A rip in the fabric of Time, unnerving but fascinating

It appeared as the third and last clock stopped its ticking. Steel saw it first, then Rob. Sapphire was also aware of its presence. It was a moving, flickering shape that appeared high up, near the apex of the end wall. It seemed, as first, to be a part of the wall texture itself. As if the plaster of the wall was shifting. Then it appeared to take on a series of quick, broken images. Robe felt that it looked like pieces of old and faded moving-film, except that these images were three-dimensional. Rob also thought that he heard, under the rumbling of the skin-like fabric, the sound of voices that seemed to squeal with laughter of pain, or both.

Sapphire nodded. ‘Time.’ She put her arm about Helen’s shoulders and drew the child close to her as she continued to address Rob. ‘You can’t see it. Only now and again. Perhaps a glimpse, that’s all. But even that is dangerous. Also, you cannot enter into Time.’ The smile left her face. In its place was the calm, cool look. It was a look that somehow helped to illustrate her theme. The look itself seemed ageless, as if the blueness, that she radiated, was somehow both the colour and the secret of time.

There were no large cupboards in the room, not even a wardrobe. Helen’s clothes were hung in a built-in unit on the landing outside. The door through which Rob had entered was the only door. The room also had only one window. This was fitted with half-length curtains which were drawn to. Rob moved across the room and snatched the curtains open. The small window was shut tight. There was also a child-guard screwed to about two thirds of the window height. Rob tested the guard. It was still fixed firmly in place.

Steel passed the picture. ‘I doubt it,’ he said as he began to descend the first flight of stairs. Rob followed him. He still felt tired, but he did not fancy sleeping in his own bedroom. Not at the moment. He passed the picture, thinking that there was another couch in the sitting room. Maybe if he fell asleep on that, or even pretended to sleep on it, Sapphire might make him a bed there and tuck him up for the night. He was even wondering, though he would never admit it, what a kiss goodnight from Sapphire would be like.

Rob waited, feeling like someone who was fixed to a spot. Fixed there forever. His mind was filled with a jumble of thoughts. Perhaps this was the time-corridor thing. This place. A nowhere place. Perhaps he was to be left here now. Perhaps it would never be morning, and never be night again. Perhaps it would always stay like this, the very same time. So therefore he would never feel hungry, never feel tired, never feel anything but this strange sense of isolation, of not belonging. Perhaps it would be like that for him forever.

Rob and Helen were back in the kitchen again with Sapphire. Constable Daly had driven back to Scars Edge. He looked slightly puzzled, in the way that people do when they feel that they have been somewhere, or done something before, perhaps in a dream. But he had left feeling satisfied. Rob had watched, without being able to say a word, as Steel moved into action. He had literally stepped into Daly’s arrival at the door, like a fair-owner stepping on to a moving roundabout. Therefore it became Steel, not Rob, who had opened the door, Steel who had asked Daly what he wanted, who told the policeman that everything was alright at that house, and that he, Steel, was a friend of the family who was visiting, in the hope of some peace and quiet in the country.

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Remembrance of things past, sigh the lack of many a thing sought, wail my dear time’s waste sessions of sweet silent thought

OE Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 2nd Ser. (Cambr. Gg.3.28) xx. 194 Hit is awriten be ðam yfelum timan. OE Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 654 On his time þa comon togadere heo & Oswiu Oswaldes broðor cyningas. OE Laws of Edgar (Nero E.i) iv. ii. 208 Mine þegnas hæbben heora scipe on minum timan, swa hy hæfdon on mines fæder. OE tr. Defensor Liber Scintillarum (1969) ix. 96 Multi enim se credebant longo tempore uiuere : soðlice hi gelyfdon lange timan lybban. OE Wulfstan Last Days (Hatton) 134 Wa ðam wifum þe þonne tymað & on þam earmlican timan heora cild fedað. 1160 Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137 Nu we willen sægen sumdel wat belamp on Stephnes kinges time.

To describe it, À la recherche du temps perdu is an album I released last year in two thousand twenty one. Six lp records, twelve sides each about twenty minutes. Total run time two hundred forty one minutes. The album is based around the novels by Proust, Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust, and is predicated on a few threads … The music of the novels, the music Proust (an avid music collector) had in his head and in his collection, the anthems of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. What music one might hear getting lost in Paris of the Belle Époque? The content includes twenty six composers and a Dixieland jazz band: Bartók, Bellini, Berg, Brahms, Caccini, Chausson, Chopin, Debussy, Delibes, Donizetti, Franck, Hahn, Jungmann, Louisiana Five, Lully, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Satie, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner and Weber.

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図書館

第23章

那天夜里,我梦见了幽灵。

図​書​館

我不知道“幽灵”这一称呼是否正确,但至少那不是活着的实体,不是现实世界中的存在——这点一眼即可看出。

我被什么动静突然惊醒,看见那个少女的身影。尽管时值深夜,但房间里亮得出奇。是月光从窗口泻入。睡前本应拉合的窗帘此时豁然大开,月光中她呈现为轮廓清晰的剪影,镀了一层骨骸般荧白的光。

她大约和我同龄,十五或十六岁。肯定十六。十五与十六之间有明显差别。她身材小巧玲珑,姿态优雅,全然不给人以弱不禁风的印象。秀发笔直泻下,发长及肩,前发垂在额头。身上一条连衣裙,淡蓝色的,裙摆散开。裙子不长也不短,没穿袜子没穿鞋。袖口扣得整整齐齐。领口又圆又大,衬托出形状娇美的脖颈。

她在桌前支颐坐着,目视墙壁,正在沉思什么,但不像在思考复杂问题。相对说来,倒像沉浸在不很遥远的往事的温馨回忆中,嘴角时而漾出微乎其微的笑意。但由于月光阴影的关系,从我这边无法读取其微妙的表情。我佯装安睡,心里拿定主意:不管她做什么都不打扰。我屏住呼吸,不出动静。

我知道这少女是“幽灵”。首先她过于完美,美的不只是容貌本身,整个形体都比现实物完美得多,俨然从某人的梦境中直接走出的少女。那种纯粹的美唤起我心中类似悲哀的感情。那是十分自然的感情,同时又是不应发生在普通场所的感情。

我缩在被窝里大气不敢出,与此同时,她继续支颐凝坐,姿势几乎不变,只有下颚在手心里稍稍移一下位置,头的角度随之略略有所变化。房间里的动作仅此而已。窗外,紧挨窗旁有一株很大的山茱萸在月华中闪着恬静的光。风已止息,无任何声响传来耳畔,感觉上好像自己在不知不觉之间已经死去。我死了,同少女一起沉入深深的火山口湖底。

少女陡然停止支颐,双手置于膝头。又小又白的膝并拢在裙摆那里。她似乎蓦地想起什么,不再盯视墙壁,改变身体朝向,把视线对着我,手举在额头上触摸垂落的前发。那少女味儿十足的纤细的手指像要触发记忆似的留在额前不动。她在看我。我的心脏发出干涩的声响。但不可思议的是,我并没有被人注视的感觉。大概少女看的不是我,而是我后面的什么。

我们两人沉入的火山口湖底,一切阒无声息。火山的活动已是很早以前的故事了。孤独如柔软的泥堆积在那里。穿过水层的隐约光亮,犹如远古记忆的残片白荧荧地洒向四周。深深的水底觅不到生命的迹象。她究竟看了我——或我所在的位置——多长时间呢?我发觉时间的规律已然失去。在那里,时间会按照心的需要而延长或沉积。但不一会儿,少女毫无征兆地从椅子上欠身立起,蹑手蹑脚地朝门口走去。门没开。然而她无声无息地消失在了门外。

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The Street of Crocodiles

MY FATHER kept in the lower drawer of his large desk an old and beautiful map of our city. It was a whole folio sheaf of parchment pages which, originally fastened with strips of linen, formed an enormous wall map, a bird’s eye panorama.

Będziemy wiecznie żałowali, żeśmy wtedy wyszli na chwilę z magazynu konfekcji podejrzanej konduity. Nigdy nie trafimy już doń z powrotem. Będziemy błądzili od szyldu do szyldu i mylili się setki razy. Zwiedzimy dziesiątki magazynów, trafimy do całkiem podobnych, będziemy wędrowali przez szpalery książek, wertowali czasopisma i druki, konferowali długo i zawile z panienkami o nadmiernym pigmencie i skażonej piękności, które nie potrafią zrozumieć naszych życzeń.

Będziemy się wikłali w nieporozumienia, aż cała nasza gorączka i podniecenie ulotni się w niepotrzebnym wysiłku, w straconej na próżno gonitwie.

Nasze nadzieje były nieporozumieniem, dwuznaczny wygląd lokalu i służby — pozorem, konfekcja była prawdziwą konfekcją, a subiekt nie miał żadnych ukrytych intencji. Świat kobiecy ulicy Krokodylej odznacza się całkiem miernym zepsuciem, zagłuszonym grubymi warstwami przesądów moralnych i banalnych pospolitości. W tym mieście taniego materiału ludzkiego brak także wybujałości instynktu, brak niezwykłych i ciemnych namiętności.

Ulica Krokodyli była koncesją naszego miasta na rzecz nowoczesności i zepsucia wielkomiejskiego. Widocznie nie stać nas było na nic innego, jak na papierową imitację, jak na fotomontaż złożony z wycinków zleżałych, zeszłorocznych gazet.

Hung on the wall, the map covered it almost entirely and opened a wide view on the valley of the River Tysmienica which wound itself like a wavy ribbon of pale gold, on the maze of widely spreading ponds and marshes, on the high ground rising towards the south, gently at first, then in ever tighter ranges, in a chessboard of rounded hills, smaller and paler as they receded towards the misty yellow fog of the horizon. From that faded distance of the periphery, the city rose and grew towards the centre of the map, an undifferentiated mass at first, a dense complex of blocks and houses, cut by deep canyons of streets, to become on the first plan a group of single houses, etched with the sharp clarity of a landscape seen through binoculars. In that section of the map, the engraver concentrated on the complicated and manifold profusion of streets and alleyways, the sharp lines of cornices, architraves, archivolts and pilasters, lit by the dark gold of a late and cloudy afternoon which steeped all corners and recesses in the deep sepia of shade. The solids and prisms of that shade darkly honeycombed the ravines of streets, drowning in a warm colour here half a street, there a gap between houses. They dramatized and orchestrated in a bleak romantic chiaroscuro the complex architectural polyphony.

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Little Sleep’s-Head

黒い鳥

VII
LITTLE SLEEP’S-HEAD
SPROUTING HAIR IN THE MOONLIGHT

1

You scream, waking from a nightmare.

When I sleepwalk
into your room, and pick you up,
and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
hard,
as if clinging could save us. I think
you think
I will never die, I think I exude
to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
even as
my broken arms heal themselves around you.

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The Ghost’s Leavetaking

plath

Enter the chilly no-man’s land of about
Five o’clock in the morning, the no-color void
Where the waking head rubbishes out the draggled lot
Of sulfurous dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums
Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much,

Gets ready to face the ready-made creation
Of chairs and bureaus and sleep-twisted sheets.
This is the kingdom of the fading apparition,
The oracular ghost who dwindles on pin-legs
To a knot of laundry, with a classic bunch of sheets

Upraised, as a hand, emblematic of farewell.
At this joint between two worlds and two entirely
Incompatible modes of time, the raw material
Of our meat-and-potato thoughts assumes the nimbus
Of ambrosial revelation. And so departs.

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To dream burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite …

The Library of Babel
Library of Babel

The Universe, which others call the Library, is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below—one after another, endlessly. The arrangement of the galleries is always the same: Twenty bookshelves, five to each side, line four of the hexagon’s six sides; the height of the bookshelves, floor to ceiling, is hardly greater than the height of a normal librarian.

One of the hexagon’s free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the first— identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other, for satisfying one’s physical necessities. Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances. Men often infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite—if it were, what need would there be for that illusory replication? I prefer to dream that burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite…. Light is provided by certain spherical fruits that bear the name “bulbs.” There are two of these bulbs in each hexagon, set crosswise. The light they give is insufficient, and unceasing.

Like all the men of the Library, in my younger days I traveled; I have journeyed in quest of a book, perhaps the catalog of catalogs. Now that my eyes can hardly make out what I myself have written, I am preparing to die, a few leagues from the hexagon where I was born. When I am dead, compassionate hands will throw me over the railing; my tomb will be the unfathomable air, my body will sink for ages, and will decay and dissolve in the wind engendered by my fall, which shall be infinite. I declare that the library is endless. Idealists argue that the hexagonal rooms are the necessary shape of absolute space, or at least of our perception of space. They argue that a triangular or pentagonal chamber is inconceivable.

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