I tell them. This is the morning I haven’t bought the gun for. They tell me, it is hard for you, but, if you say it again I’m going to have to call the cops or something.
Standing in the shower. Showering two, three times a day. Wishing I knew how to drown. Incompetent even in this want. A painting. Hands over a body in a shower. Baby blue hands. Another painting. A woman reclining, hovering, a crouch and also a rest. Her right breast exposed to the viewer and the paint is thin near the center of the meat so it is like a light comes from inside her. A white figure, bigger, hunching, leaning over, lips extended to kiss the highest arch of the front her neck — which you could slice a wire through. A line of thick black, of empty space, between the man’s lips and the woman’s chin. As though the black touches each of them. As though the space is dense and part of their touching their closeness their want. But, thin enough to taste the space on either side where they are apart. Death. On the far left. Laughing. Death’s hand supporting the slenderest bit of the woman’s back.
And life too, to the right. Headless.
Music to cover the relentless weeping the talking in the mirror for the neighbors. You are here. You are right here. To the mirror. You are here. Touching the body seeing the woman who is you touch the body. You are right here. Cambodian rock from the ‘60s. No don’t think about the torture. The body. The nipples. The lesions. The photos. The bodies. All dead. The stack of the musician’s bodies. The empty spaces in the sounds. The circles of pavement the market. The circles of pavement the market. Aerial view then slipping amongst the pillars running and laughing and you remember the smell of the fish and the heat. Trying to say, in the now, “I am here,” to the streets as you begin to sob by the trash cans. Streets emptied from the virus which remind you of the photos again and then suddenly a man in a mask with a son. I am here. I am here. I am here.
No matter the boy’s age no matter the look of the father. Sweating. Gulping for air that is not wet with you A. Orange robes and hot. And the circles of pavement and the market.
Our last night. When you stand with me in the shower I am so cold and you touch me and you tell me, but no sex I just want to touch and you say, why can’t we just lie together? But I don’t want to get out of the water drinking beneath the hot stream and standing like that I feel the loss of you. The loss at the end of the summer. The sudden black space where before there was.
The thick black line between our faces on the street. The whole world is hot with my want to cross the line to touch.
I will not again use the word love. This is too painful to be love. The way you left me is not love. What you have with them is love. Whatever we had was something else. Maybe just void. What exists before void. When now there is only void. What is before.
And we fight. You tell me, you are impulsive. You lack boundaries and patience. Do you like that she is threatened by you? I beg you not to look below my shoulders.
You ask why I want to punish you. I tell you it is not meant to be torture, but that there are consequences to your leaving.
You tell me to look at how good you have been. You tell me, you have to trust me.
You, touching my breast, and I cannot feel the hand like my skin has turned to callous. So eager to be in the scalding water with me you leave the key in the door. Forgetting.
But we are already dead.
And when I consent and lie with you and touch my hand to your cheek as you cry, as I cry, and you say. Will it help with the pain if I have sex with you? And I say yes when I mean no. But I have been begging for you the whole night, and so you must think you are doing a service. And you fuck my body like it used to be fucked by you. And I am in my body, I suppose I must be. And this too feels like mourning. And I ride you and hold your hands above your head. And you tell me it feels so different. You tell me it does not work for you the way it used to, and I don’t know how to tell you it is because I am not there, that I don’t know how to find a way back into my body after your betrayal. When you are finished you are hungry, not for me but for food. Your body longs for sustenance elsewhere as I have not given it enough.
You leave me like this, lying naked in the bed, and you never return. And the bed to my left. And the same walls. And the same shower. And I am here every day looking at the gravesite. And I am here every day sleeping in the grave. Too much sun in the windows. Outside endless channels of empty pavement. Grids. But, wavering.
And you leave.
A letter I keep on yellow paper. You sit with me before returning to your child. Why can’t I give you to him willingly when it means you are good? When it is good. I refuse the martyrdom offered me to instead remain a parasite.
The letter is written in all caps on yellow paper. Your wife must know this is how you write, must be so intimate with this writing. A shopping list. A love letter. An apology. A note so you don’t forget. A photo of her sitting on a hotel bed. Young. A shiny sleeveless dress. Brightness between you, the way she looks at the camera. The look mortar.
In the letter you say you can do nothing to help me deal with the pain. But you think of me. You say better, when you mean worse.You leave. And before you leave I am stroking the tears from your cheek.
The skin along your jaw, loose. The tears. And. Your cheek in my hand. Your cheek in my hand. And. You leave.
My own hand to my own cheek. To the mirror. You are here. You are here.
Your neck beneath the cheek. I have spent too little time thinking of the neck that supports the grace.
I am an emerging writer but have published in a few small journals including Entropy, & Of Other Things and Collected. I hold an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I was the recipient of a New Artist’s Society Full Scholarship and a nominee for the James Raymond Nelson Fellowship. I currently work as a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Today is the night of the stallion. We speak long deep into pools of academic archipelagos and short long beyond the dry lanterns knocked over by idiots saviours and swans. We embrace our veins together and snap jaws in a locust of merry screams to crisp at the blood moon of a failing heart. We are here lunar and frightened to discuss the big time ramifications of the schizophrenologist made whole by a nightmare. In the damp den of the ego the archetype of the clown laughs at secrets. This binary triolet as function of the sanctuary realigns into the nocturne canon and camps in the dusk of cellars. The id as comic trilobite ancient and buried in language calmly devours the bonethief tree. What is the empire without the emperor? Mind his knowledge of tunnels. He moves arms scratches knees. He chews the food of the helpless that live in the city of scamper where he too scampers and crushes and thinks all thoughts one two three all of them. He cracked the citizens in the neighborhood of knuckles. He scented the citizens of the holy mouth. But I am a pigman lost in grace and my kisses are showers of stained moss. The fog clears from the jungle and we are still.
In hope in study in dreams dissected the nonetheless apples rejoice in the flavors of a brain hemorrhage. Ideally we knock down the walls between you and subject insofar as we must help diligent the seminar of bad bad biology sofarin here we go. A holistic approach may or not include such things as enumerated in manifestations past of intellectual hubris or the meaningful relationship between horse and vial of cyanide but suggests something on par with the dislocation of citizens both embroiled in a narcissistic project of rejuvenation and a wonder projection that smiles underneath the bed sheets of self-actualization. This particular brand of psychosis has bubbled up in managerial doctrine both continental and analytic but once the neighbors throw their couch out by the garbage bins there’s no stopping the animals from enjoying the privileges of white hegemony. Release the co-dependents and occupy the space between sporadic readjustment and complacent zealotry so says the doctrine. Release the negative delusion of failure from the lexicon of everyday suffering for it need not be understood in such a dualistic fashion says the camel says the lama. Or may we be in denial after all these years and decades tying and untying the conceptual shoelaces of finitude. Here we empower the dysfunctional family allowing it to function within disembowelment beside the ebony discs of fungal psychic growths. Here we continue the project of denial that follows empowerment and pretend with eager ears and mouths that a moth can place kitchen equipment in the appropriate container if we just have a good attitude about it and stop being so hard on the little guy. Here we edify the personality disorders that cause high functioning automobiles to psychotic break at the first stop sign of mindfulness. To mind the full nest of synergistic halo goals is to massage with beatific wonderment the top-down ideology of help me mommy I’m going to die. To continue our self-actualization and our other-actualization we must embark on a trip towards the inner coil of consciousness and only a mindful practice of knuckle cracking and lip smacking will cure what ails ya. Believe it or not some of us have day jobs so when you chew on that pencil for forty three minutes straight I hope that’s not your sole source of fiber for my soul is a big slab of red meat but this menu doesn’t serve such enlightened malignancies. In order to further develop your personhood so that it may resemble an assemblage of blood moons and concord grapes we must locate the esteem whether it be of the self or of the other and place it on the highest shelf so that the cats can’t get at it. Remember some of them jump high and they dislike water. Our next objective is to fall into the trap of full awareness and consciousness so that we may respect the dignity of others and the rules and regulations of a standard trip down memory lane however post-traumatic it may be and no matter the triggers that may or may not set off a series of chain reactions that can only be described as undesirable. The standard desk reference may consider it abnormal to chew on the teeth of an abdomen but we should make accommodations for all the songs of existence in the panoply of prismatic polarization. Just kidding. Truly abnormal and shocking in its banality is the neurological anxiety associated with various water-based sports such as water polo and synchronized swimming. Our attitudes as they are poorly designed by a flimflam of worthless acidic monologues and the quirks and foibles of the old man and the ole ball n chain may someday come into contrast with our ugly predilection for distributing gas masks to the hellions of scamper city a place that is no good for you and I sweet gentlemen of the jury. We arrived here through learned behavior and isn’t a leaf a leaf a leaf. My biofeedback bias only confirms what the crotch itch predicted: namely that we are all constrained by a deficit of knowledge historians like to call the heuristic genetics of hypothetical maturation and the mnemonic meta-analysis of the panic disorder parallel to the phantom limb. As mentioned before the nervous system composed of binary luminescent objects is imprinted into the memory of phonotypical moods disordered yet again based on the climate of scientific hostility and the hostage negotiations going on across the street. In a debriefing conducted in the early 1990s by yours truly and a team of young up and coming go getters we came to the conclusion that materialization as it is a compact vestige of the material reality outlined in deterministic theory can affect the rate of aversion and the judgement a child feels on holiday when primogenitors fail to meet certain basic gender requirements. Take me to the chocolate factory right now please I am a very hungry and anxious boy. Not everyone agrees with this hypothesis so let me parse it out: say a middle-aged heathen approaching the equinox of usefulness in a utilitarian societal framework boards a train traveling at approximately seventy two miles per hour on a Sunday with little wind or political resistance. Now say we reorganize the parameters of this gestalt in order to optimize the flight or fight response in such a middle-aged specimen. Will he combine his dendrites into a useful whole as predicted by the Mycenaean model or will he tumble down the wormhole of groupthink and simply chalk up the adages while wasting luggage space? Now say a woman of similar height but convex temperament wills a toxic messianic complex on the various hierarchies represented on the chug chug choo choo. In the aforementioned hierarchy of needs is she concerned mainly with her health as it relates to hereditary markers connoting cervical cancer and thyroid problems or is she going to skip town and steal the man’s aquarium so to speak? Earlier models suggested the former if and only if her hormones become out of whack physiologically speaking with her kinesthetic notion of personhood and dragonladyhood but the latter if and sometimes not only if his scandalous lack of object permanence exists as an operant residue of his rationally compulsive reflexes and familial norms. That said a third option presents itself on such cases as when a stick of dynamite 4 centimeters in diameter inexplicably shows up at the doorstep of one of the more presentable members of our elite circles like say the mayor for example. The notion of a representative sample becomes problematic and is more importantly problematized by the sticky resonance of parallax taboos. Giddy with the destruction of the mayor’s front door and hounded by the disappearance of the prized thoroughbred shortly after a tragic train derailment our theoretical binary humanistic model falters and shifts towards a paradigm of unconscious validity squirming and positive inference obfuscating. Dear me can we wait this long to go to Iceland? But to end digression the tolerance of a trait-to-toddler hybrid theory becomes weak and wistful in the dark cold shadow of optical self-awareness. Thus we come full circle to a trigonometric globalization of fragile patriarchal personhood all the while the recognition of the prisoner’s gambit saturates every decision made after noon whether or not the subject lazy as he or she may be ate breakfast. We come back then to the outlined debriefing and its humid consequences. I have divested myself of at least a dozen of our biologically bedwetting codependent narcissisms yet a schism persists despite respite from prismatic responders and semiotic pedagogy. Every day we yearn for a grapefruit that will satisfy our flesh lust but the goddamn rotten meats are still throbbing underneath my pillow. There is no adjustment to such climates and no animistic self-annihilation for the golden halo of a mindful buttercup. I can taste the wet succulent seeds. I have untied my lineage and now understand the parallel trajectory of the whip and the nozzle. Come with me little ions of the future for we will dream big and get all our ducks in a row gaw darnit. Shut the book of psychosis on the fingers of mindfulness and tell the neighbors that the couch stinks and it doesn’t belong on the city sidewalk. My ideal ideology is one of animal magnetism and floral folly. When privilege comes knocking on the door pick up the phone with your snip snap incisors and call the glass doctor he’ll fix your panes. Eliminate the negative unnecessary. Fondle the pretty pretenders. Visualize greatness. It looks like something else something over there something over something some so. In hope the full mind dreams of a good no-biology where knock knock who’s there no one no one who no one.
I can see your data is showing a correlation between severity of depression and rainfall during the summer months in sparsely populated regions near the equator. The energy offset by positive thinking creates an astral potentiality and thus if we can jump-start the avatar of infinite human potential we can downgrade the monotony of a harmonic convergence to that of partially hydrogenated pleasure waves. The principle is simple: if taken holistically the didactic lucidity of ephemeral dream logic can and might not create a paradoxically relevant and untouchable genesis of meandering trust. Secondly while animalistic in nature the holographic projection of self enables the melancholic to heal the wounds of psychotechnologies as the poltergeist of normative behavior always and sometimes wanders through the metaphysical network of transitional and kabbalistic traditions. This out-of-body-experience can and will not act as a medium for the spirits harboring resentful grudges against the web-slinging sparrows that stuck them in this nuthouse in the first place. This mob logic thus necessitates a mantra of graphological insignificance and ectoplasmic Christian foreplay. A Jesuit a Rabbi and a Turtle walk into a bar and the bartender a nice fellow who grew up along the Liffey asks them what they would like to drink. A telltale sign of hedge betting and adherence to gnostic goblinism is the left eye tick that when decoded spells out the name of God and the ingredients to his award winning invisible hand creams. Knowing this the bartender in all his infinite wisdom did not listen to the three cosmic bodies but instead sought attunement with the Gaia force in Buddha’s perpetual isolation chamber. Once inside he discovered an ancient invocation that went something like this: Once hidden the karma of iconoclasts now comes to the clearing in full circle of the levitation medium: A circus of thought withheld from common ancestry cannot destroy but very well may try the numerological uncertainty of self-realization. The tender human now with knowledge of the syncretic truth about cats and dogs returned to his work domicile and began taking orders from every harry dick that tom-tommed through the door. But with his chi properly aligned and with Mercury retrograding into the gutter this chap concocted the elixir of life and spelled out his plans for world domination: As a spiritualist and an avid footballer I believe and it has come to my attention that certain individuals heretofore referred to as holy and transcendent are not but a dripping phantom of unidentified vedic fraud as revealed to me through telepathy surgery and trumpets: What warlock is this that comes into my houses and moves my furniture about willy nilly and then has the gall to ask for the tree of life and the fountain of immortality? What false prophet and seance slave saunters under those brilliant golden arches and proclaims the true faith the good deals the righteous path the 99 cent value? What idiot spirit claimed retrocognition when all knowledge is knowledge of a yogic future? I do not have answers to these questions but here is your cocktail. And with that the Turtle said goodbye the Rabbi said good evening and the Jesuit sat down to enjoy his mule and spoils. What can we learn from this esoteric parable? All glum is the surface of the tetragram all frightened are the subjects of yin tang hierarchy. Gobble-based globalization has reduced the Taoist to a snake oil peddler and a sensitive trance channeler without a remote control or service knob. Can’t we all just go to the park together and play frisbee? Can’t we believe in the solar logos that gives meaning to all suffering and sentient suckers? Can’t we purchase goods free of guilt and without overflowing or drowning the real with goodwill? The third eye blinks out of sync as we have learned but this theosophy of right-brain hierarchy cannot but succumb to the vicissitudes of a gentle ear and a calamitous bigotry. The last psychic birth is the emergent scoliosis of pantheism. Pagans from all seats of death converge on the holy temple to bask in its nirvana hole and prostrate in its cosmic itch. Alas the paradigm shift is only for the useless and meanwhile the rest of us wittle piggies go all the way home. They can om all they want but we still got bills to pay mouths to pay spouses to fuck billboards to ogle trashcans to design mailboxes to study. My inner self has always warned me of the calm warm guru with promises of fish tanks and iced meats. Such things aren’t real. And in hopes of appealing to a broader audience the fallen man dwells not on the deja vu dowser who discovers water and discovers it again but the crystals of pendulum energy that immense good cheer and christmas tendrils around the necks and spines of kirlian aura. Down dog down this is not a good time for fetch. Once initiated into the cult of tarot jesus the papas and mamas begin to see the ultimate plan. But who will be our spirit guide us commoners of commerce? Who will knight us and read our fortune? The zodiac offers but superficial assistance and so we must turn to the last remaining wise woman born from the earth and covered in worms. That’s fine. But I feel sick and paranormal so is there an ointment for that? Is there a group chant or a night class? My network is limited my net worth is benign and the council has spoken. Against unity the teachers diverge and disappear into the milky ether whence they came. My witch sells diapers at a department store next to santa. She drives a used ford escort. She is not what she seems. Thus we come to the only possible conclusion: sing the song of psychoanalysis mouth the prayer of the moth. Sing the solar palm postage sing the skin from the bone. Sing the flying object identified cataloged dissected and refined. Lip the tonsils of autonomy regret the foraging of knives. I am the king of discs the queen of farts. I am the jester of calamity the knave of cutlery the healer of boxes. I am the queen of disrepair the surgeon of light. I am the be all things one and forever all things come to those who wait or something like that whatever and ever after. Please forgive my diction. Please forgive my dereliction. Please pass me the salt throw it over my shoulder dress my wounds cure the feet of hogs the eyes of warblers the tongues of the sloths. Say goodbye to my family for me. I will be back someday.
But that is neither here nor there nor where nor fear. What offline system are we speaking of exactly? We shake our fists at missed opportunities here we are lost again in a deeper divide there doven down with the dumdum pigeons of our better light. Meanwhile a cavernous inconvenience looms in the iconic crosshairs of freedom soldiered away in an indecisive manila envelope. And why not? My soft mouth feels for the appropriate questions and let me be honest with you the scissors and rope holding together this feeble construct of a fleshmachine is how do you say not so magnificent. The nation is in brambles but that is only an idiom. We can only observe the staff of wild night realign its prepubescent values with the bandwidth generation and the witch doctor from across the street wink wink. I have a long pipe of organ donors just glitching to save the lives of empty vessels and vat brains hemorrhaged on porridge and poor hygiene such that they dream the demon monotony. A genie of computational coffers rubs off a pinched didactic scream into the upper revolutions of a badly made bed and poorly arranged composition of dusk but such little goats don’t kid around with contract negotiations. As such and for to with the disruption continues. I am a leader I think but I do not lead from the front lest all become lost as I forage through the frontier I lead from behind nipping at the heels of innovation like a rapid calamity of rocky rivers nipping and tucking with surgical yelps from my dog maw at the creme-de-la dogma of gosh-darned analytics be damned. Fumigate the call center gentlemen for your color is bleeding into the esophagus of justice. In space of all things we record and reorder the needle in order to understand the brotherhood of practices invented by gollum plebiscite and committee breathalyzer avoidance obviously. Needless to say the needles are here to stay and for lack of a better word they are hyperautomated and without virus. I have a stick shoved high into my pituitary gland gumming up the synaptics of my medulla and stoning my oblong alligator brain. Pick away at the ice vessel of monogamy you gorgeous gash so we can go spoil this infant plan if you know what I mean I think you know what I mean. Every grain is a lip of consciousness we thus piggycircle back to the middle oink oink my knee is still bleeding from that bicycle accident from the early oughts and we needn’t worry about the Mayan Calendar anymore okay. The meteor is soaked in marina falala lala lala lala. Don’t you own her wounds? Don’t you concern over persons often? Are you not deserved of underfunded comedy? Is this not the sharp point of sales wherein the ground caves in due to ceremony and cuttoe business acid men? What what what what degressive circle backs foresight into restatement to indigist the idolatrous and the futile please please please please stop. Repeat the cut. Resteam before the cut. Serve cold if hallowed. Break the mold and serve chilled before lozenge. Serve up or on ice. Swerve gone until pulverized. This knobby weather is going to drive me nuts.
Knowledge as the king dictates is fundamentally patriarchal and capitalist in nurture. Preternaturally awake in the Byzantine sense I incline towards gravel yards and totem makers. Let me tell you the true factual story of the fake city of Benevolence my good friends and lions: circumcised by a lineage of factory workers and neuroskeptic transmitters promulgated through decree by the matriarchs of soil and sky the little buggers of violence stamped out any hope of muddy salvation or suffrage in order to erect a dysfunctional city of dread on the edge of despair. Dead now gone the daughters of chemical dependency and mothers of the chimerical papacy our foresisters shredded the outdated documents of democracy and landed on an alternative to plymouth rock: We shall be warriors of the icicle bedlam we monsters of pre-industry. Most know this story to be false but some disregard truthhood in favor or something a little spicier and thusly I give you the redacted model of our disenfranchisement such as it is not: The male spider colony interacts with its web through a series of semi-controlled seminal statements aimed with triangularity at the woven mouths of shibboleth sailors and a kindly specimen of woman meant to hide the bodies and feed the babies. This subpar genus speaks when spoken to and are not spoken to so the games they play are inconsequential. But in nocturnal rebellion the freeze bleeds forth from socialist womb and Luddite vulva. I value my dischord as much as the next guy but hey dude don’t be such a fickle dick. This porch sags under the weight of a thousand liberated and lacerating lizard appendages lest we remind ourselves that the government is controlled by a conspiracy of deep deep down cold-skinned cretins. Our bodies are minds controlled by a fascistic limbic system of propaganda dust-ups and media controlled consumptive objects the only real route towards antibiological efficacy is through the tunnel of orgiastic hollar and down the road of hedonistic edge play. Here we are again in the exurbs of justice in the cul-de-sac of rewired purgatory. The city as phallic imperialism spreads its wings through the torn pages of esoteric goblinism and claws its ways from the canyon of elven magic to the citadel of balrog pain and lymph node isolationism. The mad mob of women like to tell us many manly men that we are all immigrants of the soul transgressing along a finite path towards a neuroillogical network based more on the tangled ideology of the cephalopod than the hierarchical divinity of the redwood but even trees sing songs so they say so they say. Back to the antimatter afoot the mouth the ugly automobile of progress has been driven as promised over the fresh snowflakes that wither our bulging testicles. I am a spiralling assemblage of marbled maybes constantly resorted by a didactic society hellbent on turning me into a muzzle for those whose jewels shine too brightly to be stifled. All jokes aside I have resigned from mankind neither truly man nor kind. Our teachers show us our toes and pretend they take us to the bank but the banks cut off our toes and feed them to the enemy. This is what sis told me and her propaganda is real even if it isn’t on the television 24 hours a day so and so days a scum. I listen to sister. I hear her wounds. What was I saying? Oh yes the sinister urge to procreate is only a coincidence and I say this because I am atypically handed. Benevolence is a state of hoarse beauty and sparsely populated vibrant boulevards. The magnanimous miscreants that cut away at our inborn liberties and ingrown failures may appear from a mythic distance to be muses or sirens screaming us towards a bitch oblivion. But in silence we hear something different shut up stop talking for a second I’m almost finished. Hey you guys ever think that maybe your echo chamber is suffocating you? Infinity comes later. This is a cold city of liberated eyeballs watching watching watching my every confused movement. My body is a genderless body of please miss don’t take away my heavy breath and right to stare my body is a city the laws are cuts this is suicide. Don’t worry little girl calamity is coming I can never walk down the street alone at night calamity is coming. The bus is a coven of patriots ready to pounce. My spine is the broken highway system thus I hunch over to protect my children but hey wait I have no children I’m a swinging bachelor and this is my wristwatch. The convention center is full of stomach acid and the subway is gout on the rampage and god believes in your obedience your left rib your tiny brain. Legislature supports thousands of years of tradition and I can’t make my painted rocks without those slush funds trickling down to my little lamb of a continent. Dear madam and madman we all know that marketing is the tool of the devil but an information campaign on the dangers of feminine hygenetics might dispel some of this herpetic growth should I be talking to someone else? Into the kitchen says the pale skinned emperor so I get into the kitchen with my cookbook of atheism and burn down the cathedral and the bank. Hyped up on caffeine the regulator carefully disassembled we join tentacles to build the city of Heaven in a hole on a hill in Hell. I am astronaut industrialist look at me go zoom zoom. Digression ended thesis realigned: the phallus of mind comes laden with infection and the body contorts to survive in a confused state of Hegelian paradox. I’m okay with this sometimes I’ll say some stupid shit hey girl am I right? Found in the suburbs a burning pile of apologies and a cookie-cutter neighborhood of accusations she looks to the countryside and finds only windmills of fangs slashing spit at a better world. She looks to the the turmoil zone of vagrancy and collects idols of poverty to polish and set on an illuminated vitrine. We are museum entries curated by the careful hands of first and foremost mother and public servant. She recoils into anarchy her lips trembling a morse of phantom babel. I turn with her wherever she turns a silent partner is cutting up myself. It’s not a metaphor says the emperor but his disposition is a singularity of ad hoc hegemonics and the nationalist phrenology of lazy antiquity. It is a metaphor says Susan or someone so I cut myself up to be more like you I cut myself up to join you and you cut too I see. We are all scum cunts forgive my self righteous ranting and I will forgive yours. The wild mare loosens her soothing mane of snakes and allows we frail riders to clumsy navigate through the crop circles of disenlightenment. Patterns resemble the tattooed insignias of indigenous folk psychology thus embodying a prenatal urge to follow the synaptic convergence of insectal hybridity through the muscular contours of an agricultural and post-industrial wasteland. Colony collapse fumes in the runes to the west and deglaciation grumbles in the aura of the boring south. Our skin is melting and our blood is wrinkling the winter into a pollen dusted spring fever absent of pupils pulpits and pistils but engorged dangerously and delicately with pistols plumage and plumbing. Posters advertise our private pipes. Sister sits across the street away from the serious man and his choral attachment of birds. I join her and stay silent for a half century as she tells me her story. The end.
Bryan Edenfield was born in Arizona but has lived in Seattle since 2007. He
was the founder and director of the small press and literary arts
organization, Babel/Salvage. He hosted and curated the Glossophonic Showcase and the Ogopogo Performance Series. His writing has most recently been published in Mantra Review, Underwood Press, Meekling Review, TL;DR, and Plinth. He was a recipient of the Jack Straw Writers Fellowship for 2018 and is currently the host and producer of the Hollow Earth Radio program, Glossophonics.
Vassiliea Stylianidou studied Literature and Linguistics at the University of Ioannina (GR) and Visual Arts (B.F.A., M.F.A.) at the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK Berlin). She works as a video and installation artist, using in her works related artistic media such as text, sound/music and performance. Her artistic process involves a constant renegotiation of public and private history, as well as public and private spaces. Her work deal with the limits inherent in systems of order and discipline such as architecture, body, power, family, gender and language. Especially in relation to language, she is interested in experimental ways of using it which challenge and subvert its everyday use in an attempt to suggest new paradigms for knowledge and experience. Her work has been exhibited at nGbK, Berlin; SMU Berlin, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin; quartier21/MuseumsQuartier, Vienna; Fotohof, Salzburg; VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne; C.R.A.C, Sète (F); KUNSTHALLE ATHENA, Athens; Onassis Cultural Center, Athens; Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; The National Museum for Contemporary Art, Athens; State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; Art in General, NYC. She has also participated in the Prague Biennale and in the parallel programme of the Athens and Thessaloniki Biennials. She is member of the feminist queer project Aphrodite. In 2011 she founded the collaborative project STUDIOvisits Berlin.
She lives and works in Berlin and Athens. http://www.stylianidou.com
H Βασιλεία Στυλιανίδου γεννήθηκε στη Θεσσαλονίκη, Είναι εικαστικός με βάση το Βερολίνο και την Αθήνα. Σπούδασε λογοτεχνία και Γλωσσολογία στην Φιλοσοφική Σχολή των Ιωαννίνων και εικαστικές τέχνες (ΒFΑ, ΜFΑ) στο University of the Arts Berlin (UdK Berlin). Εργάζεται ως εικαστικός βίντεο και εγκαταστάσεων, χρησιμοποιώντας στα έργα της συναφή καλλιτεχνικά μέσα, όπως κείμενο, ήχο / μουσική και περφόρμανς.
Τα έργα της διαχειρίζονται τα όρια που ενυπάρχουν στα συστήματα τάξης και πειθαρχίας όπως η αρχιτεκτονική, το σώμα, η εξουσία, η οικογένεια, το φύλο και η γλώσσα.
Ειδικά σε σχέση με τη γλώσσα, ερευνά (ποιητικές) μεθόδους οι οποίες αποσταθεροποιούν την καθημερινή χρήση της, προτείνοντας νέα παραδείγματα γνώσης και εμπειρίας.
Έχει παρουσιάσει τη δουλειά της σε πολλές εκθέσεις στην Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό εκ των οποίων οι σημαντικότερες είναι στο Moυσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης Κρήτης στο Ρέθυμνο, Schwules Museum (SMU) στο Βερολίνο (2018), Διπλάρειο Σχολή σε διογράνωση της Στέγης Γραμμάτων και Τεχνών στην Αθήνα (2017), ΑΣΚΤ, Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών της Αθήνας (2016), Πολιτιστικό Κέντρο Σ. Νιάρχος στην Αθήνα (2015), nGbK-Νeue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst στο Βερολίνο (2014), Haus am Kleistpark στο Βερολίνο (2013), Haus der Kulturen der Welt στο Βερολίνο (2012), quartier21/MuseumsQuartier στη Βιέννη (2012), VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery στην Μελβούρνη (2011), KUNSTHALLE ATHENA στην Αθήνα (2011), C.R.A.C στο Σέτ της Γιαλλίας (2010), Μακεδονικό Μουσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης στην Θεσσαλονίκη (2009), Εθνικό Μουσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης στην Αθήνα (2008), A. Moncio House Museum, Palanga στην Λιθουανία (2007) και πολλές άλλες.
Έλαβε μέρος στην 1η Μπιενάλε Σύγχρονης Τέχνης στην Πράγα (2003) και στα παράλληλα προγράμματα της Μπιενάλε της Αθήνας (2007) και Θεσσαλονίκης (2010).
Είναι μέλος της επιμελητικής ομάδας του queer feminist project Aphrodite. Το 2011 ίδρυσε το ανεξάρτητο συνεργατικό πρότζεκτ STUDIOvisits Berlin με το οποίο έχει πραγματοποιήσει πολλά εγχειρήματα στην Αθήνα και το Βερολίνο. http://www.stylianidou.com
“All of the Meanwhiles”: Signal Intrusion, Time Travel, Abrasion, Rupture.
Broadcast signal intrusions are rare. Only three have ever occurred in the United States. The first was in Florida. An HBO broadcast of The Falcon and the Snowman was intruded upon by a consumer complaint. Subscriptions, Captain Midnight announced, were too expensive: “Showtime/ Movie Channel Beware!” The second and third happened in 1987, two separate broadcast signal intrusions within hours, same town. The news on Chicago’s WGN. Then, WTTW’s Sunday night broadcast of Doctor Who. They have the quality of a threat, the paroxysms of a global crisis: capitalism’s death drive producing etchings of its own ruinous-ness. They appear disjointed, allusive, stupid, and eruptive. A kind of release, like gas or treasure, the old tie that binds entrails, hell, and gold. Or, pulled from the evening air, and wedged into a prior schedule. But not like commercials are. Commercials are always expected. But advertisements and intrusions share the quality of a superimposition. Here’s a starship; now we’re talking peanut butter. Intrusions are more like graffiti, a means to reassert presence and expression. “We” re-inscribe the signal to show that “we” “own” the signal. Or, does the interruption become “that text” that Barthes says “we write in our head when we look up”? A distraction from the text and a nullification of the text’s authority? Is a signal intrusion a brief moment where textual authority and hierarchies are subverted? Paroxysm, an unplanned knock, superimposition, re-inscription, nullification, and translation: they wear a mask of Max Headroom and translate a thing in transition, attempting, we think, to remake Max’s anti-capitalist “disguise” into its actual content; they intrude on a text, too, that is transitional: eras and planets, and faces that change even as the characters and situations remain. Dr. Who rewrites Holmes and Watson, which is itself a rewriting of Poe’s Dupin: a pile up of texts and allusions. Interruption and anachronism: time travel.
The pirating incident is a form of/ a text for modeling time travel in that it interrupts via pause, like the half-alien/ half-human Evie Ethel Garland from the syndicated television program Out of this World: a text from childhood, a thing that holds our attention, in part, because of its amazing enactment of fantasy. Evie touches her fingers together and time stops around her. This allows her to physically alter her space beneath others’ notice. She’s an agent inside the text who can interrupt the flow of time, but she can still act inside of the new time created by the interruption: the Max Headroom mask talks to the viewer from an impossible time (a space inside of stopped time)—isn’t this part of the terror generated by the event, too? And how unsettling would it be, in the paused moment, to not know where or how this document for insertion was created (did the pirates make a video—say, two weeks before—to simply lay down in the television-space they opened up? Or were viewers imagining themselves to be seeing something created live, as in: the pirates are directly transmitting the talking-mask for all the “newspaper . . . nerds”; they are doing this in our time?). The thrilling and upsetting delivery to our living rooms is of course still achieved, whether they do it in another time (pre-made video) or alongside of us (we were in our homes while they were in their storage space; we/ they were there all along).
Spaces, viewpoints, and texts seem to insert or obtrude. In fact, looking up from the text is a rupture, a leakage of the private into public. But it’s not displeasing, nor necessarily penetrative. It can be touching. Barthes argues for textually received pleasure through “abrasion”: “the abrasions [we] impose upon the fine surface” of a text provide us with pleasure. But who is acting upon what here? If the pirates are doing the abrasion, they are asking us to join in. The medium simply demands it. Part of the interruption is defiance of expectation. We are in an intimate/ private exchange with the Dr. Who episode; we are alone or gathered round, but it is most commonly a domestic space. Then “Max Headroom” (a familiar head made unfamiliar, made uncanny?) comes in and violates the space. The pirates have abraded episode, and in doing so have delivered to us the (new) pleasure of a defiled surface. And because in our watching we are collaborators, we too are committing the abrasion. What pleasure is greater than this? We are—especially if we were originally viewers who thought the text to be “live”—inside of their theatrical, paused time. The abrasion is upon our living rooms; we’re in the show! The abrasion bridges, then, the BBC, the dying empire’s psychedelic time traveler TV show, the Chicago network and studio that airs it, the mask’s storage space, and our own lives: all of these spaces begin to touch. We are all folded into a private act (note that contemporary news coverage of the event labeled the spanking device a “marital aid”) leaked public or a public act leaked private; we’re bound by the abrasion, we’re linked in dead surveillance, we’re eyes on the abrasion that is emitted and that gathers us in its scarring force.
Intrusions, and overwritten texts, are far more a feature of everyday experience than they were in 1987. Though, that period’s anxieties surrounding media’s negative dis-/ interruptive effects pervade its art. For example, we see dis-/ interruption re-imagined by Max Headroom’s fictional “blipverts.” Blipverts are thirty-second advertisements that have been condensed to three seconds, so viewer-consumers don’t notice them. There’s no intrusion. Viewers desire to have no “break” from programming. Of course, this innovation just disappears the field upon which the program has been set. The real foundation is the commercial; the viewer-consumer is placed into relation with that field: a brand. By making the advertisement invisible, the consumer has nothing to resist, is not confronted with the product. The loop becomes too small to see. The consumer has no “time to switch channels.” The blipverts in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future, though, are lethal. They cause some to explode, but only the most perpetual viewers: “The only people who are that inactive are pensioners, the sick, or the unemployed,” states one executive at Network 23, a dystopian transnational typical to the era’s cinema (e.g. Omni Consumer Products from RoboCop or Weyland-Yutani from Alien).
However, near the program’s end, we see Blank Reg, the cyberpunk proprietor of Big Time TV, an underground network, watching as the truth of blipverts is revealed. Just before the network’s chief executive and chief scientist are forced to confess their crimes on live TV, Blank Reg switches channels. “What a load of bollocks,” he hisses before switching over to a broadcast of Max Headroom reciting his stale jokes. Even without the commercial “break,” the viewer has lost interest.
Of course, the Internet is cacophonous. Signal intrusions like the interruption in 1987 now occur daily. They are tonally similar, similar in their alignment with absurdity, similar in their reliance on mimesis, similar in their anti-corporate (?) tendencies. They occur, though, not on one scale—the scale of broadcast television—but on an amorphous global/ micro scale. They gestate, or creep outward, or they explode and they make themselves always available for further reproductions, alterations, abrasions, superimpositions, translations, and intrusions. Think of the recent assassination in Ankara. Shocking images are disseminated across the Internet. They are immediately altered. Violence is turned into a set of “iconic” images, which are, in turn, immediately and at a small, though global, scale rendered into memes. You can comically manipulate the assassination with text, though typically with allusion: image-as-non-sequitur. Put Archer’s head on the assassin’s body. Put Freddy Mercury’s head on the assassin’s body. Put Left Shark’s head on, and on with endless fictional and nonfictional faces as masks. The absurd replaceable head as superimposition, as translation, as paroxysm, as sign for the broadcast signal intrusion.
And now the “program” is hand-held. The body carries the screen. When the pirate broke into the Sunday night show, he arrived in the home. The defacement/ abrasion-chain was made upon the screen-within-the-domestic-space (admittedly an often individualized arena, but one in which multiple persons can be/ are often assumed to be present). Now, though, an intrusion upon/ into/ revealed by a screen can often be assumed to be individual—the intrusion comes into/ onto your hand. It’s a Cronenberg movie. It’s the dystopia. It’s a chip placed into your skin without your consent. It’s the CIA watching you through your TV. It’s not that all.
And what of the head as a tool for social control: biometrics, knowing, and individualization-aggregation for the reconstitution of people as information? Data. Closed borders. Ratings. The face becomes a site for inference, representation, and systemic control: who may enter, who may not, knowing each from each. Our real heads are real cages, as artist Zach Blas shows us in his Face Cages. Or as he demonstrates through Facial Weaponization Communiqué:
Facial Weaponization Suite protests against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities
these technologies propagate–by making “collective masks” . . . from the aggregated facial data
of participants, resulting in amorphous masks that cannot be detected as human faces by
biometric facial recognition technologies.
Here, Blas obscures the specific face by transforming it into an aggregate face that resists the force of capture by using the very tools of capture. The face-as-floating-head constructed by state power and commercialization is undermined by more floating heads: full of glitches, opaque, unreadable, collective, and “faceless.” In other words, “We propose to make the face our weapon. . . . A face is like being armed.”
What of Max, in the pilot, the series, and as an ad-man, who is pure thought, an image of a person’s brain remade as a glitchy identity, dodging away from the uncanny? He’s the promise of a robot: disembodied, geographic, virtual, data-composed, and “disruptive.” He’s an inaccurate image of a currently lived reality: Max is data, as we are the data that stick to our bodies and replace us. “I’m talking ratings,” furiously declares one Network 23 executive. Another replies, “And I’m talking people.” But of course, the first quickly retorts, they’re the “same thing.”
Interruption and intrusion are different from disruption. To interrupt is to break between, to shoulder into an ongoing system, not to refabricate it (though remaking does happen); interruption shuts it down. Intrusion is a thrusting into; it’s linked to distraction, which is a pulling apart. Intrusion relates to invasion and usurpation. The 1987 intrusion is totally superimposed, like Deleuzian philosophical time (“all of the meanwhiles are superimposed on one another”); it’s spasmodic, and it translates a text that is itself already hopelessly transliterated. Most importantly, the masked and headless intruders got away with it, just like a mirror, which also always seems to “get away with it.”
The signal intrusion is not merely inter-/ im- in nature; it is also a translation. Watching TV is a kind of reading. The signal intrusion is a translation. Watching a signal intrusion is a different kind of reading. We agree with conceptual writer and artist Tan Lin: “TV watching is not idle time. People philosophize [while] watching TV; the more TV people watch, the more philosophizing they do.” Lin says that channel surfing is a way to meditate. What does it mean, though, when the image shifts against your will, without your lucid pointing of your remote control (here is something, though, about the media in the hand) at your screen? But let’s repeat the sequence/ the circuit: reading, translation, signal intrusion, translation. What the translators “get away with” has to do with their headlessness/ facelessness in the act.
In a discussion of Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind, excerpted/ anthologized in Currently and Emotion (a text openly seeking instigation of disruption), poet Lisa Robertson writes of “the invisible place of reading” as examined by Arendt. “The activity of thinking is an unanswerable one.” & “Reading resists being seen.” Robertson makes what she says is an “unproblematic segue from thinking to reading because the two activities are . . . folded into one another.” The signal intrusion is a translation. Watching TV is a kind of reading/ thinking. In a discussion of Caroline Bergvall’s work (further on in Currently), poet Laura Goldstein writes that translation is “a constant act of the performance of reading, writing, and displaying language”; the unseen activities of reading and thinking are made seen. The signal intrusion translates Dr. Who. In that act, it makes visible its own thinking. And because of the nature of the medium and the fact of the abrasion, we’re asked, too, to serve as translators, but our co-translators are faceless. And, so, we’re left holding the bag, so to speak. The rupture seems, in a deeply terrifying way to us, to expose the viewer: as if someone installed cameras in your bedroom, your bathroom, or god forbid, right in front of your lifeless face, as you watch/ read the TV.
A young woman interviewed in the news coverage of the event remarks, “I thought it would be just a slight mess up, but that, that in the middle of the tape, I’m going to have to tape over it.” She was making a record of her reading the TV, a kind of log. This taping of programs, especially in the old VHS mode, might be understood as a translating act, too; it certainly makes seen her viewing of the program. And then, for her, the intrusion spoils the record. The thing is marred, and she will be relegating the act again to the unseen when she erases via “taping over,” though we can assume a kind of buzzing palimpsest remains somewhere.
Over and again, cinematic science fictions from this era, such as Max Headroom, project bleak futures: ultra violence, virtuality, crassness, and the decay of the commons: “We could go porno. Early.” However, these fictions are meant to 1. suggest a possible future and 2. offer a critique of current trends, in order to 3. resist or correct the social decay. Because they project dystopia forward while suggesting the contemporary root, these texts are “about” anxiety, which, Freud suggests, is just remade guilt. What do these creators and audience feel guilty about? The white authorities must know/ forget/ deny what they’ve done. They don’t want to talk about it. And here is a now/ future where snuff is on your satellite (Videodrome). And here is a future where a person is data, corporations function as governments, and the world drowns in blood (Robocop, etc., etc.). What does it mean that murders are now available on social media? That these images are soon saved and disseminated via YouTube? Has the future come to pass? No. The future was always here in the distant past of right now. The intruders’ broadcast, though, does not project forward. They are not showing “things to come.” They represent the now and the always has been. The intruders show us bad jokes, ridiculous sex, consumerism, spasm, threat. They aren’t selling anything. They’re the screen looking away from the screen. These aren’t satirists; this is anti-allegory. Anne Boyer: “Fed a pabulum of the very bad and told it is the only food, it is no wonder so many people fearfully covet the apocalypse.” The pirates offer, just as any apocalypse-text does, an escape hatch. But unlike, say, the more composed “pleasures” of Art Bell’s throaty voice over the radio or a think-piece on how children will no longer know what snow days are, this text simply arrives with its eyes on us and our eyes on it: it comments on surveillance without evaluation. It hoaxes. It cajoles. It provokes. Its emergence foretells the end. It comments on empire even as it is birthed by such.
The broadcast signal intrusion is, at least in part, an intersection of multiple imaginaries. Think of what is being interrupted. While this is “public” broadcasting, a space that is ostensibly aligned with the common good against the degradation of public life, the ways in which such spaces are ultimately aligned with larger state and corporate forces need no real explanation here. The intruded upon episode of Dr. Who, “Horror at Fang Rock,” is a story of phobic invasion, modeled—another interleaf—on Lovecraft’s multiply derivative teratological representation of reactionary anxiety in “The Colour Out of Space.” Media and genres slide around, foamy and disassociated. It’s difficult not to imagine these different texts (intrusion and thing being intruded on) in conversation with each other, even though they are on different, yet colliding, platforms. It’s hard to find solid ground, to know the time. We see the start of the twentieth century as represented by 1977: i.e. the height of Imperial England just a month before Never Mind Bollocks, further disturbed by the narrative’s much broader lens, which includes cosmic time, anachronism, and allusion. Doctor Who is from the distant past as well as the distant future. But the sets and effects, the technology and usage, everything is of its period: it’s a mish-mosh. And here is a flat surface, a fortuneteller’s head in a carnival box, the mechanical hand passing to you the appropriately non-specific information.
Olivia Cronk is the author of Skin Horse (Action Books, 2012) and Louise and Louise and Louise (The Lettered Streets Press, 2016), and co-editor of The Journal Petra.
Philip Sorenson is the author of Of Embodies (Rescue Press, 2012) and Solar Trauma (Rescue Press, forthcoming), and co-editor of The Journal Petra.
lauren samblanet is a recent graduate of temple university’s mfa program. her poems have been published in a shadow map: an anthology by survivors of sexual assault, queen mob’s teahouse, the vassar review, walkabout and adanna. a dance-radio collaboration with skye hughes was published on colorado public radio’s website and her writings about dance can be found on thinkingdance.net.