The Compass of Vienna
South- Past the nearest cigarette vending machine, under the turrets of the Bundesministerium, onto the rim of the Inner City and down into its soupy maw, boiled cobblestones, horsemeat, insane bowler hats and shredded sneakers. Beyond this, a cemetery stretching to the shores of the Adriatic.
North- The discarded trash of ghosts, a neo-brutalist train station of metamorphic headstones, the red signs of Communities, ministries and commissions, a secret highway, green hills painted onto the horizon by a teenager, a mausoleum for empty paint cans, an elevated line, streets so crooked they all turn into cul-de-sacs, excluding each other in proud, alchemical roundness; a cliff dropping into the secret, underground canal which flows backward to Czechia, a black aura on the horizon.
East- Over the canal one enters a different world. Its soul is of pure, ageless concrete. The Eastern Island is harsh, its buildings slide back and forth on metal rails, just like the trains throughout the rest of the city. No matter where you go, you are funneled into Rembrandt Street, the narrow, iron gate through which one must pass before being spat out in front of Au______. You see the tower behind its walls. It is the black hole of all the world’s nausea. It pulls your aching stomach toward its event horizon, however strongly the rest of your body turns away from it in disgust. On Sundays, Au______ becomes a frolicsome beer garden. Sometimes, when the rustling of yellow leaves on their branches ceases and there are only a few black-clad loiterers standing around, or lying on benches drunk, you can hear Eine Kleine Nachtmusik pouring through the paths like a stream of fireflies. Beyond all this, to the East, there is only an error message from an old calculator, taking up One Fourth of the Looming Zodiac.
West- A shining wealth of oxygen that intoxicates all of life to its core; over gently sloping hills, packed with friendly cobblestones and sunlight, you come out on a little knoll. Bone-white spires and belfries soar into the sky around you unhindered. It was as if they were made of glass, so strongly do they amplify the light of day. Yet somehow it alters into a cold, cosmic species of light, the reflected light of space and void which pushes stray meteorites and debris to and fro past other worlds like wind playing with butterflies. The moon behind the spires… no, not somewhere heavenly, but somewhere else… I think of Man on the moon, hopping around like an asexual bunny rabbit, before gliding back to earth… but still, the white creation above me glowers, and the pale moon in the blue over its shoulder.
Night- At night, the four winds have evaporated. The poles collapse into each other and the mass of potential coordinates scurry like insects released from a trap. In the light of day, we live the syntagmatic life, we cast singular shadows, speaking English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, et al., doing algebra with our tongues and eyes. We walk in syntax. The morphine drip of grammar pervades us. But nighttime brings the paradigmatic life and its own style of speech, a breathy logic devoid of syntax, relying only on Judgement, on the unpassable, starry mirror of subjectivity. One climbs up out of the foxhole to discover that the bodies strewn over the fields have risen, and they are dancing with the music of unexploded bombs; silent, gestural shrapnel is thrown out into a void split by sinewy lengths of piano string. Night is a dictionary.
Zane Rougier Perdue is a manual laborer and writer from Albuquerque, NM. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA.