a semi-critique of the sun is the monster eye by saskia kang

Thesis: the universe is the mind trying to understand itself.

Almost a decade ago I was given an early draft of The Sun is the Monster Eye.  The word that came to mind then as I read it was "curious".  I was curious but most of all I thought the author was curious.  Curious about how his own mind worked but also just afraid enough not to ravage through it to cause any permanent damage (as far as I know).  Today several words come to mind as I read it.  While it's impolite to reduce any work of art to only a few paragraphs much less a few words, I can only say that I felt that I was going through some sort of psychoanalysis while I was reading the story and word association seemed rather appropriate. 

The story is about a narrator who wants to meet a dressmaker named Sasha.  We're not sure if Sasha makes dresses for others or just herself but we know that she uses a variety of materials.  Sasha also had an accident as a child that damaged her pupils and perhaps we are supposed to believe that she makes her dresses without being able to see.  It's ambiguous but ambiguity is essential to the story.  Is Sasha the ultimate dressmaker who doesn't need eyes to see?  Is this symbolism?  I've read that this author avoids symbolism in his writing but going back to Plato and even further back symbolism seems to be unavoidable because it's part of how the human mind makes sense of things.  Can this story be made sense of?  I'm not sure but what I do know is that I felt like tiny little hooks had been attached to my brain and were pulled ever so slightly to give me the sensation that my brain was being stretched and perhaps pulled out of my skull.  The ending was implausibly both hopeful and hopeless at the same time.  Reading the story didn't make me feel comfortable but it didn't hurt either.  Do I understand anything more about the universe than I already understood?  Probably not.  Or maybe I do and I'm just not aware of it yet.  Does the universe understand anything more about itself?  I have no idea.

-- Saskia Kang

“Still Life in Motion”


People think that I am dumb because I haven't had much to say for a long time. But I have been saving up my moments and hiding them behind my 'hello's and 'how are you's. I spoke little and wrote little, instead keeping notes on other people's moments and sometimes speaking of them as if they were my own.

The woman on the phone wants Christmas lights put up around the house before she gets home. She's going to stop by the store and buy those flowers. Those red flowers. I think she called them rhododendrons. She called the person on the other end of the phone James. She drew circles on her note pad while she was talking.

I don't know what to make of other people's moments. I keep thinking that one day I will open my notebook that I've filled with them and find the pages blank. I read them over and over again because they are almost invisible to me and shivery to my touch as if they are hidden behind a thick sheet of ice. But I've collected enough of my own moments now and I feel the urge to relate them. Not for the purpose of having people see them or hear them. I don't really want them to. But my moments are running out of room in here and I don't have anywhere else to put them

Sew dresses Sasha. Don't do anything else. 

You'll just have to decide if it's the right thing for you. She said she didn't know. They were quiet for a few blocks. The man's arm brushed against the woman's arm. Twice. Then they walked into an office building.

I finally arrive at Sasha's and I am bursting to tell her something. I knock on her door. I know she is in there but I call to her as if I am not sure. She doesn't mind that I pretend in this way because she says that I pretend in my own way. 

It's raining here, but the sun is still visible in the distance. I feel naked in this rain and I feel that the sun is watching me.

I worry now because I wonder if anyone noticed that something fell from my pocket as I was taking my hand out. Flow. Maybe no one (er.) noticed but I have to be more careful. My urges are polarized.


And then she comes out after a few moments, wearing a dress she has made of squares and flowers, a fusion of geometry and botany and biology. She tells me that her armoire is a circle, and her foot is a square, which is a flower, which is an eyelid that has yet to bloom. She tells me that they are and I believe her. She says that she will show me the proofs very soon. 

"Okay", I say.

I tell Sasha okay from time to time because okays are good hiding places. The first step I take implies my long stride and impatience. 

"Wait", she says. 

She sees how strange the day is. Better than me. She says she sees well because of a child-hood catastrophe (insert insect) that destroyed her pupils (insert tacheon). She says she sees the molecules that make up a circle. She says that all circles are not the same. 

"The sun is trying to hide now", she says. "It is hiding a little, but it is still there. And there are so many greens. Yes. So many that I can only see them if I don't think of them."

The pumas are migrating. Sew dresses Sasha.

I remember when Sasha thought a fish was a fish and not a disconnected tongue without fins. She says she knows better now. And yet she says, one day she will know more. 

"What are you doing?" she asks me.

I don't know what she is talking about and I think that something has created an impasse between Sasha and myself. Sasha and me. Sasha and I. She asks me what I am doing and I don't know what she is talking about. 

But I know the sun is watching. Latitudes display particular motions in congress. And sometimes progress.

"Slow down", she says. 

And I do. I've seen others do it.

"Your eyelid is blooming", she says. "Don't you feel it?"

I feel nothing. I can't think of any other words that describe this feeling better.

I'd like to go to the bar and have a glass of whiskey, but Sasha still hasn't moved after our first step. I am a half breed ahead of her and the space between us vibrates the theory of perpendicularity. 

Auxiliary note: the theory of perpendicularity states that from any one axis, any point in time (past or future) can be mapped at different degrees along other axes in multiple dimensions. Future points and past points cannot be mapped on the same axis. End.

The vibrations are reaching my nodes. A husband is going away for the weekend.

"Sasha", I say, "can we hurry along?"

I say it normally because I want to have a drink and a cigarette. I want to watch my smoke explode against the bottom of an empty glass. 

While I wait for Sasha to catch up, I am propositioned by a vacancy. I enter like someone who--he

Sits in a chair. Maps. Medulla oblongata. Sssssssssssss. Dust. 

Sasha has caught up to me now and we continue to the bar. The relative ease of our stroll makes me think about balance and the fundamental flaw that is the essence of bipedism (insert name).

"Sasha", I say.

Sasha's dress is made of circles and flowers and things that I have seen her pick up in different places. 

But I had noticed something that will be of help. While I was standing there I saw the same man over and over again. He seems to be walking around the blo(ck) {interesting note on model airplane #3} over and over again. I map a point to a previous past on another axis. I have a secret. 

Some pasts are current. 

We reach the bar and sit down at a table. I position my head at a forty-five degree angle to the wall beside us. 

The circles were not perfectly drawn and some were colored in.

"Sasha", I say, "I am really bursting to tell you something."

"Tell me", she says.

Light travels along a random spine and finds its way into the bar.

"The sun is the monster eye", I say.

I draw circles on a napkin and my eyelid explodes. Petals float to the table. Sasha rubs the side of her glass. At another table someone is looking at us and writes something into a notebook.  

Everything stops.

a semi-critique of the sun is the monster eye 
by someone I sketched:  saskia kang