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24 Questions

Written and read by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

In collaboration with Davide Balula

Mm: Davide asks me about perception and thresholds.

I talk about seeing the line of a wall in mist.

I go in and out of fog on the rim trail and mountains rise in fog among yellow leaves.

There is a veil of fog between myself and a sunlit flank of yellow leaves.

A part of the person can become visible at a time, or parts of people, and other parts rest in folds of fog, as if they were muffled sounds.

It’s hard for you to believe that anything within the cloud exists,

thinking of him as the color of polished silver or nickel, a scratch in these metals.

Then bright light slows the senses.

When we see or experience something with our senses, and the senses get slowed, we can stop at this object, for example, a person who is beautiful.

Mm: Davide asks me about my (the subjective) perception of distance.

For the person far away, her equivalent is a time-lapse photograph of lightning, in proportion to each moment you are looking. It is her attempt to show him a lightning storm or any interval of colored light on the plain as what is good in life, the person, and what is good…

Mm: Davide wants to project empathy across space, since

It is well known that lightning is attracted to body heat, a person on horseback or a large saguaro, the way a racket of birds in the morning is a kind of empathy for two people. How you look into the canyon, a relation to lit and unlit complexities of islands on the canyon floor, is the complicated question of looking, and the right answer that comes back. The more complicated the question, the less light would come back, until no light comes back.

You would know everything you see in the first place, but the terms of your recognition grow increasingly intimate and ecological, like the light on your gold bracelet which while it is still light, it is still becoming abstract.

Mm: Regarding this projection, Davide asks more about how I would unify the space.

Where your eye goes over space to the horizon creates a whole, but where sky meets earth, the fragment is not the same as a whole

This line has volume like a crystal, but weighs like a cardinal point.

You drive toward it, as the approach of a person.

Mm: What is the connection between sound and empathy, he asks me.

When the beauty of his song derives from the fact, it represents something to someone.

Wherever there’s waiting is this transference.

Mm: He asks again about sound and the empathies of hearing,

That attunes to an open place, window, absence, a stranger’s arrhythmic walk in open time, then my walk.

Mm: As a sculptor, The physical versus metaphysical elements of hearing interest him, when

A voice with no one speaking, like the sea, merges with my listening, as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real.

Hearing is the fractality of fragments occurring, as they disintegrate.

Present and future shed perspective, so birds flying away remain the same size, although her gaze, in memory, on beloved children retains the physical latency of hearing them.

Mm: What is the relationship between empathy and history, conflict?

Beautiful friends stopped dressing; there was war.

I’d weep, then suddenly feel joy and sing loud words from another language, not knowing my song’s end.

I saw through an event and its light shone through me.

Mm: His own colors are very subtle; he asks about light on the desert, where I live,

Color is a mirror where we see ourselves with the living things.

I wake, like a bird among thousands of traces of small birds’ passing through the space.

Can you perceive traces, virga, pigment in a substrate of dawn light.

Mm: I told him about Tony Smith’s amaryllis, who was my friend’s father, but Davide is not that kind of sculptor. He perceives phenomena, such as an edge of spilled water on blonde wood.

A red amaryllis in sun quarters the breakfast room.

The cause is not determined, when I perceive, with its intense presence, the isolation of the red hue, as in white space…

Words spoken with force create particles.

Mm: I can repeat this for him, or continue with my idea of sound as a kind of reception, concavity.

Transmission from speaker to you is like warm breath from a young girl who’s not wholly concerned with information, truth, drawing you into her presence.

When she whispers, you catch fragments of words, which seem nonsensical.

Her voice softens and breaks off, haunting you, not connected to any person in the room, as if all words were pulled from books and left on the floor.

Mm: I think the randomness is related to a kind of tenderness of structure or restructure.

For example if matter is trapped light, by seeing yellow flowers you restructure molecules, and you’re not as solid.

Mm: Then, he asks me to talk about the relationship between empathy and distance in space.

The light is wide as waking can embrace at one time, I tell him.

Your waking is a blue brushstroke creating space.

My wishes aren’t separate from the environment, which is a portion of connectivity, with new species emerging all the time.

Mm: What about memory and the border of the self, as a landscape?

Now memory widens its focus; it doesn’t end where my skin ends, but diffuses into my surroundings, leaving fragments of itself I may notice as “red rock,” “friable cliff.”

Details of landscape is how a person losing her memory visualizes the panoply of experience.

I see light around a corner, combinations of others’ memories adjacent to mine and polyvalent.

Mm: Wanting to help,

A group of boy ravens explains to me how they relate shapeshifting with communication. They encourage me to keep extending my connections.

As one writes on his blog, moment to moment, environmental uncertainty can act as imagination for the group.

Content is everyone agreeing to communicate online, when coming out of illness, you break into multiple reflections.

Mm: I think of him as a composer as much as a sculptor, so I continue the theme of feminine listening across water.

Wind, heartbeat, object falling into water, perception merges with the surface.

Spaces fuse; skin takes on crickets, tree frogs; owls take on polyrhythm, magic and its overlaps.

I like listening to night creatures and trying to bring elements into a composition in which any sound can be used by the break-beat for any thing.

Unrelated cross-rhythms refract cricket creaks and peeper croaks onto a maze of mirror surfaces.

Amplification of wind in leaves expands to shimmering surface intermittence.

What sounds like a million frogs is a young mother and her twin girls, flute and voices casting across rustling foliage a dimension not in time but intensity, like light in all the dark places of inner listening.

There are symbols and characters within listening, there’s exchange.

A swamp becomes a wish machine, a belt of transmission between our respective dreams, a way of spatializing growing feelings of alterity surrounding us in a light of rotting vegetation in richness.

Mm: I’m not sure if he has spent much time in forests, where empathy and space can be identical.

Forest is the originary fullness of presence, as if woods along my path were a region of consciousness like landscape in a dream, but my perception of moving greens is not of my making, as the dream is my weaving.

I’m interested in the resonance of disjunction, of one thing next to another, blue mountain at sunset and yellow air.

Actually, there are vast distances I interpret as past or future that change, like all the flowers I remember still growing, one on another.

Mm: Not only woods, but thoughts are part of the ecology.

A wood violet has bloomed, when I come back from my walk in early spring.

I stop and welcome it, cooing, walking around it, not as if I were floating, but the surface of the world circled unfurling petals.

Thoughts meet and merge with other thoughts sent out, say, from foliage and other entities.

Intensities of thought, light and shadow between us, contain memories coiled, one within the other, through which I travel to you, and yet are beautifully undetermined.

Mm: He questions me about time and I suggest we ask the plants.

Looking at the plant releases my boundaries, so time is not needed for experience.

Late afternoon is like a stage, a section of vaster landscape, and my mood is of a summer idyll.

Meaning I come upon on wild land strikes me at first as a general impression, then joy suffuses me.

I accept that I’ve aged and some friends have died.

Mm: I want him to include the sky in our discussion about space, to pull stars down to the flowers.

My soul radially whorls out to the edges of my body, according to the same laws by which stars shine, communicating with my body by emanation.

Mm: But Then I’m combining one star, the sun with one flower, a rose.

This felt sense at seeing the rose extends, because light in the DNA of my cells receives light frequencies of the flower as a hologram.

The entire rose, petals in moving air, emotion of perfume records as a sphere, so when I recall the emotion, I touch dimensionality.

There’s swiftness that seems still as noon light, because my seeing travels at the same speed.

Plants and people have in their cells particles of light that can become coherent, that radiate out physically and also with the creativity of metaphor, in which I inhale the perfume of the Bourbon rose, and try to separate what is scent, sense, and what you call memory, what is emotion, where in a dialogue like touching is it so vibratory and so absorbent of my attention and longing, with impressions like fingerprints all over.

Mm: Can I teach him to talk with plants, he requests.

The rose communicates instantly with the woman by sight, collapsing its boundaries, and the woman widens her boundaries.

Her “rate of perception” slows down, because of its complexity.

There’s a feeling of touching and being touched, the shadings of color she can sense from touch.

There’s an affinity between awareness and blossom.

Stand quietly and allow this quality to permeate air around you.

Mm: He doesn’t know I am often ill. Then

Feeling becomes a resonating frequency in my body waking me at night, as if through a series of vibrating lenses.

So my longing and acute night illness co-create a field for us, lenses instead of distance, tones not measures of distance.

One wants experience from one octave transmitting to others, like vibrations across water.

Mm: That is why I study how plants heal.

The plants are exquisitely sensitive to perturbations in equilibrium they experienced when all plants formed.

They remember that moment, they’re attuned to it.

Mm: But when we studied plants, time became rhythmic or spiral.

Shifting between day and night so rapidly, my mind tries to backlight cyclical time with my perception of one piece of quartz, one ant this winter, air leaving blue around my arm.

Content, outside events, slows time and intuition reveals an aesthetic dimension.

The luminous field of being has a pulse.

(c) 2017 Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Davide Balula