the first few paragraphs from a chapter titled The Art of the Memory of Death in Three Nested Sets
In Jean Cocteau's 1950 film Orphée, an improbable set of events lead a confused but tragically egoic poet on a counterintuitive journey through the underworld and back via mirror portals. Hounded by an uncompromising love for a Death which he claims for himself that propels him further and further from ordinary reality and its concerns, he ignores several warnings before missing and being partly responsible for the death of his pregnant wife, Eurydice. Death begins acting erratically when exposing herself to Time for this game, eventually being forced to sacrifice herself (in)to a mysterious further void for her own love of the poet, reflecting her own power onto herself to give her love more Time in life. The principle of Time and Void as reflective structures grows, a fulcrum-doubling, a crystalline nucleation from the future imposing its multi-faceted surface onto all past maps. Death as the strangest, strongest attractor in the circuit of life - but also given, and aggressively so. The pilgrimage toward the realm of separation marks the initiatory impulse of the monihilastic, the one who must “see for himself” the alone into the unknown the alone with the alone, the neuromancer tailing a white whaling rabbit past the mirror’s edge. However, the singular selfish soul seeds the field with disharmonious obsession, perceives only obstacles to knowledge, and is repaid in multiform dissolution of the attached identities. Oscillation between worlds is not their coinciding and bifurcation of the perspective is impossible under such circumstances.
//“I am letting you into the secret of all secrets, mirrors are gates through which death comes and goes. Look at yourself in a mirror all your life and you'll see death at work like bees in a hive of glass.” -Heurtebise, Orphée//
A pair of focal attributes of Orpheus’ journey position the opening of our maze in a disastrous frame while indexing the trajectory of the penetration: the feminine, seen as a radically other and eventually identified with Death, is ignored, shunned, and avoided, presented as confusing and annoying like the buzzing of flies around the corpse of the protagonist’s great work - a work culled from a mysterious radio signal that fascinates Orpheus, unaware that they are in fact signals from the underworld/Death/the feminine itself. These signals are erratic, obscure, and drive Orpheus to obsession, representing the poet’s inability or unwillingness to accept the trinity of poetry, love, and death’s inseparability from the suffering made material of the world-space. French philosopher Michel de Certeau in various works has outlined a ruleset for “manners of speaking” the mystical function - one of them being a turn towards others’ texts while disclaiming one’s own - that we will use as part of a template for analyzing the works in this chapter in order to examine my contention that mystical death experiences are pervasive, that their primary neural function is an amplification and bifurcation of a geometrical perspective on the world-model, and that this bifurcation is the key to, among other things, an animus-alchemy of transmutation - a system for provoking evolution from discrete “closed individualism” viewpoints of binaryism/dualism into a unified flexible wholeness of perspective. This transmutation exhibits a fractal self-similarity to a growth beyond gender-dualism, which is why I choose to present particularly male art in this zone - to analyse clear metaphallegoric threads weaving this separation; to examine the gesture from ego-laden solipsistic penetration and “rational” negativity toward a communally-submissive union with the impenetrable unspeakable. The creative act contains all information about creation : any examination of the creative act can begin anywhere, for it consistently leads back to the voidmouth of pure unification, back to the immanent field.
//Yet this train's whistle!
The wails of a lifetime were gathered in it from other nights in other slumbering years; the howl of moon-dreamed dogs, the seep of river-cold winds through January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire sirens weeping, or worse! the outgone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighs, burst over the earth! - Bradbury, SWTWC//
The carnival train speeding into the small unnamed town in Bradbury’s Something Wicked drills through the sleeping boundaries of naïveté //clamouring, banging three different hymns mixed and lost, maybe not there at all// and initiates the bifurcation of entities that had never considered the possibility of their separation. Jim and Will exist in one breath, are said to run as one unit, “mirror images”; but their birth, mere minutes apart, set the tone for their inexhaustible difference - Time’s chaotic generation and wilding force leaving its trace even on the smallest of scales. Yin and yang, birth a minute prior to the halloween-midnight dividing line leaves Will Halloway blonde and clean, pious, while Jim Nightshade is born a minute after, and called black-hat by Will’s father: the true protagonist of the story, Charles, the town librarian:
//'You need a white-hat or a black-hat book?'
'Hats?' said Will.
'Well, Jim - ' they perambulated, Dad running his fingers along the book spines - 'he wears the black ten-gallon hats and reads books to fit. Middle name's Moriarty, right, Jim? Any day now he'll move up from Fu Manchu to Machiavelli here - medium-size dark fedora. Or over along to Dr Faustus - extra large black Stetson. That leaves the white-hat boys to you, Will. Here's Gandhi. Next door is St Thomas. And on the next level, well…Buddha.' - RB, SWTWC//
The text and the boys’ relationship resonates with duelling dualisms, binary gravities with centrifugal force - the generation of multiperspective begins with the simple oppositional negation of all givens, and one discovers, inside its oneness, a pair. Containing this pair, is the relation - the gap mutates the pairing entities into a one that is defined by the space between - there is no two: two is the one of united voidings, a pair of ones are not a two but instead the singular relation sinking into the emptiness between: a pair of ones make a one that is a zero: and Ø=∞. The negative potential in the gap is precisely where the autumn people of the carnival strike - the emptiness of non-knowing, of trust and faith’s lacking, of dreams and dreads held secret out of shame is the space of energetic expansion on which they feed, for it is precisely (in Heideggerian terms) //where danger is, that sublating power grows//. The carnival creatures exist on the vibrational signatures of idle selfish fantasy, feigned and real narcissism, and longing. They are seen as monstrous and inhuman by the boys, freshly planted in the fear and anxiety and excitement of the unknown. Great care is taken to portray them as exemplars of the frailty of the “human, all-too human” though, and as such are never truly monster, never wholly Other, never separate from the world they all once sought escape from. Charles particularly refuses the devolution into dualism and Other-ing, remembering that //if faces were judged, the freaks were no worse than many he'd seen slipping from the library late nights in his long career//.
Charles, while playing a seemingly menial role of librarian/janitor/supporting character/too-old white voice to match white hair, develops in a wicked arc over the course of the story. From a man painfully re-living youthful memories in a dusty labyrinth of Time to a gnostic warrior taking on the world’s demons, Mr Halloway generates the motive force of the bodhisattva, the spiritual guide-structure of identification with the librarynth. As the boys’ paths diverge harder when pressed by the Dark, fear of and obsession with Time drive the wedge into their gap. Charles, prepared even beyond his reckoning by his own intimacy with such feelings of passive nihilism and active desire, performs the Bodhisattva’s Vow - performs the Tao - and fights without fighting, reasons with laughter and care in addition to hard-won knowledge, gathers fraying threads of individual egotisms fracturing under the weight of past and future sins in the unificatory gesture of a pitiless, desire-less, open love for all beings. This gesture is a negation of his own nihilism, encoded in the bindu point of separation - the speed at which age fractures the relationship between he and his son becomes the impetus for bridging the gulf of all ages: between Jim and Will, between he and Will, between knowledges past and the now. His refusal of the tainted gift of Time is the ultimate negation, the prima facie evidence of amor fati, the satori-marked disavowal of the self.