THE OUTLANDS - we watch them going in a bubble of breath held -

881
THE DETECTIVES

1 [Cave: dark. Flickering light. Sand. Grains lodged in mechanical components. Disks spinning. A faint crackling sound. The pods. Fragments of scaly flesh.]

FIRST VOICE – Do we have company?
SECOND VOICE – We do. The company of one.
THIRD VOICE – His name is Williams.
FIRST VOICE – His business?
SECOND VOICE – Work. To interrogate the artefacts.
THIRD VOICE – Shall we offer him something through the lens of our glass?
FIRST VOICE – Yes. First, details of the wound.
THIRD VOICE – Will he hear?
FIRST VOICE – He may not yet hear.

[Ground discoloured by liquid residue. Patches of charred vegetation in places still burning. A gleam of synthetic light. Rhythmical movement. Expanding and contracting orifices. Metal to metal. Bolted segment upon segment. A desert chill. Winds blowing in from arid surroundings.]

2 Images from Williams’ dreams now appear before him although he is awake: The soles of feet, in part crystalline. Wounds contain traces of salt, grains of sand. Little stones lodged in the flesh (in non-crystalline, carnal parts of the soles). Movement now, with the roll of the foot, a split in the toughened exterior opens to the ground’s foreign things, but chooses – sorts from available matter – salt, sand, stones, making a family resemblance in the scale and morphology of heterogeneous matters.

3 [Low rhythmical hum. Power source. High frequency sine tones. Codes in blinking lights. Pods stuck in membranous tissue. Fissures beneath filled with viscous fluid.]

SECOND VOICE – The metal coil wrapped in a desiccated textile that Kulla holds in his fist may have been taken first as beach detritus…
THIRD VOICE – But Kulla has never seen the sea.
SECOND VOICE – It is while climbing the stairs to the lighthouse. He glances to the ground and spots it there – stops and stares for a moment at the thing that stares back at him – stoops to retrieve it. As he walks on, he holds it. An eye for his fist.
THIRD VOICE – Treasures for his pockets. Grit in the wounds of his feet.
FOURTH VOICE – A confounded inlander…
SECOND VOICE – Edible seeds too in his trouser pockets.
FOURTH VOICE – …vile lump of pined away flesh… preoccupied with black crystal eggs.

[Green surface. Curved. Marbled. Flesh of a kind. Like liquid fat or warm paraffin wax. Transient textures of light connect cave walls in impermanent visibilities. Milliseconds. Pulse.]

FIRST VOICE – These are the signs of turnings.
THIRD VOICE – Does Francesco know it?
SECOND VOICE – His feet crystal, part of his chin too, his hands distinctly crystalline. Francesco has kissed the ruby red eyes – has kissed them twice. The first a kiss of domestic communion; the second a kiss of flight.

[Connection cut. Hollow engulfed in impenetrable black. The code-lights extinguish… and resume. Communication ensues.]

THIRD VOICE – Has he a terror of the ocean?
SECOND VOICE – He fears liquidity, matter without division. The infinite expanse of water devouring the texture of the land.
FOURTH VOICE – No man, he, of maritime adventures.

4 FIFTH VOICE – Francesco’s passion is an infinite sequence spaced with the ampersand, an organization of matter, relations and durations in passages. Paths. Universes rendered conjunctive.
SECOND VOICE: The signs of turnings. Knowledge from the gut and the soles of feet.

5 Siringo stubs out his cigarette. Exhales. Williams looks away. The flesh of Siringo’s face, its over-articulate flexibility, repulses him. There is no air in the room. This heat clings to the body. He feels his own skin tighten, thin plastic film wrapped around skeletal physique. No flesh no fat. Light will pass through – a yellowish tinge picked up from its surface. His hair is a mass of reedy strands; chin a patchwork of stubble.

Siringo’s pale tongue flicks across thin lips with a lizard’s gesture. His skin too: a new dermatological complaint is barely disguised beneath moustache. The dry sands of the desert are advancing. How long, Williams wonders, before both are afflicted?
The ox blood coloured ash tray on the desk needs to be emptied. Siringo directs a sly gaze towards his colleague, provoking Williams to voice his distaste. He scratches his head, sweeps the flakes of dried scalp off the desk’s shiny surface and leans back, gripping the buckle of his belt. Beneath Siringo’s shirt, the damp spread of a flaccid gut.

Williams stands in the corner, an extended tangle of bones, arachnoid limbs. ‘There’s something uncanny about the boy, something about his eyes.’ Williams gazes vacantly at the boxes. ‘His eyes are too large, the jerk of their movements disturbing.’
Siringo’s attention returns to the folders. He has said little, but the facts are about to be exposed. Exhaling a plume of smoke, he lifts the recording device towards his mouth, lets it rest on his chin. He presses the record and play buttons, clears his throat. Though Wiliams doesn’t move, with the click of the device, his attention is alerted. The tape rolls. Siringo lifts the document from the desk, clears his throat and begins to read:

‘As new words appear the voice emanating from Galls’ larynx: 1. fades out; 2. repeats the sequences. In the latter case does the superimposition of prosodies and rhythms create polyvocality (interacting loops)? How does Galls experience this polyvocality as both displacing and intriguing? The vocal split can be explained as a case of acute diplophonia induced by a differential tension of the vocal folds (caused by cyst or nodule) an archeology of records indicates that the sensation has at an early stage mutated into an entirely distinct experience of two unsynchronized voices. The split voice thus appears to have its reference points partly outside of Galls himself. An ‘external agent’ might be cited, an agent reverberating within him. The preoccupation with sensations of physical ‘dissolution’ seems to support such a thesis. A psychopathology might thus be constructed from the available material; the dissolution of subjective territory opens up to a fugal reconstitution of different subjectification processes involving a play with and between a range of external objects that come to function as signs, incorporated into the construction of a fragmented, polymorphous subjective territory – a territory originating in this initial diplophonic sensation.’

He pauses, stops the tape, rewinds, plays the recording back, then pulls his notebook towards him:

Tape 3, section one: Addendum: Check references in archive (Galls): “this iron curtain separating the subject from the object;” “universe speech”, “matter speech,” ”other speech,” ”outside speech,” ”stone speech.” ALSO: A drawing of a bird with large diamond-shaped eyes protruding from its head, each of which contains meticulously drawn internal structures – like divisions within the consistent matter of a coloured gemstone.

Williams feels another interrogative glance from Siringo; measures his lack of response with care.

FIFTH VOICE – Listen: the universe speaks these shifting fractals, infinite phonetic possibilities: ALLOPOIETIC & FRACTAL ‘I’ – TO TAKE ONE’S PARTS AND COMPONENTS FROM OUTSIDE ONESELF…

6 … From an undisclosed vantage point. Inside? Outside? Something begins to vibrate. This entity, that entity. An impersonal third. Not to replicate or represent the sensations of voice splitting, but writing from mutagenetic ground.

SIXTH VOICE – Use of ellipses – inifinities with meat on both sides. Chemically induced hysteria, the rant & the scroll.

From whence this echo? Siringo’s monotonous dictation duplicates, triplicates, coming now from three corners, but audible as if through a hum from within Williams’ own chest cavity?

With a sigh, Siringo peers at several scraps of paper stuck to the cover of a beige cardboard folder titled ‘Recovered fragments.’

Difficulty: at the end of each session Galls cannot recollect particular paths between words and phrases. The infinite impossibilities of writing.

THIRD VOICE – The scratching of the pen, a monstrous noise. The mechanics of the hand a draining effort, the voice fleeting outside of what can be inscribed. Fever dreams. To have no language, no loss, no lack.

There’s something in the air. Williams hears an echo, feels the sound as a resonance.
Siringo: ‘To have no language?’

SECOND VOICE – To have no language. Such would be a masterful advantage. An intimate ally in the sound. All attention must be directed at the repetitions. From an uncertain border. ‘Limits are what we’re inside of (liminal)’, Galls has written.

‘Ok, Galls’ recordings, one through to seven’, Siringo’s tone is tired. ‘Let’s start from the beginning, transcribe them.’ Reciting now:

‘This is where we’re at. No distinct shifts can be discerned. The material has been subjected to several analyses, all of which conclude that there is on the tape only one voice, clearly identifiable: my own.’

He pauses and looks up. The light in the room has shifted. A narrow triangle of shadow gives Williams a place to stand. Siringo tries a different approach, addresses Williams directly. ‘The printed and typed page contain what appears to be arbitrary letter combinations, do they not?’ With a mute gesture, Williams lowers his head. Siringo, clenches his teeth, continues:

‘Still, the fact that Galls records his sessions, remains significant….’ he hears the lack of conviction in his own voice… ‘so the question might be: What exactly is Galls’ relationship to the technological reproduction?’

Siringo takes his fur felt Stetson Boss of the Plains hat and fans himself gently, returns his attention to a passage in Galls’ own handwriting:

Sit down. Close eyes. Strike keys. This interface the site of multiple rhythms: fingers against keys, resistance offered, movement of pedals, metal on metal music, the ink forced into the fibres. The paper ripped from the roller. A sheet sodden with red ink. Ink on the fingers. Hold the paper to the light, Drop it to the floor. Clean digits with spittle. Transfer ink residue from finger to tongue. With tongue, explore the mouth’s internal cavities. Words on the gums. A slap of the face to begin again. This violence. When entirely comfortable, repeat twice on inhalation, twice on exhalation.

7 ‘Williams!’ Siringo shouts, but no reply. Again. ‘Williams!’ Silence. He stands up, puts his cigarettes in his shirt pocket, walks into the hallway, another attempt: ‘Williams!’ Outside on the veranda Williams is squatting, his arms limp appendages, staring into the barren expanse. ‘Williams!’ He prods him with the copper tip of his boot. Williams lurches forward, tumbles down the steps and lands in a cloud of yellow dust.

FIRST VOICE – A heap of bones. A body made up of fractures.

‘The folder labelled CARTOGRAPHIES. Fetch it from the basement. Quickly.’ But hesitating for a moment, Williams’ attention is drawn by the dark space beneath the veranda. He peers into it, in his mind still an impression of the landscape persists. Sheltered here, in the lee of the wind it is more devoid of life still; grey with the inexorable dust that filters through the boards as Siringo stamps his weight back and forth.

SECOND VOICE – He is attracted to the cavity, feels the attraction in his bones.

Siringo curses his luck. Is William’s mood boredom or lack of incentive? Is it something more? Something methodical?

Williams appears with the folder. Siringo scans the several sketches and the written remarks of an unnamed observer:

Galls is developing a series of arbitrary chains of association with extensive meta-commentary (allusions and analogies; sequences of metaphors; links, paths and passages between different words; geographical references; citations from literature, philosophy, theology, tangents to scientific fields). The remarks in the margins are something short of explanatory. They situate Galls as biographical subject in relation to chains of associations. Various problems to do with poetics, the practice of writing, as well as with personal data are woven into the passages and paths between different words, interspersed with exclamation.

8 THIRD VOICE – Gradually, our subject is building a procedure like that of Le Blek’s.
FIRST VOICE – His attention will be given increasingly to the moving image of his thought, that turns itself inside-out in the space in front of him, the common objects of his world refracted through its inverting form.

9 SECOND VOICE – Here again, a refraction of his thought through the material conditions.
FIFTH VOICE – The moon in black water. The lights on the surface. A universe divided in two, one a displaced mirror of the other. A crystalliferous aspect…

[Glimmer. Diamondheads. Optical probes penetrate the cavity of the infested rock surface. Communication passes in networks.]

… to pass through crystal velvet black. Light shock, numb, lost to all sensation, breath lost in cushioned paralysis.
FIRST VOICE – Entirely aware of his being a profoundly naked surface. He reaches the air and the world above and feels his pores ripped open by the cold, the salt. It is a correspondence between the physical and psychological sense of his dissolution…

[Environment collapsed into its own folds. Atrophy. Organic life; annihilated from inside itself.]

… Williams will inherit the image, although he knows not from where it comes…
THIRD VOICE – From the wall of Le Blek’s room?
FIRST VOICE – … squatting low, gazing out through the bars of a balustrade, he has felt himself to be below the surface but with grace to remain, while he is sustained as if by bottled air.

10 Siringo dictates from the text into his tape recorder, his voice hoarse:

‘It is clear from the documents studied that during his “lapses”, Le Blek is subject to a series of “apparitions”, images appearing before him in increasingly rapid succession until he can see only flickering light – an “abstract stroboscope.” See, for instance, the numerous pages of sketches and drawings in the folder entitled EXPERIMENTS.’

11 Now walking in circles, kicking up sand and dust, inexplicable images appear before Siringo: A bird with large eyes of a crystalline quality, a line drawing of a thin female figure, her hands clutching her abdomen; head disproportionately large containing crystalline blocks and complex fractal structures; a fine, milk-white shroud of powder snow; recurring drawings of black eggs; ruptures in the shells, escaping matter, this also crystalline; one side egg, one side crystal. With a wave of the arm he banishes the pictures, reads aloud – shouts to block their return:

‘This relationship with ordinary objects transformed. Stones, rocks, eggs. Semiological contents and expressions?’

Williams does not look up. He is sitting with his legs folded awkwardly beneath him on the porch counting and categorizing the objects in his collection: stones, a feather, a bone – all these found nearby. The thought on his mind: THIS IS A FERTILE GROUND. Meanwhile Siringo circles, his recitation increasingly agitated:

‘Worlds become abundant with signs, each carrying potential to alter the most intimate aspects of what is perceived as destiny.’

12 FIFTH VOICE – Psychopathology. Obsession with crystalline forms – a passage towards haematological mutation? Blood’s become crystalline from contact with crystalliferous aspect.
SECOND VOICE – And the granular matter sorted and classified by Kulla’s walking and Kulla’s wound appears now for Le Blek in the form of the star. Star and pollen grain.

[Exteriorities appearing in patches. Hollows plied open.]

THIRD VOICE – Cosmic star matter, apprehension. Can star’s arms seize pollen grains?
FIRST VOICE – The system is plied open, its mutagenetic potential rendered with infinite variation.

13 Exasperated now, thrusting a sheet in front of Williams’ face, Siringo implores:

‘There’s something about the notion of the blood-object…’ Pause. ‘And the way it is retained in his oral cavity…’ He reads it aloud, with deliberation:

‘Nt. Psychopathology. Obsession with crystalline forms – a passage towards haematological mutation? Blood’s become crystalline from contact with crystalliferous aspect.’

Then to his astonishment, Williams speaks, completes the sequence, reciting in a voice as placid as the view:

‘Nt. pollen grains appear in star, in cloth; cosmic star matter; apprehension – star-arms seize pollen grains, a system plied open; its mutagenetic potential of infinite variation…’

14 ‘… Mode of Locomotion (Forensic Reconstruction): Conduct an investigation of terrain. Ample evidence of his presence: DNA from blood, urine, faeces. Plot movements of smaller stones.’

SECOND VOICE – Plot movements of smaller stones. Draw up map. Reconstruction shows his difficulties. Due to a wound…

‘… due to a wound, forward movement requires right leg to be held at angle from body. Quadriceps spasm uncontrollably – this again rendering movement impossible, the body’s surface contact with stones increases. He moves forward supporting himself with his two arms and his left leg, keeping his right leg straight, stretched back and to the right with his toes against the ground for support and balance. Then first moves his arms forward using his left leg and right foot as support, then left leg forward supported by arms and his right foot, after which he drags his right leg along with him, ending up in original position.’

THIRD VOICE – Why did Le Blek not try to make a provisional crutch from available driftwood?

Staring at his things, Williams speaks the answer to a missing question:

‘Le Blek considers the wound yet another “sign” opening up to a series of precise passages. He takes closeness to the stones as datum for the developing method – use of found timber would constitute a “false sign”. “We are,” he has written, “no longer concerned with the realm of volition or reflection, but with a process of differentiation by which he has been naturalised with the stones.” ’

15 SECOND VOICE – An inventory of all that can be found in the bunker corresponds now to the collection assembled on the grey, sun-bleached boards: traces of animal faeces, a dead bird, egg shells, a metal coil – a radio component resembling an eye wrapped in a fragment of cloth and stored in a cavity in the bunker wall.

[Sequence. Dead lands. Deterioration outwards from the site. Desert rendered emaciated. Merely a thin membrane of sand and parched, burnt matter enfolding the stages where new matter emerges.]

THIRD VOICE – And meanwhile, your colleague stares at the written document and the words blur into abstract marks.
FIRST VOICE – Williams, clean the items of your collection with a toothbrush; polish them with turtle wax.
WILLIAMS: I will polish them with turtle wax.
SECOND VOICE – The desert seem somehow more like a desert now. It’s intrinsic quality intensified. What was already dead seem more dead.
Back inside, in the room designated as his office, Siringo surveys the books, reads the titles of the volumes aloud: ‘Mammal Burrows; The Anxiety of the Scurriers; Forehead as Hammering Tool; The Wind in The Micro-tunnels; The Confounded Entrance and Other Stories; Outside in the Inside and its companion volume; Dealing with Small Fry, Troubling Sounds and Their Origins ; Fear of the Larger Beast; The Collapse; Mud on the Claws – Mud on the Snout.’
16 FOURTH VOICE – Vile lump of pined away flesh. ‘Or’? ‘And?’ One or the other? Both? El Topo’s passion, an either-or; Francesco’s, infinite sequences of &s, universes rendered conjunctive…

[Diamondheads. Hard surfaces protrude from pod-membranes. Yellow dust mixes with sand mixes with yellow dust.]

17 Deep in the fortified basement, Siringo has bolted the inner door. Folders, boxes, envelopes and documents lie spread in front of him. Several notebooks open at once, pen in one hand, tape recorder in the other, he reads and records:

‘A watch tower has been constructed. For what form of observation? To monitor what activity?. Boards are suspended between the legs of the structure. (Seats?) Cigarette butts, beer cans, other discarded items, are left beneath the boards. Was the tower constructed before or after the abandonment of the blockhouse? To what desires does it testify, to what impending disaster? To what survey and what frontline? To what discipline and what destiny?’

18 Siringo gathers what he can from the office and carries the laden box into the basement. He will lock himself in, even if there is no need. Williams has been missing for days. Aloud to himself: ‘There’s some sort of animal living in the bunker.’ He chooses at random, but the account provided by the documents seems less and less to be of remote events: it is of these conditions into which he, himself, is being drawn. What is the time of day? With no natural light, he cannot tell. And the temperature is as stable as the dim brightness from his solitary bulb. He pulls his collar tight. Back to work. Pelt. Pelt? He flicks through one of the notebooks:

Nt. ‘Presented first with conventional purpose of insulation. Pelt now appears to have been taken for another reason – to invoke animal sensitivity. Hair filaments as sense organs. Issue unresolved.

19 THIRD VOICE – Exposed, concaved, porous substrate of interior bone face?
SECOND VOICE – Or what is spotted here is chipped bone in the scull.
FOURTH VOICE – ‘Or, or, or?’
SECOND VOICE – And… and intuited from the body’s choreography, the now lost partitions of the prophet’s cranial cavity. The internal space reduced to homogenised volume – solid volume simplified through motion of agents of abrasion.
THIRD VOICE – The pebbles?
WILLIAMS – The pebbles.

[Zone: bordered on all sides but expanding. Enter solid mass of bone. Unwrapped now. Virtual archeologies intertwined. Connections tweaked, shifts in pitch.]

FIRST VOICE – Bits of scull broken off, ground to dust by pebble motion. And the dust gathers in a pattern further indicating the inner absence. While their motion is too quick for viewing there is a rhythm in the pebbles’ circulation.
WILLIAMS – Here is the hodology.

[Bones now dust. Layer upon layer. Inaudible volumes, refracting code into code. Discordant sounds. Contrasting oscillations interpenetrating.]

THIRD VOICE – Who are we?
WILLIAMS – Glimmerheads.
VOICES (in unison) – We are the Diamondheads.
WILLIAMS – You glimmer.
VOICES (in unison) – He glimmers.

[Glimmer through dusty film. Sheath.]

THIRD VOICE – Whence do we come? Beyond the stars?
VOICES (in unison) – From the bright point, the star in the heart of matter.

20 FIFTH VOICE – Contemplate wormhole-distraction.
THIRD VOICE – Something akin to joy?

21 Siringo lights another cigarette. Stubs it out. The resolution of the work will have to be postponed. The postponement will be indefinite. He speaks into his recorder:

‘Yellow dust. Only yellow dust. And sand.’

And Williams walks on. For the time being – while the temperature control still operates between the padded, internal layers of his protective suit – he is able to continue. The soles of his boots expel in rhythmical time their pneumatic breaths. And the hoarse sound of his own breathing is amplified through the tubes of his respirator. How long will the life support last? A few days; a week? Although a prosthetic extension to the body, the rig strapped to his back marks an inevitable limit. But nothing will sustain him now as effectively as the accumulating mass of artifacts in his sample-vessel.

Another’s footprints are visible in the dust. He records them, notes their changing character. As he moves along the dried river from the littoral across the plain he tracks an almost indiscernible evolution. The earlier prints showed a soft pedature. There were few distinguishing details. Now the prints contain complex structures more like the imprint of a hard and uneven body-part; crystalline, replete with differentiations, fractal demarcations and delineations. Amongst the ground’s sharp-faceted, fist-sized lumps of volcanic rock, a fragment of glass catches the light. He stoops to retrieve it. A broken piece of a technological artifact like the visor of his own helmet? Across its surface there are scratches like the runes of a foreign alphabet. He hesitates, opens his mouth as if to sound the marks. And he turns, diverting from his path once more, heads to the east.

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