Concluding Remarks (Aidan Gray) [Salvaged from digital archive]

A note from Aidan Gray’s computer. Date of writing unknown--when attempts were made to scour Gray’s hard drive for relevant data, it quickly became clear Gray’s disk was corrupted.

Some Twilit Frontier of the Mind in Future

When I first embarked on my long, delirious, journey towards light, many years ago now in the full ripeness of youth, I did not expect to find much of sense, respect, reason. I was fully prepared to stab blindly in the dark, pressing needles and thermometers through the flesh of the earth and air, waiting for those with superior experience to shoot me down and relish my fresh green blood. I knew, certainly, that my own scientific path in life would not be a straight one. I knew my route would diverge from that of my peers, who devoted themselves quite avidly and justly to noble causes: curing cancer, building new forms of immunity, developing technologies for the future. A future whose form at some point lost its rigid, cyber-hued edges and became incredibly nebulous—manifest as a cloud of toxic smog, a tidal wave sweeping to dust some tropical city. Halfway through my undergraduate education, the world changed. I do not mean I became a man, or anything so personally trite. I mean reports appeared on global warming, on the glaciers melting. The Greenhouse Effect. What soon became a textbook staple sent shockwaves through our rather arrogant scientific adolescence. Axioms about climate and weather, geology and terrestrial structure were being torn down with every new piece of research.

I was not interested in saving the planet, per se, but the strange and liminal points in time and space where the planet spoke back from its usual recalcitrance. I am not talking extravagant storms, the familiar narrative of apocalyptic collapse—burning bridges, falling buildings. I am talking blips in our system of understanding, moments that challenge utterly our human sensorium by mere spark of estrangement. Where the world breaks apart as contestable zones of flickering data. Lightning shivered across the hillsides the night I was born, the midwife travelling in treacherous gales just to reach my parents’ bungalow, where somewhere in miniature by a window my mother was pushing a version of me into existence. Something in that dramatic craquelure of the autumn sky must’ve struck a deep instinct within my foetal body, those streamers of discharged electricity. What came apart was the sapphirous atmosphere, the sinister blue with its plume of streaming, seething clouds. And through the gaps? The cracks? My body runs red in arterial fury, late night caffeine and textbook drownings. It has always been and will always be, the thirst for those crevasses that split the fault-lines of reality. Down inside, the sweet dark churning lava—such harvest of knowledge, rich and deadly. Here I am, growing quite romantic! For I have been reading too much of Payne’s prose, maybe, its maddening, cloying, adjectival rapture. It has sunk through my skin, my eyes and fingers; has coloured my mind with its acidic lyric, its baroque contortions of language. Is it possible to deem his writings discourse, the way you might refer to a journal? For in all the emotive colloquialisms, the personal embellishments, Payne’s philosophy—his phenomenological assertions, drenched in pure affect—emerge as truth.

My experience with Mr. Douglas Payne has made every step of my journey towards discovery even more worthwhile. His mind is a diamond, latticed inside with the strangest rainbows. No man has the incisive eye that Payne has: that jackpot combination of parochial knowledge and deep affinity for universal energies, for global shifts in the stratifications of intellectual discourse. Fearlessly he showed me the place in the woods which served as the origin for his deepest trauma, braved ridicule to reveal the situation which changed our lives forever. That sound, that light. His voice, murmuring descriptions of all he had seen; the forms and objects that blinker his present tense.

The perils of a higher vision have never been lost on me.

However, I am confident now that my research is strong enough to bolster a return mission to the woods. Reports of missing children, freak weather and uncanny encounters with ordinary aspects of landscape led me back to Lanark with the hunger for truth. Payne’s web entries, his emails and letters accelerate in their flavour of the hallucinatory and surreal. I could not quell the thirst that daily drove me away from mediocre admin tasks at my university towards the dark side of the internet, its thresholds dissolving at the gates of each new proxy. Attempts to distract myself only veer backwards to this crepuscular possibility that blooms in the shadows of Lanark like some monstrous Cthulhu, ominously looming. The Absent Material Gateway. What flickers is the negative charge of their invisible energy, this hidden organisation with its long arms reaching tentacular through the town, the county, the country beyond. I can even imagine their nefarious channels spreading out across the Atlantic. I try not to visualise the Gateway at all, but metaphor in this case is much of all we have.

Or had. Until now. I have the coordinates to the place where the mouth feeds, the entrance to the whale, the manhole that unfolds its subterranean labyrinths of mysterious bureaucracy. Enough metaphors. Soon I will be able to discover this place in the literal. The waterfall twinned with the falls Payne and I visited many years ago, where he warned me not to drink the water. I fear something eerie will slip out of that sweet iodine, the green stones gleaming with alien forms born rogue in the mixing of etheric chemicals, spirits weird. I will take a hip flask of whisky and set forth into the good dawn, the golden infinitude. What matters, you see, is less destination than journey.

When I close my eyes to sleep, the little star-like clusters return, my irises scarred from those earlier encounters with shocking form. At the lisp of consciousness there is always this burning. Technology hums and warms in the air around me, a constant presence resembling god. God, god, god; those marbles of soul that fall, heavy, in clattering shatters. The burst glass, the refraction of pixels and matter. I too will become more of that melted mass, enter the darkling woods with compass and map. I search less for the point than the fold, a metaphysical skip like a nick on a vinyl disc. Where time edges backwards. Oozes liquorice thick. My visit to Coralinn Falls will double back on the visit Payne and I took to the other falls, directly east in another valley, another wood. On the same latitude, perhaps. Micro-scaled. I am another self of the self, somehow older and stronger. Born around lightning, sometime in September.

Friendly readers, I must press on! If ever you find yourself mouse-clicking around these very words, these sinuously unscientific rambles in prose, know that I closed the screen, left the room, delved forever on. Faith forever in the a posteriori, silvered with blossoms of queerest spirit. Here is the beautiful blood of the sunset’s meridian, the dark woody green of the pines closing in. You may find the yellowed leaves of my archives stuck to the walls: a hundred photographs of Lanark through history; a hundred diagrams, diaries and fervent scrawls. You may find me insane, enlightened or nothing at all. I intend to chase knowledge beyond conspiracy, tease out the secrets of this town till the tangles have me choking, stiller than still at death's door. Be reassured I have spent sufficient quantities of my life holed up in labs, preparing the formulas, alchemy, theories that breathe life into the earth’s neglected pores. What strange scents emit when disturbed! Be curious, dear reader. Allow your own skin to fade out, atomic, devoid of soul. Let the brain dwell in the unknown wounds of this corporeal reality. Soon you will see me in dreams, perhaps, under a waterfall in the swell and plash of a thousand uncanny reveries. Then maybe I too will shift as stone, congeal as silt; accumulate the welded collage of mineral and flesh that hardens, fossilises, returns to ether. Believe me, this textual progression, the lustful urge that propels such research, is only the skin between us. It’s possible, always, to prise such intimacies open…Learn what is not the here or there or even either…