ANOXIC EVENT // “the conditions for falling”
by Sabeen Chaudhry
ANOXIC EVENT // “the conditions for falling”
by Sabeen Chaudhry
YOLK // BRINE LAKE : a dark mode of non-solar ecology
we were swimming through an egg yolk
deep-sea brine lake
a lake of denser yolk within a sea of slime-white
but the white was < excruciating
how exponentially excruciating it was, swimming through that anoxic yolk
the longer we swam
the worse it got
at times we perfected our strokes
sometimes we almost stopped
and sank further
but all the time we moved through it in no particular direction
and enjoyed the hypersaline burn
without knowing it
but then the ripples began on the surface
and strange movements deep within
the frequency of the ripples did not match our own
the wavelength afforded us no gap in which to persist
suddenly we were forced to move in a specific direction
towards the halocline
that hysterical surface
where the yolk/brine lake ended and the white world/sea began
we had never before noticed or taken this portal out of our chemotoxic yolk
this exit from the brine lake
out into the sea
But then somehow we found ourselves standing outside of it, on the edge where there were tiny mussels which we ate; placating us for a while so that we didn’t fully realise the fear and dusky sadness that was beginning to take hold of us both.
On the discarded shells of some of the mussels we had eaten, I noticed that there were strange markings – an unknown language whispered into the shells by the duplicitous mouth of an alien god/ess.
We both shook with an intense anxiety.
There were only three types of markings, each shell had only one.
We knew what we had to do: communicate with the tyrant of the future. We took three shells and threw them up – like runes – and they fell always, always in the same formation. No matter how many times we tried.
I freaked. I ran through the white, dripping with yolk. And so did you – in another direction altogether.
WHITE WORLD // SEA : a phase of solar ecology of light excess
As I moved, clouds of yolk bloomed and diffused into the white around me.
When we had emerged I had noticed certain details about you. Specificities. Individuations. Green eyes. Cat’s mouth. A terrible accent.
For the first time (again) we were ‘he’ and ‘she’ and found the names that we must have had in another life. I noticed that it was more ‘comfortable’ to live in the white world/sea and that I could walk instead of swim.
But still, I wanted us to return. Back to that infinity world against the sun where we moved as ghouls in the salty darkness. Always touching.
For a while, stunned by loss and light, I roamed the white world/sea – watching the white world folk: the way they used time in a manner that they thought they understood.
Once I came to a place that I thought might have been my old home. Before. But I recognised none of the people there so I moved on.
Soon I was hungry but found that sustenance required payment. So I sat on the streets and begged for money or scraps. At first people pitied me. In time they came to loathe and fear me. I did nothing for myself but the very least. In a quietly despairing stasis, I was of no use. Yet still, I was there.
Until one day, I heard news of a man that had moved to a place nearby. He had green eyes, he didn’t seem to be from these parts. I knew it was you.
I asked people about ‘this man’, some seemed to be friends of yours, others were neighbours. Some were perhaps, lovers.
You were known for your talents, which you had used to gain work. You were also known for your good humour, your sunny disposition, your gentle beauty.
I felt sick.
One day I asked a woman where I could find you and I saw her mouth tighten with suspicion. She asked me how I knew you. I could not answer. She told me where you lived anyway, saying that you were very busy and that it was likely you could not spend much time with “old friends”.
I wanted to touch you.
I supposed I could only speak to you. Of our nameless connections with one another and our co-conspirators in yolk. The microorganisms and mussels (who we later turned against), the ancient salt-tectonic-architectures all constituted our amorous hypoxia, which we later learned that others in the white world called love. A cold-seep desire capable of creating and maintaining the yolk world that we had somehow gouged from the thin waters of the white/sea.
Finally, I found where you were staying. A white room filled with hanging crystals that refracted light around the room in sprays of rainbow.
You spoke to me politely, kindly even but it was different from before.
Did you not taste yolk in your dreams?
We had begun to speak about it. You now used the past tense – we had been a particular phase of your life:
“‘The Anoxic Event’, those were the precise conditions for falling...”
I told you, “We were the falling – a coagulation of wayward hypoxic desires, errant movements. We were >two, >excruciating, >ourselves as we are now. Have you noticed that we still don’t know how long we had been there? Luxuriating painfully in that yolk/brine. Without diurnal white world patterns, without obviously productive efforts. Just pointless movements and the most exquisite pain. Hypoxia, hypnosia, hypnogogia...”
You interjected: “Are you ok, do you want to sit down?...”
“But do you understand? What I’m gesturing at but can’t seem to say?” I thought if I approached the point asymptotally (which was all I could do), I could conjure a recall. You would have to put in some effort.
“I don’t think you want to.”
“You don’t know what I want. I think you should leave.”
So I ran, with white world people staring at me, white world things tripping me as I went. I didn’t care.
I didn’t know quite where I was going, but something took me there. Accelerating into a shambles of limbs and staccato-breaths. A breathy tumbleweed of death-desire.
I stopped at the edge of the lake. Where the mussels were.
And slipped in.
And dissolved – uncoagulated, unrequited.
Thousands of years later, when the seas dried under the sun’s hyperbolised control-freakery (complicit with the consumptions and fluctuations of the white world); our brine lake became what the people of the white world called a vast “salt flat”. Yolk baked dry over rock.
Whoever visited it developed a strange un-named malady.
They say it is haunted.
1. Let’s run with the fad (disclaimer: which I’m into,) and call this a kind of xeno-ecology. Deep-sea brine lake ecologies are one of the few that function entirely apart from the tyranny of the sun, engaging in a chemo-powered programme of functions. Here labour is confined to the (relative) few and excesses can be enjoyed in darkness and stillness without currents, without guilt and without perception. It is no big deal. Really it is ridiculous that such ecosystems should exist at these extremes, where boundaries between useful and useless are warped by eroto-salinities and anoxia. That is to say, the functioning of these distinct ecosystems is the process of falling in love. Extreme, painful and seemingly of no wider use whatsoever.
Hypoxia: “I could suffocate.”
Minor to the major of the sun-powered seas, brine lakes are foetuses in foetu. Queer tumours embedded in the hetero-sea. Sometimes other creatures (from the surrounding marine ecosystem) that accidentally stray into them are poisoned by the excessively high salinity and anoxic conditions.
2. Halocline: a line or zone between two waters of differing salinity.
Greater salinity results in higher water density and so causes a kind of hydro-stratification with the less saline/ less dense seawater above and the more saline/ denser water of the brine lake below, hence forming a division of waters and enabling a lake within a sea.
Here the halocline can be seen as something of an event horizon, the point or rather zone of no-return. It is a diffusive gradient over which hyperstitional anxiety can take hold; over which the virtual is converted into the actual. Once you hit the halocline, there’s no going back => propulsion into hydro(mantic) apocalypse/ “the end”.
3. A chemo-erotic onto-ecology. Participation dissolves and partially reforms the subjects as spectres of tacit identities that shift and move as dimensions of an alien leviathan in a yolk ectoplasm.
4. Salt tectonics: salino-motion / movement of vast salt deposits.
When a shallow sea becomes separated from the larger ocean, it dries to form a thick layer of salt and mineral deposits. This eventually becomes covered with a layer of sediments which load massive force onto the underlying salt, causing it to take flight in lines and jets, out through the sediments.
Salt becomes plastically deformed over time and begins to behave as a fluid. Structures composed partly of salt warp more willingly, forming a malleable landscape of desire.
When the dried sea joins the larger ocean once again, the salt deposits dissolve in the seawater that floods in. Heavy brine spurts from the sea floor and is considerably more saline than the surrounding sea water, settling in basins to form brine lakes.
The migration of the salt disturbs hydrocarbon deposits which it drags out through the overlying sediments. This forms a cold seep.
5. Cold seep: hydrocarbon-leak in the ocean floor. Hydrogen sulphide, methane and others provide extremophiles with sustenance.
Extremophile: Latin extremus = extreme + Greek philiā (φ) = love. Organisms that flourish in extreme environments (or situations) that are detrimental to all others. Loving extremes. Extreme love. Chemosynthetic conspiracies between methane, macroinvertebrates and meiofauna.
And bathymodiolus: mussels that engage with bacteria in symbiotic cycles of give and take, gulping methane from the seep which provides for the bacteria that churn it into energy which the mussels take a share of. So long as things stay roughly the same, this forever-programme of requited love persists and everything continues to move in slow-step. “Life” is drawn out and self-preoccupation forgotten. Seep tube worms can live for 250 years.
6. Salt flats: rate of evaporation > rate of precipitation. But salt and mineral deposits remain, dazzling white marks left by a cruel sun finally touching what it previously could not. Crystallised apparitions of lost love haunting the landscape.
7. ...Synchronicity with the crabs and fish that fall into brine pools and find themselves pickled in oblivion.
liminal zone of salino-variability
WHITE WORLD // SEA
YOLK // BRINE LAKE
HYPERSTITIONAL HYDRO-EVENT HORIZON (HHH)