Lurking in the occluded corners of word country, hiding in the flocculent tufts, dripping off succulents and mixing with the dust in the desiccated plains, is something occult.

Occult! Dark claws sink into your flesh at the word. A penetrating darkness occupies your occipital lobe like a succubus. Concealed, yes, concealed, this is what occult means, but even though they come from the same Latin celare these two words concealed and occult carry completely distinct cultures. What is occult is not merely hiding, and in some ways is the opposite: a crack in the eggshell of common reality. The inculcation of secrets may occur in closed chambers, but the dark corners you fear are right in front of you and you do not see them. You seek the simplest explanation, but you get your neck cut with Occam’s razor.

We may imagine a scene in a dark copse, an assembled cohort awaiting, the accursed brought bound. What is the occasion? A sacrifice? Not quite. J’accuse, says one. A toccata plays its staccato. Are you culpable? says another. Are you guilty of seeing what you should not have – or of not seeing what you should have? A chilling cachinnation echoes from among the elect, then silence as soon ensues, sliced only by the unsheathing of knives. The shackled figure sobs, bent; at last, in hiccups of lachrymose paroxysm, the word comes: Peccavi. And then the cuts begin to be made… the fabric is shorn into ribbons… the eyes are unbound and opened. You who would see and not hear, hear and not see, are now exposed, condemned to see. Accept your fate.

Do we see through a glass darkly? Through occult glass, that frosted pane that hides your nakedness in the shower as it lets in the diffuse light of external day? Or is it that we overlook small cooccurrences as our eyes make their saccades: through an ocular malocclusion, we see but do not see again and so mis-see? In medicine occult blood is not the stain on the wicked altar; it is bleeding that is not perceptible to ordinary inspection, blood that is mixed in with other bodily output in amounts too small to be detected without a sensitive test. So perhaps with the occult of the world. You see it but do not see it. You are acculturated; you overlook it in the clutter of accumulated rudera, of stuff and stucco. Perhaps it is simply too small, like the staphylococcus that occupies every square centimetre of your skin. Or perhaps it just escapes notice.

Is there a cult occult in our culture, not hidden behind a façade but actually a pattern in the façade that you can only see once you have seen? Look not for some wicked kind of Wicca or eccentric church of Cthulhu; stow your imaginations and your prejudices and occident-centrism. They merely misdirect. Sometimes you accept a sameness where there is a difference; on other occasions you see more, not less, than is there. You hide these facts from yourself; your doppelganger is just you again, carbon-copied. You see curled claws lurking in cracks but they are in actuality the crescent antishadows of an eclipse, one partly hidden sun reflected in many multiples.

So too with words: see what slips onto the page in the slippage between lip and copperplate. You hear a crack in the back, [k], and a break, [ks], but everywhere you see cc. You are not accursed; you are just inaccurate.

One response to “occult

  1. Wonderful! My skin is crawling with dread and bacteria!

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