Head of Glass
It’s as if my muscles were full of wings which, obviously, only wish to fly. They are attached to my bones by thousands of little feet which prevent them from taking flight. In this way, without any intention on my part, my flesh sustains itself. When the sky is clear, I feel these wings flapping gently under my skin. With my eyes, I can see the shadow they cast upon the ground, the ground of my bones. Unlike when I close my eyes, then the inside of my head lights up like an empty room and that’s it. If I make the slightest gesture, my body suddenly tucks itself up like an intestine and then all the wings fold up except one which I use to carry on and accomplish everything that a normally constituted person does in the course of a day.
Your gaze disappears deep into the verdure and slowly you come back, very slowly, like a swimmer struggling against the current. But already, in the air, a vague floating has blurred the distinction between your body and space. You thought that a presence was going to materialize before your eyes, that something was gnawing underground, like an intention, perhaps the intention to let oneself be seen. Yet nothing appeared, for what revolves, in the air, like an animal soul could only travel the path half-way …
Lying on your back, relaxing every muscle, you breathe slowly, deeply …
Gradually, the rhythm of your breath slows and you distance yourself, not from yourself, but from an air of oppression which has rendered your life noisy and agitated.
Your eyes are wide open but you don’t see a thing, you simply float in a space which is freer, more open, like that between heaven and earth you imagine, and your entire body oscillates between the waking state and the state of dreams . . . . . . . . . .
Suddenly images pass before your eyes or rather, fragments of images, which appear unrelated, brief openings onto events which occured separately and, no doubt, quite far from here . . . . . .
A threatening face,
a scary mask appears, brutally filling the entire space of your head, then a rosary, but these went by so quickly that you wondered whose gaze they might have actually been destined for . . . monstrous, ironic faces, faces of people giving rise to things which are strange and unmentionable, and that your coming here has disturbed . . . . . . . .
Unexpected return to the wall opposite, that you had stopped seeing and which now seemed right up close, almost touching your nose. A movement animates the wall from top to bottom, slowly, like an algae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sudden collapse. A landing has been vaulted in the confusion and . . . . . . . . . . the air shimmers, but of you, not a single trace, it is as if you had vanished into thin air . . . . . . . a slight panic . . . . . . . . . . swarms of white light . . . . . the air is marbled with translucent veins, slightly bluish . . . . . . new passage . . . . and there you are once again lying on your back but this time facing the ordinary, as if nothing had happened in the interim . . . .
So where has all that life gone?
What is it called … from the beginning there had been this brief shock at what had slowly emerged from the scattered, this assemblage of white matter around a center whose existence was barely hinted at, and finally this localized precipitation, this particular acceleration, faster and faster, then suddenly an explosion of black light and … my double! I had become double, though not literally turning around to discover myself propped on my elbows a few centimetres away from myself! … and then this slow-motion, this sudden slowness deep within things, suddenly became, though for some unknown reason, imperceptible to the senses, freed from all affective charge, emptied of all humanity, things suddenly became things again, things wholly, freely offered to one yet to come, in their order, eternal … buoyant in the light, always malleable and yet unchanged!
When no buildings could be seen, the silent community came to a halt.
Without a word and with common consent, all eyes converged on the chosen place.
There, several men gathered and, by hand, patiently dug a hole in the ground, the size of a human body.
When they had finished, the chosen one presented himself to the others one last time, then slowly descended into the hole and laid down, his hands crossed on his chest.
Over his body, we slowly placed armfuls of branches, and when he was finally enwrapped in darkness, we piously withdrew, without a word.
Lying in his earthen cell, the recumbant one heard the community slowly wander off.
After the last footfall, the silence once again took possession of space, like a cautious animal which had been scared away by the sound of humans. There, the recumbant one set about re-entering himself, while taking care not to fall asleep.
He waited for oblivion to come, the oblivion which would carry him on its wing to those luminous regions that few people have ever been able to contemplate.
In his body become earth, the recumbant one felt an ear grow, while the silence hummed above his head. Occasionally, a gust of wind gently rustled the leaves on the branches….
No one who returned from the dream of the earth could explain how, in a strange gravitation, the body was able to support itself on the silence, slowly lift itself above the world and receive a kiss from god.
Hours, days during which you seek, with a neophyte’s effort, the open space refused you, the one where, unharmed, we cover the base of the skull with those prickly images which haunt these periods of agitation . . . . . . . .
“Lost time!” said the needy man, with the mind haunted by obligations, for affairs beckon him.
But the time which interests you is open-ended, as for space, it only opens with an unobstructed gaze or, at the very least, one which makes room for it.
From the tree in which you remain perched, today everything beckons, and at first, emanating from a rustling of leaves, this volume which dances across your back, hence forming an optic shape which strangely glows …
A little further on, the gaze slips between the sun-scorched grass, there, the wind creates perspectives, then humours itself by erasing them, and suddenly space no longer has up or down!
A sensation, a simple little sensation, which obviously interested you, took hold of you, became cleverly conjugated to your present until it assumed its tonality.
If you don’t pay attention from here on in, it could soon make you comply to its will, bring you to your last breath. There, it could grow from you and all of a sudden, your lack of a will to live might be the difference. All that went before? Nothing, not even the blink of an eye! But because you think, the transient character of its reality suddenly appears clear to you. This sensation, this taste of reality which has suffused your entire space is nothing more than a position, a simple nondescript reflection drowning amidst countless other reflections, all dissimilar and yet without any noticeable difference in view of the emptiness which connects them, and yet these too are seeking adequate support, a living space to latch on to, to suck dry …
In a cloudless sky, my head is in the world. Indeed, what is there to be seen when the light reigns supreme? Nothing. My head is flat, bottomless, like one of those white walls of the urban sprawl.
But when the ceiling is low, what depth!
Suddenly, your eye socket hollows out and you see the light penetrate. Oh it doesn’t enter to flush out the darkness, quite to the contrary!
What it wants is to watch the dark throb, like when the sun breaks over the horizon and the blood pulses in the eyes of the world and forms are still vague.
You returned from a profound silence and they looked as if they had been the emanation of a unique space.
It was as if your eyes had suddenly pierced them.
You not only saw their image, you also inhabited their meaning. It almost appeared to you that a gaze happened to find the dark path which leads around back of things. You saw them both as if your eyes had gone around, penetrated through, them, nevertheless inhabiting your own gaze and its trajectory, and even the exterior of this trajectory, evaluating its engagements with the speed at which the light must evaluate its own, intervening without stirring, measuring this entire space with a startling precision…
Sometimes my forehead bursts and there is a profusion of energy… my eye socket lets loose a flood of white waves which unfurl gently, silently, dunes of air and light, though it doesn’t really matter whether the eye remains open or closed since the mind is still.
Sometimes the gaze splits in two, its trajectory carries it both inside of beings and things, as well as behind them. In this way it bears witness to its circulation, observes the unfolding of its penetration, takes shape, seeks to see itself from every angle, evaluates its engagements at the same speed that light evaluates its own, intervening without effecting…
One part of it simply looks, the part open upon emptiness, part without set purpose, always already distinct, never taking, always skirting, in a word: grasping.
There are holes in space, they lead into us a gaze which imagines our destiny, but we see neither these holes nor this gaze because they cover themselves with the visible. Only occasionally, in their stead, a sign renders them manifest to us and it is then that we enter into the imminence of a clearing which stretches from the remotest point of the world to the deepest point within us.
A wave of light has run the length of the reeds. It was not the whiteness of a gull, nor a reflection on the water, nor a break in a cloud but a brief flash, the sudden manifestation of the presence of a, until then, hidden space, perhaps the space within…
This time, there was no disconnecting but passage, imperceptible passage from the ordinary to the subtle which is perhaps simply what is most ordinary in the ordinary: a neutral energy which is, at the same time, the opposite of neutral.
Space already seemed to emanate from a luminous breathing … an aureole of black light carved out each object, while silently bombarding its contour.
Something like a cliché was in the air and probably many more since one sensed there, behind, the presence of the darkness and that it was becoming frighteningly lifelike.
Space must be approached through the surface, only the term surface is hackneyed, the meaning having been, at least to all appearances, definitively established. Therefore the surface is no longer a beginning …
It is said, for example, that a gaze stops at the surface of things, whereas in reality it only settles on their appearance…
No, the gaze knows nothing of the surface, of its motionless mobility, of its explosive turbulence, of its palpation, nothing of its depth precisely too shallow to be seen.
The skin of things no longer finds, in the gaze, the place of reversal, the fault through which it becomes more than visible. Lack compared to depth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . innocence, opening of the gaze, innocence of oblivion which is the very vitality of the gaze . . . . . . . . . . . . can a gaze be both innocent and circumspect, open and attentive at the same time?
The gaze is sick of its opinions, its knowledge, its distrust, the gaze which in order to grow must take risks …
There was space, words, and the desire to enter a thought … bicephalous words which whirled about, crashed into one another, mingled their shadows, words whose rapid dance soon created a vast dark hollow in its centre, which swallowed…
Oblivion passed and all that remained in memory was this gulping sound, this sucking noise which announced the coming of everything else, of silent meaning …
You strive to not think, having done all you could so that not a single word might come to disturb the state of transparency hard-won over agitation.
In open space, light and airy, images have once again started to circulate, and yet this state is not thought-free … perhaps it is simply free of duration … curious like in moments of intense listening when time becomes elastic!
… suddenly your eardrums vibrate, a whistling pierces your head and you sense, like a trembling in the air, the sound of combustion … that is when coloured haloes appear around beings and things, similar to those reproduced in sacred icons.
But the real ones are not perfectly circular and there is a slight trembling similar to the one that caused the ember to animate them, barely perceptible when it enrobes itself with stillness, floating when it follows what moves. Animated beings are pursued …
Sometimes a star, which is not really a star but a kind of white flash, implodes in one’s vision and comes to greet a thought.
The rising, the birth of this punctual star indicates that the imaginary and the real are conjugated, that there was return and scintillation in the return, sign and annulment of a sign, the meaning of which will remain hidden as long as thought has not completely traversed appearances and, above all, expends, expends an energy which in its journey has found oblivion and the beginning of the world.
First of all I close my eyes. Only in this way can the day’s sweetness be enjoyed to the full. Then, I stretch myself right from the ground like animals do. But look, all at once my right leg stands straight up as if standing at attention. Is this my leg, this screw which sinks into the blue of the sky and gives me the ridiculous appearance of a human machine?
In a state which is half repose, half attention, I stare at one single thing and gradually surrender myself to its hypnotic presence. At the end of a certain period, an exchange takes place between its own space and the one that I emit. From this juncture, there then appears a gaze with a double source, the trajectory of which causes it to fall on both the observer and the thing observed with such intensity that it nullifies both. Thus emptiness makes its entrance and its journey becomes physical. There is an inner gaze.
Custom would have it that illusion is the basis of all our errors, hence implying that there is a truth to reality.
Reality has no more truth than it has meaning, and illusion is not, in any way, an obstacle to grasping it. Both are, in fact, as inseparable as two complimentary colours.
From their union and in their separation the visible moment, the baffling mystery which starts us thinking, is continuously reborn.
Thinking produces an acceleration which leaves behind a kind of division.
This split occurs without separation. The light of the grasp, or more exactly what takes shape within it— the unexpected image — is the materialized occurrence of this split. Immanence is broken.
Inversely, this acceleration produces a slow-motion which is translated by an absurd displacement: a visual representation.
The seen is, first and foremost, a displaced image, the meaning of which is not closed, an image which is found projected outside of immanence and which, however, does not cease to remain there.
Hearing modifies, in an extremely palpable manner, the relationship which unites our body with space.
Favouring the burgeoning of thought and the precipitation of its time within us, it disrupts the measurable order.
The more a place is suffused with silence, the more this relation is tangibly altered. It then appears that though thought is unable to modify matter outside of itself, it is able to do so in its center because it is empty.
When hearing posits itself at the origin of every grasp, the real becomes imaginary.
The imaginary will then be the thought of space, unless it happens to be its presence within us …
These scraps, in the air, of thoughts are, most likely, not mine, I am waiting for the unexpected … only if I happen, by chance or distraction, to confuse the unexpected and the never seen …
The stamping of the origin, the baffled thought … generally, the pains of explication.
On this side of the visible but leading into it, something beckons us, calls forth a lasting perplexity, an apprehensive questioning, a thought.
Back when a man’s life depended solely on his ability to procure food by hunting, he knew that he had to remain alert, learn to see correctly, rapidly, and distinguish, in the briefest flash, the good perception from the bad, the true shape from illusion. He was intuitively aware that in order to see clearly, he first had to be quiet and listen.
Above all, the hunter was a man of hearing and that is why his eyesight was so acute and knew how to decide, to direct the decisive gesture across space.
Is there any doubt that to the eyes of such a man, the most intelligent modern man would, in spite of everything, appear as a kind of cripple? Let alone all those who cannot, in their daily lives, go without noise, without all kinds of babbling, without a flood of sound and image?
If it is true that the quality of a gaze depends on the ability to listen of the person who deploys it, why not say that the gaze disappeared with the hunter?
When coincidence is aspired to, movement is obtained.
Clairvoyance, abolition of time within time.
The more intense a thought becomes, the more it has a tendency to forget itself.
Therefore, thinking intensely favours the emergence of the Same … or the Entirely Other.
Vision, optic palpation? External self-awareness?
Clairvoyance. Seeing is an exercise which implies both attachment and detachment.
Double-sided instant, centrally seeing.
The gaze is only attracted by a gesture, the expression on a face, a situation, to the extent in which it comprehends, in which it can be intimately united to what it sees.
But a gaze which comprehends without being able to distinguish how it comes to comprehend, still does not see.
Seeing is discovering oneself under the influence of an attraction while simultaneously feeling disdain.
Being too busy to see, has impeded our gaze, encumbered it. The gaze has lost its fluidity, it no longer guides.
And yet, it sometimes happens that the unimagined lends us its eyes. The spectacle of the world then takes on an inconceivable strangeness.
The mental flux is occasionally felt coalescing then passing through one’s head like a shadow or a shiver.
“In writing,” he said, “I am one of the hunters: aural stalking, quick grab, action.”
“The decision alone does not belong to me.”
The direction of your gaze became subtly reversed and the world sprang up in your eyes like a cloud forming in the sky…
You were living in the transparency and now your space was cluttered!
And so you went at your own pace, without seeing or feeling anything, like the innocent river sweeping along its debris.
If we can think the world perhaps it’s because we are also the point of view.
Empty thought, too rarely experienced.
At least fifteen years were needed to attain a true calm and realize that I could recover it at any time, in such a brief, such an ungraspable period of time that even the most precise formula would never be able to define it.
Reading over this collection of notes, I realize that for several years now I have been trying to describe one particular mode of the space in which my body is both the place of gathering and of listening.
These notes constitute a kind of geography of the lived, a topology of the perceptible but open, fluid, even receptive – unconsciously: a book of life.
Suddenly, a vein of blue light in front of the bookcase…
Regard Dedans, Editions Unes 1984