Veins [360° Experience Video] by Felix Neumann
THE END OF THE WORLD IS THE PRECONDITION FOR THE WORLD.
Just as pulling at a loose thread will eventually unfurl entire garments, the end of the world began small. The sun dried the grass and trees into dust while, in other places, countless rivers burst their banks. Birds fell silent, and then, when the oil ran out, so too did the traffic. Cities, in their hubris, grew so tall they collapsed on top of us, breaking our bodies into fragments. Steel girders became indistinguishable from bones. To some it might have seemed as though there were nothing left, but there is always something. Even when things appear to be at an end, the worms and microbes will still come and rebuild you.
This place is able to heal what is broken, but this is reconfiguration rather than restoration. The black and choking dust clouds soon settled into something alluvial, damp, fertile. As we took shelter from the burning sun, we watched white blood cells and platelets soar down the streets and alleyways. To shield us from further pain, tentacular arms pulled shop shutters closed, like steel hospital curtains. Those who were less broken scraped together the wet rubble and ashes and guts, preparing a salve for those who suffered most, a tender ointment to heal old wounds. The only sound to be heard was a wind-like, collective whisper: this had been a long time coming.
I remember a wound that had appeared around this time, a deep laceration on the palm of my hand. It was sticky-red and fleshy, like an overripe pomegranate. If I were to pull its edges apart slightly, inside I saw six small eyes, six sparks of fire that cast light out from the darkness. In their language beyond words, they asked me to accept the possibility of impossible worlds. To see a world thick with all time all at once; to understand that there is no past to return to, nor was there ever such a place. These eyes were of great comfort.
Since past, present and future end up collapsing into one another, there is a chance you are reading these words in the before-time. If so, heed my advice: although a body can be perilous, it is also a site of liberation. Take refuge in a body’s openness: to be alive is to leak into others. Also know that this body extends far beyond the limits of your skin; it is a city, the forest, the sea, the earth. I don’t mean this as metaphor. Let yourself be held by it, try it on for size. If it doesn’t fit, it can be remade from the ruins.
Such a body is always multiple, slipping promiscuously between human and animal and machine. We are all Caliban now, but we reject Prospero’s enslavement and refuse to turn away from ourselves in disgust. Part human, part beast, part fish, part witch: an ambiguous and collective body that pulls apart the old rules, tears bounded systems into shreds. We are no longer afraid, for we have found beauty in our monstrosity.
Caliban found respite from violence—his own and others’—through music. When the ‘isle full of noises’ rang out with ‘a thousand twangling instruments’, Caliban was no longer afraid; instead, these ‘sweet airs’ enabled him to dream of impossible worlds. For Caliban and perhaps also for you, reader, music is a place of undoing, where the line between the brutal and the sacred comes apart in a state of endless becoming.