Student work – English Extension 1 imaginative writing
English Extension 1 imaginative writing, based on stimulus by Clarice Lispector – by Luca Charlier
At the Dusk of Life
“When art, become independent, depicts its world in dazzling colors, a moment of life has grown old and it cannot be rejuvenated with dazzling colors. It can only be evoked as a memory. The greatness of art begins to appear only at the dusk of life.”
— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Section 188
Macabea lent against cold brick, Doc Martens crunching glass into asphalt. To her left, two drunks were spat out the swinging doors of the Judgement Bar like broken teeth. They stumbled through the dirty yellow light that crept out of the pub windows and lurched around bipping cars across Oxford Street. Their steel caps briefly twinkled before they were swallowed by the swollen darkness of Forbes Street.
Her phone beeped in her pocket, causing her to cut short the first ‘Woo Hoo!’ of Song 2 rocking through her Discman. A text. It was Mads. Technically his full name was Madidas and he quite rightfully hated it. She wasn’t allowed to call him anything but Mads.
YO YO YO!
Macabea rolled her eyes. Here we go again. She shot back.
What has made you so hyper ?
Too many ideas. I think you need to be moving now
Do we need to meet up?
She shrugged, and started walking vaguely in the direction of the Cross station.
Yeah sure but try out my meter!
Yeah nah I’m a free spirit
So you’re BAC over the limit?
Don’t worry, I’ve kissed my books
But ignored the bible by your looks
What now, you dropping a sermon?
Imagine if I had the wisdom…
LOL can’t even stick to your own rhythm
Well my lyricism’s no given
You clearly need a new system…
Now listen we’re getting distracted
Careful, your beat’s gone flaccid
Hey I’ve still got my pants on
Not while I’m holding your belt as ransom
More like you’re belting out lines at random
“The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them”
Phew you sure quote with wit man
BTW you have to turn right here.
What can I say? I write your body electric
More like a bloody eclectic
We’re the zenith of dialectic
Huh its not often I hear that
So on that note are you here yet?
I’m adhering to your direction
just need protection on these Darlinghurst Nights
Good like I told you hurry, I’m in the station
You speak like I’m in control
Well I like to think we control you together
Macabea tucked the phone away and looked up. The new LEDs of the Coke sign gave the wet streets a faint red glow, accentuated by the taillights of grumbling cars. Their passing headlights shifted the soft shadows of poles, people and council bins across brick walls and into darkened windows.
The fire station was shut up at this time of night. A fancy-looking guy in a suit fiddled with the needle dispenser. He tucked a handful of small crinkling plastic bags into his pockets while he nervously looked over his shoulders. Macabea cracked a small smile. ‘Least they kept the centres around for people who need them. Druggies were a lot rarer now after all that shit got pushed into Alexandria. Another text.
It was Surry Hills.
Right. Of course. She went across the road, part of a small and sorry herd sneaking down the street, squishy trespassers in a rolling scene of asphalt and metal. Most of the neon signs were dead, except for a ubiquitous double golden arch further down. Darlinghurst Road was quiet. She could faintly hear El Alamein Fountain. Her phone beeped again.
You can’t hear the fountain from there.
Right. Of course Mads was correct. As usual. Macabea turned into Kings Cross station and headed down to the platform.
There was more light and sound down here than anywhere else in the area. The diffused glow of smart phones lit up downturned faces as bodies shuffled up and down escalators or fell into cold metal benches. An eight foot flatscreen bust of Andrew Bolt yelled out of a hole in the grimy black wall. Macabea didn’t get a chance to hear his rambling before a pair of train headlights washed out the screen and a screeching yellow train lurched to a stop between them. One nostril was still visible through the train windows.
She whipped out her phone and shot Mads a text.
Is this the train I get on?
There’s someone shouting.
About to get violent by the looks.
Of course there is.
That’s what makes this interesting.
I don’t want to.
Hop to it.
You can’t say no.
At the Dusk of Life appropriates Lispector’s self-aware textual construction as a metafictive world which gradually deconstructs its own literary illusion and meaning as a postmodern and hyperreal text.
Lispector’s narrator converses directly with the reader as a reflection on the process of writing and representing the world. Conversational language and rhetorical questions such as “don’t you agree” give the text’s narrator low modality, facilitating a self-aware deconstruction of the text and undermining its epistemological authority.
My piece reimagines this conversation as an exchange of text messages in heightened language between a character and her author, abandoning Lispector’s low modality for an epigrammatic conversation which is too certain of itself. The deconstruction of my text occurs exactly because the characters don’t question their world, “of course Mads was correct,” despite Macabea’s inconsistent experiences of the fountain.
The heightened language and academic allusions to Shakespeare, Whitman and Slessor within these text messages create a stream of “succulent terms” and “meaty nouns” jarringly juxtaposed with Macabea’s “dirty” world. This intelligent game of verbal virtuosity parallels Lispector’s imperative to “speak simply” because it becomes the abstracted “gold” that “depicts its world in dazzling colours”.
Madidas’ name further extends Lispector’s allusion to King Midas. This combination of Ancient Greek myth and commercial sport brand symbolises the constructed nature of Mads and Macabea, who lack intrinsic character outside their brand associations. ADIDAS is a particularly postmodern symbol due to its ever evolving meaning. From the backronym ‘All Day I Dream about Sport’ to Korn’s ‘All Day I Dream about Sex’, its meanings probe the cultural constructions of symbolism itself. This reflects that fact that Macabea and Mads live both literally and metaphorically in the “new LEDs of the Coke sign.” This broadens Lispector’s concern with the “secret meaning” that “emanates” from words into a reflection on symbolism, representation and meaning within a Postmodern hyperreality defined by little else.
Luca Charlier (Year 12)