A Version / Christopher Clifton

Instead of looking out at other versions, or allowing their conceptions of the text to be projected onto how she lived her life, as she now recognised she had until this moment, her attention was brought back to the pure presence of the text, and she began to read her feelings. This sudden self-awareness of the text as it was lived, without comparing what it said with what was said by other versions, brought her infinite relief, and endless meaning. Not a meaning she could formulate in words for other versions, for it resisted intellection, and she sensed that what was said would cease to say to her as soon as she conceived it. She allowed it to give meaning – or allowed it to allow her to feel meaning. In the rhythm of the sentence, in the beating of her heart, and in the pleasant inspirations of her lungs. There appeared to be no reference to a world outside the text, or the reference to the world occurred in sensuous connection that spoke only of the text that gave this meaning. It was not a comprehension of the world, but a connection. Connection to that other than the self that felt and feeling was connected. The text was not to read to understand, but lived to realise. It required no understanding, only presence of attention. Even thoughts about the text were felt as sensuous emergents of the text they were the thought of, and all she had to do to think these thoughts was to attend to their arrival, and allow them to absorb into the tissue of the text they had emerged from. And turning her attention to the coming of these thoughts the thought arrived that it had come to her alone, and not another. She was present to this thought, and was aware of her awareness, and felt strange. She felt a strange dissociation from the presence of her self, as though her self were as contingent as these thoughts, and had no ground to have received them – no ground beyond the fact that she was there, instead of noone. Her identity dissolved in this sensation that she had no ground to be there. No origin to which to turn her mind, except the presence of the text – which was its absence. The presence of a text of which she felt herself to be an accidental, or unnecessary version. She felt tightness in her chest, and lost all meaning.

She turned to read again, and breathed in deeply, while she listened to her heart beat. Then she opened up her eyes, to see the trees as they were written. Their leaves moved like a poem, in a language she could read to learn to read.

The meaning of the text was its own meaning.

Christopher Clifton lives in Australia. His treatise Of the Contract is published by Punctum Books.

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