An excerpt of a schizophrenic woman
Patrick Belaga is a cellist and composer. In addition to his ongoing performance collaboration, ‘Moved by the Motion’, with boychild and Wu Tsang, he has worked with artists such as Josh Johnson and performed all over the world at for example MOCA in Los Angles, Schinkel Pavilion in Berlin and Mirgos Museum in Zurich. For this issue of Nuda he has shared an exclusive excerpt from his upcoming fiction novel. The book portrays a schizophrenic woman around 6000 B.C.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the altar in the shape of a line to form a wall.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the altar in the shape of a circle to form a barrier.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the altar in the shape of a triangle to form a gate.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the altar in the shape of a hole to form a threshold.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the altar in the shape of a threshold to form a tree.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the alter in the shape of a tree to form a deer.
Arranging the bones on the ground at the alter in the shape of a deer to form my brother.
My brother arranging the bones on the ground at the alter in the shape of a hand that says no.
I had been arranging the bones on the ground at the altar ever since he left.
Burying feathers and letting my blood seep into the soil. Lighting small fires and leaving before they went out, wishing all the trees would burn down in my absence.
The forest, nearest to my home on the hill, was half a day’s walk. It was just long enough to allow me to commit to the ceremony of shrine building for the day. Long enough to mean I’d have wasted valuable time if I didn’t at least pretend to believe the bones arranged on the ground in the shape of an altar might lead him back to us one day.
My previous visit to the forest several days ago was a productive one. I had strung a bark rope between two saplings at the edge of the wood. I mimicked the enigmatic spider who lives in the cave I dig flint and copper from. Creating a confusing circuit of crossing lines into a web, I felt as if my brain was falling from a tall cliff. The ground did not grow closer, but the feeling of falling remained. Eventually I gave up on the ropes and went back to arranging bones on the ground at the altar.
The purpose of this visit to the altars today, was to enhance and restore. I did not need to build more shrines because of my recent prolific month. As I walked on, I tried to ebb my racing thoughts, hoping to taper a slow panic that makes me at once productive and miserable. I plodded stiffly along the bank of the river towards the ropes.
As I neared the altar, I could hear a bird smashing its beak repeatedly into or against a tree. The sound grew louder as I approached the shrine, overwhelming my other senses and all other sounds of the forest. I held my hands over my ears as I walked, attempting to muffle the piercing crack of the beak against dry bark. In spite of my effort, the sounds exploded into my thoughts and rushed through my head and neck, down into my chest and out through my limbs into my hands and feet. I became dizzy and lowered myself to my knees, eventually resting my forehead on the bare earth for support; for fear that I may fall off the ground I knelt on.
Abruptly the sound stopped and the general murmur of the forest was once again the dominant noise. I raised myself up off the ground and continued the last stretch to the rope shrine. I was confronted sharply with the smell of death.
A group of black birds had arranged themselves on the ground at the altar in the shape of a circle to form a ring. The ropes pulled taught against the sapling’s branches, and at the center of the web, a large deer lay tangled. Its antlers had gotten caught in the ropes. At first I approached with caution, fearing the deer may startle. As I neared the scene, I saw in the flesh at its side a giant hole, and in that hole, an infinite number of maggots. The stag’s neck had broken in its struggle to free itself. The ring of blackbirds wavered, broke ranks, and reformed uncertainly, not sure of whether it was truly safe to inspect the corpse. I sat down on the ground near the deer and built a small fire. What was this omen and was it meant for me? I would need to sleep at this altar tonight. No other course would lead me to usable answers.