Issue 219, Winter 2016
Twenty-Two Stories on Some Lines from Ben Lerner’s ‘The Lichtenberg Figures’
A Dream of Adorno
1 Burning Snow
2 Dust from the firmament “like snow”
3 Snow crystals (twenty-seven suborders)
4 Snow slush
5 Cheeks “like snow”
6 Angel hair (in autumn)
7 The snow of DARK ENERGY
9 Matter’s microstructure
“Reliable reports of burning snow”
The highest hierarchy of the crystalline sky begins just beyond the orbit of the fifty-second Aristotelian planet. This part of the cosmos already belongs to the INVISIBLE HORIZON. Isidore of Seville, who describes it, never saw snow himself. Nor does he claim to know the creatures of flame, the six-winged, eyeless beings that make up the order of the seraphim. He speaks of his ears and of voices. “The hearsay of his inner voices” is his source. Arabian doctors regarded him as insane. The crystalline structure he calls snow, mingling with the burning glow in which the angels of the First Order gather around God’s throne, is dust, scoured by the hour and the minute, as though with a divine scraper, from the flat plateau of the spiritual body we call the sky, like an animal grooming itself.
N. Goncharova asks whether this snow, in its bizarre figurations, is identical with the elaborately formed ice crystals and tiny cold blocks that cover the expanses of Russia. For the events occurring beyond the INVISIBLE HORIZON in the cosmos up above actually mirror the ethereal currents within us plants and animals. This strict ABOVE and BELOW keeps the chill and the fire far enough apart that we can live in the space between. Thirty-seven seraphim were needed in Chemnitz to sustain a little girl who had fallen seven yards from a window, enabling her to wake from the coma unscathed. In their remaining time, they work on an imaginary pyramid that, in truth, is a tree or a tower. It is only because they are so busy, manifesting dispersed throughout the world with their forces, that their fire does not utterly consume us. Burning snow is self-sufficient. It needs no influx of energy or substance. Yet the seraphim themselves have no organs of sight. Rather, they rely on spiritual beings below them in the hierarchy who have eyes on their wings and tell the seraphim the origins of the noises whose transformation into the sound of the heavens gives life to the highest order of angels.