Soapbox Gallery 2004

Thoughts on a train ride between Toowong and Fortitude Valley … (happiness)

Say no. Say Yes. Gag. Say something. Say what? Say you are. Say I’m not. Say it. Cannot. What can you say? What is to say? What counts? Swallow. Do I count? Say it! You count. No. I count for nothing. If there is more than nothing. What!? Counting? Counting failures. Counting successes. What for? Ending always in nothing. Try! Speak a word against it. For it? Speak! Nothing to say! As always nothing to say. Stand. Boy, stand up and breathe. Speak up. Be counted. Count yourself amongst the countless. Which ones are those? Well, all those individuals. All those countless individuals  that speak of counting. Adding up to much more. So much more compressed into less. Have you found your god damn voice? Anything to add? You add. Yes. You add. No. I don’t add. Add your voice. Add my voice. Add the voice of the other. Then speak. I speak. You speak. Someone else speaks. No-one listens. What is there to listen to? No-one hears. Stone deaf. Have you spoken yet? Someone other than you spoke. Not me. Wouldn’t know how to. A murmur escapes the throat. Sch(m)erz covers the tongue. No time for speeches. They’re drowning in saliva. Voices chatter away. Silence. Shut up! This endless nagging. Gnawing away on gnawing. Bite each word into two. Chew those fictions. Rip apart the roots of the words and send them homeless. Feed on those indigestible stones of knowledge. Barbaric words find a way into language. Waiting. I babble. Stunned dialogue ferries over and through and deeper into silence a wreckage of words. What is to save? What is to salvage? Weave me a word of silence that speaks louder than the verbal vomit of the abusers. Count back, into time, through time, with time. Count forward. Repeat. Be sure. Count again and count the words carefully. Read. Spell out the uprooted. Announce! Pronounce that which did happen. Announce the annulled. Announce them with trumpets. Ear piercing deafness. Yell the words into existence. You call them first. You  will  call  them  first.  No!   –  No!

This will not be said. Denounce. Burn the evidence. Witness the loss. Witness the breath being robbed from the lips. Words dismantled, assimilated and tossed to indifference. Worst things still to come. What can be more horrendous? Who will be witness to the witness?

Witness. Look , then speak. What me? Serious? No you! Choke. Do not see. Do not want. Ingest the carping. Millions will speak millions of words. Only a thousand count. Word splinters pierce the tongue. The uprooted have found a home in the roof of the mouth. Dark. No light. What now? Now what? What? What? Void. Turn. Returns. Lifts. Keep the mouth shut! Nothing but whispers. Teeth clenched.

Spewed into darkened space a glottal stop. A shrouded sound on an insects back gutted by time illuminates the unspeakable. Not to far away a glimpse of something new. At day break gather roses. at midday gather cherries. At days end gather thoughts. At midnight gather your heart. Together we stand ‘exposed on the cliffs of the heart’. At midnight, only at midnight I begin again. I dig into your hearts chamber. I utter the word you only know. That word will keep you. My dear unutterable. Life breather speak. Cross the threshold of amnesia. Word splinter removalist speak. Pain is not far. And not to far is the distance between the breath and your next word. Then again, time rolls of the tongue, a sigh and a fresh gulp of air. I live on that end. That end lives on me. Matter all. All matters as it disappears into thin air. It matters since it is part of my breath and every one of them is my last. Everything matters and becomes a matter of all things last. My last word will be your last word. When it comes it will linger for a while. It will linger as an echo of all things last and in this all things last there will be every beginning, every start, every breath, every conceivable and creative thought to speak a world into existence. turning point, there is always another way to happiness, happy greetings, greetings via Sunday Mail, via Austria, via Soapbox gallery, via Paul Greenaway, via everywhere else. The unspeakable, the uncollectable history of my art.

Words turn, breath turns, existence narrows, memory crumbs litter across nothingness, tongue heavy, swallow mud bejewelled as a groan, where is my happy mind? Where are you? Happiness, comfort, prosperity, luck, love, compassion, happy is my life, living is happiness, yell out, pierce the silent air and gobble happiness, there goes happiness or does it crawl, on all four it crawls in the dark, invisible to the naked eye, think of the consequences, are there any?, you should know?, shouldn’t you?, muttering under the breath some words, can’t hear!, speak up, slurring more of the speech under duress, stuttering makes things even, the more you demand the less you get, no words will leave my lips, I¹ll die before you hear any of my words, a mute transmigration across silence, someone will speak my words, therefore they exist. How much can these things be felt? Will you feel them? Is this too much to ask of you? I’m happy to wait for an answer. What is left to say? What is left to see? What is left to hear? What is left to feel? … turning back to the beginning, turning-point between happiness and sadness, – madness, ,… for the want of beauty happiness was lost, … for the want of power happiness was lost, … your happiness is ill conceived, … your happiness has come of the cost of others, … your right wing happiness will disappear, …sooner then you can imagine, the constant terror of political falsehood, … happy liar, happy, such is happiness, immense happiness, a brand new happy day, almost everything is happy, never mind the happiness, let happiness be forgotten, … happiness can wait, yesterday today tomorrow forever  on the search for happiness, somewhere elsewhere anywhere nowhere amongst happy strangers on the road to yourself, … fourty years of happiness, happy to break flowers in someone elses garden, happy willingness, how do things really look again in this country?, what can I say to you?

Franz Ehmann