Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nihil (2004)

Note:  This was written between 2003-2004 and was an attempt to fuse some motifs from David Lynch and Thomas Pynchon.  At best, it's an exercise in auto-erotic asphyxiation between Love and Death.  At worst, it's a waste of time.  Either way, my apologies in advance.  
 He never really wanted this, this simulacrum, this dust on the mirror, this wet kiss on parched skin.  He wanted nothing.  He wanted an empty stage that echoed this life.  He wanted a shifting of feet, pattering around under empty eyes.  He wanted a cry to relinquish the void, to cast away the light and force the line to break.  He wanted vows to hold as a torch.  He wanted to establish a false dichotomy, a false solipsism.  But he never really wanted this.
 There is a distance between visions, a gap that forces us to mourn the reality of space, of tears, of false names.  She dances in this space.  She does this because she knows that God lives here.  She dances to recall him, to force him out, to force him to illuminate this night.  There is something behind this space, this darkness.  This something moves behind the curtain, reaching with wire nails, luminous and sanguine.  As her feet move, she hears it gurgle and gasp and wheeze and rise.  She dances faster hoping that it can't keep up, or that God will awaken, or that he will really want this, although he never will.
 There is a nightmare of the New World that creeps through our night, forcing us to sweat and scream ourselves into the waking world.  The nightmare keeps a beat, a rhythm, a pulse under heaving breasts.  The nightmare lives on our beaches, under umbrellas, sipping mixed drinks.  It sits and waits because it knows that is not really a nightmare.  It knows it is truthfully a prophecy whispered behind the curtain.
 The letters never ended.  They kept coming and wrecking our world.  Their tone was academic.  They were facts, at least they appeared to be.  They promised happiness and everlasting peace while being written in the blood that crashes on our coasts.  The words were forming a revolution.  The letters were their vanguard and battered us day and night until they were all that would slither from our lips.  It was only when the letters stopped that the nightmare was born.
 At times he felt more like a machine than a messiah, as his fingered blazed across the keyboard, pounding away vision after vision as the television blared.  He would stare at the keyboard as his typed, trying to connect the keys with the words they constructed, trying to connect those words with ideas.  It was over, all over.  He's buried himself in this room filled with humming processors.  He knows that they know something we can never really connect to, that their electric circuits process more than just numbers.  "They are building their world while ours is slipping way," his fingers hammer out in seconds.  He knows that the circuit will be his crucifix, but isn't quite sure what he would harrow.
Last night he spent himself in the dessert of an empty document, just watching its whiteness weave and waver.  He just glared and let the visions come.  They would rise up out of the white ocean of nothing, of silence.  Maybe their world would be a world without words (or maybe it's a word without worlds), of beautiful crystal silence. "No…," he mutters.  They are their language, their binary code, their yes and no, 1 and 0, all or nothing, control or the void.        
 She has cameras everywhere and watches us at all times.  She knows that only she can solve our problems.  Her room is cluttered with televisions.  She memorizes all the lines, the slivers of language, in order to get a complete picture.  She is starting to understand that the nightmare is our nightmare, that we made it, that we, at the end of it all, must destroy it.  She cannot have visions, only memories…of men fleeing balloons and talking horses and towers falling.  She no longer remembers her life, her time in the sun, under the placid glare of the television and the electric humming of our death.
 He's no longer really human, just beige latex and blue scrubs holding a silver blade.  He knows how to cut, how to end things, allowing others to come in and reconnect things.  It's not that he's arrogant, just indifferent.  He knows that we are machines made of flesh, gyrating around this world, blood and guts oozing to and fro.  So he went to school and learned how to cut.  First it was the small stuff, cutting away bad habits.  As his life progressed, he cut out the larger aspects, like wife and kids, family, and friends.  He focused on cutting the flesh, of severing skin, revealing rushes of red and purple.  
 He doesn't deserve this, any of this.  He has found his way in life through cowardice and deceit, mainly out of fear.  The voices tell him this.  He hears them all the time, leathery voices that now make up his life.  The voices knock and enter and leave secrets about empty streets at night or about how his life has fallen together.  The voices want out.  They conspire at night.  His dreams give them form, a parliament of sounds holding judgment.  Some voices say they are devils, some are angels, some are the people that cross you on the street or just ignore you in person.  "You don't deserve this, any of this," they whisper as they pass him by.   
 His stylus runs across the screen.  He taps Date Book.  Then taps on Friday.  He holds the stylus in the air, selects a time, graffiti's in "Kill Myself" into the slot and shuts off the PDA.  Monday he will go to meetings and as others talk shop, he scribbles notes in the Memo part of his PDA.  He writes of the different methods he will use, from hanging to electrocution.  Tuesday is spent in lunches, he writes obituaries for himself.  As he chews, he imagines the wake, suits in suits all sitting around, all discussing this deal or that one, or how his financial finesse leveled one town, ruined countless lives, but saved the company a few hundred thousand a year.  Wednesday and Thursday are really the same day, more meetings, fixing spreadsheets, Hotsync-ing data.  His PDA is like a 3rd arm, a 3rd arm with a nihilistic streak.  Friday comes as if it was Monday.  More work, then happy hour, then home after a few martinis.  At his IKEA home, the alarm goes off in his darkened apartment.  He sits and thinks about his empty life, hopes to find some redeeming factor, some light to hold his hand.  In the darkness, he can think of nothing, slowly he gets up off his couch, reaching for the PDA, clicks on Reschedule and shuts it off.    
 I've sat here on the shore of the Rubicon and dreamed of paths covering paths and how my life will end a million times.  I see myself biting the red dust under my feet as flies gather, little legs rushing across my eyes.  I see my body grotesquely thrown onto a stage over and over again.  I heard words like justice and vengeance inbreeding into an ocean of new words.  I keep coming to this point on the river, one which I've crossed a million times, listening to the cacophony of drops rushing from my veins because it has been my choices that have lead me here to this place.  I have crossed this river, taken the city, and died a million times for this peace.
 He floods the room with lights and saturates it with Paul Simon as an attempt to hold the darkness at bay, as an attempt to reconnect to himself, to who he was, to what he was.  He sits with his eyes shut and lets the rhythms dance in him, resonate in him, penetrate him.  It helps, but only as a temporary fix because he knows that tomorrow will come to push him around, because the night is insatiable.  So for now he sits and rocks slowly to and fro because something is not quite right in him anymore, and it's starting to get dark.
 I've covered the floors with wax paper to capture her imprints.  She no longer walks, at least not here.  And I don't know what to say.  There is just this silence that I've gotten used to and the crackle of the paper that protects the steps she stepped, and I miss her more than anything or nothing or both.   I'll sit in the corner and imagine her walking, with her small feet, almost Japanese like.  I can see her through my sleepless caffeine haze.  I am all darkness now.  No more dancers or curtains or anything else.  I am void and voided at the same time.  The wax paper protects our past as I writhe inside, inside my blue stomach full of blue pills.  And I wish that she was still here to step all over me.
 I have been shell shocked into this MTV bunker for too many years, suffering from a spiritual overdose of consumerism.  The next generation will be born with corporate logos as birthmarks.  They will be educated in commercialized universities.  Their uniforms will all be trademarked.  Copyright law will become more important that criminal law.  Television will be all commercials.  Movies will be purely funded via product placement.  Even the bullet with which I will blow out my brains will have a Nike swoosh on it, whispering "just do it…"    
 They dance together in this celestial ballroom.  Her face radiates a light and warmth that counters his cold, bare visage.  I can see them at times.  I watched their steps as they move.  At times she leads.  At times he does.  I know that deep down they've been dancing like this since the beginning.  To us she is the surge that drives us into his embrace.  But there is something in her eyes that tells me that she is so much more.  She is the pulse of light that travels vast distances.  She is the energy that fuels the atoms.  She is the vibration that shatters the silence, even when we only hear static.  I can't read his eyes completely.  I know that he must love her by the way he caresses her hands.  But there is also a sadness that I sense.  He knows that this dance must end someday, and he will stand alone on the white marble dance floor.
 "It will end one day," the nightmare tells the dancer, "All the words will fail us. They will cease to be uttered from trembling lips.  Testaments and manifestos will be seared off the face of the universe.  There will be a profound and eternal silence.  Only then will the war end.  Only then will we lay down our pens and begin to rejoice without making any sound.  Only then will we forever rest in this quiet peace."  Her delicate, small fingers rest on his chest, and she whispers, "maybe..."    

The Anatomy of Regret (2006)

  The chicken lays stretched out on the cool grey morning pavement of the turnpike. Its white ribs are exposed to the new sun, and its still eyes uselessly stare at the violet and azure sky filled with multi-tiered clouds. Five minutes from now Willie will drive past the chicken. He will slightly jerk his steering wheel to the right to avoid the chicken because he a) doesn't want his wheel to touch dead flesh and spatter remains onto his undercarriage. . . b) someone somewhere told him that santeros (or is it brujeros) leave chickens on the road to transfer the sins of a client onto the person who touches it. If Willie would have been paying more attention, he would have recalled that someone somewhere specifically mentioned that the dead chickens are always left at intersections or crossroads. He would also recall the importance that crossroads have been given. It is on the crossroads that you decide where you will go with your life. It is there that, when you were Oedipus, you met with a stranger that was really your father. And as Oepidus, you fought your father and murdered him and casually continued on your way to Thebes to marry a stranger who was really your mother and have children with her. And years later, as Oedipus, you learned the truth of the path you'd chosen and gouge out your eyes as the audience looks on in horror.
  Willie will think of the chicken and the crossroads. He will try to really picture this someone somewhere more clearly because it has been years since he has seen her. The chicken will be vanishing in his rear-view window when he will insert his favorite 10,000 Maniacs CD and select Track 5. This song has always reminded him of her, and listening to it serves as his daily masochistic meditative ritual. He will hear the song, think of her, and try to piece together what happened to them. His mind will uselessly try to pry at events, stretching out memories of times spent together. On the shimmering asphalt, he searches his lifeless heart in hopes of at least some sort of transfiguration (at best some sort of resurrection).
  Was it August or September? Not that it mattered. Facts are only really hanging ornaments on the Christmas trees of our past. He wanted borders, something solid and square from the early 20th century. Someone somewhere wanted their love to be open like a grazing pasture growing green in April. Willie will think about how this need for definition is really a manifestation of his desire to control his life and hers in turn. Years from now he will believe that her ultimate goal might have been to allow their love to grow without restrictions, making it ever-changing so that it would endure. He will blame this contrast in ideologies for the casual, slow disintegration of their relationship.
  The truth was that she simply did not love him. The chicken knew it; the glistening asphalt knew it; even Track 5 knew it. He had spent (and would continue to spend) years alone trying to dissect and comprehend why someone somewhere was with someone else somewhere else so far away. He would wonder if he should have called again, or maybe he should have written a letter. He would contemplate what he could have done to keep someone somewhere close to him. None of which would have actually changed anything. Ultimately, he would construct dreams of a fictional life together. And as his love for her would logically fade, his love for the fictional construct of her would grow.
  Years from now he will accidentally run into her in line for coffee. They will chat a little about their careers and friends who've passed away. In the spaces between the seconds he will try to muster up the courage to invite her to dinner, but he will fail. His fear will convert itself into silence and ultimately inaction. After their brief chat, she will pick up her chai latte, give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and tell him that it was good seeing him. As she walks out of the cafe (and his life), Willie will carefully watch her leave. For some unknown, Willie will remember the Cumean Sibyl's Greek answer in the epigraph of T.S. Elliot's "The Waste Land."
  At 7:33 AM on this warm Thursday morning, a white Honda Accord abruptly swerves a bit to the right to miss the carcass of a decomposing chicken. Its opaque eyes beg the question: Sybulla ti theleis?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rumination at Year's End

[Note:  Something I drafted 12/31/2011 but forgot to post up.]

I was going to write something about how the highlights of 2011 really gave me new perspective on life and my place in the world, how they taught me that at my age I was still capable of change, and how joy and happiness could still find new places to take root...and conversely about how the low points of 2011 had the potential of etching a shadow on my days to come, a shadow that I'm not sure I'd ever be able to cast a light on.

...but I wanted to avoid the sentimental, so I thought I'd try to write something punny, with airy alliteration, like
"titular trappings tend towards troublesome times" or
"linear lunacy lends life limited longevity"...

...but I didn't want to sound too frivolous, so I went with something more stoic, something to do the old gods of the North right:

"In this last year, my head didn't end up on the tip of a spear, and my heart didn't end up nailed to the Wall, so I guess it was a pretty good year."