David-Baptiste Chirot

EL CINEMA DE CATARSIS: El Colonel’s Eyes are Tracking
The cinema is death at work—Jean Cocteau

“For now we see, as through a glass, darkly . . .
but then, face to face . .
I shall know in full, fully also as I am known.”

St Paul, Letters to the Corinthians

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. Since before dawn he has been steadily walking the paths visible and invisible to all but trained eyes of the immediate area, “listening deeply to the voices which called out of sleep and led into the forests and back out along their edges, those voices which slowly take form from the grey pre-dawn mists and reveal themselves to be those of ghosts. To walk with the ghosts and listen, all the while traveling on foot further and further back into other paths, other roads, leading out into the light of an other day . . .”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. “The ghosts as they converse and walk beside one, open the paths of time through the underbrush and trees, and one travels into the past, an uncanny country, at once strange and familiar. There, the light is gradually shifting from phantasmic to the documentary quality of grainy old black and white films, their movements dictated by flows of landscapes and forces of time. Their graininess is further mottled and blotched with the scars and fissures of a thousand screenings and patchings by long vanished projectionists working in obscure cinemas made of stone, decorated with once gaudy posters and lobby cards, or in the open air cinemas, with their clean-up crews of impoverished deformed children searching the trash after the shows for the slightest signs of a coin, of the leftover’s of a bag of sweets, or of the still smoking butts of cigarettes,”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. “To track the path of an animal, an enemy, an enigma, to the tracks of a train of associations which in moving becomes a tracking shot, moving alongside the guiding ghosts as they move further into that cracked and fissured landscape pock marking the unspooling reels of film, and moving inside the reels, find a real in which the photographic memory of the past shatters the glass of its own frames and emerges, stark and distinctly outlined, as, literally, a figure. And this figure itself is walking, walking in a landscape of greys, the greys of November, on a winding narrow road in the North.”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. While the eyes of a young member of the heroic patrol watch him, keeping watch over the emergence of the day from a blind placed in the trees, his own eyes are tracking a figure walking in a different dimension, a figure which “he begins to find himself to be.” Waving a sign to the watching guard, El Colonel continues his walking of the secretive paths of the forest, “all the while seeing more and more distinctly only this road, grey and narrow in the immense grey vistas of foothills and distant mountains. This road, leading further and further into the reaches of the North, among isolated villages and disintegrating stone towns . . . and imagining at the same time seeing himself from the vantage point of the watching guard—seeing himself as a figure who is slowly fading from view as he moves from one dimension into another . . . ”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. At a fork in the road, “he veers to the right and begins the ascent to the small plateau where the standing walls of the remains of a village may be seen rising, covered with the murals made by time and exposure, by generations of faded and cracked, peeling paint and the scars and burn marks of artillery attacks and aerial bombings. As one approaches, among the eccentric and chaotic forms may be discerned here a letter, there a number, amidst the remains of torn and singed posters, the stains of mold, mud and blood.”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. “The voices of the ghosts beside one have long ago subsided to whisperings and murmurs, to indistinct hummings and whirrings, as though whistling and rustling in a manner to underscore the vertiginous quiet of a scene at once incredibly, dangerously still and hurtling high-speed into the arenas of time known as the ‘archaic.’ The simultaneous stillness and hurtling creates a tension in vision, a vertiginous sense of a fault line on the verge of creating an earthquake inside the structures of the eye and among its nerves running to the brain. And, when this earthquake arrives, will it indeed go so far as to crack open the skull—or—to crack vision open, sending it via shockwaves into a vision that becomes indeed A Vision, a Visionary Catharsis . . . “

El Colonel’s eye is tracking. For a moment he “suddenly feels as though he is reeling, a gull caught in an explosive blowback, pitching and swooping dizzily amid a myriad winds rushing across a bleak coastline, in the liminal zones in which being is unmoored . . . and taking flight, arcing into that unknown which awaits one, at any given moment . . . a line of flight arcing into a re-alignment of vision. And, re-aligned, a new sense of direction, with which the gull is now stabilized in the airs above the coast line and begins to survey this new found state of being . . . gliding swiftly and accompanied by its shadow, a figure tracking the landscape now rearranged. . . “

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. As he approaches the first series of walls standing among the heaps of rubble and collapsed structures, “he begins to see the outlines take place as though in reverse of a series of empty spaces which slowly fill with corpses, and then, from their corpses, people arise and begin to move about in the now restored village. They do not take notice of one as yet, as though they need to find that one also is merging from the place in time from which one is coming. And all the while in this silence the tracking eyes are filling with the forms of faces, the faces of the restless spirits who traverse the lands between the living and the dead. “

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. Moving among the faces and figures moving about in the village which oscillates between ruins and its former complete state, he begins to hear the oscillations in sounds also, between the voices of humans and the sounds of artillery fire, of bombs hitting from two attacking planes, and the dull thuds of bodies falling amid the collapsing stone buildings. This oscillation in turn will go suddenly silent, and the faces and figures around return to a dumb show presentation of daily life. At some point conflagrations of flames and spurts of blood erupt like the time lapse high speed opening of immense red flowers dotted with yellows and whites, including the whites of eyes as the flames lick at them and turn them, too, into bright aureoles of blooms festooning the village with a garland of delirious death drunk gaiety.”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking, long tracking shots of walls covered with black strokes and swathes of soot and smoke, walls with scars from the guns, the mortars, the shoulder launched rockets, the jet and drone delivered bombs . . .

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking with a slight acceleration across the steadily unfolding distances of these Walls—and—here some part of the eye is crying out for an “aerial reconnaissance” shot—the camera arcing itself in air like the back of a stretching cat, and rising until attainting a birds eye view, there to recommence the tracking, looking downward and through the shattered roofs into the chaos of smashed furniture, blown-out walls, corpses and remains of children’s toys . . .

El Colonel’s eyes are no longer tracking shots as they look down from the bird’s eye view He realizes, with a shock of terror, that they have not at all slowed in their accelerations, nor have they continued to “fly” parallel to the smoking, ravaged earth bound ruins. No—their gathering speeds are now directed straight upward, and as his eyes look down, he sees with a clinical lucidity his own body lying below, among the smashed walls, the blood soaked puddles of the alleys where children lie among shards, and the eruption of flames and smoke blooming into the flowers of nightmares.

El Colonel’s eyes see with clinical lucidity the telescoping of distances in which the scenes below speed into the realms of the infinitesimal, and vanish. Ahead of him he sees moving into view a great engulfing blackness, a cloud of darkness in which, as into a black hole, all light vanishes. Before terror follows this realization, he senses a sudden slowing, slowing, --and as suddenly as the acceleration rocketed his eyes outwards towards the darkness, they find themselves attainting a nearly compete rest, a kind of hovering at the very edges of movement. In this pause, he feels rather than hears a voice, without words yet speaking, inside of his being. And in the sound, knows—

El Colonel’s eyes are plunging, at an incredible speed-down, down, through sudden blue, a blue which grows lighter and lighter until through it he sees again below the village, the flower of fire and smoke, the smashed walls and broken children, the shards in blood soaked puddles, and suddenly, his own body—an he plunges—an is again in the body—lying conscious in a driving rain while al around him are the charred corpses, the jagged, backend and broken walls, the smashed toys and a myriad surfaces of unrecognizable debris gleaming with the run off of sheets and sprays of waters heavily tinged with charcoals and soot.

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking among figures, ghosts, presences, beings, unseen yet known to be there, to be there, unheard yet signing, their gesturings found as the movements of plants, of air through leaves, of branches against the skies, of the breath exhaled into the thin high atmosphere.

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking among those who are ever with one who has crossed with clinical lucidity the clinical dying of not only “near death experiences,” but those beyond, of clinical death.

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. Not once, but several times with clinical lucidity the clinical deaths having been gone through, El Colonel sees with clinical lucidity that indeed, his tracking shots are travels, voyages, journeys.

Travels, voyages, journeys, that is, “understood as both literal and figurative, in which he recognizes the serial appearances, disappearances, changed reappearances, of a being through and in which acts and writes the Ghosthumous writings and acts of this being which is continually being created as “El Colonel,” an improvisation in which he is continually honing his abilities to ‘keep alive’ the appearances of this writing, these acts, which are the clinical lucidities with which clinical deaths improvise the signs to themselves of their own clinical Ghosthumous existences.”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. Retracing his steps, “just as one’s clinical lucidities had observed one’s being returning to that body which it had left below, he now emerges from the forest to again take up his daily practice of the appearances by which his presence is conveyed to the eyes of the heroic Patrol, while to those eyes of clinical lucidity of the clinical deaths gone through, his actions and writings, those improvised thoughts, continue to improvise the Ghosthumous writings which are the acts and thoughts of El Colonel.”

El Colonel’s eyes are tracking. Seeing these eyes looking towards him in greeting, the young member of the Heroic Patrol calls out in response, playing very well the part that the reappearance of the appearance of El Colonel has taught him to recognize as indeed El Colonel—

“Mi Colonel—a very Good Morning to you!"

David Baptiste Chirot "Essays, reviews, prose poetry, sound and visual poetry, performance scores, Mail Art have appeared in print and web 60+ different journals in over a dozen countries. Participated in 350+ Visual Poetry and Mail Art exhibitions, Calls. 3 books, 3 chapbooks and in many print and e-anthologies. My work is with the found, everywhere to be found, hidden in plain site/sight/cite. http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com". Also: Cronaca Sovversiva Feneon—Faits Divers & Fate's Divers.

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