Sketches of Another Future


Sketches of Another Future


All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots. Political plots, terrorist plots, lovers' plots, narrative plots, plots that are part of children's games. We edge nearer death every time we plot. It's like a contract that all must sign, the plotters as well as those who are targets of the plot.


It is a curious knot that binds artists and terrorists. What terrorist’s gain, artists lose. Years ago, I used to think it was possible for an artists to alter the inner life of culture. Now, bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What artists used to do before we were all incorporated. You think the artist belongs to the far margin, doing dangerous things.


A women who harbors a terrible secret. A man with a haunted look. A man who never comes out of his room. A woman who stands by the letter box for hours, waiting for something that never seems to arrive. A man with no past. There is a smell about the place of unhappy. There is no moment on certain days when I am not thinking terror. They have us in their power. And I now use encryption in my correspondences, because how can I tell if a word is dangerous to carry.


There must be something in family life that generates factual error, over closeness, the noise and the heat of being. Perhaps something even deeper, like the need to survive. The family process works towards sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. Not to know is a weapon of survival. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. What a heartless theory.


I understand how reality is invented. A person sits in a room and thinks a thought and it bleeds out into the world. Every thought is permitted. And there is no longer moral or spatial distinction between thinking and acting. Stories have no point if they don't absorb our terror.


Put a man in a room and lock the door. There is something serenely pure here. Let's destroy the mind that makes art and sentences. Gain the maximum attention. They probably kill him ten minutes later, then photograph the corpse and keep the picture handy for the time when it can be used more effectively. Then the bomb went off. Instantaneous worldwide attention. Terrorists have made their own bombs from coca tins and bottles. There are plenty of headaches in this one. Who grows up wanting to terrorise? Some people make bombs. Some people make calls. Anonymous. Drone threats. People who make phone calls don't set off bombs. The real terrorists make their calls after the damage is done.


The way they live in the shadows, live willingly with death. The way they hate many of the things you hate. Their discipline and cunning. The coherence of their lives. The way they excite admiration. In societies reduced to blur and glut, terror is the only meaningful act. There is too much everything, more things and messages and meanings than we can use in 10,000 lifetimes.


Is history possible? Is anyone serious? Who do we take seriously? The lethal believer, the person who kills and dies for faith. Everything else is absorbed. Only the terrorist stands outside.


There was a line I kept repeating to myself that had the mystery and the power I had felt nowhere else but in the shared past of people who had loved each other, who lived so close that they'd memorized each others warts and cowlicks and addled pauses. So the line was not one voice but several and it spoke a more or less nonsensical theme to remind him that words stick even as lives fly apart.


Men have tried throughout history to cure themselves of death by killing others. The dier passively succumbs, the killer lives on. If our complaints have a focal point, it would have to be TV where the outer torment lurks causing fears and secret desires. Every disaster made us wish for more, for something bigger, grander, more sweeping.


Artists and terrorists play a zero-sum game. What terrorists gain, artists lose. The danger they represent equals our own failure to be dangerous. Terror makes the new future possible. Men live in history as never before. We make and change history minute by minute. We do history in the morning and change it after lunch.


The artist used to feed our search for meaning, but our desperation led us to something larger and darker. So, we turn to the news, which provides an unremitting mood of catastrophe. We don't need art.


Dying has the quality of air. Melting, it's everywhere and nowhere. People shout as they die, to be noticed, remembered for a second or two. The dead have faces, cars. If you don't know a name, you know a street name, a dog's name. You know a couple of useless things about a person that become major facts of identification, when they die suddenly, after a short illness, in their own bed with a quilt and matching pillows, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, thinking about their broadband bill.



Grimonprez, Welsby 2014


Copyright © Andrew Welsby 2014. All Rights Reserved