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Creatures Made of Fire and Light

(viewed 2379 times)
They say that the djinn are beings like you and me, except made from a smokeless flame instead of mud. It seems unfair that the same legends go on to say that they can take the form of any man or animal. Djinn could be anyone. Any creature. But I guess they'd be warm to the touch and burn, consuming you, when handled.

The same legends say that angels are creatures made of light. Are they blackbody incandescent, covering a range of frequencies in a bell curve? Can they be refracted into a rainbow? Reflected and bent out of true by spacetime-warping gravity? Can they be single-frequency emissions, polarized, phase-locked and coherent by a long journey, cavity- or diode-emitted like lasers? Can they be made of meter-long radio wavelengths? Do they start their lives as gamma ray bursts? Can they be eaten by plants or turned into electricity by solar panels?

But djinn. The name means "hidden". The wisest man on earth had thousands of djinn slaves, both laborers and white-collar advisors, scholars and heavy-lifters, all organized in ranks and columns. Were they hidden then? Or were they just a tribe of nomads that lived in the deep desert surrounded by dust, protected by dust devils, blanketed and incubated from sun-heated dust by sirocco winds that masked their mirage-rippled comings and goings?

Across a narrow alley, creatures made of fire and light perch on a brick wall and peer in my window, not disguised as anything. If there's dust to hide behind, it's accreted to the glass of my own window. They sit on the wall and creep across the bricks like flies or geckos, but in the abstract, lacking any animal characteristics, moving, but motivation ... hidden.

Despite the old wise king's example, trafficking in the hidden is frowned upon as sorcery, sacrificing too much of oneself to learn secrets that give one advantage over others. Is every form of research sorcery? Lost sleep, lost time, lost meals, lost blood, lost hope, lost love sacrificed in search of an answer, hopefully an answer one can put to use. Is ignorance so treasured because it keeps us all equal? Or because it keeps dead King Solomon's seat secure? Or because it protects one from loss?

The creatures of fire and light dim, dim some more, and now they are hidden.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

16th May 2011, 03:40   | tags:comments (2)

In under ten words

(viewed 1857 times)
Then the cart tipped over, spilling snow *everywhere*.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

20th Jan 2011, 19:02   | tags:comments (2)

Open Ended

(viewed 2112 times)
Every picture tells a story -- rogue photons smelling of stone, of clay, of earth, of blood, of sprouted greenery, of the new life of insects.

You can see the moments stockpiled prior to every picture, but the world doesn't end after the shutter closes.

The unfolding is open ended.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

10th Dec 2010, 21:36   | tags:comments (3)

You can't get depressed

(viewed 2153 times)
On the train, an older lady with a Mike Leigh voice came and asked if she
could sit with me. She gave me her life history. Her husband had died
last year, a sudden heart attack whilst he was in a dingey. But you
can't get depressed - you have to live. So, since he died she had been
on half a dozen cruises - its what he would have wanted.

She was going up to Blackpool to stay with a man who she'd met on the
last cruise. She was smitten with him and excited like a teenager. She
kept touching my arm as she told me more.

She said she wasn't as fussed as she should be about her 2nd husband
because he'd knocked her about a bit in 1984 and it was ever the same
after that.

She was a strong woman, married at 18 to her first husband who
she stuck with for 27 years before she decided to leave - he was an
alcoholic, when she left he said he'd kill himself if she took the
children so she left them with him.

This new chap though, she said from the moment they first kissed it felt
so right. She liked an older man (he was 82 and she ten years younger) She really was
a gigglebox.

In her bag she had a yellow bucket - she showed me, she said it was a
joke, this bloke had said when she said she was coming up to stay

"Well, you better pack your bucket, mop and apron"

So she'd bought the bucket and a child's mop and little apron
and was going to put her garb on just as she was about to get off the
train and meet him 'You have to follow these things through don't you

As we approached her stop she squeezed my hand and said it had been
lovely to meet me. I said that it had been lovely to meet her too and
I hoped it went well, that I would never know, but in my head I had
decided it went swimmingly. She said he'd given her a choice when she
got off the train - they could either have sex in the station, go for
some dinner or go back home and have sex there instead. I asked her
what she had chosen - she just winked and left the train.

Posted by beth

27th Nov 2010, 19:12   comments (6)


(viewed 2223 times)
Ripping canvas and leather depends from
Desiccated wood, fingerthick twisted ropes with
Knots the size of baseballs
Actual nails and massive bolts through drilled holes

The practiced rhythm of two people swinging
Pumped by four slender legs and
Terror of death by splinters
Could induce the entire squealing contraption
To stagger across the yard
Shedding seasons of accreted pollen and
Powder-dry pine needles

Southern exposure on the tin slide
Made it a sizzling griddle for young human hams
Nine months out of twelve

Burning every ounce of effort to
Go nowhere
Was what felt best


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

3rd Oct 2010, 23:28   | tags:comments (7)

The Ghosts of Themselves

(viewed 1715 times)
"Sometimes things are the ghosts of themselves." She tapped her unlit cigarette against the table in a rhythm that conveyed a coded message known only to smokers -- a message that causes sadness in those who have managed to quit.

I raised an eyebrow and unconsciously mimicked her tapping with a fingernail. Uninitiated, I neither extracted nor imbued meaning. A monkey at the typewriter.

She ignored me, focused. "You can see it. Look at those bicycles."

I complied.

"One of them is well loved, used daily, maintained. The other one is merely ridden. Can you see the difference?"

I nodded. One had more crud built up at the welds of the frame, less shine to the spokes on the wheels. But that could mean more use, not less. Trips to nature trails. I shook my head.

A cheap lighter flared as she lit up. There's something about setting fire to something hanging out of your face that makes the kindest and daintiest of us look fierce, if only for a brilliant yellow moment.

"You're trying to force it, logic boy. Pull back. Relax. Don't worry so much about how you know it." She took a deep drag on the cigarette. While not looking directly at it, I concentrated on the glow of the tip while the bikes lurked further off in the distance.

"The one closest to the road. Closest to the post. It's just metal and rubber and plastic," I said. "I wonder how it died."

It was her turn to nod, exhaling thin smoke through her nostrils and stretch-slouching most of the way across the meshwork table, playing at exhaling her own animating spirit. I tamped down the reflex to grab her nearest wrist -- and that other reflex to grab her nearest hand.

"It's not as sappy as that Velveteen Rabbit story," she said. "It's not like love makes things more real." She gave me a meaningful look. "At least not all the time, anyway."

I barely feel real on the best of days. Some days I am nothing but meat. Some days the meat seems faded and I feel like nothing but ectoplasm, buzzing and moaning and roaring to myself. Sometimes I am the hive-box, sometime I'm just a cloud of loose bees. Love, when present, does little to integrate the pieces.

"Do objects die from old age? From lack of attention? From failure to be perceived? From being habitually misperceived?"

She snorted. "Velveteen Rabbit. Old age maybe, but not necessarily deterioration. Those other things you said were all variations on the Velveteen Rabbit scenario."

ScenAHrio. I was raised to pronounce it scenAIRio. Sometimes all I see are unimportant differences I wish I could ignore.

"Maybe there's just so much genuineness, so much essential reality to go around. It's scarce somehow, and when the last event has occurred where an object impinges causally, importantly, on a timeline, it's essence vanishes and it dies. It just turns into dead matter." She took another drag, leaning sideways, half propped up on an elbow.

"You're mocking me," I accused. "That was something I would say."

She smiled. "Maybe. But it's still the best answer I can think of."

I gave her a brief grimace. "Fine," I said. "Now teach me to smoke."


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

23rd Sep 2010, 04:38   | tags:comments (7)


(viewed 2033 times)
Here in Plato's Cave, the bulk of information and experience is delivered in terms of reflected electromagnetic radiation in a range of wavelengths from 390 to 750 nanometers arranged in a two-dimensional array -- nothing but light and shadow, echoes, and whatever smells are distinguishable against the smell of the smoke from the fire that is the source of all of it. Chained immobile at the core of our fragile little machines that we've built to carry us around in the realm of shadows and echoes sits one little cell that contains one little microbe that moves around atoms and molecules like tinkertoys, and that little eyeless and earless microbe collects the reflections of shadows and the echoes of echoes and the ghosts of winds and writes them all down in the tactile language of the tinkertoys. There, in the language of itself, in its innards and on its skin, it has written the true and actual history of everything, and from there can accurately extrapolate the future to the very last moment of the last quark and gluon and lepton.

Well, if not that one, then maybe one of its thousand buddies that share the cell with it. Or if none of those is close enough to the truth, maybe another of its kind in one of the other hundred trillion cells that make up who you are is the one that has it nailed. Or maybe the truth is lurking inside of one of the ten billion co-echoes of you. Or maybe it's in one of the other hundred trillion support organisms on earth that carry the little capsules packed with scribes around and keep them, on the whole, safe. And so very busy.

Each of us is packed with an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters, and the truth is being refined second by second in the collisions of their missives, the perfect signal constructed from the aggregate of perfect chaos and perfect noise.

The only parts of us that understand what's real live so deep in the caves that all they get is reflections of reflections and echoes of echoes, and still they keep on stacking and scribbling. Who we are doesn't even exist at their level -- we only exist in the gaps of their concrete knowledge, reflections of reflections, phantasms that appear only when the light is right, here and gone again in a blink. Any feeling of continuity we have is an illusion of their aggregated attention.

We come and go. We live between.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

1st Aug 2010, 23:08   | tags:comments (3)

Glory Days

(viewed 2055 times)
Stand tall
With pictures on the wall
Of the glory days

When it was OK that
Hunger and murder
Were synonymous

(Though no one turned a nose up
At a good roadside rummage
When the pickings were good
And murder seemed like hard work)

So what if the living
Was a little messy?

With such tiny short arms
One can die skinny
From forks and knives


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

25th Jul 2010, 22:37   | tags:comments (7)