& (A film in 13 scenes, scenes 9 & 10)

[these two scenes are for CM, who understands what it means for twelve moles to cry out in fury]





The next scene is also short, although it moves at an odd pace.  A pack of horses are running along a frozen river. The camera faces them. It tracks backwards fast because the horses are moving fast toward it. The sun is behind the horses. The light is hitting the lens. In so doing it makes flares. These come to be the main focus of the shot. But they are not the color of the sun. No they are not even the color of horses they are flares of neon & pastel & sometimes black but only ever rarely

The horses have stopped running.  Their breath rises in curls from their nostrils. The lungs bellow the difference in temperature when breath moves from the inside of a horse into winter. It produces steam that rises in curls.  But as they are not enclosed in a room of any size whatsover it passes away from them to not return until it cannot be told apart from the wide winter air. Their bones settle into themselves with a creaking of trees beneath them the ice cracks slightly. It is not the dead of winter after all. In addition there is the sun that makes flares in addition there is the significant heat of a crowd of horses that heavily radiates onto the ice where they are standing. The ice groans. Slim cracks unfold from the hooves. The horses themselves begin to unfold. Panels open along the flanks under the low slung belly. Out of the spaces of the horses pour rats. Many rats too many to count almost as if the blood of a horse had been replaced by rats in a very mistaken transfusion. However the horses were only ever elaborate assemblages of wood with fine sprung gears carefully stitched hide of horse surface significant padded hollows in which many rats can hide. They emerge carrying spears. This was only a trial run yet they brought their flags to practice accurately how it would be to take over the city from within a process that requires the raising of flags after so that it is clear to all that the gift which was accepted was not a gift but a plague full of rats ready to run rampant. Worried that such a takeover would not be understood despite the clarity that should be obvious in a whole lot of rats pouring forth from what are revealed to not be horses in the normal sense of the word the flags therefore must be carried. They say merely RATS. Indeed it is hard to imagine anyone could possibly be confused with both elements present. The rats who carry the word RATS spill onto the ice across which run small cracks that groan. The rats raise small cheers because if the trial run is any indication it seems sure that the war will be a rousing success. The camera cuts amongst them not content to show them in long shot alone given that a tremendous quantity of rats is not just a mass but a particular collection with particular rats. It cuts. There are a series of close-ups. An old rat looking out toward the horizon as if it has crucial data to reveal regarding tactics. A small paw gripping tight to a sword. Another paw gripping the pole of the flag. These two shots are in direct sequence to make clear that both things gripped are equally aspects of a war that will be waged. A younger rat testing the edge of a sword by splitting a whisker. Another rat who is of an age that seems between the two testing the edge of a tooth by splitting a whisker. Those two shots are also in direct sequence to make clear that both are modes of sharpness. The particularity of war is the incorporation of all things that are sharp enough to split a whisker although it will not be whiskers that they will be splitting not even horses. They have their manifold sight set on other targets. There is a shot of simply the word RATS although it is framed close enough so that it is only the slight rustling of the word that reveals the degree to which this is a shot of a flag rather than merely an intertitle. It cuts back to the rats as a large gathering. The shot moves slowly upwards while still canting down until the rats are shot from directly above. Here we can see the rats as well as the small cracks in the ice produced by the quantity of heat on that ice. It may be incorrect to speak of a quantity of heat even where one is compelled to speak of a quantity of rats. Suddenly the ice breaks totally. Slabs appearing from a smooth plane. The river beneath the ice swallowing them like an invading army. Even though they have not yet invaded anything they all go down horses rats ice alike with no time to be the first or last to flee the river with no ship in sight listen water is capable of swallowing much time & matter & rats & horse & RATS alike






In a zoo, animals are making elaborate revisions to their cages.  They are not so worried about the winter or at leat that doesn’t seem to be the reason to do this because the revisions are elaborate even almost ornamental rather than substantial. The main concern does not appear to be armor or insulation. Actually they are not even making the revisions yet they are merely discussing what is to be done. Some of them are not even discussing this. They are distracted or have things of greater urgency to deal with prior to talking cage revisions. For example a monkey is picking fleas off a llama. This might be funny yet it is not. It really isn’t because this is not shown in a cut that would show them as a couple or an activity separate from the rest of the animals. In fact none of the animals are separated. There are bars on the cages we see this in the long take that makes up this scene. It began within a cage looking out through the bars. Given such a position as well as the obvious zoo quality of the setting we might think that the point of the film is to provide us with the perspective of an animal in a cage. Although this is a plausible reading given how it begins the way that the camera moves makes this doubtful no it is not about being behind bars in fact there is no animal in that first cage other than our view itself. The camera or the view moves gliding past those bars straight out the door that has been torn from its hinges. The film passes out of that cage toward other ones. They too are vacant they too have had their doors removed. There is not a door in sight. They have been wrenched loose or unscrewed or bent with a force that is hard to fathom until we recall that zoos frequently contain a certain quantity of bears as well as elephants not to mention those with clever paws capable of putting a wrench to any bolt in sight. Given enough time lemurs would in fact dismantle the entire built world that’s just how they are built. In fact as the scene progresses if it were not for the insistent murmur of throats it would be easy to think that this was the kind of film interested in exploring an abandoned zoo as if this would be something very meaningful indeed. Yet there is the fact of the wrenched doors & such a wrenching is a real presence that cannot be erased by any absence of caged & cagers alike

But as the way I described this scene out of order made clear, this is not an empty zoo even if we start in an empty cage.  There are in fact many animals. Perhaps they were not even the same ones who had been closed behind bars but the tremendous number of different species hints that they likely were the very same. In addition they are discussing revisions to be made to the cages which indicates a certain familiarity. It is strange how well they get along despite species difference. While the monkey-llama combination is odd not to mention geographically implausible it is not as unsettling as how other species long known for subscribing to laws of predation that meant one of them is determined to open wide the neck of the other here get along though not without their disagreements of course. By this point the camera has passed through the empty cages with their wrenched doors. It has come upon all of them gathered in a central space that is not within any cage in particular merely surrounded by cages as if this was an island of open space surrounded by lakes not of tar but iron. Here they are arguing yet it is not the argument of trying to swallow one another. It is of course about the revisions to be made to the cages. Having exited them to get free of that bounded world they are not however done thinking about them they think that it is important to decide what to do with this space they have exited but not left. Listen they say before they make proposals. Unlike planes they do not interrupt each other so frequently. There is not a fist fight even though unlike planes they have things resembling fists. But there is still no agreement. A beaver who perhaps holds a deep species memory of how it is to take down what stands in order to block things that move horizontally has a point. She says we must chew down the bars to barricade the entrances. I tell you time is like a river however its flowing is not the problem as certain well-known jailers have believed.  The problem is what moves within it. If we want to control that like a street as many infamous jail-breakers have we must block how it flows. The fish who cluster in the fountain within the square disagree though not only because the metaphor of the dam is unacceptable to them. Listen they say it isn’t because we are sensitive about dams although we won’t deny a certain problem with that figure of speech. The problem is that your conception of cage is excessively air-oriented. We understand why this might be the case. After all it applies to the birds as well whose cages must necessarily have four sides even if the weave of metal is more fine. But what about the glass. This whole discourse is overly ferrocentric it is predicated upon the idea of iron. But that has not been our curse. Our vision has always been clear although that made it all the worse because for fish to see a world of air beyond the edge of water is worse than any strip of iron. It is like staring into an ocean of fire. We ask only that we all recognize that certain cages cannot be torn apart to be stacked on their side. No they must be entirely abolished there must be no divide between the two worlds. That is to say there can be no compromise. The zoo must be flooded it must be drowned. Wait says a mole who has waited his turn. Wait some of us don’t handle water so well we aren’t thrilled by all this excited talk of drowning. Yet this is not the main point I wanted to make. Listen friends the problem is not iron or glass it is also cement. Let me tell you about our cages. Yes they had walls they had walls of glass. They also had bars of iron to hold that glass or finely woven. The metal held close the dirt but our predilection is to go down always to go down beneath the surface. There are voids that must be made or taken the true wall that faced us lay below. It was a limit inscribed at the bottom of a certain quantity of dirt. It was more final than any deposits of shale. So many times we tried to go down so many times. This is what was written ancient in our minds go down go underground there one can begin to live together. If it must be dark then so be it. We knew this but time after time our claws struck poured concrete. We bloodied our noses sniffing out possible cracks in hopes that it was not final though of course it was. That is the problem to be confronted namely the idea that there is a point beneath which one cannot go. This is what cannot be tolerated we must ruin the falsity of the earth beneath us. A zoo as such does not bother us but it is the floor beneath that this horrific blockage that must be ruined. Let us find the soil beneath us all friends let us go underground. Many more animals will speak. They cannot all be told now. Bears with the force to bend bars dream of making iron flowers of the unwrought cages. A garden they roar a garden for us all. Their large paws sketch the petals in the air. Oh friends can’t you imagine how it will be to stroll through the garden of our vanished hell. To make art of this all beneath the sun we will stretch out below fronds of padlocks hammered into fine sheets of brass & there we will all sleep knowing that it may be noon but we have found shadows all the same & we will not move no friends not one bit

A dissolve makes clear that many hours have passed, twilight has fallen.  In that time passed they must have come to an agreement of some sort. We were not present to know what exactly was decided. But given the nature of the discussion previously the only possible outcome must have been all rather than nothing. In other words the undoing of every contemptible obstacle mentioned with perhaps a concession that it will not be discarded or thrown outside the outer walls of the zoo but hammered or smoothed into a new landscape in which they can begin to take breaths. At this point they begin to shake themselves free of the dust that gathers during an assembly. They stand to begin the work that has been planned. But at this point we see where those missing doors have gone. They have not gone anywhere. No they are deeply embedded in the animals as if torn doors were barbed because a point of exit can never be discarded without stabbing rough into the tight weave of flesh. Worse still they are not hooked into only one body which one could learn to tolerate as healed shrapnel does but each cuts into at least two bodies if not more. They are all tangled up. A cat’s cradle of metal that pierces cats to twine them to dogs or deer. They are bound together but not like they are bound to the place which they exited but did not leave. No this is different this is an embedding without end. A hawk is drawn close in failed flight to a badger. They try to stand but they cannot stand this effort. Each movement of one pulls vicious against the weight of an other. They had planned what it might mean to live together much as the mole had said. But never like this. No the plans for the revision will have to be changed. They let out massive throatfuls of pain the barbs tear quickly. They realize their predicament. There is no weeping not this time. For those who have torn free of the world to find that world tearing between many is the worst thing possible. But it is not something to cry over because even that simple crying will sink the barbs deeper. No this will require a complete overhaul. It is a delicate dance it is an invalid’s waltz. Because no two are connected to each other alone but rather each to two others by the spearing curls of unwrought iron. This binding has been made.  This is perhaps the simplest point that the entire film tries to make. Namely that no matter how hard it is to have done with the world it does not mean that the world is done with you or the ones who you cannot come undone without are the same that a world tries to use against you. There is no simple solution. We are cursed one & all listen that curse is the bond without which we are nothing not a single thing so it is that we must make anew from what we have scuttled & the problem is how to be many & not just one twelve moles cry out in fury in the ruined & true name of that many that goes all the way down & still does not halt until the world has been rent asunder &