Monday, October 1, 2012

Cymbal #45:: Solenoid

In the field behind the home I grew up in, in that green and fragrant field, there stood a tower. It was a tower, not of stone, not of bricks, not of mud and tile, but a tower of wire. Wires coiled into springs; springs coiled around some hidden core. The springs were the width of a hand, and there was no gap between them, no way to look in. We tried, and neither our hands nor our tools could separate the coils.

At its base the tower was the size of a large house and it tapered to nothing a hundred feet above the ground. More than halfway up, its otherwise regular surface was broken by an extrusion, a small half bubble, a cup with a shadow of darkness above it. For years as we played below, and rode our bicycles, we wondered if anyone lived in that hemisphere of darkness and why it existed.

Alexander 'Skip' Spence - Broken Heart - 1969

Nobody know who had built the tower, and it was too far from the world of grown ups to ask. The older kids had graffitied its base, and the metal wires were covered in obscenities and the tags of artists, who now were lawyers and accountants and chefs.

The tower had the ephemeral feeling of a thin pencil lines drawn on plain paper, to help an unsteady hand write in cursive with a pen. Once the page was dry, the pencil lines would be erased away, but there was no hiding the crutch – hold it up to the light and the lines are clear. So I imagined that the coils of the wire were filed with some eldritch electricity, blue particles speeding godlike to the top and that the electricity in turn generated, in the direction of a thumb pointing upwards, a magnetic field drawing to it the children of the neighborhood.

Thirty years later, life brought me full circle to that same field. In the centre of the field, shimmered again the same tower unrusted, and that same demitasse of darkness. Now, too old and too frequently robbed to not take what I want, I decided to climb the tower.

The Smashing Pumpkins - The Celestials - 2012

The next day, in the field, a morning which in a past life I would have spent riding my bicycle around the tower after school, I looked up its length. Then I kicked my crampons into it, gripped my ice axes firm in both hands and started upwards. The hum and crash of the axes biting into the metal filled me with a violative joy, as if what I was digging into was not the gaps in springs, but the very substance of my life.

Then, I hooked my leg into the balcony, and finally, I stood in the mystery.  The sun shown down into the room, a small room, only one room. In the centre was a velvet chair, a homely throne, and on it sat a little boy. On his head sat a tinsel crown.

When I looked upon his face, I knew it. I knew it a thousand times, knew what it would become, knew what would line it, knew where it would scar. But to him, I came as a stranger.