Are You Afraid of the Docks?

An annotated proposal for a manuscript, centred around ten provided prompts


The palm grove holds a blue cup. The cup spills over, into the sea, pouring out grey.

Note: Is my prelude sufficiently intriguing? Too short? If not, do it over with the following quote — for why bother with my own words if I can use those of another? Keep it swift, as we ought to begin with neither delay nor agenda. 

Das ist die Hegelsche Philosophie
Das ist der Bücher tiefster Sinn!
Ich hab’ sie begriffen, weil ich geshceit,
Und weil ich ein gutter Tambour bin. [1]

–       H.H.

I: Lepidopterology

Note: We meet our characters under fading moonlight at an entrance to the Hippodrome’s Carousel on Santa Monica Pier. [2] There are two couples: one, a young philosophy student and their adoring partner, a mechanic; the other, a pair of adult professors, one in art, and one in the philosophy of logic. At this point, each of the four will be described in fuller detail. The entireties of their figures, the lengths of their hairs, and the shape of their clothes will be elaborated upon. Short characterisations must suffice this proposal:

“I shouldn’t think to presume that there is any merit to the postulations of Wurst, Knaust, nor even Pripasov. Should you? Their tawdry engagement with matters of materialism abandons both the consequentialist and the deontologist! Oh, to be naïve again. You really should consider Pripasov’s first draft of ‘A Definitive Theory of the Soul’ before making such an unenlightened…”

The Professor of Philosophy sat on the pier by the periwinkle carousel and continued in their monologue. They listened not to the exasperated release of the seafoam’s demise, but the unbounded echoes of their thoughts and to another bottle of wine being emptied in their glass.

The Professor of Art, spouse of that occupied academic, listened only to the waves.

With brows furrowed, so as to extend the impression of engagement, the young philosophy student rolled the aglet of their sweater between their nervous thumbs. 

The mechanic, thinking only of sausages and arrogance and ignorant as to the appropriate level and rate at which to fill plastic wine glasses in the evening at a meeting of student, professor, and partners, poured often.   

Note: It will be at this point that we take the Professor of Art as our protagonist. A series of vignettes of first loves, blossoms, and orchards manifest. Briefly: chasing Majnun around the garden; catching butterflies together; partners in lepidopterology; they were Michelangelo’s masterpiece with a slingshot; drunk without ever sipping; moonlight falls as dreams end. They ponder Majnun’s place in the world now. A lepidopterologist? A carnival worker? An architect?

II: An Embroidered Orchard

Note: There is prolonged discussion of ‘Bordando el manto terrestre’ by Remedio Varo. The Professor of Art barely listens, suddenly overwhelmed by thoughts of embroidering the orchards they had dreamed of. All four are drunk. [3] The elder couple make eye contact only by accident. The younger couple make it often. It is incredibly important that the reader understand this obscure triptych, else their understanding of the story will not be complete. An annotation is provided for you but must be removed along with this note at publication. They move into more philosophical and religious conversations, arriving at Vert’s ‘La disparition.’ It is equally important that the reader understand this text. I will not attach a note, as I’m sure it is your familiar, and I wish to avoid belittling you. As the last light of the evening fades, the art professor accidentally breaks into the Carousel. They all decide to ride it.

Note on the integral artwork: Translated, the title reads ‘embroidering the mantle of the world’. At first glance, it seems that a group of sullen, imprisoned women are being forced to weave the tapestry of the world. It remains that way at all further glances. Importantly, however, one of the women embroiders herself into the tapestry, escaping her confinement and eventually achieving happiness.

III: Carousel

Note: At every leap, at every descent, and at every breath, the Professor of Art returns to dreams of Majnun. Our protagonist is sitting on the only chair which doesn’t resemble a conquered mammal. Trapped in dreams of gardens, orchards, and bugs, they sit on the only insect, a butterfly; this is despite the butterfly being behind the elephant, occupied by their spouse. 

No matter how many times they start the Carousel, it ends abruptly of its own accord. The mechanic is dispatched as the student and the professors ride, stop, soar, and halt. 

Note: At every halt the dream concluded. Brought back to reality and forced to confront the elephant in the Hippodrome, the Professor of Art brimmed with regret which tipped over and poured out only apathy. They remember how much they were loved and loved dearly. They place more orchards in their tapestry and make a note to remind themselves later. [4] They alight. All the while, the younger couple hang around the Pier, like guns on a wall. As Venus begins to rise in the East, they walk alone and off the Pier. Glancing down to the waves, the Professor of Art listens, content. Glancing down to the beach, they see a message written in the sand. As they exit the Pier, they’re told off by a guard. [5] As they exit the shores and return to concrete, they hear a familiar voice. [6]

The message in the sand read: ‘the orchard will bloom.’ 

Note: The end is all that I’m sure of, so I ask you to leave it be.

[1] That is the philosophy of Hegel / That is the books’ meaning in sum / I’ve grasped them because I’m clever, / And also play a splendid drum. (Author’s translation.)

[2] And the Hippodrome’s Carousel of Santa Monica Pier (U.S.) incites panoramas (pseudo-colours of hemp and the air). Manic separations; mad, superheroic loops. 

[3] In the same order as their earlier characterisation, our characters are an overly talkative drunk, a pondering drunk, a drunk in love, and a drunk in love

[4] Note: learn to weave butterflies. 

[5] ‘This Pier isn’t a place for drifters at night! Get lost.’ They exclaimed. ‘It’s not a place for anyone at night.’ They murmured.

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