(warning: 469k .au file)

(*a term in music to designate a pause between breaths, notes or steps, as in the waltz)

 It's not that far from the town square with the movie theater back to the house. It's a mile and a half probably with the town cemetary in between.. It sits on the site of the old workers quarters for a saw mill, all the wood frame houses painted , mostly, at least it seems in retrospect, in various faded shades of red and ocher, crisscrossed with dirt roads, sending up a perpetual haze of dust on the sides of the houses, a slight glaze of gray-brown. All occupied by tattered black families. Anyway, all gone now, Absorbed into what ever passes for modern in the rural south. Probably skipped over into the post-modern, like some newly computerized third world country. No decent telephone system but plenty of manufacturing capacity for computer memory.

During the embalming process the brain was normally removed. Usually a pointed instrument

would be pushed up a nostril to break into the cranial cavity. A rod with a hook on the end would

then be used to slice up the brain and discard it in a piecemeal fashion. 3-D reconstruction of the

cranial cavity showed linen, sunsequently forced into the cavity, converging into the right nasal

cavity confirming that the brain had been removed via the nose (fig.8). Damage to the nasal septum

and ethemoid bone was clearly visible.

 The cemetary occupies four blocks of land between the house and the little downtown, sloped down into a hollow then rising to a ridge, the newest graves at the bottom of the hollow. Most of the new gravestones of a uniform size, granite, shiny-faced, in stark contrast to the markers from the turn of the century: crypts, statuary, crumbling, age-blackened testimonies to an age when the figure of death still had a figure. The new graves almost had the look of military cemetaries with their white, uniform regularities, as if they couldn't escape the general in death even, the greatest generalizable event of all. But now it was if the whole population of the dead was being enscripted into the great army of the beyond. Reflective, no doubt, of the mass culture of the late twentieth century, he mused, as he moved off the narrow macadam road through the deepening gloom of twilight and in amongst the palely reflective signposts of once-lives.

Across the road from the cemetary were two small houses, weathered white paint glowing wanly in the light of the newly risen half-moon. Given the context, they almost seemed like crypts themselves. A shadow passed over the curtains in one window momentarily obscuring its yellowish light. He turned and and walked up the hill to the ridge among the tombstones. He supposed they were called 'markers' now for the newer ones. He preferred the tombstones, redolent of gothic tales and untold, untellable now, individual stories. How could the new markers have any stories to tell? Flat, featureless, uniform . . . like, he thought unfairly, the population they were designed to mark. Some new cemetaries in large cities, he knew, were simply vast expanses of manicured grass land, with small name markers set flush into the ground. Made them easier to maintain, mow right over them. As a kid, walking through the cemetary at night he always observed the rule never to step on the graves. It had nothing to do with respect but rather the fear of eliciting the ghost in the grave. On the other hand, maybe that was a form of respect. If so, the fear of raising the dead did not seem particularly acute these days. Perhaps several generations of horror and slasher films had put the dead in their place. Which didn't seem to be exactly in the ground.

Using the principles of IMHOTEP, we have created a mortuary science that perpetuates the Vital Life Force,

 utilizable by the soul/spirit, for a much longer time and in a more viable form. Lacking the knowledge of

IMHOTEP'S embalming techniques, we opted to use cyrogenic freezing. But not of the entire body, and not of

"dead" tissue.

Our technique is both scientific and religious. It

provides a client (believer) with kit containing a vial

(with appropriate preservatives) and applicator probe.

The applicator is used to collect living somatic cells

(semen or buccal tissue cells) and transport them to the

Sanctuary, preferrably during life. The cells are

collected and concentrated, placed in a small

transparent vessel partially coatedwith electrum,

hermetically sealed and then cryogenically frozen.

These LIFE TUBES are sequestered in a temple environment and maintained in a frozen state by

prearranged contract with the client. The base of the container of the LIFE TUBES is transparent.

Below the base, and projecting upward and through the LIFE TUBES is a pulsed light or laser with

its beam directed toward Sirius. The laser beam functions as a carrier wave for the MYSTAR

frequencies and the Vital Life Force of the specimen which will accompany and perpetuate the


A car turned onto the road, its headlights slithering from marker to marker, briefly illuminating each one, almost like an awakening. As he neared the top of the ridge, clouds began to obscure the moonlight. A soft breeze ruffled the bleached red petals, now pink, of a bunch of artificial roses in a vase set in front of a nearby stone.

...the second fundamental aspect of the mentality of the ancient Egyptians

was precisely the principle of free substitution, of interchangeability, of the ability

to swap every element for another one. The world was viewed as a vast combinatory

system in which high and low, male and female, light and dark, life and death,

organic and inorganic never cease to trade places and to merge.

Enigmas: The Egyptian Moment in Society and Art, Mario Perniola

Althought The tyranny of thing-ness was finally complete here, flesh becoming grass, stone, strangely enough communication had not ceased he felt, the most possible distant having become the closest. The collapse of time was complete here, a final Now which was never and always. No wonder cemetaries and death were gradually being banished from the world. The last refuge of a certain infinite was too uncomfortable for a civilization which increasingly only recognized some variant of a Hegelian BAD infinite, a boundlessness constrained and made comfortable. Even the stars were made invisible in the great cities, strained for most through video screens. And yet here...he looked up from peering at an eroded inscription. The bowl of grass, once-flesh, and granite teeth glimmered under a half-canopy of stars, clouds beginning to rumble up from the west on the horizon. Shards of light illuminated the clouds from within as lightning flashed beneath the horizon. Eerily, he heard no rumble. The juxtaposition of the stars, the storm and the dead was almost too much for him to bear, perhaps too much infinity.

 His face is turned towards the past. Where we

perceive a chain of events, he sees one single

catastrophe whch keeps piling wreckage upon

wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet.

The angel wouldlike to stay, awaken the dead, and

make whole what has been smashed. But a

storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got

caught in his wings with such violence

that the angel can no longer close them.

The storm irresistibly propels him into

the future to wlhich his back is turned, while the

pile of debris before him grows skyward. This

storm is what we call progress.

Walter Benjamin, Thesis on the Philosophy of History

 And still the dead are buried facing east, the better to rise to meet their Savior on the Final Day of Reckoning which will also be the great day of Awakening, no longer chased by the great storm of History (which ironically enough, arose in the west, in myth always the Land of the Dead). Flesh, stone and stars meeting in the Great Collapsing beyond the little collapse of earthly death.

Here, in this place, which merges with all the other places of its kind throughout human time, all the fables of desire disappear into the demands of history and then the fable of history itself succumbs to a far greater demand. Here, in this place, the ancient stony linements of a face without a visage begins to appear, the face of thingness, ridged with the planet itself, a fierce pagan thing more akin to the storm on the horizon as it encounters the stars. The gap toothed grin of the graveyard only served as mute testimony to its immutable power, silent witness to the inexorable fate of life's final crap shoot.

There, in that place, across a divide which doesn't exist, begins a new elemental combinatoric. There, the great line of flesh extending 'backward' meets its chiasmatic match, disappearing into the vortex of matter made mute, stripped even of its ability to sign, replaced with phone lines, cut and frayed where they enter that gathering storm. But even the machine perhaps must fall silent before such forces--or at the very least continually defer their confrontation. Or even, at the maximum, embody the catastrophe itself, to 'write the dis-aster' (meaning literally 'away from the stars'). That mute stumbling at the end of every individual particular becoming becomes, or is becoming, or has become a slide into the mechanical. The machine stoops to cradle us long before we reach that final dis-aster, easing the transition, as it were, into the final universal interface of 'death' (always placed in quotes now). Was it ever so, even when the first proto-human picked up the first flaked stone? Probably. The infinite distance within slowly beginning to round on itself with that bad infinity (hand 'speaking' to stone -- the better version may be vice versa --, stone colliding to head, then finally headstone: it's the most ancient story there is, the primal human contract.) Then, matter mutters, matter speaks, mind matters.

The long community of the dead wasn't always so inoperative; and it could be that the desouvrement of the dead, and dead matter generally, is an illusion of later times, back-channel communication always being able to dial in. (Especially when you consider that the dead always choose the living to inhabit--and besides, where WOULD all that 'history' go? The advent of an archival telematic only gathers more shades around Benjamin's 'blood-filled sacrificial pit' which is history, more 'hauntology' as Derrida then puts it.)

He stepped back on the road as the cemetary came to an end and turned to look back over the graveyard as the wind picked up, blowing leaves and rolling a few artificial chrysanthemums toward him.. The main storm had never made it much beyond the horizon and the sky now seemed crystal clear, the red lights of a passenger plane far in the distance. Strangely enough, a cock crowed several blocks to his right. The headstones undulated away from him in broken lines, a couple of cenotaphs reaching up.

 ...death now leads nowhere, and least of all, toward any

sort of (transcendental) beyond. Death remains, as it were,

enclosed in the world of immanence: the dead do not depart,

or if they do so, it is only to return as revenants, as ghosts.

Instead of defining identity, death returns as the shadow that

splits life into a life that consists largely in passing away, and

a death that has nowhere to go but back to the living. Living

and dying tend to overlap. Mourning...responds to this confusion

with the theatrical reanimation of a world emptied of meaning.

Samuel Weber in Genealogy of Modernity: History,

Myth, and Allegory in Benjamin's Origin of the

German Mourning Play

 The whole walk had the feel of a ceraunoscope, an apparatus used in the ancient mysteries for imitating thunder and lightning --presumably for an initiatory effect. But here, in this place and this time, it seemed to have only a screen effect, and not necessarily a scrim between the two worlds, porous, and inviting of redemption. And although the ancients perhaps didn't think exactly in terms of redemption, nevertheless where was the hope in a 'screen effect' continually throwing one's own projection at one? Didn't at least one type of hope reside in a certain porosity, the ability to cross borders? And that, ultimately, there was truly some Other place to go. Now, even the Final Border seemed sealed off, no There there, and certainly no traffic -- at least in the 'official' border patrol version of events.

He rounded the street corner for the final fifty feet to the house. Through a high pitched sizzling whine coming from seemingly the end of the street, he could hear the phone ring and started to break into a trot, jogging through the moist summer cricket air. The ringing stopped just as he reached for the door.