My life, like yours perhaps, is lived in full-colour and it is zooming and determined and breathless and racing – and it lingers for no one. Least of all me.
All too often, to my fist-clenched impatience, life politely requests that I take a seat, or a numbered ticket, and wait. It will be with me shortly. It continues to zoom and race and arrange its affairs – MY affairs – but without the necessity of my involvement. And in these moments I am forced to pause. I do not want to pick up a well-thumbed trashy magazine from the waiting-room table and leaf through it while I wait for my name or number to be called. I want to carry on with my business of making decisions, doing things, being in control. But increasingly, of late, I am forced to pause. The flow becomes suspended in the pith of my soul, whatever cause it is I am seeking to develop cannot advance, things beyond my control have forced me to stop, I am in a traffic jam and need to wait things out – with grace, preferably. In these moments of limbo, I do not know what will happen next, which way will events turn, or what will become of me. I am forced to accept that nothing is known or certain. The future is held in anticipation, the flow and movement of my life is halted and frozen, and I am forced not only to stop but to contemplate the magnitude of change that is about to come… any second now. So then, for me, the ellipsis is lived as an experience of change to come, that has not yet come, and the stillness of having to watch and wait for it to arrive… or not. It is frustrating.
Also, there is everything of the unspoken in the ellipsis, it is a symbol of the unsaid, the unsayable. When letters and spaces melt away and resist being fixed and shaped into solid linguistic form in the most crucial of moments – that one chance to express the truth of a slippery feeling, or what exactly is missing from something, the shape and extent of a knot of anxiety in the guts – the unsaid cannot spill over into articulation: it is mute. What I am trying to say is that it is exactly when trying to say something and knowing that it is unsayable, that expression melts into a blank space, full and pregnant with meaning and communication but somehow impotent and lost, never to be recovered. And it is in moments like this that we submit to the failure implicit within every act of creative expression. Will we ever understand each other? Could the glimpses that we offer into our minds and thoughts and experiences ever be more than simply that, glimpses?
It is exactly … as a space of frustration, pause, hesitation or inexpressibility that is taken up and explored in so many dimensions in this latest issue of ITCH Online. Ironically, although words, images and sounds are by their very nature and materiality committed to attempting to articulate the ineffable, the collection of works curated here seems to acknowledge, above all, the futility of those efforts. Or… could it be that even though we all know that there are some things that cannot or should not be said, and thus replace them with a short row of dots, we nevertheless gain a deep pleasure from the beautiful frustration that is the fruit born of the acts and processes of creative expression? What I have learnt from the contributors featured in this issue is that life's invitation (or instruction) to moments of pause, which at times frustrate me, can be understood in terms of eloquence and space, instead.
The works collected here suggest an infinite number of things. … is a breath held, expelled, or stilled… It is a solo walk in the desert, a dreamlike rambling through a surreal landscape… It is the freedom from commitment to the next thing, an open ending… It is negative space, context and permeable boundary all rolled up into one... It is a possibility of microscopic concentration... It is at once irreverent and heartbroken (a bald head can represent a satire or a moving tribute). It is a piece of a puzzle and a sense of continuation… It is the impossibility of (inter-species or inter-lover) communication... It is eyeballs and fish-heads and bubbles... It is underwater noise... and sailing... It is that moment before suicide and after redemption... It is violence and fantasy and confusion... It is a life frustrated by a world war and two continents... It is clichéd: it is also so much more...
So, until my number is called… I'll just breathe, while I tighten and loosen the knot behind my ribs.