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"You're waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can't know for sure. Yet it doesn't matter! Now tell me why!"

Subways, rail transit, cars inching through traffic, pedicabs, taxis, motorcycles, Uber drivers, a city criss-crossed by a tangle of lines choking out the air, choking out the horizon. Go liminal. Float. This is an instance which will be over once we hit our destination, once the doors slide open, once the engines die, once we peel ourselves free from the sheer flood of humanity and reassert our individuality. No one likes being caught in traffic.

"You never really remember the beginning of a dream, do you?" says Dom Cobb, in the movie Inception. "You always wind up right in the middle of what's going on."

"I guess, yeah," says Ariadne.

"So how did we end up here?"

Walkways, bicycles, strolls along the cobbled streets, buses, jitneys, intimate two-person car rides. Ariadne grasps for an answer and comes up with a blank. Without any pathways to tie it down, the city disintegrates  into a slow-motion atmosphere of debris, a million fragmentary points all equidistant. Dreams lack transit, dreams lack forward momentum. This is unreal. How else could we have ended up here? 

Ride backwards, searching for a beginning. Even remembering the route to the restaurant wouldn't have proved anything - if this is how we got from point A to B, then how did we get to point A to begin with? There's always something earlier, a series of precursor events stretching backwards until they blur at the limits of memory. Dom Cobb awakes in an airplane. He is in an airport. He is at his house, about to meet his children. What happened in the interim, in that split-second of black between frames as the camera cuts to something new? How did he end up here? How are we sure that he's not still dreaming?

The world we've constructed for ourselves is unbearable. We are pressed into the service of vast corporations, we long to spend more time with our children. We are consumed with the recurring patterns of regret. We seek escape. Transit. Purpose. We are going somewhere. We have somewhere to be. There is a direction to our lives, no matter how circuitous and oppressive they may seem. We board airplanes, trams, passenger cars, re-purposed army jeeps, and lulled by the cradle of motion, we let our minds wander. We drift off into unconsciousness.

We are waiting for a train.

Waking consciousness is held together by a connective tissue of lapses, losses of attention, moments where nothing happens. To remember everything, every single moment that led us to this point, every wandering thought and irritation, would be unbearable. We navigate our way by landmarks, memorable events, the roads between them blurring into abstraction, the gap between frames. We mark our lives by motion, from somewhere, to somewhere, glossing over what happens in transit. We tell stories. We leave things out. That's a jump cut, an edit, a split-second of black: the formation of a narrative.

Meanwhile, dreams have no beginnings because they have no middles, punctuated only by the abrupt end of waking. Dreams are thoughtlessly egalitarian, proceeding from one event to another without worry of transition: 'We were all riding in my dad's motorcycle and the sidecar was huge, as big as a camper, and we were driving along a winding road at the edge of a cliff, and I was standing up and I could feel the wind and I was in my underwear and -' An undifferentiated series of 'ands' like a rock rolling down a cliff, no detail more or less important than any other.

To ask 'How did we get here?' is to attempt to impose the logic of narrative, to look backwards and realize there's no trajectory that led us to this moment, just a jumbled sequence of semi-conscious events. Our waking mind edits, makes cuts, leaves things out. And then we go to sleep and all the raw material of our perceptions comes tumbling out.

Dreams are real. Movies aren't.

There are no transitions in real life, just the undifferentiated space of existence. People die in car crashes returning home from the airport, petty, abrupt tragedies that would senselessly ruin a movie. It's madness to jump off a ledge in an attempt to try and wake up from a dream. But in the waking world, people jump off buildings every day for less, not even believing in a world waiting on the other side. Dangling plot lines that never reach a resolution, lives that lurch into no purpose but despair.

We lay our heads down on the tracks and we listen to the vibrations.

There's a sensation while traveling, being in transition, that is similar to but more extreme than deja vu. It's the feeling of having already experienced a moment that hasn't yet happened. We have entered unreality, windows and windshield forming an embryonic cocoon, the outside world blurred by motion. The journey is a mere frame of blackness, already edited out in post. We are already at work, already back home, already at our destination. Nothing we do in the interim matters. How did we end up here? How did it come to this? The world becomes unreal, unbearable, and the desire for motion resolves into its simplest form: a car crash, a derailment, a sinking ship, the straight line between the window ledge and the street. 

We'll crash, we tell ourselves, we're already dead, repeating it until we can almost see it happening. The steering wheel swings magnetic in our grip, veering towards tragedy, film unspooling. We are going to die. We are going to die. We are going to die. Metal sings. The car shudders into realization. The world disintegrates around us into a void of motion, glass fragments suspended in mid-air to form a sky of glittering purposeless stars, and we gasp and jolt upwards into dreaming.
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a friend who is completely dependent on you, who you legally own, and who you will someday probably have to euthanize.

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Step 1: Take the figure of a cyclist, bent double on his bike, pedaling furiously.

Step 2: Trace an aerodynamic shape over it, like an extension of the helmet or the nose of a bullet train, such that only the wheels and perhaps the pedals and feet are left visible at the bottom.

Step 3: Reproduce the shape, pasting it beneath the first and slightly to the rear. Repeat the process such that the segments stretch backwards indefinitely in a serpentine curve.

Step 4: Voilà! A Velocipede!


Feb. 22nd, 2017 07:16 pm
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Captain America is in a battle against reality! Aren't we all, aren't we all.

His foe, the Red Skull, wields the Cosmic Cube, an artifact of pure imposition. It is reality, compacted into its most stable form: six faces, twelve edges, eight vertices. It is a comic book construct inked in with a ruler and the Hand of God, it is a comic book itself, all the panels folded in on each other to take on a three-dimensional form. It is a what-if, it is an elseworld, it is an imaginary story. Within its six faces it contains every single story that has ever existed or could ever possibly be told.

The Cosmic Cube, being geometrically perfect, fits poorly in a human hand. The edges cut into the skin, the vertices pierce the flesh. It is the antithesis of organic design. It is a doomsday weapon, it is a plot device, it is the reduction of the world to a set of straight lines. It would take a fascist to effectively wield it, or an artist, someone with the ego to rewrite reality in their image. 

Captain America, at the mercy of the Red Skull, throws himself against blank white walls, tenses and holds his shield at the ready. He is a spot of ink, a figment. His history is erased and rewritten. His screams disappear into the ether. His body blurs. He is a double-agent, he is rendered into a fascist. His allies are arrayed against him. Across the sides of the Cube are the Red Skull's fingers, encompassing his world. The odds are insurmountable. By all rights, the Red Skull should obliterate him completely, smear the red, white and blue into an ugly little splotch on the backside of history. 

So: Why does Captain America continue to exist? 

The only reasonable explanation is metatextual, bleeds upwards to pathology. The Red Skull, fascist that he is, cannot imagine an existence post-victory, cannot imagine an end to the battle. There must always be a foe to defeat, to humiliate, to dominate, to stomp into the dust. To call it overconfidence would be to underestimate the depths of the human spirit. The Red Skull does not believe he is sure to win. He believes he will cease to exist once he does. Poised on the verge of eliminating his nemesis entirely, he would rather resort to self-sabotage: a weak grip, an overlooked variable, a faltering of the will. Captain America is all but irrelevant in the conclusion to this battle. The Red Skull inevitably engineers his own downfall. 

The Cosmic Cube, six faces, twelve edges, eight vertices, comprises the limits to imagination. These are the comics we read. These are the stories we tell. Every month another comic book comes out, and the never-ending battle continues. Captain America persists, and so does the Red Skull. They die and are resurrected, they change costumes, they change forms. They are replaced by successors and impostors, they resurface under different faces and different names. For all his Cosmic power, the Red Skull is an archetype, a caricature of a Nazi, just paper and ink like his nemesis. The stories tell us that even in the most dire of circumstances, Nazis are self-defeating, that all the American spirit needs to do to triumph is to keep alight its flagging flame, to battle against all odds with neither fear nor surrender. 

The stories tell us that America is set against an omnipotent foe, besieged, ever-noble, battling against an existential threat for his survival. The stories tell us that America exists within the parameters of a fascist imagination.

Captain America, in one of his myriad forms, is Sam Wilson, an African-American man with a history subject to revision. Sam Wilson was a partner of the original Captain America, and eventually took on the mantle as his replacement. He is a creation of the Cosmic Cube, or a victim of it, defined by the limitations of reality. Subject to the Cosmic Cube, he contains multitudes:

In one dimension, Sam Wilson is a social worker who comes upon an indigenous tribe under the control of a cabal of fascists, and leads them in a rebellion. He is an intrinsically good and righteous man, the stuff that heroes are made of. He would only naturally partner with Captain America, would only naturally be chosen to serve as his successor. Good is good and evil is evil, transcending the petty divisions of race, and the heroes inevitably triumph and are recognized. 

In a second dimension, Sam Wilson is a construct, sleeper agent, an invention of the Red Skull. His original identity is Snap Wilson, a man who weathered a harsh world to succeed as a mobster, his identity overwritten into the perfect black man to appeal to America's imagination. "I knew exactly what kind of man would most appeal to your sniveling liberalism," the Red Skull sneers, Cosmic Cube firmly in his grip. "An upright, cheerful negro with a love of the same 'brotherhood' you cherish!" The lurking evil is the failure to accept reality, gladly swallowing up a happy fiction while ignoring the possibility for malice and betrayal. But in the end the trap is sprung, and as always, the Red Skull's machinations fail. Sam Wilson's heroic nature prevails, artificial and constructed though it might have originally been. 

In the third dimension, the pimp-suited street hustler Snap Wilson is a cruel caricature, a lie created by the Red Skull to undermine and discredit him. The Red Skull was lying all along, using the Cosmic Cube to cast doubt on a good and noble black man, and the true evil in the world is having the lie resonate. Only a bigot could believe it, only a bigot could expect it to be believed. Sam denounces the lie and takes flight, free from the prejudice that sought to defame him. 

All three planes of reality intersect at a single point: Captain America is blameless, victim of a sinister plot, battling the unfortunate facts of reality. The truths about Sam Wilson were true until they weren't, the dodgy racial politics of the past foisted off onto a Nazi. Captain America can be re-imagined as anything, anyone, but only within the rigid confines of the Cube, only so long as he suits the purposes of its wielder. The old Captain America can be reborn as the fascist resurgence of the nation, plotting to overthrow the black man who succeeded him, but only so long as the doctrine is imposed on him externally, out of his control. This is not the America we knew, this is not the America we believed in. We must denounce its existence as a lie, a Nazi imposition. Captain America is still noble and brave and true at heart; Captain America is in a battle against reality!

Aren't we all.

We grip the Cosmic Cube in trembling fingers and feel the power thrumming through its surface; we force the world to reshape itself according to our will. We tell stories. America is a hero. America is a fascist. There is a patriot or traitor in the White House, behind the skin, behind the mask. We look out and see the edges of the Cube enclosing us, gleaming glass framing our cities and streets. We see the fingers closing around the sides of the Cube, another person's will imposing onto ours, threatening to overcome our reality. We are transformed, our histories rewritten, virtue and blame shifting to lead us inevitably to our current reality. We see our own fingerprints on the other side of the glass. And in that moment, we see the limits of our imagination. 


The Cosmic Cube is six faces, twelve edges, eight vertices, reality compacted into its most stable form. It is the embryonic stage of something greater. If left to exist, allowed to evolve, it inevitably develops its own intelligence, develops sentience, breaches the strict boundaries of its design. It expands past its faces, its edges, its vertices, it abandons stability for volition. It extends hands out to the cosmos, it looks upon the universe with new eyes. It unfolds into a heretofore unimagined potential.

It becomes a living being.
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Everything can be reduced to its physical configurations: love, sorrow, human suffering. Don't talk to me of emotion or ideology. A dog can love as well as a human can, or even better, unencumbered by sapience or tradition. A dog is a configuration of its parts: a dangling tongue, a panting mouth, a wagging tail, a set of prancing paws, a warm body curled up against you. A dog cannot understand even a fraction of what you are, it does not understand what you do for a living or what you hope to accomplish with your life, it cannot envision the compromises you will both have to make in your lives together, a dog does not speak your language. A dog only understands you by your posture, by your scent, by the tone of your voice, by the touch of your hand on its head. And yet it loves you, doesn't it, unconditionally? You see it in its eyes, in its tongue, in the motion of its muscles, in the twist of its spine, in all its constituent organs. Blood and flesh and tissue, the heat radiating off another living organism: that's love, in all its depth and simplicity.

Imagine cruelty. Even a rock could be cruel. Imagine a nondescript rock whose only salient feature was that it was placed along a certain heavily-trafficked path in such a position so that people who came along that path would inevitably trip on it and stumble and skin their knees and tear loose their toenails - there's a structure to that, a physical inevitability. A configuration of the world seemingly dedicated to causing pain. Wouldn't that be cruelty?

It lacks intent, you may say. It takes a human to be cruel.  But there's no great intent in cruelty. So much of it is instinctive, unconscious, passionless. A bureaucrat just following protocol, a bigot unthinkingly spouting out a slur, a politician pandering to their constituency. Peel back their eyelids and dig into their brains and ask where the malice is in it, as if malice has any sort of physical properties, as if it can be touched, seen, tasted, smelled, as if it even exists at all. There is no intent to them but gravity, an automatic capitulation to the forces that act upon them. Imagine a rock falling, or a great wheel turning under its own weight. Children starve to death, children die in bombing raids, and they might as well be subject to a massive automated machine for all the malice there is in it. No one aims to starve a child - or a couple of million of them - to death. It just happens, through a certain configuration of events, material economies. A cruelty, like a rock placed upon a path.

You want to believe in humanity, in some vague intangible that transcends our flesh and our skin and hair and blood and bones, you want to believe in evil. Evil must exist, because it repulses you. It twists up your gut to witness, it makes your blood go hot, it elicits a physical response. It must exist, this thing called evil, it must be able to be identified and quantified and fought down and dismantled and scattered to the winds.

You want to believe in things like love and compassion and righteousness and the moral arc of the universe. You want to believe in people. A person is a thing somewhat more than a human, more than the sum of its parts. A person exerts some sort of invisible force, perhaps a form of magnetism that acts upon history. Call it destiny. You want to believe, for example, that two people are inevitably drawn to each other, that there is an end to loneliness and uncertainty. You want to believe that by force of virtue a person will prevail. You have looked upon the world and measured it and quantified it and plotted out its course and found it all insufficient, and so you have come to depend on the intangibles.

You want to believe we were meant for something better. 

Take a moment - disassemble it, analyze its configurations. Two bodies intertwined, slick with sweat, heat radiating off a pair of organisms. Mouth, lips, eyes, tongue. Every formalized hierarchy of values - philosophy, morality, practicality, sheer unvarnished honesty - tells you that this cannot be love. You're bad for each other. You both have your own issues to work out, there is a lover you are being unfaithful to. This is lust, probably, or neediness. This is hormones. This is a deluded attempt at passion. And yet.

You are compatible. You are physically compatible. A human being is made to intertwine with another human being. You slot together, you interact. All the magnetic energy burns up as skin contacts skin, burns up in the body heat. Love transcends boundaries, doesn't it? The simple weight of two bodies burning against each other annihilates tradition and propriety and religion and class and caste and all the predestined arcs of the world. You can feel each others' breath like steam coming off your bodies. In this configuration of possibilities, the other person could be anyone in the world.

We are all human, all warmth, all breath, all skin, all fevered intensity. History evaporates. Any human being on the face of the Earth could fit together with you, naked, in the same configuration. Every bigot and monster in the world, every saint and champion. There is the same blood beneath the skin, there is the same bone beneath the flesh. Every variation shifting off into insignificance. There are no intangibles, none that make sense. You could fuck a monster, you could be birthed from one. Kindness can beget cruelty. A stone gets kicked down the road, a child is born into a different configuration of events, and becomes a completely different person. There are several million configurations of events where you starved to death as a child. None of them came to pass. You breathe in another person's scent, and in that moment you are the universal blueprint for humanity, a variation on a theme, and every monster and murderer and saint and sinner and champion and bigot and victim and lover in the world is mapped out onto your body. It's just the weight and heft and warmth of us, lurching against each other, carrying all the horror and potential in the world in our fragile configurations of flesh.

A heart beats. That's love, isn't it? That's love.
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There's nothing funny except Nazis anymore. You know how this works, right? Subversion. Escalation. Let's take an example: 

Q: What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?
A: The Holocaust.

The joke works by setting you up for the classic punchline ("Finding half a worm."), and then catching you off-guard with an unexpectedly morbid response. There are an infinite number of things worse than a worm in your apple, the world does not know limits to suffering. Why would you think so small, why would you be so self-obsessed? The answer unseats the basis for your existence. You live in a world where the Holocaust happened. What's eating half a worm compared to that? What's your entire life compared to that?

You may think, PewDiePie brought it on himself. You may think that a YouTube star signed up with Disney would be smart enough to avoid anti-Semetic humor and Hitler jokes, but c'mon, surely you can see the humor in it. Walt Disney hated Jews, or at least was rumored to to hate Jews, or at least hired anti-Semites, or at least was more or less as anti-Semetic than the society he lived in. That cartoon where the Big Bad Wolf dresses up as a Jewish caricature? That was funny for the time! Like all the classic cartoons with blackface! You can't blame Disney for that!

PewDiePie's the logical extension of a Disney classic, a cartoon himself, the high-pitched obnoxious id of our cultural imagination, corporatized and awful and inexplicably popular. Watch him play video games and shriek and spout vulgarities, watch him earn millions of dollars. He's the soul of the internet, of course he would inevitably turn to anti-Semetic humor in a desperate attempt to push the boundaries of his Disney-marketable imagination, of course he would start joking about genocide just to get a laugh. He's hollow within and hollow without, a millionaire for no good reason spawning a thousand unsuccessful imitators, capital unattached to value, the rotted-out void at the center of our global economy. PewDiePie might complain that people don't realize he's joking, but the real horror is that everyone else gets the joke. What's worse than a joke everyone's heard but we keep endlessly retelling?

A: The Holocaust.

Ha! Gotcha again! See, that's the joke! The universal punchline. Humor derives from absurdity, and that's the ultimate absurdity of the world, that Nazi Germany once launched into a campaign of genocidal extermination where they gassed and incinerated over six million Jews - say it again, six million, and know that's only a fraction of the dead - a nation of ordinary men and women complicit in the mechanistic slaughter of millions, and that we live in a world where this was possible and where it could very well be possible again. The Holocaust is not yet out of living memory and the Nazis have rebranded as the alt-right, they give seig heils in irony and exuberance, white nationalism is once again on the rise and Steve Bannon is in the White House, the chief strategist to the Donald Trump administration - It's absurd, isn't it? What else are you going to do but laugh? 

Humor derives from absurdity, and absurdity derives from the sheer senselessness of the world. That's how black humor works, we laugh to keep from crying. Isn't the world ludicrous? What are you going to do, bitch about Hitler jokers, get all dramatic and sanctimonious? Bigotry's in the air you breathe, in the cartoons you grow up watching as a child, in the jokes that your children grow up hearing. It's what drives the economy, it's what gets clicks and views, it's what keeps the world turning. Might as well get sanctimonious about airline food! You've already bitten into the apple and are only now seeing the wriggling remnants of what you've swallowed whole.  We are descending inexorably into fascism because we never really left to begin with.

Here's an old joke, retold: 

Man goes to a doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a world where what lies ahead is so bleak and predictable.

Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Watch the great clown PewDiePie. He has a clip of a guy dressed up as Jesus saying 'Hitler did nothing wrong.' That should pick you up." 

Man bursts into tears. Says, "But, doctor ... I am Hitler."

Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drums. Curtains.
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A good children’s story begins with a genocide. The trolls are dead, the lot of them, forced out of their hidey-holes and purged clean by sunlight, their flesh transmuted to stone. Good riddance. They were a nasty lot, crude and flea-bitten and half-dressed, with a penchant for gnawing on the bones of children. A good children’s story needs a good purging to start, the shutters thrown open to let in the sun but all the chains and bones and cobwebs still visible. Children are like wildflowers. Neglect them all you want, but they still need the sun to grow.

It’s important that the trolls still carry a sense of menace. Their calcified corpses still line the mountainsides, gnarled fingers raised like twisted spires of rock, mouths open to teeth of jagged stone. They still loom in the darkness, they still terrify passing children, they still cast their shadows across the land. You’ve seen a troll, certainly, worn into the stone by untold millennia of dripping water and sedimentation. They are thousands of years old, primordial, still capable of dashing apart flesh from bone. Parents whisper stories of the trolls to their children to make them lie fearfully in their beds. Adults tell stories of the great vanquishing, of villagers venturing down into the caves brandishing torches and catchpoles, bringing the horrible things up to light. The stage is set, the props align to make a single message: Aren’t you lucky that the trolls are dead, that you live within a world of stone walls and streets, that you walk upon the corpses of our ancient foes? And, the parents say, as the children draw the covers up to their chins, wouldn’t it be so very horrible – although it could never, ever happen, and no one would ever believe you if you said otherwise – if somehow the trolls were to come back?  

There are trolls still alive, of course. No genocide is ever complete. There are the survivors and refugees, the shifty-eyed collaborators, the half-breeds who could pass as something else. You may think it impossible that something as primitive as trolls could possibly survive during an age of man. But even when approaching complete success, a genocide necessarily recalibrates, expands its parameters, swallows more people whole. If the purging had not ended, they would be killing trolls still, dragging them out onto the streets. And so there are the survivors, left to fester, left to rot. Left forgotten and walled up and reduced to myth, reduced to caricature. Reduced to children’s stories.

A good children’s story begins with a genocide, because children are the ones who have yet to discover the truths of the world, to uncover old crypts and be horrified by the bones within. Children are the heirs to old hatreds, blood feuds, the victims of their parents’ follies. Children are the only ones still capable of being horrified at the fundamental unfairness of the world.

And so the trolls come. They prey on children, cruelly, unfairly, their low-slung postures invisible to adult eyes. They rap on doors and mimic mothers’ voices, they twist their faces into ugly parodies of humanity. They snatch children off streets and poison oatmeal. Shadowed groves and canals bloat with the bodies of missing children. The trolls come at night, they come in moments of abandonment and neglect. They cast shadows through the windowpane and disguise themselves as branches or craggy stone, or as a child’s imaginings. They break into the house and sharpen their teeth on the floorboards while the child huddles upstairs. They steal parents away. They are always, always, defeated by a child.

This is how a children’s story ends: with violence, or with cruelty, or with treachery. The troll is lured into the sunlight, or into the flames, and its skin smolders and petrifies and turns to ash. Or it falls from such a height that its body plunges deep into the earth, never to be found. Or it is tricked into gorging on poison or blunt stone until its belly bursts. Or it is gaslighted and driven mad, or it is stabbed through the heart, or it is seen and exposed and shrivels from the gaze. A good children’s story ends with a genocide: the child watches the troll die and reasserts the old order of the world, becomes culpable in their parents’ actions. They have fulfilled an ancient promise. The last troll in the world is dead, killed by a child’s hand. The circle is complete.

They return to their parents and are welcomed in an embrace. The trolls are dead, the lot of them, and good riddance. The stone walls stand sturdy, the stone-paved streets run to all the civilized corners of the world. Everyone else lives happily ever after.
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1. Again in the middle and round at both ends
2. Tyger Tyger, burning loud
3. See a mixed-up absence of pain 
4. From a mountain, perhaps, or gold

1. Nothing abt. nothing
2. The sound before a Great Crash
3. Relax, soldier, here's where the right foot's planted
4. What's black and white and retread all over?


Feb. 8th, 2017 02:54 pm
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Greetings, traveler! Know no fear. 
Know no known foes are nosing near. 
Know no dread and know no doubt,
Know No-No Noam will help you out!

No-No Noam's a gnome, you see. 
Know gnomes all labor knowingly. 
A gnome's nose knows, note that down,
And No-No Noam's the best around!

Gnomes know things decidedly.
What gnomes don't know - now that's the key. 
Noam's nose knows no need for rest. 
Know known unknowns? Noam knows them best!

"Noam's a no-no," some gnomes say,
Know some gnomes judge poor Noam that way.
Known unknowns? No way, no how! 
Gnome know-it-alls no-no Noam now. 

Know those gnomes? No, Noam thought not.
Those gnome unknowns just stir the pot. 
Still, know this, if doubts gnomes pose -
Know no known gnomes no-no Noam's nose!
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Love's a logo on a placard
Love's a neon rainbow sign
Smile, love, and be a braggart
Tell the world, and let love shine

Love's a barrier, love's a mask
Love's a question yet unasked
Hold your love, and say you're blessed
Love's not even happiness

Love's a lie that we all fall for
Love's a neat tautology
Love's a lie that there's a call for
Love's the thing that'll set us free

Love's a smile, love shows teeth
Love's the thing that lurks beneath
Love, and keep your lover near
Love is love is love is fear

Tell us love will be forever
Tell us love will fell all foes
Tell us all the lies, but never
Tell us what a lover knows

Love won't feed us, love won't warm
Love can't keep us safe from harm
Love me dear and count the cost
Love is love is love is loss

Love's a body on a dance floor
Love's a word that rhymes with hate
Love's a hope we took a chance for
Said 'love' out loud, and faced our fate

Love is cruel, love is blind
Love is frequently unkind
Love draws blood and love draws breath
Love is love is love is death

Love's a split lip, love's a suture
Love's a routine tragedy
Love's our past, and love's our future
Love is love, inevitably

Love is burning, love is brief
Love is joy and love is grief
Love is struggle, love is strife
Love is love is love is life


Feb. 7th, 2017 06:24 pm
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One coin to cross the river
Two coins glinting in your eyes
Three coins to bribe the Father
Four coins settle all your lies
Five coins to pay the Piper
Six coins more to pay his son
Seven coins chime in laughter
Eight coins buried serve no one
Nine coins full to count the cost
Ten coins, and one is Lost

Expanded Variant: 

One coin to cross the river,
Tasting copper on the tongue.
Two coins upon the eyelids
Keep your sight forever young.
Three coins can buy three wishes
Freely given, never spent.
Four coins, by blood anointed,
Pay a humble sinner's rent.
Five coins' return investment
Is still halfway to being done.
Six coins to pay the Piper,
Seven coins to pay his son.
Eight coins to make a dollar,
Treasure still not worth the cost.
Nine coins present a problem:
Ten coins, and one is Lost.


Feb. 2nd, 2017 06:52 pm
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Jonny Devoid-of-Flesh is pure abstraction. Jonny does not exist so long as there are those of us capable of conceptualizing him, entombing him in symbol and metaphor. Jonny is the end of all things, the end of the identification and individualization of things, the end of all ontological distinction. Jonny is Apocalypse. Jonny is the Worst Thing in the World. 

Apocalypse, from the Greek meaning Uncovering. Revelation. The lifting of the veil to reveal the hidden truth of the world that suddenly brings the entirety of our existence up till then into sharp and stark relief. The world as it is now works, beautifully and hideously in its slow and implacable grind, all its parts labelled and mislabelled and slotted into impossibly complex interlocking systems. We squabble and vie against each other, socialism vs capitalism, democracy vs fascism, entombing the world bit by bit in flesh until we can look out upon it and see nothing but ourselves. The world doesn't make sense without us to perceive it, to define it, to render it into forms of ideology. Jonny's the end of all that, the abandonment of all delusion. At the Apocalypse there will be no more separations, merely the all-encompassing realization that the world makes sense and that only in the moment of its fulfillment do we finally understand what all our tumultuous broken lives were for.

Jonny Devoid-of-Flesh isn't here yet, Jonny will never be here, that's the worst thing about him. Jonny doesn't cast a shadow. On the Day of the End of the World, we will peel back the veil and discover nothing new, reveal only our own haggard faces staring back.

Pray to Jonny. Abandon thought. Abandon flesh. Hollow out your skull and make room for him to exist. Jonny Devoid-of-Flesh has no ears to hear our prayers, no lips to speak the truth. Pray to Jonny. You're only ever talking to yourself.


Jan. 28th, 2017 11:16 am
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
Jackal is all skull, a massive disproportionate jaw designed to clamp down and never let go. The teeth interlock. Jackal is flayed, strands of musculature and rawhide clinging to a ramshackle skeleton. It bleeds, its eyes are burning droplets of blood. It seems driven forward by the weight and momentum of its skull, its body clattering along behind like a string of abandoned flatcars pulled forward by an engine. Jackal is always, always hungry.

Certain heretical sects say that Jackal is the mother of humanity, that it mistook its hunger pangs for labor pains and bit at its distended belly until it tore itself open, bleeding ulcers and polyps into the world. These were the first men.

You can hear Jackal whispering to you, in an urgent gnawing tone. Bite down, it says. Bite down and never let go. Forget the future. The future is scavengers pacing among your bones, quarreling over them or letting them lie in the dust. Your children will be hunted down and killed. The future belongs to the as of yet unborn. But as for now? For now you taste blood. You will never be loved again, you will never be full again, you will never again have this chance. Savor it, then, and tear apart all who would deny you. So they revile you, so they mock you, so they seek to undermine you. So what? For now you have your teeth around their throats! Bite down, and suck the marrow from the world!

Jackal is a poet god, divine madness. Starve. Go mad with hunger. Corner a squirming insignificant vermin and clutch it between your fingers and bite off its head and drink deep of its juices, and Jackal will bless you with inspiration. You will speak to the hearts of the great masses of men; you will make them love you, you will make them weep. You will kiss them and taste their lips. They will kill for you, if you ask them to. You will ask. Jackal will drive you to it. 

Jackal loathes competitors, but is generous to all supplicants. All mouths are Jackal's, all flesh is Jackal's. All those who bite down do so with Jackal's teeth. Jackal devours its own flesh, drinks its own blood. All long to eat and be eaten, to fulfill and to be fulfilled. This is the truth Jackal teaches: the world and all that is in it is but your bloody fevered imaginings, every other person is but a burning fleck of blood in your vision, a burst vein in your eye. Only you can satiate your own hunger.

Here is a story of Jackal:

Jackal roamed the desert, hungry, and finally sat upon his own leg until it went numb. He then set upon his leg, tearing at the flesh, gnawing at the bone. Owl flew down and laughed. You are a fool, Owl said. You are eating your own leg! 

Jackal grinned and opened his mouth and swallowed the world whole.

Here is the commentary of the high priests: 

Owl sought to mock, and so was eaten.
Jackal's leg bent before him, and so was eaten.
Those who revile you bring themselves within range of your lips.
Those who submit to you will be swept up in your jaws.

Every word spoken is from a throat, every limb is but a joint of meat.
Go then, and devour all.

sadoeuphemist: (Default)
Let's work through the variations

A man goes to the barber. It's a snowy winter's day, and he steps through the door and stamps his feet at the cold. He takes off his hat, his gloves, etc, and tucks them into the pockets of his coat and hangs the coat by the door. He sits down at the barber's chair and requests a shave. The barber lather him up and begins shaving.

Halfway through, the barber pauses.

"Were you wearing a red scarf when you came in?" says the barber.

"No," says the customer.

"Oh dear," says the barber. "Then I must have slit your throat."

The obvious analogue is Sweeney Todd, but Todd is a murderer. Stories about barbers slitting throats are rich with barely repressed intent. The customer is a dictator, the customer is a blackmailer, putting their lives at risk as a demonstration of their own mastery of self. The barber here is faintly apologetic, heedless, absent-minded. The customer is likewise unaware. There is no guilt or recrimination in the story, merely negligence. You will be killed not by someone who hates you, but by someone who would barely recognize you if he saw you in the street.

This must be like a car crash. The lead up to it is casual, meandering. No demonstration of intent. How is your wife? Fine and thank you. Innocuous conversation that only becomes menacing in retrospect. Consider Kafka's Odradek. It can be described in detail, but not defined. You want to write this instinctively, subliminally.

"Cold outside."

"My god, yes."

"This far for a shave?"

"My beard grows in the winter, does it not?"

Maybe a slit throat really is indistinguishable from a red scarf. I imagine the inside of a throat must be velvety, and that blood must be smooth as silk. Imagine a barber making the incision and seeing a scarf bloom, and then not being able to distinguish the brand for the real thing. His memory fades. Was that man always wearing that scarf? Did it always flow down his throat and chest so dark and red? We live in a temporal world, motion to motion, dreaming of each other. What would such a man say?

He makes the cut. Blood begins to ooze out from the throat. The customer is lying back, unaware that he has already begun to die.

"We had a kitten when we were young. Its red tongue would peek out, and lap at the milk."

"A funny thing to think of."

"Yes, it's funny. I hadn't thought of it in years. And yet that moment is still there, indelibly, my sister and I by the fire stroking the fur of our little grey kitten, as if nothing at all was separating me from that moment - neither time nor distance - as if nothing separates us from the rest of the world."

"Mm. And what happened to your kitten?"

"Oh. It died. Our father drowned it."

Or maybe the joke doesn't need any elaboration. Maybe it's perfect as is, abrupt and bloodless. No one sees the blood until the joke's already over; it's transmuted into red cloth, a euphemism to gently swaddle a throat. A man walks in and gets his shave in silence, and at first the barber thinks he is warm from the cold. 'No,' the man says. No, I have never been warm until now. No, I would not know it if I bled. No, I had no red scarf. We walk into a barber shop, and do not understand the joke until it is over. What a relief, the blood running down his throat. What a relief.
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