Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rough Work

It must be all in my head. Where am I? Am I? What's that noise? It sounds like static.

--How does he look?
--Not at his best.
--What’s wrong with him?
--I don’t know.
--What do you mean you don’t know? Were you not just looking at him?
--He’s not at his best.
--I see.

Everything stops. Everything except that radio. Now I hear footsteps pacing. The floor is concrete. Or maybe it’s hardwood. It’s difficult to say. That must be footsteps.

--What do you think we should do with him?
--I think we should do nothing.
--Do nothing?
--Won’t that come back on us?
--Do you think it would be better to put him out?
--He might get away.
--I see. Yes. He might get away.

Again with the pacing. He must always be pacing. If only I could see. If only my hands were working. If only I could make a sound. Then I could tell them. A raven caws. Maybe it’s a jackdaw, or a magpie. Not so far away. It’s a lifetime away from here.

--What about the machine?
--The machine?
--The machine from before.
--The machine.
--Well what?
--Can we use the bloody machine?
--I don’t see why not.
--The machine then?
--Perhaps best if we don’t.
--Is there a reason you think that?
--It may not work.
--Why not?
--It didn’t work before.
--Yes. You’re quite right. It didn’t work before. Hmmm...

Will he never stop pacing? Maybe if I grind my teeth they’ll hear. I can’t take much more of this. I wish I could stand up. Wait. I am standing up. Am I? It’s only in your head. Static from over there. Somewhere over there.

--What’s that noise?
--It sounds like he is grinding his teeth.
--What is he doing that for?
--Perhaps he’s under some stress.
--What could possibly be causing him stress?
--I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because he can hear what we’re saying.
--He can hear what we're saying?
--I don’t know.
--Well, damn it, what do you think?
--I don’t know.
--Yes. You don’t know.

It must be concrete. That’s boots on concrete. That’s why me feet are so cold. I think I can feel my feet. No. I’m not standing on my feet. I’m lying flat on the floor. I’ve been like this forever. I don’t know anything. I can’t remember my name. Did I ever have a name?

--What if we asked the other one?
--The other one?
--The other one from before.
--You want to ask the other one?
--Yes. Do you think it is worth asking the other one?
--I don’t think so.
--Why not?
--I don’t think he would have much to say.
--And just why is that.
--He’s dead.
--How did he die?
--I don’t know.
--You don’t know?
--Are you sure?
--Am I sure of what?
--That he's dead.
--Then perhaps we’d best not ask him?
--Perhaps not.
--I see. We’ll have to think of something else.

I heard him say that. It can’t be all in my head. Who’s dead? Is that what I feel? Is this death? If death is the absence of everything, then I’m dead. I'm other. Or I’m one. But then, I can still hear the static. I can still hear the boots. Do I hear boots pacing on the concrete floor?

--What if we just left him?
--I don’t think we can.
--Why is that?
--There won’t be anyone left.
--Of course there will. How could there be no one left?
--There mustn’t be.
--But there is.
--There won’t be.
--How do you know?
--Because we’re to make sure.
--You and I.
--No one left?
--Not a soul.
--I don’t know.
--You don’t know?
--No. I don’t know.
--And we must?
--We must.
--I see.

Please. Please. There’s nothing left. Nothing left to tell. Nothing left to hear. Only boots. Only static. Only ravens. Only the voice in my head. It has to be in my head. Is it in my head? This has to end.


bard said...

I'm continually inspired to try different writing styles/formats when I come here, because you employ so many different ones so well. Nice work.

Harlequin said...

rough indeed; touched my heart, and pulled me into the heart of this frightening, unsettling now. so well done....

Jon said...

glad you like the variety... i try to shake things up every so often... keeps me from getting stir crazy and hopefully keeps people from falling asleep! thanks for your comment mate. I appreciate it!

thanks! i'm pleased that this one took you somewhere... even if in a unsettling kind of way

the walking man said...

quite interesting to see your perspective through your eyes(closed?) Jon. This pulls the reader along quite well from the first line to the last. I wonder of the word "wonderful" would be appropriate?

Yes wonderful this is.

Jon said...

walking man,
wonderful is a perfectly good word, if it's the one that you want to use.
i'm glad that this one brought you along... i thought that perhaps the patter of the dialog was sketchy... but then i liked it and thought it was apt...
thanks for your comment!

christopher said...

This feels quite related to the theater of the absurd as they called it once. I am reminded of Waiting For Godot, also of Kafka. I think you have done it really well. As you must to remain in the absurd, you almost give us the answer to what is going on, and then you take it away again.

The whole point was and remains that life is not rational or sensible except that we impose an arbitrary order. If we pull the arbitrariness away, we are left with stories like yours. Heh. I like to visit but have little desire to live there...

Without God (or Order) I'm screwed.

Jenny said...


I was captured by this partly because of the characters’ moments of hesitation in the dialogue. Powerful in a quiet way, sort of like Arthur Miller. I also came to think of Beckett. But I do not mean to namedrop or anything; you certainly have your own style.

human being said...



it's all in my mind... and my mind is the cosmos i travel in... no... i am not just an insignificant particle wandering here... i can feel it... my mind can freeze the sun... my mind can shrink the milky way... my mind can put an end to the neverending journey of the light through darkness... then why i do nothing? why doubt thikens in the horizon and there is no rain... perhaps i'm dead... no i am not... when you are dead, you are not uneasy... i feel restless... i feel things happening... i'm not dead... and this frightens me... ah... fear... and all this happens when i fear... and why do i fear? i can be all safe in here... in my solitude clinging to what i have... it's all safe in here like a womb... it's dark and warm... why should i ever move? i can lie here for eternity... part of me likes this... part of me clings... part of me stays... but each darkness has got a soul and this soul is damp... all souls are damp because they weep... they weep same as a candle weeps... so it's damp... and in this dampness, the dry seed of solitude starts to sprout... then part of you cries for light... part of you wants to move up... part of you wants to let go of what there is... part of you wants to leave... and out there... there is light... can't open my eyes... the light is dazzling... in the light there are zillion things... they frighten me... i don't know which i should cling to... should i cling? why shouldn't i? i want to be secure... i can cling to my fear... it keeps me safe... it keeps me where i am... the place i know very well.. i'm afraid... everything is strange... my fear is not strange... it's been with me for a long while... why should i let go of it? i cling to my fear... i'm afraid... 'cause part of me has started to walk... that sprouting part... part of me walks all day long... i hear it walking... the footsteps rain on my silence... i close my eyes and put my hands over my ears to dull the noise... there are millions of marching ants on me... i cannot stop them... i cannot stop those walking feet...i cannot stop the noise... i've got just two hands and they are over my ears... i used to be safe and warm... what happened to my world... i want it back... i want to return to my womb... i want to die... how can i die?... part of me conspires all the time... part of me kills... part of me knows the way out of this noise... part of me is a killing machine... part of me can turn off all the light... all the noise... with a death wish... then i'll return... do i return? or just turn? and when i turn, will there be a return? why should i ever want to return after i have returned? will there be again another desire to return when i'll have returned? can i ever die? or is it just a lie? do i lie to myself? it's all happening in my mind... part of me stays... part of me walks on... part of me kills... part of me dies... so i am alive... dead people don't hear voices... dead people don't want to die... part of me wants to die... so i'm alive... i'm alive... i should do something... should is not would... should means there is a could... so i can... i can do something... what is it? where does it start? it's all in my mind... it's all in my mind... and my mind is the cosmos i travel in... i can find it... it's all in my mind... i will find it... or i have already found it?


this text is inspired by the 'haunting' post here and a new postmodern approach to psychoanalysis in which self is understood through integration (a math concept) -- understanding being the definite integral of the function of self over the interval of two central archetypal images -- here (the sound of) footsteps and (cawing of) ravens...

Klaire said...

Wow. How helpless he must feel--how familiar it is.

Famous Last Words said...

Something that I truly enjoy about your writing is that whatever it is that I read I ponder on and off throughout the day. And this will most definitely be one of those days - thank you!

Devin said...

I also enjoy how you are able to switch styles of writing -the first two comments were right along with my thinking (i enjoyed them all) but Famous Last Words-the comment above me now -says it all for me about your writing -I am still thinking of "Shump" from the other day!!
so indeed thank you!!
and I hope you had a wonderful weekend or are still having one;-)
all the best to you!!

Jon said...

yeah, you pick up on one of the big influences in my writing lately... Beckett and Godot...
I like writing in this style and working with minimal material... I am always interested by what comments come in for writing like this, because the "meaning" is whatever a reader will pour into the container... thanks for your comment!

Thanks! I don't mind being put in a category with Miller and Beckett... that's probably the biggest compliment you could pay me!

Human Being,
WOW!!! Solaris is amazing! You've totally outdone yourself with this piece of writing (and outdone me as well)
I think my favorite part here is "there are millions of marching ants on me... i cannot stop them... i cannot stop those walking feet...i cannot stop the noise..."
this is so evocative. and you do me an honor to share this in these comments. I'm pleased that this post of mine could elicit such a response... it's so cold and rough... adds so much to what i was trying to say... and says it so much better... I think that you should surely post this on your blog as well so that more people will be able to read this.
i am also intrigued by the mathematical understanding of self... though I'm going to have to think on this some more and see if I can figure out the equation... math isn't my strong suit!
Thanks again so much... I'll catch up with you again soon

helpless is a good word for this... and it's not so tough to relate, eh? thanks for stopping by

glad you take some of this away and that it percolates... that it's something to munch on... that my humble work might be food for thought...

well I wouldn't want anyone to get too comfortable with any one style! that wouldn't be any fun, now would it? probably not for me either... i'm always looking to shake things up... thanks for your comment

human being said...

ahhh... Jon!
such encouraging and sweet words...
thanks a lot!

outdoing you? no way!

and the funny thing is that i write all the time like this... think this is the way all of us usually think... lots of images and thoughts... free associations... stream of consciousness... interior monolog... things of this sort...
then i pick a small part and put it on my blog... sort of just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg...
i've got a mission there... same as an icebergs has got a mission: to help the sailors...
if i wanted to choose from this work for my blog, it would be:

but each darkness has got a soul and this soul is damp... all souls are damp because they weep... they weep same as a candle weeps... so it's damp... and in this dampness, the dry seed of solitude starts to sprout... then part of you cries for light... part of you wants to move up... part of you wants to let go of what there is... part of you wants to leave...

and these days we hear a lot about the global warming and icebergs melting down...
when i read your work, i forgot all about the just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg mission... it was so resonating...

change is inevitable sometimes... no! always... eh?
change is good... even if it's icebergs melting down!
perhaps i should change my mission too... don't know... lots of ideas are piling on my desk each day... but you know about the conditions here in Iran... perhaps it should be somethig totally different...

ah... i'm rambling... this is the nature of Solaris...

thanks for triggering things in this world...

love and peace to you, my dear friend

Anonymous said...

this text is really well written, you do get stress slowly and surely!

Your text reminds me, my work at the hospital where I've taken care of someone in a coma. And the absurd conversations that I've been around them.
Because we do always careful that we can say in their presence.
we were never sure of what they could hear or not!...

so I don't know if you understand what I mean but you did a very good description what they can hear and feel that why I will do even more attention now with them!

I agree with all the other comments too.


human being said...

i have always loved this friend of yours... frenchtony... he always adds something that really stirs me... (though he doesn't know much chess!:D remember?)

tony... you are so true...
and all of us in this world are like that patient in coma... the way communicating becomes more difficult each day despite the apparent advances in the means of communication... all of us hear things and know things that cannot tell others... and when we say, we are not heard... not listened to... like the patient you are taking care of... like the people in Solaris... (have you seen the film or read the story?)
one of the main themes in it is this communication... and the way the false values in the society deprive us of the true communication... because of the lack of spirituality...

aside from this beautiful text by Jon... and commenting on it, i should say you are a 'brave' human being because of your job... and your attitude towards the patients... when i was nearly 20 i lost a dear sister in a car accident... before her death, she was in coma for about a week... and i know what you say about the conversations that might be heard by the patient... they do hear us... they do...

love and peace to you dear kind human being...

Anonymous said...

yours is
a wonderfully
unique approach, jon

a most enjoyable & surprising read



Pearl said...

So understated and so powerful! Wow.

So glad I stumbled in...


Jon said...

Yeah, I like those lines as well... I think there's lots to choose from in this writing that could be developed... see what's beneath the surface of the water... the 90% unrevealed...
I don't think the mission is changed so much... I think you're still on the side of thinking and discourse, no matter the outcomes or the situations... somehow I imagine that you'd always be a voice of resistance
on a slightly different note... sorry to hear the story about your sister. that's very sad and it's too bad that her life was so tragically cut short. i'm not terribly religious, but some part of me would like to believe that she can hear even now... peace... peace for us all

nice to hear from you mate... don't know if you'll check back for this comment, but human being is picking on your chess skills!
but aside from this, i agree exactly with what she's said... it's always a new perspective that you bring and i appreciate the comment. it's a interesting reading related to the medical field, and one that i hadn't considered... but now that you mention it, it's almost all that i can see... one of my favorite things is to get different readings on my writing as this invariably changes how i think about it too... thanks Tony!

glad you stopped by and enjoyed this. i can't claim that anything i do is truly unique... but i do try to keep things fresh and try different styles... thanks for your thoughts.

I'm glad you stumbled through as well... i've been reading your blog for a while now and enjoy your take on things... come back and visit me again some time, and thanks for your comment.

human being said...


still water
a reflected world
a pebble travels underneath
shattering the cosmos


thanks a lot Jon... for your positive words and sincere sentiments... you are a true friend...


Little Lamb said...

Oh dear! What have you done now?

Chris said...

You, my friend, are a master. I love the speaking bits the most. And the questions, slightly rhetorical but inspiring thought. Very nice.

nazia said...

Too good.....:)

Jon said...

Hi guys... sorry it's taken me a couple days to get back... I've been a bit wrapped up in things that I would otherwise have preferred not to have to waste my time with

Nice poem... it has a great undertow... pulls back parts of everything in the universe, and pushes out the smallest pebble as a keepsake... thanks!

Little Lamb,
It wasn't me... it was my impostor... I swear... I was framed!

Nice to see you around... been a while... thanks for your thoughts and I'm glad that you liked this post... I have lots of trouble with dialog, so it's good to hear that this element worked for you...

glad you liked this post... I'm going to scoot over to your blog and say HI there...