SA4QE 2018 - Steve Long - London, United Kingdom

I knew that my time was coming soon, I knew that I must be alert to recognize the time and place so that my death might be the best possible. But even as that thought moved through my mind it was hurried on its way by another thought coming behind it. This second thought asked whether it might not be only vanity and a striving after wind to want so much for one’s death; whether it might not be better to require nothing whatever of it or for it but simply to welcome it whenever and however it might come, to welcome it as one welcomes the stranger to whom one must always show hospitality.

With that feeling came an understanding that from then on every moment would be – indeed always had been – as the last moment. This wants to be made perfectly clear, it may be the only thing I have to say that matters; this idea has for me both the brilliance of the heart of the diamond of the universe and the inverse brilliance of the heart of the blackness in which that diamond lives: this moment that is every moment is always the last moment and it came into being with the first moment; it is that moment of creation in which there comes into being the possibility of all things and the end of all things; it is the blossoming jewel at the heart of the explosion, the calm quiet dawn at the centre of the bursting.

Brompton Cemetery in was the site for my first quotation in 2018, in Russ's old stamping ground, a fifteen minute walk from where he lived. The chapel was closed off with fences for refurbishment, but one of the hoardings was a useful place to leave my yellow paper. Death was the theme of my first quotation, and a cemetery seemed an appropriate place for it, if a little obvious. Brompton cemetery is one of the so called Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London, opened in the early Victorian era on what was then the edge of the city to ease overcrowding in the city's graveyards, and is still in use for burials. The cemeteries have become valued green spaces in the city and my wife and I have completed a project to visit all seven, sometimes visiting single cemeteries and sometimes walking between them. I was on my own on this occasion, next stop Earl's Court tube station to travel to the South Bank.

It was an earthy dance, nothing of it moved up into the air, it was as if earth had formed itself into a man and the man was dancing himself slowly back into the earth. Bembel Rudzuk danced more and more slowly and more and more deeply until the body I saw before me stood motionless like the nymphal shell left behind by a dragonfly. But Bembel Rudzuk, unlike the dragonfly, seemed not to have flown away into the air but to have danced himself out of his body into the earth.
The shell of Bembel Rudzuk opened its eyes and Bembel Rudzuk looked out of them.
“Was this your dream?” I said. “Were you dancing your dream?”
“Earth,” he said. “I was dancing earth.”
“Are you awake?” I said.
“Which is the dream?” he said.

The Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank was the venue for my second quotation. It seemed to have relevance for the dance reference within the quotation. Yellow is a theme for public information signage in the Festival Hall and I wondered if the yellow paper would stand out sufficiently well, however it was right in the middle of a public thoroughfare so hopefully attracted some attention! I hung around for a while, had a bite of lunch at the RFH cafe overlooking the river, and the yellow paper was still there when I left. I was on my way to visiting the Andreas Gursky exhibition in the newly re-opened Hayward Gallery next door - well worth visiting if you're in the area.

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