There Is Nothing Left to Say On The Invisibles
Once I Was a Little Light
by Travis Hedge Coke
Judgement. Rapture. We will win.
We all fuck up.
To quote Walter Morrison, “Morning, scab.”
We all know guilt. We all worry. We all get it wrong. Regret. Rethink and in our rethinking, get stuck. You can dress it up poetically or phrase it in elevated intellectualism, but we all fuck up.
The big problem is what we do to get done. Andre Breton was enamored with traumatized soldiers making “the most distant relations between ideas.”
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is probably one of the most overheard songs today in the anglophone world, yet, so many of us, from you and a me to the babe of the abyss, to probably Spider-Man and Michelle Obama, on the fly misapprehend the song. We think there is a line about a secret word. We confuse the poetry and the physics. It is about drunkeness or an encounter with the most high god of earth. We get as lost as a Shrek fan trying to remember an original line or one from Adaptation. We may decide for ourselves whether god or earth are capitalized.
We live on the dirt and in the dirt, surrounded by pavements and under the shade of sun and still we think it is up to us to divine poetry, to decide vocation, to commit and bear the weight of sins.
Quimper comes from the Breton word for confluent. Jack Frost brings the snow. Mr Quimper brings together. Everything a little Quimper, every little into Quimper. Memories and stories savored and puppets and pottery throne.
We are awful. Brutal on ourselves. Broken up, we misremember, mishear, let ourselves get misdirected.
Some people hang themselves forever for a minor misdemeanor. Some, look on battlefields of the slain, unannounced graveyards out back of a mandatory residential school, the vacant discharges of a prison, the piloted, damaged victims of corporate pimpism, and think: acceptable losses. All in the machine.
The pale horse, Quimper. The Cheshire Cat.
He has a baby’s smile and a baby’s voice and a baby’s selfish need. Testy. Testing. His countenance is terrifying and masked and the mask is terrifying. If the apple of Eden begged, “Please help,” would you reach out, if you thought you might drown?
Who camper than Quimper and scarier for it?
Quimper, or Mr. Quimper, is one of the hardest parts of The Invisibles for me to grapple with in a public light. Quimper’s forgivable horribleness, reminds me of Mad Tom, Tom O’Bedlam, who is a father figure to Jack Frost during his first mature initiation rituals, a brother, friend, and ally to many Invisibles, even those who work the ugly Outer Church path, and who is a terrifying monster of human sacrifices, bloody games, and deep panicked repression.
Quimper’s existence as an eternal verge of peaceable sacrifice or conflicted clinging on at the abyss betwixt this and that, the plaintive nature of Ragged Robin, of the midwife of existence, Brilliant Chang, of the darling buoy Barbelith, the stone in every heart and the placenta in outer space.
Mr Quimper, French and English, Brazilian, American, unstated, flux state, fucks state.
The green apple that killed Snow White. The Cinderella shoe which fits perfectly yet slipped off.
Quimper is pre-born baby, aborted fetus, timeless angel, a devil out of time, a machine in god, the god in the machine, a trick of the light, a light who has been tricked, a tricked out underworld figure, a figurative ultraterrestrial track mark. Quimper is, will, was and can be.
Imagine the horrible voice of an attendant angel, a hurt program, a wounded possibility. By being of Earth, our sin predates the possible.
The funny thing with being unable to produce children in the classical ways, is that sterility is most often a likelihood or temporary. You often are not sterile, you are most-likely sterile. Surprises linger. Enough, that in some circumstances, people think of them as promises.
My niece, the other day, said I could, “still support a child,” almost out of nowhere.
Her sister declared, “Support me!”
That is my speed. We are in these days together.
Mr Quimper is the worst child because he is an adult child. The timelessness of his spirit means he is all grown and never all grown.
And, the horrible traumas that happened to him? They may be movie he saw when he was too young. So to say.
We do not know if the tragic abuse of Lord Fanny and the alien who is Mr Quimper, the light in the earth, is a genuine attack, a ritual, or play-act, or more of Ragged Robin’s neural pornography like the kind she puts into Fanny’s head to trick an older, yet still entirely baby, Quimper of the modern late 90s days.
The Invisibles fake the abuse of Ragged Robin, the suicide of a government psychic, and the front page of a well-known newspaper.
Illusion, truth, pimp and circumstance plagiarized or risen do not seem to have differentiation for Mr Quimper. He might have been born hurt. Most people are, but we are not suspended there. Quimper is something we will never understand.
“[P]erformativity,” says Judith Butler, “cannot be understood outside of a process of iterability.” “Everything, as someone else says, “is copy.” Whether we should say copy or xerox is belied by it being xerography, not copography. Back to Butler, “[C]onstraint is… that which impels and sustains performativity.”
If Quimper could grow, if Quimper could strategize or understand his shortcomings, his misgivings and how they come from misapprehension, if Quimper could heal, well, Quimper could grow. But, Quimper does not grow. Quimper infests others, invades, and copies himself into them, steering them, using people not to grow or reproduce, but to echo in an echo chamber.
Perversity is not in the naked thing, but the slim panetella. The goose in the jar of jury-rigged psychoanalysis. The peep between two buttons, the slipping slip, break down the center of the honographic talking satori traffic light which warns birds against behavior. Perversity is in getting just nearly there.
See, too, “bloody Six,” of Division X, platonic image of an era from an angle. A living poster on a childhood wall. The rescue of Six into “these bowels” with the potter-wheel pantomime and the apocryphal tunnels is the rescue of Quimper. As Rosemary Clooney sang, “Lord help the Mister who gets between me and my sister.”
When Mad Tom panics at a critical moment in a ritual and draws down all space and time to a fine and untenable point, the collapse of collapses, that frozen retraction is the panic reflex of Mr Quimper. Tightening into a ball. Drawing away.
Sophia, Logos, and a little replicating like in the world.
Adults, near-adults, we have responsibility for children. Do we not? Is that not a tenet both of The Invisibles and something we are taught? Taught to anticipate?
Mister Six. Mister Quimper. They cannot let go. Like Jack Frost and Sir Miles and Tom O’Bedlam, Jack Flint, Jolly Roger, Ragged Robin, all of them of us of them.
What children do is the responsibility of those near who are not children.
What Quimper does is all lines in a fiction. Spoken and drawn lines, colored in, framed by the black wire of panel borders. None of it happens, and all of it is happening in those stored panels now.
We the people have a choice to make. The Serpent has to make a choice. Which is Mr Quimper? Survival in the face of mortality is a zero sum, but survival depends on mortality. The horrible possessed who are Quimper? The seeded dolls?
We cannot reckon with that; how can we forgive?
NEXT: Sacrificial Greed
- Prologue/Series Bible
- Chapter One: I Was a Librarian’s Assistant (Pt. 1)
- Chapter Two: I Was a Librarian’s Assistant (Pt. 2)
- Chapter Three: Robin Roundabout
- Chapter Four: How Did Helga Get in Here?
- Chapter Five: Boy Our Embarrassment
Nothing in There is Nothing Left to Say (On The Invisibles) is guaranteed factually correct, in part or in toto, nor aroused or recommended as ethically or metaphysically sound, and the same is true of the following recommendations we hope will nonetheless be illuminating to you, our most discriminating audience.
Morrison, Grant. The Invisibles. Jill Thompson, Chris Weston, et al. DC Comics. 1994-2000.
White Christmas. 1954. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written and composed by Nathan Van Cleave, Gus Levene, Joseph J. Lilley, and Bernard Mayers.
Sylvie and Bruno. 1889-1893. Lewis Carroll, Harry Furniss.
Transformations. 1971. Anne Sexton, Barbara Swan.
Once I Was a Little Light
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