Framed: Tales of the Koanan #6
Sheeran became aware of herself; first as a smooth entity, then as host to what felt like a hard internal frame. Not only was this disturbing, it was also painful. Searching for a comparable experience, she thought of the steel scaffolding that preceded buildings and walls in her intuited virsocs. Would she become something like a building? If so, one with many rooms, surely, because there was a sense of division. As the koanan exist in dimensionless space, the building might have been better called a ship, except that it felt roughly rectangular and without a point.
Then again, there was no sense of a hard boundary, so it wasn’t that she had become an object. In fact, it's only in the context of their intuited virsocs that the koanan ever have a concept of subject and object. They are always subjects. Subject too in the other sense, because they belong to each other and to the larger unit that they comprise. What they project is subsumed.
There were sounds. White, hollow sounds; sounds of silver and swift movement; sounds of red starts and stops. What she heard underneath the sounds became diverse signals that surrounded her like weather. She was intuiting a virsoc in process.
Her awareness grew visual and tactile, but all phenomena were at a remove. Generally, when a virsoc emerges, the experience continues to be pervasive. This phase it was as if she had become like a probe or a drone, but with no control point—a travelling sensor in a transparent case.
She moved easily, a functional entity, and felt the virsoc establish itself—whirring, buzzing, bleeping, casting shadows and light-shafts. She was in a building with no occupants or images. Pillars and arches, corridors, hard floors. Somewhere an engine generated pulsations, and there were other more distant sounds, as if there were happenings outside.
A matrix within a matrix, she thought. But where were the aware beings? She wandered for several traces,* but only met the frame, which sometimes leaned or had thin sections, as if unfinished. This isn’t a virsoc at all, she thought. It’s a virtual structure, an isolate. It was an aporic thought. The only irrefutable principle among the koanan was that there was no such thing as an isolate.
A wind rose up in the spaces of the frame. Directionless, it cast her about randomly, made her collide with the pillars, resound with the stone and steel, plummet, soar and drop. There was no anchor, no still corner, no windless place. When it calmed she was left stunned and with no sense of purpose. The matrix seemed to speak with different voices:
All memory is loss. Do not let it loose within your halls.
But memory was everywhere. It was the wind, it was the stillness, it was the structure. It sent smells and sounds in streams and flashes all about her.
She intuited the container as a flesh being. Blood and organs were connected to a soft, stretched boundary and to the deep interior. The flesh-case had a face and outer movement. It moved on a hard path, then a soft, then was still, as if watching or being aware. It felt the frame, it felt the memories, but its outer casing and its inner frame couldn’t communicate. There was no common language. Each small area was its own law.
Chaos. Fragmentation. And not chaos, because the local laws allowed the organism to exist, only that they were not understood. Everything sensual stood like steel.
There was pain, but not of the debilitating sort. Flesh's tension at the incomprehensible, inexorable frame; epistemic bewilderment.
. . . each man bears in his mind a city made only of differences, a city without figures and without form, and the individual cities fill it up.(1)
* * *
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.(2)
* * *
* * *
I keep deleting these cities.
Over-constructed, they rattle with detail.
Let there be ground and places where ground gives shape
to where it’s missing. Think of crossing a room
and finding at its centre a small but infinite ravine.(3)
* * *
* * *
Sheeran returned to her primary self and searched for a precept. The shared breath of the koanan continued its even-toned questing. It was collateral with chaos, purposeful haste, tough structures, pulp and pomp. Virsocs arose, rocked the matrix, dissolved.
When we come to the limits / of the city // my face must have a meaning.(4)
* * *
Structural pain is inevitable, she heard. And pointless.
* Koanan time-space periods.
(1) Italo Calvino. Invisible Cities, Kindle Edition.
(2) Sylvia Plath. “Ariel.” Ariel: The Restored Edition, Foreword by Frieda Hughes, London: Faber and Faber, 2004, 33.
(3) Lavinia Greenlaw. “Volume.” From The Built Moment, Part 2 (Spring to Summer): http://staywhereyouare.fvu.co.uk/the-built-moment-spring/)
(4) Adrienne Rich. “Images for Godard.” (1. Language as City: Wittgenstein.) The Will to Change: Poems 1968-1970, (1971), Collected Poems, 1950-2012, Introduction by Claudia Rankine, New York/London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.