The burnt out trees will leave you cold…
– Beth Orton
At that moment, when I thought I was about to die, I saw my entire life unravel. It was an indistinct vision, a split second in time. Can I describe the shape of my life as I saw it then, at that moment?
The starting point, the point of departure, as it were, was a Point – I saw a microscopic, metallic point lost in a black void.
Is it possible to call a point a shape?
Should I think of this point as a complex entity, like a trefoil icosahedron or a Medusa-like tangle of helical forms unwinding through time? Undoubtedly the split-second itself was The Point, the horizon of infinity enclosed in time by perception.
Within the temporality of that second, as it split asunder, the point unfolded, unfurling with agonising slowness. It would be very tempting to describe this monadic point as a tessellated surface of Celtic spirals. Perhaps it was a multifaceted crystal, its flat walls conforming to the laws of low energy directions, or even a gold crystal with a pitted surface like that of Saturn’s moon Iapetus. Yet, in close up, this entity (my life) appeared more like a donut of magnetic fluid.
However, I knew that this was an illusion and, being the extrapolation of mathematical co-ordinates derived from my imagination, it would mutate into a web-like form, a network, each node a scintilla generated by the primal departure point itself. The majority of these secondary points represented co-ordinates outside the narrow parameters of the linear time-line of my ‘life’ as understood on a mundane, day-to-day basis. This web extended beyond the antechamber of memory, encompassing ancestral events and unconscious experiences, producing patterns very different from the past-present-future trajectory of the arrow of time.
If the synchronic shape of my life is a light-cone of consciousness, then the diachronic shape of my life is the broad-leafed arrow of time, emerging from womb-darkness, vanishing into darkness beyond the grave. But the multidimensional shape of my life is this network of co-ordinates.
Looking more closely at the filamentous matrix, it was clear that some scintilla had a reddish hue while others were ice-blue. The red points signified moments of pain or negative emotion such as – for example – crises during critical illnesses, times of bereavement, early nightmares and several road accidents (including this one). The few ice-blue points represented instances of clarity. The vast majority of nodes were of neutral, indeterminate, off-white complexion.
I looked in vain for lights indicating moments of passion, for the centre of desire is a Black Hole from which, as we all know, light cannot escape.
At this moment my perception of the multiform shape of my ‘life’ registered another change and the fascinating web mutated yet again.
The resolution of the image degraded. Black turned to white and the interlaced network changed into a vision of bare branches: burnt out trees, stark against a greying sky.