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MODERN PASTIME
Or, IN-DOOR AMUSEMENTS.
INCLUDING
VENTRILOQUISM—PARLOUR MAGIC—ELEMENTARY
GYMNASTICS—BILLIARDS—FUN & FLIRTATION FORFEITS, ETC. ETC.

No. 8.
SELLING ADONIS.
One Lady and one Gentleman. 
The gentleman must stand on a chair in the centre of the room, while the lady-auctioneer, pointing to him, says, "Adonis for sale!"  She must then enumerate all his charms, qualities, and attractions.  The company then bid anything they please for him—such as a red-herring, a tea-kettle, a curb-bridle, a magic-lantern, the old grey goose, a lump of sugar, &c.  The bidding is to go on till the Lord of Misrule bids a pound of soft-soap, when the lot is taken to him by the auctioneer. 

No. 15.
THE MAN WHO IS TOO HAPPY. 
One Gentleman and six Ladies. 
The gentleman sitting in the middle of the room must be complimented and paid attention by each lady in turn.  Without rising, he is to respond by every species of grateful manner; first murmuring, in a whisper, "I'm too happy,"—increasing in the tone of his voice each time, till reaching the highest note, he rushes out of the room. 

No. 17.
THE LORD MAYOR'S DINNER. 
Eight Ladies and eight Gentlemen. 
The ladies each successively go and fetch a gentleman and place him for a quadrille, according to the value of their respective numbers. 
1ST LADY TO 1ST GENTLEMAN. 
This is my chicken for roasting. 
2ND LADY TO 2ND GENTLEMAN.
This is my calf's heart for mince-meat. 
3RD LADY TO 3RD GENTLEMAN.
This is my wild duck to make game of. 
4TH LADY TO 4TH GENTLEMAN.
This is my lamb's pluck for putting in a stew. 
5TH LADY TO 5TH GENTLEMAN.
This is my green goose for stuffing. 
6TH LADY TO 6TH GENTLEMAN.
This is my calf's head for my brain sauce. 
7TH LADY TO 7TH GENTLEMAN.
This is my flat fish for a vol au vent
8TH LADY TO 8TH GENTLEMAN.
This is my pigeon for cutting up with brain sauce. 

No. 27. 
MISS ANN AND JANE SMITH'S TABBY CATS.
Two Gentlemen and all the Ladies. 
The ladies all remain in their places, and two gentlemen in shawls and bonnets or caps go round, one with a saucer of milk, the other with a teaspoon, with which she gives a sip of milk to each, saying, "Take that, my pretty puss!" to which, after taking it, "puss" must gravely answer, "Mew." 
 
No. 30. 
THE HORRID MAN.
One Gentleman. 
He must go round and pay a bad compliment to every lady in the room, who is to answer, "You horrid man!" 
 
No. 47.
INTERESTING QUESTIONS.
One Gentleman--one Lady; seated in front of each other. 
LADY.
   Are you Adonis?
GENTLEMAN. 
   No, Miss. 
   Are you Juno? 
LADY. 
   Oh no! 
   Are you Cupid? 
GENTLEMAN. 
   No, stupid. 

Lightning

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:59 pm
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Lightning strikes.
Lightning spikes.
Lightning spills and stains the sky.
Lightning crackles.
Lightning shivers.
Lightning spasms, shrieks, and dies.

Lightning sings. 
Lightning stings. 
Lightning cleaves the world asunder.
Lightning threads through gale and thunder.
Lightning strips the leaves from trees: thin bare branches, stark and grasping
at the wind in helpless tremors.
Lightning sets down roots and sighs. 
Storm is coming. 
Lightning sends the people running, lights the raindrops,
draws a jagged line between us
and the darkness. Lightning flickers,
shows the world in all its glory
right before the gloom moves in and
lightning cracks the vault of clouds, makes the rain come tumbling down.
Lightning, fine-veined, many-fingered, writhes and reaches for the ground.
Lightning hangs untouched, inverted, looming rocks far overhead.
It could kill us.
Just a word, and lightning plummets
from the heavens,
torches burning for the dead.

Lightning shatters.
Lightning scatters.
Lightning bathes the world in fire.
Lightning flashes.
Lightning lashes
out obliquely, groping, seeking,
churning air into a frenzy. Lightning quickens.
Lightning rages in the distance.
(please don't see us)
Lightning punctuates a chorus,
echoes through the world unhindered
in the great and lowly places.
Lightning stoops to kindle fire. 
Lightning leaps atop a spire, splits the crown 
of tree and tower, tears stone down,
anoints the sacred site with ash. 
Lightning lingers
for a moment,
imprints itself in afterimage,
as we huddle, glancing skyward, 
waiting
for the storm to pass. 

Tides

Jun. 17th, 2017 04:39 pm
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He sneezed six times in quick succession
Like waves breaking upon the shore
Each time the buildup, then the crest
Then spray and salt and nothing more

He drank two glasses of water with dinner
Like pouring it all down the drain
The glass sat empty in his hand
Ready to be washed again

He set his shoulders and clenched his stomach
Trying to will himself to piss
A dribble came, and then a spurt
All water was reduced to this

Grievances

Jun. 14th, 2017 05:27 pm
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Write out your grievances on a piece of paper. Fold in in half, and then in half again, and then again and again until the paper starts to resist you, pushing back against your fingernails. Put it between your lips, under your tongue. Let it settle.

When you're ready, reach to your lips as if you're performing a magic trick. Unfold it like a flower blooming, like a scarf from a sleeve, like a map being spread out against a table. Flourish it, show them the ink that's been set, that's smeared and dried and smeared again, undeniable.

The secret to the trick - the trick to the secret - is the kernel of truth, the grounding in the familiar, the space beneath your tongue and down your throat and up your sinuses. Everyone will be astonished that it was in you all along.

Walk around stuffed with grievances, one for every occasion, ready to perform the trick on command. Write them down as they occur to you, fill pages with them, tamp them down between your lips and gums in a paper mache sneer. Use your teeth as mnemonics. Run your tongue across your gums, so many benign lumps on the inside of your mouth. Each one ready - at a moment's notice! - to emerge from their cocoon.

Your mouth will taste like paper, sure, but that's a benefit. It'll leach up your spit, leave your mouth dry, tasting the hollow of air. Never forget you're lacking something, never forget how badly you want to want to spit.

Paper's non-toxic. There's no danger in this. If the opportunity never emerges, no harm done. The little wads will wear against each other, dissolving into pulp. You'll carry them with you until your mouth slackens, until a moment of forgetting, and you'll absently flick the leavings off your lips, or you'll swallow them. As easy and as painless and shedding skin.

And if you find your chance and reach for your lips and unfold a paper rich with spit, only to see that you've revealed the wrong one - who cares? They're all the same, aren't they? All wadded together and indistinct and indivisible. The magic's in the reveal of it, not in the information. The magic trick is that you were unhappy all along.

Keep your grievances close to your lips, as little acts of wonder. Plant them, and let them decompose and die, and give them the chance to bloom.
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You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
Give them something to eat, and they'll bite at your hand
You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
You've seen this play out, why don't you understand

You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
Show them the horizon, and they'll want to fly free
You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
Sure as the shore's worn away by the sea

You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
And there are only so many more miles to claim
You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
Pace out your borders, let them to do the same

You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
You'll measure in inches the progress you'll make
You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
The least you can give, the most they can take

You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
And be not one inch closer than you were before
You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
Still a mile between you, a mile and more

You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile
And you'll be left wondering at how far you've gone
In the space of that inch, they imagined a mile
You gave them an inch, and the lines were redrawn

Unpacking

May. 21st, 2017 06:47 pm
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Hold this, she said, and I gathered up
a fist of her hair, undoing her frame from behind,
unbuttoning the knobs of her spine,
unlacing the tendons in her neck and shoulders
to the musical twang of her ribs popping free

Her lungs escaped her like a sob,
unfolding,
spilling out like a rumpled dress
that I arranged atop the tiles,
one hand smoothing out the wrinkles,
gliding across her skin until she sighed,
divested,
exposing her pale back to me in its entirety

It's amazing how much there is to a woman:
silk and bone and a thousand scribbled notes inked onto her innards,
unwritten love letters, angry scrawls,
knots of twine and rawhide that I fished out
and laid delicately against the tiles like a diagram,
careful to memorize their places

Her heart, sluggish and warm and tough as leather,
and indistinguishable from
all her other organs,
years of padding and upholstery unseamed until
the bathroom floor resembled a butcher's palette,
and she hung loose and slumping, dozing gently,
with so much of her to still unpack

There's room for happiness in there, I think,
there's so much else in her

There's room for everything that I lack
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My parents did not raise healthy children.
There's nothing to be done about it, I suppose,
just a quirk of genetics.
A new malady would periodically surface, each
removed from the last, as if
it was simply in our nature to be sick, absent
any particularities: 
insomnia,
violent allergic reactions that burst out
in hives across our groin and thighs and
the backs of our hands,
dry eyes,
asthma of the skin,
UTIs,
sensitive teeth,
depression,
sudden pains in our knees
that kept us from the gym
for months on end,
tendons tightening in our necks,
bald spots,
open sores that we scratched into our skin.

And each time, our parents would schedule a doctor's appointment
after it became clear
our condition wouldn't go away on its own.
We'd sit silently in the waiting room,
waiting to give non-committal answers: 
"No, I don't know what caused it"
"No, I don't remember that far back"
"It kind of hurts"
"Sort of"
"Not really"
"I didn't eat anything unusual"
"No, here's been no change in my schedule"
"No, no undue stress"
"No, this is - you must understand -
"There has been no change in our lives since before this started" 
"This is how we live"
"This is how we have always been living"

And the doctors, faintly puzzled,
would scribble down their prescriptions anyway and
treat the symptoms.
Our parents paid the consultation fees, paid for
the MRIs and the urine tests,
the blood tests that revealed no proximate cause,
paid for the physical therapists and
the sedatives and cortisone creams,
as we hovered around
all the while unable to shake
the conviction that we were wasting
time, bleeding away money,
that this was all bearable, somehow, or had progressed
to the state that it was bearable
by the time our parents had brought us here. That we were
too far removed now from sickness, from dysfunction,
that we would heal on our own,
or grow used to it,
or progress to the point that our suffering
was unmistakable;
that despite our parents' urging -
"Be specific. Tell the doctor
what he needs to know. You can't get better if
you don't pay attention
to what's going on with your body."
the cause of sickness was so inherent
so as to be invisible, that we might wake up the next morning
having forgotten how to sleep, how to eat,
how to look at things without crying,
how to breathe unencumbered, how to walk, how to
not tear apart our own skin.

We'd take home our tubes of creams and our
artificial tears and neat rows of pills and
we'd smooth this patch over.
We'd wait to get better.
We'd wait
until everything
was normal
again.
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Ah, excuse me. But if you're not busy, could you hold this, please? Thank you. Ugh, it's skittering around in there. You can see it, can't you? Wedging itself into all the little nooks and quarries.

Pass me the hook thing, would you? Yes, that one. Thank you. Just got to ... just got to claw it out and ....

Ugh. Damn. I'm sorry. I'm imposing on you. You don't want to see this. You don't want to have to stand around looking over my shoulder while I try to fish this thing out.

Oh. Well. I hate to impose, but that's very kind. I - no, no, it's nothing. Thank you for your help.

I just can't sleep sometimes, you know? With it crawling and skittering around in there, keeping me awake. At night, my god, the sound is magnified. I'll be dozing off to sleep, and there it is, resurfacing. It's more frustrating than anything, you know? To be coming so close to sleep, and to have it snatched away from me ....

Even in the daytime it's not that great, you know? You'd think - I mean, it seems like it would be interesting, wouldn't it? Like having a pet. A tarantula safe in its cage, or a - something you can feed, you know? You can put a dead rat in there and watch it eat.

But even in the daytime, it's ... it's like reality TV. I can feel the ruts it's wearing inside my skull. Why am I doing this? Why am I still watching this? Why aren't I doing something more productive with my time?

Eh. You don't have to stay, really. It's not your problem.

All right. This is - I appreciate it, I really do. It's too easy to fuck this up going it alone. Stab your own fingers by mistake. Reach down the wrong crevasse and be feeling down there for hours. And a person here, it -

I get so alone sometimes.

Sorry. Could you just grip the sides of it, please. Yes, just like that. Thank you. Thank you. Just keep a hold of it, and -

There it is there it is there it is c'mon c'mon c'mon I've almost got you you little bastard -

Ah, fuck. Well, it's bleeding, at least. I think maybe if I stab it enough - Haha. Can you do that, do you think? Bleed out from a sore on the inside of your mouth? Just keep worrying it and worrying it and stabbing at it and jabbing at it and keeping it open all the time until you eventually bleed to death? 

Well, regardless. Couldn't do it. I'm done. I'll try again tomorrow, or ... It's not that big of a deal, it's really not. I'm used to it by now. And it's entertaining enough, in the daytime, in a decrepit sort of way. And even the nights ...

So I don't sleep. Eh. Who sleeps anymore? What's the point of it? To wake up again and ...? 

If I'm awake sixteen hours a day, or twenty hours a day, does it really make a difference? To be awake, and it's so unbearable that ... ? 

No, no, it's perfectly acceptable. As if the matter of hours matter. Thank you for your time. Honestly. I'll be ...

No, no, I don't want you to feel obliged to me or anything, thanks to the stupid human impulse towards compassion. Imagine, a stranger approaches you in the street, asking for help as if you owe them something! Haha! It's idiotic, isn't it! We've got to train ourselves not to respond!

So please, know that you were no help at all! Haha! We didn't come any closer to getting this damn thing out!

So thank you for your time, but really, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. There's nothing to be done about it. You should go back on your way and forget about me.

Oh, i could get it out if I really wanted to, you know. Flush the whole thing. Smash the sides of the container. Do something irrevocable. Just take up a hammer and WHAM! Smash the thing to pieces! Send it scurrying out in the open air where it dies!

But I don't do that, you see, so I suppose I don't really want to be rid of it. I just want to ... probe in there, and jab at it, and make it bleed, and ...

Ah, but I'm sorry. I've exploited your kindness far too much. No, no, this must be it. Go on your way! Goodbye! Goodbye!

I'll be perfectly fine, I assure you. I own a hammer, eh? What more could a person need? 

The Truth

May. 2nd, 2017 08:06 pm
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The truth, to get to the heart of the matter, is boring. Saying what I think and feel is the dullest thing in the world, it's a reiteration of my own circumstances, as if I'm in my head staring out of my eyeballs and dutifully taking note of what is going on around me. In order to communicate - in order to produce anything, even marginalia that goes unseen by anyone - I need a hook. I need the structure of artifice.

For example: I dreamed about Mischa again last night. Her mouth on my mouth, the curve of it sympathetic, the cushioned contact between our bodies. But what would be the point of returning to it, of describing it to anyone, even if just to myself? I could lay out events in sequence, I could chronologue our history. I could give that all-important context. But there's no context to be had. I reread some of my old diary entries again the other day, and the self that wrote those entries is a foreign entity, another person, who couldn't have predicted that years and years from then they'd wake up, dreaming. I hadn't thought of her in years, honestly. I just dreamt about her again last night, that's all.

Even back then there was the distinction between what I did when I was with her, and what I wanted to do, the distinction between reality and fantasy. What we did was utterly mundane, the sort of stuff you've surely experienced yourself and promptly forgotten about, because your brain needed the room to store more important memories. "I met her at the mall." How fascinating. I could dig up old chat logs and shudder at the inanity.

Meanwhile, there was the impulse I could extrapolate outwards, the recurring themes I'd retread and wear thin. The push and pull of the tides, their regularity and inevitability. That clockwork structure of desire that was made to seem like it was counting down to something but would just go 'round and 'round forever. The distinction between everything that was going on inside my head, and everything we did together. You appreciate the difference, right? The fantasy was fine, albeit repetitive. The reality was the dullest thing on earth.

Even now, to speak of her in dreams, I could psychoanalyze, I could slot her into an archetype. I could say, I dreamed of happiness, or, I dreamed of comfort, or, I dreamed of being loved, as if that's all she was and that's all she represented. As if I was happy, or comforted, or loved back then, and this is all a throwback to a world that once existed. I could say I'm miserable, or frustrated, or alone, as if there's a solid justification for my dreams and desires, as if she's part of my story, genuinely, and this all comes together by the end.

That's the artifice in it, you know? She was a real person, but you wouldn't know it by me talking about her.

I could say I fantasized about killing her. That's not true, I never did, but wouldn't that be interesting? Wouldn't that be the big reveal that finally sheds light on the whole situation? Just a single lie, and suddenly we're hinting at meaning, as if everything that happened last night and all those years ago somehow makes sense.

I dreamt about Mischa again last night, and I woke up and didn't feel anything. That's the gist of the story. That's the truth of it.

Horror

Apr. 13th, 2017 03:43 pm
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There's a horror living in your head. It's yours, entirely. It doesn't map to anyone else's. Doesn't that make you feel special? You've got something that's exclusively your own. 

I've got my own horror, and so does everyone else, presumably. We can only talk about it in vague terms, and it only occasionally solidifies into an incomprehensible metaphor. Mine is shards of glass staring up like dead eyes from the ash and sand. Even that's too specific. It's other things too. It depends on the time of day and the weather. 

Our ineloquence makes us believe that the horror is amorphous, ever-shifting. We find like-minded people and we hammer out a jargon for it, big, expansive terms with no set definition, words capable of containing the world. Only a philosopher could properly understand them, but even an idiot can shriek out the words and feel a chill. It's coming, it's coming, it's here, it's coming; we say the words and it's surrounding us; we say the words and we're grasping at the edges of a vast and protoplasmic thing.

It's a mass delusion, though. Your horror is not mine, no matter how much we may agree it is. You can see it now in your head, can't you? How to describe it? Its borders are perfectly defined and intricate, tendrils crawling around the edges, reaching into the crevasses in your brain. Whose face does it have? Say the name. It wouldn't mean anything to anyone outside a small group of people, just a random name in the phone book, so you don't say that, right? You grasp for a word that someone else might be able to understand. You could map it out, probably, if you were so inclined, but it would take a lifetime. You'd have a spiderweb of string and pushpins, old photos, newspaper cutouts, words scrawled on scraps of paper. It would stretch across the walls of your house. You'd look like a lunatic. And you're not. You know you're not. Other people have talked about it too, a thing like this, though not entirely. All the distinct little differences in experience. But it's close enough, right? Close enough to a reality. Close enough to cling to.

So you take your horror and you file the edges off. You generalize. You find that something close enough in the outside world and you adopt the vocabulary as your own, just grateful for the ability to finally speak. You take your horror and you make it universal.

There's a horror in my head, and it's not yours, not at all. That's the only thing for sure we have in common. Mine is a pyramid of human skin, sagging and weighty like a dumpling, its surface prickled with gooseflesh. It's clammy. Ugh! I can feel it sweating from here. It's not your horror, is it? No, no, not at all. Tell me all about yours. Be specific. Be a lunatic. It's good to talk. It's good to let it all out. It's good to speak the truth.

Because what we do, in our mass delusion, is we let all our horrors blur together. We ink out intricate, personal maps and then we pile them on top of each other and let the ink bleed through. Until it's huge and blotted black and faceless, until it's ready to swallow us whole. Kundera talked about totalitarian kitsch, a smiling bland face that swallows us whole with happiness and the sentiment of the universal brotherhood of man. This is a kind of kitsch too, isn't it, this is anti-kitsch, this is apocalyptic kitsch. This is an aesthetic we can project into the void and hear the voices screaming back, until it seems like the whole world is screaming in horror with us. This is the stark perfect picture of our despair. This is the growing black tide that we're all going to have to beat back together, or we're all going to suffocate and drown.

But it doesn't happen, and instead we all drown separately, in disparate groups, except for those of us who don't drown at all. And we stare out in shock because that makes the horror worse. How are they not dying? How can they not see? How could you abandon me at this, my hour of need? I'm drowning! I'm drowning! Can't you see that? Can't you feel the suction of the tide? 

Listen: there is a horror in your head, and it's not mine, and it's not anybody else's. There are points of overlap, sure. There are good and useful group projects. And then you will wander down the tributaries of your horror, you will feel its tendrils grasping, and you will look around and you will find your friends and compatriots have abandoned you. No. They were never there to begin with. There are people being dragged down in the privacy of their overgrown lawns, the roots creeping up from the grass, far from your sight. There are people privately quietly suffering with all their variegated horrors creeping up to play. And it's not your horror, and it doesn't fit into your map, but it's there, and that's all you need to understand.

There's a horror in your head, and it's as real as mine, it's as real as anyone else's. I won't understand it completely, and maybe no one ever will. That doesn't take anything away from it. We like to think we'd all shriek in unison, but our voices rise and fall away one by one. The closest we can come to compassion is to understand that we intersect in convenience, and that we are not abandoned when we diverge. We are all in this together. We are all very much alone.

I have to go. I have my own problems to deal with. Take care of yourself, especially when no one else will. Navigate the edges of your horror. Tend to it. It is as unique and intricate and as beautiful as you are.

Walk your lonely paths, and pull it out by the roots.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
Please read the following text and then answer the questions below:
 
I'm pretty sure writing is impossible.
I'm pretty sure writing and being read is impossible. 
Writing involves the formation of a "self" that I'm not ready to share with anyone; that's how much I fear intimacy.
The horrifying thing about writing is that no one ever understands what you're saying. 
They only ever understand how they feel about what you wrote.

QUESTIONS: (Please pick the best answer) 

1) What does the writer mean when they say "writing and being read is impossible"?
A) The writer has psychological / emotional problems that make it difficult for them to share their thoughts and feelings with others. 
B) The writer is frustrated at their inadequacy at writing, and cannot find the words to adequately express their thoughts and feelings.
C) Any written text is separate from the author and can only be understood as the reader interprets it, making true communication impossible. 
D) Writing and being read is impossible.
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

2) Why does the writer put the word "self" in quotation marks?
A) The writer is talking about a fictional persona adopted for the purposes of writing.  
B) The writer believes in an innermost self that is separate from the "self" presented to others.
C) The writer's existence is irrelevant; they might as well not exist outside of the text.
D) The writer is insecure, and finds it unnatural to express themselves through writing. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________
 
3) The writer says they are "not ready to share with anyone". What literary device is employed by you reading these words regardless? 
A) Paradox.
B) Irony.
C) Satire. 
D) Tragedy. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

4) What does the writer mean when they say that they "fear intimacy"?
A) The writer writes about intensely personal things that they are hesitant to share with an audience. 
B) The writer is afraid of having their ideas closely scrutinized for fear they are insufficient.
C) The writer fears being eradicated from the text and overwritten by someone else's interpretation. 
D) The writer has genuine psychological / emotional problems with interacting with other people. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

5) Do you understand what the writer is saying? 
A) No, the actual meaning is only available inside of the writer's head.
B) Yes, our understanding of something is dependent on objective reality, not someone else's opinions. Since the text is grammatically coherent and communicates intelligible ideas, we can understand it.
C) Yes, although how well we understand it depends on how closely our interpretations sync up with the writer's.
D) No, we only ever understand how we feel about what they wrote. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________
 
6) Is the writer genuinely attempting to be understood?
A) No, they consider genuine understanding to be impossible. 
B) Yes, they are in pursuit of a seemingly futile goal. 
C) No, they are being deliberately vague to conceal a lack of insight. 
D) Yes, and the words chosen express exactly what they were trying to say. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

7) According to the writer, is writing possible? 
A) I'm pretty sure writing is impossible.
B) I'm pretty sure writing and being read is impossible. 
C) Writing involves the formation of a "self" that I'm not ready to share with anyone; that's how much I fear intimacy.
D) The horrifying thing about writing is that no one ever understands what you're saying. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

8)
Wouldn't the "best answer" always be some variation of E, as it's always possible to clarify and expand upon one of the other four answers? 
A) Yes, any statement can always be clarified and improved upon. 
B) Maybe, it depends whether we are capable of improving on the other answers or not. 
C) No, because by that logic any answer in E could then be subsequently improved upon, ensuring that it will never be the best possible answer. 
D) There are no best answers. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

9) What, exactly, is "the horrifying thing about writing"? 
A) The realization that no one will ever fully understand you, and that you will never fully understand anyone else, because we all irreparably view things through our own sets of filters. 
B) The realization that you will never be able to precisely express what you mean, not even to yourself.
C) Being exposed. Being seen. Being judged.
D) The realization that you have nothing meaningful to say, and that the only value your words have are in the insights of people who read their own ideas into them.
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

10)
 How would the writer most likely feel about you trying to interpret what this piece means? 
A) They would be relieved that someone was trying to understand them. 
B) They would be horrified that they were being subject to someone else's interpretation. 
C) They would be resigned to the inadequacy of writing as an expression of meaning. 
D) It doesn't matter at all how they feel. 
E) None of the above (Please fill in your own answer here)_______________________________________________________

Thus ends the test. Thank you for your time. You will not be graded.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
"I resent these repeated accusations that I am a ghoul. It's a slur; it's an insidious insinuation. As if I would haunt graveyards. As if I crave the flesh of the dead.

"We all understand what it means to accuse someone of ghoulishness, yes? My opponents would have you believe that I am some macabre scavenger that grows fat off slaughter, slavering at the mouth, eager to pick through the aftermath of wars. As if I am shepherding your children off to die and to be rendered into meat. My opponents would have you believe that there is something morbid, something fundamentally inhuman and antithetical to life about my policies, merely because of the death toll associated with them. I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

"I want you to note the absurdity of this accusation - as if a ghoul creates corpses instead of consuming them. It would be as if wolves, hungry for mutton, midwife young lambs into existence, delicately tending to them until they are old enough to devour! Nothing of the sort! The act of creating corpses, my dear friends, far from being ghoulish, signifies a living, bloody, voracious appetite. From the smallest mite to the noblest beast, nothing can survive without predation. Is it ghoulish, my friends, when a hunter corners its prey, tears apart its throat and partakes of its flesh? Of course not! It is perfectly natural and vibrant and healthy. To kill is the most natural thing in the world.


"Will people die due to my policies? Of course. They will die in the thousands. But this is part and parcel of the metabolisms of a nation.
Was Sahib Qiran a ghoul when he stacked the skulls of his foes into minarets? When white-skinned Quetzalcoatl donned flesh and began the conquest of the fifth world, was he ghoulish in his slaughter? Was Conotocaurious a ghoul as he devoured villages whole? Are nations little more than a banquet table built upon a charnel house?

"No, no, and a thousand times no. These were great men, generals, murderers. And yet rather than recognize the greatness of what we have accomplished, my opponents would have you believe that my policies are little more than the self-serving plot of a ghoul. The cowards who dare to defame me seek to exploit your natural horror of death. They tell you thousands will die, and they would have you believe that this is unnatural, despicable, immoral. They tell you only a ghoul would desire such a thing. And yet they fail to see the utter hypocrisy in their actions. They are the ones who feed upon the dead, are they not? They are the ones who haunt graveyards. My opponents cling to the dead and wail for sympathy, they pick among the remains and seek out the choice bits, constantly worrying the scraps of bone between their teeth. Just listen to them, to the false compassion in their voices, shrieking and hooting over every new corpse that is buried, eager to uncover it.

"A predator, my friends, is no ghoul. A ghoul accomplishes nothing, neither hunts nor kills. A ghoul, a true ghoul, feeds on stagnancy and inaction, wallows in past mistakes and sorrows. A ghoul can only sustain itself upon the corpses created by those more dedicated to the pursuit of life. Myself, I have nothing but distaste for the dead. I shudder at the thought of corpse-eating. The dead are dead, they are buried and sealed away and rotting, far from the sight of all good and civilized people.

"I assure you, my friends, I have only ever fed upon the living."
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
All I want is
All you want is
All I want is
To live without restriction.

Let's pretend we're improvising,
Say, "Yes, and" to everything:

Yes I love you and
Yes I need you and
Yes we'll be here for each other
And Yes and Yes and Yes and Yes and -
Until we're overflowing.

No scripts to follow, roles to play,
Generations' worth
Of learned behaviors.
No more hesitation, waiting
For a prompt, a cue, anything
To tell us it's okay to act
Or what to be afraid of.

Just Yes your hands and Yes my hands
And Yes all hands reaching out to us
And Yes your lips and Yes your thighs and Yes teeth Yes throat Yes tongue and
Your voice my lips and Yes each other -

Let's pretend we can't say "No"
As if that's the only thing between us;
As if all I want is
All you want is
All I want is
You.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
Some books (and I mean this)
have greater worth as ashes. 
People underestimate the value of a fire,
both practical, as in for warmth, and
in a very real way beautiful, more so
than a mediocre novel could hope to be. 

Myself, I like to destroy books.
I like to compress them into pulp, the back cover
peeling off into rolls of dead skin as
it rubs against my palms. Oh, 
I love to devour books, warping pages
with the imprint of my fingers, 
darkening pages with my drool
and snot and sweat and 
everything clinging to my dirty little hands
until the words run and become nonsensical. 
I've digested books like fiber, shitting out
their words, rearranged. 
I love books. I own a library. 
I've never read the same book twice. 

So I can understand burning books. 
You get the light, yes,
and you get the warmth and 
the scent of smoke and the roar of the flames. 
Whereas if I'd read them 
I'd have wads of yellowed paper taking
up space on my bookshelves,
full of silverfish nests and mildew and 
the dumpy satisfaction of having been read.
But the fire! Oh -
but the fire, all-voracious,
needy, guttering, maddened with hunger, 
devouring books whole to survive. 
There could be anything in those ashes,
in those pages, in those burnt
and blackened imaginings. 
There could be a monster in there. 
There could be an apocalypse in there. 

There could be the worst thing in the world. 
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
There is nothing at all you have to be afraid of. 

Fear is an immediate, visceral response based on proximity, a close and present danger. A threat to your continued existence. And yet your life, your hands, your children, your friends, your country, your identity has been extended outward, trembling at the touch of a spider's leg upon your extremities. A shiver goes running up your spine. Your brain has been extracted from your skull and placed in a great glass bowl that magnifies your senses. You can see for thousands of miles, you can sense vibrations from continents away. Good lord. People are dying. A great bristling hairy menace crawls across the land. The air trembles at its name. 

Know that you are safe in here. 

You will not die, and you will not die, and you will not die. The great glass bowl inoculates you from consequence. You will go about your day steeping in your own worry, a-tremble at every twitch and tremor, sick with a morbid compassion, perfectly safe from harm. People will be slaughtered, in ones and twos and tens and thousands, and you will know them only tangentially at best, names and faces that flicker across the glass. Friends, acquaintances, perhaps, but no one so close that you would be dragged down with them. It couldn't happen here and it has happened here and it will never happen to you. 

Look at the statistics, look at the facts. At all the people who have died, and all and all and all the people who have lived.

You have no reason at all to be afraid. 
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
The Black Rope is braided together from your hair, your dead skin cells, every scab and clot and bit of detritus that has sloughed off your body, every matted wad harvested from a shower drain combed out and braided together into a dead black cord. It is slightly thinner than your wrist and hangs suspended from the sky, dancing in the wind, one end disappearing into the distance. You can grasp it easily, loop it around your arms, and it supports your weight. The Black Rope is greased with your oils and sebum, made shiny and pliant so that it coils and bends with ease. It feels familiar against your skin.

It has been made especially for you, over the course of a lifetime.

The Black Rope sheds hairs as you touch it, black lines that mark out paths on your skin. They hide in the furrows of your palms, they cling to your sweat, impossible to peel off. You dig into your skin with your fingernails and the black lines merely writhe across your flesh like snakes. You are marked. The blades will come and trace along the lines, trace along your destiny, slitting you open according to the meridians of your body, following the paths of your veins. You cling to the Black Rope regardless. It is the only thing you have left of your life.
 
The Black Rope stinks of shit, of sweat, of unwashed hair. It coils like entrails. It is real, visceral, in a way that nothing else is. The Black Rope is warm. There is some decomposition in its tightly woven core, some process of decay that gives off heat. The Black Rope cradles you, comforts you. Knotted, it serves as a harness. Pulled taut, it serves as an anchor. You feel its imprints in your flesh, the thin black hairs pressed deep into the welts, embedded in the inflamed skin.

The sky looms infinite and grey above you. You grip the Black Rope, and you begin to climb.

Labyrinth

Mar. 21st, 2017 09:06 am
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
The King, still in mourning, built a Labyrinth for his son. Escape would be impossible for a beast, the King believed, for mere bestial impulse could not hope to navigate such a complex cage. But for a human intelligence, the King hoped, escape would be inevitable, as his son would gradually map out each of the branching passageways as the years passed, implacably making his way to the exit, to the only path left unexplored.  

As repayment for what had befallen his son, the King demanded a sacrifice of seven young men and seven young women, their futures snatched from them just as his son's had been. The Labyrinth was fair and equitable and blind in its cruelty, designed so that the youths offered up as sacrifice, and the Minotaur they were to be sacrificed to, would be equally disadvantaged. There was no advantage to be gained in familiarity with the Labyrinth, for all its paths were featureless and all equivalent to one another, and the only way for two strangers to come upon each other was by chance. Neither would know where the other was, for if the Minotaur had been capable of tracking humans through the Labyrinth, he would have long ago found his way to the exit, to his parents. 

In truth, the precise location of the Minotaur, and that of the youths offered up as sacrifice, was a mystery even to the Labyrinth's creators. No one could definitively be said to have been killed by the Minotaur, just as it could not be said definitively that the Minotaur was still alive. Perhaps someone had killed the Minotaur long ago, and was still wandering lost in the Labyrinth, having succumbed to madness and taken on the role of the beast. Perhaps the Minotaur had escaped long ago through a crack in the wall, a carefully dug tunnel, some unforeseen egress, and the Labyrinth had lain empty for years, children wandering lightly through its ruins. Or perhaps the Minotaur had welcomed them all in as kindred souls, and together they had built a society hidden from the eyes of their parents. Perhaps they had decided that they would rather remain together in the Labyrinth than return to a world that had sent them there to die. 

In this way, the King was more disadvantaged than them all, never knowing who was still alive and who was dead, never daring to venture into the Labyrinth himself. He looked upon its walls, upon the impossible intricate passages that blocked all things from sight, and sat at the entrance of the Labyrinth, mourning the loss of his son. 

Demigorge

Mar. 17th, 2017 02:52 pm
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
"THE DEMIGORGES1 OF A BASTION2 are formed by producing the adjoining curtains3, until they meet the capital of the bastion.4
. . .
"It has two faces, two demigorges, and two extremities."5
- Sir Charles William Pasley, Lieut.-Colonel Royal Engineers, F.R.S.
Course of Military Instruction, Volume II: Containing Elementary Fortification

"In the first he makes the demi-gorge equal to 24 toises6 in the square, 25 in the pentagon, 26 in the hexagon, 27 in the heptagon, 28 in the octagon, 29 in the enneagon, and 30 in the decagon, and all higher polygons.7
. . . 
"His flanks are on right lines, drawn from the center of the figure through the extremities of the demi-gorges.8
. . . 
"...120 toises, from the center of the figure to the middle of which he suppose a perpendicular to be drawn, and to be divided into n+1 parts (n being the number of the sides), two of which he allows for each of the demi-gorges, and three for each of the capitals9, from the outer extremities of which last, rasant10 lines of defence, drawn to the extremities of the demi-gorges or curtain, determine the lengths of the flanks, which are on right lines, drawn from the center of the figure, and the positions and lengths of the faces of the bastions."11
-Charles James, An Universal Military Dictionary

"COMPLEMENT of the Courtin [in Fortification] is that part of the Courtin, which (being wanting) is the Demi-gorge, or the Remainder of the Courtin, after its Flank is taken away, to the Angle of the Demi-gorge."12
-Nathan Bailey, An Universal Etymological English Dictionary
 

1. Etymologically, DEMIGORGE would seem to derive from demi-, half, and gorge, throat: a blocked windpipe, the inability to swallow. Or, perhaps, a reminder that our appetites are not entirely essential. It follows a string of false cognates beginning from Demiurge (δημιουργός, craftsman, the creator of our debased world) to Demogorgon (a deity invented wholesale by Lactantius in third century AD, Dicit deum Demogorgona summum) to Demogorge (the God-Eater, a deity invented by Alan Zelenetz and Bob Hall for Marvel Comics in 1982). The deities share no etymology or genealogy but the similarity of their names, words picked for what they sound like, stripped of any definite meaning and inviting supposition. All variants of DEMIURGE are gods or demons that rule the world, born of word association. 

2. Demigorges are military deities, the genii loci of bastions. A bastion is a pentagrammic projection from a fortress, a promontory into a hostile sea. Despite this, a bastion is also held as a place of safekeeping and preservation. By the rules of the demigorges, the only way to defend something (our nation, our freedom, our way of life) is to assert it outwards offensively.

 
3. Demigorges are completely artificial, twice-constructed, "formed by producing". A curtain veils and reveals, serves as an element of theater. Demigorges are formed through an artificial revelation, the curtains parting to reveal what has deliberately been kept hidden.

4. Even a bastion, as an extension of a fortress, forms its own politics and political capital. Every forward thrust collects its own power, finds its own center. Pioneers build colonies, explorers found nations. A nation expands from the point of a blade.

5. Demigorges are anatomical, part of some larger organism, functioning according to bilateral symmetry. Man creates the world in his image. Demigorges are what remain between a face and an extremity, between what sees and consumes and what extends outwards.

6. A toise is a unit of measurement for length, area, and volume simultaneously. It is either exactly 6 feet, or exactly 2 meters, or 1.8 meters, or about 3.799 square meters, or 8 cubic meters altogether. Within a toise, all conceptions of distance and space fold into one another. To mark out a border is to enclose a territory, to claim a territory necessitates inhabiting it in three dimensions. Maps make fortresses, make nations.

7.
As a demigorge is composed of multiple toises, it is simultaneously one-, two-, and three-dimensional, existing within all planes of order and expanding to fill the space it is allotted. It inhabits the space of higher polygons. It inhabits the space of a straight line.

8. A demigorge is pierced through its flanks, through its still-beating heart, crucified upon a divine geometry. Crucifixion splays the condemned out on display as a deterrence to other potential offenders. A demigorge, up to its extremities, is a display of the potentiality of its violence enacted upon itself. 


9. The figure is drawn, divided, sliced into parts, the capitals being accorded a larger portion of the share than the demigorges
. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. 

10. Rasant: archaic, meaning long, sweeping, curving, arcing off into the distance, such that a shot fired will fall off and merely graze the target. Such a term presumes that an army's strength weakens at its extremities, that there are no weapons of war that can inflict destruction from miles away. The arc is of history, the last line of defense a wavering, dying line tracing back to a past where there was a limit to our abilities to destroy.

11. Any attempt to define a demigorge necessarily degenerates into archaic jargon and obscurantism, the words themselves imbued with a quasi-mystic power due to their mystery:
the essence of the occult. Meaning is obliterated; we are left with fleeting bits of familiar-sounding phrases, word association, trying to piece together an equation we no longer understand.The demigorges stretch from the outer extremities, the last lines of defense. They determine the positions and lengths and faces, our bastion walls stare out of us. The demigorges are artificial, we have constructed them in their entirety (As we constructed squares and pentagons and enneagons? Or was that always merely our uncovering of a higher geometrical reality?). What have we created for ourselves?
 
12. A demigorge can be understood as an absence, an incompleteness, an amputation. It is a mathematical remainder. It is that which is wanting. A curtain is a court is an enclosure, is a theater of laws and security and fortification and all the promises of nation. A curtain encloses a space for playacting, the representation of something that otherwise doesn't exist. The curtains part and a barren stage is revealed, dancers with their legs amputated. Bastions project outwards into hostile territory, but the nation itself is hollow, reduced to nothing but border, nothing left behind it. Its Flank is taken away, to the Angle of the Demi-gorge.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
it's a flock of birds

it's stick figures

it's a map of dead people

they are at war they are at war, caveman paintings crossed out and scrawled over

oh god they're all dying

i am looking at the surface of the sea
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
Little girls are made of 
Sugar AND SPICE
(or so they say)
But you are a little
TOO spicy today!

Being ugly AND 
not listening
are not nice,
maybe next time you'll think twice
because a little girl who 
THROWS A FIT
will be a little girl who 
has  to  SIT!
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