I hear a sound.

It is music, silver and bright like shards of glass scattered in the sun. It is swift like running water; it is ever going somewhere, rushing and flowing and racing; fell like a dragon, or proud like a stallion, or mighty like a raging torrent. It is both bright like glittering swords, and dark as summer thunderheads. It is going somewhere – the future is its destination, and it is calling me to join also.

In my consciousness the music explodes like stars going nova, and the sight is so radiant and beautiful that it makes my heart ache, while tears blot out my vision, in the presence of such beauty.

Oh – I cannot resist it, its voice is too beautiful and so fell; the siren that cries, Come to me.

This is the sound of the future, and who can resist the future? It means leaving the old behind, forsaking it for the new and the unknown.

Perhaps this is what the Call is like – that sweet and achingly beautiful voice that is so fatal, that the People cannot resist. It is radiant, it makes all things new and bright. Beyond the brightness is the unknown, and what does it conceal?

The music encompasses me.

I feel the cavernous reverberation beneath my feet, the lightning shards glittering, and the towering lofty constructs twining into a sold wall, and the soaring chords like explosions of light – higher, higher and faster, and brighter, we go.

I go.

—30 June 2008. The music still rings in my ears, majestic, puissant, irresistible.

Fever vision

Once again the obsidian canyons raze the sky where nimbostratus clouds march and sardonyx dragons roil. The mothership Zh’racheth jo ideree flees as mountains crumble into dust, its aetheric engines tearing and screaming as the atmosphere thins into bloodless void. Napenthe fumes, ah, begone my sorrow! Again I hear the primal tongues of mathematica, as the immortal People sing their reveille to the rising of the sun, brilliant no longer, but vengeful and consumed with wrath…

Lo, the inexorable clarion of eternity is upon me: now it Calls, Calls me by my forbidden, unspeakable name. H’i, hi’aera, my heart! I must Answer.

(written 13 Oct 2004)

Wanderer in the Wasteland

The wasteland.

A city, once puissant and luminous, now sunk into decay and obscurity.

The guttering sun hovers on the horizon, a massive red eye, casting navy and violet shadows over a glowering sky. The stars circle overhead, like birds of prey, their cold light piercing the glow of the dying day.

Great obelisks rise up spiralling, massive intricate arcologies lofty and regal, and gargantuan constructs of alloys and woven polymers stand at attention. Once they rose toward the sky like a defiant gesture, but now they bow beneath the weight of time, eroded by the constant wave of the years. At their feet lie shedded chrysalides, but only of their own corroded bodies. No life will emerge, the only metamorphosis is in the face of decay. Buried in their own detritus, they lie forgotten.

Like glory, forgetfulness is everlasting.

Only the stars remain witness to the dying world.

And the Wanderer, who walks amidst the rust and verdigris, tall and erect despite time’s heavy hand. For like the stars, he is immortal. Like the stars, he remembers forever. Unlike them, he is not cold.

He remembers this crushed world, when it was still an empire of light. Long ago, in ages now forgotten, he was their downfall.

So he walks and remembers, this world that he destroyed.

I have seen the rise and fall of manifold empires, witnessed the creation and destruction of universes. How can I not feel sorrow? How can I not remember?

(written 18 May 2005)

Imaginary Prisons

My encounter with Le Carceri, the imaginary prisons of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

I stood in front of the etchings, and it seemed as if I was standing in front of windows, glimpsing at a faraway world stretching far behind into the wall. The images possessed just enough detail to firmly establish Piranesi’s vision of his architecture.

Where the etching did not fill in, my mind embellished, and it did so with overwhelming intensity. The etchings came to life before my eyes. They were truly windows into another world that was animated and moving. I stood up close to the picture frames and allowed the entire image to fill my vision – it not only did that, but completely engulfed my other senses. Objects and people moved across the foreground; light and shadow flickered; but most compellingly, I heard the world in motion. The creak of wooden drawbridges, clatter and grinding of chains, rumble of a turning wheel, sinister moaning and sighing of wind moving through the vaults and ceiling beams, monotonous drip of water, soft murmur of human voices, the occasional anguished cry.

The prison was alive! Perilously so. Deep inside something cried and reached out, yearning and violently straining to climb through the picture frame. And if I dropped my eyelids and let my eyes unfocus, seeing nothing but the image, I think my soul would’ve abandoned my body and this existence, and instantly disappeared into this world beyond the frame.

I have seen lots of compelling world-building art, pictures that have made me wish that I could enter those worlds and see more. But Piranesi’s imaginary prisons… they not only beckoned, they were the entryway. Indeed, visions of the deeper prison, farther away from the window, were already appearing in my mind. It was as easy as letting go. Sure, it is just a fancy – but what if it wasn’t, what if I disappeared forever? That was the frightening notion. Trapped in an etching. It would be prison indeed.

What worlds do I truly want to live in, with all my heart and being? Once, Tolkien’s Arda. Once, New Crobuzon of China Miéville’s imaginings. No more. I want to live in Piranesi’s endless imaginary prisons: live there forever in eternal solitude and forsakenness. A prison indeed: an austere cold one, a glorious one.

…but at the end of the day, it is just a fancy. And that something deep inside laments Alas! because it is only an etching, a window that I can never climb through, save in dreaming.

I dearly hope that I will dream them, in waking or sleeping.

Written after visiting the “Imaginary Prisons” exhibit at the NGV, 29 April, 2007.