Writing Imaginary Footnotes for Maria Fusco’s Legend of the Necessary Dreamer — Emma Bolland

Maria’s words are elegant, italic. My own are clumsy, straight.

******** Bell persists in duty: May I change to the plural? I am imagining a peal that is inextricable from the sum of its parts. Ropes pulling in all directions. Tangles. Cacophonies. A terrible strangulation. Can one choke on sound? There is an assumption that we should like church bells. I cannot like the ones with which I am familiar. I find their sweetness harsh. A smug, relentless harangue that stinks of judgement and conservatism. An assault. It makes me cry. Up there in the belfry, invisible; the village worthies tugging. They all have their positions. All upstanding. I want to cover my eyes from my own imagining. Abroad, I like the ring. The simpler toll from a single bell that’s open to the skies. I like its modesty, suspended in an airy cage. White stone. I like to walk in sunlight; to look up.

******* An improvised cone: I have a continuously renewed and erased understanding of Bergson and his idea of the durée. I see time unfolding as a scroll, revealing and concealing in its turning. This despite reading that the furl is not a straight one, but is angled to a cone. Time as a funnel through which we fall, sliding against the sides of memory until we drop into the oblivion of forgetting. Sometimes I think that all of time is in slow motion, the hours spent in silent chanting. Nonsense words­—an endless ticking bomb. We are suspended in our lives like flies in amber, until one day, we’re gone.

****** By constructing its own memoir: That part of me that refuses to return desires nothing other than returning. The corner of my eye is twisting me a spiral. Screwed and torqued in an anxious distraction. The smell of red stone pervading everything. Always cold, always damp. The pews I had to polish gleamed with fury. My father told me once that during prayer he merely counted roses on the roodscreen.

***** I realise now it is only the new material that appears old: this fresh desire is entirely different, though built on the same foundations. What is it that is wrong with the sentimental? Shall I tell you something? I’m jealous of this writing. I’m jealous of this cool white stone. The emptiness.

**** So, the tremor dreams of icebergs: but icebergs are indifferent to the tremor. I’m longing for the coldness to be warm. Stupid me. How do you put your arms around a wall?

*** I carry miniscule particles: they are in my skin like unburned coal. They ink my fingers with the words that are not written.

** A governing obstacle, which must be negotiated in the darkness: I put out my hands to see you.

* Today my friend died.

** Love’s time is borrowed: What grief there is for all the time that’s passed.

*** I would be the one who is lost: After they have gone, I must find something to hold on to.

**** What happens in the places I can’t see? This loved one. When love comes late it’s hard to tear your eyes from its horizon, to look down and see your feet upon the ground.

***** I am expecting to see the mirror: but there is just the wall, the door. Right now, the one seems as impenetrable as the other. Opacity. Will you help me? Where is the key? Will you help me with the turning?

****** I am angry with the people who brought these birds here, who left them to work it out for themselves: When one is reduced to the contemptible object, both desired and disdained, one can only ever disappoint. I was never quite what you wanted. We came from generations of neglected decoration.

******* Power devises and secures its outward face: it does so in its churches and its palaces. It does so in its village halls and pubs. It does so by demanding the impossible from those both within and without its walls. Success feeds on failure like the rich feed on the poor. When visiting unfamiliar places, I perform a double being. Once I stayed at a ‘Grand Hotel’ (its luxury, at that time, dirt cheap) and frozen, watched the poverty from the window.

******** I count the living. The dead are dead: Can I remember what hope is? While I was there you could never have me and remain unseen. How could I look at you with my eyes closed? How could I use my presence to make the room empty? Such magic tricks were beyond me. You made me impossible. Did I mention that I was jealous of this writing? You catch me at a time when I am heavy, when all words are sad and when reading is a prick behind the eyes. That night, I felt ashamed. White stone, white stone; gradations of cool light. There’s not a line goes by that doesn’t echo. I like to walk in sunlight; to look up.


There is a church in the village where I spent my youth wherein my name is inscribed in a fading calligraphy on a cradle roll that goes back to the 19th century. A litany of the baptized—month by month, year by year. My sisters are written there too; my brother; my father. The last time I had been there, to the church, the village, the home, was for my mother’s funeral. I watched her placed in the grave. Tears more of confusion than of grief. I walked away from the dome of earth: bewildered. Ten years after her death, I returned. I had become preoccupied by her gravestone, its shape, its texture, its typography. It was a stone I had never seen (likewise the stone for my father). In those interim years, I had never even been to the county in which the village lay. On maps, it was a blind spot, a blank I didn’t see. But, now, the decision had been made. Driving there I feel the curious vertigo of recognition. At fifteen miles, at ten, at five, the incremental ensnarement of the strange-familiar. Uncanny is an often-misused word, but as the car draws to a halt it is precise. I go inside and read the cradle roll, and sign the visitors book in a doubling of my name. I wonder, will they see it? The last part of my name will be familiar, still to be reckoned with in that village. Still present in the home where I’m not welcome. I feel I am a thief, alone in the empty church. The dimness hurts my eyes and I am shivering. I walk up through the graveyard, past the tomb under the yew where lie my grandpa and his wife, a cousin and an aunt, to a lighter patch of grass, unshaded and so startling in its sunlit green. There is the stone. Why had I thought there would be two? To my shame, my only emotion is relief that it is tasteful. Golden-grained, plain and oval-topped. Here lies… and also… I touch the solid stone which is so empty.

Emma Bolland is an artist and writer with an interdisciplinary practice working across art-writing, film, performance, and reading as praxis. Her recent work examines ideas of an ‘expanded screenplay’ as a site for auto-fictive practice. Recent events and publications include a text for the The Mekons’ Existentialism album / book project (Verse Chorus Press 2016), Over in and Under, a ‘psychotic’ translation of Freud’s Über Dekkerinnerungen (with accompanying sound work / audio performance) in 3am Magazine (2015), and a text as part of Micromegas Vagabond Flux, a combined exhibition and publication curated by Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen, published in partnership with Artconnexion (Lille) and supported by Fondation de France. She has bookworks in the collections of the V&A, The Saison Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall, the CDLA (France), and the Tate Britain Library and Archive. Forthcoming in 2017: the publication of a ‘dream essay’ ‘Violet’, in The Dreamers, edited by Sharon Kivland and published by Ma Bibliotheque; a text/moving image performance at the Future Imperfect symposium at Plymouth University; and a text/moving image performance at the 10th International Screenwriting Research Network conference, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Maria Fusco is an award winning Belfast-born writer working across fiction, criticism and theory. Her work is translated into ten languages. Recent works include: Master Rock, an experimental radio play performed and recorded inside a granite mountain on the west coast of Scotland, commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4, and the solo-authored books With A Bao A Qu Reading When Attitudes Become Form, 2013 (Los Angeles/Vancouver: New Documents, 2013), Gonda, 2012 and The Mechanical Copula, 2011 (both published Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press). She is currently a Reader at the University of Edinburgh and was Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths.

Legend of the Necessary Dreamer is published by Vanguard Editions. Author bio courtesy of the same.