EXCERPT FROM THE POSSESSIONS BY GERMÁN SIERRA


it is a crime, she said, to invite another person to live a life that is not theirs, but at some point in our lives almost all of us commit that crime of the imagination for which there is no pain, no cure or repentance; lives are not ours or theirs nor are they at all different from deaths or inorganic things; in a way that is what the fatal invention does, sustaining lives that should have fallen are invited to live an extension, a biographical prosthesis; a strange plague that instead of killing keeps alive and whose only cure is death itself; people not dying is a problem—it is not that no one dies, of course, but that they die little and late, there is a notable decrease in deaths—cancer, heart failure, other infectious diseases—until much later than the expiration date on the label; the life-virus cannot avoid accidents, or murders, or bombings, or natural disasters; it can only lengthen old age, decrepitude, decadence; the bodies continue to degrade, the organs become monsters inducing a new and peculiar angiogenesis, are turned into excessively benign teratomas that support and nourish each other until the point that the brain takes too long to consuming itself, that mass of worms rejuvenates even as the trunk and limbs become deformed—was there ever hope for meat infected by reason? the pale heads protrude from shapeless masses, sacks of singed bundles from within, as if each bubo had its own magma or cast-iron core; hirsute, purulent, scab-covered monsters that digest the little anatomical details and seams—nipples, navels, ears, testicles, little fingers—, exacerbated knots that remind us of absurdly old trees in which life seems to filter down to a last pinnacle branch through vestigial xylem, which open in sores to the world of others, viral stigmas acting as traps for insects that are immediately digested and feed the most outward and greedy tumors, fattening them but also deriving excess glucose and amino acids to the nervous system; that’s why it seems that they are dead and lucid and also on the threshold of some kind of evil resurrection; there is an insurgent body that dissolves in salt and wine; life has passed away and now death is dying; life was the continuation of light by other means and then acclimatized to darkness; lying in an olive grove, listening to the deafening concert of the cicadas, the symphony of silence of a dreamed body that is expressed only with tremors and convulsions, with myoclonus shaking eyelids instead of words, only a funeral mask comes to the spell, the body resists, we think that we will never be able to extinguish ourselves completely, that there will always be a story, even if it is told by a machine; an old Ford pickup truck with blankets on the seats and some music and some spirits distilled in the white and uterine boilers of a sacred mountain; lost in an apiary in the hills until the bees point our way back; it could be a radical foray into the world’s materials; the summer feels blind in the bare feet of the bathers while the cities melt, scatter, the limits fray and it is impossible to know whether one is inside or outside; the moss has turned golden and glows like the wings of dreams; imprecations; we arrived at a suburb where homes play hide-and-seek behind the trees and only the rows of warehouses and factories and office buildings where only silent automata and a few security guards with guns and tasers are visible; we are interrupted by a cavalcade of drunken commanders; the sick hang themselves and drop like fruits; we are transferred to another dimension—but a dimension is not a thing or a place, but a magnitude, if at all a way of measuring, a calculation of how objects relate to each other we call space, or time, or information, or energy exchange—; we decided not to know anything, to indulge in the chaos of chronomorphic recallings; the present formed by the collapse of the memory of the occipital eye; the platonic pharaohnism of the monolatrist, the broken corner of the accelerator, the painful concubinage with the grim reaper; everything that survives the passage of time is history in one way or another; the cherry trees are authentic arboreal clouds flown over in a child’s dream; light is upon us; each level of videogame life is a spell that is broken when passing to the next; surely by now you have already tried to imagine us, take a mental photograph of our bearing and our face, but it is probable that we do not have the aspect that you provisionally assign us, we will be taller or shorter, thinner or thicker, younger or older, with longer or shorter hair, blonde or darker; we will walk with long strides or shuffling; we will be attractive or horrendous; you may be wondering if, although at first we were many at the same time, we will end up being one after another, in single file, knocking on the doors of suburban houses to try to locate clandestine laboratories, guided by the characteristic smell of certain chemicals; on the wall the head of an achromatic angel rises; we sunbathed naked on the rooftops, as if the gods had nested; we wonder if we have stopped looking beyond, we are concerned, we are obsessed; we think we knew that people were more diverse back then, that not all of them yearned for a precise and harmonious life, that there were more individual projects; thinking of living in exceptional times is a symptom of narcissism; no one dreams of the southern seas anymore; all things speak even in silence; we pile up shadows; we have inherited three old oaks and the land as far as grasped by their roots; someone knocks on the door of our fear; we walk the ruined corridors of what may have been a mansion; a naked old woman watches us with eyes that seem empty; we let ourselves be guided by the hatching of certain clouds that, at the same time, threaten us with the wink of a gigantomachy, transporting us to the threshold of a new firmament; the anguish of a pain in the chest; the trees have bent on swirling; a thick reed hides the water in a pond; we’ve shot the birds of language; empty Bollinger bottles rolling on the uneven tiles of an old kitchen; we are haunted by a dynasty of hallucinations;

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Germán Sierra is a neuroscientist and author of contemporary innovative fiction, with an MD and PhD from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Sierra is deeply interested in contemporary experimental fiction and has been included in the so called “Nocilla Generation”, “Mutantes” or “Afterpop writers”: an emergent group of Spanish writers who are strongly committed with innovative literature. Most of his fictional work deals with metamediatics and the role of science and technology as cultural discourses in post-postmodern and posthuman societies.

Sierra is the author of the novels (“El Espacio Aparentemente Perdido”, Debate, Spain, 1996; “La Felicidad no da el Dinero”, Debate, Spain, 1999; “Efectos Secundarios”, Debate, Spain, 2000 and “Intente usar otras palabras”, Mondadori, Spain, 2009, “The Artifact”, Inside the Castle, 2018) and a book of short stories (“Alto Voltaje”, Mondadori, Spain, 2004). “Efectos Secundarios” was awarded with the Jaen Prize in 2000. Besides, his fictional work has been published in several anthologies both in Spanish and English, and his essays can be found in several books about contemporary culture, technology and writing.

*Image credit: Design by Evan Isoline