hypnogeographies

Today the postman brought me a package containing 14 copies of Hypnogeography, my new book from Kilmog Press ; when I opened it I was delighted to find that every cover is different, making each one unique. The contents are, reassuringly, the same in all of them. The book opens with a piece called The Auracania Papers, of which what follows is the first section; it ends with the Hypnogeography : A Journal, from which I have excerpted the seventh and last (untitled) dream, which closes the book.

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from : The Auracania Papers

I

Allman Park

Allman Park is laid out geometrically after the flag of some forgotten or yet to be invented nation. The Fire Station over the road, the Police Station next to that. Victoria Street with its twin lines of massive palms that carry in their name a memory of the Phoenicians. Tintern Road down the other flank where one rainy day I saw the brick garage of the early childhood centre collapse into rubble with a sigh. On that corner you cannot help but think Abbey and then Wordsworth but after that there’s nowhere to go: Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns. Norton Street runs between the two and that’s where I walk on Sunday mornings with my sons looking for mice that infest the fragrant hedgerow beneath the coned agathis from which comes the dammar gum. It wasn’t until I went there for a tryst one purple dusk last autumn that I saw the park is an outpost of the country called Auracania, a raft detached long ago perhaps from Antarctica. The once and future kingdom of Auracania. The one I was there to meet did not come at the appointed time and then I knew she never would. I sat on the bench before the dry fountain a while longer in order to fix in mind the passing shapes of that ambiguous hour. Auracania the place of conifers and shaggy beasts, some of whom might have been human. I glimpsed beneath the kauri a shadowy diprodon large as a rhinoceros. A palorchestes with claws and stunted trunk like a deformed elephant snuffled under the arbour for god knows what. A posse of flat-faced sthenurine kangaroo went by. The ghost of zaglossus, that echidna the size of a goat, feeding on armoured blattodea. Mihirung birds striding out, flightless and carnivorous, taller than moa. A goanna six metres long and slavering. I would not have you think these creatures came before my eyes like things of this world; only when I looked away did I seem to see them, only at the moment of forgetting did they remember themselves—vast dim shapes like grey holes in the gathering dusk, absences deeper than an ache in the heart, more monstrous than grief, further away than pain. Their remanence refracted through tears. Their cold extinction and their future bones. I wondered about passing over and joining them in the lacustrine sunshine of their yesteryears but it was not possible. Stupid even to try: as if delusion should replace reality. So I got up and slowly walked on home. Past automobiles and grimy shop windows, sheets of paper blowing in the wind. The bus stop that has been closed. I had not noticed before that you can see the crown of the agathis from my balcony. There on the skyline, just to the right of the steeple glyphed with Sumerian cuneiform. At the blue hour, when I cannot sleep, I go out to sit and smoke and watch the spire firm against the lightening dark. Sometimes, not often, I hear a snarl and a scream, followed by distant braw bellowing as a sarcophilus takes a warredja returning to its burrow and eviscerates it beneath the gibbous moon. And then I smile because at such moments death means life and life means death and between them there is nothing to choose that has not already been chosen.

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from : Hypnogeography : A Journal

VII

It is a wedding party. My beloved’s and mine. In a high clear room whose south windows looks out over the landscape from a Renaissance painting; whose north rises up above canals that thread the cobbled streets below. Not that anyone is looking out the windows. At tables on the mezzanine, down on the black and white checked floor, in galleries and alcoves, all the people I have ever known and many I do not are gathered in conversation, in eating and drinking, in laughter and forgetting. Such a wealth of acquaintance! And yet no family. I step down from the mezzanine to a table where a heavily bound, ancient book is opened by a gentleman with moustaches, while the words on a page therein are read to him by the lady at his side. It is a parallel text, each reads from the page before them, and each reads the same words. What are they? A spell, a recipe, an incantation, a poem? I cannot tell and then I cannot hear: on the black and white floor a band advances, playing. A horn section, drums, accordion and guitar. Some of them I know, they are musicians I worked with in my youth. Mike Gubb is there. Mike Knapp. Now another band comes from the other side of the floor, same instrumentation, different players. It is a duel, Mariachi style, a battle of the bands, wonderful! And where is my beloved? I look up towards the windows in the south, the green leafy trees, the yellow fields where tiny black peasants labour, the distant white towers and the architecture of clouds in the sky. She comes walking down out of that magnificence, people fall back on either side, the musicians, the wizard with his book, the lady, everyone, holding up in their hands peculiar U-shaped glasses full of purple wine. It is a party, mine and my beloved’s; not a wedding, for that has already been. We raise the U-shaped glasses and drink the purple wine; in acclamation. The bands resume their march and play, play and march, back and forth like miniature armies they crisscross the black and white floor. And then the dancing.

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