“Not a Breath of Air”

India Song

Marguerite Duras 1975

[mad laughter]

– These things are built up from disjunctions it seems. A slow accumulation coming in from the sides, like salt at the edges of the mouth. Here are suggestion and overlap, our ways of arresting stories in clipped, oblique images. We take the temperature of a colonial experience in a mentioned name, in meteorological snatches – the song we must dance to.

– Nothing but heat comes through these disconnections. A stifling ring that encroaches on us and with us. The translation runs its ribbon all the while – slow-moving wafts of odour we feel coming off the screen.

– Poring over surfaces like maps of overlaid material – hair, silks, zones of temperature – dotted by drugged saccades of ennui. Now we have time to move across objects according to no measure, with time to disperse into space in a way previously unavailable. We establish location with a single word and an oblique tilt across a façade. The cameras are moved by heat, buffeted by thermals, as they circle the grounds before disappearing behind black trees.

– The drowsy rhythm is decadent, isn’t it? Smoke-filled language disconnects us from sequence. And as if turning on a neck, taking it in – yes, all an indulgent drinking of light. Not satisfied with the emptied spaces, the arched mirrors redouble our dispersal. Taking up and replacing entire doorways.

– We are only concerned with keeping out the noise, the leprous chaos beyond the trees. Off-screen is where everything is contested, as all voices join battle, freed from any prior determinations. To join the beggar woman, railing. The only frays of the image.

– Positioned in our composites, like Rejlander tableaux, the way we hunch and spread ourselves when sleepless. Divorced from settlement, we then cut to a cuticle rising out of the lake. Everything is peeling, drying out. Even so, the deserted space is cacophonous. Wandering around the obviously entropic like automatons. These figures are set to absorb, unable to move quicker, and this is the presentation of the passage of thought sluggish with deliberation. Drained with repetition.

– A boxed collection of apertures. Figures pass past doorways, leaning on limbs. All in service of a joke worn thin, up to the point where it must be told again. It’s a cinematic aftermath. This is what we press into, thick as syrup – images, voices, no air between them, even though they are held at a distance. Like all this glamour it is decrepit, exhausted. Anaesthetic.

– Voices cannot be trusted outside the mouth. Yet being within these interiors is like being in an echo chamber – speech conjuring images or trying to hold them off… and we’ve yet to decide about the voice, whether comment or contamination leads. The voices are missing the hands to cover the mouths, stopping them being seen.

– I watched the white suit move backwards almost to the edge of the frame. An announcement of anguish slipping into absurdity, wailing from outside – all pain is absurd then, peripheral, while we watch the mirrors fool us into thinking in reverse.

– The vice-counsel’s wails are seen to return, past the point where they needn’t fade back in. And it’s exhausting to see cigarettes running off at the mouth.

– Was it a suicide pact discovered and nullified? Yes. And a reference to an indifference to life already being its opposite, as if no difference were to be drawn between the surface effects of either. Everything is vulnerable. The entire party is wary of the night and the rains, all sounds from the feral darkness and the madness that encircles them all. Their lethargic anxiety accounts for failure and violent breakdown in fragments – others are dismissed from a point of immobility, where empathy is almost entirely evaporated.

– The monsoon fizzes and light is pulled down with an eyelid shutter. This is how a day can be pressed in and out of night; everything can be put out of mind, out of sight and earshot, while he fires on the lepers of the Shalimar Gardens and puts bullets in the mirrors.