yes-reply #05


The last 10 days have included more time on my couch than I care for, mostly due to a cough that RATs insist is not Covid. I find illness a quite cerebral affair, I experience my most confronting bipolar delusions when fever rocks up, and the manacles of depression hold tighter during infirmity. Earlier this week, I met with a collaborator for a new project in its infancy, and I came mostly empty-handed due to this infection demanded couch-retirement - our collaborative workshop turned instead into a discussion.

I shared the story of counting with my teeth, a hilarious, and precarious delusion I had some years ago. I remember vividly it was 5am, the morning after I had been on sepsis watch at the Royal Women’s until 2am with a fever. As I began to wake up I had the sense the Prime Minister had tasked me with a role of national importance, of life and death. My instincts kicked in and I began to fulfil my role as a bean counter - using my left teeth to count in small increments, and my right teeth to count in large increments. It doesn’t take a genius, simply someone of complete mind, to be able to tell you this is impossible to do simultaneously and is generally futile nonsense.

The tragedy of course, was I was not of complete mind, I was literally deluded. The emotion I remember feeling was not chiefly anxiety or fear - that came later. The first emotion I felt in light of my failure was guilt and mourning - I understood in that moment that people would die because of my actions and I accepted that responsibility. Obviously, I recovered and when I came to full consciousness I learnt it was nothing more than a nightmare at sunrise, but not for a while. What I have been thinking about, and what I discussed with my collaborator is how these sentences may be received.

An implosion of coloured smoke on a black background

I have told you how I felt, but does that take you closer to understanding? Perhaps another form of words would take you closer, a poem, a spoken word monologue, or does the image above bring you any feeling? A lot of my practice as a writer has been focussed on considering this question of the gap between human experience and the limit of human language to explain what it means. And my answer, which if I can say so myself, excites me.

I seek to combine forms and blend artistic skills together. A favourite version of this would be my short-story The Terror of Chance where the protagonist’s infinite struggle as a member of the resistant proletariat is programmed into the short story via the literal coding of the webpage it is read on.

My new project shall remain nameless for now, but I will tell you one thing, it’s definitely about form and nightmares at dawn.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Gillanders

P.S - Feel free to reply to this email, I will be monitoring this mailbox and I’d love to have a conversation. When in doubt, yes-reply.