Writer’s Barbels


Will transformation. Be inspired by the flame/where a thing made of change conceals itself. -Rilke

When the Mayan hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, descend into the underworld, they manage to outwit the lords of Xibalba again and again, each time using supernatural powers to escape death in a series of abominable confinements: Razor House, Cold House, Jaguar House, Rubber House, and so on. In a truly bravura trickster move, willing their own transformation, they allow the lords to toss them into a fiery oven, a cave within a cave. There they are burned, then ground to dust and tossed into a river. End of story? No. Undefeated, they regather and reconstitute themselves, first as a pair of catfish, then as freshly re-minted twins, and finally, after their revenge against the cave lords, as — oh why not! — the sun and the moon.

After undergoing a period of burning and grinding, I see myself in the catfish stage, the novel-writing condition, mental barbels probing the environment for food, perhaps even choosing to exit the water like the walking catfish, writhing/writing my way back toward the human condition, which of course, like all conditions,  is “made of change,” one or two shifts away from sun or moon, music or silence, difference or différance.


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