February 20, 2008

The One and the Other

One

remembers.

The crevice was old,

from the time of one’s becoming,

when it had boiled and raged under the

cold, dark other which now ran in little paths

down one’s topsoil – quickly at first, or so it seemed to one,

but slowing as it reached where one curved, flattened out until one’s soil

turned to silicon, and sunk down under the other, where the little paths reunited

the lost other with the greater other, which showed no constancy, but was forever moving.

The other was moving. But one did not move. From time to time, one crumbled a little, but this was the way of things. One was still young, and though the becoming was over, one’s rock could still change, though not as much as one’s soil. One knew this to be true because one had once been a greater one, and still was a part of it, thought distant – under the lapping other, the foundations of one’s self stretched away and joined other selves like one: selves of granite and basalt, born of becoming; selves of schist and constancy, thrust unchanged from the deeps which connected them all; even peakless selves, not born of the deep, but fallen and ingrained. One could feel such nearby, was faintly aware of separate peaks and rocks distinct from one’s own. But the more the farness from one’s peak, the more one hurt to feel. So one felt only as far as the other began. One had no way of thinking with the other peaks, across the farness filled by the hateful, changing other, but their presence served to make one sure that one was one, but one of many, and not all. One also knew this because of the other.

The other was enduring. It was not empty – unlike one, who was constant and solid all the way through, the other was composite, like a silicon which hung together, shifting to both pass and be passed through, running down one’s crags from one’s peak when separated, perhaps unable to help itself from coming together. But such as moved through the other one did not know. So fast was it that one felt only the change, and knew not what caused it. This was true also on one’s topsoil: once, there had been much unknown change, but whatever caused it had not survived the becoming, or the changes of one’s rock, though a little still remained. And remained in one’s crevice, not one’s highest crevice, nor one’s lowest crevice, but a crevice high enough and close enough to one’s peak that one was the most irritated one had been since the becoming. One wished for a change of one’s rock again to wipe such change away, though one had no control over this – one had no control over much anymore. In the becoming, one had been able to move things, been able to do, but now, one was able only to feel. And one felt different. Changed. And difference brought pain. And one felt pain, felt the pain of one’s rock being lapped away, broken down and eroded, and knowing one could do nothing about it but hope for an end.

The other was change. For all of one’s being, since the becoming, the one had been mostly the same, and so one feared change. One was often afraid. The outer was always changing – one felt it crack one’s exposed rock, felt it make one’s soil rock-like, felt it cover one’s peak with some stationary form of the hateful other which soon changed into its usual form, and ran down the paths that one talked of earlier to join its hateful version of the deep from which one thought all the other might have come. When this change occurred, some of the other soaked into one’s topsoil, which one felt give birth to thousands of tiny, different peaks, of a kind, but not of rock, peaks which burrowed into one’s soil. Some ended quickly, but some survived their becoming, as one had done, and spread their selves into one’s rock. This, one didn’t mind so much. A deep part of one, perhaps the part that spread and linked one to the others and to the core at the heart of the deep, from which all life sprung, told one that this was natural, and the way of things. One thought one liked the way of things, it gave one a certainty. Certainly, the burrowing of the strange peaks was fast, but it was not too fast. The other was too fast.

The other was strange. One did not understand it, though one had had long to observe it. The other, while not as old as the core, was certainly older than one – one felt that the core understood the other, but that, because one had not seen the other’s becoming, one could not hope to understand it. And what is not understood is simply experienced, and not truly known. And one fears what is not known as much as change, because what is not known could be anything, and do anything. What is not known could have the power to unmake – the same expanse of self which linked one to the core, that deep part of one told one that selves had been undone in the past. Not quickly, and not often, but sometimes. And so one feared. Because the other might be the start of one’s unbecoming. The other and that which changed within it were much faster than most of what one was aware of –the hasty backing and forthing that fed on one’s edges, the coming from above. This especially one could not comprehend, how the composite other, which liked to stay together – perhaps one should call it others, many others held together like the deep connects all peaks to the core – how this other separated itself and then rushed corewards from above, spattering against one’s topsoil and granite in one undefined, inconstant motion. One preferred the lapping – like most changes in the outer, the lapping was constant and regular. Though it was fast, it was most always the same fast, as were the roads of other, and the burrowing. Such changes were predictable and regular. The other that spattered was different.

The other was threatening. One felt, through the core, that the other had been responsible for unbecomings in the past, had thrown itself against the rock of other peaks until they sank back into the depths, or had worn them away and claimed them chunk by chunk. Fear spread through one like the strange peaks of not-rock burrowed into one, and fear claimed one as it’s own. One did not wish to unbecome, so one felt out. One stretched out from one’s peak, trying to find one’s way back to the deep knowledge of the core just as the stranded other found its way to the silicon battleground where even now the other was lapping one away. The hurt began, but the fear overwhelmed, fear of the greater pain of unbecoming, and one swept on past the hurt into heat. Burning. And the core was gone. Not unbecome, but out of reach. One felt oneself… on the heat, and the heat thought, thoughts which one could just about understand. The heat was rock, but changed, shifting and composite like the other, though much slower. It thought that it should be called magma, and one thought it was right, as if one had known this before. Even as one felt the magma, a self became just as one had done, on the edge of one’s awareness. And one understood, or perhaps remembered. The magma was the edge and the beginning, where one’s self had once sprung from. When the magma and the other met, the threat of the other caused the magma to harden in order to protect itself, forsaking its composite form so as not to let the variable other through. One was a guardian, then, a sentinel of sorts, protecting the magma, the source of all things, or so one thought, from the danger of the other. But one could feel danger still, and the magma knew, and thought.

The other was everywhere. Even when it was absent from the surface – and here, the magma thought of topsoil entirely of silicon, stretching further than one could comfortably feel – it lurked beneath, inside soil or between silicon, wherever rock wasn’t. Rock, the magma thought, was too solid, the only true defence, but even that could only slow its advance, for eventually the other would carry rock away, piece by piece. One wondered what end the other could possibly hope to achieve, wondered what was the cause of the sense of threat one newly felt, and wondered how the magma could know all this. The magma knew because the magma was deep, was the core, was rock in its purest form. And what the other meant was the end of constancy. To remove the heat from the magma, to end all rock and cover the world in change. The magma thought that one could feel further, with guidance from the magma, to understand the scale of the battle, and why one felt the threat. One still feared the pain, but the magma thought that the pain was just another kind of fear, of the unknown, and would pass. So one stretched out, spread one’s self so thin that one felt one might snap and break apart. And one almost did, felt it beginning to happen, until one realised that one was feeling through the magma. What one was feeling through the magma was almost indescribable. On the magma lie, or float as the magma thought one should think of it, all rocks. What once had been a solid layer, protecting the magma from the other, had begun to break apart, and float around, crashing into each other. Where they split apart, new front lines in the conflict opened up, with the other rushing into the gap, trying to change all magma and cool the core for ever. The other truly was everywhere.

One resolved. One had felt out for answers, and had received them in abundance. The magma had taught one much, or at least taught one to remember much, and with one’s new knowledge, one withdrew to one’s granite peak, which now seemed very small. The other lapped away at one’s edges, carrying pieces away, but one was no longer afraid. One knew the other would be the unbecoming of one, eventually, but now one knew why, and although one couldn’t stop it, one was comforted knowing that one was shielding the magma from the advances of the other, that there was a purpose, a war to win. It crossed one’s mind that perhaps the war was unwinnable – if the other kept destroying and taking pieces away, and there was nothing to replenish the side of the rock and magma, then the other would triumph in the end, unless the conflict somehow harmed the other too. One hoped so. One hoped to stay the other and ponder the problem a while yet. One hoped a great many things, and, armed with one’s newfound zeal, one hoped to make them come true.

The other eroded. But one persisted.


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