encyclopedia of the second hand: borrower

BORROWERS  Roger Gathman


     The  idea that there is some directing  homunculus  in

your  brain  has  always struck me as  the  most  poetically

accurate  image of the mind.  Sherlock Holmes' gray  matter,

which competes with it, doesn't really capture the image  of

how  the  mental is a personality, a style. Gray  matter  is

sponge, really, fog, obscurity, dirt on the windshield,  the

mop's  residue  in a bucket of water.  When we  couple  gray

with  life  we imagine something tentacled and  viscous  and

probably  viscious, a squid gliding stealthily  through  sex

and  metaphysics,  or  perhaps through  the  obscure  London

streets,  stalking victims.  Does it matter that the  victim

be  a barmaid or the butcher of one?  No, it is gray  matter

engaged  with  gray  matter, squid  against  squid  at  some

unutterable depth, some breathless and amoral depth, and  we

can only see the dejecta of the loser as so much  pollution,

fit for the crematorium.  But not intended for any  glorious

resurrection, surely.  No, Christ never died for squids.


    Dita tells you about borrowers.  Dita is seventeen, and

uapproachably  distant  sometimes,  a  hostile  tower  on  a

darkling  plain  bristling  with  archers.   You  will   say

something and zap, the shaft is unloosed and there you  are. 

Hey,  and  you  are only a kid, you  are  ten  years  almost

younger.   For  instance,  when she goes  to  her  room  and

listens  to her records, all you can do is sit  outside  her

door.  It is shut.  You listen to the music. Even though she

is  supposedly babysitting you.  Even though you  know  that

that  means  she is supposed to be there, like what  if  you

decided  to  plug  in the toaster and put  down  the  little

handle  thing  and stick a fork in one of the  slots.   What

then. Why, you'd be electrocuted right in the kitchen and it

would  be  Dita's  fault, since she  was  listening  to  her

records, right? Mom would come home and you'd be there,  her

son, looking like toast, black all over. Toast in the middle

of  the  floor!  Mom would say my son is  toast.   And  then

she'd  have to kick Dita out of the house for murdering  her