the five surfaces
Cut off my arm. I say, "Me and my arm."
You cut off my other arm. I say, "Me and my two arms."
...take out my stomach, my kidneys,
assuming that were possible...
And I say, "Me and my intestines."
Do you follow me?
And now, if you cut off my head...
...would I say, "Me and my head" or "Me and my body"?
What right has my head to call itself me?
What right? 1.
The veneers are being stripped and blasted.
Molar. Mortar. Molar. Mortar.
Hold Steady. Everything prefigures petrified movement and calcified death. Vertebrates and Invertebrates clump together beneath the droppings of the birds as the halting pressures of conformity catapult down. Gravity begins to fuse all that we see into a new form. It is all there: the rectagonal edges, the grided white lines, the uniform flat gradient, yet the material is entirley constructed of black marble and it has been polished to a high sheen. It seems impossible, but there it is before you reflected in your damaged hands.
Across the expanse is a low squat concrete building. It resembles a clinic. You are well aware that preference, in all things, is given to the standing and you transfer your weight evenly to each foot. Directly in front of you are the five surfaces.
Yes, of course. Proceed.
You walk with the shuffle of hooves through the gate and down into the chute.
It is the first of many innoculations.
Bypassing Fractured Endodon.
Extirpation of Pulp.
This leads to the First Exposure.
Debridement of Root.
All processes are in order to cultivate the Five surfaces.
Just to be sure, just to be safe: there can be no talk and no sudden movement.
Out across the mirrored stretch you begin. Blood is seeping from your bandaged hand and the surface is difficult to walk on. Looking behind you there is a trail of dirt and blood. Out now near the centre, the reflecting surface starts to create confusion. Looking down at your dirty feet, the sky is painted black with rippled marble and so are the birds and the walls of the building, so are your arms and your hands and now your mottled face. Yet you persist on with slippery feet. There is the you who is walking. There is the you who is reflected beneath. It appears you are walking on the sky, walking on the sides of the buildings, walking on the birds but you know this is not true because you a have a pain which the reflected you appears not to share. Humans cannot share physical pain. Yes, we can all hold hands, but pain is experienced on one's own; such as death, such as ageing, such as decay.
Are you married?
Excuse the question, but it's because of children. This is a very quiet building and my wife and I are getting on. We don't like noise.
No. You are alone.
You are one of the good one's.
The surging riptide of images starts to take hold as thousands of pounds of interior sand are emptied beneath you. The pull feels too strong and your vision alternates between darkness and light. The dull roaring of sand grains caterwall with hooks and mirrors. We are consumed by a vacant world full of teeth and decay, we are caught between the horror of broken and stilted mouths: let us survive these vast, hungry, violent worlds of territory and flesh. That's it! Try to reach the shallows once more despite the calls of family duty. Seek the quiet beach of her limbs as they lay there unblemished by the sun; white as the clearest sheet laid upon the flat wood of an ancient desk. Crawl up her thighs and let these fingers glide over the surface of her skin and paint this reality with a new name.
Gentle caresses radiate down through her vibrating arm. The light, the light is so clear and bright that your eyes are shaded. The experience is one of soft scents and nulled gums. Contained within this cell are the elements of childhood; the drift of long shimmering dark hair, the gentle clamping of the mouth, the rise of her chest and the moving of light fingers. Look up into her fragile neck and ear lobe, the bidding curve of her eye socket and the shallow movements of her limbs. Her thumb rests on the bridge of your chin and halts all speech. Pain, such intense pain. It grounds you now in a seated body. You must reach out. The nape of her neck is so close. The press of her chest swells against you. Fear reaches the amygdala. Fight or Flight. Your neck cranes forward through the pain. Pushing. Just pushing now for her. You wish to drink from her. Drink the numbing milk. Bury yourself in her soft flesh. To feel her white skin. Her overswollen body lurches in your grasp. She allows you. She whispers to you. She comforts you and you drink. There is no thought of the crowded streets, no thought of the good ones or of the criminals. There is only this room; only the pain and it's sweet relief. There is only her.
Whispers clear away questions.
Soothing sounds and dripping thoughts of milk.
Proteins and erased memories.
Can death reach the child?
Do wasting limbs and flesh require such a sacrifice?
Do I reproduce to starve off this fear?
Supra biological means of reproduction are also available. Please, line up and press buttons. Watch the tideflow of material. The endless words and pictures. Feel the perfect and empty porcelein replications that now line our mouths. Hear the chink as they clap together. The bell-like calls of artificial mouths. Now, ahead of us, watch as the ashen walls are blown upon clinical winds. Everything before us has stretched and the reduction of life is driven now to a simple row of mouths - all chattering for flesh and nourishing milk.
It is true that nothing can satisfy them.
Loping footsteps herald the return to your apartment. There you stand in the ownership of your belongings: your table, your fridge, your knives and forks. You push away the wardrobe full of rotting clothes, all those drippings of identity and you push childlike fingers through the wet plaster and gouge new meaning into the recesses of this dwelling. The holes made by your own hands, fashioned into your own shapes, will be the resting places of your original teeth. Each with their nerves intact they will plant themselves into the walls and grow with snake-like feelers into the fixtures and joints, into the floors and into the ceiling.
Listen to the rattling sounds of a fast approaching storm outside.
You crash into the street and search for the elderly. Right there in the gutter you empty the old one's of their dentures and begin constructing the alternate city. You are determined to build a power site for the new paradigm. Gently moving and fusing together the artifical mouths, you construct a white, porcelein architechtural rendering of a fresh space. The artificial teeth pile up around you. Several versions have been tried and thrown aside. It is just you in the gutter. You and the vacant teeth.
Who whispers into your ears?
Who fills your silence?
What are you chasing?
Face it! There are no good ones, there are just layers of decency: as you near decay, as you apporach pain and death, these layers change and the five surfaces move, shift and buckle.
Hold on, now dear. Hold on, she whispers.
No need to pull such a long face over a tooth.
I'll tell you a story. Whenever one of my teeth fell out I used to hide it. My mother said it would turn into a coin and lo and behold it did.
How it is in this reflecting world.
How it is in the richness of our mouths, in the value of our teeth, in the elements of our
1. excerpt of dialogue from THE TENANT by Roman Polanski
sim.tay.lore ...............................................................................................................august 2011