Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Continuing Adventures of Passage Man in Nether Nether Land

You may remember the name. Or the squeak of his heel as he rounds another corner, trenchcoat aflap. I've written of him before, here in our dark patch of webbing at the fringe of the net -- but only because we at "The Face" know our readership is sufficiently small and discerning to pose no threat to the secrecy upon which his life depends.

I call him -- for my amusement, for his sins -- The Passage Man. But his real name (as real as these things can be supposed in this shadow world) is Fred Spark.

You may remember the name.

Fred is like the sky. That majestic, that stormy. It is no overstatement to say that Fred's influence on our culture is as pervasive as sky, and just as intangible. Just as invisible. One clutches, holds, and knows Fred Spark as easily as one captures sky in a bag. The sky is not there to be captured in a bag but to do its business and its business is to overhang all human affairs great and small, intervening tragically or benignly at its whim.

Your life depends on Fred Spark, and you don't even know it.

Well, Fred has come back. Not all the way, but as far as he ever might. He has reappeared in the passage between his netherworld and our strobe-lit overland with something called The New-York Ghost. The New-York Ghost is a new publication that is burning up the haunt-lines and inspiring dissection of the hottest variety. Yes, Fred has come back, and though the comeback be halfway, the effect has been seismic.

Fred's idea, cherished long before present technology was ever conceived by the visionaries of our chip-emitting laboratories, was simple and inspired. Subscribers are sent a weekly e-mail with a .pdf attachment. They download the .pdf, print it out, and there in their hands are four pages of undiluted, unedited communication from the The Passage Man himself -- notes from underground, rodent squeals on damp mortar, dank and crepuscular music of the passage -- all the qualities of his lifelong subterranean commute through the conspiratorial sewer system that determines our world, and whose first dimensions were determined by no man or woman so keenly as Fred Spark himself.

The New-York Ghost is comment and curse, dream and document, farce and phantasma, the beautiful of a beautiful mind and the damned of our damned Gotham. It is a depressed gargoyle and a tempestuous drummer. It is the show that never ends in Plato's Cave, the ink forming human sentences upon the pulp of pines of centuries too few to count. It is the concrete and the cosmos. It is how to lounge with life, how to dance with death. It is all. It is all.

And now it is yours. Do not forego this chance, nor take lightly its implication. Small, discerning: that is the "Face" readership. We are a small band but brave; not an elite, but a unique. I pass on Fred Spark's web address, through which a The New-York Ghost subscription may be acquired, because we deserve this knowledge.

We not only deserve it -- we know what to do with it.

"Mommy, he scared me"

* * *

Halloween nears. Air chills, branches go skeletal, ghosts yawn and mutter after their long summer slumber. Enter the bleak months when the world passes back to the inexplicable shiver and the terror by night, even the sun races at day's end to be home before dark. As evocation and encouragement to the unseen entities of our season, I offer this poem found in the street. (The circumstances of its discovery were vaguely suspicious: I turned a corner in a Greenwich Village mews and there it was, fluttering in the center of the sidewalk, as if beckoning me, waiting for me. Its crumpling, quite frankly, appeared contrived. It could be that I was meant to find it.)


What was that I saw
through the leaves outside the window?
What was that I heard
creeping low about the room?

What was that which drove me
muttering from the bed?

What was that I saw
as it slipped beneath the dresser?
What was that I heard
as it scratched against the brick?

What was that I felt
as it felt beneath my ankle?

What was that I heard
as it stumbled in the bedroom?
What was that I failed to catch
as it whispered on the stairs?

What was that the cat stared at
as it waited in the doorway?

What was it that I conjured up
from the darkness all around me?
What was the thing I dreamt to see
in the moonlight on the pane?

[The note read:
What was (illegible)]

What was that I didn’t see
when I couldn’t look behind me?
What was that I didn’t feel
when I didn’t light the fire?
What was that I couldn’t hear
when I held my breath for an hour?

Every silence of the sky and sea
humming silently in choir.