The Water Goblin

The narrative asks you to inhabit a space outside the one now surrounding you; to interact with the reflections of people you’ll never meet. Through sensory stimuli, it asks you to reconsider the moment you inhabit. You feel not mere replicas, but the very emotions you’d feel were you in that space. The narrative—itself, of course, an adaptable and immortal ghost of the perceptions, emotions, and thoughts of the individual who penned it—does all this without speaking explicitly. It doesn’t need to ask us to imagine—we already do that.

It is easy, then, to inhabit a coffee shop located on the relatively quiet end of a narrow street—Betlemská, it is called—tucked to the side of an otherwise crowded part of Prague’s Staré Město. Consider, on the one hand, yourself, arms sun-darkened, fingers shaking as they move, the pain in your temple. The white walls and white light and white jars and flower pots and white hanging orbs contribute to your experience of this moment, and the soundscape is laid out for you here:

  1. Czech words overlapping one another
  2. soft vocals in an English accent over acoustic guitar
  3. room tone
  4. chair legs sliding across a cement floor

Consider, on the other hand, what those unintelligible words might mean. What meaning might be on the other end of your fingertips for those who can interpret your own? How does the play of this music against the light of the open room convince you that you needn’t need a reason to be?

If someone were to ask you what you were doing there in that moment, what would you say?

Imagine standing at the top of a hill at midnight. Each time the moon is nearly full, it is either C-shaped or D-shaped. Depending on which it is tonight, you will know whether the moon was full last night, and the moon you see now has begun to wear away, or whether it will be full tomorrow evening, and the moon you see now is on its way there. Can you tell which one it is? Perhaps you are alone and must riddle it out for yourself, or perhaps you are accompanied by another person or two, and the three of you talk amongst yourselves to work it out. Language can be a useful vessel that way.

This transpires, and as it does so, the Earth rotates—though without so many words.

The moon, as it happens, is full tonight, to the uninhibited eye a motionless “Oh.”


Prague, Czech Republic

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