Most of this is fiction / autofiction. All unpublished, taken from journals I’ve kept over the years.
June 3 2015
Nuclear war has devastated the city. It’s burned the fat out of my mind. Nobody knows how to make money anymore and the kids on the outskirts imagine themselves as parents long before their own parents tell them where babies come from.
I want to make my replacement too. I don’t want to live forever. I’ll travel outside of time and cross my wires with the future of all the people who lovingly reminded me how to write. I was there before all the stories collapsed under the diminishing integrity of their magic powers and other conditions of auto-depletion. Before atoms ate away at any decent length of thread. Nobody knows how to write anymore; we spend our time having children. And when we fuck each other the fantasy universes into which we plunge are too many, they shuffle and rearrange themselves like playing cards at the whims of a manic poker dealer. Before we’re engulfed in one or another it’s stolen from our dreaming eyes and we’re returned to our lonely bodies. Our lust is just lust for our partner’s lust.
The other night I met a historian who told me that he was glad that he would be dead before his profession became outmoded. In the future, he said, all historians will be data scientists.
I forgot to tell him that the eschaton is too interesting for me to not to treat it as art. It needs to be passed down across generations. A story that gets better and better right up to the moment people start dying for real. Grandiose – my dreams are young girl’s dreams.
April 12 2015: remember (this)
Once upon a time
He charmed flies with the embers of a cigarette. They slipped between his fingers as the smoke meets the air. Moved but not moving. I saw the holes he made in an aluminum lid.
By the time I arrived, the flies were dead among leaves of dead grass, charred with veiny wings in a heaping clot. From the jar’s lid hung some spider’s prey, a silk bundle in a tortured frozen contortion. I said this is the opposite of a terrarium and he looked pained.
I want to bring you life where you have unwittingly dealt only in death. All this is exchanging one symbol of death for another in the desperate hope that the act would endow both with value. Would revive them as a matter of process.
Because it’s a losing game and ’cause my love for you is strong. I’m obliged to show you the beautiful world meaning the one where (this) is to be continued.
December 2 2014: the turing test, death, computers
(Meta: this isn’t fiction. Thoughts while recovering from a car accident).
When I was in the E.R., the thought occurred to me that I might be dead. I reasoned that the procession of nurses, police officers, intravenous tubes and stretchers could be a hallucination produced by my dying brain. Granted I was very high — in shock, flooded with adrenaline and on strong painkillers — which probably accounts for the fact that this possibility didn’t bother me very much. But I wanted to know for sure.
I thought: the only way that I can know if I’m alive or dead is if I have a conversation with a friend. It stood to reason that everybody I’d encountered since the accident might be part of my death-dream. But if a friend of mine held a dialogue with me, that would signal that this hospital bed, these tubes and the turkey sandwich they gave me when I arrived were all very much real and I wasn’t instead on my way to a morgue.
I logged onto gchat and sent a message out to a couple of people.
After a few minutes without a reply, I began to panic. The blank space hanging at the end of my words (hey, are you up? I really need to talk…) was unbearable; I’d figured at least one person would be there. Not so much. My next resort was facebook. I was lucky to talk to somebody I’m very close with, because my next move would have been to hit up a casual acquaintance with something along the lines of hi I know we don’t talk much, but please respond to me because I was just hit by a car and I want to make sure I’m still alive.
I’m not sure what logic my mind was following at that point. I think it has something to do with being in the moment, responsive to a situation in a way that doesn’t feel predetermined, programmed by algorithm or fated otherwise. As far as I knew, the nurses who’d been changing my IV tubes out and wheeling me between x-rays, CAT scans and section 13A of the emergency room seemed ordinary in a way that could have been produced by a dreaming, semi-conscious mind. They fit the Perfect Form of “nurse.” And this ordinariness bothered me. I wanted a flash of life, an unpredictable word from someone I had known before all this happened. Something my own brain couldn’t make up, something other.
I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d spoken with a robot instead. Certainly under normal circumstances I can tell the difference between my friends and a chat bot. But if, as a prank, one of my geeky friends had set it up so that their gchat responses were auto-generated, would I have noticed then? If I had, I think it would’ve worried me a lot.
September 9 2014: lot’s wife (looking back)
He held a mirror up to my face when I told him I didn’t have any in my apartment. The face in the mirror cracked up at me and said, do you remember walking around the lower east side? I said yes and the mirror said you used to walk around and scoff at the excess of wealth. You’d take comfort remembering the economy was collapsing. In the time of Kathy Acker, the weird interstice that was Real Punk In America, things were bad. They said that parts of the city were hell on earth. It’s September 9 2014 and things are worse now. I told him that applying makeup made me go into a trance because I had to dissociate from my face. Its imperfections drive me up the wall. It’s not uncommon for depression to fester and spread like pus over a wound, for self-hate to turn the curls of your hair on you in a mutinous chokehold.
I said to him I’ve never liked guns but now I know what it’s like to want to shoot one at the ceiling. The boiler room beneath my apartment isn’t too far from my neighbor’s oxygen machine and my roommate’s got an induction burner. I swear there are more pressures of air in me than there are in this whole house. I took the mirror away, I sent him away, I told him to return only when he had pills for schizophrenia. When his teeth didn’t make him look like a big black god. He’d been swelling. By the time he returned he was bigger than a house. Figured I’d ask him if big people feel more than small ones do. He responded by tipping my throat back and depositing salt into me, so much of it that I sputtered and choked but he kept pouring until it caked on the inside of my esophagus and I couldn’t form words anymore. Now when I try to scream poverty or schizophrenia or class-warfare the taste of salt fills my throat. I can’t drink water even when my thirst kills me. I’m a million grains of salt.
September 5 2014
Once upon a time I looked for exit signs like fixating on burn marks to learn how to stoke a fire.
I stopped writing when I caught sight of an end leering at me from the mountains. When I raise my eyes to those vistas and feel not passion burning but dread — that’s when I’ll know it’s safe for the story to begin.
August 17 2014
I might try—hard—if you asked me to describe it.
You’re a new kind of familiar, first, and second you’re just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I inverted my magic bag to show you all the nothing that’s there. One more look from you and I’d confess I started with nothing, never added to it. No tricks up my sleeve—no needles in my haystack. No cat, all bag. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Didn’t you do that because you already knew that? Ask me to describe these things, I mean. Because you knew what might happen if you found the words.
I wrote a note for a love song and in a pinch I disappeared, matching the sudden ecstasy of something new with the protracted ecstasy of realizing that it was all you. So I sprang from your fingers and slipped back in a pinch. I’m a new kind of familiar, first, and second I’m just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I’m still here spinning tales with my toes like walking in circles to describe it, I’m waiting for the story to whip its lash at my feet again.
July 12 2014: aporia
I decided I’d have nothing to say to him until I wrote the story out.
My computer is crashing, my body is breaking, the nerves in my hands crisp and tighten around the carpal tunnels. They freeze and thaw with no apparent pattern. A shame because my ability to write and play piano depends on them. If I can’t make, I can’t think.
I navigate the means through paralysis and cash in my yang-impulses, generative energies, at the leather drum. No articulate motions of the fingers necessary. It’s an instrument of Apollo.
I give up drinking. I’m always in the sun. Without announcement Dionysus became nothing more than the devil on my shoulder. He who disappears when you meet his gaze.
I get stronger, I tone my muscles. The vigor required to keep a beat atrophies if you fixate on harmony and proper intonation. I eat lamb to brighten my blood, and I’m in the sun all day long.
Fortitude and its discontents. I read Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel.
I wrote the story of how I found my spirit husband in the Earth realms by accident. I wrote about falling into the oceans of the mythical unconscious. How to buoy another person in those waters as they do you. In the house of the Jungians it’s perfectly natural. I wrote about psychosis, an inflammation of the psyche, about how schizophrenics are closer to the spirit realms than we are. He says
I don’t want to speak because words have too much meaning
as the diagnosis goes,
schizophrenics are language’s slaves; poets, its masters.
I hand-copy the story of Cupid and Psyche. I linger on the tasks of Psyche, the girl who gave her heart to Cupid. Who sustained the wounds of an iron bow. Cupid can elevate an arrow at a perfect right angle to his shoulder, can apply the perfect degree of tension to the bow with inhuman exactitude. Cupid can make an arc so elegant and speedy that the air near his target barely shakes.
In the footnotes I write that I’ve tuned my guitar to the scale of Cupid’s arsenal of bows, the resonances of iron. I don’t remember how the myth unfolds because I fell into a trance while transcribing it. I wrote the story by hand in cheap ink, my hands shook and froze. Verbatim as it was originally committed to the encyclopedia of folklore. Verbatim with a psychoanalyst’s detachment, that was the goal, but I fell into the rhythm of this particular translation and found myself at the end not remembering the beginning or the middle. Into a story-trance again.
July 7 2014: speak/memory
New York City is the best place to forget.
November 3 2013: dedication
Lou Reed and Arthur Danto passed away on the same day. Reading Arthur Danto’s philosophies of art changed my life three years ago. Lou Reed’s music has been changing my life since I was sixteen.
I’m finding life in New York City difficult these days. Still, I love this city. For the same reasons that it produced thinkers like Arthur Danto and artists like Lou Reed.
Laurie Anderson’s obituary for Lou Reed
An obituary for Arthur Danto (in the Worcester Telegram)
October 3 2013: dedication
Myself. To a Sadeian place of privilege. Where everything is permissible.
The chessboard floor, the jungle, the library with a slanted, mouth-open anterior receding backward past the library clerks’ and students’ sightline. One-way ticket to Eden.
Eden: the inverse of Hell, Hell itself the inverse of Heaven. The place of transfiguration. I am writing it and I am going to write it.
September 27 2013: inauguration of the auguries of (in)experience
So I sat in the front row of desks, so I listened to my professor riff on structural inequality. So I rode the train home the next day and considered the girl I know who’s making a career of legitimizing “psychedelic studies” as a field of inquiry within higher education. An interdisciplinary field, she says, evoking queer studies as a precedent. You know, a major of minors. Like playing the music we like to hear. Dissonant polyphony that in the brain decays to a perfect sin wave. Or in the heart, simple harmony.
The professor says: we are the ones with the cameras, we are the ones authorized to valorized, educated to validate. Conferring legitimacy on oneself comes first, I suppose. I’m not invested in this idea of self-alchemy per se. I’m just sitting on the train.
The professor has a lot to say about what’s wrong with the world, somehow adding the negative numbers up to a positive equation. We can make change. We can make change. We’re begging for change.
I believe in her and I believe in it and I believe in myself, but the logic gap between this is a world that is a bad world and change is real needs to be supplanted by a positive philosophy. I believe that. Like the emerging field of positive psychology. A science, of course, of the promotion of things for which the most common words are spiritual jargon. Unflattered by holy light, dried up, hollow husks for those who don’t keep the faith or hold the frequency. And that’s all right. Everything changes.
September 26 2013
Also, also what folks fail to realize is we’re already living in an anarchist world and some just want the policies to be more honest.
September 26 2013
One month to the day of my southward migration. I told him: everything in this city is garish or concrete. Forgot to say all that’s all right with me. Some people make an art of the things they don’t say, and some people find meaning in silence, and some people think through their writing, and lots of people live here. Like the holiday card from the Buddhists I got last year
Look at each other: be kind
Look up: see blue
September 24 2013: oblique oubliette
The problem with visionaries: no two eyes can see forever.
Not only Paris, but every city is a city of light. In New York, they plant darkness. Not like landmines, like plants, and they spray the weeds. They stuff their eyes and faces and mouths with senses. The hollows of their own unplanted selves.
Lest we forget to this day young women ride the subway trains half an hour at least reading Women As Lovers. Between the footfall measures of government-grade to twenty-four karat darkness (invisibility, indivisibility, efficiency) new lovers sync their blinking to expedite the blindness.
Separate the face from the skull: the city bones are built from the mixture of mask and skin, territory and map, revision and presence. Or so I’ve forgotten, and am glad to write: I forgot.