from November 2012
We came together and we gathered.
Someone told us we were beautiful and it boomed through the trees of the field we were in like good weather. We were very happy to hear this, and she would know, because she was higher up than we were. She was standing on a stage and her hair was doing a wild girl thing and then she was telling us how beautiful we looked and then we were yell-singing back to her because she looked beautiful too, even from below. There were no instruments or costumes. But there was a lot of performing going on, and we knew what to do with our hands, which was to lift them up and up and to show her that she was the same as us. She was telling us she was the same as us. And this was true. In that moment this was true. And the performing was to say, This is the world now, OK?
We came from all kinds of places and we shook hands or ignored each other but we all knew the words to the songs that came after the speeches.
Either way we were the same and some of us liked that more than others:
[a boy on a bicycle rode by and said
something mean, but he was not among us.
He was seen head-on and so was not among us
and he did not know the words and so we forgot
him very easily as the music swallowed up where
his bicycle had been and the voices took him
home to be alone or with others
who would know soon enough and would have to decide].
Some of us had heroes. Some of those heroes were there. Some were there by being elsewhere doing a similar thing. Some of them were others like us and we knew we looked beautiful. Especially from above, gathering, moving over the grass with an idea of some new thing, which was also a violence. We came together because that violence was beautiful.
We lifted our hands.
We called each other by the name we had learned.
We made our own music.
The wild girl sat down and many more people came up and saw that below them we were beautiful but they did not say it. I think it went without saying but we could have heard it forever.
There were trees all around us. There was a blue sky above us, and beneath us there was green grass. There were buildings of stone and black streets and many many people filled those streets, coming or going or going somewhere else. There were people looking down on us and people looking up to us. Some of these people had been there before and we looked up to them. Some of them looked down. We gathered. Even our voices came together. They met each other in air and formed a cloud of resemblance where they hung and hung and kept recognizing each other. We reached our hands up and opened our fists to touch them from below. Some of us took some home. Many of us shouted up at them that they were beautiful. And they were, especially from below.
We had been gathering for hours. We had been coming and driving over highways or walking on foot or taking trains to gather. We were gathering through televisions and radios, we were finding each other in many many terminals or promising to gather soon. We were flooding onto the grass and through the tree line and we were mistaking each other for each other and putting our bodies near each other’s bodies and we were beautiful.
We thought we were beautiful.
And we stood our beauty against the thing we gathered for,
the thing who is not beautiful but also gathers,
who also comes over highways or walks on foot
or takes trains or ships or airplanes to gather.
Who gathers on televisions and radios
and makes many uses of many terminals
and also thinks itself beautiful and loves to
be near the bodies of everyone,
to have everyone turn into everyone else.
To tell us it was the same as us.
We stood against that.
We said we stood against that although we were concerned at where it ended and we began, especially amongst such a big gathering, so hard to see from below and harder even while you’re sitting in it. We turned into and out of each other.
We called each other by the name we had learned and raised our voices.
We raised our hands.
A single helium balloon was above us.
It looked down at us. It saw that we were beautiful and it saw what we could not see. It saw our gathering from above. It saw the field because it was not in it. It saw our history and its own, which had been made by one to serve the many, which had been built to gather and to take in the gathering, which had been made among us but in a different state filled with grass and blue sky also, and stone buildings and many beautiful things including a river on which many kinds of people have moved messages of all sorts and some of those messages have been to say, We stand against this. There was music there too and the name for us was the same as the name for us here: the balloon, the terminal, the means by which to build, they were the same also, and we looked not down or up at each other, but across, these places of us, across at each other and each other’s bodies.
The balloon, it saw all of this. Looking down it saw us and wanted to be our tool. It wanted to take in such a big gathering, to stand against those others which were already being photographed by other, nicer balloons and other nicer cameras. It took us in in many frames. It took us all in, gathered, touching and very very close with the trees all around us looking green and full because it was the spring and it did its thing to stitch us all together. It showed the fullness of the gathering from above and then we could see ourselves.
We could see what was hidden.
We could see the gathering not unlike the gathering of other, uglier beauties.
We could see our power and the smallness of our power and the tops of our own heads.
Because the balloon could see such a big picture, we could see such a big picture, and we could see all the different ways of talking about something like this:
there is a face/ there is a spill of colorful sprinkles/ there is a target/ there is a scene which appears to be submerged/ there are one thousand pieces of discarded plastic/ it is body of water/ it is a body of land/ there are bodies/ there are so many bodies strewn over the water and over the land.
And the stage is a small square from this far above.
And the woman who said we were beautiful has been swallowed wholly up and we have all been swallowed.
Our faces are missing or lost.
We can no longer tell our
gathering from so many others
and in this we are afraid
but we also hopeful
but we know
it is hard to
tell who is who.
There is a face/ there is a spill of colorful sprinkles/ there is a target/ there is a scene which appears to be submerged/ there are one thousand pieces of discarded plastic/ it is body of water/ it is a body of land/ things moving over water and over land/ there are bodies/ there are so many bodies strewn or submerged/ there is the thinning at the edges/ there is looking for the shadow of the balloon/ there are the trees early or late in their green looking small as ferns, looking not unlike each other and like little green fires/ they grow at the edge of the colorful lake/ you said they bloom. Green. They bloom and grow and take in from the ground the things they need. They grow and grow. They open and close and take in. They gather and they send out spores and they keep on turning into each other. They keep on recognizing each other. They bloom and open and they think that they are beautiful, we can see that they are beautiful, especially from above: small ferns/ water animals/ something very very small or very big. You said they bloom then. They bloom like cancer.
They bloom like cancer, or carcinoma, whatever it’s called. You said that. We looked at that aerial image in a dim office later. We said we had been birds. That the balloon made us birds, beautiful colorful birds circling some gathering, drinking water from some colorful lake. A gathering. An abnormal coming together.
An abnormal mass, the growth of which exceeds, is uncoordinated with the normal. And persists.
Hopefully persists ‘in the same excessive manner after cessation of the stimulus which evoked the change.’
Or hopefully doesn’t.
And our heroes were there or elsewhere. And some of them were lying in beds abhorring some uglier beautiful gathering that persists in the same excessive manner after cessation of the stimulus which evoked the change.
Which is violent but whose needs are the same.
Blooms of erratic growth.
In the slide they are died pink and green or gold.
Alongside them, many smallish purple individuals flowed steadily to work the way they’re supposed to and they did not gather abnormally or become pink and green or gold.
They just did their jobs.
But some didn’t go to work that day and this was visible in the slide, especially from above, their gathering, their moving with an idea of some new thing, which was also a violence. They came together because that violence was beautiful and they lifted their hands. They called each other by the name they had learned. They made their own music and they loved to be near the bodies of everyone, to have everyone turn into everyone else.
We said we stood against that although we were concerned at
especially amongst such a big gathering, so hard to see from below and harder even while you’re sitting in it.
I do not know your mother’s name.
Her face has been swallowed by gatherings of distance, by which I mean, I cannot get to her. You said she blooms with cancer. We bloomed like cancer. And we were not only green and pink or gold, but blue and red and purple and many kinds of skin color. We performed this so as to be seen from above, to be seen period. And yes, some of us had heroes and some of them were there. And some of them left early or did not show at all. And some of them looked across at, or over the gatherings of distance, from the windows of tall hospitals which are not unlike tall schools. From the bed they could see out the window. There were trees all around them. There was a blue sky above them, and beneath them there was green grass. There were buildings of stone and black streets and many many people filling those streets, coming or going or going somewhere else. There were people looking up to them and people looking after them. They gathered. Even their voices came together. They met each other in air and formed a cloud of resemblance above us where they hung and hung and kept being recognized by us as we reached our hands up to them through imaginary or real terminals. They looked after us through televisions and radios. And it was not unlike the thing that had them there, all of that color, all of those bright birds and metallic balloons, glinting.
We have said to cancer, You are not beautiful. You are too small and insidious. And to other bigger systems of gathering we were saying, You have bloomed wrong. You have lost your functions and become the wrong kind of flower. You have grown uncontrollably, gathered and gathered and into colonies of insidious blooming. We have said, We stand against this. We have grown and invaded. We have bloomed to stand for one kind of blooming. We have gathered. We have yell-sung that we are beautiful. We have come to the field and raised our hands up and we have turned into each other and multiplied.
And in the slide, in the slide the wrong cells are easy to see. It’s where the they’ve come together while the good ones have remained apart.
Someone said, tell a different story. Here’s a balloon mapping kit. You are making a record of that which will disappear. That which will stay has already been photographed. Gather what you can. Take cheap, beautiful pictures. Let us help you see that from above, there are patterns forming. From above you can see what has been left out or what is the same. You can see that what is powerful is also always violent — some grass crushed underfoot of the gathering even in all its beauty. Even in all its beauty it swarms like plastic, it gathers like gases gather.
Some of us heard this. Some of us could not, over the speeches, over the music. And for some, this was the music, the balloon suspended above us, singing it’s little song.