The Green Ray

by Travis Jeppesen on April 12, 2016


Monday July 2nd                                August the month it’s meant to happen. Plans get made, the fleetingness of the ruse. She gets dropped within minutes: no more vacation.


Tuesday July 3rd                               The way time is divvied up, here in the straight world. Sun so bright it hurts yr eyes. Reading, now, beneath the statue. What happens when you have noone to go with. Will you sit still. That statue over there.

You can meet people! A friend who doesn’t understand what longing gives birth to. I’m not the adventurous type. I don’t want to fuck a statue.


Wednesday July 4th         The city flashes past us, les banlieues. Asking everyone what you’re supposed to do on vacation. The weather in the countryside is strange. A survey. Why go anywhere. Paris has everything. There’s no sea.


Thursday July 5th               Dans les banlieues. They go camping. The parents with their babies. A communion with nature. She still has no idea: where to go, what a vacation is. She finds herself an alien. Go to Dublin, sister suggests. She asks her niece whether she likes foreign countries. They tell her to come visit, come to Ireland. Her mother will be there too. But she wants a warm country. She is at least certain of this. She’ll call Jean-Pierre and know something.

A card on the ground. Queen of Spades.


Friday July 6th     Telephone rings. Jean-Pierre. She wants the Antibes. No go. She can’t go anywhere. Jean-Pierre is a jerk who never sees her. Alone in her apartment with her plant.


Sunday July 8th Walking down the street another suburb. Regain contact with yrself and others, flyer reads. Her bourgeois friends ridicule her for not knowing where to go. She is stupid for her not-knowing, her non-assertion. Stop attacking me. You’re sad and pathetic, you will be alone forever because she can’t figure out her vacation. We only want to help you, we’re yr self-righteous friends. A red dress expresses something, she doesn’t know how to express herself, she is too much a person, she is improvising. I’m not alone, I have someone, I just don’t see him right now. Her friend is willing to play the tough bitch to “help” her. Move on, another friend tells her. Ask the spirits and the stars. She is still romantic enough to let things happen on their own. I find cards all the time, she says: this has meaning. A medium said green would be my color this year. And it’s true: everything I see is green. Green, the color of hope. A little green man. She’s not stubborn, life is just hard. Crying next to the roses.

Why does nature make her sad. Other people’s problems, what a drag. Only mine are interesting. (The way most people think.)

Cry cry. Let it all out. Tears aren’t the thing to fear. Aren’t the thing. That is life.

She cries for no thing.

She’s not allowed to.

You can vacation with my parents. Her sister wants her to go to Ireland, to see her mother. But that’s not a real vacation. A house, a garden. Sunshine sea and children. What is a vacation. Nothing’s real.

She’s fond of her family, but she can’t. So come to Cherbourg with me, her friend tells her.


Wednesday July 18th       Cherbourg is a place to go on vacation. Is it far enough away. Far enough to matter.

Cute dog swimming in the river. A mountain called Mont Roule. That place over there is called La Hague. Pointing.

To be inhabited. A person place or thing. Mattering in the streets.

Mattering is akin to rotting. Persons places things, all meant to be inhabited. When I hear her voice, I go inside that as well. Inside inside inside. Going on vacation means being led around by good friend with colorful clothing. Sky is the same color as the water, the air we breathe. The other shore is complètement sauvage.

You see the dude staring out at the marina, you are instantly drawn to him, you want him inside you: to be inhabited. Vacation means sex. I go outside the city so that someone can come inside me. All this water, the fluidity surrounding.

The man’s eyeballs’re on the girl and her friend. One or the other, perhaps both of them. The man is horny and they stare right back at him. When a man stares and that staring almost becomes an understanding. Of the world that takes its own time in happening. All natural light. It is a summer of haze thus far.

Leisure is the self-reward invented by the middle class. Enablement is its historical definitionality click, cling to it as it disappears with the century’s soft waning. When we speak of liberalism, it always entails a preservation of a falsity, I mean a construct. Look at that man looking back at us. Which one will he attempt to fuck.

What is yr name, yr friend asks him. Brazen. He tells them his name. Name is an object also. You can remove it, but there are still some eyeballs.

He saunters over with his red sweater tied round his neck. Running his hand along white railing that protects them all from falling into the sea down below. I can’t wait till the day comes when I’ll finally understand something. All my life I’ve been waiting, and I’m still standing here, eyes in my hand. Please take me to the other side, where the shore is said to be wild. Will you meet me here tonight, or do I have to do something to earn it. We’re on vacation.

The man will go to Ireland the following day. That’s so funny, I almost went there. My mother. I’m here instead. Life makes no sense. That’s why we go on vacation. We get to belong to the middle class. Are you alive yet?

The man is a sailor, all alone. Yr friend is willing; you, the protagonist, you want it too, but you insist on the pre-arranged plan, dinner with the family. You want it so bad, which is why you refuse to allow it. You want A and its opposite, not-A, both and at the same time. This is what makes you the protagonist.

A promise is a thing that sticks to yr soul and doesn’t allow you to move. At all. You are motionless, a thing in the ocean, floating in yr own stillness. I want to be a part of the ocean, apart from it, and to sink. I want all the things I am not actually wanting, and this is what makes me alive, nubile today. And anyone who wants you just complicates things, therefore must be rejected. Yr friend would have said yes. That is why you are different, no one will ever understand the extent of yr objectity.

Oh, look at the sky. They serve you pork chops; you’re a vegetarian. They think there’s something wrong with you. There are lots of things. Robots improvising. What about fish. Other people. You have health problems? Dairy? You must have a lot of problems. The lettuce was alive once too. I don’t see it that way. To me, a lettuce is very far removed, it’s much more remote from me. Oh, this thing I am. Have I forgotten it already? An animal is closer to what I am. Others are vegetables. Also (for example): mineral people. Or a piece of lint. A lettuce is a friend. Lightness and air. Vegetables = bodies without organs. It’s not about hating. Maybe I’m not aware of things a cucumber in my vagina, but at my present stage, the way I am now, it is a question of instinct: this is how I feed myself. When we speak of skin, we often forget about porousness – the holes. There are more gaps in every surface that we are incapable of acknowledging, because if we were to acknowledge them, we would fail at the survival game, we would drown.

It’s a question of awareness. You, a meat, you eat meat because you don’t care what you’re doing. The flesh that governs you is somehow not a part of you. This itchy abjection, the constancy of it, is what absolves you, the fish in the ocean, drowning…

You can also save money by having a conscience. But I can’t eat flowers, because they’re a picture. Something real, in their scientificity.


Thursday July 19th            Two lay in the sun, while another two swing, in the backyard. Swingers embrace, kiss, pick strawberries. Swinging and boats make her nauseous. The young girl asks her about fruit and boys. Her boyfriend’s name is Jean-Pierre. A fake boyfriend. Will you live with him? Yes, one day. She has lots of boyfriends.

It pours out of you, yr skin. You are always writhing. This is why there can never be any vacation. For what is real is the sense of constancy: escape. I am in this world, and it is a planet. Plenty of phenomena here we may throw our hoop around, pull it in and submit to our lenses. I don’t have to eat any animals because I already got plenty, living and crawling around inside me. Not just bacteria, parasites either; real fur-lined specters with absent causes. My throat abounds with skylarks whose speciousness is truly a ruse, a moment we call becalming. Play a board game in which the words emerge as detached objects, take a photograph of the result and you have a new poem. If unsure, just ask the others around you for the meaning of it all. None of these people can be trusted.

Willingness, the wild star of light.

Tell me what the words mean, I am looking for something.

You don’t play word games with the others. You prefer the company of pre-language-age children.


Friday July 20th   Children play, adults speak. They keep picking her apart, are able to find a flaw attached to every new subject that arises. The sea. She can swim, but not sail. Sailing makes her puke. She is a Capricorn. Sign of the goat climbing the mountain. Sign of getting high and never going back down again… Arise, yr highness, the sea. That is why she don’t like to sail. But the goat, she is always alone.

We don’t know you really, but we get the sense that you’re a naysayer. What’s wrong with you, anyway? Why is it that you are unable or unwilling to take part, to do anything? Where did you get this marvelous ability to talk yr way out of every suggestion? This stubborn steadfastness, a composed core, hinting at a singularity… Why wait? Finally some sunshine, and now a rejection of the sea!

I’ve done lots of things. Yet you blame me for everything. I’m a nice person!

You’re a plant, she is told.

At the sea in the water. Not-drowning.


Saturday July 21st             Takes a walk down a country road. Arrives at a wooden gate. Turn back around again…

The sun gone, the wind. A storm approaches.

This variance. Picking flowers, in the maybe-be. Smell the lilac. Another wooden fence. The approaching storm, a sign. Now the tears cannot be prevented.

The children greet her. Aren’t you bored? No, I saw the sea.


Sunday July 22nd               Children play with a dog, the adults with their banal conversation… The friend that brought her here is leaving. She stops her. Take me with you. I can’t stay here all alone.

She is escaping. Escaping her vacation.

Well, she’s different from us. The adults understand, the children don’t. She’ll be all alone.



Monday July 23rd              Man following her through a park. Everywhere she goes, he is there.

Everywhere and anywhere she goes, the goat can’t be left alone. And yet the goat is so lonely. Back at the flat, the goat phones her boyfriend. Cherbourg was nice, but it’s over. You know how I am. Can I use yr place in the mountains?


Wednesday July 25th       In the mountains, children, families everywhere. Tourists. The goat wanders among them. Goat climbs the mountain, perennially alone.

She climbs back down. Nothing’s happened. She is bored, crying. It hasn’t been half a day, she has to leave this place. No more vacation. Back to Paris. No one understands.


Thursday July 26th            The streets of Paris are grim and empty. Everyone on vacation.

At the hair salon, friend tells her she’s crazy. You have money, go away again. But I hate going alone. An emptiness that is a mountain and a sky.

Meet someone. I don’t know what to do. Tears again. Stay in Paris?


Friday July 27th   Walk along the Seine, the sunbathers. Shirtless men dreaming.

Friend seated at outdoor café calls out to her. Someone you are eager to speak with. I’m on vacation, lost, looking for a place. Friend gestures to the ominosity of the cloud-clogged sky.

I got married, friend tells her. Have a son. It’s not always easy, but the story’s too long to tell. This is my long ass vacation and I don’t know what to do with it. Climb a mountain? Get married? Bury myself in the waves of the sea?

Two weeks left. I went away, came back, went away came back again… I am ambushed by the effects, the result of my working life. Now I’m in Paris, an idiot once again. The weather’s awful and I have to get away.

The weather will change.

That’s the thing: the never-changing. When the sun’s out, it’s too hot in my apartment.

I know. I’ll give you my apartment in Biarritz.


Wednesday August 1st   The sea again. A crowded beach is a popular vacation destination.

From the mountains to the shining sea. A descent. Too many people and the joy she feels, to be among them.

In the apartment, hides all the framed photos – the people in someone else’s life she doesn’t wish to see. She is not a part of anything.


Thursday August 2nd       Running down the shore along the crest. A bikini. Chases the sun away. Now rain.

Communion with nature, friend’s re-marriage. Up and down, up down. The staircase, waves. These ancient seawalls. Crashing against rocks. Distant lighthouse. Spectrality. Up and down old old stairs. The children who ignore, the men who want. Climbing upon the rocks, she finds a Jack of Hearts. Violin.

Some old people seated on a sea wall talking about Jules Verne. One just re-read 20,000 Leagues. Bearded old man look like Jolly Saint Nick. Then there’s The Green Ray. Eavesdrops. A kind of fairy tale, the heroine a Snow White or Cinderella, a love story set in Scotland. A country I like a lot.

Book club discussion. Searching for something. And one even saw it, for a split second. The sun resting on the horizon. At the final stage, a kind of pale green shaft. So clear, like the blade of a sword, slashing through the finality of a day. Horizontal beam of heaven. Crested finitude.

We won’t see it today. Though the day is fading. Sky too hazy. Not a chance. Verne says that when you see the green ray you can read yr own feelings, those of others too. Heightened perception an effect of the green ray. That’s what happens to his heroine. She don’t see the ray, but can finally read her feelings as well as those of the young man she has met. That’s what love means, in the story: reading.

Jolly Old Saint Nick pipes in with an explanation of his own. He’s seen the green ray five times in his life. Some summers you can never see it, cos the atmosphere won’t allow. Today too hazy, too many clouds. The way his wife just said it. But when it’s clear… If we will ever have a clear day.

Foreverness reigns. The mild associations. Extreme clarity. This phenomenon has a reason: refraction.

There’s the sun, but it’s not really there, not where you’re seeing it. It’s a little lower, because of the way the sun’s rays curve. The closer the sun, the greater the diffraction. When the sun appears to touch the horizon, it is lying to us, it is actually already below the horizon. The solar disk seems slightly raised, half a degree perhaps.

Then there’s the dispersion of colors. Like a prism. Light passes through a prism, there’s a spectrum. The color that’s most curved is… blue. Not green. The green is near the blue. Red yellow green blue violet. Blue violet real weak. What we see best are the yellow and the green. When the sun sets, the disk is slightly raised, but the blues and greens’re higher than the reds. So when the disk sinks below the horizon, the last ray you see is the green.

There is romance and there is science. There is the sky, which has its own form of writing. It knows not to explain things, for explanation = ruination.


Friday August 3rd              Another day, another beach, as some asshole might say. Put down yr towel an empty plot of sand. Nearing three in the afternoon, sun so bright the sky.

Girl next to her engages her in conversation about the beach. Guess her nationality. Swede. Loves traveling alone, sunbathing topless, summertime tans. Taste of saltwater on her lips. You envy her confidence in being traveling alone – you want it too.

You decide to go somewhere have a drink. Bridge going cross the water, no a pier. You see that beau mec over there. Where. He swims real good. I’m on vacation alone, of course I look at guys. Fiancé gets jealous. Not good to be alone, not good to be with the same person too long either. Nothing’s good. It is a world you cannot have it all. A world where things come apart at their own becoming, and you don’t even know why; mysterious colors in the sky.

Yr relationship and how you define it. The failure, ultimate, of all definitionality. A vacation, something one must profit from. We should go out one of these nights. Get loaded. Bring a couple guys back. Looking towards land, the mermaids that we are. Go out where.

Let’s go cruising. I’m ready for it. Horny as a motherfucker.

Me I can’t find my ideal. Ideal is romantic. Money don’t matter. I always think… No candles, no clichés. Just the thing, the undefinable.

Questioning her relations with people. The tears’re gonna come again. I never do anything to find someone, something. Yeah, I fall apart all the time. A piece of me down there in the ocean, another part of me up here, high above, on the mountaintop. When I’m in-between, that is always when the tears start to come. That is what I don’t care about – nearing far. A guy won’t come to you – you have to do something. This incessant fear, yielded by coupling. The writing that the sky does – on this, the clearest of days. Do something: people tell me that all the time. As though I were a mix of things, an omelet. Do something, look for something: it’s all talk, empty words, meaninglessness.

Feeling over talking, says the Swedish mermaid.

I listen to people, I watch them live, that doesn’t mean you can trust any of them. People like me, goats, climbing mountains all the time.

I play with people, says the Swede. So now she’s admitting she is one of the ones that cannot be trusted. You can’t reveal things, that is for sure. To do so is to just ask for torture. Like a card game: don’t show what’s in yr hand all at once. Or else you lose.

My hand’s empty, you say, I have nothing, and that is when the tears come. Yr green beret against the azure ocean, blue of the sky. I have nothing and that is a freedom I do not want. I therefore must reject the entire philosophy of having. A sailboat behind you. Why do you cry. I don’t know how to have anymore. So forget everything.

I am not like you. I am not like you. I am not like you. I am not like –

I’m so open, I am open to everything, and yet I am perceived as a closed system: the tragedy of my being. Were I to escape it, I would have to become another person somehow. Listening, watching. All the time. How exhausting. That is me: exhaustion on vacation.

Forget. Just forget. Tonight we’ll lose ourselves! Those men over there our victims.

Mermaid invites the men over. You go blank. Pretends to be Spanish. Standard flirtation scene – bored and a little drunk. You have no desire to play along. This isn’t the way. It is one way, but not the one. What do you think? Nothing, of course.

Now they’re talking of yr sadness. Great when the world takes note. Urge to run away, never see any of these people ever again. While they make a display of their mediocrity. Mermaid asks what you wanna do. And so you run away. Leather jacket sleazeball chasing after you. I’m not the one for you I don’t want a ride on yr motorcycle. Fuck off into the sky.

Back at the apartment, call the train station. Get away from this all before it’s too late.


Saturday August 4th         Train back to Paris. Train somewhere. Waiting. The vacation that never ends; never begins, either.

Beau mec comes wandering over. Black t-shirt and an interest that’s just cursory. Unburdened by the peregrinations of loyalty. You’re reading The Idiot. Book about a social retard like you. I’m going back to Paris. You want him here next to you.

Saint Jean de Luz. His destination. To train. Cabinetmaking. An artist, then.

An artist and a secretary: love at first sight. Saint Jean de Luz is five minutes away, a fishing port. She tells him she ruined her vacation. Paris train called. She’s never been to Saint Jean de Luz. Take me with you? Mais oui, bien sûr.

Walking on level ground, along the piers. Normally I’m wary of guys, she says. I never run after them like I did with you. It is a risk, so why not. A conversation about love, with lots of self-clarification.

To give yrself to another person. Petty fascism that a day breeds.

Three times in my life. Are you in love at the moment? Pause indicates a loaded question. No. But I hope to be, finishing his beer. A smile. What. Nothing. I’m a fool. I haven’t met a guy in a long time. If you just give yrself away once to a person, you feel so alone afterwards. The separation that that entails. From one self to another; both selves within you. And many others…

She doesn’t wanna go back on that train right now, maybe never again. The ethics of loneliness, she pontificates. The troubles of having too many goat-selves to mind. Purity is an illusion; dream; energy. The waiting… Look up at the sky to see what’s being said. Better to wait than to destroy yr hopes.

Walking along the shore. A souvenir shop, called Rayon Vert. She remembers the conversation, the old people. It’s incredible. Suddenly everything means something. And she’s never had that before. The cards on the ground don’t count. What. He wouldn’t understand. Let’s go watch the sunset on that cliff. You work on Monday? No. Still on vacation. Will you spend some days with me near Bayonne? It’s so simple. Let go of yr flock. Come. Niceness. Say you will. We’ll wait. Wait for what? Patience.

Sun’s going into the ocean. This moment to be rid of all this. The finality that happens when a day calls itself done. The enunciation in the descent – the fade all around. What is the green ray. The last ray at sunset. When you know it is truly away. This force, the lines deep, deeply embedded in the sky’s paper. Jules Verne wrote a book about it. About what it means to truly fade. Burden of trust disappears into the fold of longing. I haven’t read that book. It is green, does it bring luck? Not exactly. There are no guarantees. It helps you to learn something. What. I’ll tell you later. I want to know. So would I. I think I get it. Tears before the fading. The engulfment – total. To read without understanding, read what it is I feel. The only thing that’s real. Make up the memory, that way it’ll last. Because in the end, finality’s a flash.

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