Nightling 2017-12-09T03:09:44+00:00

Nightling

Dusk sinks over the town, and buildings and trees call out to each other to establish their territory, to settle their hunting rights. The street reverts to the forest it still dreams of, whose fossil remains comfort its foundation stones. Darkness watches, attends to its needs.

Midnight on this street is always noon in another, at the most distant part of the world. Every night is merely borrowed.

Delumination. In the near-black, the eye feels. The reign of images, their tug towards tyranny, abates at last; the distractions of colour and texture ebb away. A realm of fertile trepidation and of authentic longing is upon us; I move as though within a closed mouth, both lover and prey.

Blanchot: “Here the invisible is what one cannot cease to see” (The Outside, the Night). Night as the inside-out of perception, as though the eye could explore its own internal chambers.

Night-dark is a felted tsunami, made of the shadow beneath the hems of skirts or trouser belts, the thick black of wanting. An indigo hunger engulfs the sky.

At night, sound turns crystalline, echoes are metal: each footstep or deep breath doubles me; the ghost at my shoulder takes his form seriously again. Gaps in the air that were clogged with the business of light waves can now take their ease and nurture their private noises. Nocturnal silence is huge, and wears a crust of spun sugar.

“Let night keep falling on the orchestra” writes AB in 1925 . . . But perhaps only the better to slip out of tune and time, to let go of the score, improvise dissonance. The crow-black of oboes or cello cases, of the conductor’s coat-tails, of the hollow in my gut. From Nocturne to No tune; isn’t the music of night precisely the draining dry of melody, and the emergence instead of single, sporadic notes and sounds from an unfathomable mouth of darkness?

Shade becomes world, becomes the verb that cancels all communication. What once was an aside, a slender accompaniment, now takes its revenge and shrouds everything in the un-nameable. Stammers clogged in bitumen, talk matted in the microfibres of velvet: you must utter with your other face.

The world, held taut and in check during hours of daylight, now exhales, expands – imperceptibly at first, with a movement that is more like a slight blur, until the spaces between everything no longer concords with surveys or maps. Objects, places, street furniture all cease to respect their locations and relationships: now they loom, they roam; in obeyance, so do any other individuals I meet, uncertain now of their authenticity.

A nyctophiliac, a nightologist, a nachtling, a darkster. A Pepper’s ghost hugging the lines painted on the street; somnambulist as funambulist. Intimate evaporation into the street’s sombre thinking.

A suddenly leaky self: gloom engulfs my extremities, limbs undergo eclipses. I lose grip on where night begins and my self ends. Who I am drifts away as I walk: I seep into the street, shrinking like sucked candy, like an ice cube in a beaker of ink. By dawn I’ll be gone.