Reading: Immanuel by Matthew Mcnaught

“It feels right to recount the history of Immanuel using ‘we’. But soon in the story, the pronoun starts to break up.”

Immanuel is about two churches: one in Winchester entangled to the other in Lagos. It’s the story of the traces left by those churches in Matthew Mcnaught’s life, and in the lives of his old friends.

While I was reading the book, NASA released the first set of images taken by the James Webb telescope, a set which included this image, entitled Deep Field: SMACS 0723. As they say, it is a long exposure of a patch of sky which is about the size of that covered by a grain of sand when held at arm’s length* from the eye. In it we ‘see the light from’ galaxies which are billions of light years away. That is, we see them in the same way we might see a cloud of dandelion seeds as captured by a smartphone camera, except, because of conceptual changes forced upon us by concrete experience of the world, the act of seeing changes in quality. We are seeing light paths, some of which have been bestowed curves due to the distortions of space around incredibly massive objects, other light paths whose time of origin was consistently 4.6 billion years ago. They bear a constant relation to us of appearing-4.6-billion-years-ago, because they are 4.6 billion light years away from us (though getting further). They remain in the sky, yet we know that many of them have long since dimmed, and maybe died – we are seeing their trace. These are facts of a quality that goes beyond our life. Time and space, tangled together in an Einstein knot, more fiendish than a Gordian knot, because although an emperor could cut the latter, the Einstein knot cannot be cut, even by an empire as powerful as that of the United States.

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V.132 Saggittarius A*

The horror is at the centre –
of the galaxy, in this case –
effigy of darkness, grey fire
that once outlined the small gods’ heads.

A colossus of roads inwards
each with a donkey and lantern –
a one way street – an archer fires
their bow and infinite arrow.

The great Buddha sits there, spinning –
you’d better believe you’ll feel peace
as you breathe deep and cross the line
where Ying and Yang get singular.

In this old place, the logos fails
for now, but then, what is now? No
word can explain the difference
between the future and the past.

Sanctis tuis in aeternam
on a galactic pin-head
which defies perspective with law –
to tint it with a golden skin.

In soft radiance, that black lack
accepts us in, and absolves us
the sin of being data – then
shakes space itself with its laughter.

V.126 To work//and back

The Past is a Dream – it recurs
exactly as thoughts from a dream
as droplets from a cracked clay vase
in a forgotten desert spring –

drips from a rusted waterwheel
in a green abandoned valley.
Pigeons courting on a warehouse
in the golden morning let see

the past through this hectic event –
Always bowing, no matter why –
bowing to each other – honour
of one pigeon to another//

Isn’t it mad how supernovas
burn in incredible vibrance
and leave civilisations there
in their path like a residue

All the material on streets
of red brick trentes glorieuses
is the debris from a power –
Strange things happen to the star corpse

I make tracks out from the city
and hear fireworks in the cool dusk.
Ribs of light. Le Petit Prince walks
alongside me with his flower

Ships and Stars V – Experiment

After accomplishing feats beyond our far sight with compounds that behave like emotions, growing crisp if left alone in rain – time travel was begun.

We did not realise at first. When we become this complex, new things often appear first as violent accidents – the death of 2 by light

speed, unexpected. More – death of 1 by extreme gravity, of sudden onset, quite a surprise. With time, it was the same. The girl was unprepared.

When sped up that vastly the speed of earth through space becomes quite a sight; her laboratory jumped up, blazed like a star and was gone. No-one ever knew