for these are imaginary creatures. A disembodied eyeball that walks on legs; a demon with phallic head and claws, toothed penis ‘Alien’; a disc stuck over a cruciform arrangement which is understood to be a spaceship ‘Enterprise’. 

Parents shouts turn it down, child pouts, doors slam, walls rattle and downstairs the crossed claymores, welded to a shield that bears a Medusa head, swing dangerously on its nail.  An iron nail. 

Next door a slip cast dog, a fairy holding aloft a crescent moon, an owl with a somewhat startled look in its round, yellow eyes, and the clown all take a sideways jump on the mantelpiece. Sometimes when the neighbours fight and things are thrown the reproduction print of a doe eyed, tear jewelled urchin will fall from its hook. The much suffering eye. 

The clown in its abject, theatrical misery reminds of us of hunchbacks, favoured suspects for casting a jealous eye over all that is upright and beautiful and yet special, also, in their ability to bestow luck and divert the evil eye. In this latter capacity they are still to be found represented on key rings and as ‘lucky charms’.

Walls like bloody cardboard, the husband will say, hush now, his wife will say, they’ll hear us. She turns up the telly. On the outside wall a cartwheel is pinned to their false stone cladding. Next door a satellite dish is screwed onto the red brick. 

It has been suggested that the evil eye complex is a set of prudent rules developed by those of limited means who by necessity live in small communities. Villages that are by their very nature isolated and, in some cases, may be entirely cut off from the outside world for much of the year. In such places the pecking order will be experienced with an alarming immediacy. Especially so between individuals of the same or similar social standing. (The Evil Eye – Envy and Greed Among the Patidar of Central Gujerat. D.F. Pocock, 1973.) Distant social standings will appear fixed, God given perhaps, while the flux and fairness – or otherwise – of the immediate surroundings are felt acutely. 

Every salesperson knows that if you can get one household at either end of the street to put up a dish then soon enough those in between will subscribe.

A popular amulet [in 1999] is a miniature mobile telephone, made of gold. It can be seen hanging around people’s necks next to a gold ‘horn of plenty’, Cornuta, which funnily enough I often thought to represent a sperm and so it always took me back, confused me a little, the bravado with which they were worn. Job done. The sperm and the phone are hung over an ankh, next to a Horus eye, perhaps across a disc in which a hologram of an eye is set. A clown, a dog, a mermaid, a bear; all these in gold or silver can be see hung around necks. 

Elworthy reminds us of how, judging by the archaeological record, amulets were cheaply and quickly produced in vast quantities; the most popular form of body decoration. Perhaps the only form of decoration that made sense, the image that also functioned, that stood as a marker between your-self and the jealousy of a hostile outside. 

Functioning in this manner it destroys its decorative status. – But we forget. – Now the clowns, dogs, eyes, moons, cats, tokens of life, tokens of death, the anti-ocular, the clash with the panoptic gaze, the defiant flash of plenitude, the weeping urchin children – defence against weeping urchinism – the voluptuous goddesses, a reproduction of Arcadia both lost and promised, convolutions of labyrinth, horseshoe: now none of this can be seen. It is tat, the useless object barely acceptable to taste, too banal to notice and yet here all around us. “Home just would not be home without them…” That is to say, even as Modernism was moved toward a resolute sensibility of denial wherein form and function must be one – must be beauty – so decoration was denied a function. Yet functions for the useless persist. 

Modernism implicitly claimed on behalf of Rationalism an ability to conquer terror, an extension of Enlightenment. But we forget. Forget that most of those who proposed, described, expounded the Enlightenment were deeply implicated in Masonic lore, in alchemic processes, in pouring bucket loads of symbolic marble – Athenian, African; stolen or mock – into the capital cities of Europe. A conscientious proponent of rationalism and progress may have worn an amulet, a watch fob he would call it, a set square and compass to dazzle, order, and rectify any malevolent gaze that may have brought chaos into his life. Decoration has persisted and yet been forgotten because although it is periodically decried as decadent, still, weakly perhaps, it operates as an apotropaic. Its form is base but perhaps it was always intended to be. Perhaps it needs to be decadent, priapic, lewd, – Grylli and Chimerae – so to cling to its function. An injection of horror to inoculate against the greater horror. “I don’t give a fig”, it says, denying the demonic envy that will suck life dry. The mantelpiece ornament is a forgotten echo of the household god, the bowls of potpourri emulate Demon-Traps. Junk jewellery, deeply implicated in a symbolic order; an order at once intuitive and yet forgotten. The lost that persists. A cartwheel partakes of Arcadia, it is a shield device to divert an attacking eye. A labyrinth of sorts, it is the wheel of fortune which (while fixed) will turn and toss the Fates down below, will haul Fortune up to its pinnacle, given time, and throw the lot down again because Pride transforms Fortune into a Fate. Stoic, fixed, it might be suggested that the cartwheel was an Ur-Soap Opera. A simple story with endless permutations. Next door the cartwheel has mutated into the satellite dish. Still the neighbours have discretely placed an ornamental horseshoe above the door, but we wonder of the forgetting. In all these amulets the eye is meant to turn outwards, to face the incoming eye. Does close circuit television balance out this Overlooking?

This stripping of the body so that it is naked before a foreign gaze, a gaze that supplants the apotropaic form. The Other gaze dares to outbid the hearth, its envy would render senseless that intimacy of nurturing. But we forget. And as the evil eye is brought in, so its elements are turned around. On the child’s bedroom door there is a staring red eyed beast-man; an image from ‘The Terminator’, an over muscled cyborg who is surely related to the wild bestiary of the Grylli in which insect, animal, and human commingle to make creatures of ridicule. Gnostic imperfections, a ludicrous body to dispel the evil eye. Or there is a ‘Teletubbie’ which, like the ‘Terminator’, is by no means a simple apotropaic. Like an eye, both figures are deeply ambiguous, could be claimed to assimilate the deadly gaze into their very being. 

Alienated and fragmented and scattered, the child has all the more reason to set up markers that will control the terror, calm the vortex, ward off the evil eye. But we forget. And the parents promise to eject the child from their house if it does not at once remove the ring from the piercing in their eyebrow. All the time we scrape at the surface of significance, dig little furrows of meaning. We wish to tunnel underneath evil to live: Help us see through this morass of seeing.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999.