The Fire This Time

Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard

There is a fire that is not quite yet a fire.

This is a thing, a thing that exists. You feel it.

But then, you ask yourself, what is a fire that is not yet a fire? What would that consist of?

Air and hope? Dry kindling and good intentions?

A fire that won’t burn yet, what is that?

…Or maybe it’s just your heart; your heart, burrowed deep within your rib-cage — a real cemetery mink of a heart.

The cemetery mink hide there in the cemeteries. They hide there, covered, buried in leaves. Then they sneak into the graves.

They eat the dead bodies, the remains, especially…

…the hearts, and then they hide there, in the bodies, for the rest of the placid night, until the gravediggers and the morning attendants come, until it is dusk again, and then they can escape. That’s your heart.

A hidden thing, alive, within a dead skeleton.

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You pull your arm back.

What is a fire that is not yet a fire? Rubbing at tinder with goodwill? Excited elements that will not yet conflate?

Such a good question.

Reflect on this.

These are good questions to ask yourself — sometimes — while looking into the mirror.

But no, no — there’s no time to reflect, not really.

Where are you?

You are standing in your living room, it seems. Your arm is pulled back. You are holding a glass of red wine. It is held in the arm that is pulled back. Your index finger and your forefinger are V-ed beneath the stem of the glass, suspending it.

“The heart is an organ of fire,” said some poet or other once.

But that’s not your heart. Oh no.

Forget the cemetery mink analogy. Your heart — your heart is more like a Magic 8-Ball. Signs are unclear. Ask again soon.

You pull your arm back further.


When you remember this, you’ll remember this as the moment — you’ll remember this moment, seeing yourself from the outside, even though you couldn’t see yourself from the outside at the time, dressed in a tight white sweater, standing in a living room, an elegantly decorated living room with a long mirror suspended. …Holding the glass of wine with your arm held back, ready to throw, a ridiculous figure, really, with your silly white sweater.

You will see yourself always from the outside like this, though you couldn’t see it at the time.

Standing by your window, you turn from your window, still with your arm poised back. In a matter of seconds, this is all taking place in a matter of seconds.

Seeing the aftermath of this clearly.

Turning from the window, holding the bright red goblet of wine, you pause and cast a smile — real or fake, it doesn’t matter — at the well-dressed man or woman who is standing right in front you, man or woman, it doesn’t matter — it doesn’t matter, your heart tells you; because it does not matter.

Seeing the after-effects clearly.


Seeing the after-effects of this clearly, like passing a car crash on the side of the highway. Except that in those cases, you are seeing the before-effects clearly.

“…Wait,” he or she says.

The pleasant planned picnic, the suburban station wagon, the kids singing in the backseat, how could they not see what was coming, what was coming; all such a cliche, so obvious — to end with that crumpled piece of wrecked car, the car accordion-ed on the side of the road, broken glass like glitter, the unfortunately too late ambulance pulled up by its side. With such innocence, so obvious, shouldn’t it have been so obvious.

It’s too late to not throw the wine at him or her; always has been, always will be.

What did he say to you, or what did she say to you — or was it the way their eyes glittered when they said it, when all they were really saying was, “Look I think we just need a break,” or something. …Or something like that.


They all must feel this way, sometimes.

Doesn’t everyone feel this way sometimes?

So must fires feel.

So must fires feel, as they are in the act of becoming.

…Caught up in the act of becoming. Because after all, molecules, it’s all just molecules; all in all, that’s all we are, and if molecules speed up enough, they become fire, catch flame — but slow the molecules down enough, and they are solids, are rock, which is how you feel, a statue, a statuette, caught for all time in the act of throwing; a Venus de Milo carved by some sculptor, because even as you are about to catch fire, you are still carved, imprisoned by the act; a sculpture somewhere, in a museum somewhere, cordoned off by a red velvet rope, cordoned off, imprisoned. As you hurl the glass of red wine, captive there for all time. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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