One Is Not The Number
a sequence by Serge Pey
translated by Patrick Williamson & Yann Lovelock


One is not the number
that the number begins with
We’re for ever
two in number
each with the world’s
mirror in our keeping

We are the Dual number
that projects its own mirror
into the infinity of a single mirror
that has no number

Simply to see ourselves
as the world
or the world’s subtraction
or as the number
that won’t be added up


The eye is an empty space
that spies the emptiness
of a glass undrunk

Behind the look
there’s an emptiness
that looks at the look
encircling eye and emptiness

The look is a body
that makes itself a face
so as to strip away
the emptiness of glasses
drunk every day
and give what we’re
looking at a drink

If now
we strip this face away
using a glass
broken by dint of never being drunk
we see the look
that is the bone cage
of what we don’t see
and combs us

The look is that part
of death that sees us
without dying without living
and drinks us straight down

In a cupboard there’s always
a glass we do not drink from
that we break one day by accident
when we’re moving and give
the removals man a drink

What sees us
reflects what we drink
in everything


To look is to play a star’s
part in the sky

The routes that see
in the dark put ropes
about our neck

The blood of eyes
that have seen things
forms the look that has kept
things back

The eyes that we turn
on the world
are holes that the world

Eyes are holes
rolled up
to go into a look
that is the big hole
that sees the world
by putting us
this once
to sleep against it
like a top


The eyes don’t look at the same time
at what looks at them

There is always
the look's weight on
the right and the left
scale of what sees

We are the centre
of the world that encircles us
when the scale is balanced
between our squinting eyes

Sometimes when looking
we make the world hesitate
between the holes it wants to enter
to see itself and make eyes
that want to see us

We are at the same time
what we do not see
and what we do see
for what we do not see
sees us
and what we do see
is blinded seeing us

Our eyes teeter
like feet
that drank the world
straight down

Someone always puts a full stop
at the end of this straight line
to make it seem that the world is a sentence
that stops when one wants it to

No one ever drinks the full stop
that no one’s put at the bottom


The look is a net
cast for the eyes of passers-by
so as to keep seeing

Thus every look
is the sum
of all the eyes that met
walking down infinity’s street

Thus every look
is the eyes’ flock
caught in the net of the world
cast by a trawler of meetings

Death is the sum of all the looks
that look at the world
less our look
that looks at the world
at times from the other side of the world

The trawler's look is the look
that's lacking from the box of all that looks
like the hole in the game a child plays
pushing letters while writing his name
in a square
into which other small squares slide
to make up words

The eye that does not exist lets us
see the look
that glides over all the holes
in the world

Through seeing we see
what doesn’t exist


Look and eyes are
the knotted rope
of a starry acrobat

If on a rope that’s knotted
a knot is missing between two handholds
it’s impossible to pull oneself
right up to the crossbar it’s tied to
The span between handholds
becomes too great
for us to be able to
touch the crossbar’s ultimate knot

So if
with an inward look we close our inner eye
we can no longer climb
to the top of the look
that looks at us

The eyes are at once
the children of the look
and the fathers of the look
Eyes that see are seen
Those that don’t see are not

We are the size
of a small infinite knot
between the rope and the knots
below the crossbar

We are not the rope
We are not the knot
We are the hand that burns ourself
because we slide between two knots


Behind the eyes there’s a hole
that hails the holes
with the voice of a hole

Two equals One
like the two sides of an isosceles
triangle that rises to its peak
like a knife

Every look is the infinite
point of this knife

A hole
is a look that sees the hole
that is the hole the knife makes

But the look we have
is lower down
in our belly where the holes' little sun
rolls under the knife that opens it

When we look at an eye
we see infinity
at the back of the eye
holed by the knife

We are made of infinity
as if all the eyes of the world
were gathered together
in the same punnet
of fruit beneath a knife
big as a tree and tiny as a knife

The look is the infinity
of the tree
and the eyes bits of this infinity
we strip from the tree with a knife

Thus the eyes are finite
since they’re detached
from infinity

To die is to attach one's eyes to infinity
and hiding one's knife become infinite again

The look is only
the infinity of the finite
and the eyes only
the finite’s infinity the knife cuts


Every look is a fragment
of death
further out than death

The void fills with the emptiness it sees
until it no longer sees itself
for seeing us

A look cannot be added to a look
but empties what it sees into the sink of the world

The absence of what was seen
is revealed in the look like a theft

To look is to get back what
was seen then stolen

It’s the way that any look
flies above our eyes
and that we exist behind our eyes
like birds

Our eyes are a meal
for things the small deaths
we sow in the ground

We walk on the dead
simply to get used
to looking

The earth is cake we push beans into
for the cake we’ll eat
when we’re under the earth


To laugh
in this world
is to share the head between our two eyes

We come from the world
that can see
and we go back to the world
that sees still
with an eye gouged out
as if on a black flag

We go on weighing
our eyes on the scales
before seeing
what sees us
and what comes from seeing us

Every look has a weight that weighs
what is weightless on the scales
of its holes

We are the scourge
of all that sees
and we see with a hole
full of holes

To be the look is to see
through the zero that sees us
and that cancels what sees
including our hole


The eyes are controlled
by threads that come down from the sky
through our head
and the sky becomes the look that holds the thread
through all our holes

Our eyes go further down
through our belly and legs
Our eyes are attached to our feet
Our eyes are teeth
Our eyes are nails and knees

We walk upright
since the sky holds us up
by its threads

We are what walks
We are what stops walking
Our shoes are the eyes
we’ve torn from our heads
and stick under our feet
in order to walk

When we cry we
wash our feet with our head
like after a long
desert journey

The dust that falls
is what we’ve looked at
through the hole that encircles us
and hasn’t moved

original French text Serge Pey
translation Patrick Williamson & Yann Lovelock 2005
images John Mingay 2005

A Raunchland Publication
Hard copy publication by L'Inventaire/Actes Sud, France,
due in March 2006