Heels & Faces
May - June 2021
Lydia Gifford
Owen Armour

didascaliae and annotations for heels and faces:

When entering:
Hands may remain where you feel most comfortable.i

When placed in back pockets, should you have back pocketsii, hands are to be placed facing inwards, so that the folds in the pocket fabric, or in any remnant tissues or lint, can be felt. Follow the folds.

Keep the hooded mask you imagined last week on.iii Any line tilted across the space should be accompanied.

The textures and angles might ask something of you; be pleased to oblige.iv Tumble down. Easy though.

To a direction I once asked, ‘What do you mean?’
The sergeant replied, ‘What do you mean, “what do you mean”?’v

These notes might, at some point, jut up against some things. Let follow to the things. These are not elaborate forums for improvisation.vi They are a score, an acute orchestration of compressed space; you are an instrument. You might feel the brass boiling in your veinsvii or the resonant hum of cat gut.viii

Or, you’re the conductor, waving the wand thing in the time that you read.ix
Either way, you keep the fabric, hold it together from all sides as it tugs. The fabric isx
It follows then that an indeterminate music can only lead to catastrophe. This catastrophy I allowed to take place.xi

The other day
I noted down:xii

We cannot listen to a conversation for five minutes without being acutely aware of the confusion. It is all around us and our only chance is to let it in. The only chance of renovation is to open our eyes and see the mess. It is not a mess you can make sense of... One can only speak of what is in front of him, and that now is simply the mess.xiii

Step back.
Look back.xiv
It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. Life can never be really understood in time simply because at no particular moment can I find the necessary resting-place from which to understand it — backwards.xv

Retrace your steps.
The stain and slant you only glanced at earlier: look again.xvi

Bring the mental loops back down from near the rafters and let them drift back outside, like some kind of half-seen bat.

Note down an overheard conversation:
‘How old would you say the house was?’
Look around the kitchen thoughtfully: ‘At a rough estimate, two-hundred and fifty years. It's old land, arable land.’
Look at the clocks: ‘Yes. Genuine antiques?’
‘I'd say most of them.’xvii
Lay your palms firmly on the kitchen table to feel the vibrations.

Now, use your feet. Repeat.

As you leave, repeat silently to yourself: Poetry changes nothing. The only person it changes is the poet himself.xviii Substitute poetry for

i at all times

ii you should have back pockets

iii at most times

iv you should be pleased to oblige

v Kenneth Gaburo, 1966

vi Daryl Pratt, 1987

vii coppery and gold at the same time, though I suppose at a push you would just call it gold-looking

viii whatever tune comes to mind first

ix wave the wand thing. please. Then imagine your conductor standing between two mirrors, so that an arc of fading simultaneous conductors springs up beside you. You are not the only conductor. Of course. Definite articles can be misleading.

x you want to say time. Say whatever.

xi Morton Feldman, 1966

xii Robert Filiou, 1966

xiii Samuel Beckett, 1961

xiv don’t look back

xv Kierkegaard, 1843

xvi the thing is, perhaps, just an excitement of the limbic system. Though you might imagine it more as a firing of the nerves, a little light that runs from a fingertip, stopping for a moment in the crater of your retina, to then shoot through your brain. Imagine it, for a moment, as a ball hovering in the air, just in front of your nose. The texture is like polished concrete, though the colour is a dark grey, near black. Though a sculptural metaphor might be a disservice here, as is a visual one of the firing nerve, creating these mental images when there are no images per se. If I say, it’s conjured up from ‘reading the room’, even that is miscast, a textual metaphor where words or letters might be dispersed across the page and spine of the garage, when the act itself is fundamentally different; or, perhaps not totally, but constitutionally. We might gesture here towards what you might summon (and there, the magical metaphor, a plume of smoke), but then doing so might determine the sort of summoning that takes shape. Kindly accept a non metaphorical suggestion: stop.

xvii David McCallum and Joanna Lumley, 1979 xviii Mahmoud Darwish, 2002

-Chris Fite-Wassilak