Nobody Wants to be
the Four-Storey Building
February 5th, 2022
Illustration by Joseph P. Sgambati III
The sky is being invaded, annihilated in pieces by the towering glass and cement. This is no war and the air will not fight back. The skyscrapers are rising, inch by inch as I watch, as do others, too far away for me to know. Perhaps they draw tears from me just the same. The bricks are piling up and the air is shifting as it makes way and loses space for the climbing monument. This is no war and the air will not fight back. It will only shift, it can only shift, , allowing its expanse to be pierced, stretched, torn and occupied. The skyscrapers are like the will of humans, rupturing the ceiling of our natural world. The will does what it is taught, what it thinks is survival. It does not know succumbing, reducing or stillness. The will that overcomes and suppresses, swallows whole and demolishes. The will however, is not free will but the instinctive will. A will that enslaves us. It is devastating to see that this is what our will can do.
But the skyscrapers are glass walled. They are cold against my art that I try to hang on the walls. Every inch is thronged and there is too much crowd in this envied enclosure. It is not silent, so I try to use the noise. But when I have my portrait of that art, even glass walls sag underneath it. I stand in this colourless monument of will, and suddenly, even brown would do. And I begin to use single strokes of paint for art the glass walls will allow. There is no weight anymore for anything to sag.
It is among the sky-piercing-suffocating-tearing-occupying-bullying skyscrapers that I find a four storey building.
It is brown.
The will does what it is taught, what it thinks is survival. It does not know succumbing, reducing or stillness.
Clear water washes over me, carrying me tenderly like I am precious, delicate. I am willing to float and sink here. The walls are shorter, smaller, but sturdier. They say nothing but they are ready to bear the weight of colours. The roof dances with the sky, twirling in a waltz, sensuous and delightful. I must walk barefoot here, and I find myself giggling again. I can space out my repeated photographs, and my soul is comfortable here. Nothing is stretched or pierced, and I am no cause for annihilation, occupation or rupture. Not of the outside, nor of my own.
I long for this four storey building. I occupy it with my soul, my art, my questions and suspended curiosities. I realize, my will has grown bigger than me and now I have shrunken down to a four-storey building.
Puchner, Martin in Manifesto = Theatre, Theatre Journal Vol 54 2002