He is a very young priest. In fact, he is still a boy, his throat smooth, his movements pink and febrile. He moves in a stiffened pantomime of adulthood. His vestments are too big for him; during the opening procession he nearly trips on the hem of his alb. His chasuble laps against his knuckles. But the boy carries dignity like Christ carried the cross.
Here he is. He stands behind the altar. The altar is the biggest side-table they have, covered in a pall of white cloth. His arms go cruciform and his shadow stretches batlike in the flickering candlelight that glows like the soft pink humming of a womb.
And in those flickers his face changes, if you look closely. One moment it is the softening of boyhood, but in the merest of frames the hard scaffolding of manhood appears. His jaw shadows, his shoulders broaden. But his hands do not change, those soft white clerical hands. They will never change.
He is about to say Mass. His mother is the only congregant. In their living room she will stay kneeling the whole time. She will watch time fold in on itself. Because all time is present to God.
It is not long before someone starts to cut off her clothes.
Performance artist Marina Abramović has been sitting stock-still in Studio Morra, Naples, since 8pm, and the night is drawing on. On a table in front of her are 72 objects, including a rose, honey, scissors and a gun loaded with a single bullet. Next to these objects were these instructions:
There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired.
I am the object.
During this period I take full responsibility.
It was fine when it was started. Those who approached were timid. They offered her a rose, or demurely kissed her cheek. But in the third hour all her clothes were cut off with razor blades. Less than an hour later, these same blades were being used on her skin. Her throat was slashed and someone started to drink her blood. A man held the gun to her head. A fight broke out.
After six hours, she got up and walked towards the audience, clotted with blood, naked. The audience left, shrinking away from her.
To him, there was no tomorrow, today or yesterday. He lived within the timelessness of dementia. Some days we'd come in and the painkillers had really done their work. His head would be swollen with sleep. Sometimes he got angry and the staff said they had no choice. He would really hurt himself.
He kept lots of photographs. This was a man who'd documented everything. He used to show me. This was me and your Nan in '74. Looking dapper as always, you see. And your Nan, a beauty. My Pat, the rose. She was all of me. When she died he was making kippers, except it wasn't kippers, it was just one kipper, and as he sat down his eyes filled and he told me that it's no fun cooking for one.
In the home, years later, we'd watch time collapse. Some days he'd shiver as if she were beside him. To him, she really was.
But every day, his mind succumbed to entropy. That closed system became chaos. His psyche fractured. The centre couldn't hold.
At the start of the Pandemic, the virus raged through the home. No-one in, no-one out. His breath rattled against his ribs. In. Out. My father held the phone against his forehead, miles away, and wept.
Maybe he saw her before he died. Maybe, just one last time.
Snowballs, all white, also browning. And next day brown and slush. Carrot, stones. Those were pearls that were his eyes. Ice to water. Cried twice; no: more, but hidden, unknown. White box, straps, yawning earth. Box shouldn't be that small. Big tears on box. No. Just a box, he says, to me or himself or nobody. Not the baby. Later, phone in hand, shuddering.
"When you do this – I mean, when you say it – the Mass, I mean – yes, when that happens, it's actually a real Mass."
"A real Mass?"
"How? I'm 10."
"Well. You know how all time is present to God?"
"Well, you are going to be a Priest. And so when you say Mass here in our living room, you're really saying it in the church, years later, when you are actually a Priest."
"So the bread I give you is Jesus?"
"Even though it's Hovis?"
"Does Jesus know he's Hovis?"
Deleuze and Guattari:
1 and 2. Principles of connection and heterogeneity: "...any point of a rhizome can be connected to any other, and must be";
3. Principle of multiplicity: it is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, "multiplicity", that it ceases to have any relation to the One;
4. Principle of asignifying rupture: a rhizome may be broken, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines;
5 and 6. Principles of cartography and decalcomania: a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model; it is a "map and not a tracing". They elaborate in the same section, "What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real."
I love you, my darling. I will always love you.
Is that possible?