Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


All day he follows you like a tacky song that won't let your mind alone so you find yourself humming it in the car, the office, the street: your golden double whose presence you feel somewhere behind you as if about to call your name and hand you the winning lottery ticket or take you away to a life of workless pleasure by a warm pool in the sun. You don't speak of it to anyone, not your wife, your lover or your friends because it would be like admitting you believe you've come from a world of angels and unicorns and this planet whose tiny acres you shuffle across is only a place of mistaken banishment, your life the shadow life of one twin split from the other.

Sometimes the awareness comes upon you like the blunt ache of hunger or the sensation that your walking body is thin as tissue paper a shower of small rain can dissolve. Other times it blossoms briefly like a drop of clear honey on your tongue or flashes on unexpectedly like a faulty lamp you're trying to fix, so intense and short it leaves you half blind with a dark hole in your eyes for minutes after.

Whispers, cryptic messages; it makes you feel you're going mad, perhaps, understand how people get religion so bad they stand up in the high street waving their free pamphlets in embarrassed faces, chalking The Kingdom of Heaven again and again on their portable blackboards for the benefit of shoppers and drunks lost in their own daily exile.

You see in all this the hand of your golden double who can live in both worlds at the same time without having to write cheques, mend fuses or sidestep beggars on the way to the shops. But each day is the same: nothing arrives, no one calls your name. And each night is the same: you lie down to sleep knowing your double has been there ahead of you, meddling with your dreams. You see? - blue angels in a tree. A unicorn set free by the river.