Lack: Lives of the Koanan #9
They think life lacks. This is why they are bad at inter-views. The word suggests interchange, where looking is mutual. This is not so. Nor does looking reveal. What is looked at is the ability to be looked at.
Life is lack. Sergoffa ponders the motion that occurs in the Lake of Lack, central location to her virtual society. The beings do pilgrimage there. They are pale and thin but they wear many colours.
They are contained somehow. Sergoffa wonders if it is the sky, sending its angles of watching among them like obstacles. But there is nothing obvious hindering their limbs from skirting the lake and advancing to the lighted buildings on the one hand, the fields and hills on the other.
Motion in the Lake of Lack is whimsical. Constant action of its trapped entities reveals itself in bursts of brief mandalic rippling. From above the wind tries to alter it but battering never wounds its bland aspect. What colour is it. It is something vague. Pale with suggestions of dark. That means nothing. Bluish maybe, and lilac, and underneath the suggestion of blood red. They are dropping flower petals into it. They have dressed up their narrow bodies for it. Have painted their faces for it. Their faces are coated with a paste the colour of skin that conceals only the lines of possible breakage. As the paste is visible it reveals the contrivance and suggests the faultlines. They seem to accept this paradoxical subterfuge. They tell each other they look well.
They advance and gather. They speak excitedly towards each other then go into abeyance, quivering lakelike. They are not satisfied by their talk and they don’t know why. It stays inside swirling as a trapped concoction. They stare at the lake. They watch what looks like red fish now and then piercing the surface with their mouths. They name this beautiful and turn towards the buildings.
Sergoffa’s empathic facility goes with them, in them. They have inter-views. They stand in line and are inter-viewed. Confusing. Their pasted faces hide nothing and reveal nothing. Their voices ripple in circles, rise in small peaks and recede to pale silence. Silence, maybe, would satisfy them. Silence ringed with red. Silence full of itself that always had room and time. Silence like a happy family.
Which confuses Sergoffa and removes her for a few traces, into sleep. She revives, the thought stored for processing with something analogous. Behind the eyes of the lake-lovers she views what they know of faces and limbs. Much, it seems. Small details hooked and stored, kept alive in surrogate water. So much water. They manage enough inter-views to find small securities among the buildings. They are anchored by buildings.
What are they called. How shall they be known. They go to their tasks, half-lit, dreaming the fullness of Lack-lake, unconvinced by every other environment. Why don’t they swim, Sergoffa asks. And answers herself. They are in the mode of reverence. Touch is too vigorous. Touch is final. Once done it’s done. Then more touch and more endings. What is done is the lighted building. Touching stone harms nothing. Touching inscrutable water is different. It’s the water that must touch, embrace, rise and take. These beings—Subtellars, call them—survive by what they call absence. Paradoxically, their presence is essential, their perpetual dedicated bolstering motion.
Dissatisfied, Sergoffa recedes from her virsoc. What would satisfy her, she wonders, as she drifts towards abeyance. What kind of action. What kind of still.