Uit: Zero K
“When I got here I was met by two armed escorts. Took me through security, took me to the room, said next to nothing. That’s all I know. And the name, which sounds religious.”
“Faith-based technology. That’s what it is. Another god. Not so different, it turns out, from some of the earlier ones. Except that it’s real, it’s true, it delivers.”
“Life after death.”
“There’s a meaning in mathematics.” “There’s a meaning in biology. There’s a meaning in physiology. Let it rest,” he said.
When my mother died, at home, I was seated next to the bed and there was a friend of hers, a woman with a cane, standing in the doorway. That’s how I would picture the moment, narrowed, now and always, to the woman in the bed, the woman in the doorway, the bed itself, the metal canc. Ross said, “Down in an area that serves as a hospice I some-times stand among the people being prepared to undergo the process. Anticipation and awe intermingled. Far more palpable than apprehension or uncertainty. There’s a reverence, a state of astonishment. They’re together in this. Something far larger than they’d ever imagined. They feel a common mission, a destination. And I find myself hying to imagine such a place centuries back. A lodging, a shelter for travellers. For pilgrims.”
“Okay, pilgrims. We’re back to the old-time religion. Is it possible for me to visit the hospice?” “Probably not,” he said.
He gave me a small flat disk appended to a wristband. He said it was similar to the ankle monitor that kept police agencies informed of a suspect’s whereabouts, pending trial. I’d be allowed entry to certain areas on this level and the one above, nowhere else. I could not remove the wristband without alerting security.
“Don’t be quick to draw conclusions about what you see and hear. This place was designed by serious people. Respect the idea. Respect the setting itself. Artis says we ought to regard it as a work-in-progress, an earthwork, a form of earth art, land art. Built up out of the land and sunk down into it as well. Restricted access. Defined by stillness, both human and environmental. A little tomblike as well. The earth is the guiding principle,” he said. “Return to the earth, emerge from the earth.”
I spent time walking the halls. The halls were nearly empty, three people, at intervals, and I nodded to each, receiving only a single grudging glance. The walls were shades of green. Down one broad hall, turn into another. Blank walls, no windows, doors widely spaced, all doors shut. These were doors of related colours, subdued, and I wondered if there was meaning to be found in these slivers of the spectrum. This is what I did in any new environment. I tried to inject meaning, make the place coherent or at least locate myself within the place, to confirm my uneasy presence.”
Uit: Idiot Psalms
3. Een psalm van Isaak, gefluisterd te midden van de Filistijnen, zachtjes.
Meester, zowel onzichtbaar als notoir
…..traag met handelen, mocht u geneigd zijn
……Uw genereuze aandacht op dit moment te houden
……bij de bekrompen scène van deze, de ons toegewezen
……saaiheid, mocht U – zodra onze vriendelijke
……secretaris naar behoren genoteerd heeft wie van ons
……aanwezigheid veinzen, en wie verontschuldigd is, wie niet,
……vindt U het misschien leuk om te horen hoeveel we te zeggen hebben
……over zo weinig. Tussen deze andere middelmatigen,
……vangt Uw middelmatige dienaar een glimp op van hoe
……zijn slappe en magere aanbidding eruit zou kunnen zien
……vanwaar U eindeloos onze droefgeestigheid volgt.
Heilige, vergeef, zie af en, zo U wilt, weer
……uit mijn hart het gevoel dat ik hier aan het verdrinken ben
……te midden van de roering, de discussies, de vele
……vragen, eindeloos herschikt, onze papieren stemmen.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen