It’s hard to describe the excitement, but an explanation is found in part in the structure of the credit sequence. It was more than familiar to us, splitting itself into two quite distinct segments, taking the same form for both opening and closing credits with the difference that one mirrored and reversed the other. The episode itself was thus ‘bookended’ and rendered to some degree banal by our preference for an introduction and epilogue that, in their different internal orders, we could not always distinguish properly. All this is to say that there was always some doubt as to whether the images of most interest were yet to come or if they had been missed already.
Of the two segments that made up the opening and closing sequences, since one of them was of particular interest (and the source of excitement) it was inevitable that the other should become unbearable, a scandalous denial. But miraculously and despite the fear of life withheld, the keenly sought pictures would appear. Everything about them was compelling; this statement has to be read always for stronger meaning. There was no hand visible. The box revolved on its own. Its lid was of a kind not seen before, inexplicable, ingenious, multiple leaves moving in synchrony, slotting with precision. And from inside, on a platform that ascended into view in time with the rotation, something would appear. It would do so as if materialised from nothing there in the box’s darkness, a character presented not as the character known by his name, but as an irreducible puzzle. So the rotating box with its ascending platform showed what every one of us knows but has forgotten, which is that despite the familiarity of their names, all characters are enigmas.
The character: all the more present in the absence of the name.
Roll forward some years and another platform is found, or something very much like it. In its own way here too it’s the stage mechanism itself that appears and surprises. This time it does not rotate, but the issue of rotation remains the crux: precisely, a still platform, but stillness such that its impetus is rotation. Furthermore, being suspended it radiates the same magic. It is both suspended in a field of gravity and mysteriously stabilised in immunity from gravity’s effects.
There is something on the platform. What’s on the platform is the writer’s thesis – not in actuality but nascent, tangled and weed-like, a skein of desire. We had not noticed the thing there due to an undecidability about the platform and the thing it supports – this a result in turn of the way they have appeared. What’s on the platform is primary but, its appearance being inexplicable, is a question too – a question of the kind that evokes its answer simultaneously, spontaneously, answer as necessity – thing supported and supporting structure there beneath, both held suspended as if by a feat of electro-magnetism. As the thesis is presented in its potentiality, so the platform’s function for multiple angles of viewing is virtual. Important work is done bringing it into consciousness (the theorising of theory) but equally, something important is elided if we become too enamoured with an idea of work. To see what it promises to show from a different angle demands some facility to turn the platform. So where this platform is concerned, as before, there is no hand. But the turning must be enacted. To enact the turning is no insignificant work. Just as the first account is crafted in writing in the picture’s absence, so the second has its occlusion in a work of rotation by which something, a platform’s object, can be seen from a different angle. About the work of rotation, nothing is said.
Let’s not propose that such creative tools have a clear provenance, endeavour once more to find complexity in their origins and remember a pond in Aviemore, a fishing pond by a guesthouse, and in which the proprietor’s daughter was said to have swum. (What kind of woman was she? Who would dare to dive into such blackness? How deep? How soft and hazardous the matter beneath?) It was only while standing on the boards of what had been taken as a jetty on the edges of the pond that the stage was appreciated as something other than fixed foot-boards supported on piles driven into hard ground beneath the water. Great masses of pondweed there gave this body of water its dangerous parameters: such was all the support. Tilting one’s weight a bit the stage would flood – not so much as to wet one’s socks, but enough to reveal that the support was nothing but the buoyancy of watery vegetation. Then again, if it had been possible to step here first in false confidence, was it not possible to remain? Time spent on the boards on the chickweed was unexpected research – proto-research – to yield its results much later (while academies render themselves by steady increments less able to comprehend such trajectories within work) a quality of gravity’s force and resistance to it written into the body, bio-knowing before consciousness. There may be no bubbles of air trapped in the weed, but in the weed, in its cells and vascular bundles there is air all the same, and enough of it that without any bladders visible to the eye, a stage of boards slung carelessly onto the pond’s periphery takes the weight of a boy.