The Pool, You Know; the Pool [A Short Story]

I

The pool loves Narcissus. Echo loves Narcissus. Everybody talks about Echo. No one talks about the Pool. The Pool is unable to echo Narcissus’s last words. The Pool cannot speak as Echo can speak, if Echo’s punishment could be called an ability. The Pool reflects Narcissus’s image, what he sees, what he falls in love with . . . and in this, the Pool is most like Echo. Reflection of light, reverberation of sound; one the other analogous, you could say. I do. I used to think that a shadow was most like an echo, if the auditory and the visual were compared. It is in the reflection of Narcissus that we have the proper analogy for Echo’s last words. The pool reflects Narcissus. Narcissus lies at the side of the pool. Why no one considers how the pool feels, or if the pool feels at all, baffles me.

I used to buy her bunches of them every spring, early spring, the daffodils mark the season. Every spring, at home, in the kitchen, I’d put them in the vase I bought one time at Macy’s,. It was for the irises I’d buy at a stand on 2nd Avenue around the corner from Jules the nights we’d share wine and duck breast Parisienne, medium, never well, a bottle of Meursault or Puligny Montrachet . . . white burgundy with duck is superb.

Many stares, other gazes, strings of words following words, the light from the votives, photos with the camera she had bought for me, low light, I remember the De la Tour we’d always go see, chiaroscuro, Magdalena at a vanity with a mirror, skull and candle, a book and baubles scattered about. I love the Baroque. I loved the candle light affect, loved how it was used in the seventeenth century, particularly in the North, Flemish and Dutch paintings I’d go to the Met especially to see . . . I had developed a technique of holding shots at 1/15th without camera shake.

I liked manual focus in my photography, no flash. I learned to hold the camera steady in my hands at 1/15 of second, the shutter speed, no mere achievement. I opened the aperture to f/1.4. At a fifty millimeter focal length . . . you can do the arithmetic. 50/1.4 is how wide the diameter of the aperture stays opened, how much light then is let in, once more, low light. I always shot in black and white back when we were frequenting Jules, she and I, Echo or the pool, the votives, the mirrors, antique-framed, an old movie poster of Jean Gabin, La Bete Humaine. I always carried my cameras back then, two or three SLRs.

She liked them in bunches, the daffodils I would buy every spring. I recall again the flower Narcissus becomes, he becomes one, Narcissus, by the pool gazing at his reflection, listening closely for Echo’s echo. I am Narcissus for her, I am Echo too, though. She as well is both as each of us is either for the other. But what of the Pool, the Pool that longs for Narcissus. There must be something of the pool in his reflection, everything of what he loves we are convinced in his reflection.

She and I are both the pool, and sometimes we are each the pool together when neither of us is either Echo or Narcissus, reflection reflecting reflection. Again, there are times that either of us is either for the other in the other. We are many, always more than one, I am we I have asserted before, in other pages. I am both Anima and Animus, as are you both, sometimes either, at other times, each simultaneously. There are the moments when neither. How else to express this except in terms provided us by Jung. Either or both as there are times when neither.

No one considers the Pool. The pool is not incidental, the pool is not insignificant. The pool is important. The pool is a player in the scene. The pool is a participant. The Pool must have longed for Narcissus to fall in. How could the pool not have done so, as long as Narcissus was there by her side–yes, her. The pool is she.

How many of us have longed for our lovers to ruin themselves if it meant continuing the loving. No one weeps at a funeral for anyone but himself. I know this, at as many grave sides as I have stood. The same is true for the loss of a lover. What are we, what am I? I am Narcissus, I am Echo and I am the Pool. I am any one of them or any combination of two or maybe all three and any one of these combinations in conjunction with any combination on her side of the relationship, I am also none sometimes.

In a world where the gods punish girls like Echo and boys like Narcissus, pools can pine for men. In this world, men can be female characters, holding, embodying, displaying, any of the traits of character, as she could be Narcissus again to my Echo and vice-versa. I’ve said this before; I say it again, what the pool does in her pining for Narcissus is no more or less pitiable than the fate of Echo. The fate of Narcissus is not the crushing weight of vanity on the Self. There is something of the Pool present in Narcissus’s seeming vanity.

The daffodils, the daffodils in the vase on the table mark the spring. Sometimes I’d put them in the bucket of ice brought for the white burgundy we kept on the table instead to come up. If the wine is too cold, it remains closed. You might as well then drink piss that cold; you wouldn’t know the difference.

She wants to rise early tomorrow so we can watch sunrise and eat and then go for an early swim in the pool before anyone else gets there and causes a commotion enough to make us not want to swim in the pool . . . here is now and there is then. Time and space are an indissoluble unity. Every destination remains there until it is here, and then the journey is a was there. It is only the journey that is perpetually here. Arriving at a destination is cumulative in the moment of arrival. There is no extension. It is not even linear; it is a point. We have to re-imagine space. We have to apprehend it differently than we do. Space in the mind, space in the world–what then? What we see is always going to be ruled by the limits of perception. Perception is not always the best verifier of the real.

Where am I now? Now is here; now is never there. There cannot be possessed by or of now. Here is here in every language; there, there. Aqui/alli; ici/la. Here is not there; there is not here, of course. Ici n’est pas la. What is there though between here and there. Is there a between? We do say there is nothing between them, meaning two objects that are side-by-side in a way that is right next to, up against. There begins where here ends is easy enough to comprehend, but to perceive it is another thing. We do have trouble imagining what we cannot see; we are overly determined cognitively by our brand of empiricism. Where is this ending, heading is another variable. At this beginning and ending lies the between? Where then is this between, we could ask? I am always between one here or another and there? Pre-positions do coordinate space.

The between is a place; it exists. Where it is and how big or small it is,whether it is microscopic or only metaphysical is yet another series of questions for us to answer before we can fully understand what we are seeing when we say we see, what we know when we say we understand. The limits of knowing and what can be known are due for an expansion. To between would then be an action, the action of situating oneself in the between. How many times do I between myself, I could ask? I would then be two. How can I be two? I cannot be here and there simultaneously, or can I. I am not petitioning for Sainthood. We have determined here and there as a mutually exclusive pair. Night and day share something in common with here and there, but day and night do have their evening, to even or not to even, that is the question every day and night must face.

Rimbaud had spoken of how he had once twoed himself; je me deux, he said, I two myself. The Self divided against itself? What is there between one me and another? I is we I have said before; the many selves Self, you know. I look in the mirror and I say “I;” I look again and I say “you; but I cannot recall if ever I had said “he?” You and I . . . do I say we in the mirror? I have come to say I am we. I have come to mean it. Who am I to become hesitating to be?The mirror; I am in the mirror there as I am outside the mirror, here, everywhere I step is my here, everywhere else is there. There is always in potential; here is always actual. Hereness has something in common with God, the godly always present. God is pure actuality, never in any part potential. God has no part. I am potential and actual simultaneously; I am and I become; to be and not to be, to become the extent of my existence? Whenever I become, I am not, I am between what was and what will be, almost between what was and what is.

In French, ‘between’ is entre, thus ‘to enter’ is to between, or at least to cross the between. Every entrance somewhere neither here nor there. Every entrance a threshold, to thresh an act of violence as in threshing wheat, also a variant in Old-English for thrash or the German dreaschen. To be held in the thresh, every threshold a thresher, destroying one here for another here the one that was there, there and here something like matter and anti-matter. I wish I knew for certain where was is, where was goes in the future. An interesting anomaly of all being is that what is becomes was in a future time; tense is not time. Verbs describe verbs, not actions in space or in time; time and space an indissoluble unity.

Between is to be tween, to be twain, to be two, to be twice over in one. Between is the unity of here and there, now and then, what is and what was, what will be and what was having in themselves together a between that excludes what is.

I am is not I become; every becoming not being but betweening.

 

II

Every question concerning whether to be or not is a question of suicide, or so it seems upfront enough to conclude from Hamlet’s soliloquy, at least from how it gets played, or how it has been taught. It would also appear designed for other answers. To be cannot be answered fully until we understand just what it means to become. Where becoming begins and where it ends is essential for all questions concerning whether I am or not.

Being and Becoming mark the boundaries of one another; marking where and when my being ends and my becoming begins is essential in my own to be or not to be. It is essential for me to understand one to the other: who I am, how I am, what I am, all of these and more; for whom I am what, to whom I could be when, questions asked; the limits of one or another and another in comparison with any other . . . the essence of ending it all, of course, but as much the essence of all coming to be because whenever I do become I am not at that moment I am.

To be is a destination in anyone’s becoming; on the train to Montauk I am not in Montauk. Whenever I am coming to be, I am not; whenever I am, I am not likewise becoming. Of course, there are stages of becoming and states of being that are exclusive of the other, mutually. Of course, I can be one thing while I am becoming another, but becoming ‘a’ is not being ‘a.’ I am and I am not have for a long time in human history brought on other questions of living and dying. To die, to sleep, I say as Hamlet said, I say again in a thousand variations under my breath. In all queries to the heart of living and dying are questions that arise in any discussion of suicide. But Hamlet’s to be or not is not simply whether it is the point of his bare bodkin he might use to end it. Being of course ends becoming, once again, his not to be as it is mine. The limits of my being, as the limits of Hamlet’s, are essentially drawn categorically; the lines drawn around my humanity and his humanity and any other person’s humanity are clear and distinct in our choices. If I lose my choices in any degradation of my person, the result is like killing myself. The suicide Hamlet speaks of is the living death, the undead state of not choosing, of therefore not being human when human is a choice, a result of choosing. His vacillation leads to what is in effect a suicide, his not choosing, his failure to act, his not to be. Not-choosing is a living death? Let me be careful what I conclude.

Outrageous fortune is luck outrageous; luck is fortune as fortune is also chance. Chance is what is taken or rejected. To take a chance is to choose toward one’s fortune. Our riches are in our choices, our choosing, our living the life engaged which cannot be if one remains static, refusing to choose, rejecting the opportunity to choose, failing to take a chance.

 

III

The arrow does not move; motion is impossible? It is not only arrows that do not fly from point A to point B; we do not ever get anywhere, always somewhere perpetually between. The arrow does not fly from A to B except via the midpoint, once again, between A and B, and to this midpoint, except via another midpoint, again between, and so on and so on until there is no motion at all, no movement, no getting anywhere, always remaining between was there and will be there, nevertheless, here and here and here, perpetually, always, as the arrow in its impossible flight is always where it is, and where it is is here.

I have to re-imagine space. I have to apprehend it differently. What I see is always going to be ruled by the limits of perception. Perception is not always the best verifier of the real. The world is flat in my eyes. The railroad tracks that converge on the horizon reveal the parallax. The parallax is not an illusion; it shows us the truth of curved space. The world is not flat. Space in the universe is curved. This is what is meant when we say the universe is parabolic. A parabola is an arc that extends infinitely.

Where am I in this curved space, on this globe that is round, on a ground that appears flat? Everywhere I am is here and not there. There is somewhere else, everywhere but the place I am. There are concentric circles of here; outside each circle is there. How am here and not there? There is there. Here is not there; there is not here except for God, but there is no God in our beliefs anymore.

Where is the between? Is there a between to be in, a between I can enter and exit as I do through each between that separates here from there. I walk through an entrance; each entrance is a between, the French etymology of the word enter is entre, and that’s the French preposition ‘between.”

I am never between here and there; pre-positions, coordinate spaces. Yet, the between is a place; it exists, but we never enter it. or so we assume? In physical space, we are never between; the between is another there from here. To between though is an action that takes place in the m ind, in the soul, in the Self, the selves of the Self. The action of situating oneself in the between is a noumenal act, not a phenomenal one.

I destroy myself in all my journeys; it is not the destination, but the journey; it is only the journey that is perpetually here. The destination remains there until it is here, and then the journey is a was there, time and space are an indissoluble unity, here is now and there is then.

I am perpetually between was and will be.

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