Forever or an instant


Figure Detached
, Figure Impermanent, Scott Thurston
(20pp, 5.00, Oystercatcher)

In Figure Detached, and also in Thurston's previous publication, Reverses Heart's Reassembly, philosophy and documentation come front stage. In Figure Detached this in part happens due to the total uniformity of the structure, one which we associate with criticism: two prose paragraphs per page, with on average say three sentences per paragraph. These paragraphs seem to explain the processes and results of embodied experience, perhaps, knowing Thurston's interests, the embodied experiences of various sorts of dancing where there is 'a discipline without discipline.'  Thurston's has offered a number of accounts about his interest in dancing  such as the article on Five Rhythms in the online magazine Junction Box (http://tinyurl.com/mawafer) but it is easy to imagine all sorts of bodily movement being described in the poem; bodily movement which attempts to force out abstract mental decisions that might then loop back again to inform spontaneous and planned movement: 'my body constantly refigures itself.' However in saying that in these rich and oblique lines it's unclear whether, for example in this case, 'refiguring' is a voluntary or involuntary action. There is a tension here. Is knowing the body an act of magic or statement of fact?

In this blend of document-poem-manifesto the pronouns play a pivotal part. 'I', 'me' and 'my' have the feeling of being personal and reliable/experienced: 'I entangle my steps in beautiful externals, blindly loving the world.' After these riddles follows the more straightforward plea: 'Rescue my feet from the trap'. 'You' and 'your' also seem to be used at a personal level but certainly their use also seems to imply an experience that is, or could be, felt by all: 'You slip into the stream.' and 'Your body as a genuine fantasy you can taste all the way through.' Ambiguity abounds. Who is experiencing these events and are they positive, negative or somewhere in-between?

As the title of the poem implies, and as you could ascertain from many parts of the book, the body is constantly something other than the mind, we can never fully connect to it; the body is both constantly becoming and disappearing even as mind and body threaten to meet. However Figure Detached seems to suggest that by practising specific physical and mental combinations we can become more attuned, at least that's the way it seems and then...

In this wonderful poem no matter how hard we might try to fight our way to mental answers in the end we ingest feeling through the muscles. 'Ah this feeling. What was it now?' By the end of the collection the words 'detached' and 'impermanent' have neither become pejorative nor ecstatic terms. The only thing of certainty is that there is the 'figure', a figure that flits in and out of mind and body in what could be forever or an instant.

     James Davies 2014