Where are the gods in Flesh? They’re in here with us!Posted by VI
This is Hanging Town on a good day. Lovely, isn’t it?
Gods go walking, whatever the weather, around here.
It’s raining, and the sky is slate grey. People hury past the window, busy with their Saturday errands, hunched against the rain. They’re lucky it’s not snow – spring has poked its head up, then hit the snooze button and rolled over. I’m drinking coffee in a cafe whose walls are lined with books. The townsfolk flow like the rain in the gutters, past the museum, slipping down this street to bypass the market crowd.
Earlier, I’d passed the used book-stall, the hog-roast, and the stall that serves samosas and bhajis as well as a subtly spicy curry for under a fiver, run by a smiling Muslim woman and her husband. Past the smokehouse stall with its fish and meat preserves, local and organic. I’d watched the snake of people by the cash machine, waiting for their chunks of currency from mechanical mouths.
Upstairs, in the cafe, there’s a children’s play area. Right now, there’s a children’s party going on, and the faint strains of “Happy Birthday To You.” filter down the stairs. An old friend’s daughter is up there, golden-haired with the same name as the Lady of the Brisings Necklace, she who gets first pick of the battle-fallen.
Nine years back, I remember sitting in his flat, high as a kite, psilocybin whispers calling from the teapot. It’s an ordinary china thing, chipped spout, stained in the right places. My mug is empty, and my head is full of the negotiations between several kinds of intelligence. I remember three streams, though gods know how many there really were, as fungi meets Hoffman’s problem child, with me in the middle.
Past the handshake stage now, we are. Now there’s a conclave, a conspiracy; memory unfolds like a magic carpet, surrounds me in all directions. Time becomes space.
It’s such a rich weave, that carpet. So many threads, all bound together, it’s pile of infinite depth, a Mandelbrot masterpiece. I watch figures through the wall, limned in mauve, going up and down a staircase that doesn’t exist in the early years of the 21st Century. Later, I find out that the bathroom on the other side of the wall was crafted out of servants quarters, with the back stairs being there to serve the needs of the 19th Century owners. But like I said, those stairs don’t exist any more.
Nine years is a long time, in your early twenties, but really, it’s just off to one side. Two hundred years is a little way past the wars, which are themselves further up from the massive weighty presence of the Castle which sits upon the hill. One wing a Roman Fort, the other a Crown property, and another a working prison, at least until a couple of years ago.
Popes and Cardinals cluster together under white smoke, poison and power, burrowed into the old, half built dreams of Roman expansion, ruined and sacked in potentia by the Goths who wander blithely through streets stained with the blood of long forgotten Senators, stone still vibrating from years of passing Triumphs.
Cock your head and close one eye, and maybe you’ll see it. All of it spread out – the All-At-Once. The Dreaming. The Storytime, whatever you want to call it.
It’s a Saturday and gods go walking, whatever the weather, around here. It’s a Monday and I’m writing this with AC/DC in the headphones. Somewhen, a drought is ending and Gordon’s found the route, the road to get there. He’s scribbled a map that could mean anything to anyone else, unfolding a piece of paper, sigilising ‘X’ marks the spot, marking out the landmarks that’ll show him how to get there.
It’s the nineties and a Scotsman is thinking about shaving his head, walking to Varanasi and having sex with an old woman who’s a twenties flapper, and absolutely coincidentally, an incarnation of Kali. He’s thinking about Kathmandu and the alien abduction experience which lies next to John Lennon in the bed with Yoko. Ganesh holds up his hand and the mouse runs over your feet as old broken-tusk quietly demolishes the obstacles. Batman leaps from the rooftops to avoid the cataclysmic powers of the New X-Men
In a pub in London, Austin Spare sketches a working-class lad from Newcastle as he smokes his way past the half-way point of a pack of Silk Cut. Over in a corner, a man from Northampton is thoughtfully munching on a sandwich, wondering how a man who looks like Sting managed to find him and tell him the secret of magic.
Down in Hastings, a dying old man reaches out a hand to touch the stone wall of the chamber in which his wife’s voice is dictating the Book of the Law. His other hand writes a letter to a man who works at JPL by the name of Parsons, who lives on the dark side of the moon. Meanwhile, Parsons’ partner hammers on a typewriter with Tom Cruise and John Travolta signing his cheques.
It’s a Saturday and gods go walking, whatever the weather, around here. It’s a Monday and I’m writing this with AC/DC in the headphones. Are they headlining this personal gig, or is System Of A Down the band to end all bands? After all, they’re playing too, commanded by algorithim as the stream runs.
Round and round go the particles in their merry-go-round, and the Higgs Boson keeps screaming out its presence. “Look to the left, you bastards!” Niels Bohr shrugs apologetically at it, then carries on his conversation with Einstein, whose hair keeps changing length and obscuring his vision at inconvenient times. Wolfgang Pauli walks into a thousand labs and disrupts a million experiments and Young curses his name as the universe dances, behaving like a coquette, showing a bit of particle, then a bit of cheeky wave, to keep the running dogs of physics salivating.
Newton and Galileo are having a picnic beneath the stars, on a blanket lent to them by Agrippa. Old Heinrich is mocking Weyer for trying to fit the howling spirits of the Goetia into the court model. They are, he explains, with Dr. John Dee nodding vigorously in agreement, far more messy than that, despite the old relationship they have with the machine-messengers of Yetzirah.
Walk a little on, and you’ll find Ghede cracking dirty jokes with Hecate down at the crossroads. The place is chock full of offerings, groaning with plenty. Tobacco smoke and rum, incense and spilt semen. The air is smoky from coprse candles, vibrating with buried witches and criminals all, laughing in their graves.
Pale Christ with face the colour of night leads his black Galilean warband of shape-shifting Kundalini adepts through Africa, burning enough Frankinscense to smoke an aeon of priests. Mitocondrial Eve nudges her Neanderthal brother-in-law as they pass by, but the dutiful father is too busy watching his offspring school the Atlantean priest at backgammon while the Neighbours fuck Nimrod right up.
“Build a tower,” they laugh. “YHVH will shit a brick when he sees it.”
There’s more than enough bricks to go around – a billion unbuilt pyramids long abandoned by Ethiopian Pharaohs, since they’re dancing with the Exu and the crew, all sipping the bourbon Marie Laveau brought them.
And in the muddy banks of the Milky Way, an ibis dips its head, eye shining like the moon. It’s a Saturday and gods go walking, whatever the weather, around here. It’s a Monday and I’m writing this with AC/DC in the headphones. System Of A Down too, along with some Finnish industrial of dubious provenance. It’s a Friday and there’s a hailstorm on the edges of the moors that stings the skin, gauntlet of ice thrown down by the gods. The black pylon of Set nestles close, clothing a Victorian Jubilee folly, and we smile and laugh, as clear skies rest amidst the storm, the ancestral shade of Fr. Aossic smiling out of the skull as we share a beer.
Listen then – for this is not about time, but space. About location and association, not time or aeon. They say narrative binds time, puts things in order. But that misses the point – it’s merely a matter of navigation. It’s easy to pay lip service to the idea that the map is not the territory, but the truth of it is that the territory isn’t even the territory!
Whisper it close and sing the songlines, and tell the tales that are looking after country. Do that and you have a territory, a place to be – an origin from which to begin. Maybe you can call it Turangawaewae - the place where you stand tall? Sing the songs then, tell the tales, and you carry it with you, in your blood. In your people’s blood, their works and dreams.
You have no people, I hear you say. I have no roots, no gods, no ancestors, no songs to sing. I am a stranger in a strange land, an alien land which has no rules. Look to your left. Look to your right. Look behind, and ahead.
Stretching in all directions, as far as the eye can see, is the place where you begin. You are from here, and you are from now. You stand amidst the All-At-Once, Your eyes seek out and recognise shapes, sounds and shapes. When you speak of this moment, you will say, I am here, I was here.
And as soon as here becomes here, there becomes there. And vice versa.
Gods go walking, whatever the weather, around here. It’s raining and the sky is slate grey. Between the busy people the Wanderer wends his way unseen to time-bound eyes, but here in more than flesh and blood. Wotan, Woden, Óðinn – whatever you call him, he stalks the streets, the paved cobble-stones, as surely as Gotland forests or the shores of the fjords.
The All-At-Once, the kosmos of the esoteric vision, of wizard-eyes gives no shits for immanence or transcendence, for above or below. Arguing whether you did something directly or indirectly is pointless. What matters is that it happens, and in the All-At-Once all that matters is navigation.
Which begins, always and ever, with that first step. Because there is only ever one.