Jumping off the Altar/Looking at the StarsText by Colin Pantall
Published on Colin Pantall's Blog, online, March 2015
I was listening to the news on the radio this morning as I do, and up popped a story about the dangers of legal highs. One man had it so bad he 'jumped off the altar' in a church - what happened to him after he jumped off the altar we didn't find. Another one imagined the police were coming because he had his fingers stuck under a toilet door.
The quality of the legal high is not good in other words. It's so bad that prioners in British jails use one legal high, Spice, to torture their fellow inmates - give over the recommended dose and 'it's like being in hell.
I don't think Guilherme Gerais took any legal highs in making his book Intergalactico. It's too far out for that. He gets way above altar level in this black and white, grain-spattered foray to interplanetary space. So if there are any drugs involved, they are made of tried and tested natural ingredients guaranteed not to have you messing with your fingers under toilet doors.
It's a book about space and our place in it, about the earth and the trees and the way we all spin around a star no matter what planet we live on. It starts with the cover which is a lovely thing; a symetrical design that stretches over the back and the front cover. It's centre lies in the spine and it's a little asteroid-like moon/planet. It looks like the moon where the Clangers used to live. Encircling this satellite is a circular wheel that looks like a space station. And all around this are dotted lines and circles and designs that have a low-fi scientific feel. Doc from Back to the Future might have drawn this - and look what he could do!
Open the book and there is a postcard which tells us that 'experience, as you know, is a sort of remembering, all that lives has already been imagined.' Then there are some words on the 'final stage', the strangeness of this world, a world in which '...there is only this wide desert, an absence of space.'
The preamble to the book has us going into the desert, a grainy desert with a motorbike in it. We keep looking at the earth and everything goes spacey. There are rock walls that look like asteroids and tunnels that look like galaxies. A handwritten message from Gerais says: Colin. The journey starts here. 2045. RUN!