Fragment 1

Everything is dead and powerless if you look at it from the right angle.

***

Sprawling, featureless snow in every direction. Unremitting stretches of taut ice punctuated by black sand and grey rock face. Everywhere the ocean. Landmarks unknown, elusive to the populated cities of the globe. Elephant island, the Vinson Massif, Blood Falls; all named but really just hunks of the same frozen piece of rock. The raw shock of the temperature on your skin, inimitable. Penguins, whales and other wildlife the true inhabitants, humans become a novel addition, an unfitting insertion to the hostile conditions. The only way in is full immersion, like being dropped into the ocean from a great height; arriving at Antarctica is like landing on the moon. Vast desolate landscapes of dust, scarcely touched by mankind, left to evolve and develop at their own pace.

Expression of truth becomes an elusive accoutrement the moment you set foot upon the ice. It is never closer, shrouding your body ominously. Tangible enlightenment ever present as you are engulfed by freezing cold.

For a world that thrives on connectivity, Antarctica is a desolate, solitary and brutal place. No comfort or shelter can be found on the vast ice plains or mountains that define the southernmost point of the globe. All communication becomes questionable and misinterpretation rules with an iron fist. The haphazard natural world is exposed for what it is; violent and uncompromising.

The severity of the conditions are offset by the stillness of  the atmosphere. A silent killer, unfaltering, and flawless in his abilities. Cover the tracks, whispered the wind, dispose of the bodies. Slow and considered, its ruthless approach has been perfected over centuries. The desolate sprawl of the ice was unimaginable from the jumbled locus of cities around the world. Not even the most unhinged minds of cinema could create something like this; vast, open and devastatingly exposing. When brought face to face with such a ferocious landscape, the auteur is powerless.

J had remembered statistics. Facts permit control. Information can tame the most hostile of creatures. He noted details about the place. The precipitation in Antarctica is less than you would expect. There are not incessant blizzards or snowfall as in the comic books and adventure stories. It is somewhere around 5cm per year. This is mainly because it is largely too cold for it to snow.

He sat and looked around his stark room located at the base on the north-western edge of the continent.

A photograph of London was attached to the mirror with a piece of tape. The River Thames and the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It hung slightly aslant, just as his memories of the place were unbalanced fragments of displacement. From here the city looked like an urban site of struggle turned into a hub of financial domineering. Bodies huddled on a bridge with cold columns of sunlight holding up the replica sky. Beside the image he saw himself, standing, a derelict being, temporarily released from the confines of his country. His face hung there in the mirror. Wrinkled and worn by the years. The smooth surface of the mirror clashing with that of the photograph which had creased down the middle where it had buckled in transit.

J thought of himself as a resident, not of a country, but of the world. He said the words ‘global citizen’ aloud and watched as his mouth forged the sounds in the reflection. He had made it here. Traversed distances and time zones into the heart of the future. A space that the future of the planet was dependent on.

Outside, the ice gleamed in strips of untethered light.