Sunday, November 4, 2012

Less the satellite and more the star

I wrote something the other day.  First thing in ages, just sitting in the library while my patients slept, pager silent, phone in arms reach, writing whatever came into my head.

I was thinking about where I was.  I am in Albany, on the southernmost tip of Western Australia.  If you continue south there is only empty ocean until Antarctica.  The precise details of the geography are not known to me, but it may be that if you continued south from here, along the lines of longitude, there would be no-one and nothing ahead of you for what would seem like an eternity.  You would see only sea, then sea and ice, and ice, and ice, and ice - no sky, no sea, no shore.  Cold and dark and winter.  You might die.  A lot of people, presumably, who go that far into the cold die.

And then, after a time you could not measure - no sun, no stars, no track of your feet, I thought - you would find the ice cracking beneath you, and after many long miles there would be the sea, and then if you went on and on and on the sea would get warmer.  You'd see sun, and sky, and gulls.  And from time to time you'd come close to shore, maybe see landmasses in the distance.  Cities, ports, maybe even ships.

And then, if you were strong, sooner or later, you'd touch land yourself.  I think on this line of longitude it's Santa Ana, California.

I have never been to California.  It sounds good.

Now - stepping back - the aforementioned text was the first thing I have written in a long time.  A very long time.  It was me, heart to page, fingers twitching like pulses.  Not corrected.  And I find there is a metaphor in there.

The reason that this came out for me is this is what is going on for me here.  This is what "I am here for", in that sense.  This is why I am here, on the edge of the world.  This is why I have run south to where I cannot run any further south any more.

The journey into the ice.  Into the solitude, into the dark and the cold and the loneliness.  The time away.
Enduring.  And then, if I go far enough south, it gets better.  If you go far enough south, you go north, if you follow me.  There is warmth and sun and light, sex and love and hope.  The New World, If I can get there.

The Vikings, I suspect, knew space was curved.  

Anyway.  These are early days.  And days with a lot of dark in them.  And it's a long way and a lonely, and I can't get there yet, and most people who go this way die.

But at the end, if I can plan, and prepare, and provision, and do not falter, that's where I want to go.

I don't know if what I just wrote put what I wanted to say into English.  I will try this:

I had a sentence pop into my head for my book the other day.  That's not whole lines, but it's a start.  In the book, and this would be the end of book six, one of my characters, my favourite, is staring out up at the sky.  The sky, in the world of my books, is a crystalline sphere, in which the embedded stars move, and my character has been there in a mediaeval spaceship and has disputed with God.  She looks up, and somehow there is a line how she is "... less the satellite, and more the star."  There are, by the way, satellites in the mediaeval sky by the end of book six.

I liked that.  You look up into the sky, and if you just blink up, you see all these points of light.  But if you look a little longer, you see that some of them move.  They are satellites.  They look impressive, but they orbit something else, and they shine by reflected light, and they are really just aluminium and wire.

I know when I get low I am more the satellite than the star.  But that is not how things are.  Creative people  - and we are all creative people - we are things of fire and substance.  We make life, we form elements, we can bend light.  Anything else is choosing less.

At the end of this, if it has worked, I will believe again I am less the satellite and more the star.  

Anyway, Thanks for listening,

1 comment:

  1. To Quote Billy Bragg from "A New England";

    I saw two shooting stars last night
    I wished on them but they were only satellites
    Is it wrong to wish on space hardware
    I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care