Simultaneous Presence – EFA Center, June 6

I love background noise. There is so much life and energy, so many stories floating around. In one sense I wish I could dissect it all, in the moment that it exists. Take it apart and examine each component, discover their secrets and histories. But on the other hand I don’t want to do so, for there is a certain beauty in the cacophony, each sound lending and assigning meaning to the other. The noise is a dialogue on human life, one that is constantly in flux and conveying something more akin to truth than anything we could purposefully create.

Review of Ender’s Game

She’s a hot gal and she’s leading you on and telling you “Oh oh whack away get yourself hard ’cause I’ll suck you off once it is” and she keeps cooing and promising dirty things and fondling her tits, all the while you’re sitting there playing with your cock imagining her luscious lips all on your shaft and then you feel yourself, you feel it coming and you say “Hey doll it’s gonna be here soon how ’bout it?” and she looks at you with a coy smile and says “Silly boy, I was just messin’ with ya” and walks on out, so now you’re sitting here with a useless chub in your hand, unable to come ’cause you stopped yourself in anticipation of a bj but it ain’t happening so all there’s to do is sit and pout.

The Little One edit

This is an edit of a story I wrote back in 2010/2011. The original is posted here.

***

         A forest, permeated by a soft mist. Soft rays of light shine through a mixed canopy of conifers and deciduous trees. Ferns grow quietly on the floor, capturing moisture that wipes off on any creature that passes, while beneath the ferns moss is seen slowly crawling up trunks and across logs and stones. A small brook splashes gently through the grass and ferns, in which is concealed a wealth of life. The forest is a canvas of greens, browns, and ever so light shades of blue. The air is still, allowing for the mist to settle in stasis. The only sounds heard are those of the little one, flittering playfully through the peaceful woods. It flies alone, but not in heart. It is keeping company to a quiet being who finds delicate paths through the pristine landscape. Naked in spirit and body, little matters in its life. There are only its senses, fluidly feeding the surroundings to a limitless power, desperately at work.
         While the being follows the little one it is not a chase. An infatuation attracts one to the other, one born of dreams and fantasy, of an idealization that is only entirely real in the confines of the beings brow. While the being is enthralled in this ethereal power, its magic and its beauty are not all consuming; curiosity and yearning drive the being forward as well. It is a desire for a soft touch, a sweet song, a fleeting glance, and because of this the being follows the little one. But the little one is youthful and never ceases to move, so the little one is trailed loosely through the woods.
         How many moons and how many suns these two must have witnessed. They both seem secure in their footing, their shared knowledge of these woods seemingly infinite. But for all they have in common, the little one is painfully distant to the being. The quiet sadness that emanates from the beings breast quickly makes its way to every limb, seeping into every pore, although the being is too controlled to allow such pain to elicit more than a desiring sigh, no matter how tumultuous the storm within may brew. What holds this storm back is an insurmountable obstacle, a mountain of confusion and circumstance. The being can only wish for an answer or a response, some telltale behavior that will let the rains and winds free.
         There is a moment within the calm of the woods where the being stops, gazes quietly as a soft wind wrestles a few leaves loose from their majestic perches, watching them gently glide down towards the moist earth, swaying back and forth through the now dissipating mist. The being then shifts its gaze skyward, its eyes following the rays of light projected through the mist. On high a figure circles patiently, observing, calling. All of the sudden its expanse closes, forming a bullet that begins to plummet, faster and faster. The being freezes, a pounding sensation swelling in its firm cavity. Then with a great swiftness the being takes flight, racing through the forest and silently calling for the little one.
         The once serene woods spring to life, lashing out at the being as if to slow it down, as if calling to the being and saying, such is life, take no haste, it will only cause you harm. The slender limbs of the trees whip forward into the being’s path, lashing at its tender flesh. New hues are seen: shades of purple and black, dots and streams of red. But the being pays no attention. It has only one focus, though no amount of racing seems to close the gap. And then there suddenly is a deathly silence. The being stops crisply as the muted air begins to suffocate its senses. Standing tall, the being is no longer aware of anything. There is no straining of senses, simply a dazed state of helplessness.
         The being is brought back as the air begins to thin and the soft breeze once again awakens. Before the being can be seen a clearing, its entrance framed by the trunks of two great oaks and around which life begins to stir, picking at the tender soil and playing on the branches. In the field a steady stream of light washes the tall grasses as they sway in the wind. Specks of pollen shower down on the stems and alight on fine razors.
         The playing creatures part to form a path as the being slowly steps forward. Stopping at the rim of the field, the wind takes haste and the grasses murmur in protest, their swaying turning to a dance, calm at first, but progressively more frantic. Arms outstretched, they fling themselves in every which direction, then pulse forward, as if beckoning to the being, pleading for salvation. The wind in turn begins to twirl more violently and the stems yell in frustration. The dance, now more chaotic, continues to beckon to the being, still standing firm at the edge of the clearing. So it moves forward, stretching out to caress the hopeless dancers in their now mangled fury.
         The wind, sensing its presence, shifts to a mad path of confrontations and racing, tearing the dancers from the earth and flinging them on high. The air is now full of screaming and begging, the lifeless stems catapulted into the obscurity of the surrounding woods. The being knows not what to do, frozen as it is in the center of the clearing, surrounded by the confusion and carnage. Finally, as if frustrated by the beings inaction, the wind in its mighty fury, gathers its strength and plunges headlong into the beings chest, sending its mass straight back to earth.
         Then there is only silence.

         The warm rays have now dissipated beyond the horizon. The being, still lying, listens as the sounds of the dark work their way through the landscape, not knowing what to do. A memory full of yearning and dreams flashes before its eyes, the little one flittering back and forth, yet there are no tears to shed, though its body begs that they be released. The pain feels insurmountable and the being has no desire to move because of it. But after some time it is no longer possible to simply lie in a state of abjection. It must plant its feet firmly on the ground, hold its brow high. The being arises, carefully dusting its weary limbs and taking the first few steps forward, quietly enveloping its pain in the deepest recesses of its psyche. And with that, its shadow slowly melds into the darkness of the forest.

The Little One

This is a short story I wrote back in 2010/2011. It was conceived as a love story, in the manner that a poet conceives of a love poem, but it morphed into an experiment where I attempted to avoid gender and proper nouns. I posted an edit here, incorporating what I’ve learned as an MFA student.

***

         A forest, permeated by a soft mist. Soft rays of light shine through a mixed canopy of conifers and deciduous trees. Ferns grow quietly on the floor, capturing moister that is then wiped off on any passing creature, while moss is seen crawling slowly up trunks and across logs and stones. A small brook splashes gently through the grass and ferns, in which is concealed a wealth of life. The forest is a canvas of greens, browns, and ever so light shades of blue. The air is still, allowing for the mist to settle in stasis. The only sounds heard are those of the little one, flittering playfully through the peaceful woods. It flies alone, but not in heart. It is keeping company to a quiet being who carefully finds delicate paths through the pristine landscape. Naked in spirit and body, little matters in this reality. There are only the senses fluidly feeding the surroundings to a limitless power, desperately at work.
         While the being follows the little one, it is not a chase. An infatuation attracts one to the other. This is an infatuation born of dreams and fantasy, of an idealization that is only entirely real in the limitless confines of the beings brow. A love born on natures back, but moved forward on the winds of change, the being is enthralled in this ethereal power. Its magic and its beauty are not all consuming; curiosity and yearning drive the being forward. It is a desire for a soft touch, a sweet song, a fleeting glance. The being follows the little one. But the little one is youthful and never ceases to move. So in a calm quiet the little one is trailed loosely through the woods.
         How many moons and how many suns these two must have witnessed. They both seem secure in their footing, their shared knowledge of these woods seemingly infinite. But as much as they might have in common, the little one is painfully distant to the being. The quiet sadness that emanates from the beings breast quickly makes its way to every limb, seeping into every pore and resting on its shoulders. The being is too controlled to allow such pain to elicit more than a desiring sigh, yet internally the storm seems to brew. This storm is neither violent or unpredictable but lovely and peaceful. It is a storm full of dreams and passion. Yet that storm seems to be held at bay by an insurmountable obstacle, a mountain of confusion and circumstance. If only there were an answer or a response, some telltale behavior that would let the rains and the winds free. There is no such revelation.
         There is a moment within the calm of the woods where the being stops. Looking forward, then back, and then to the sides, the being gazes quietly as a soft wind wrestles a few leaves loose from their majestic perches. They gently glide down towards the moist earth, swaying back and forth through the mist that is now dissipating in the warming air. The being’s gaze shifts skyward as the leaves sway to the earth, its eyes following the rays of light projected through the mist. On high a figure circles patiently, observing and calling. All of the sudden its expanse quickly closes, forming a bullet that begins to plummet, faster and faster. The being freezes, a pounding sensation swelling in its firm cavity. Then with a great swiftness the being takes flight, racing through the forest silently calling for the little one. Where has the little one flown too? Why had the being stopped to gaze, to feel? Now a grave danger sped towards the earth and the little one was desperately vulnerable.
         The once serene woods spring to life, lashing out at the being as if to slow it down, as if calling to the being and saying, “such is life, take no haste. It will only cause you harm.” The slender limbs of the trees whip forward into the beings path, lashing at the tender flesh. New hues are seen; shades of purple and black, dots and streams of red. But the being pays no attention to the clawing of the woods or the birth of new colors. There is only one focus, yet no amount of racing seems to close the gap. And then there is a deathly silence. The being crisply stops as the muted air begins to suffocate its senses. Standing tall, the being is not aware of anything. There is no straining of senses, simply a dazed state of helplessness. As the air begins to thin and the soft breeze awakens once again, the being is brought back. Looking forward there can be seen a clearing framed by the trunks of two great oaks. Around the feet of these two oaks life begins to stir again, picking at the tender soil and playing on the branches. In the field a steady stream of light washes the tall grasses as they sway in the wind. Specks of pollen shower down on the stems and alight on fine razors. It is as if nothing occurred.
         As the being slowly steps forward the playing creatures part to form a path. Stopping at the rim of the field, the wind takes haste and the grasses murmur in protest. Their swaying turns to a dance, calm at first but progressively more frantic. Arms outstretched they fling themselves in every which direction, then pulsing forward, beckoning the being towards them as if pleading for salvation. The wind begins to twirl in consent and the stems yell in frustration. The dance, ever more chaotic, continues to beckon to the being, still standing firm at the edge of the clearing. So the being moves forward, stretching out to caress the hopeless dancers in their now mangled fury. The wind, sensing its presence, shifts to a mad path of confrontations and racing, tearing the dancers from the earth and flinging them on high. The air is now full of screaming and begging, the lifeless stems catapulted into the obscurity of the surrounding woods. The being knows not what to do, frozen as it is in the center of the clearing, surrounded by the confusion and carnage of life. Finally, as if frustrated by the beings inaction, the wind in its mighty fury gathers its strength and plunges headlong into the beings chest, sending its mass straight back to earth. And like that, silence.
         The warm rays have now dissipated beyond a firm horizon. The being, still laying, listens as the sounds of the dark work their way through the landscape. Lying catatonic, it again knows not what to do. A memory full of yearning and dreams flashes before its eyes, the little one flittering back and forth. There are no tears to shed, yet its entire body begs that they be released. The pain feels insurmountable and the being has no desire to move because of it. But after some time, it is no longer possible to simply lie in a state of abjection. Feet must be planted firmly on the ground, brows must be held high and facing forward, bodies must move. And so the being arises, carefully dusting its weary limbs and taking the first few steps forward. Life is not new, nor is it the same anymore. It simply is. The being, knowing this, takes its pain and quietly envelopes it in the deepest recesses of its psyche. And with that, its shadow slowly melds into the darkness of the forest.

The Estranged Mrs. Pollock edit

This is an edit of the original Estranged Mrs. Pollock, incorporating some of the lessons I’ve learned during my first year as an MFA student.

***

         The knife never left her hand as she traced with it through the air. It was her tool of choice when creating what was, admittedly, an odd sort of art. While she had understood art as being a means of starting a dialogue on the world between the creator and the witnesser, she found that hers was mostly a private matter, and its expression was not meant to create discourse but to create a life force. She wanted more than just the spectacle of the exhibition, the sort of contrivance that tapped into the “decency” of like-minded people. She wanted fear, for only through its use as an ink, and by splattering it across the great canvas of the world, did she truly feel capable of expressing what it was she that felt.
         This “paint” was of course difficult to come by unless one had an unwilling—and unknowing—subject. For her, this meant luring men with the promise of a quick and intimate liaison. Her current guest, whom she had acquired in this manner, had allowed himself to be tied to the vertical board beside her easel under the assumption that he was sating an obscure, personal fetish of hers. But now he was quite scared, as the knife she held had little purpose in normal sexual encounters, or at least that was generally the understanding. He tried to object to her knifed presence but was unable to release more than a muffled croak from his gagged mouth. She smiled in response, but never said a word.
         Striding forward she began by swishing the knife before her, like a serpent dancing to a piper. She watched his eyes intently as they bulged to enormous proportions, jabbing quickly when the blade was close enough to just caress his body. As he squirmed against the ties she pulled back and with one, grand movement of her body slashed violently and elegantly through the air around him, careful not to actually cut him. It was in this moment that she could first feel her art coming to fruition, the fear being tangible enough for her to plunge head first into.
         If she were to be asked, she might say she could see the fear. She believed that the trademark of a good artist was the ability to feel beyond the senses, to see what others could not see, and thereby translate the foreign, and perhaps incomprehensible, into something consumable as a human being. While she did not have an audience, per se, she knew that she was releasing something unique into the world, adding to a vast worldly experience that was only perceptible in small bits. This was how she wished to express herself. It was not for her, or for him, or for anyone else. It was for the world.
         Her guest, shaking violently in his ties, continued to stare at her with wide eyes. How grotesque this all must have appeared to him, this constant toying and prodding. He must have concluded that she had some deep perversion, a base desire to exert control over a man in his last moments. Of course she had no desire to see his blood. Her art was born of fear, and a dead man, no matter how fearful he once was, was useless to her. She could not help but smile at the thought of his naïveté, and of how men were all the same in their understanding of emotions and women. They were superficial creatures, easy to manipulate and to entertain, this perhaps being why she always chose them over women.
         She stood back momentarily, attempting to envelop herself in his fear and, mentally retracing the movements of her arms and the knife, trying to feel the invisible wake those movements left in the air. She pictured how her movements painted invisible lines and arcs, each one displacing her subject’s fear like blood bursting from an artery. It was this unseen ripping and splattering that she imagined truly breathed life into the world and added to its richness.
         A quiet sob brought her attention back to the man. Once again she thrust herself into her steady cadence, lifting her arms and the knife skywards, then slowly snaking them through the air in a downward motion. She began to weave a figure eight but quickly changed to a less structured movement. What she needed, what she wanted, was something newer, something more naturalistic in occurrence, and so what followed was more haphazard. The knife, rising once again, moved freely, making grand arcs and sharp turns, tearing through the fear-riddled air. It sashayed and pirouetted, twisting along its longitudinal axis and flying lazily too and fro. The man squirmed and squealed through it all, his only focus being the knife and its cutting properties rather than the movements.
         The confluence of her sublime gestures and the man’s emotions excited her. She imagined that without her movements her art was lacking in existential merit. Indeed, it was through her displacement of the fear that she saw her truth conveyed to the world. Otherwise the fear would stagnate, as would her art, making her as central to the process as her muse. Feeling her chest swell with pride, she once again strode forth and resumed her work.
         This time she stood on her toes, and letting her arms—and the knife—dangle loosely at her side, she twirled about herself gleefully, becoming a vortex that caught his fear and spiraled it to the heavens. Her hands rose gradually until they were finally at their apex, and then with a brisk hop she landed firmly in a powerful half-squat. She followed this by heaving forward with a yell, one met with a muffled yelp from her guest. Needling the air with her knife she thrust her arms out behind herself and, with one final gasp, allowed her entire body to fall backwards to the ground. There she remained, feeling her art swirl about her with each breath she took.
         It was done, and she knew that from there she could take her leave. She sat up and looked at the terrified man before her, studying his forcibly arrayed body as it quivered helplessly. She would leave him as he was, to be found by someone else and with the hope that he might do her work justice once he was free, conveying to the world the great masterpiece that she had created. She would not truly know what her art would effect, but she knew that in some small way it would live on.

On Spiegelman’s Maus

I have been to Auschwitz. Walked the compound, descended into its gas chambers, peered into the ovens. I was a teenager then, well acquainted with the atrocities of the Second World War and the subsequent fallout. Yet my memories of the camp are not of death and terror but of a neatly manicured complex with a somber affectation. It struck me as being maintained more as a memorialization of death itself, rather than a reminder of the horror.

After that visit I struggled to understand why I was not moved more by what I had seen. For a time I assumed it was my age. I then accused the passage of time and its constant distancing of the event from my own life. I even considered that perhaps I was simply disinterested, or worse, callous. Even after reading texts that provided the numbers and details of the Holocaust, I still found myself disaffected. So it was with renewed curiosity that I found Maus accomplishing what everything else had failed to do.

My reading of Maus left me with the impression that the first book served to acquaint the reader with the people and the setting. While this was not necessarily deliberate, its slow pace allowed me to develop an understanding of who these people were and, more importantly, that they actually were. On this framework was presented the second book, which I found to be the most powerful of the two.

Maus II was where I first found myself feeling and appreciating the suffering that occurred during the years of the Third Reich. Spiegelman’s intertwining of his own domestic trials with those faced by his father, for example, managed to remove the temporal distance of the Holocaust. No longer was it just a memory; now it was a specter that continued to haunt all those it could touch, something not quite live nor dead, but present nonetheless.

Then there was the medium itself. I would have imagined that a graphic novel, where the victims were cast as mice and the persecutors as cats, would be a childish recounting of what occurred. Yet it proved to be exactly the opposite. Perhaps part of its effectiveness has to do with how intimately familiar readers are with the human form. I imagine that a reader is likely to view any depiction of a human, no matter how stylized or accurate, to be simply a caricature, something removed from him or herself. Spiegelman, in choosing not to use humans, forces the reader to focus on what is occurring rather than the fact that it is a “cartoon,” and this allows the story to come out in full force.

Even the simplicity of the panels proved to be a strength. In my own reading, I was not bogged down by the numbers of lives taken or the names of cities that I could barely pronounce. Instead of these abstractions I was presented with small, finely crafted depictions that drew my attention to that which mattered. The Holocaust is remembered for its concentration camps, its furnaces, all the items that were taken from the victims. This is of course depicted in Maus. But these things are meaningless without its humanity, and it seems incredibly difficult to remind an individual that an object once had a life force attached to it—a man, a woman, a child whose life touched it or was touched by it.

It could be that we tend to focus on the material as a reaction to not being able to feel and comprehend what occurred. In turning to the only thing we can grasp—the materials and objects used to visualize the Holocaust—we are attempting to find some footing from which to take it all in. But in so doing we lose the human aspect.

It’s because of this that I think the simplification of the tale—into a minimalist’s visual journey—allows, if not invites, the reader to ignore everything else and focus on what is to be felt. With the visual we are often expected to simply take in what we are witnessing, allowing whatever we feel to blossom. Reading traditional literature is more a matter of active cognition than it is of passive feeling, and this can pollute—or distract from—the actual appreciation of what is being expressed.

I see a degree of ingenuity in Spiegelman’s Maus, even if its inception was mostly a matter of serendipity. Through his graphic novel, he has stripped away all of the historical detritus that has accumulated over the years, removed the need to moralize and process, and given the reader an opportunity to simply bear witness.

February 3, 2014

I have been drinking, and it has been far too long.
I miss you all, sweet nobodies,
People I imagine return to this blog,
Fascinated by the writing that I so desperately hope is revolutionary.
But let me tell you a secret,
The more I write,
The more I listen,
The more I believe that writing is shit.
That it’s all a pile of bile, hah!
That it’s nothing but self-indulgence,
Mindless pandering
A vain attempt to justify, or rectify, or overcome
One’s own sense of inadequacy.
To feel secure is to be blind,
I assure you.
But to feel secure also is
Grand.
It’s blindness, yes?
Yes, I do believe so.
So we write and write because we think we are intelligent,
Or inspired,
Or ahead of our time,
But in the end it’s nothing but a rehashing,
A regurgitation of what has been,
What will always be,
What will never cease to be.
Alright,
I’m full of shit.
No doubt.
But the more I write, the more I think of it,
The more I come to believe that it’s all worthless,
And that the only true recourse is to live,
To move,
To not do anything but tear apart
And to indulge,
To take arms and fuck it all.
I’m done for now, good night.

Monkey King, Trophy King

Before you read please watch this 2 minute video of Aguirre (audio appears out of sync because the film was originally shot in English and then later dubbed into German). Take him in. His speech is NOT italicized in my piece.

This is an exercise where I bring together two film characters from different fictive universes. Take your time while reading. Follow the pace of the text. There are no mistakes in the text, grammatically or otherwise. Start the music when you begin reading. The music itself is central to the film Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

At this point Aguirre, a volatile character, has led his Spanish expedition to ruin. The jungle has consumed his party, gnawing away at them with arrows and madness. Yet Aguirre is not alone. There is a second character, a predatory being, present yet barely visible.


Popol Vuh – Aguirre I (L’Acrima di Rei)

Monkey King, Trophy King

	Aguirre.

			Aguirre.

	I
		am Aguirre.

			My land speaks to me.

				Calls for me.

				Calls my name.

	Aguirre.

			Aguirre.

	I hear!

	I hear.	
		See the land before,
				how the river opens to the sea.

		This is where I set sail,
						men.
		This
			is where I take hold.

	I
	     take
                     hold.

	I
		take hold.

	Hold.

	I hold now!

	This land,
			this tree
			this soil

		My Kingdom will be vast, and I
							will rule.

	I
		will rule.

	I
		will rule.

	Free from the spineless,
			the meek,

		You cowards.
		You
			cowards.

	Refuse of my world.

	Spineless.
			Aguirre.

			Aguirre.

	I shall rule with my daughter,
				her hand supple yet,
				her face an angelic pale.

		Purified in the waters of this fall,
			cleansed.
			By my hand and my power.
			Mine.

	Aguirre.

		Aguirre.

			Mine.

	What demon are you!
			You who haunts me.
			You who moves as the wind.

	I hear you cackle, I see your eyes.

		Infernos in the dense of this jungle.
		Eyes into the pits of Hell.

	Are you my wrath delivered?
	Are you my strength?

	Strength.

	I
		Strength.

	I
		am the great destroyer.
					I
						am the Wrath of God.

		All will know my name
					and I will rule this Kingdom.

		Above the Crown.
		Beyond her life.

					Great treachery.
					Great
							treachery.

	Wrath
			of god.

	Wrath of
			god.

	I
		am the Wrath of God.

	I am
		Aguirre.

		Spineless
				I hold.

		Aguirre,
			Youre it.
Passenger

For the Intermittent Writer

333sound

Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

The Wink

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