Of being the other, a fact must seek its states of procreation out the which (out the where?). Perfect *of* is for being, itself of freedom, the intermediation in the word, not the appetite. The reaching for constitutive makes of us (and this stage) suffering, we is of game; the joy: indifference, jealousy, a share freely being. We being beyond suffering permanent go origin, condition constitutes and palliative; desire an occasion than same, the is nothing for where for a simple possibility is the serenity.
1. My memory is photographic, literally, maintained and contained with/in celluloid. The camera, a Yashika, was my father’s constant companion. It lived in a brown leather case, lined with soft, shiny red cloth. He wore it around his neck every time we went on holiday. It hung between the flaps of his open shirt, over his sunburnt belly, above the waistband of his shorts.
2. My father had skin like leather.
3. My father had a sense of humour like leather.
4. My father had a love instinct like leather.
5. I see myself, as a child, through his eyes, the lens of his camera. There is light, shutter speed, photographic paper infused with silver. “I wish I was a king,” he told me once, “then you would be a princess”. He wasn’t. I’m not.
6. When I was about twelve his beloved Yashika was stolen. We were burgled. They turned the place over and over. Their hands were everywhere. The insurance paid up and he bought another camera, another Yashika, but it just wasn’t the same. Like the burglars, his hands had known where to look and he could find things with his fingers: buttons, the focus ring, F stops. He was blinded by the unfamiliar territory of his new camera.
7. When I was about twenty five my father went mad. There were brain scans, panicked phone calls from my sister, a general sense of things becoming out of control. The doctors, who were pleasant enough, despite their unnerving propensity towards bleak diagnoses delivered with comforting smiles, said his brain was falling apart, splitting in two – our brains, in fact, are naturally divided and we rely on the cerebellum to carry information from one side to the other. My father had destroyed this structure with alcohol, copious quantities of alcohol, rivers of fucking alcohol.
8. The mind’s eye is a curious adventure, it exists and does not exist simultaneously. During periods of lucidity my father was able to comprehend who and what I was, such is the abbreviated aspect of naming. I continued to call him ‘my father’, or, more appropriately, “Dad”, that foreshortened monosyllabic indicator of a relationship stretching back millennia, at least in terms of scientific, rather than emotional, linkage.
9. It was my decision to commit him to an institution, something we had promised never to do, but promises are a kind of currency, to be used with expediency, depending on the situation at hand. As they loaded him into the back of the ambulance, strapped “For his own safety”, a brief, illuminating flash passed across his otherwise flaccid features. I had to tell him that everything he ever thought would happen was now void, that I, his daughter, who he had trusted, was doing this to him. It was my turn. The music had stopped playing, there weren’t enough chairs for everyone, I’d got a seat and he hadn’t. ’Go and sit in the corner old man, you’re out.’
10. In his room (a bed, a wardrobe, a washstand) I spent many miserable afternoons. Occasionally sparks of recognition ignited a memory within him. “I were playing,” he said, “down by the river. It weren’t my fault, but the other boys laffed, and I were so embarrassed, didn’t know what to do with meself. I ran all the way home and mother was in the kitchen baking, she were allus baking. She took one look at me and said ’Leslie, don’t worry, accidents happen’, and then she gave me a clean change of clothes. Tummy upset. It weren’t my fault. She didn’t mind the shit running down me legs”. His mother had died when he was seven. Then he exposed himself to me and pissed in the sink while swearing at his reflection, “What you doin’ you stupid old bastard?”, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
11. History is stored in images, a random assortment of pasts that force themselves into the present. T S Eliot wrote:-
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
But this is perhaps too cerebral, abstract, comfortable, being as it lacks the vitality of rotting carnage. Rose gardens are beautiful, ascendant; sewerage, which only humans can produce with such prodigious excess, more accurately describes the condition, the endless flow, the triumph of shit over beauty.
12. He became doubly incontinent. The smell was sometimes quite overpowering.
13. My mother, who is not a woman to be ignored, insisted that I wear something pretty for his funeral. I chose a white suit, that cost a fortune, but she was paying. Crying was out of the question, he always hated snivelling. If you couldn’t stand with your back straight and your chest out then my father wasn’t interested. Any sign of weakness was deemed inappropriate.
14. “Grit your teeth my girl,” he said.
15. “If a man says ‘trust me’ reach for your gun,” he said.
16. “And I’ll always love you.”
BUT NOT WHEN YOU’RE DEAD DAD, YOU CAN’T LOVE ME THEN, YOU CAN’T PROTECT ME THEN, WE CAN’T ARGUE AND I WON’T KNOW THAT IT’S ALL JUST A FUCKING WIND UP THEN, you stupid, drunken, shit arsed bastard. What did you think would happen? That I would grow up to be just like you, misanthropic, indeterminate, full of holes?
17. Choice is an individual function, notwithstanding the overarching pressures of society and upbringing. Freedom, in terms of that coffinesque box we bury ourselves in, demands the recognition of a solitary mass, a headstone and a few flowers laid at regular intervals. I mourn what I never had, what I never understood and what I can’t replace. Time, like the wind and ideas, shifts in subtle atmospheres, blowing fresh or crazy depending on mood. There are climates we mature in and choose to live in. There are seasons. There are consequent and inconsequent abundances and declaratives.
18. We buried him at sea.
19. And so I return to the pictures, the pretty pictures, the archaeology of my past, present and future.
20. I inherited my father’s camera, not the one he loved, the one that was stolen, instead the one he never quite got to grips with. Its black body always felt chunky and clunky in my hands, unwieldy, resistant. I broke it, entirely by accident, bent the back so it let in light; all my films were tainted with flashes of orange, yellow or white. I refused to stop using it. Eventually I bought another body, but kept his lenses, his eyes … that‘s what I work with today.
21. Just before my mother died she gave me his complete collection of transparencies. I spent hours and days combing the pictures, looking for a reality I could no longer remember. I reconstituted my childhood, edited it, gave it a meaning I could live with.
22. This is the story that I have constructed. This is what I want to see. This is what I want you to see. Within each fragment of necessary incoherent dissolution there is a grain of truth, a seed of phallic optimism, an oystered idea. Dismembered, celluloid becomes cellulose’s sugared walls; photo/synthesised and it reveals the repulsive cellular, framed, bordered, bordering …