The Cruciform Engines

I have never been this fit or strong before in my life. My stomach is a generator unit, my lungs inflate well beyond what I once thought was their capacity. Distant limbs pump below me like steel machinery. I cycle enormous exhalations out into the freezing night air and they escape in jets of boiling steam that catch orange in the street lights that pass along my route. Even small cuts and abrasions heal more quickly than they used to; I have seen bruises shrinking in real time with just the naked eye. I drink at least five litres of water a day, and as I run I fantasise that my vapour breath is really that aqua pura rushing into contact with whatever burning Hephaestus core it is that I have nurtured into life inside my guts by obsessing over words like ‘rigour’ and ‘discipline’. So this elaborate program of physical improvement that I have been following over recent weeks is obviously working out in concrete biomechanical registers. In my mind I have sketched out a hybrid character built from equal parts Joan of Arc and Rocky Balboa—I have traced this using nothing but an overwhelming hostility, wholly interior and directed like a blowtorch against any compassion for personal weakness. Picture me possessed of that grace that turns limbs into battering units and jaws into a steel trap that devours other, weaker bodies. It is only by association with this predatory femme that my own rigour is sustained, and I know from long experience that it is only by her dispensation that I can keep from slipping into that familiar place of pain where dignity is stripped away and where real abjection (measured by closeness to fantasies of death and maiming) begins to slip again into visibility. Visibility here is enough. Like a metal splinter in your eyeball that if you cannot find a way to remove will occlude every future that you attempt to organise visually—all attempts at love or communication infected in advance.

Louis Mason is an Australian artist and writer currently based in London. He has shown and published extensively in Australia, and is currently engaged in postgraduate study at Goldsmiths College. In 2012 he was a co-founder of Knight St Art Space, and was the director of that space over the course of its operation. Examples of his work and writing can be found at www.louis-mason.com