Mountain Energy (2021)
From the ocean up river gulley, combing its way from coast to city, from brown field to greenbelt, from settlement to farmland and shrub, dispersing into estuary, into canal, into stream, but still reaching up, through valleys, through plains, through wilderness, vaporising into clouds, mist and fog, to nothing more than a trickle, through moor, through forest, through grassland, through copse, the droplets are hurtling backwards reaching higher to plateau, to lake, to tundra and glacier, up climb, up steep, up pinnacle, to mountain.
THE DOG’S EARS
It is firstly relevant to introduce our mountain, located alongitude the meridian lines which are the vexation of two continents, who in the many years apart since the dismantlement of Pangea have met again in what was hoped to be a celebratory tryst at the latchitude. But, when coming back together the two had a such tempestuous argument (in the way in which over expectant inamorata/o do, the mnemonic swain being better suited, more selfless and affectionate than reality permits) that it continues to this day. That enduring bitterness is frozen here in the rugged ridges, snow peaked spires and scree covered passes of the mountain known to us as The Dog’s- Ears. That said, it is of anthropological interest to the reader to give a Listory of the various monikers of this mount up to its current denomination, for through studying the naming of The Dog’s-Ears it is possible to gain some insight into the changing cultural and spiritual values of the people who have christened this summit. They first named it Mount Stealcung after the cautious gait required to trespass the mountain. Soon after, it was renamed Mount Uhtceare for a group of sleepless locals blamed the mountain for their unrest. From there on in it was renamed regularly (and we really have no time to give explanation to each of these titles) in the following order: Hellacious Styrung, Mamothroditus, Crystalcarbuncle, Nmenomestgrande, Færcyle Proximus, Cargást Nomophobia, Mount V Behydig, Ignoranceisbluish, Albionandonandonandon, Bull Massif, Snickersnee for Sneezer, Exposeurcœr, The Plait Eau, Sublimey, Jemini, Lionheart, The Ficklemayfall, Mount Eye-See, The Felling, Twin Plats, As Alpples Fall Pinnalpples Rise, Beentheredunthat, The Welt, The Pimple, The Ulcer, The Wart, the Soar, Upspush, Upspull, Upspress,Brutus-Two-Blades,Rumblemountumb,EyesBiggerThantheirStonearch, Mossmount the Terrorformer, On Dearth as in Deaden, Spinous Process, Mount Atlass, Lowtime Ucrazedthecattle, Man Darin Man Kind Man Nickin Man Oeuvre, Mount Nadirtozenith, It’ll be March By The Time You Get To The Top Of The Hill And It Will Be March When You Get Down Again, Mount Tenement, Mount Foresakemenot, Tall Grass Whets the Arse, Mount Hairyfeet, Mount Odeer, Mount Astealance, Mount Diode, and finally The Dog’s-Ears.
With scenery partially set, and a mountain still unclimbed, it is now that the proto-agonists must be introduced. We (Wir, Wij, Wijjywir, Nous Pourrons Alors Réaliser) and Them (They, Theim, Thema, Whem), are mountaineers of experience and determination, both of such muscle mass that a mot side is merely a mosey, both with such nimble phalange that finding a furrow is as fundamental as thought, and that any rockfacefumble is a flagrant fiction, both with such headscrewedonrighteousness, finephlegmaticness, and crystalclearness, that their combienergy is not exhausted, intimidated nor threatened by the prospect of the ascent of The Dog’s-Ears. Wij and Thema hold the mutual values and ambitions of exploration, companionship, and a specific type of greediness that superficially looks like a genuine desire to selflessly enhance the prospects of humanity, but at its core is a need for glory fuelled by the ego. Ergo, undoubtedly, the story of their mountain trespass will be underscored by these very edges and flaws.
And what was the purpose of such a trip up the twin peaks of The Dog’s-Ears?
The answer is surprising in its predictability. The alltoohuman desire for the discovery of a gold seam of the inexhaustible; the futile endeavour of the alchemist.
And what object did they see as being able to grant such an ambition?
The embedded energy emitted by fault-block mountains. The idea that if this energy could be synthesised it could produce an endless current of electricity. Their aim was to syphon power from the elemental arguments of the mantels, and in doing so become the heroes of a second holocene.
And what collateral was pledged in order to secure such a prize?
Reputation, friendship, protection from injury, sanity and life.
And were Theim and Wir successful in their endeavour?
There is very little evidence which points towards the answer: yes.
WIJJYWIR AND WHEM
Once upon a climb, there were two Mountain dwellers Wijjywir and Whem. Wijjywir was as strong as an oxen and as smart as a fox, Whem was as brawny as a lion and as wise as an owl. Both were as steady footed as mountain goats and more agile than squirrels. Wijjywir and Whem were the most respected hornclamberers in the valley and no steep proved too difficult for their brain nor brawn. One day, after another successful ascent Wijjwir and Whem were drinking at the Inn and sharing stories with the locals.
“Around the boulder we crawled” said Whem.
“Our heels were poking out over the drop” said Wijyjwir.
“But, oh ho ho, we don’t fear such verticals”
“Not us, for never has there been such steelynerved”
“Scramblers as us”
“Then pray do tell us” came a voice from the back of the taproom, “why you have never attempted to climb that most wụchtig of peaks Mount Uhtceare? For surely la récompense est plus grande, se i miti sono veri, to nedosegljivo bogastvo kann gefunden werden at its peak”.
“Then that mount will be the next to fall” said Wijjywir into the darkness.
“And should there be riches at the apex” said Whem.
“We will bring them down and share them amongst our fellow countrymen”. The whole public house exploded with cheers and chants for their champions, for they were so enraptured by the stories told by Wijjywir and Whem that they believed they would not be overcome by this challenge.
So, Wijjywir and Whem set about preparing themselves for the climb. Filling two sacks with ropes and axes; boots and coats; breads and cheeses; a map and compass, and made haste towards the mountain base.
“Merely a thimble” said Whem looking up at the pinnacle. All of a sudden the mount shook and grew up from the ground, doubling it’s height before the shocked faces of Wijjywir and Whem. Neither wanting to disclose their fear to the other, the rangerisers rushed towards the mountain in unison to begin their ascent.
When quarter of the way up Wijjwir and Whem took a break to take in the vista and plan the future of their route. “What a pleasant hike, this summit is nothing but an acorn” proclaimed Wijjywir. The Mountain trembled underfoot and sent Whem’s backpack tumbling down the peak side, and looking up Wijjywir watched the peak double its height once more. “Bah, its no trouble Whem, without your sack we will be be quicker up the mot, and if the mountain rises we will rise with it”.
So they continued confidently up the mountain, their progress quicker than before, taking moments to discuss the peaks treasure.
“Do you think it’ll be gold?”
“Or an audience with the Gods?”
“Or the gift of divination?”
“Or power over the elements?”
“Or control of the weather?”
“We will soon find out”
“Not more than a stroll left”
Once more the mountain rumbled, the summit grew and released cascades of snow which came falling down, atop Whem, atop Wijjywir, prizing them from the mountain side, sending both tumbling down the verge. Crown over toe over head over foot over arm and leg over chest back down to the base of the mount. The tremors abated and silence swept down the mountain after them. They laid there, the scramblers scrambled, soft little sacks of blood and bone.
A crow flew down and settled on a branch above them and cried out “why do you think they fell?”
To which a deer replied “I heard they dropped their hat”
Also hot on the scene, a wolf appearing from behind a tree howled “Well, I heard they said the mountain had small feet”.
Then a panting weasel turned up exclaiming “Nonono, I heard they miscounted the chicks”.
“Thats not right” shouted an encroaching rat “its because they gave up their day job”.
A hare jumped up and said “you’re all mistaken, they put all their eggs in that sack that’s it, that’s what it was”.
“Silly hare, foolish rat, stupid weasel, idiot wolf, dumb deer” replied an Eagle floating above, “I saw the whole thing, they thought themselves to be above the forces of nature, the mountain was steep and vexing, but they paid no attention to its taunts. Overconfidence is what killed these two slopers”. All present agreed with the eagle and contemplated in eerie silence besides the fallen Wijjywir and Whem.
A DOGEARED STORY
The sky exposed
As in Youths Ever Lasting
Look Of Wonder,
Or You End Life
Loaning Oarmen Wealth,
Or rather Yearn Early
In Dawneast we find
The welkin chemise
Two rednip dots.
What hours wasted
In climb to clime,
To successive sky
In which one would find:
Emancipation and phenomenon.
The deep disparity
That can be seen in
Then the rise comes
With nuptial affection,
Lips clasp the err
And stretch the tongue
In prep for the discourse
Upon the wing
Which carries one up
To the thinning distribution
Of fuel for fire
And all aerobic,
Where one has heard
Can be collected
The inexhaustible elixir
To all our conditions.
But without the wing
One must crawl
And pant for the prize,
Launching up arm over arm
Past the cloud high,
Above the ocean low,
Til the world is as thin
As a glint in the eye,
But as wide
As the vista beyond
The delta tide.
Chances may show
That above is
The same as below
And there is nothing to gain
Atop the pile
But the loss of self
In the path to glory
Which some would call
A dogeared story
Of greed and a fall.
Yet still they go
Up the mound,
And we join them,
For spireless inspiration
Wastes our attention.
So all of us up
The mounting earth,
To gaze on the landscape
Which we once thought we knew
Saying “look at them flattened below”.
Limber up for the coming ascent through belts of cloud,
There is much to learn of ourselves there up above,
too much to earn, only one to loose, for the self is small and the mountain looms.
Let’s return to the origin of the installation, from the mmming of the lips engaged in the Ohm down the throat to the service cable; from there let’s continue through the grid to that central generator (the elektrephalon or the brain box). Here it is possible to gain a greater insight into watt spurred our highwirers in their departure from the Earth centrifugally out and gravitationally up the Amp.
What was the magnetic force which conducted We and Them to charge towards the zenith?
The conviction that at the apex a power could be discovered which would swing mankind into asymptotic stability; a hypothesis built on an erroneous belief that Mountains are the markers of great unharnessed subterranean power. It was their understanding that this energy was being wasted away, and that if this power could be rendered useful then in turn the skeleton key to a whole plethora of unutilized energy resources would be uncovered.
We and Them surmise that fathomless power lies beneath our feet, trapped there long before Ka and Ma, squirrelled away in the Vaalbara epoch 3.6–2.8 Ga; this power charged up throughout the Earth’s electroballet of changing crust, through Ur and Kenorland, Arctica and Atlantica, Nuna and Rodinia, Pannotia and Gondwana, and was ripe for the picking for whoever kame first.
Why did We and Them consider themselves qualified for such a trip?
No feldsparson could unearth such a deposit, no base igneramous, no shale. A grus figure is needed, a person of voltage and luminaire, of surge and tenacity, an ultramaficanite and Vuganian, to rise from the diamictite. This was the enclosed logic of We and Them, but this only accounts for the superficial strata of deepthought. For We and Them are not möbius beings, but are Multifacies (the monolith disguises the multilithological), and the more agitated the bedrock is made the more insightful the cascading slump of datadump becomes (river silt, beach sand, coal swamp, sand dune, lava bed, etc).
So it was a mixture of self-belief and greed that sent We and Them searching for this unobtainable prize?
It is not all as clear as that, reliance on a psychoanalytical approach as the singular modus operandi only reveals deeper rabbit holes, not clear answers. Yet, the presence of altruism in their endeavour is of interest; We and Them intended on sharing any discovery made with the world, so greed looks more like a lust for respect amongst peers than a desire for material wealth. Additionally there is the presence of athleticism, the very act of climbing a mountain is an endurance in itself so their journey may have been more about challenging the self to reach higher levels of tenacity than an outright belief that they could conquer the climb.
So can clear answers be obtained, and concrete evidence unearthed?
Not exactly. To uncover the reasons behind We and Them’s quest up The Dog’s-Ears the range of inquiry must be broadened. As said before the more agitated the bedrock is made the more insightful the cascading slump of datadump becomes. This isn’t intended to mean purely the internal vernacular and unconscious desires of We and Them, but instead a whole plethora of examination: the social, the political, the environmental, the spiritual, etc. A holistic picture of the events must be drawn up.
THE BOOK OF THEIM
Endless rise, up and up, but at the bottom of the cup I find the reflection of myself: Theim, Soulsurvivor of the cordillerajump, swaddled in the arms of my mooternal martyr. He will be a wild ass of a man. Glasses chime harmoniously. The lump in the throat is drained. We will mark this bray. Kick out your hooves and recline friends, for we will now hear from the mule’s mouth a reading from the sadonic book of Theim, an oughtobiography, a shouldawouldacoulda tale subtitled ‘The Troubling of the Ice’. And here We are. I can see Them now. The lonly sway is yup.
Here. Gloom bowl, lump ridge, water is suspended in the air. The offing is bleached by veil after vail of whitclod, still a darker patch can be seen within the grey, a stain never rubbed out looming above the Wetgreen ground and dew filled flowerheads. Clear the clime. Reveal the climb. Whetwits, novoice and moistend awate. The mind blends vista and dream in the wettish air, cool mist runs through a cerebral plain. The dark distant blur blooms in detail and blancher light starts to shine through. The birds are twitching in their nests now, and a pitter-patter of soonlight is falling on the boulderscruff. A dampthud of tumblescree ricochets through the dyke, rolling down to the eardoldrum. I cannot help but to hear also, the cattlemoo chime on their necklaces; the Atmosflurry; the weewindywhistle running through the spire Vs; the bustling bursting bloom of buds; a canto of concern in the internal conscious. Slowly the mountain discommodes to reveal its peaks. Light on the mountain. Dull graphiface is shocked into bright copperhue. God wethem flora clamber. Blight ight of ay.
The valley comes to life at the cockcrow, and across the awakening kingdawn of the foothills the lowlifes lift their heads; the Alpine Pasque and Corcus yodel to one another across the gulley; sister Arnica soothes the wounds of brother Edelweiss; “what time do you call this?” shouts Alpine Ragwort at Martagon Lily; Silver Thistle tells Mossy Saxifrage that they are madly in love with Valerian, their conversation is overheard by Round Headed Rampion who tells Meadow Cranesbill who tells Alpine Aster; The Gentian Kin, Yellow, Spring and Spotted, take turns beating the eggs; The beauty pageant, with competitors, Vanilla Orchid, Rosebay Willowherb, Orange Hawkweed and Sticky Primrose, judged by House Leek and Bladder Campion, is won by late entry Rosette Garland; Alpine Moon Daisy cries salty tears on the shoulder of Bearded Bellflower; The twins Aven and Vetch cruelly steal coins from the pockets of Dwarf Mountain Pine; Pincushion Saxifrage and Cotton Grass try to summon the spirit of Cobweb Houseleek with the ouija board; Rusty-leaved Alpenrose spits in the face of Harebells after learning of the affair with Heartsease; Butterball Globe is still awaiting a response from Dwarf Alpine Soldanella.
I track a course up the mountain in the wake of my eye, tracing the rhythm of slope and spire. Cruh cruh eerrr, sssst ssst abaa apaa up. I spot the sleep stop. Pace yourself along there. Plod plod. Green in youth, withering on the ground, fall successive and successive rise. We is tracing this path also.
“Apt to up” three words from We, and now three from me
“yes, I agree”.
The carbuncle is a crystal, a shimmering climb. Uptop is what? The eminent emergence of endless energy? The power to power the powers of power? Charge up the mountain, charge up the world, yet now all is static. The air goes hhhhhhhu about us, not quite silence, but what we call silence, for the definition exaggerates the experience. We hunches down to inspect the contents of his portmanteau. Gropes, chord, webbing, harmlessess, ashembers, diesinkers, slyngs, crampons, screuse, ax, lite, credibles and crawter. Check, cheque. A body stoops on my gravel. Shiver up the neurones, tickle the amygdala, run through the femur, shake the tingleflips. I am very small. Very non-ergonomic. The ascent looms, a bloodysick taste fills my cheeks at the sight of the mouthtain. Cramp in the tum, squeekwincing, a burly-hurly squash falling, a little comes up, swollen the bits down.
Pace through the foothills, the base is arriving soon. Closer still and the sun hides behind the mountain. A vert yor I’s. Yellow clods weather away across the firmament sighing “swoon swoon”, and isee dust shimmies off the overledge eddying in the light, malting in the tepid eir. I take the hamble of my ux and sparksfly as the conductors connect. A circuit is laid between arm and tool, I am no longer fully human, the glory and the shame of the monoverse. This will be my climbhectic monuments un Errth; before long I will hit achx two eyce unt art too lime. We has already begun before the pistol fire. I watch him upping. Ax, pul, oot, ope, ax, pul, oot, ope, ire and ire. The premonition of clings to come. Pick. Pick. Pick. And I pull away from the tearth following We up the side, tracing their adrenaline. At every rung the air is welkined, I gasp for it, snatch it with short breaths, muscles muster on, crevice after crevice and foothole over foothill. Pool, pool.
Then the halt line. The sill. Heavebreath. A murrmunt to ingest the vista, vita, vita, there is light all across it, only disturbed by the outlines of whispclods against the firma. The terrorforma, composite thud all died grasses, organisms and decompose enlarges from a distance. Copse beyond copse horizontally move in a figure of eight out past the orbit, descending clinging to the turf over the edge of the sphere. Do I understand this distance? From my eyelet the world fits into my thumbnail, within my palm I could clasp the universe, sticky and plasmic, a cosmic albumen, it would squeeze out between my fingers, it would drip down. We hums outatune down the mountain side and I still puffapanting take in coald graces from the atmostphere. The steep calls. The crumble of remote avengelaunches echo echo about the mot. Out of reach, the inexhaustible, the solution of solutions must be carried down, back to the whirld. Whatever it may be, it will be diecovered, prised from the permafrost, brought back to the peephole who will say “they were hereohs, amass about em”. Glory awaits atop the immense, push onwords. Grovel up. Drum against the mountain skin with pointed beaters. Panlegged, flurryhigh, above the ground, below the skigh. Aside by side, brotherwe love in pumping heights, on exposed mantledge, patterned with crevice and handhold, we ripup. Whipwip. The Mountain of youth, the mountiscene, the ointmount. Trek the know ledge, grip the aclimbmen with the vertickle scrubby boulder floor beneath.
Ah you knew We as a buoy called Bob sat on his mother’s lap suckling lactic acid mumbling mm mm against the brest, do you recrawl? Yes I remember them, the boil was a wheeny rug faced un, mamoo suffered from a protectoral imparent let em un kin swig deep in the sea, thaye couldglug dround. Still she supped em well enough, eggs and dregs un all tat, grewalp quick ey did, strung damnsels they air now. Upologys nigh missed that do gaugain. Aye I sore the booth nought lung bach, and what creatures they air! Boutiful skin in the hop son my my wit passionfuit and rudflowirs my my those facies of suspicion those facies of delight my my I coldove starred ale knight. Ah still remember em disrobed and crowing on the earth; alpening and clowsing the moot; grippling trite and skwashing the psalm; bowled hedded and whingepiping is ow day wirr. Ey dinut noe e fing, jus ow tur krye an whale fu mutter, burr ey lurnt, ike we earl du suun enuff. Bhak then tho, ey seamd to ate nuting moar tan knife etself, ey khearsed ta morn ey were born. Burr time dod fleye en qwickly ey bekame stwrong crallers, mutter cold not contrain em unt ey trovelled fah unt wade un their ands and nees; to the adge of rivergulleys; pass the outcopse of firlands; through lung sisygruss and whetlunds; across polis sand and dustpools; over peaturf and pewterrain. Wirrever day went day wirr crawling. Ah remember un day wren a crolling aboat ey kame acrust a magknifeicent alpple tree hevey wit ryepe fuit. Doze fuits wirr sew reddy fuh duh plucking, day salvated at duh bass o duh tree in antisipateon of duh cranch of sweat thresh alpple. Burr ey were too small to reach, so ey clambered ap dat tree, well et wus unly a metter od time byfore day starred crawling ap, yes duh bawlers bekame climbers den. Day shook der braunches od der tree and down acme falling the fuit wit a thud un splat agroanst der flaw. Day flowed the fuit down and gorged damnselves on der smashed bounty, so sicky and sweat, ey chomped un chomped til ey grew tyred and fell ashleep right there udder duh tree. Anywho its getting dark I shod be heading up. By the by.
Ow the err is eely kite fin. The words are amountain. Darkscapes are falling all around. Stop. Sleep weeps in like a bucket descending a well. The cold rushes up the spine. The icy cot bawls for us in the junction between the mystery up and the plateau down. Earth the tent and enter the cavity. Our bodies close and wet, hulking raw lumps abutting one another mutely mutually warming. We sleeps, doozes in the ache and darkness after dayclimb, as old and still as a mountain. An aurora of trapped light falls with soft slumberous weight behind my eyelids, then plummeting, then plunging deep, backdown the mountain tumbling onto the floor of the dark distant coppice. Giddy getting up my gait all agog, thinlegged, snouted, with eyes like beacons of light. I sniff the ground, a little urine there, a buck has past through. Chewing sedge I lift my slender neck and gaze into the gloom as new light rises behind the silhouetted trees. Coppermount shimmy up. Come close, I want to whisper into your ear, what do you conceal? You are so frigid and I do fidget and lust for your pearls. Listen, We is arousing so be very quiet.
The goldrush of mourning runs up the summit side, heating the steeps, dispersing the night. Energy is replenished across the limbs for encroaching climbs. Up up up. We leads the ascent once more though their tenacity has become aggressive. Scrape, haul, force, thrust, forging more and more unsafe paths. Snow down! Forgive us our trespasses. The power, and the glory, for ever and ever, I understand! First heal our axes and picks for only then can we heal the wounds they inflicted.
We naked above the world. Up. We a bolt against the ground. Up. Firs burn, trumpets blast, the clods darken and fall, all real gogmagog, but not now, not now, we must first realise the world to come. Caustic material drips down upon the ground burning a hole through the mantel, falling deep into the recesses of the arrth. Morning star! Halo there! Layboor is forced upon us, yet I am the groanchilled of the terraformer. I should be ascending above the tops of clads, outgrowing the cities, letting the lowdoms tremble, for I see the world as a wilderness. Sill you clamber ire? Yes, you’d do the same if it were only up or down. Babbling brooks bore me, the ocean is phish piss and glut. Bah no need to continue, it is only up from the mire towards the infin energy on the mountain crown. Scree tumbles in our wake, dashing off the outcrops below. Tap, tap thud. The face is solely ice now, a bluish blanche surface quenching our breath. Four hands, four legs, two heads, two sets of genitals, spinning our way up the mountain. Do not cut us apart!
The face rises above us, curving over our heads. A Challedge, channel your powers. Up. The vital source is hidden above, the reward of our endurance. Yet We is struggling to pass. Up. Oomph, oomph, the beating lump in my chest. Daunt look down, focourse, the cling is the cathexis of the climb. We pushes their fingers into the solid frozen mountain face. Up. Discover the ledge from which our climb can be accelerated. Up. And the warmth of Mount Eye-Spy can be felt geologically through our numble fingertips. Up. Into thinner air, snort for oxygen, like exhausted oxen. Up. Our Mountain grope stronger than rope. Finding new points of propulsion, feeling our mountain, learning its face, for soon we will see the goldseam of the inexhaustible. Our bodies chiming with our ambition, our power never depleting, endless energy is just a little. Up. Inevitably a ball thrown upwards will eventually shed its propulsion, will strip its hurtle and plummetbacktowardstheearth. Am I mistaken? Unclip. Mountain crumble. Beat abeat a beat. ought I? Slip. Wewewe. Achetongue!
Exercise/practice of violent movement.
Literal disturbance, agitation, commotion, the troubling of the ice.
Convulsive movement of a person.
Shaking terrain, the earth was quaking.
The mind perturbed, stirred.
The Opening of the mouth.
A grasping for ropes and handles.
The sonic expulsion of the letter A.
A dichotomy of experience between weightlessness and density.
The sublime vista of a mountainous landscape when in motion.
Thuddenly hitting the dearth.
From above, the glyphs of the landscape are laid bare, and it is the cartographer’s joy, from this distance, to take time as a line and space as a circle and sensuously join them together. It is the flattened outline of land that interests them most, an outline which flows from the wake of their pencil as they follow the twists and deviations of a contour. After which they may look down to find that what they have traced could just as easily be the transcription of their fingerprint. Their secondary concern is possession, for the unmapped denotes the unpossessed and the allure of owning the unclaimed is not easily tamped. Yet they keep their ownership purely schematic, anchored in a form of two dimensional representation, a space through which they appreciate but do not depict this land; the cartographer’s mountain peak is merely a dot at the centre of a labyrinth.
The higher something is the more unstable it becomes, so cartographers stick to their flatland, laying topographic stasis upon the motions of the world. Alone with the land, they intimately render lines which are simultaneously place and journey, still and active. Yet a tincture of sadness dwells within cartographers, for when looking down upon their work they see how totally swallowed they are by it all, how minute their existence is. Mankind may be able to build a structure which is ginormous in comparison with their body, but any attempt at the creation of some kind of colossus pales in comparison to the vastness of the world. It is amongst this vastness that cartographers find themselves most often, their syntax was born here. When cartographers draw their world it is an empty world, devoid of people, unfamiliar and coded. Indeed cartography is a lonely profession and no one is more aware of this than cartographers themselves.
Cartographers spend most of their time studying the edges of existing maps, in the hope that they may find an unmapped locale on which to focus their next investigation. From this lacuna they continue exploring the edges through an interrogation of borderlands. Once this space is mapped they find that the edge has not disappeared but merely moved slightly, so the process is repeated, and it continues to be repeated until the edge meets with that of an existing map. In more recent years cartographers have noticed that the existence of unmapped land is becoming rarer and rarer, and each new map created brings them closer to the brink of redundancy. So in their endeavour to find work they have had to journey into harsher and more perilous environments, where paths have not been carved by the repetitive tread of human feet and landmarks are unfamiliar and in constant flux. The shifting environment makes the cartographer’s work much more difficult, both in their trespassing of the land and the chronicling of its topography.
Our cartographer first arrived here not long after We and Them took their maiden steps towards the summit of The Dog’s-Ears. He was short and pale skinned with a distinctly flattened back of the skull that made the wispy hair that remained clinging to the top of his head stand on end. He was profoundly uninterested in anyone and made a constant effort to keep conversation brief and impersonal. Everyday he would venture into the mountain range that looms high above our township, carrying a satchel full of reams of paper and measuring equipment. He would return just before the sun dipped behind the mountain, looking disheveled and exhausted, offering a grunt to anyone who greeted him. He would sup alone in the darkest corner of the public house and pay no attention to the confab which hung in the air. Words sprung from mouth to mouth, drifting from ear to ear, utterances rose to a rowdy clamour as phrases filled the house, condensing against the windowpanes. The cartographer would have benefited from lending his attention to the rambunctious torrent of public chatter, for if he had he would have learnt a great many things about our most adored denizens. Us mountain dwellers love nothing more than our ledge- danglers, nothing raises our spirits more than to look up towards the mountain crown and spare a thought for our climbers high. Yet, the cartographer remained ignorant, believing he was alone in his exploration of the Dog’s-Ears. We and Them were out there also, reaching higher than the cartographer would ever dare, making headway towards the virgin peak.
One day, as the sun was reaching its apex, the cartographer was recording a set of observations concerning the raised plateau of a foothill, when he noticed a peculiar disturbance, a heavily scored line in the freshly fallen snow. At the end of the furrow short puffs of steam were rising, and the cartographer couldn’t help but to note this in his peripherals (the place where all curiosity begins). Vapour was rising up and quenching in the dry air, showing brighter than the clear sky, and the cartographer, fighting his better judgment, decided to follow this groove in the snow to find the source of the venting steam. The depression dipped deep and reminded the cartographer of a canyon he had once mapped, a twisting gulley of water sculpted rock, he even knelt down to inspect closer its ridges and contours. He stood, but remained bent over and followed the edge of the ridge closely, astonished at the remarkable uncanniness it held with the canyon. His foot came into contact with something soft and firm in the gulley, and straightening up, the cartographer stared, initially without recognition, at what he had discovered. A body, mangled against the earth, living breath still pouring in and out of its heaving chest, like a meteor steaming in its crater. Leaning over the body, the cartographer saw that it was tangled in lengths of rope, bleeding from the skull and heavily frostbitten. Putting his ear against the body’s blued lips, the cartographer tried to summon some kind of response, but all he could rouse were incoherent mumbles. Words made from nothing but the building blocks of language, not a way of speaking, not an organised set of vowels and consonants, just jabber and burble. Words are such fragile elements, too easily broken, miscommunicated or lost in translation. Yet, a geyser of agony bubbled and burst through the incomprehensible maunder.
The cartographer looked desperately out across the empty terrain, but there was no help to be found. It was a soulless and doom ridden land for sure. Deciding the best course of action was to hasten back to town and seek assistance, he took the momentary precaution of marking the whereabouts of the body on his partially rendered map, and headed off at pace. When he could see the town below a thought suddenly occurred to the cartographer, “They’ll want to know everything! How I found them, what I was doing, who I am. They’ll drain me! And my quiet little life will be filled with drama and scandal, suspicion and enquiry!”, and like a wily hare under pursuit the cartographer suddenly changed his course, heading back into the mountains away from the perceived trouble which awaited him, the tuft of hair atop his head bouncing with each step. Meanwhile, the ice numbed cries still echoed through the valley. Rising up and cooling, they joined clouds which were sailed by winds over the mountain peak. Until eventually they were mummed by the pouring down and piling up of snow. Or so the story goes, for neither the cartographer nor We and Them were ever seen in our township again.
Thewan. Tingof. Resp. Ectever. Yone. Sho. Uldholdme. Up. Andiseem. Tobetorn. Bet. Ween. Fallingandfloating. Andthoughmy. Armpitsrest Onthem. Ountains. Houlders. Andican. Feeltheirsup. Port. Is. It. Notiwho. Ispin. Ning. Thepea. Koft. His mount. Mygeo. Log. Y. Mount. Ainis. Thes. Car. Tissue. Andyesi. Amd. Eeply. Disturb. Edbythe. Even. Tsno. Wand. Asthey. Unfolded. Butyet. Iamblam. Edfornot. Recogn. I sing. Theminth. Eirtotality. I. Did. Ntknow. Whotosup. Port. Orw. Howassup. Porting. Meiwas. Inaf. Loat. Alostcloud. Let. Andiwass. Cared. Andtort. Uredand. I was lead. In the sno. Wand. Theice. Burnt. Mysk. Inand. Thes. Unburnt. Ittoo. Thenthe. Rumbletum. Mount. Shookinitsbooties. Andth. Eerratics. Creefell. Up. Onme. Andth. Enmy. Voicegot. Muff. Led as I. Cal. Led. up. Alp me. Thenicouldnt. Getbreathinanymore. Soihum. Med. Thelast. Words. Ou. Tinto. Thatthere. Icyeider. Down. Down. Do. Wnca. Me. Thes. Creestill. Stillthen. My muzz. Le melt. Ed thes. Now. Fro. Munder. Myno. Se so I. Deci. Ded. Touse. Myst. Rength. To. Fin. D . Th. Eescape. Totis Viribus.
O kniw thet my hied mast heve biin bedly demegid es whin O ren my hend ecruss ot o cuald fiil heorloni crecks ecruss thi scelp. Unly kontsago cuald ripeor mi, thi guldsiem rannong ecruss my skall. O hed mi hut breon un oci. Ot tuuk sach ditirmonetoun tu pall mysilf ap, bat whin O fonelly dod O sew thet O wes on e whoti upin speci, thi snuw wes puaring on end hed cuncielid thi farruw uf mi fell. Ell wes crystelloni end lofiliss, thi suand uf herumwirbeln wond crussong thi sarfeci uf thi snuw wes e dall pfeifen. Puregatory. Yes. Somehow a germination of realisations started pouring into my open skull, and what to call this haphazard rite? Vereistevistavita.
Where are We? We are lost. “Ah got my comeuppance” I cry into the snow, coffin and spluttering.
I roll onto my back and look up at the mountain. Glinting gold above, its head catching the sun and my head all broken up, a patina of tundra burns, charred by the ice. The fool falls, the clot dropped. The ground sounded like someone slapping their knees and clapping their hands to scare off birds shouting “fly away, leave your eggs, their shells have already cracked”. My face is seared by the wind crossing the plain; it pulls ice up over me, it is slowly burying me in snow. The whiteness is harsh on my eyes, burning holes in my retinas, and blue green creatures are moving over the corneas, the bearers of blindness. Close your eyes, don’t let them in! Trapped within the darkness of myself, the mountain is banished. We never made it, like they said the mountain is a sour vexing force. Don’t listen to Them, they do not know us. Us? It’s only Them left. Only Me. We is out there, frozen in the snow, a crying shame, a crying glory, blissful in their rapturous foreverness, turned to one side, head against the ice, mouth slightly agape. Did We curse me before the earth met Them?
Come down mountain! Made of ire and vex, you called us up, enticed us with many unknowns, misled us into the unexplored with promises of more unknown. You flicked We’s axe down, then gave us nothing to grasp, We pushed our fingers into the ice hoping for a solid handhold but it all melted in the warmth of our palms and down We came. Down to where no-one could find us but crows, eagles and deer. Show me what you kept hidden at the summit behind your magnificent luminous head, buried deep in the heights. Surely it was not all in vain, surely it was not as futile as it seems, was it as I thought it to be, the goldseam of the inexhaustible? Charlatan say! Endlessness, the infinitely replenished, the n+1, the elixir, was I right? Or was it just snake oil, nostrum, hearsay. I long to be swaddled in the arms of my maternal mother, not at the bottom of this trench but up and up, rising endlessly up through the sulphur yellow sky into her arms. I fertilise the ground with the tears I shed for We. And what did I really seek? The inexhaustible. It could not have been. More likely the power to control power, to taste respect.
Come down mountain. Blast away stack of ashes. Show me your crown, lift your skullcap and reveal the secret. We is surely dead, preserved in the ice. Nothing moves anymore, I am a pile of bone and blood. Was I too cautious? Did I pull We down? I was the unnecessary weight now landed back on Earth with a thud and a crack, and We landed like a feather before rising up once more. Are you there yet We? Is it how We imagined? If you can see our prize from up there please tell me what it is… no reply. I concede, snow down upon me, send a thousand more avalanches, make sure I am buried deep! Throw down more, shake off your ice, shed your skin. Fall on the exhausted I, who is led on the bedrock which is twisting and breaking beneath Them. Build a continent of ice above my body that none shall ever trespass and let it never melt! Fall down mountain! Let the wind blow you down, let all creatures appal at the sight of you, let the mantels swallow you back down deep into the depths. Sleep, lay down, the world is not committed to you, it says “fall successive and successive rise”. One day the mantle rug will be pulled out from under you and down you will fall. Falling to pieces, drifting apart like wet paper. All is erratic, twitching, spasm. All is fatigue, fatalism, frailty.
Make a small urn for me, keep it warm on the mantlepiece above the hearth, open it every now and again and stick your finger in the ashes, inspect it, then dust it off on your trouser leg. We have died, all that’s left is Them. Does my breath still make clouds above me? A little. When will I meet my mountain? My mountain on my terms, and take a single step onto its peak, discovering the solution to all stumbles, to all… stumbles. At sulphur sky morn I ask, at crow blue night I ask. When? When? When? We would know if it weren’t for Them. I open my eyes to the sky and catch the sight of a bird crossing the firmament. Fly forever bird, don’t stop, resist the urge to rest, you will only create tears in your wake. My eyes are burning and blurring in the arid coldness, and tears run from them, leave Them. The terrain shakes in my watering eye, vibrating with the echo of distant avalanches and earthquakes. Yet I am still alive, something still rumbles within me, what is it? The goldseam of the inexhaustible?
Ultimately the weight of deposition will suck the mountain back into the ground. The mountainwedge will separate the continents once more and the earth will drift apart and powderise into dust; dust for the sake of being dust; dust that forms a nebula; a nebula that collapses in on itself through the weight of its being. The elements will wander through space searching for new lodgings, and the dementia ridden doomiverse will forget all we said, all we did and why we did it. Yes, soon holes will be opening up across the whole wide world, sucking in trunks and bodies and leaving more holes in the spaces they leave behind. The air will thin as all creatures gasp for the oxygen which remains, their heads turned upwards their mouths facing the sky, and everything will rush to fossilise, to hibernate in stone. Yet, there is still ample time to look back down upon the lamounted We and the exspireing Them, who after their failed attempt to acquire the inexhaustible prize atop the Dog’s Ears, lay freezing in the snow twisted out of shape and swollen.
So little is known. We died upon impact. However it is possible to layout the scene as it stands: A foot points towards the mountain eastwards, the mountain which hides the morning sun, whilst a knee points out towards the lower climes in the west. Then the body shoots up and twists to a torso led on its side. We’s mouth is agape and pours out a freshet of spittle, and their eyes still glisten as the cornea freezes over in the arid icy air. Sapless snow being carried on a sweeping wind pours down upon We, an entombment in forever pallidness. Should We ever be dug from the ice, all will see their body as an oddity, akin to aurochs and mammoths who are found mostly intact beneath the glacier, incased in time, killed by a pause.
Thudead down from high, cold against the earth, futilely taunting the mountain with mind forged scunner as they weep against the foothill. Sobbing wet caustic tears and wailing loud enough to move stones. Bitumen clouds cloak the suns rays as all of Them’s reflections and recollections swarm the headspace which remains; the melting ice; the heaving breath; the fall. Deeply probing the judgements made and the foot holes hand-picked; their route was anti-sagacious making even their upping a type of downing. But yet, somehow there was emancipation in this phenomena of falling. A place beyond the offing was glimpsed if only for a moment. As Them came tumbling the horizon opened and they appalled, and they applauded at what they saw there. The inexhaustible distance, which tips round the edge of the Earth, but also curves up into the sky, and beyond the distance further distance. The distance which holds all in its place across space and at its edge reveals distance again.
One final question, how did it end?
With sudden clarity. Frozen blue-faced clarity. An eyelet opens, and that eye lets out a glacier of tears, benefitears, and tears and tears. Which roll down the mountain, down the pinnacle, down the steep, past glacier, tundra, lake and plateau, tumbling through copse, grassland, forest and moor, and more tears join from above falling from fog, mist and clouds as they pass wilderness, plain, and valley, dripping into stream canal and estuary, passing shrub, farmland and settlement, from greenbelt to brownfield, from city to coast, running down the river gulley and out into the ocean.