“A Little Trouble About Those White Corpuscles”

Sitting lifeless in an armchair, my limbs limp, dejected. The days when I realized where I had gotten to. Where I had come from. I had a brush with a magnificent soul, and only now was I able to see the brightness it offered. Of course, after what I myself had offered to connection at the time it was possible, it was all too late.

Now, I spent a few weeks in the summer simply remembering. Walking, in an entirely different city, so far from who I had been, but the beats of my heart repeating the steps I had taken back when. Like echoes now with a reverb and tremolo that made me drunk beneath the depth of their waves.

I thought of picking up the phone, conducting a search, trying to reconnect the threads of the web. But something told me it was out of the question. So for the first week of this trial, I fell into an intense despair. It was both a quest to remember something I knew now I had missed that was of the utmost importance, and also a doubting of where I had been headed in all speed just moments ago. The brazen intellectual under full steam on endeavor. With backing and an eager, keen, and restless crew ready to follow my commands, no matter how exacting. I retreated to the backroom office, and took refuge in my persona’s enigma. Was given space as I was given credence as an eternally misunderstood genius.

As Hugo noted of Claude Frollo’s descent in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, ‘A fall from such a height is rarely straight downwards.” 

In substance, love had cut my strings. Abruptly, the source of my surety had shadowed into confusion, like a well that gives water accidentally left lidless, I had stumbled over the rim one moonless night and splashed into a lonely, dangerous depth. Pinocchio was given the conditions upon entry unto the world, and Jonah was asked by God to get up and witness, but I felt aghast in this confrontation. I will explain how this should have been my moment of great triumph, my ideas coming to fruition, but with this sudden loss of sustaining fountainhead bubbling beneath me– I hadn’t the will to stand. I was all confusion and naivete… And at the same time the remembrance of those days with Crystal, had brought me to life again of a sudden. I sat at my monstrous office desk, but felt wholly artificial. A boy made of wood.

Seeing myself through her eyes.

There will always be something crass about translation. 

The second week of my troubled summer vacation in the back room, I was needing a sign of life from outside, a lightness shining from the larger world into me. How pale was the pulse of my failure against the infinitude of possibilities. As her memory’s remonstrance had come in through the window, like music, the soul of my life’s melodies all were given a relief of sweetness, and glared at me as a composition wholly in minor keys. 

What was needed in this now is a shift. Transpose me, I beg, into a new key. Shake the piano, push it down the stairs if that’s what’s needed to give this tired piece some semblance of crescendo.

And with that peak of desperation, like a marionette pulled upon the most febrile of fibrous strings, I jerk to standing. It feels like nervous laughter; standing on broken legs. I stumble toward the white curtained window, brush my face against the lace, like a heart wanting to feel again that abandoned lover’s breath.

The moon leers high, and pure, outside my cluttered room, a puppeteer of dreams. And I am trembling like a lunatic. I feel anger at all that is not realized, of the things I once dreamed, but only viewed from some deep vantage, under fathoms and fathoms of dark sea. The rage frustrates me, while the moon implacable, stoic, shines. Clear, near full, an objective opaque silent presence.

“A little trouble about those white corpuscles”

I remember the line from Joyce. The common view is he was mocking transubstantiation. 

It makes one comfortable to think of oneself as the pious, and of the avante-gardian as the mocker of the old, the traditional. The priest a figure of jest as he holds aloft the host and wine and mumbles and brings the presence of God, the body and blood, into the cardboard scenery of this world.

How much harder would a common view be to hold, that the pioneer mocks his own eyes as he peers across the field, looking at the frontier and its fresh dangers, that he mocks us all, but speaks because he sees something coming down the line. Most haunting of all, that he is compelled to speak out of dread– it may be in his own eye, and the need to remove it is the compulsion to vault across a spanse of suspended beam.

How much harder if it were the common view that he believed God inhabited our flesh, each and every bit, and that it was the common mocking laughter– that we are made of these terms of technicality and dissected parts, corpuscles, cells, apart from the whole, that these bits and bytes, the rods and cones and bloodshot of our eyes, inhabiting– endanger this virtual prairie; are hidden snakes that hide in our own mind to separate us, make it hard. Harder for the spirit to penetrate, to find us out, to reach our ends, as we spiral onward, further, seeking. That it is honesty that made the man confess. He was having trouble changing the white corpuscles, once they were so, back to the body and mind of God.

Crystal, you fancied yourself a student of architecture. And in me you saw a builder. Now, too late, I see what you saw in me.

You wondered if I might be building a place, for the spirit to inhabit. But while you looked into my eyes for some sign of this animal intelligence, this knowledge of what we all are a part of, I was babbling, building up to a heaven I thought I would chase down, and when I found it…

It kills me to think of you now… These lost chances… A heart deceived by hope. To think of what you must think of me. A spoiled child, a rotten heart… Not worth returning to. Even if I could learn. How fate works when hearts collide. The time, and strife, of love given to those you yet await to return.

You were the architect — you built out of this empty shell, a brush hollow where a fire might grow. You were the scaffolding, the hammer who broke out the rotted beams that made me so haughty and overtall. You were the mason who brought me to the stone of cold reality, where now my face presses cool and sheds tears from which some meaning may spring. The fire in this broken gothic cathedral, which you started, has given me a chance. Though not with you, I suppose, not anymore.

All I can do now, is perhaps, move on. And thank you for initiating me into the true art. That of loving. I’m reading the book you always talked about, now. Cities so far apart, probably never to see you again. Brick by brick, bringing each white blood cell to a vision, I… transform. I long each day, simply to practice the art.

“Obtained in every case by personal observation, there may be among them some details valuable even to the experienced architect; but with respect to the opinions founded upon them I must be prepared to bear the charge of impertinence which can hardly but attach to the writer who assumes a dogmatical tone in speaking of an art he has never practised. There are, however, cases in which men feel too keenly to be silent, and perhaps too strongly to be wrong; I have been forced into this impertinence; and have suffered too much from the destruction or neglect of the architecture I best loved, and from the erection of that which I cannot love, to reason cautiously respecting the modesty of my opposition to the principles which have induced the scorn of the one, or directed the design of the other. And I have been the less careful to modify the confidence of my statements of principles, because, in the midst of the opposition and uncertainty of our architectural systems, it seems to me that there is something grateful in any positive opinion, though in many points wrong, as even weeds are useful that grow on a bank of sand.”

– The Seven Lamps of Architecture, ‘John Ruskin’

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