“Nothing dies…it all just goes in circles.” -Keith Haring to Tullio Francesco DeSantis
In a mountainous place, a river divides a city. There, a vast battle is engaged. On either side of the valley, two brick towers rise above the din. Near the apex of each tower, a huge clock projects outward at the endpoint of a cylindrical structure.
Time stops as a naked man perched over one of the mammoth timepieces draws a calligraphic message upon the brick-and-mortar cylinder housing the clockwork. The teeming battle below freezes in place. A procession of monks chanting in slow motion is the sole activity which continues. His message complete, the man expires upon the turret.
Action resumes. Looking across the valley at the calligrapher’s corpse, I find myself poised on the other tower. I know what is about to occur. I know I will duplicate the act I have witnessed and that I will die when it is done. I feel no fear – no fear.
I welcome death. I am aware of knowing something the others do not know. At this moment however, the nature of this knowledge is a mystery to me. It is sufficient that, as a result of possessing it, I do not fear certain death.
Again, time is stopped – the movement of the soldiers as well. I move with the lethargy of somnambulance. The monks’ laconic chant fills the space. I create white ciphers with a long brush. I experience death.
I focus upon the central cone of my vision. There is nothing on the periphery but a blue haze. Dawn and Mia are with me in our home. They point out the places where white flames burn suspended above blue floors and rafters. I tell them not to worry because my companion and I are watching the flames and even though they are getting larger they are not burning anything in the house.
I move from room to room, checking conditions. Earlier, when we determined there was no danger from the fires, I had instructed my companion to get some sleep, as he was weary from his watch.
The flames grow faster now – reaching from floors below to rafters above. Concerned, I decide to wake my companion. When I reach the attic I see he is already awake and I say I am reassured he is acting so responsibly.
We are lifted up above the house. It is consumed within a star-like ball of blue-white incandescence. I want to go back and rescue Mia and Dawn but my friend tells me not to worry because he is dreaming and we are just characters in his dream. It occurs to me I knew this was a dream the moment I realized I would die on the clock tower. This is the reason fear held no grip on me.
We are traveling, Keith and I, through the night sky. Soon, I see the cratered lunar landscape at our side. A few saccades and we pass the horizons of Venus and Jupiter. As I gaze backward, I see the astronomical bodies in triangular alignment joined by the small blue ball of planet Earth – the conjunction is squared.
Beyond the orange-hot sun and its centrifugal family, we fly through interstellar space. This is where it becomes clear…the universe is composed of…nothing at all.
“This is what dies,” he says.
I respond, “Is that why we are here?”
As he nods his head, I note in the distance a concretion of infinitesimal luminous points – just a few at first, then more and more come into view – as something issues from nothing. Through the vacuum I sense our direction is toward Sagittarius A and the center of our galaxy. There, where lurks a black hole millions of times denser than Sol, resides the relentless heart of the Milky Way.
Image: Digital collage by Tullio Francesco DeSantis, 2008