Clarity – By George Angel

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(Note: The below piece functions as an introduction to the three pieces in Gossamer Buttresses (Grandeur, Misbehavior, and Anthropophagy). It is in the form  of a dialogue between an Inquisitor and a Witness, and it establishes  the tenuous nature of the realities presented in the book.)


Inquisitor: I ask but not for the reasons commonly supposed. I am not trying to uncover anything the witness is withholding. Rather I am exploring the information around this particular moment and space to try to understand why it is I am asking questions.

Witness: I answer because the world has to be created. Even though inevitably he will add more than I will, without my answers there is nowhere to go, nowhere on which to concentrate.

I: I begin by wondering whether there are categories of stuff, of reality I suppose, about which to formulate questions. Can I paste language on as-yet-unknown stuff to make it come to life? Names? Do you have a name? I hazard this: do you have a name?

W: Several, no doubt. If, by name, you mean things I have been called. For instance: Buttercup.

I: I am sorry. Could you repeat that?

W: Buttercup.

I: Your name is Buttercup?

W: My mother liked to call me Buttercup.

I: I will refer to you as B then.

W: As you wish.

I: Where do you live, B?

W: I live here.

I: Again, please.

W: I live here where I am living.

I: Is this here where you are living called anything else that you recall.

W: Most often wretched godforsaken hamlet, I think.

I: Is this trying your patience?

W: Not in the least. I do entertain a modest amount of anticipation that something will be unearthed here.

I: (snickers) What!? Like an inquest?!

W: I harbored a dim hope that there were some people.

I: (openly cackling now) With names and everything?! Like Ana K, Jean V, or Smeraldina Rima? Those kinds of people?!

W: An incident perhaps then. On the outskirts of this place here.

I: Like in the drawing room, with the candlestick?

W: Well, some morsels of anecdotia, at most minimal.

I: There is no story to tell. How to avoid the disappointment of eventually recounting what happened, a disappointment that must necessarily extend to the teller. Luckily then, digression has only one direction: away.

W: It may well stray. But it is hardly diverting, is it? Is this like leaving someplace? One of those sort of actions? Without being able to make out or remember the place you are leaving?

I: This is more like walking about, tapping the ground with a stick.

W: How will we know when we get somewhere?

I: Get somewhere?

W: How will we know when this is to finish then?

I: I suppose this finishes when we finish.

W: What!? When we finish!? This?!

I: Oh, you mean this? Momentarily, I would imagine.

W: Imagine! Ha! Rather fancy don’t you think, bringing up this imagination stuff now.

I: If you like, you could talk to me, at this point, about whatever occurs to you.

W: Sorry. Don’t know what you mean.

I: Your stuff, your vitals, the very quick of it. Or, if you like, you could go off spinning in circles. Caprice, and all that. The gossamer wings of whimsy..

W: You astonish me.

I: It could be like coming out from under something. The light in the distance…

W: I would rather preserve my carefree air.

I: Your what?

W: The lilt in my step, my sunny disposition. I would not want to give too much away.

I: Give too much away? The lilt? You are a laugh riot, that is what you are. Quite the wearer of the cap and bells!

W: Now even consistency of tone has gone right out the window.

I: Did you say something?

W: I was wondering whether you have any more questions?

I: What you say humiliates me.

W: Does that mean you think things are going badly?

I: I think we knew more before we began talking. If anything, we have actually managed to call several held convictions into question, without coming to any conclusions. We are not only moving backward, we have also begun somehow to dismantle the vehicle in which we were moving.

W: It is hard for something held up only by the gossamer buttresses of expectation not to sort of cave in on itself fairly rapidly.

I: I should have begun with more substantive questions.

W: There is a flame. It begins as a wisp. Layers of burning rise up and close over it. Sealing it in different translucent shades. Like the blooming of a flower in reverse. This is the shape of everything consuming itself bright.

I: Why did you say that?

W: Leave me alone. I am exhausted.

I: Would you like a glass of water?

W: I would much rather a fuzzy blankey, but I suppose there is little hope.

I: I will ask. We are not barbarians.

W: Seemingly. And yet can we be said to have passed our time in a civilized manner?

I: The moonlight has gouged a hole in the roof of the small church. There is no shelter left. Nothing is whole.

W: The voice has begun to swallow its own tail.

I: I hope I did not mean to imply.

W: Who will I leave you with? Who will take care of you?

I: When there is only part of you left, the world is reduced to pieces. But even shreds remain substantial. The noise invades your head, the darkness is immense, the floor is hard and cold, and smells like dust.


About the Author

The son of Colombian parents, George Mario Angel Quintero was born in 1964 in San Francisco, California, where he spent his first thirty years. He studied literature at the University of California, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Under the name George Angel, he has published poetry, fiction, and essays in English. Since 1995, he has lived in Medellin, Colombia, authoring seven books of poetry, and three books of theater plays all in Spanish under the name Mario Angel Quintero. He continues to write and publish in both English and Spanish. He is also a musician, a visual artist, and a theater director.