Dustless | Volume 4 | The Dwellings [i]
It is natural, when embarked upon an arduous journey, to wish for shelter, to seek dwellings. And it is also natural, when circumstances within a particular dwelling place prove too much to bear, to wish to move on, to embark upon a journey, even if that journey should prove to be an arduous one.

The land wants nothing of us, it is only the land. Rocks seek no destiny, thorn trees ask no future, but simply adhere to the natural laws of thorns and earth, winds and water.

Upon a barren road, in the north and east of the empire, three travellers face the challenge of the wintry land. Here, shelter is hard to come by. The tanzo is unyielding. This is a place where space and time have settled, where space eats up the days, and the years dine on the endless plain.

For a poor human being, there seems no escape: it is a place the body must be, and suffer.

What does it avail a traveller upon such a road, to wish and to dream and to question? Is it that, faced with the bitter cold and the hostile earth, the delicate things of dreams and wishes and questions might give some form of shelter? And that questions and dreams and wishes may be the very things to help the traveller survive? Or do they merely lead further into delusion, back to the bones of the hands and the feet and the skull?

•DUSTLESS-FIN-4

Advertisements

When they finally get here — if there is a “they”, and if there is a “here” —

But I’m not in the mood for graves today.

%e2%80%a2dustless-fin11

 

Cradle, hearth and towers gone,
the road will be our home for now,
for now, tomorrow, the years to come,
the years to come our lives to pass,
to pass bearing our heavy load

TANZO-VACCARA • TANZO-VACCARA
we are born and die upon the road
our whole lives upon the road

So, traveller, as you ride the road,
ride the road, look down and see,
see the work that we have done,
have done to make your journey free:
free, we lay down our bodies’ load

TANZO-VACCARA • TANZO-VACCARA
we are born and die upon the road
our whole lives upon the road

We worked that you could travel free.
Your road is made of our bodies.
TANZO-VACCARA
Look down as you ride on home.
Your way is made from our bones.
TANZO-VACCARA
From ourselves is your road made.
All people are people of the Way.
All people are people of the Way…

The tanzo-vaccara road gangs hold a special place in the culture of O. Roads — tanzo — are seen as physical manifestations of TanZo, the pure Way. The empire is vast, and keeping the way open — often in remote regions, with hostile climate and terrain — is considered a task that combines sacred duty with harsh, unremitting, physical labour.

Over the centuries, the members of the tanzo-vaccara have become an enclosed, semi-religious group of people — predominantly men, but with a sprinkling of women, too. Their numbers include ex-convicts, returned from exile, who consider their sentences insufficient penalty for the crimes they’ve committed. They see in the hard work and difficult conditions of the life of the vaccara a form of expiation. Sometimes, too, people following the Way join the vaccara for a certain set period, and use the time in the community to train their bodies and spirits to respect and transcend the world of matter: for these people, the vaccara is a kind of endless pilgrimage.

The core of the vaccara is formed by people who devote their entire life to the repair and maintenance of the empire’s roads. In come cases, they literally work themselves to death.

•DUSTLESS-FIN-1

Dustless | Volume 3 | Stories in the Falling Snow
The purpose of a road is to connect one thing with another, and to enable travellers to traverse the landscape with greater ease. Yet, what happens when the land seems too great for the road? and when the road seems endless, connecting the traveller to nothing? What becomes of a journey once it appears to have no destination?

Is this not TanZo? Is this not the Way?

Through remote cantons, on humble beasts, a great lord for a guide, the travellers must follow the road, and endure the land – because there is no other road, and there is no other land.

It is said, among the SurGaKu: “For us, all things, eventually, turn into stories | and only by following the story | do we ever come to know of things”.

The SurGaKu teach: “And all stories, of course, come from the past; and to the past, of course, most stories return”.

And some among the SurGaKu add: “The past is a lost place. Do not go there”.

•DUSTLESS-FIN-3

 

Dustless | Volume 2 | The Tower
At the heart of all things, there are moments; and at the heart of each moment, there is change [Dust Sutra]

It is said, among the ZirCong, that “each thing is complete | yet each thing is also incomplete | and it is us, poor human beings, who bring our incompleteness to all things | with our yearning for power or with our yearning for | the resignation of power”.

Even a world that seems entire to itself, contained within its own boundaries, may neighbour another world. Is not the world of the seen forever at the mercy of the world of the unseen? And the known world, fragile before the jaws of the world of the unknown?

Change is inscribed in the heart of the atoms. The young grow older. The innocent grow corrupt. Those who have homes, lose them. Those who have lost homes, seek them.

Although yearning is a great power, sometimes, even in a vast land, protected by the emptiness of a continent, it is not enough.

•DUSTLESS-FIN-2

 

It was like building a great ship in a land where there was no sea.

To labour over many years, in a dry country — but seeking to make the ship magnificent, to ensure it was sound, and beautiful, to build it alone.

Now, towards the end, the ship is done. It stands, towering over the mean wooden buildings on the outskirts of a lacklustre town, prow pointed into the desert, and the desert stretching away for hundreds of miles, until it reaches the mountains, and enters vanishing.

Townspeople sometimes lean out of their windows, or, while watering flowers up on the their roof-gardens, pause, and stare at the vessel, and the huge curved pool of shadow it casts over derelict shacks, broken fencing and stony wasteground. The hull gleams, the masts strike up into the blank, heated blue of the sky: the propellers’ massive petals are frozen, and the rudder steers motionless through the sand.

A wonderful vessel: as elegant as it is gigantic, as graceful as it is imposing — perfectly suited for the ocean, sculpted for the waves, honed down in design by necessity for sailing: anything superfluous, any feature that would have added weight without purpose, or increased resistance and impaired passage through the water, all was removed, until the finished form was reduced to pure, essential nautical lines.

Yes, yes — a miraculous vessel.

And the people wonder. Living here, weeks’ driving from the nearest coast, they have only ever known dry land — for centuries, for millennia, all the inhabitants of this town, all they have ever known is dry land. A bare earth, rock, a few trees, and then the desert, the creep of dunes, the shifting dream the wind makes in its sleep: dry, dry, hard, ungiving — land forever.

And so they wonder. Why?

The years begin to pass.

For decades, perhaps, they were sceptical: but the ship was so great, and so beautiful, built to last. The houses came and went, the fires, the famines, the years of plenty, governments changed and rebels marched, the economy collapsed and revived, the town thrived and declined, and through it all the ship was still there, and the people couldn’t deny its presence. And eventually, they began to feel that, by some obscure process of identity, they belonged to the ship, or it belonged to them; and, eventually, they felt themselves drawn closer to it, as if it offered a kind of home; and then, eventually, they began to believe.

And with the belief came understanding; and with the understanding came deeper belief.

At dusk, at sunrise, at noon, in odd moments of the day and night, they peer over at the ship, silent and enduring, poised on the desert rock, prow pointed into the dunes: sometimes they stare at the black rows of portholes, sometimes they crane their necks and look up at the rail: sometimes, they admire the anchors, visible at the bow; sometimes they glance in passing at the towering masts glinting in the moonlight.

And they no longer wonder, Why? They understand.

And so they settle themselves down, and wait for the sea to come.

Dustless | Volume 1 | The Sentinels
Far to the east and north of the empire, there are roads untravelled for years. What can it mean to keep watch over a road along which no one travels? What is the purpose of such vigilance? To a true sentinel, any tanzo is the TanZo: any road is the Way; and a man of TanZo will always be vigilant, even if those who charged him to keep watch have long ago forgotten his existence…

Unfathomably remote, this is a world unto itself, a polluted and a desperate land, which surely even the Dustless One has abandoned. Yet, even here, where so much is dying, life is stirring. What is it? And how will it grow?

•DUSTLESS-FIN-1

 

 

 

Unless all is known, nothing is known

For those who toil among the dusts, vision is clouded: the world is a complex thing, without end, without beginning, a maze of thoughts and senses. Many do not even recognise their own state, or see that they are things of vapour, their lives scattered in a drift of atoms, prey to the accidents of flesh, illusion and time.

Others, though, realising the limits of their perceptions, and grasping the darkness of their condition, set out upon the Way – the TanZo. These ones seek illumination, entering the Still Building of their minds, undergoing the beautiful, arduous training of the wise, taught by skilled monks, bonded by the Marks and clans.

This is a serious matter, not without danger. Of those who enter the Building, not all return, for it is an infinite place, layered with worlds: disaster can lie there. Some return, having failed to reach the desired state; and, disappointed, set their lives back to the old rot and game, or settle for a compromised existence – these ones are like barbarians, and have little to concern us. Some succeed in part, achieving a kind of illumination, to live in harmony and tranquility, their minds light and their spirits at ease.

Yet, what do they really know, these ones, who are considered pure? Have they actually escaped all the confusions of the days of floating and dreaming? Are they truly fit to bow before His Majesty, the emperor of all the cantons, the Dustless One himself? Who can say? For creatures made of dust, what does it mean, to achieve “the state beyond all states”? What might you see, in the darkness of the Still Building, if you are illuminated? What does it mean, to become Dustless?

‘Yes, and the dreams were strange. They were unprecedented, unstoppable, recurring. They happened with a vividness that was a shock to consciousness. The light in them was phenomenally sharp, the clarity of every detail super-defined, colours rich, shadows etched, the whole beyond nature. Their content was gruesome, and yet fascinating. They were disturbing! Night after night, as the summer wore on, I dreamed these dreams. And slowly, I realised two things that made them so perplexing. The first, and lesser thing, was that the same dream appeared to happen each night. The same events occurred: the same conclusion. And so eventually it seemed to me that I was dreaming the same dream. Not, you understand, different versions of the same dream, but the same dream. It was as if the dream went on, and I revisited it. The dream was like a river: it flowed on, and I visited its banks nightly. I came and went, but not the dream. The dream was real and permanent, but I was unreal, and temporary…

This was troubling enough. But then the second and most disturbing thing about these dreams suddenly struck me – and once it had, I could not shake my mind free of the sense of the truth of it. It was not that the dreams themselves were so disturbing – although they were – it was that they were not my dreams. Ugh! Even now, I shake a little at it – I, Igangsogun dex:rikoji, prince of this world! – I do admit, though no longer do I suffer from them… I was dreaming someone else’s dreams


from The Governor of the Desolate Cantons | Dustless | Volume 14

%e2%80%a2dustless-fin14

Dustless | Volume 11, Mask [iii]

Published 05 • 03 • 2017

Precis | In a village huddled on the Endless Plains, through a long night, on the eve of a great festival, villagers keep their vigil. To pass the time, they distract themselves with stories and games.

Terrible forces may assemble in quiet places. In the intricate designs on cards, strange figures emerge. Creations of an ancient culture, no longer understood, but long revered: forces from the depths of ages, stirring, causing shadows and ripples on Time’s surface.

Gazing into the world of a mysterious system, playing with the fire of unknown powers, the villagers entertain a masked guest. But who is he? And what may be seen should the mask fall off?



Dustless | Volume 11
is approximately 290 pp./a5

Australia | Dustless | Volume 11
Brazil
| Dustless | Volume 11
Canada
| Dustless | Volume 11
France
| Dustless | Volume 11
Germany
| Dustless | Volume 11
India
| Dustless | Volume 11
Italy
| Dustless | Volume 11
Japan
| Dustless | Volume 11
Mexico
| Dustless Volume 11
Netherlands
| Dustless | Volume 11
Spain
| Dustless | Volume 11
UK
| Dustless | Volume 11
US | Dustless | Volume 11

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B06XFGWPMM

%e2%80%a2dustless-fin11