The Conceptual Stream


This passage is taken from my favourite book The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. I’m also studying it for my major assignment in year 12 English studies. What follows is one of my favourite passages, and which I also feel is relevant to blogging and especially my style of blogging.

Imagine you’re in a rowing boat on a lake.

It’s summer, early morning. That time when the sun hasn’t quite broken free of the landscape and long, projected shadows tigerstripe the light. The rays are warm on your skin as you drift through them, but in shadows the air is still cold, greyness holding onto undersides and edges wherever it can.

A low clinging breeze comes and goes, racing ripples across the water and gently rocking you and your boat as you float in yin-yang slices of morning. Birds are singing. It’s a sharp, clear sound, clean without the humming backing track of a day well underway. There’s the occasional sound of wind in leaves and the occasional slap-splash of a larger wavelet breaking on the side of your boat, but nothing else.

You reach over the side and feel the shock of the water, the steady bob of the lake’s movement playing up and down your knuckles in a rhythm of cold. You pull your arm back; you enjoy the after-ache in your fingers. Holding out your hand, you close your eyes and feel the tiny physics of gravity and resistance as liquid finds routes across your skin builds itself into droplets of the required weight, then falls, each drop ending with an audible tap.

Now, right on the tap – stop. Stop imagining. Here’s the real game. Here’s what’s obvious and wonderful and terrible all at the same time: the lake in my head, the lake I was imagining, has just become the lake in your head. It doesn’t matter if your never know me, or never know anything about me. I could be dead, I could have been dead a hundred years before you were even born and sill – think about this carefully, thing past the obvious sense of it to the huge and amazing miracle hiding inside – the lake in my head has become the like in your head.

Behind or inside or through the two hundred and eighteen words that made up my description, behind or inside of through those nine hundred and sixty-nine letters, there is some kinds of flow. A purely conceptual stream with no mass or weight or matter and no ties to gravity or time, a stream that can only be seen if your choose to look at it from the precise angle we are looking from now, but there, nevertheless, a stream flowing directly from my imaginary like into yours.

Next, try to visualise all the streams of human interactions, of communication. All those linking streams flowing in and between people, through text, pictures, spoken words and TV commentaries, streams through shared memories, casual relations, witnessed events, touching pasts and futures, cause and effect. Try to see this immense latticework of lakes and flowing streams, see the size and awesome complexity of it. This huge rich environment, this water way paradise of all information and identities and societies and selves.

Now, go back to your lake, back to your gently bobbing boat. But this time, know the lake; know the place for what it is and when you’re ready, take a look over the boat’s side. The water is clear and deep. Broken sunlight cuts blue wedges down, down into the clean cold depths. Sit quietly, wait and watch, don’t move. Be very, very still. They say life is tenacious. They say given half a chance, or less, life will grow and exist and evolve anywhere, even in the most inhospitable and unlikely of places. Life will always find a way, they say. Be very quiet, Keep looking into the water, Keep looking and keep watching.

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