M.E.: While I feel overpoweringly held in place by fatigue, pain can make me weightless, strangely untethered, my own tissue paper effigy, floating under the ceiling. The fatigue I hate with a vengeance, because of the passivity it forces on me – as if I was lying under a sack filled with lead pellets. With the pain I mostly accommodate myself, depending on its severity. Lying immobile, too tired to budge but beyond the worst, I can observe it, register it with interest, esp. as it keeps changing, moving about, playing catch-up (ketchup?) with me. By the time I get home from one of my ‘outings’ I tend to feel battered, with fatigue and pain fighting for dominance. The following day just needs to be gotten through, exhaustion all-encompassing (to myself I call these days-after non-days and then admonish myself – it’s still a day of my life), but the next morning may yield something. Last week, two days after … I was relieved to find on waking that those stings in my skull did not greet me first. I was lying in the dark, still too tired to rise but hopeful. Time to assemble my body into a coherent, functional whole – feel my chest rising and falling, my limbs stirring. Bit like a roll-call. All there. As had. Only a small area, slightly larger than a two pound-coin, at the back of my left hand where it narrows towards the wrist, felt different, unknown: sharply, icily painful, as if my skin was being pulled away from flesh and bones. When after a while I slid my fingers across I was surprised to find my hand’s surface unchanged: soft and smooth, warm to the touch, alive. For a few minutes (after the sharp intake of breath when it first flared up) that acute sensation became my centre (though it didn’t claim me, as the fatigue often does) while the rest of my body was in abeyance, almost an appendage to this point of focus.
When the pain goes I half-expect to find my flesh marked, transformed. I almost want there to be a growth of lichen with its warm tumeric tint; a layer of cool, silvery fish-scales; the glacial burn of chain-mail melting into my skin. But there’s nothing, not a wound, not a bruise, not even the flushed tone of a limb pressed against a mirror in an attempt to slip elsewhere.
Both pain and fatigue affect the perception of my body – and often distort it. While I’m not-up, not-out, I have to wring a little song from my most basic experiences, although often enough there’s nothing but hush. I guess that’s part of the reason why memory has become such an important subject to me – I fall back on myself. It occurs to me that memory is subject to similar distortions: its object at the same time diminished through the distance from now to then, from here to there, and amplified by pulling it close, be it by choice or unwillingly. Peering intensely at this one detail, losing sight of what else there is/was.
I’ve finished another foundling, will post pic next time. For now I leave you with my
Figure with extended buttocks (2004)
Materials: paper and masking tape
Dimensions: 32 cm x 17 cm x 25 cm