LIGHT—at the centre of all things a great fire is burning. Elsewhere,
in a bedroom above a small English garden, steam spurts from the lid of
a rice cooker, pooling out lazily across the ceiling. A person sits on a
A house lies behind the door at the rear of the bedroom. It has people
in it, and outside, in the city, there are people too. Beggars walk the
arterial roads waving empty cups at glass-eyed commuters. Now a raindrop
strikes a gutter—gulls patrol the heaving streets. All this and more
the person sitting on the bed has designed a retreat from. They have not
left the bedroom for a long time. See them? Their mind plays with finer
things: they dream of burning in a tower fire in some far-off apartment
They dream of dying in a tower fire because to them the apartment
complex is the unit of social isolation of the future. The apartment
complex is far-off out of necessity. It is uniform and clean, and built
somewhere free from the sludge of lost time that cakes the concrete
colony outside the house behind the door at the rear of the bedroom.
They dream of burning because fire is motion without end. Flames lap at
the person’s feet. Steam still pools on the ceiling. Through the ripples
a pale hand emerges, stretching, reaching down. Skin drips from bones.
The centre of a thing is never its true centre. A thing’s true centre is
a function of both its centre and its outside—a spiral groove that
balances where control and dissolution meet. London thinks itself the
centre of England, perhaps even of the world, but more truth about both
wells up from the sands of broken seaside towns than from between the
cracks of the capital’s pavements. Similarly, though one may know the
censored content masked within one’s dreams, this knowledge in-itself
will never meet with motion. The person sitting on the bed, flames
climbing up their feet, up their legs, up their body, thinks they know
their censor well. They know their moving image of a tower fire stands
in for something else, but this does not make them move.
White heat. Ashless fire. The pale hand stretches out. The person
reaches up—or, rather, a double does, flickering atop the surface of
their flesh. Fingers clasping fingers. Upward flight.
DARKNESS—in a space above the ceiling of the bedroom above the small
English garden a crocodile-head man kneels behind a desk, his body
spliced up with telephone cables. The shade floats into place before
him, hand in spectral hand with their emissary and representative.
Laughter. An electric jury lurks in the rear, braying from stacked
aisles which pile away on top of each other towards infinity. Jaws sneer
wide run through with communications crackle. Pounding fists zap on
contact with metal handrails. The court of private opinion opens.
A surgical gag holds the shade’s mouth open. Into it the representative
reaches. Knuckles grazing tonsils—down past the throat into the depths
of the body. Her fingers grasp something solid. Her arm retracts. In her
hand is the tower fire, burning in some far-off apartment complex. The
crocodile judge smiles. On the desk rests a set of copper scales. On
those scales the defendant’s dream is weighed against nothing in
To the left and right of the space above the ceiling a darkness extends
forever, curving inwards, curving outwards, away and out of sight. In
the darkness, though, something dances—dances at both ends, lighter
than air, tossed about by currents twisting outwards towards elsewhere.
The jury leers forward. In the hands of the judge the tower fire seems
heavy. His fingers sag beneath it as it rolls gently onto the weighing
pan. The winds pick up, and the scale slowly sinks down beneath the
Static madness. Jeering from the auditorium. The representative frowns
and the shade’s form flutters around its edges. From between rotting
rows of reptile teeth comes the demand that the defendant speak its own
defence. Out the gag comes, metal taste behind it, and words are carried
on the wind:
I want to be golden. I want to be beams of shining light. I want
nature to make no demands on my body and I want my body to make no
demands on me. I want to make demands on my body. I want it to conform
to my vision elegantly. I want power, and with it I want to make
nature scream beyond itself at that limit point where it can no longer
contain me. I want to burn in a tower fire in some far off apartment
complex—and I want that fire to burn so bright it folds the outside
inside and my single point becomes the whole. I want—I want—I
The shade is splitting. Two heads pull two bodies off each other,
dragged both ways down the twisting corridors that wind away from the
space above the ceiling of the bedroom above the small English garden.
Fire is dancing in the darkness now, somewhere in the distance, far away
in both directions. Howling gale mutes the maddening crowd. The shades
are out of sight. The spent jury slump forward. Saliva glisten catches
golden in the light as the judge gazes at the dream of burning in a
tower fire. The representative takes her place beside him. In the dream
the flames are climbing higher, slinking in and out the windows, around
the concrete walls and metal beams. The tower has no roof. There is no
highest floor. When the flames reach the top they reach the bottom—a
red pyre without limit cuts up two halves of eternity.
A furtive hand darts out in hunger and whisks the scene into the judge’s
waiting jaws. He bites. He smiles. The representative’s head whips
around. Disappointed, she slaps him on the wrist.