the suffix -ice, describing the state of
Justice is anti-polar, but is held together by the poles. It is the cold of land in conjunction with the heat of the body. It is the non-binary binary. Light and weight, wait, no matter what, and in which spirit, coolly distant or then closeness that comes at a cost. -ice, the suffix, -ice, describing a three-way of being. Just-ice is in-between these things. When ice trines fire. It is the apotheosis of antipodes, the obscure energy and the clarity of the crystal, it is the lake, the reflection of the sky in the lake and you looking out at the lake, all at once.
Justice hears its own echo for miles. My, language that gathers like a ghost inside you. Overflowing, you pour mood and structure, word and margin equally, into two crevasses. From here, you can see yourself, long and thin in the brass of the binocular. A mood is a structure, a word a margin. Ritually, it swings one way –
Justice, Promethean leveller of frost and fever, is suspended on a berg between the dewy motion of the glacier and the thrash of the sea, and appreciates the waiting. Justice may fall. The Chorus of Spirits invokes it. What follows is a close reading of the Chorus of Spirits’ speech in Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound.
|Travelled o’er by dying gleams; 679 |
Be it bright as all between
Cloudless skies and windless streams,
Silent, liquid, and serene;
As the birds within the wind,
As the fish within the wave,
As the thoughts of man’s own mind
Float through all above the grave;
We make there our liquid lair,
Voyaging cloudlike and unpent
Through the boundless element: 689
|Justice is a medium between the poet and you, between cloudless skies and windless streams. A state of bounded boundlessness – stressed syllables but no definite period – expands and contracts the lines, which swell and shrink as they ripple through the stanza. Justice pendulums between past and future, holding together a present made up of the parts that make up the whole span of time, just like the singular Chorus, made up of a collection of entities. Each line comprises three trochaic feet with a half-foot catalexis; an expected tetrameter whose missing syllable suggests a kind of refusal to end. Prometheus hangs on. |
Justice comets out to where you think you will never go: Travelled o’er by dying gleams. Dying seems antithetical to gleam, yet it pinpoints a cosmic quandary: the light that reaches us long after a star – in a constant process of compression – has combusted. The photons inside a star lose energy over their lifetime, till its wavelengths are visible: the line ends with a semicolon, ; , visually mimicking the particle-wave duality of light, leaving you to live in the afterlife of the line.
This sense of the self extends into the next line. The letter ‘b’ alliterates – Be it bright as all between – and in doing so, calls attention to the verb ‘to be’. Justice is the preposition o’er and between, tipping from the metaphysical to the meta-poetic, so that it considers how to reconfigure a tender future while remembering its ruthless, Icarian trajectory.
Justice is all, and -less. The words pivot on an axis of antithetical imagery: bright and dying; birds and fish, man’s mind and the grave. Bright and between; skies and streams; silent and serene; wind and wave; man and mind; liquid and lair: alliteration calls attention to the letter within language and the alphabet within the lexicon.
Float through all above the grave, the heavy, consonant-ridden word, grave, marks a concrete cul-de-sac. Suddenly, you feel the weight of Prometheus’ past and his potential fate, but this is quickly overcome by the lightness and lyric of liquid lair and voyaging, cloudlike. The idea of liquid is flux, and to harness habitat in water is to necessarily live with change. Words will change with every re-interpretation. The berg is only as big as fear.
In pursuit of an origin story, the Chorus of Spirits repeatedly intones like and as. The Chorus exists only by virtue of metaphor and simile: ultimately a construction of the poet’s craft. The metaphors themselves – as the birds within the wind, as the fish within the wave, as the thoughts of man’s own mind, cloudlike – become mediums. The analogies deceive you with an expectation of a secondary clause, which never appears. This is the boundless element: the ever-changing idea that cannot be defined, Justice’s need for your judgement.
The Chorus of Spirits validates its existence via a process of apophasis, that is, by demarcating what it is not. Its last verdict, as a collective, claims that the boundless element is that which begins and ends in thee! Once the collective has fragmented, a particle within a wave, the First Spirit proclaims that the soul of Love is that which begins and ends in thee. Could the boundless element be love? Not the love of justice, but the justice of love.
That ineffable other, the one that can only be described via metaphor. It is itself that it carries across: it is a meta-medium. Love is the chorus of our ancestors, those that continue to live after they have died; the pulse and the throb of word and breath; the grains of sand in glass; the theft of ice and its immortal ability to keep us; you and me; the endless source, –ice as a way,
–ice as an end. Just-ice is cradled by something that comes after crown and sword, by even and mean.
From the series 22 Moons. 22 Moons was an Ignota newsletter project responding to climate grief through the Major Arcana. 22 Moons was delivered on each New and Full Moon, bringing together 22 poets, writers, artists, thinkers, curators, astrologers, practitioners, witches and technologists for 22 lunations.
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