Collection of Undoings
In the beginning there is a myth. The myth is made up of darkness and a devouring machine programmed to take up whatever is on offer. No excess collects in corners. Words clasp their meanings tightly, lined up like pressed palms.
A red slit appears eventually, disrupting the order. A single cell containing its own intelligence begins to multiply. It blooms, a slow spread. There is no hurry, no ticking time, no expectations to fulfill, only the nascent pleasure of discovering its own form. It does not cling, it does not apply force. It coats the surface, thick as felt.
The origin of this dropped stitch is elusive. Some say it is a memory, nostalgia for which there is no record. Desire is born out of the murk, a neglected child left unattended, covered in scales and feathers, leaving larvae in its wake.
A tremor passes through the world. A black square, swathes of primary colors, unmixed, birth the original signs. First a line, then a cross, and then the other letters are ushered forth. Unspoken thoughts accumulate in clouds, pregnant, ready to burst. Sentences pile up, discarded and unfinished, giving shape to the landscape. An ellipsis scatters into stars. A comma takes residence in the night sky.
Small traces of the physical appear. Breath, particles of skin, perspiration, a low hum, fibers of cloth, tangles of hair. They trail each other for a while, fumbling and seeking, hiding behind trees and in riverbeds. They catch the edge of each other’s existence, breath drying sweat, flakes of skin vibrating beside a murmur. Everything begins as a game, a meeting and a breaking apart, an experiment of what happens when their shells meet. At times these encounters turn violent (capturing, containing) because there is no shared language between the weighted and the weightless. Force is misconstrued as anger, sensitivity as indifference.
The voice is the first to realize its sonic potential. It lowers its tone to a whisper and fills the ears of the others. Unable to differentiate between an outer and inner voice, they obey, finding a formation like soldiers. The voice gains confidence and the others name it a god. They go about the business of building, coming together and creating a structure with their own molecules. Sweat, breath and skin. Together the church they build is a body. The voice makes a home in the mind but the memory of the voice’s original whisper lives in every cell, and the new body holds tightly to the belief that a god lives outside and not within.
On the day the body is complete, the sun flickers like a bulb in the sky. The body begins constructing his world. He builds a monument to the voice in this head, in the form of a deity, carving shapes into trees and stones. He builds tools that look like the sounds around him, tools like letters to communicate with the ground when he begins to dig.
Around this time he encounters Desire who has completed her slow project of circling the earth. Half-bird, half-jewel. They copulate but it is not enough. He decides to consume Desire, cooks her over an open flame, bones, feathers and flesh, but he finds he is still hungry. Hungry and alone.
Cutting his head open in frustration, creatures rush out from his thoughts, images emerge, dreams of what his life should look like. Staring into his own head, he sees a face, clear and bright. It has eyes that resemble his own, it seems to know what he longs to say, its mouth follows along with his. Captivated by this other, he does not comprehend that he has only found a mirror and that he can never know another, only reflections of himself.
- Text by Avni Doshi
* In association with Usha Gawde Advisory
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