And you always end up exactly where you left yourself
I met Andre in a path somewhere in the bowels of a temple compound in Kyoto. He was taking photos of the leaves and the bamboo stalks that jutted out of the ground on both sides of the path like outstretched, handless arms. We re-joined the crowds after a while—the place was thick with Chinese tourists. ‘They’re talking about us,’ he said to me ... he pointed to his face: a long scar ran from his eyebrow to his chin, carving his face in two.
The next morning, I took the train into the city. The storm may have dissipated, but it had still rained over-night, and the air was hot and moist. I’ve been haunting the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria these past few weeks. At first it seemed a romantic notion: go to the air-conditioned State Library...
The night before he leaves Brisbane he experiences a moment of paralysis. He is caught in his room. This room is empty except for a bare mattress against the wall, a vacuum cleaner unspooled across the carpet, and a mirror that hangs on the inside of the door. It is the mirror that undoes him. He sees his face and knows it to be the face of a small boy in flight. It is a face that can lie to everyone under the sun but itself. A specific sequence of neurons is activated in the region of the brain where shame is kept and this moment is codified into a thought. He realises that he can only ever be exactly who he is.
It’s hard not to think of a city as a composition, as a formal object to be considered as a whole. But a city is none of these things. A city is not a living thing. A city is merely the collection agency for persons and, sometimes, for the idea personhood.
And then a day passes and its now Monday and I have to take the bus and I do and I walk two hundred meters up the road and I see it for the first time: flowers, and flowers, and flowers, and flowers ... I stop for a few moments before the makeshift memorial. I try to find a way to wrestle this into a thought, but no thoughts come to mind, only the after-effects of thoughts.
... I could have sworn he was screaming something like, ‘No! No! Don’t do it!’ I jolted to attention and looked around. The man behind me hadn’t flinched from his careful examination of his nails. The woman was fixing the collar of her child. None of them had reacted. Nobody had even moved...