Little Prose Thing

Under the spray of a hot shower he regained his composure. His desire to strike with fists the man in the suit who had denied once more his claim to a refund for a broken television was the latest in a series of lashings out against what he perceived to be anti-consumer policies festering within the offices at the back of all major retail chains. But water cleanses, purifies, he thought to himself. For him it was never merely a means of removing dirt and dead skin and sweat from his body, but also their equivalents in mental space, sweeping the dust from its labyrinths and delivering the grime from its gutters. The only thing he was not counting on, dust and grime cannot be destroyed, only moved, and to what place did they eventually find their way and settle within, coating the surfaces of and wreaking havoc upon deeper places, unreachable places that conjured dark dreams and wrote a million prototype suicide notes on the microscopic stand-in parchments of synaptic vesicles.

Later, in his room bathed in humidity and heat from the heatwave sun, a low powered fan his only means of small comfort, he watched an old film on DVD, a 4:3 format old black-and-white stretched to hideous proportions on a gargantuan screen. Out of boredom he began to watch it frame by frame, peeling back layers of temporal information and coming to understand it as a sequence of stills that created the illusion of motion, of action. But more than that, each one told a story of its own, an immensely complicated composition of foreground and background, minor and major details, and on this screen each lumpen pixel was its own vague tone of the greyscale, an extra layer which ran parallel to the facts of the two figures, assorted set decorations, and props that made up the original image.

He came to find preference for the greys, the clean precision of lighting which they demanded, their richness which could not be conveyed by mere desaturation of colour, only by the true absence of colour in the film stock. He also discovered that, despite the hugely apparent imperfections inherent, the reproduction of the image stretched to fit a large screen was more aesthetically pleasing in texture than the true image, a term which he began to question. If truth lies in perfection, he thought, there is no truth, only lesser degrees of falsehood. He loved falsehood, it slicked him with an emotional grease, a release of endorphins that a quest for truth could only ever deny, because what was false and flawed was real, and what was true and perfect was a figment of the severely limited human imagination, for which perfection was easy enough a quality to bestow upon a thing, but to describe and explain what made that thing perfect was impossible, because what was perfect was not real, and what was not real did not exist, and non-existence was nothing.

He never considered his reasoning circular, but angular, like the shooting angles of each frame of the film, a perspective which was only perfect according to the authoritarian restrictions imposed upon the director by the construction of the set. There was always something left to the sole domain of the imagination, the key question: what is behind that wall? The answer: anything or nothing, depending on your perspective, but you will never have such a perspective as to understand that all perspective is flawed, even as I tell you this I too have failed to truly grasp it, and you know the reason for that. He was dealing now with a set so crowded that almost any camera position would be physically impossible, and the few that were possible could give no clear view of the subject, always some thing was in the frame, obscuring it, and bloated into an image like those seen through the lens of a microscope by a focus forever seeking that which was beyond, that which it could never ascertain.


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