The Jewel Thief
The pirate ship motors through an ocean full of dreams, sharks, jellyfish, and an intricate system of plankton engaged in photosynthesis. The interior of the ship is cavernous encompassing passages of time and space as limitless as the watery expanse of the ocean that holds it up. Photosynthesis by trapping the energy of the sun allows it access to the dark caves the boat carries.
My various different bodies to speak from:
– Full breasted, sexy, eye-catching, lithe, standing, filled with poise and adorned with fitted clothing.
– Buxom matron with hair out of place, folds of flesh bulging over the waistband and filling in the blousy top. Soft, nice smile – approachable.
– Broad shouldered, a thin plane as if pressed between two milled boards, taking up lots of space when viewed from the front, but able to disappear when presenting the side view. The disappearing man.
– Pants forming an undulating line around the waist and slightly tucked in under the fold of the belly. Pores, and texture of skin alluring and apparent in contrast to the crisp feel of the white pressed shirt.
– disembodied dry sexless voice hovering in transparent air.
The gem glitters in its bezel. Flashes of lightning illuminate the cave walls. Mounted on a large rectangular column – tall and sometimes short, shrinking and swelling, filling the room, and then retreating to a shrine offering up for just one person.
The gem draws a crowd as its owner melts with pride becoming a thin yellow pool on the floor. The gem’s shine encompasses the intimate and the spectacular. Attention is drawn by glitter in the bezel intimating private entrance into a grand intimate universe within, and then to flashing stripes of light that seem to be emitted by the gem, bouncing from the wall to the microphone at the podium and off the facets of the hanging disco ball.
The crystal ball and the glow of the flame in the hearth, hover in the air, enveloped by speech balloons, as the heart of the speaker representative at the podium opens, and he shares with his mouth. Straight from the heart, the gem is shared and bellowed through the mob and across the nation. Shattering it falls in sparkling bits over civilization.
Questions of veracity arises as the sparkling bits of care for the preciousness of private property spread across the town square, over television networks, from Internet to Blackberry. The same and different care inspires the guarding of the gem on the finger of the young woman who will grow into the matron sitting at the table with her feet soaking as she peels carrots and drinks vodka?
Just as floating algae on the water’s surface obscure and bend sunlight traveling through molecules of H2O, myriad mixed up intertwining strands of emotionality inform the proceedings in the courtroom. Emotions freighted on the backs of logical structures form invisible lines surrounding owned objects. The soft squishy formless clouds of feeling are tied with very fat colored ropes to structures that look like wooden beams of sequenced thought leaning heavily against solid cubes of transparent air.
A thing posited as “owned” involves definition of boundary, determination of edge, juncture between inside and out. The establishment of such definitions requires a kind of invention – a shared abstraction. This invention alters what it is possible for us to do, think, and be. These abstractions lead to the building of concrete fences, to real lines drawn around things, and to shared understandings vis a vis the distance required for the space of each persons body and mind. The thief is acutely aware of boundary and of the pulsating edges underlining fences built from sticks of wood or woven pieces of extruded metal. The shiny beauty of light moving through mass encapsulates the wanting of our hungry stomachs and our romantic longings.
Our sense of who we are hinged through metaphor, to physical nature enables us to “keep things in mind,” “feel that ideas are soft,” “feel bruised,” or be “in the dark” in terms of not knowing – all states of being we are only able to describe in relation to our experience of our real bodies with real things in real space. Through the use of metaphor we jump from the establishment of private property to the creation of personal/private mind space, enabling us to understand our thinking processes as autonomous, and creating space for us to contemplate the possibility of free will. Perhaps the cultivation of conventions and laws that support private property contribute to our capacity for abstraction and engenders the possibility of free will and thought.
Blocks of ice in the cave full of flickering candle light and blocks of ice on the shore filled with rays of all colors from the sun. Separated by space, but time passes at the same pace for both blocks of ice. A pile of wires catching glints of light bouncing off the higgledy-piggledy strands resists the weight of gravity even as they submit. (Alan Serrat.)
The space of mind is kept and guarded in privacy. The thief travels the terrain between pain in the body and solitude. Perhaps he mounts the staircase taking him away from gravity and carousel of time.
There is a gem, alone, set apart, extraordinary and precious in its uniqueness. There are also mountains of gems in a pile, in many department stores in many malls, in the bank vault at the US mint, in Britain, in Switzerland, and in China; and there is, as we all know, a very very large pile of precious jewels in a pile in the dragon’s lair. It might not be wrong to steal from this pile. It’s not clear. We have established rights to private property and thought space – but there are limits – hording and greed that eclipse the possibility of flow are frowned upon. We care about justice.
The thieves are on a boat in the ocean because it’s very safe there and they are worried about being caught. It’s a pleasure to share the fantasy of the thieves in that wild nether land. But they need to get into the bank vault, the dragons lair, and into the courtroom where the heart of the speaker moves from mouth to crowd.
The thief is abstract and actual. He forms social connections akin to tendons and electrical pathways in the body. Though it’s easy to think of him as bad, he is also full of exciting clear directed energy. He helps us to know and see the invisible edifice delineating the lines between our various belongings and us. He challenges the ethics of our status quo. Perhaps he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. The thief abdicates his claim on production. He does not add to the GNP. Always desirous of recognition makes himself vulnerable to capture.
Various possible scenes:
-The Gem thief goes to court where he might be on trial for failing to recognize the lines between people and for being parasitic. Many different people discuss him and his actions. They build cases. The jewels are kept locked away for safekeeping. People don’t often see them and loose track of how direct experience of them might matter.
-The Thief takes refuge in the living room where the floor plan of the apartment, or the footprint of the house encases him. A truce is called and he is tamed by love and possession. He ceases to be a thief at all. The jewels displayed in the living room bring much joy to those living in the apartment and become part of what glues people together at dinner parties.
– Historically the Thief has been very fond of the public library where all the ideas he can imagine are boxed with lines drawn between them for easy access. Here he takes on a professorial air. The jewels are rarely glimpsed, but they are stored in the library in many metaphoric cases, and sometimes in real ones too.
– The thief is having a field-day online but the stakes are low here. There are no real jewels online – only metaphoric ones and arrows pointing. Of course what happens online does alter and inflect what real bodies do in space. The character and affect of the thief is multiplied as he travels The World Wide Web with its mutable structure. New flavors accrue to his narrative. The authority and control embedded are more mutable and less predictable. The thief online is equivalent to his medium. Here he is less distinct from his background. The seductive corporeal glint of light on the jewels is only thought about.
– The thief is often overlooked when he commandeers the piazza. Here he is taken for granted, subsumed to city planning and often in disguise. He is stiff and awkward losing his ability to flow like and on the river. But sometimes the jewels glitter magnificently nevertheless. The word piazza evokes a sense of place arising from an intersection of geographical earth with materials moved and tooled by people. More and more the tool most evident in shaping the piazza is the computer drawing that gives rise to its design. The strength of this tool overwhelms the presence of any geography that existed apriori. In this context the thief is disembodied – carried far from the ground that supported the metaphors that gave rise to him.
The thief, like a magpie, is drawn to panels of light flashing as the tin foil wrapping moves against the hard cut surfaces of the emerald rock embedded in its crinkled folds. She feels light, cut like a blade into the softness of her cheek, the skin of her body, even as wanting flies away from her, out of every orifice, towards the dense poignant center of the gem.
At the edge of her vision she glimpses a cloud coming towards her. She can feel the volume of her body caught and seared throughout before the cloud touches her. Moving faster than a body can, at the speed of thought, her skin is left on the floor. Her core flees to the center of the Piazza where for a long long while she holds still, disguised, contemplating her skin left behind. Under the net that descended on it, her skin has, here and there, melded with the knots that form the net. Invisible strings control the net, like a marionette; the skin interlaced has little autonomy.
The thief’s core, like the gem she was after, seemed to glow from within. The thief’s core, in contrast to the gem she was after, glowed with light of its own making. Now, divorced from the skin she was ……. very difficult to discover.
Remembering these events she prefers to ignore the possibility that she chose dissolution. She tells herself that it all happened so fast – to her, as if she had no will of her own. She finds it comforting to think of herself as a character in a crime drama.
Now, she is on trial for public dissolution. She couldn’t help it, despite her wish to keep the lines crisp around her center, her concentration wandered and she found herself muddled up with many others. Her hands too were uncontrollable. It seemed that she had many more than two, and other people’s thoughts were always in them.
It’s hard to say how long the thief stayed immobile and largely ignored in the center of the public plaza. Here she was prominently on display and hardly noticed as crowds rushed by her, sipping from cardboard cups of various coffees, unwavering in their determination to arrive promptly at their destinations. The thought bubbles were numerous, but very few of them included notice of the glowing core in their middle.
She understands that the onus is on her – she could live for centuries in this plaza, or she could put herself somewhere else. She searches her mind for a corner. She walks to the nearest subway station and goes home. Comfortably ensconced in her couch she has turned on the television where she watches her story told over and over again, in so many different ways. She knows she is hunted. She is both thief and object of desire.
She must have fallen asleep on the couch. When she awakes sun is streaming in the windows. There are many plants on her windowsill. She takes very good care of some of them. These are lush and free from desiccated old leaves. The others, that haven’t appealed to her taste, she waters once in a rare while, just enough to enable them to stay alive. These are bent over in part with the weight of the dried old leaves they carry. The thief’s eyes take in the plants on the sill and then move to take in the view out the window. This view has been the subject of volumes. It is breathtaking. Layers and layers mounded on top of one another form this landscape. Old stone castles, wooden farmhouse, blond grassy meadows, green rolling pastures, flowerbeds, and wild flower fields. She sees jungles, and deserts, rocky and lush stacked up and intermingled so that it is very hard to tell with certainty which layer is in front. She loves this view; she knows that it doesn’t belong to her alone but her window does frame it.
The face is the jewel of the body; the eyes set in like sapphires. The body is a setting, or bezel, for myriad jewels like a gaudy expensive ring. Eyes in the face, face on the body, nipples on breasts – and genitalia. Eyes are very compelling.
The jewels change shape and location, transforming form from one thing into another depending on circumstances. The eyes are diamonds at a dinner party – the genitalia are glittering emeralds in bed later in the evening.
She remembers one evening when the banging in bed of jewels together did transport her.
This evening she left the party alone with the painting tucked discretely under her arm. The painting mounted on the wall, in just the right place, approximately at eye level, hugging the ceiling, hugging the floor, gathers points of light towards itself. It seems alive as if a spirit resides inside it. Those whose eyes linger on its surface feel themselves drawn deep into a pool as limitless as the pool of their own consciousness. This pool is located on the other side of their eyes. The painting in front, consciousness behind – the membrane between the body and the rest of the world holding firm for the time being.
Sitting in a circle of morning light, alone in her apartment, she wonders if it is enough for her to own this painting hanging in her living room wedged between the TV and her old desktop computer? Perhaps she needs to re-present this painting – she needs to insert her actions into its existence. She could turn it into film, sending images of it taken at different times of day, out over the Internet; or post these images on a billboard in Times Square. She does not feel in a hurry this particular morning, and she does none of these things. She just thinks about them as she gazes at the painting and feels the hot, sharp, edge where red meets green slice into her heart.
The air starts to shimmer as if heat waves are filling the room. Feelings of anxiety fill the thief and his vision blurs. It is hard to say how much time has passed; in fact time seems to have stopped for the time being.
He finds himself standing in an art gallery, gazing at various artworks – each one filled with its own glint. There are other people in the room. A buzzing of human voice occupies the space, bouncing off the artworks. His chest heaves with each breath drawn through his nose. He shares this volume of air inside his body with the others in the room. The physical sensations in his body parallel the feelings in his heart, and the various glints he absorbs into his heart and soul through his eyes and mind resonate with his own structure. This resonance occupies him for a good long while.
He feels very well fed. The energy generated as a result of the photosynthesis of the plankton in the sea under the boat, and by the manicured lawn outside the window flows through his body and soul. For breakfast he had sourdough bread made from three kinds of grain, grown in fields by people he doesn’t know, ground into flour by the grain grinder on his kitchen counter. The bread was toasted and smeared with butter from grass fed cows whose eyes he has not gazed into, and covered with slices of avocado grown on a tree, picked by Mexican hands, and freighted by train from west to east. His body feels whole and well nurtured. He is very lucky. His breasts round and firm like avocados glint a little in the ray of sun shining in at an angle through the thick transparent pane of glass separating the exhibition space from the larger volume of moving air outside.