Different Skies
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The Evening MotionJ.W. Siah

Through indifference to the task: shattering the material, collecting the fall-outs, arranging and measuring, always seemingly moving towards rooms of similar or different activity, with constant repairs made mid-transit due to neuroses of symmetry, of thoughts formed from thoughts that too little or too much had been extracted from each sample — below the surface against the tungsten blue — whilst also, observing and recording, deciphering and relaying, analysing and displaying, with each difference furiously noted-transmitted-recalculated-retransmitted — amidst a stream of words without breaths. And through a heat that swells, bringing disquiet to these lower chambers, between awkward-frantic bodies, making the spaces between them seem solid. A heat not suppressed in observation rooms of electric chill, where stillness and motion tend to the impossible, filling corridors, stairwells, anti-chambers — some cooled with descending water — and rising to the above-ground rooms all-a-whir with electronics; jets of cool air, fluorescent tubes, rows of straight-backs poised like pianists, and meeting the unbearable heat of the outside at the jaws of open windows, where beyond fizz pale shapes. And through a coalescence of complete indifference and the meticulous exuberance with which all this was performed, stiff rhythms under watchful eyes yet a feeling of a secret magnificence to which they were all entrusted, a sense of being the frontier, thrusters of progress, a single beat of the instructed heart — and with minds slowly filling with pictures of faraway things, they kept at it.

A steady order of movements develops, a discreet one-after-the-otherness, all lost in a blanket of natural and unnatural light; mid-morning’s soft glow that sees desires descend the abstract. Elemental minds the masters of a furious process, one which accelerates all around, whilst images internally slow and are depleted in variety, with things often thought to be intangible seeming possible by the completion of each minor task. Obscure visions that drive an engine which never makes aware to those at its dials precisely how fast it is going. And so all is given over to the sly whims of little hopes, multiplied throughout each person, on each floor, all a-judder, this terrible machine, continually on the edge of collapse.

The strange marker of Noon arrives; an apex by which all appears frozen and serene. At this zenith the light is so utterly blinding that all outside disappears; the windows become screens of static. The above-ground rooms pulsate with this totality. Throughout this blur an intensity reigns, the focus of isolation, eyes that see through and acknowledge every particle on their way to realising an object; all movements are weightless and appear to happen of their own accord. This sense radiates down to the lower chambers and returns intensified, making all thoughts the same: that they are on the cusp of something, on the verge of completion — minds wander towards great discovery — everything appears to be moving very slow, masking the actual exhausting rate. So convinced of the closeness to the cusp that any possible tiredness is suppressed, they hear every sound in its incredible state, over-laid, until there is no sound, just this unrelenting march, all hearts beating as one, as they kept at it.

Caught in this malady, they pressed on with their tasks, all now blissfully submerged in the eternity unfolding between each intricate movement, until, something that felt like a snap occurred, a point of no return; the focus once waned could never be rediscovered — green plants began to ghost the periphery — thoughts return as strangers. They struggle to comprehend the depleting whiteness around them as objects return to their known forms. An unexplained sense of loss spreads, leading them to lament their earlier indifference, which duly returns. Outside, the sun has begun its downward arc, as if drawn by a string, tugging this unexplained sense further from reach. The static at the windows disappears revealing in the gape and on the sills, at first the silhouettes of, and then later, pixilated in the endless heat — that they were again aware of— the forms of curious birds, whilst beyond the pale shapes gently become dull. Everything still appears to be moving very slowly, although this is now an actuality, which dawns on them in confused waves of disinterest and disgust, at first in the above-ground rooms, and then filtered through each person on each floor, to the very bottom, where those shattering the material are almost at a standstill as they listen to foot-steps, sluggish and close together, coming from the blue-white corridors, where carriers and wandering-observers had almost paused to hear lungs gasp on the other sides of the walls.

Essentially breathless, they tread the verges of decline; the above-ground rooms and the lower chambers cease to feel like one immense and immeasurable column, movements begin to fall more and more out of sync, thoughts are only disjoints of an urge to continue, bodies that feel odd in themselves begin to miss out whole stages of the process — from moment to moment they feel like they are surrounded by nothing and the next that they are all standing on the same spot of carpet or polished-ground. The notion of separate floors all on top of one another didn’t seem quite true, the shape of the place they were in was now impossible to fathom, everything was just a series of shifting reference points leading them somewhere: noises, although distinct, could not be located; every object emitted a strangeness that seemed to stem from an idea that these things should possess more or less sides; the distance from one’s very own thoughts recurred in their minds.

This decline finds a middle, and in the middle only madness, reasons shed imposition, heads raise and twitch at the news that a mistake has been made somewhere — waves of disinterest and disgust are interspersed with others of delight — just enough chaos ensued  that they kept at it. A joke is made and disappears throughout the building; it is the distance from this joke by which they locate themselves. Then from nowhere, the low thud of ones very own heart beat, separated from all else, leads the steady march, guiding them along the pathway back. The early stages of dust hang in the air, showing the channels that the jets miss, with the cool air ultimately being sucked to the windows, all of which someone has systematically tilted inwards at a forty-five degree angle, so that the glass holds reflections that they dare not peer into. Against the burgeoning orange glow in the above-ground rooms, the middle recedes into imagination and is not given any time to crystalise, as all around becomes very pressing again, with a new urgency that percolates down through the structure to the lower chambers, where corridors become lines of purposeful direction and the chill of the observation rooms pinch the bodies that enter. Those confronted with the material try new methods of distressing its surfaces, all movements become unified and inevitably gather speed, as they again, unknowingly, head towards unsustainable climbs.

It was now the moment for sending out the messages; the details of the days findings, which has them, through the heat and dizzy-logic, in a rush to put everything, even squiggles on scraps and one-word-one-number documents, into the form of diagrams and charts, with constant conversions between numerical and pictorial data taking place. They chase one-another the lengths of the corridors to add corrections, which produces trails of notes affixed to the printed graphs, which are dashed upwards — hollow sounds of soles on the marble steps float up with them — they hope to catch the thoughts of the straight-backs before it is too late, and in doing so, notes become dislodged and flutter away, some being caught by the water that descends in perfect straight and glistens different colours as it travels through the light. All the while, in the lower chambers, those at the forefront feel almost completely forgotten about; left like this they thought little of the shapes that the material was to become, breaking up as much as possible and then putting it back together; the simple satisfactions of tidying up; the simple delights of adding something, of watching something change shape.

This slowness existed far from the relentless happenings of the new malady above, where constant pings of the lift arriving, seemingly on all floors at the same time, punctuates the flat-tones of verbal exchange and dialing noise and the personalised tones of messages being rapidly sent and received— the electronic whir hovering at its own point of collapse. Yet through this they kept at it, sending out messages in all possible directions and via all possible manner of communication, jamming lines and finding new ones — someone had collected all of the water-notes and was now putting the inked-washes into diagrams and charts — at the windows, birds that had remained on the sills were being affixed with digital and silicon devices and thrust from urgent hands into the hot-thick-air.

Everything then gives way to late afternoon’s numb limbs, awkward and estranged through work; the act of picking something up is coupled with pushing it slightly further away — soon they all congregate at the tops of staircases, by walls and in doorways, quite baffled. With brains such as these, set to fumble in the long hours, they preside over each error with an unconditional and irrational affection, accepting each one’s inevitability, they dissolve them into the dance, which limps stoically in the undying heat — the consecutive bounces of things being dropped — the predicted length of everything gradually increases. There is an awareness of breath, its soft vapour; thoughts are hard to come by; no one is upright without the support of something conventional or otherwise; they slump on the material, against the observation rooms’ windows and on plastic-wood desks. Yet they kept at it, through an exhaustion that eats away at them, knowing that stopping altogether was the real impossibility. They continued through near lacks of consciousness, where breaths seem miraculous and each inhale only serves to bewilder the senses and move them further away from the morning’s brilliance.

A spell is then cast, with the lowering of the sun, waking all from this slumberous-state in sudden jolts of upwards or outwards movements, away from any kind of support. Swathes of panic are conducted through each floor, alive with the fear of not having completed anything, which forms an ache in the stomach that ebbs from dull to sharp as they return to their tasks, as if lit with fire, each movement remembered anew, feverish hands regain their master, tongues protrude involuntarily from the sides of mouths as stares assume the intense focus of trying to see through something solid. Outside the sun hovers at its final point; a yellow-white dot in an expanse of reds, the distant shapes have an absorbing mystical shine on one side, whilst the other sides fade into seriousness. Their bodies feel sick in the physical, although this is understood to be a causation of the mind — fluorescent strips appear on the ceiling and everything in the periphery appears to be made from the same material — and through this they disappear into the specialised motions taking place in front of them. There is a quickening of heartbeats, yet they are all drastically out of sync. One thought now appears: that the task itself is the master — but this is sunk back down inside, as the machine begins to rattle again with this new surge towards the cusp.

A mind turned to its slow movements during the day is set free by the onset of night and the feeling of cheating time; this is now the spark that joins them all together. Every accomplished shattering, collection, measurement or message is one extra, stolen from time, teased from the depths whilst eyes were looking the other way. This space is an infinite expanse where all appears possible. One by one they leave their desks — floor after floor of deserted islands strewn across multi-patterned carpets and lower chambers of empty rooms where glass separates different types of tools — and wander the building up and down, finding spaces they have never been to before, beneath staircases at the edges of surface-less pools of liquid, along dark paths of corridors whose automatic lights gasp into life, and at high up windows where outside, looking into the below, tigers can be made out in the slow-strobes of orange light through the black. Thoughts arrive as if walking into an empty room, each one given the chance to flicker, and when a new one arrives the room just appears to get larger. They are the centre and everything else outside is consigned to orbit.

Every night is like an outpost, peering into the unmapped edges, searching for signals. A pang of remembering what it is that they were doing here has them return to their tasks with an enthusiastic notion in mind that this new expanse of time will usher them to within touching distance of completion. So they set to it again: through blinking eyes readjusting to the lights of their workspaces, both above and below, and a heat that continues to swell even around the night’s thinner air; with different rates of work struck up, where energy can be seen in individual bursts — disjointed and puzzling to look at. Outside is so utterly dark that beyond lies only rectangles of light that hang in angled lines of decoration —  the distances between these are impossible to fathom. The earlier messages begin eliciting answers, with new ones then being sent out — a certain pictorial set appears to be answering itself. Through these dark hours wonderment returns, with the constant stream of data that flowed in and out, seemingly of its own accord, and had them cross-eyed between these transmissions and their tasks.

But with the creeping in of the light, pale shapes return from the depths, objects and spaces verge on their day-time ordinariness, a sense of being discovered ignites a new panic; one that is alive with a desire that this, these, that must be completed before the sun fully rises. In this half-light; an early exuberance caught up in the lightening blues, sees them enter into a trance with their tasks, even in the lower chambers, where reports of the changing light above has them held in disbelief against the numbing buzz of their own enduring transparent blue and so they give over everything to the same motions as before. At this low ebb there is no place to conceive of other than the faculty for the organising of it all. In this state, strange clarities present themselves for a moment and then return to the it-of-it-all — often with an awareness of something innately miserable being the stitch that holds this all together. They are awash with breathless elation — singular instructed hearts — and they kept at it with the slow delicacy of trying to keep oneself upright. Each task was now a huge endeavour, every intricate motion towards completion was a blessing, an uncovering of something that was hidden and able to maintain its own allure once found. They could see that what was being strived for was ultimately an ever sought-after-ness; to have this was to have a little more of the world.

They depart this lull as various shapes of locked and frozen joints, mouths that taste of the stomach and bleary eyes that struggle to grasp the watery image of the sun that floats above the horizon’s-fizz; flooding the above ground rooms with a familiar soft white light, whose totality buzzes through the building, making it feel immense and whole, as it protrudes down into the earth and up into the sky, and that it, like them, is once again tilted towards great discovery — years have passed and built up like sediment — and finally they believe themselves to be on the cusp of going over the edges, with each completed process, into unknown realms. Again the undying heat appears to be hotter than the day before; there are noticeably less birds in the gape and on the sills; the electric chill contains more vapour. Yet everything remains immaculately clean, the dust neither fully forming nor settling, whilst below they find the constant stream of material that arrives impossible to comprehend. They have once again been shown the cracks in the heavens, only for their hearts to be pulled together and away in the same direction, with their minds — soon to be full of distant pictures — being dragged inwards also, as everything begins to quicken, through the dull-aches of indifference and the sun that beats down outside obscuring the the pathway to collapse, as they kept at it.