A Voyage To Arcturus (Redux)

Jim Colquhoun

I have no clear memory of the time I spent amongst the stars. All I have is a series of indelibly imprinted ‘sense impressions’ which I shall endeavour to set before you in as clear a fashion as I know how, and with apologies in advance for the inevitable confusions, semantic pratfalls and descriptive aporia that shall inevitably be attendant on such an ‘ill-starred’ undertaking.

The Sensual Objects

Klamm and Valabene helped me to exit the snug confines of the moss-lined crystalline vasculum, The Proteus, which had transported us to this faraway eldritch place. Each of us, encased as we were in our clear polyethylene ‘Iggy’ suits, crackled loudly as we began to make our way across the surface of Arcturus. Our Panpsyche Meters were already chattering constantly, indicating the presence of a variety of inexhaustible objects. The tension arising between ‘things’ and their qualities began to manifest itself as a gliding slash of light hovering above a pale moor, illuminating scraggles of androgenic hair and a plethora of pustules along a perpendicular slough of acid mantle, and there – amidst the staphylococcus mites, the varieties of pruritic detritus, the acneiform eruptions, the blanchable erythma, the cysts, the fistula, the sarcoids and the lymph –some blind thing wormed fitfully beneath these sunless epidermic uplands. Each of us had our accompanying ‘eidolon’, which in conjunction with the aforementioned P–Meters would hopefully serve to deflect the deleterious effects of ingrained anthropocentrism, enabling us to grok in fullness the hylozoic nature of non-being. We stumbled through the rubbish-strewn landscape, which was now lit only by the red neon glow of our P–Meters. We held them in front of our bodies to deflect as much as to illuminate the combined onslaught of


…and the vicarious, asymmetrical and buffered inner lives of the various objects before us. Klamm absentmindedly bent to pick up a shard of integument, which act brought about his swift ‘death’. Luckily his proxy – the eidolon – took the hit instead – and since there is no difference that makes a difference – immediately flashed back into existence, although with several parts sliding into a nearby intra-otic wilderness of forms. As we traversed this agential realm our sense of ourselves as ‘other’ began to dissolve, leading to a diminution of the hierarchical ontological virus we had come to see as ‘us’. The P-Meters flashed and chattered warningly, but it was already far too late. I turned just in time to watch in horror as Valbene’s existence sloughed away in a welter of phased and viscous hyperobjectivity. His eidolon had just enough time to form a surprised ‘O’ before it too was hoovered out of the present finitude.

The Truncated Cones

A long thin ‘sun’ began yet again to ‘slide’ redly above us, illuminating the exhausted spectres of myself and Klamm as we continued to plough grimly across the undulating moorland. I could see that we were about to encounter a Brötzmann Nipple for the first time. It loomed on the horizon, a pinky grey mass surrounded by an accompanying androgenic plantation that began to writhe and dance as we cautiously approached. It seemed to be formed of a series of truncated cones surmounted by variegated slabs of indeterminate origin that somehow resembled a table or tables. A thin crust of tessellated sandstone biers arraigned themselves around this structure, with scalloped facings seemingly sliding upward, and here and there bulbous tulip-like ‘cannon’ reaching towards the heavens. From these, a froth of yellowish gel gouted feebly into the air only to slither impotently upon a pale battlement. The Brötzmann Nipple continued to evade the rational workings of our psyches as we edged around its effulgent anomalousness and its amazing grabbing strength (not only removes the need to pin under the workpiece to prevent slumping, but its revolutionary initial ‘Direct Bond’ eliminates the need for double stick methods, but can be used inside and outside and adheres to just about every building substrate). By this time neither of us would be able to look upon architectural forms with equanimity ever again and with a shudder we moved beyond its terrible thereness.

A Black Flag Unfurling

Eternal ennui rushes in from every horizon, and Arcturus, it seems, is a dungeon: damp and small; where hope flies like a bat before dashing its brains out on a nearby rock. An extruded polystyrene ridge loomed before us, its degenerate edges expelling a billow of stark white toxicity. As a thermoplastic polymer, polystyrene is in a solid (glassy) state at room temperature but flows if heated above about 100°C, its glass transition temperature. It becomes rigid again when cooled and when the rain, stretching out its endless train, imitates the bars of a vast prison and a silent horde of loathsome spiders comes to spin their webs in the depths of our brains, our Iggy suits protected us from inhaling the long chain hydrocarbons to long-term deleterious effect.

Klamm’s hands were coming seriously adrift now; they wandered autonomously around his face and body as if gently probing for an opening to insert themselves within. Sure enough, they began to thrust themselves forcefully into his abdomen, and only the suit was protecting him from being pierced through and then disemboweled – by himself. Finding no entry they swarmed towards his faceplate and began to smash incessantly against the polycarbonate – and without drums or music, long hearses pass by slowly in my soul and Klamm’s terrified eyes pleaded with me to take action so I took his prehensile multi-fingered extremities in mine and, with a stubborn, whimpering cry planted a black flag in the depths of his narrow shaven skull.

Jim Colquhoun is an artist and writer based in Glasgow who often works pseudonymously. His work celebrates the lost and the re-forgotten and attempts to transcend the redundant either/or ness of our current mystico-materialist paradigm. He has shown work recently in Bergen and Glasgow.