This piece has, like many adult offspring these days, come rolling back with its washing to live with its parents because otherwise it will probably remain forever homeless. Why? What did it do? Is it the literary equivalent of an indolent, work-shy waster? Not really (well I would say that!), it’s likely because the poetry market thinks it’s prose and the prose market believes it’s poetry.
Actually they are both right; ‘Dissolution’ started life as a poem for my OU course and, because I don’t really have a feel for poetry, I wrote a flash story first from which to fashion it. Not quite in the spirit? My tutor thought so and chuckled out a less than perfect grade! So when the time came to unleash it on a more public stage I tried the poetry market first [zilch – it’s prose], re-wrote it as a flash piece [nope – it’s poetry], then revised both for different markets because if you don’t keep knocking, no one will ever let you in, right? Today when it turned up again on the doorstep, I decided to let it back in permanently and give it its room back because it brought home some of the best comments ever for a rejection. So here it is, my hybrid chimaera of a tale that won’t roll on a catnip mouse or bury a bone:
The threads bend back on themselves, sweeping through time, dipping into tiny pockets of experience and breathing out again into the emptiness. The artist whose threads they are and whose speck of life has held them together asks the scientist ‘What is this?’ and ‘Where is it going?’ But the scientist keeps her counsel. Tugging on theoretical principle and marshalling empirical evidence, she is silent. It will come right, there will be an algorithm.
The threads gather pace, gather new threads; hundreds, thousands, billions, and weave themselves together around the hundreds, thousands, billions of dreamers and thinkers and existers and things barely alive at all and out of whose experiences they are extruded. The scientist ponders. Extrusion? How so? But the artist has lost interest, she is absorbing the tracks, following the threads, losing definition.
Her soul frees itself first from its identity as lover. The bonds fade, he fades, his image dissolving as she looks on, the smell of him in the morning – content as warm coffee – creeping away and leaving no trace. His touch, gentle and thoughtful, and their loving – sometimes courteously perfunctory, most times an exhilarating union of impassioned equals – nothing more than echoes as the essence of them drifts away. All those losses turn the threads cold as life gives up its ability to find comfort in another.
Soon after, she feels the unravelling of mother love. What was his name? She can no longer remember or fully comprehend what he was, what child was, but the ache of hollowed out nothingness where he had been, coils and uncoils, rails against its dissolution, then gives in and drifts, insensate, into the collective void.
The scientist contemplates what is left of meaning while coherence and logic, resolution and cognition detach themselves and become insubstantial. Her last notion – not quite thought but not quite nothing, is curiosity, an attempt to gain an understanding of this process. But it folds itself elegantly into the anonymous, sinuous, regressing threads and leaves her alone.
The artist watches it go. Could love exist without cognition? Identity? She imagines a thread the shape of love, holds it, nurtures it for a quantum moment, for millennia. She binds to it all the loves she has ever known and tries then to bind it to herself to protect it and keep it safe. Finally, with loneliness turning to communality, loss to inevitability, and both feathering away into the temporal tide, she sets it free.
(c) suzanne conboy-hill 2012
8 thoughts on “‘Dissolution’ – an unidentified literary object”
Interesting but not easy to digest. I thought the scientist and the artist were the same person, as in real life.:) Definitely a prose/poetry hybrid.
Spot on – they are indeed the same person or representative. The trigger was a discussion of the Big Bang/rebound theory, now discredited. I wondered how that would be experienced by universal life to be drawn back to the beginning of things. Someone else who read it saw it as the last thoughts of an individual who is dying. I’m happy with that too – and its hybrid identity!
Actually I saw it as a life circle of the dualistic scientist /artist. There were a couple of places where I thought about encroaching dementia : “She can no longer remember or fully comprehend what he was, what child was, but the ache of hollowed out nothingness where he had been, coils and uncoils, rails against its dissolution, then gives in and drifts, insensate, into the collective void”.
Fascinating! I wonder if its undirected nature is what makes it difficult to tag – it means what it means to the person who reads it. Wish I could claim to have intended that!
You wrote it, so you can claim anything that goes with it.:) It is amazing how even seemingly straightforward writing is perceived differently by different readers. It provides a bottomless well for literary theory diggers to ponder over interpretation, author and reader relationship etc.:) Of course, we all project our experience and our subjective associations on the stories we read.
I think that’s true, although some stories wear their messages more prominently than others so there’s not so much room to dig. I think too, there can be a danger of over-interpreting and unconscious projection. Psychotherapy has suffered from that in the past (and maybe still), but the danger there is that the therapist is always right and the patient who disagrees is in denial. Nothing so alarming here!
I agree about the danger of over interpreting, especially when the analysis concentrates on the author’s subconscious motives and not on the story itself.
Just before I disappear off the bottom right – ooh …