Peter Rose: Witness

Secondary Currents


(Secondary Currents (1982-90) is a film about relationships between mind and language. Delivered by an improbable narrator who speaks an extended assortment of invented languages, it is an "imageless" film in which the shifting relationships between voice-over commentary and subtitled narration constitute a peculiar duet for voice, thought, speech, and sound.)

I don't remember when the voice

At first, I heard it
as a kind of babbling,

a metabolic susurration,

full of whispered insinuations,

chattering innuendoes,


And then sometimes it seemed
to coalesce,

to congeal about a single image,

and I thought I understood.

But then the babble broadened,

evanished into a softime warble,

and I heard nothing again.

The voice returned.

I thought I discerned

a gentle coherence.

I began to imagine another persona,

a visage,

that seemed to shimmer
in the insubspatiated fertility
of its grace.

And then,

when I thought we seemed to think
in tandem,

as if some furtive intelligence

yoked our rhythms
incanted our assonance,
and presaged our..........pause,

and when

so subtle
was the imagined conjugation
of our tongues

I was able to discern multiple
meanings from single sounds,

to intuit some universal language

whose boundless homophonous inflections

from the keen surface of reason

and faded into the pale mansion
of thought,

we abandoned our intention
and lost ourselves to language.

We travelled.

Awkward, I felt, at first,

as if a stranger to my own tongue,

my voice
a jagged mirror
of my thoughts,

an imitation.

We felt the breath
of a northern light,

a desolate languor upon the lips,

the interminable winter,

a bitter malaise.

But then we seemed to sense
a distant rigor,

a place of fierce courage

where the moon's image in the water

"The Buddha? What wings?
or was it when the blossoms fell?"

But no sooner did I try to name it

than we shifted,

falling into a Mediterranean trance.

We awoke in the sunlight,

the smell of jasmine in the air
and the sound of goats' bells
in the distance.

An old woman appeared.

She held a basket of peaches

and seemed to be anticipating
someone or something

as if the conclusion
to some unspoken metaphor
were about to fall from her lips.

"What a wonderful thought!"
she said.

"Would you like a peach?
Surely you'd like a peach!"

"What do you mean by talking to him?
He's a stranger,"

growled an old man nearby.

"It is not his to pretend to speak
our language, as if he were
one amongst us, privy to our private
thoughts and admonitions"


He's right at home.
Look, he can already imagine telling
his friends about his adventures here,
as if our voices were like memories
and he could show them like
a photograph."

"Enough of your metaphysical
balderdash. You try my patience.
He's yours, Fatunqua, see what you
can get from him. I will talk to
you later."

"You've had a long trip. Here.
Take these. They are very good.
Very tasty. Look. Like gold-eh?
They're as bright as gold."

She was right. Sliced and opened
the juices sweetly fermented in
their own inner chambers, the
fruit roused a fiery passion
in the eyes, a hunger for
a keen sweetness, like
a thirst.

I felt a longing in my thirst,

a longing to be far away,

to move into vast distance

where breath could take wing

and the eyes would be in air

and I could sense the outside of things.

I inhaled great draughts of space,

imminently relieved
of the tangled administration
of language,

alone and unconstrained,

my silence a witness to my freedom,

my thoughts invisible at last.....

I moved through a dark, tumultuous void

whose ancient, agile vistas

resounded with allure,

corridors of thought through whose
imbricated constellations
I glimpsed a wayward meandering
of passive splendor:

the furtive gnostic eruptions
of a steamy incandescence
whose unforgivable numinous presence
was beyond the unspeakable inv-

And yet,

even as I so imagined it,

and positioned myself
within the grasp of my reach,

the tangible world-


impenetrable thoughts,

strange beasts
lurking in the underbrush

convinced me

that a return to an easy intimacy
was what I needed,

was what was called for.

I began to feel a little a little shaky
about time,

as if the past kept becoming the...

the present,

as if my voice were inhabitant
of a different order of time
than my own,

my thoughts
the shadowy presence of its prescience,

my words
but shackled servants to its will.

I began to fear
a kind of contamination,

an invidious adumbration of thought,

the effusion of an inchoate substrate
of pre-libidinal energy,

an unrepentent dilation
of constructed meaning

whose meandering lucubrations

foretold the essential entropy

of euphostolic processes
and peregrinations

re-invitriafied by the subcoholate

of an ecstatic generative demuneration

whose insubstantiated logotic pressures

undiluted by lornless febrile
percussive machinations,

was irreductively proviscerated by a

tensile penumbric gasping ideoform

whose primal total conjugate sustenance

given the existence as uttered forth by

asphyxiate ergodic inequities as

not subsinct or otherwise glottal or

schismatic can proct mismal gloating

tortic as a genera logics assumed by

frisson eldo bas erra ti gon

ship to antel k tri lo montre

pi l like s k soke sl abqu ek

dko tj s abi. tu n kto

rt l px ex: s s at l

t-thel: kthe ls o

ke lnc i ! u a je t s le

ee tri-sit pn vo tep.

nu oo ert i-i kq

fn s-sr b ro.

fr bn f-fo oo vr gb

qn nnr xe po tr onpt o-ot on-u?

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