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The Museum of Vestigial Desire


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By Nachiket Joshi

There are distances that seem vast, when gazed upon from the edge of a ticking hand. The hand lurches and drops, then pauses, before dropping again. It is a hostage to rotating gears, swirling bands, it’s putting a brave face to a tightly bound apparatus. Its motions mock the stars.

In a small town, not far from the coast, astrologers march up and down in fury at the king’s new acquisition- a new-fangled toy, offered up by the arrogant and duplicitous pale-faced mercenaries. Linear time maroons their elegant charts, and deeply felt calculations when gazed upon from the edge of a ticking hand.

There are distances that seem vast…Time’s arid landscape is easily warped by those beings that dwell in vast flowing rivers, inert rocks, the eye sockets of blind old hags, in the gaps between a dog’s teeth or on secluded mountain tops, amidst coiling snakes. But there is no space for them between the lurch and drop of a ticking hand.

There are distances that seem vast. But the emptiness masks a determination. The gap is a fiction. It bends all to its devouring will. It consumes myth. Spits out the bones of history. The hand casts a shadow behind it. A traveller couldn’t rest himself in its shade. There is no rest in its shade. There is no rest anywhere near it at all.

Build a giant bird, and set it ablaze. Keep a perpetual fire burning in a hovel in the middle of a deserted plateau. Chant. Erect bamboo poles, drooping with a thousand flags. Sink a bull to the bottom of a lake, under the weight of half a ton of pure gold. Or try modern methods…

Prevaricate. Procrastinate. Masturbate.

All methods of mastery fail. Now retreat to the back of the cabinet. Pull up a chair. Extinguish the barren solicitude of empty reproach. Shine a spotlight on the distorted gears, scattered stems, clasps, pins, gaskets and crowns. They too are liable to come apart. Slowly begin the process of reconstitution. And remember, amidst the lurches and drops, empty gaps and vast distances, even time needs a keeper.

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