Windmill Pulp, 1624 Chapter 6: The Bath Caddy is the Altar of the Enlightened Bather
With illustrations painted by Susanna Maila
The moonlight pools into fluttering puddles of aqua luminescence on the surface of his bathtub water. The volume of Joffrey's body gently displaces the liquid. Milk. Milk in it. Dripping drops of milky water off his elbows and drooping finger tips. Drops hitting the water and dispersing the light in rhythmic patterns. A jug of milk set down and swirling on his bath caddy. The bath caddy is the altar of the enlightened bather. All his writing and consumptive materials are there. The spilled milk in the moonlit water dulls the electrified cool greens into pastel opacity. The liquid volumes shift up into the sides of the cauldron and ripple back at his body with the natural motion of a body of water. Adjusting his shoulders, rolling his neck, relaxing his milked brow, his entire skin covered in liquid flowing back into the tub in harmonious union.
"It pains me to realise," he says to himself, "that there can be no escape from the trauma. Isn't that its definition? Well here it is, even in my tub. My last sanctuary, dissolving into the atmosphere as I dissolve into the cauldron. The atmosphere is seemingly complete. The night sky, the warm but elemental air, and the watery tub with its steam rising up. I am in a cloud of that stuff which makes one feel alive and motivated on this planet. But the atmosphere can be misleading. In fact, the atmosphere is the very definition of a facade. Totalising in its insistence upon being the default layer of the real world, atmosphere invariably lets one down, as the experience of living in this atmosphere can never live up to what the atmosphere promises to be with all its projection of feeling, mood and depth.
I was deceived by the atmosphere. It deceived me more than once. It deceived me in more than one place, in more than one times. The atmosphere is a cloud of deception. It clouds the entire globe. It is fueled by a never ending cycle of moisture alteration. Melting, freezing, sublimation, deposition, condensation, evaporation. When it enters the air it truly comes into its element, it colours the atmosphere, it becomes the atmosphere. On this small mountain top, on this East Indian island, above the trees, in the moonlight, in the cauldron bath, amongst the soft glow of coals, there is plenty of atmosphere, even in the dark. But I cannot trust this atmosphere. I feel entirely exposed to it. My bath caddy is the only thing protecting me from the air above. My bath caddy is like a life vest, a force field protecting me from the field of forces which is the atmosphere. Upon my bath caddy, planked midway across the rim of the cauldron I have my beverages lined up. Milk, water, wine. I take different sips to suit different moods at different moments. Beside the beverages I have my scribeing materials. Pens with various inks, charcoal sticks, adhesives, binders, pigments, straight edge, compass, protractor, astrolabe. And then I have sheets of vellum, papyrus, and parchment. I must draw charts, I must describe my thoughts. My charts are my thoughts. Charting my thoughts is the only way I can entirely lose myself and forget about the dangers looming directly above me.
Each time I was deceived by the atmosphere it was right where the atmosphere is strongest, above the water. The most intense moisture of the natural environment is above the water. Evaporating into the air, interfering with the natural light, creating atmospheric qualities. Where complete saturation lies below, complete atmosphere floats above. Different types of moisture conglomerations. Different levels of density. Different types of movement. Atmospheric pressures unabated by concrete earth. Movements of air, swirls of wind not seen anywhere else. Differences in temperature accelerated and magnified. An entire cosmos of atmospheric bodies, more celestial than the celestial. This is where the atmosphere is strongest. The liquid great outdoors, the realm of mother nature’s bathtub.
And here I am in my own bathtub, a microcosm of the world’s bathtub. Many, many differences of course. Nothing in this world is directly comparable to anything else, yet I can’t help but categorise things together. If I had it my way, everything would be a different version of everything else. By bathtub is the ocean, the sea, a lake. I am partially submerged in it. My head, knees and arms are above. The bath caddy is above me. My bath caddy protects me. But I need my arms and hands to access and utilise the items on the caddy. And underneath the water, a portion of my body, including my genitals, which I pretend to be able to ignore, but can absolutely not get my mind off of. This portion of my body is also protected. It is protected from the atmosphere by being in an entirely different realm, the underwater realm. So saturated and condensed with water that virtually no atmosphere can exist. Small air bubbles cling to the hairs on my skin, atmospheric realms of their own but much too small of a scale to have any psychological relevance for me except if I really focus on them and use my imagination. I could imagine the realms of these bubbles, perhaps if I were to drift off in an epileptic trance I could do so, staring into them, transporting myself into them, situating myself amongst their particles of bacteria, micro organisms and castles of detritus. But I am presently not concerned.
I am concerned with my own body and the atmosphere which deceives me. I was trying to have a nice bath. I was trying to record my thoughts and reflections. But maybe that's the whole point of the bath. It creates an atmosphere of deception so that one can more easily reflect. As long as one is deceived into a peaceful atmosphere, one might as well believe that all is peaceful. In this position one can really get some reflection done. Nevertheless, I have become wise to the atmosphere’s tricks. I can accept its comforts but I can not allow it to fool me. A drug addict is no longer fooled by the effects of the drug but he accepts them. This does not have to mean that the euphoria is gone. Through seismogrophy I can create my own euphoria. The water drips off my body, glowing. The water is glowing. This is my own observation. I am observing the water. The water is Lake Ontario. My knees are sticking out of the lake and they are small islands. Barely islands, rocky shoals, infested with seagulls and cormorants whose acidic shit prevents all possibility of plant life. My head, then, also sticking out of the water, is my perspective. My perspective comes from the eyes of my head. And being my perspective it is from the place that I have perceived this scene, Ducks Island. It is not the scene I have perceived, rather it is the atmosphere I have inhabited. It was here that the atmosphere was strongest for me. And it was here that the atmosphere deceived me.
Like the bathtub (exactly alike in my mind), the atmosphere was so complete. And like my bathtub, the water eventually got cold and the steamy air dispersed (not my current bathtub, I fixed the classic problem of the cooling bathtub water with a cauldron style bathtub where the coals underneath it always burning make sure the water always stays hot). This is all in a manner of speaking. Everything always and only in a manner of speaking. It was there that the atmosphere deceived me, the island and the lake. And it is here that I am currently being deceived, in the tub. The atmosphere is not complete here. I am not having a pleasant bath. Despite my feeling of relaxation, everything is crumbling around me. And the atmosphere on the island was not complete. Despite seeming so, despite offering me so much, despite projecting the glorious atmosphere of the great outdoors from the shore with towering rocks and trees in the air hanging over the water with aquatic life and prismatic sunsets and the romantic struggle of life in the countryside, it was all doomed, not to be a doomer, but there is no other way.
Below the surface of the water there is no betrayal. What hides there cannot deceive us since it makes no promises. We can barely even see it. Yet, we do have some access to it. Fishing the depths, and the shallows, is one way, for me at least. Just a rough survey, bouncing the line around below, seeing what I can put up top-side, above the surface, the membraned interface between the two worlds. On the membrane the boat floats. The boat catches the waves. I fish down below. The fishing is more for colour. The fishing is more for art. Fish are animated life. The science of nature is the art of the underwater. One must practice good conservation habits when it comes to fishing. Enjoy the fish. But do not get too attached. It is only one side to the depths, the hidden realm without atmosphere, the back of the brain unknown to the dreams and ambitions on the top-side of the brain. The top-side of the membrane. It is the membrane that really communicates what's below the surface. What's below, although glimpsed in a perfected dream-like fashion through fishing, has its reality made truly known through the undulating waves across the membrane which are evidence of the seismic movements from entities below.”
Life in the bathtub. His mind continues to race, obviously, how could it stop. Even in sleep the mind continues to race in its afterglow. Settling down, some intoxicants or sleeping pills to shut it down. In the morning, shaking off the tiredness, he tries to pick back up where he left off in his thoughts. It is not so easy to pick the thoughts back up. I mean the real thoughts, concentrated thinking towards creation of something better than the normal thoughts. The normal thoughts upon waking up are connected to the struggle of waking up, to the habits, daily distractions and minor addictions, all procrastinations for the work ahead where his sense of purpose lies. But it is also here where he must confront his sense of defeat. He is not a very good chart scribe. He lost most of his money in the big crash. He lost most of his mind in the big crash. The remainders were scammed from him. He has been doing okay building things back up in Batavia, but it is at a critical point now. The strength of his Chinese enemies, his trading counterparties, is rising. His family has left for the old world. Yet, he thinks of none of this. He forgets about the badness like a trained athlete before the goal. He is only concerned with his chart scribing, composing his reflection on the graph. Ticking candles, big bars, read and green. A map of a geoscape. He was a chart-scribe for sea vessel navigation before he had anything to do with trading markets, a member of the North Holland school of cartography. He imagines what sort of landmass his brain would look like if it were land on a map instead of matter in his head. As his maps of land and sea led him into making maps of prices and time, the idea has of his own consciousness in his head, how his brain and self works, his mind-map leads back into a map of land and sea. What if the world is a mind, and what if his mind is a world. Lobes are continents, neurons are price data points, nerval tissues are waves, blank space is atmosphere. He adds this imagery to his chart––the chart he happens to be working on that morning. Every morning a new chart. A new introspection into the self. To pretend to be making progress on the self. A process that always negates itself in the very next chart. It is not the charting that makes the progress. Things do progress. But the progression comes from below. Progression is a fish swimming in the water and jumping up in the air to make a wave. Then the wave is charted. The price waves through the chart, being charted, until the chartist is forced to act upon it, forced to make a trade based on the action of the waves confronting him. At this point some real progress has been made. His morning coffee is drunk. He has drawn two charts. Now time to pick back up on the thoughts. Clear the clutter of yesterday's attempts away from the tub. The evidence of my life is always on the floor. Delete all evidence. Do not clean it up. No. Too suspicious. Don't want to appear to be hiding something. Best to just kick everything around, rearrange it, mix it all up together. Just clear a little place on the bath caddy surface for some fresh papers and a zone for the eyes and thinking.
“It’s important to leave some distracting material around me. It's important to not get too absorbed in the task. The task should not be confined to the task itself. The task sits in a mesh-work of personal activities and psycho-sensory objects, all of which must be held with a roughly similar importance as the task: distractions, diversions, deviations, indulgences. First of all, I need to look at my charts, and I need to draw my charts. I also need to imagine charts and fantasize about the charts I want to see. I even need to imagine and shudder at the charts I don’t want to see, the nightmare scenarios. It’s all part of the rhythm of consciousness, the rhythm of the waves. For you too, I mentioned this is an illustrated text, you must be looking at charts while you read this text. You must also be looking at other things while you read this text. For example, you could simply stare at a wall or out the window if you have a nice one. Or engage in passive social interactions, look at images, small research on some thoughts and ideas related to anything. The reason for this is that the text expects you to do it. The reason it expects you to do it is because it does it itself. The text, while appearing to be confined to the words that compose it, to the things it says, its declarations, explanations, images, whether clear or unclear, whether properly communicated or not, insofar as words are capable of their function, no matter all this, the text is constantly losing its focus on the words that come after it. Each word is constantly and always looking above and around itself. Each word is bored with its existence and imagining itself in another existence. Rather than articulate these other existences, it is easier for the text to give you the privilege of supplying your own imaginings. This does not mean drifting over the text as one would read a feed, blanking out for a strip, then coming back in and not worrying about it. It means something more like reading one sentence closely and carefully then looking at a chart or whatever for 5 seconds, then reading another sentence. Or, read one paragraph then look at a couple charts or pictures for a minute. Always paying attention.
It can’t be known by the text how the text will reach you. Through which cultural channels it will travel and be manipulated and contextualised. Through which technological mediums it will be chopped up and pasted back together. Through which artificial intelligences it will be absorbed and rewritten by. Or whether it will even reach you or anyone at all, which is the fate of most seismic entities, reverberating into the clothes on the floor and disappearing. Therefore, the text allows for these spaces of reflection alongside it by keeping itself trimmed down and sped up. In this way it can be easily adapted to all its possible transmutations and interpreters. However, I do hope that the text reaches you alongside the charts I am currently making myself. The charts I make before bathing, the charts I make while I am talking and thinking to you, and while I am writing and dictating my reflection. These charts are the charts in which I try to distill all the movements and emotions of the world into the waves of the chart. These are the charts where I try to capture the atmospheric quality of charts through the pigmented glow of the linseed oil distorted by the brush. In these charts you can see the whole of the text and the whole of me. While reading the text I hope that you can look along with me, while also looking at some live action charts that are close to you, and while looking at other important things that illustrate your life.
Of course it is all for the purpose of creating the proper atmosphere. It is the atmosphere that triggers the thoughts and feelings, that sparks a nostalgic reflection, that reminds one of another place, time or tale. This is what is currently happening to me. I cant stop thinking about the fucking island, Duck’s Island, and the charts. Its this fucking bathtub. Well, since I don't feel like thinking my thoughts about these things for any longer, I might as well get down to the explanation. I don’t want to say exactly what it is I am explaining because I might decide to change it as the words progress. Or the words may decide to deceive. I do not trust the words and I also believe words are sinful. Every time a word is used a sin is committed. It is important to use as few words as possible. Unfortunately, and with a dirty feeling under the skin, I have already used some words, and momentum demands the out flowing of even more. And that momentum did set out in a particular direction. I had the intention of confessing to myself the true reasons for why I feel so traumatised in this bathtub. Repression. Repression saved me through the depths of the shock, the initial paralysis and the readjustment to the new conditions. It got me through the market lows, so to speak. I repressed my losses for years. I pretended I hadn’t really lost it all, that everything I had was in some sort of temporarily disabled state and would eventually come back to me. But it went much, much further than this. In order to seal in the repression I had to take action. Action is the way to distract yourself from trying to see through the repression. You do not want to beat the repression, you want to let it win.
I let it win by creating my new world, Windmill Pulp:1624. I began feeding my seismic reflections and ideas into the latest AI engine with the intention of creating a cosmic explosion of various media immersed in my favourite subject, the Dutch Golden Age and the Amsterdam stock exchange. But I’m getting too far ahead. I can’t properly explain things in this way. I need to take some steps back, to where the trauma began, to what the losses were. The trauma began when the atmosphere was destroyed and the losses were all objects inhabiting the atmosphere and all the energy of the waves rolling through it.
The crash, the big crash as I call it, destroyed everything. The atmosphere of the chart was so perfect. The red and green candles caught the light of the atmosphere in the deep blackness, glowing like haunted lighthouses in the foggy shipping channel off the shores of Duck’s Island. Red means keep right when going down current and greens means keep left. The candles were waving at the perfect time frame, the beating of the heart, the stepping of the foot. With each breath I took, the chart took a breath with me and lit up a candle. I turned my neck and it turned with the chart. Upwards. Nice and good, painting a beautiful picture in the atmospheric sky.
Then the world chaos began. The atmosphere grew thin and the candles lost the light and began to fall. The invasions began, the wars began. Liquidated overnight. Scammed the next day. Funds insolvent. Exchanges bankrupt. All my friends lost everything. My homeland was destroyed. As my trading account sunk to zero, a chinese manned cargo ship full of explosive chemicals and metals strayed from the red and green lighthouses of the shipping channel and crashed into Duck’s Island. The entire island and all the people and life was engulfed in the blast. Nothing remains but a rocky shoal leeching poison into the lake and river that drains it.
The only lake I have left is this bathtub. The only family I have left is on a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The only market I have left is the spice trade. But I am getting too far ahead. I just had to say something about it. I needed to confess. The market will punish me for it later. The market always punishes you if you do not act within the pace of its rhythm. This is why the market punished the world. We tried to extract too much. It's the same every cycle. It's all a polar vortex over Lake Ontario. But more on this later, more on this later. None of this makes any clear sense. To really analyse the chart, to really understand its market, you need to look back from the very beginning of the chart’s history. You need to look at where the star was born and the first candles came into existence out of nothing. The chart we are analysing began when my trading career began, and when my art career began, it began when I stepped into the atmosphere.