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Jacket 20 — December 2002   |   # 20  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

David Marriott

De L’autocritique

i.m. Douglas Oliver

‘Le nom d’autocritique est un faux nom’

At the water’s edge, waiting. A boy runs, gasping for air, eager to stop the dizziness. He wants to shout out Geronimo; wants to announce his own recklessness as he falls down, gaping. He hears the roar descend, so close it stops his blood. He feels the waves pass over him, lapping forward in time and travelling over his body as he lies there trembling. It was easier to fall hoping and fearing something shameful, than to remain aloof from nature’s greatness. In his oyster mouth the gentlest sort of rockabye rhyme, a gutteral sound snatched from every word and image. He hears his father call his name; hears his father’s barely suppressed anguish as he pants rhythmically.

What follows are fragments. Diaries and notes taken from the odd solidarity of loss and hope. The drafts have been collated tentatively, unsurely, for they are vague, difficult, but, nonetheless, speak to a wish to be drawn forth. They are, simply speaking, awful words.
      First there were all the secret things he did alone over the years. In the movie version of his life I imagine seeing repeated the scene where a father is watching his son with a finger inside his mouth, the finger flicking in and out as though to taunt him. But there is something else as well, a thing he felt outside of, not yet attuned to, a feeling of nervous, childlike confusion all the more unnerving because it reminded him of something he had done but of what he didn’t know. His son lets out a howl. Suddenly the image changes shape and he now sees himself lunging desperately across a sandy terrain in a compulsive effort to breathe. And as he strains toward the sound of his son’s voice, he is swept up and carried through the air above a windy, desolate sea. Wondering at the sudden change of scene, his finger feels clammy but also dry, a feeling that fills him with contradiction and self-remorse. The things that abandon us, he thinks, like the words we swallow — words such as ‘prosper’ that eat us as if from inside, oozing out like the jellified gunk all over his son’s mouth and tongue.
      He imagines what it would mean to consume the deadness in these eyes, even though that is exactly what he ought not to be doing. He does this on impulse, in the spirit of why not, and because he no longer believes in what passes for nature. He sees himself walking amid flocks of herons, almost stumbling as they weave and shy off at the water’s edge. He walks in the spirit of kind feeling, making unbelievable sounds to himself. He can’t even believe this is him talking. His voice sounds like something fallen and stilled, coming out of nowhere. Touched by such intense emptiness. A lapsed moment where a life used to be. The spoken and unsuspected words: ‘He won’t be cured’ — beyond time and conscience. He stands and watches a boy falling, twisted and asprawl. Then he turns and walks away.

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Jacket 20 — December 2002
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