Uncertainty - 2017

Relatively Speaking

By A. Spaice

The third time the caller rang, I wrote down the country code. It sounded like a number out of some science fiction story, +1618. I googled it. Flatland. Where? The fourth time, I picked up. It originated from the aphelion of winter, or, that's what I imagined, anyway, when the staccato telegram-style voice of a country I'd never heard of said it needed some data about Eliza K. Vera. My best friend. Data, it had said. My mind wheeled to the last time I saw her, in Aarhus. Eliza had said she needed to go North, even further from there. “Dark matters." Offering me nothing further in the way of information. No questions allowed.

The caller gave me the weird news, and in an odd way. “Eliza K. Vera isn't reachable." That was the word. Reachable. That's funny, I thought. My head was still fuzzy from just waking up, it wasn't quite sunup where I live. “Isn't reachable? Is that what you said?" Your brain doesn't work right in these moments, does it? No way anyone could make the right words to fill this blank. But somehow, it offered words: “… everything is clear now, Spaice, yes? Repeat. We have no location on Vera. Do you understand? When did you last see the concerned?"



“Your last encounter with Miss Vera? Can you give us the detail?"

“I… I'm… last met? That would have been in Denmark." I didn't elaborate that Eliza and I exchanged regular correspondence, almost monthly, by letter. “Yes, I'm sure of it. Last year, no wait, two autumns ago, now that we're in 2017, aren't we." Muffled shuffling. Then the detached voice made a frank and thorough list for me. It verified I knew Vera. Then it told me I would need to make an appearance, whatever that meant. A statement, too. Could I do that? Yes, of course. The whereabouts of EKV, the Flatlander said, was a matter of utmost priority for the MV-J4 community. “Also, there is the matter of the item," it said, after a flicker of what seemed its first instance of self-doubt.

The item? I thought I heard a sigh.

“A notebook." Black, it reported, in what now sounded a snow-colored voice. The size of a Japanese paperback, of the style that people there read on trains on their commutes. “You are familiar?" Weird that we were talking about urban transit in the Far East, but I knew the sensation of what it felt like being in a sea of strangers, all of us peering into pages that took us elsewhere, somewhere magical, or dark, but wherever it was, it was far. “Do you know that size?"


The voice seemed audibly relieved. “I have Vera's black notebook of that size. It is covered in a soft cloth jacket, with embroidery. In the center, near the top, these white threads spell a word. Tanizaki." At the mention of the name, sheaths of the Arctic handcuffed me. All my reason folded at my elbows. My universe stilled. Gave me all the room I needed. “Can you confirm this property belongs to the concerned, Spaice?"

“Yes. I can. It is."

“Most certainly?"

“Yes. This is the only thing I've ever been certain about."

A week later a white box arrived at my stoop. There were no stamps. Inside was Eliza's notebook.

Eliza used to send me word-sketches of her ideas, by letter, so I knew most of what she had recorded in this small notebook by heart. Still, it was nice to hold it. Since it arrived, I've been pulling out her old letters, rereading emails, digging up archived copies of my own responses, and seeing how our conversations had grown from the seeds in this small book. So raw, these early workings. Honest. While I'm waiting for word of where she is (and trying not to get worried about what might have happened, of course) I'm going to do it. Share one of her writings, here. Can't say why, exactly. Just a feeling, a feeling that this is what I'm supposed to do with the notebook. Disclaimer: I need to tell you before that there is a way that Eliza has of speaking and writing that is really hard to make sense of. It's not easy to wade through sometimes, but I've found things sometimes stay with me for a long while after I've read them. Anyway, I don't want to over-verbalize. Just see what you think. Here it is: “Relatively Speaking."

From the cloth-covered notebook of Eliza K. Vera, particle physicist

I want to explore this a second. For us to talk together frankly, here. Relationships. First the one with that model, it's a long story, then, with my self. It is very personal, very subjective, what is intriguing to one's own self. Except for when it's universal. Let me try to close in on this a bit. First, let's establish that we are focusing on learning, and philosophical stretching. We could go intellectual and start quoting what people have written about relational aesthetics. Or not. Academic talk is terribly boring. Minute in many ways, afraid of cosmic wonder. I like exploring a very particular kind of relationship now, outside of the realm of human relations. It's a special kind of ratio: VERY SMALL: VERY BIG

We can read more about G. Vickers now, but this will kill the other imperative challenge, which is to make ourselves aware of the uncluttered space of the big black empty, of possibility, of what might yet come. The infinitude. It's in the eyes. Look. A magnificent vastness is there, resonates, and is also our own. C. said the only one who can show it is your child. Your child and you 'get' it. But why not others, too? “Life. Let's make it dance." Was that Spaice? The light and the dark, and we are back to praising shadows, with Jun'ichiro Tanizaki., and the youthful me and EKVs from many periods of my existence are learning to let go of something, some grip, some hold, on conflicts. Old ones. Now, let's see. How it goes. The Einstein thing, about what's valuable. It's hard to think about what counts, what doesn't count, what's countable, what's not countable. Must come back to this. Best if it could be before 2050. Erm, hm. That means, there's not that much time left. Ahead, onwards, into the fourth. –EKV, Copenhagen, November 2015

Contact A. Spaice at: info@designkompany.com