The Puddlebottom

by Jonah Howell


The Puddlebottom

Thoreau’s walking was tainted. See, transcendence is only valuable to a mystic and it keeps you from really being alive. Not just you. Me, too. To transcend life, that taints it. Devalues it. Isolates it. But feeling reality as surreality does no such thing. Deepening reality doesn’t devalue it. It’s like digging a puddle into an ocean. Dive.

As walker I feel obligated to step on cracks in any pavement. Feeling the crack through my shoe forces me to accept the limitations of artifice and then the limitations of myself, because isn’t art just the artist without a

pulse?

Cars pass. The Doppler effect very closely emulates electronic music, and fused with the steady

pulse

of footsteps and the static and noise and snare tap of voices I’ve got a full band. A show with only one audience member because it only plays if you hear it from this one angle, on this one crack to make the music

fuse.

Shit. That’s what I stepped on. Friction to sparks and I see it running down a long telescoping stretch, gray on bottom framed up top by orbs of radiating half-light and at the end another walker. A connection. My aloneness shatters, and I feel for a second hollow but realize the futility of trying to put myself back together again and I send all the horses and bureaucrats home. Open glass rather than a bubble, I am. I walk along on the breadcrumb scorch marks left by the burning

fuse

to the other walker, and maybe to commonality. This is where transcendence would just fuck shit up. It’s no good floating over someone. You have to collide, to

fuse,

to both of you sublimate and fill this one balloon for a second and float off into a real commonality. That’s what it is. Floating. So you do transcend. Just not relatively. And eye contact is key. What it is is that out of your pupils stretch these ropes and hooks and straight out in front, so there’s a really narrow margin. You have to catch each other, latch hooks before someone averts eyes and hooks onto a rock or a tree or something solid, something that will

solidify.

because solidifying is your opponent. You’re looking for sublime. That’s why the hooks. Of course they hurt, but once you’re in each other’s eyes you can be one and share the hurt and negate it. And so your commonality

solidifies

as you float up into the cold, heating of course as you get higher. From that kind of height you can see the top and maybe get there, realize it’s not, then never

solidify

again. Because you can’t. Because you are now enlightened and can’t assume that kind of weight. Fuck physics. You’re a gas. But let’s let this whole scaffold

crumble

because that other walker bowed out of the exchange and walked on. Stepped off the

fuse,

didn’t consider your shared

pulse,

allowed the ropes to

solidify

and with the weight of solidity was thrown off balance. A sad state. But there are more cracks to remind you that all your expectations for your fusion were just another thin artifice with no reality until

actualized

by action. Speech, contact, rope, hooks, delicacy and understanding and being gaseous together. Diffuse. Turn around and call out: Voices are cruder hooks and steeped too long in the cold. Now you’ve swapped positions on the fuse and empathy is real. In surreality you have become real, and for the first time actual commonality is possible, to

fuse pulses, solidify, and crumble into universals romanticized now made real, to be the structures that control you. The opposite of transcendence. Descent to the puddlebottom. Actualize.

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