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for a brief but wide moment i know no punctuation no punching home of the fact of my great lone voyage stillness is a shocking thing that you can claim it

Máighréad Medbh (1)
 

How big would that [bus or house or] be to Mr Small my son used to ask when he was small relative to his present size. I have no idea how I answered and no idea how I’d answer him now except to say very or 1,000 times his size or some such random figure. I was never so interested in comparison and proportion. Everything made an impression for itself only. I remember my childhood as one long largeness.


Picture this: a girl in a green field.
There is no perspective. It’s a flat scene she walks,
turned from you. Her face doesn’t matter.
It’s the back of her head that speaks.

Máighréad Medbh (2)
 

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari speak of the smoothness of the ‘nomad’s’ world meaning there are no arbitrary divisions or striations. In such a perception moments are experienced not placed and are constantly displaced. The whole world is felt at once. Time and locality merge and large unterritories are experienced as influences.

...sedentary space is striated, by walls, enclosures, and roads between enclosures, while nomad space is smooth, marked only by “traits” that are effaced and displaced with the trajectory.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (3)
 

But an unstriated mental state might be mistaken for madness. Even if we mostly wander we are always looking for a clue and if not a clue a system of way stations—commas colons full-stops places to pause points we can use to relate one thing to another. In fact most of us solve the mapping problem by walking tunnels in which the walls and ceilings are paved by our projected spots and curves though we think they are landscapes and sky.


For all her walking she has no direction,
and the aspects of this green have no names.
The nearest would be: fingers, clumps, spatters,
tufts, sun speckles, grasshopper leaps.

Máighréad Medbh (4)
 

I read of a country I haven’t thought about since Geography classes. French Guiana. Where is French Guiana on the mental map that describes a daily Irish journey to school or work? For many of us it’s a some-coloured Rorschach blot on an internalised map of South America. Zoom in by Google and you’ll see the streets of Kourou. This is a godseye. Google is our god-tool. God the Ogler. God the Peeping. God-notion is the projection of a more reliable pointed eye.

So what is French Guiana to the casual go-d-ogler? French Guiana is where Gaia—the probe and not the god—will be launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket from the European Space Agency’s spaceport on 20th December 2013 and sent into investigative orbit. Gaia will tell us utterly new tales about the origin of the universe and dark matter (God who scattered all and then retired?). Then we will be able to put points on that piece of dark and it will be on the map we take in our heads to work and school. Those new points will enter the portfolio of possibilities on our crime-wall of connections—those dots in the join-the-dots of our environment.


“It [Gaia] can measure star positions with an accuracy of 10 micro-arc seconds,” said Professor Gerry Gilmore, a lead scientist for the mission. “It can locate stars with an accuracy equivalent to the pinpointing of a shirt button on the Moon.”

The Observer (5)
 

Gaia will locate hundreds of thousands of distant planets in orbit around other stars. It will survey asteroids that orbit close to our sun giving warnings of any collision courses with earth that might blow us off some other alien’s go-d-ogle map. (We are all aliens to someone.)

I am a galactic cloud so deep    so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me....

Adrienne Rich (6)
 

Now French Guiana has become a magic wand with a glowing point and when I hear it I synthesise a 2-ton hat-shaped object with a goddess’ name serving the human mapping quest in a starched sea punctuated with sequins.


“We are going to rewrite every star chart and every astronomy book that we have written over the centuries,” said Professor Mark McCaughrean, ESA’s senior scientific adviser.

The Observer (7)
 

Books have already been re-written figuratively speaking in French Guiana this launchpad so suitable because of its proximity to the equator and the concomitant thrust from the earth’s rotation. Many prisoners of ‘Devil’s Island’ an hour’s boatride from Kourou would have volunteered for space oblivion rather than spend time in the penal colony that was described by Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere and Rene Belbenoit and where Captain Alfred Dreyfus was falsely imprisoned for spying from 1895 to 1899. Solitary was the name of the game and how the lone life drains one of all point.


I am a drop
Shed by the gregarious sea.
Why do I mourn?

Máighréad Medbh (8)
 

All of a sudden a point has appeared a reason for pause as when you discover something old about the ground you walk on and internalise the fact that no it was not nor will be always pavement. You enter the point by becoming small-focused and find it spidery with dimensions like when you stick a stick in wet soil and all those Mr Small manoeuvres happen that are large to something else. 


When I was ant, tick, beetle, low-scuttling to the grains,
a blade of grass was sequoia, not green but seismicity,
but wind in the eyes, a bulge and a danger, thump of foot
no lingoed thing, only world changing.

Máighréad Medbh (9)
 

The point the pause the black circle or squiggle becomes movement because what’s markable is consumable. So to pause and look at Kourou in French Guiana is to know too that it wasn’t always French and isn’t now either as it’s inhabited by Maroons and Vietnamese and indigenous peoples whose names I hope I repeat correctly here. Kali’na. Pahikweneh. Lokono. Wayana. Wayapi. Teko. Taino (Arawak). Galibi. Palikur. Emerillon. Oyampi. All of which are new stars to me.


But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—

T. S. Eliot (10)
 

I read once that children need something to look forward to. It gives shape to days that have no actual requirements or dependencies. When a conceived point is reached we can look around us and re-orient. We become points ourselves. Punctuation is a means of apprehending information that shapes and re-shapes in relation to the constantly changing matrix.


The circle of light and dark is the binding on a formless text. Chapters, paragraphs, indents, colons, commas, exclamation marks, capital letters, full-stops: all these are alien to the
scroll of the sun.

Máighréad Medbh (11)
 

All to point out that it’s best not to simply punctuate our lives with Saturdays and Sundays and the received blobs of countries and their tidy names but with something much much larger like the connections between things and how things morph beyond our tame expectations and how even Mr Small’s shirt button might one day be an x on a more accurate map of the universe.

Merry Xmas

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References

(1) Máighréad Medbh: Savage Solitude: reflections of a reluctant loner, Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2013, ‘no. 223. unstopped’, p. 247.
(2) Máighréad Medbh: ‘Green, Simply’ in Pagan to the Core, new collection to be published December 2013. Dublin: Arlen House.
(3) Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus, translated by Brian Massumi, London, New York: Continuum, 2012, p. 420.
(4) Máighréad Medbh: ‘Green, Simply’, opus cit.
(5) Robin Mc Kie: ‘Space probe searches for galaxy’s dark energy’, Observer Newspaper, 17th November 2013, p. 23.
(6) Adrienne Rich: ‘Planetarium’, in Selected Poems 1950 – 1995, Cliffs of Moher: Salmon Publishing, P. 58.
(7) Robin Mc Kie, opus ibid.
(8) Máighréad Medbh: ‘One’, in Savage Solitude: reflections of a reluctant loner, Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2013, p. 13.
(9) Máighréad Medbh: ‘When I Was Ant’, in Pagan to the Core, new collection to be published December 2013. Dublin: Arlen House.
(10) T. S. Eliot: ‘Four Quartets: The Dry Salvages, V’. Collected Poems 1909-1962, London: Faber, 1977, p. 212.
(11) Máighréad Medbh: Savage Solitude: reflections of a reluctant loner, Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2013, ‘22: scroll’, p. 38.

Note: Mr Small is a character created by Roger Hargreaves in his Mr Men series of books.


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