Janet (j4) wrote,


[I tried to post this yesterday but LJ was playing up. Better luck this time.]

As I looked at them, suddenly the shops, the signs, the self-advertising logos and slogans ceased to have any meaning. It was as if my mind had been severed in an instant from the experience, from the ability to parse even the physical objects around me, let alone their cultural connotations; and the shock of the split was so great that it made me feel dizzy and sick. What were these heaps of multicoloured things? These shapes, these random orderings of letters? It wasn't a questioning of the validity of a way of life, a questioning of the purpose of things; it wasn't a sudden realisation that the things around me were shallow and superficial. Those feelings are inevitable. It was more like forgetting how to read: suddenly I was locked out of the semiotic universe in which until then I had been immersed.

The moment passed, but I remained dazed and confused. I began to regain a sense of connectedness, but I still found myself looking vacantly past things which ordinarily I would have looked at with interest. It wasn't until I bumped into people or objects that I'd realise that I wasn't focussing on anything, I was just staring into the middle distance. I felt as though I was hearing everything from the other side of a glass wall; when I walked, I felt as though my feet weren't quite connecting with the floor. Not like floating, or flying; more like running in a dream towards a destination which you know you will never reach.

I tried to remember the words, the mouth movements, with which to apologise to the people I bumped into. My mouth felt alien to me.

I took advantage of the sunshine to walk home along the riverside. As I stared into the dark green water I thought of Millais' Ophelia, her chestnut hair streaming out behind her like a substitute for her past. Urban legend has it that he made his wife lie fully-clothed in the bath for hours as a study for this painting. If this is true then I wish he had painted the wife in the bath as well, as a companion to his famous painting; but then I like my illusions to be dissected and demystified so that I can appreciate them better, believe in them more.

It always seems that drowning should be a painless and peaceful death; all expression leached from the face by the washing of the waves. I felt that it would be so easy to lie face-down in the water and slowly let dark green become blackness and silence. There is a silence where no sound may be. In reality, though, it would not be like this; the body would fight death every step of the way. The lungs would burn with the need for air, and death would come as a panic, a grasping and gasping for something out of reach.

I felt detached from thoughts of drowning. I feel detached from these words. I can connect / Nothing with nothing.

Fear death by water.

Lots more that I want to say but I can't work out how to formulate it into words at once true and kind / Or not untrue, and not unkind.

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