The Treasure of John Tarsul’s Alone Ness & Just A Few of His Non-Surviving Mistresspieces of Nothing      


John Tarsul is watching a dog grinding on a joint, on a big lamb-bone. To be precise: he’s actually watching a pregnant Welsh Border Collie. Her abdomen is bulbous, and her teats pert like some kind of punctuation waiting for a sentence. And this is where John gets his idea – for he is fascinated by the sound of the bitch’s teeth scratching, and he is mesmerised by the scratches the bitch’s teeth are making in the bone. The bitch’s teeth, which are a kind of bone,  are removing minuscule amounts of bone to leave a space in the bone ––––––– a space shaped as scratch. A ravenous recording. John had also noticed the succulent ripping of meat off the bone, at the beginning of the process.
            John Tarsul hurries home. He is suddenly very impatient to begin his work, and he is feeling enormously hungry.
            John sits down at his work-bench in his huge experimental labio. He is surrounded by an array of tools, equipment & containers. There are small oily saws, through to sparkling scalpels; an ornate and rather old-fashioned-looking microscope, alongside state of the art laser-sculptors & a neutrino microscope; there are numerous ancient earthenware jars, that once uncorked give off all kinds of organic, mineral, & synthetic scents … some of them pungent and eye-watering; and there are diamond test-tubes, flasks, retorts, & alembics, all laser-lathed, as well as being magno-liver-balanced, and thus able to withstand the heat & forces of nuclear fusion. One wall of the labio is devoted to various robotic arms, jigs, & vices. There are shelves of books & discs. And in one corner of the labio a Bitten Apple Knot-Pad on an old fashioned writers’ bureau made from burnished aluminium inlayed with finest synthetic mahogany. Above this desk ­– framed within a delicate basket-work of bleached sparrow bones – is written the expression: This Place of Her Labour is The Hearth of A Reverberatory Furnace.
            John has just extracted his left upper canine. He will now begin to work for a whole month on this tooth. From this one tooth he will fashion all the tiny tools needed to execute his art. The largest tool will be a sliver of dentine, reinforced with scalded gold-carbon. The tiniest tool will have to be viewed through the neutrino microscope, and will be a macro-molecule of diamond-dentine laser-lathed into a ‘fairy-sword’.

The Fairy-Sword Moonth has passed, and so John Tarsul is now prepared. He is ready to begin The Work. By his side, asleep on the floor, is a bitch Springer Spaniel. He has chosen this creature – or perhaps she has chosen him – as a kind of familiar. In a sense, this bitch, he has named Sagdid, is the closest John will get to A Sister of The Work. He will listen to her sniffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . and he will count them.
            All John’s tools are finished. He has meditated alone for weeks, drinking in the evenings only distilled water, and in the mornings only his own urine, sometimes flavoured with honey & hawthorn-tar. He has eaten only raw vegetables & giant puffball fried in his own fat, extracted from his now virtually none-existent left buttock. John has also perfected The External Soul-Box, as he calls it. This is a computer program attached to an energy-freezer capable of storing human awareness. And there is also a robo-gut with a high-speed feeling-cable connecting it to the The External Soul Box.
            John Tarsul begins with his feet. He amputates them, and then meticulously dissects them until all the parts – the bones, the ligaments, the tendons, the individual muscles persevered in helium-aniseed, the skin dried by decelerated light – until all these bits of his feet are laid out and ready for him to write upon. John will write with the various nibs & fairy-swords so carefully made from his canine tooth.


Now read the work written on (and into) John Tarsul’s feet (inscribed 440,080,945 times, with many variations of spelling & grammar, various fonts & point-sizes):

Its Chy Feet

Maggie walked the skin-road. Each podge of touch, each compression of sole-sheath to foot-bones beamed up her leg-bones to her womb. The surface of the road began to bruise as she moved over it with her journey under her arm. And then the road began to show signs of serious tear & wear – the inter-gender highway (carefully maintained by The Authorities) was now ripped and bleeding. But Maggie did not stop. With every footstep she made, the journey under her arm became heavier & bigger … until she had to sling the whole voyage on her back. She became heavier & heavier with making way … and the skin-road soon became a gaping wound with blood dripping over the verges into the fields at the road’s sides, and then across the meaty land … and then … beyond to the bony towns & cities.
            It was not long before The Authorities decided something had to be done. They had to impede Maggie’s footsteps, and also repair the damage she’d done to their ( and everyone else’s (?) ) inter-gender highway. Suddenly Maggie found herself surrounded by swarming silver capsules hovering: highway maintenance bots. They were pumping out wodges of silver-wool, and tamping them into the red squelchy road surface. This made Maggie angry, so angry she sprouted a wiry black beard from her chin that grew down to entangle with the hairs between her legs. She began pulling up the silvery-red wool-wodges, and then began kicking them into the fields & meaty land around. They glistened in the pastures like lumps of silvery-red android-dream. ( And gynoid-dream too, if you are so inclined to see that way ! )
            The Authorities responded with a new weather they had kept secret. Suddenly Maggie’s feet were horribly sore, as a gravelly kind of rain began pummelling her soles. The ground was raining hardcore – chips of mountain spurting up to meet each of Maggie’s footfalls. Some of the silver maintenance capsules were cracking open, and being swept away by all the blood & granite chips. The Authorities were making a hell of a mess, with real ugly smells … smells of ugly real. But at whatever cost they were compelled to stop Maggie’s footfalls. The bleeding would have to get a lot worse before it got better.
            Maggie was furious. She rubbed mugwort & a paste made from a pregnant bitch into her soles & toes. Then she stamped and stamped her feet, making each podge-vibration stronger, making the beam to her womb up her bones thicker and thicker.
            And so it is that human roads & transport networks are so fraught & bone-locked, and so clogged with worn out feet … feet that have fallen off the millions of refugees fleeing the battle.
Maggie with her vast fattening odyssey on her back, to this day is still kicking and kicking at the the silver-wool maintenance that follows her. She sets each of her painful footfalls so carefully … travelling and tra    vailing on and on … Her toes so raw, her soles black and blistered and stinking of a sweet & salty rot …


It is weeks later. John Tarsul now begins engraving the complex parts of his amputated ankles. Give him some time. Wait.

Now read the work decorating the intricacies of John Tarsul’s ankles ( inscribed 11,201,793,047,771 times, in various forms ( for the most linguistically gymnastic version you will need to set the neutrino microscope to ×20,000,000 )):

Peek-aboo Ankle

All the men f

eel the watching ankle, fee
l the delicate lady-bit just pee

ping at them

from just beneath the he


So, in the playground the men
kick each other’s ankles

and hop about in agony. Hop about in




A long time ago, at night in bed,
watched by the deli

cate ankle-gazes of ladies,

apparently the men rubbed themselves
most vig


ously with in



rained ankles.


Now read the work on John Tarsul’s amputated shins ( inscribed countless times, in every literary form ever known ). No point in using the neutrino microscope – Tarsul has taken miniaturisation to its brutal limit. You cannot see it. You will simply have to imagine it all yourself.

Two Classical Co Lumns

Arch Stanton had lost both his shins. He sat in a wheelchair next to the open window, the curtains billowed and sunlight slanted past him. Molly had not seen him in weeks, and when she last saw him, before whatever accident had befallen him, he’d been standing at this same window. Molly was very concerned. As she spoke to him, with his back to her, he just gazed out at the mountains. ‘What have you done, Arch? Why do you do this?’ Arch does not answer, but she can see him stiffen on hearing her voice. She tries again: ‘Please! Just speak. What happened?’
            Suddenly there is a very dry loud crack – like a twig trod on in deep woods – and then Molly is about a foot shorter … and she is sobbing in agony. Both her shins have just snapped under her weight.
            Arch begins to speak (whilst still staring at the mountains): ‘Out there somewhere, Molly, amongst those big purple bastards out there, somewhere amongst the scree … there are all the lost splinters of my shin bones. Out there, Molly! We could both crawl up there, right now, and then we could spend the rest of our lives dragging our selves around those mountains … looking … for the splinters of my shin bones. You though, you can see your shins, neatly snapped and still attached to your feet, safe & sound on the floorboards just there, and right now …  safe & found … safe & found in a house … still at home. My shins, though … I watched them being stripped clean of meat … by the wolves. And then after that came the lammergeier – it gripped my poor shin bones in each of its talons and then, from great height, dropped them onto the granite to shatter them. My shin bones, now shards, and way off and way up there … outside amongst those cruel purple bastards. Gone I’d say, fucking gone!’

‘Ladies & Gentlemen, this next cabinet contains the broken shins of The King.’ Two highly polished shin bones, both snapped about half away along, seem to glow on the black velvet in the display cabinet. ‘When The King’s time was up nine priestesses would pin him down, rip off his buskins, then they would snap off the bottoms of his legs. For his honour & eternal life he then had to walk a mile from the palace – where he was born – to the burial ground. He was then buried under a pile of previous Kings’ shin bones, the fresh pieces of his shins newly polished placed on the top of the pile. The priestesses would shake the pile … and in listening to the rattling of the bones predict which male would next be born in the palace.’

Molly dragged herself out of Arch’s house. She must get to the museum … old Smith the curator had hinted at something to do with shin bones when she was a little girl. For some reason this vague memory now ached furiously in the bottom of her legs (which were no longer attached to her). She hadn’t realised that you could feel (or indeed feed) a memory somewhere else other than in your head. Yes – at all costs – she must drag herself to the museum. It all makes perfect sense now, she thought. Yes! … at the museum I will be able to sleep in a glass cabinet … and never walk on earth again.

Algarot Castelli concentrates on the penalty ahead of him. The tension is immense, so much rests on this kick. The goal is a door, and the soccer ball a moon , Algarot thinks, and he is shocked by suddenly having thought that. And Franz Habra’s eyes press into his brain – the world’s greatest goalkeeper is renowned for his gaze … a gaze like a well-trained dog’s as it stares at a lump of raw steak … waiting for its master’s command. And the crowd is silent like an avalanche hanging still. But Algarot must not fail his nation. He is running towards the ball … suddenly the museum is in his memory – the woman in the glass cabinet, beautiful, but with no lower legs. She is so … so … so still. And also, next to her, is the cabinet with the moon-white glowing shin bones … both … broken. The crowd, even fans of the opposition, are utterly appalled by what happens next …


John Tarsul will amputate and dissect all his parts and write on them. As he begins to write all over his stomach & intestines he will plug himself into the robo-gut to maintain his sustenance. When it is time for his lungs to be dried papery he will oxygenate his blood using a super-ozone fern. And then when it is time for his heart to be transformed to art, he will connect the fern’s tiniest fronds to the capillaries in his brain, and then pump his remaining blood round his brain with a polythene frog-propeller. When he has no arms he will utilise robotics controlled by his thoughts to write on the remaining parts of his body. When he gets to his brain, he will then transfer his consciousness to The External Soul Box from where he can write on his brain’s bits whilst maintaining existence elsewhere. He will finally lay out on a conveyor belt his entire preserved and written-on (and written-through) body  – all the bits neatly arranged. A rare work of fine art. The conveyor belt will then transport all his parts into the robo-gut. He will witness this via cameras connected to The External Soul Box. And at the other end of the robo-gut, from a circular door with puckered rubbery edges, there will emerge a dark cloud of sloppy rubble. Eventually a large heap of John Tarsul’s faeces will be produced by the robo-gut. A heap of his own faeces made from his self having digested his own body. Throughout this entire process John’s familiar – his loyal Sister of The Work, the bitch Sagdid – will sit obediently still and absolutely silently … despite the intoxicating faecal effluvia that will assail her olfactory system.
            Here is the last thing John Tarsul will do before he switches off: he will erase the entire contents of The External Soul Box. And thus, all that will be left of John Tarsul is this pile of excrement.
            If anyone finds this huge stool and then doesn’t simply tidy it up, if instead they analyse this biological waste … they will discover it contains substantial particles of gold, exceeding well beyond the level of traces normally found in the human body.  And if they are clever enough they will also be able to deduce that it would take 1001 human beings working for 101 years to accomplish what John Tarsul had managed to do – all alone – in just one year & one day. John Tarsul – solely from the Alone Ness of his corporeal body – produced exactly 1g of solid gold. But no one will do this analysis. John Tarsul’s shit will be discovered, but very quickly it will be simply, and with little fuss, cleaned up. And it will be as if John Tarsul, his gold, and what he wrote through his bodily self had never ever existed. (And also, no one will ever know the original name of the bitch Spaniel … although she will live out the rest of her life happily … loved by a farmer & his family.)

            The only piece of art by John Tarsul that will remain for us in the future to read, is the following haiku:

                                                                 each leaf now falling
                                                            from that last oak on Grass Hill
                                                                           goes its way alone




Mark Goodwin
Art Rupert Loydell

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