Entropy of Castaliae… by Stephen Brockbank

From the villa down perfect windy roads along through Mercatllo along a long flat by windy road with villages and corners that made him wish he was in the spider. Drifting road banked corners past melon fields. Adverts tacked onto trees advertising Fiats, Alfas, Castiglione and films. By the roadside old men sat on the universal white plastic chairs smoking and watching us and the world drift past. Police in blue uniforms looking for crime through film and tv filled eyes.The town reminded him of Bath, a nice square, very narrow streets. Bars in old corners, cars negotiating high sided streets. Like all Italian towns visited this time a lack of parks, no greenery. Alberti Buzzi abstract expressionist – sack cloth and ashes, burnt pieces of wood. Lace painted over the shadows of the body on clothes attached to the corners. Painted in beige on a bright red background. Plastic panels distorted with heat reminding him of Duchamps Bride laid bar. Melancholy the plastic hung like mutated flesh from the strangely rectangular frame. Like an hallucination.. the noise of crickets, cicadas, a car, an hallucination, the long curve around the bottom of a hill. He would have liked to talk to you about the sky over Castaliae Fons. The painfully bright blue sky and the quick billowing clouds driven away by the winds. The deserted monastery on the top of the mountain on the road to Madrid, and then on to the world. Where he arrived in the early summer to find people shooting a movie, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to come across a man explaining what he wanted the actors to do, whilst his assistants, lined up cameras and lights. Technologies built to record the spectacle of the actors performing. All this whilst photons and waves generated by the sun poured into the Cistercian cloisters. He wanted to tell you, to tell you: “This is what I was like then, all those years ago when I passed through travelling away from Feramontov.”

Did he like Spain in those days? It was like pushing aside a curtain hung over the door of a local tavern and walking straight into a book by Duras, a bar in which a woman was trying to leave her husband, or perhaps in his case something a little more sinister. That was the doorway into life, away from the existential moment he was leaving behind. It had the scent of literature, like reading a short story in the Tavern over some tapas whilst drinking mineral water and espresso. It was an ordinary day. He wasn’t the person who you might know now. He still had the aura of guilt that afflicts the person who is waiting for things to happen; who is trying on elements of reaction to see how they feel. He thought he was taking risks, occasionally writing them down, either as stories or system specifications, both of which were describing related things. There, as he travelled north, slightly squinting in bright sunshine even whilst wearing his shades, imagining lazy afternoons, insect noise, small glasses of local wine then, it would be impossible now. He was collecting information for the secret society that he occasionally worked for, transporting it northwards to a meeting a few days north of here. That evening he listened to a Spanish poet reading his poetry to an audience in a small gallery adjacent to the hotel. The poet was full of tenderness for this imaginary woman made of poetry. He recognized that the poet really did love this woman he was re-imagining in this white room and cafe, loving her in an inauthentic way to a public disconcerted by the abuse he was committing. The poet loved what was his in her. He sipped the chilled wine and whilst musing about the entropic state the poet was describing, said to himself: too late, much too late now […] The hotel was built around a shady courtyard, which had a wooden doorway high enough for a horse and cart to enter and a few well watered old trees prospering in the shade. It was a good place. The restaurant had three walls covered with cracked blackened mirrors and ornamental frames, strips of shelving for pictures and books to be balanced on. It was late evening, a discreet group of people of the kind you find in expensive hotels sitting around and talking late into the night. There he sits listening with disinterest to the people around him. (And what was the poet thinking making such a confession to the public. What is this thing he is thinking. Is poetry so unaware of the damage it is causing to both parties ?) He looks out of the window as the car lights illuminate the fields far below in the valley. He can see the Earth which has been carrying us for tens of thousands of years reaching its limits. In a bowl on the side-table was an array of pink and red roses, he remembered a teacher who used to say: look, this is how the world is, this is how it is actually made like this rose, hundreds of petals, stamens, stalks, molecules, atoms, particles. The image emerged from the mass of discontinuous memories, and he looked on the petal of the rose for the long roads passing Castaliae Fons, driving the car fast, northwards on the E1, thinking he might get back into life through the curtain of the tavern into the scene about Kudus by Duras, and instead it was just roses, some of whom are dying, entropy, petals falling off onto the white table surface. (The poet may have read his unforgivable poem in a fine voice, he may have been on the point of anger because of what the poet was saying (… wondering if he should turn the wrath of the secret society on this appalling person). But no it was merely him.) It was because he had been driving north, carrying out instructions when he really would have liked to be talking to you. So he went back to the hotel to his room to look at the photos he had with him that he had taken from Feramontov. He inspected the photos image by image, deciding which ones to enlarge. Investigating each square centimetre of the enlargements, an imprecise deconstruction of the images piece by piece. A long set of tasks requiring impatience and patience by turn, cups of espresso and cappuccino drank into the night, interminable days with lenses and lamps. Eventually after the delivery to the meeting, the distribution of the secrets having begun, he sits down and begins the enlargement process. The surface of the images is like old skin, full of fractalized wrinkles and scar tissue, it makes you feel sad. Once it was alive you think but now it is in front of him and you, like dead things worthy of mass consumption. Spacetime has passed and it is lost, all that remains is a representation which is not meant in the original sense sense and sense. Here though its still like the fast drive from Madrid northwards, the day after the poet abused language and his love. He knows the sense is different, as the actual sense he was looking for before when he didn’t know what sense it might mean, whereas now as he drives in a different direction away from what is now Feramontov’s dead body, the prints of the south, the novels of Duras, the music of Oslo, these are the things of the person he becomes; nothing but the actuality. But who is the woman who loved Castaliae Fons that he was thinking of ?