The Final Journals of Dr. Peter Lurneman (Journal IV)
By Luke Neima
I can use the words, now. I had to work through two notebooks before I could move through the world again. Or rather it is the world that moves around me, at the beck and call of my pen. The trick is to continue writing as I go, which is easy enough as long as I keep my eyes on the page; a peripheral view of the world is more than enough. My erstwhile paralysis fades in narration.
I took my journal to the banks of the river, wanting to show it the quincunx, and found at the top of the central tree a new blue blossom, about the size of a cantaloupe. I know that I must gather a sample of the flower before I can hope to recover my senses. I feel an irresistible craving for it.
I tried to write the action into the journal, but it did not react. It acted as if nothing was there. I pointed to the blue flower, wrote it, but the page remained stubbornly turned away from the river, facing me, shaking its head, and as it shook a newborn bird burst forth from a blossom on the tree and took to flight. I fell over in shock; the book fell with me but would not turn back to look at the petals falling faintly down upon us.
I have been writing myself down to the river every day, struggling for the flower. As I collocate the nouns, verbs, articles and adjectives of a sentence, I feel my body collocating the objects in the world with which I am concerned. When I write 'eat', I feel my arms already reaching for the nearest available noun, and when my eyes alight on something my pen does too, and as I scratch down the word my body collocates the object.
But I have been unable to find the syntax that will allow me to pluck the large blue flower. Words fail me. I cannot find the right noun, the associated adjectives, even the correct verb that would allow me to approach it.
The writings of the day, the writings of action, I destroy systematically, as I come to the end of each page. I am uncertain how I do it. I do not write their destruction, and perhaps because I do not write I cannot remember.
Perhaps I close my eyes and tear the paper down the middle, then again down the middle of the two strips, and then spit into my hand and roll each of the remaining quarters into small balls, which I consume. Perhaps I bury them just underneath the surface of the soil, offering a portion of each page to one of the headless men. Perhaps I take a match and illuminate the page, grasping the top and watching the flames climb up the paper before allowing the burning fragments to be carried off in the wind. Perhaps the pages destroy themselves.
Every act of writing, now, is suffused with physical desire for the blue flower. Attempting to narrate my way towards it never succeeds, only causes me to burn with an increased ardour. Occasionally I wonder if it is not desire itself that allows me to move the pen. Eileen and my mother mingle in my daydreams. As I put things down on paper, I feel myself inside the both of them, like a baby.
I begin to feel a celestial exhaustion. Accompanying it is a sense of ripening, of something germinating in the long stultified seed of my soul. My heart lustres and time prickles through me.
The days flash past now, without my having any sense of their temporal motion. I can no longer be sure of how long I’ve been out here. Writing these few sentences is the longest moment I have experienced in years, each second is dragged out, stretched, limited by the muscles of my fingers and wrist.
I do not have much time left before I succumb to timelessness. I must find a way to acquire the flower. All of my attempts to write my way towards it have failed. I am at a loss.
This morning I remembered that Tawkxwax could walk under water. Once he made a very long journey, entirely under the sea. He got tired and died. But before dying he threw off his skin, skull and bones, took another body and then he lived again. I took myself to the river and wrote myself under it.
As I dove I noticed that the central tree was entirely hollow, supported by the others through a network of creeping rootstalks. I broke apart the bark at its base and was able to squeeze my way up to the crown of the tree. Once there I pushed my way through the rhytidome and easily took hold of the flower.
This morning I awoke and ate and understood. I understand, now, the true nature of the quincunx, of the birds, the stick-insect, the alarbo. And I know what I must do next. I will be passing through the quincunx, I will be writing myself from the realm of the earth into the realm of the sky.
This page is the first step towards proper ontogeny. The explicit and the implicit will change place, the riddle of the present shall unblossom and then reopen radically, piercing far beyond the circumference of any human tense. Each facet of my current perception will fall away from my consciousness like fungi, sentences loosed from a lip, and I will be purged of words, a consummate intelligence of emotion, freed of the beds of space and time.
I will cover the alarbo’s bark in an unceasing hieroglyphic of semen, the trees five floating styles to my wandering stamen, and in pollination I will fathom the fathomless. I will speak as a tree of tongues, the weather occasioning my only fricatives. The shape of my ideas pulse with the sap of stars, expanding eternally and forever constellating.
Outside the wild sultry heavens are heaving. Within me I feel involution and dehiscence, striking together in a single, solitary chord.
The preceding text was first printed in Seed Science Research, Vol II, October 2012, pp 18-35, Copyright © The Estate of Dr. Peter Lurneman, and is reprinted here with permission.