A Gob Of Spit

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Origingally Published in Rusted Radishes as A Prolonged Insult

By Youssef Rached Doughan

By Youssef Rached Doughan

“No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty … what you will. I am  going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse…” Herny Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Jamal waited in a café and sucked on his nth cigarette. He didn’t usually smoke more than three cigarettes a day, always after a meal, always systematically. His face was tired and bloated from an excursion down the ruins of a bottle of wine.

In the building across the street, two sisters released a barrage of vitriol from behind closed curtains. The familial screams echoed throughout the café, and the cat waiting on the café door was alarmed. It only took a minute for the gazing eyes to stop searching, for ears to habituate, and for the horny traffic to dilute the shouts.

Jamal lit another cigarette and scanned the surrounding. He was supposed to meet a former student of his, but the little rascal, he thought, was late, as always. The cigarette neared its end and he silently muttered, “I need a death. I need to write.” A small cockroach crawled out of the newly dug sewer; a domestic disturbance.

Last night the lady he took home told him that she wouldn’t sleep with him unless he shaved his beard. “Shave your beard,” she demanded, without even a shred of seduction. As an unadorned man, who grew a beard out of laziness, he indifferently obliged. He now smiled at the event. He looked down and grazed the shiny red and black tie he had worn; any other man, he thought, would have hesitated and deprived himself of the most beautiful moment he could experience. The girl he took home, she was still in his apartment. He kept her there. “I need a death,” he thought, “I need to write.” The cockroach crawled up the table and quickly crept along its surface, settling on the Jamal’s white paper. The cockroach stood still, giving its side to Jamal.

The little rascal finally arrived. Jamal licked his lower lip and grazed the bottom of his teeth with his rough tobacco-tinged tongue. His lips were hued with wine. The little kid sat in front of him, the cockroach still between them on the paper. Jamal did not move. The little kid did not move. Eyeballs were transfixed in a moment of stillness authored by the exoskeleton of the cockroach. A sudden mood overhauled the invading decadence of the city; the universe was reduced to this deuce-ace scene. A teenager, an adult, and a cockroach.

No more cigarettes. Jamal found himself to have crawled to the lowest form of beggary, in search of nothingness. Deepest abjection manifested itself in a still cockroach and a youth he wanted to kill. This youth, a former student, had come to give him praise. Praise the Lord, the encomium encounter was interrupted by an insect.

“Hello,” Jamal said, not allowing his eyes to deviate from the sacred arthropod, making it seem as if he had begun a conversation with the would-be carcass of reason.

The youth too did not allow his eyes to drift. He did not answer. There was no need to. He felt a tinge of shame at the way this event had begun. His spine tingled because of the transfixed gaze; all the different scenarios he had imagined of this encounter ran through his head, echoed through his ears, but he couldn’t close his eyes.

Last night, as Jamal and the lady slept naked next to each other, she’d come near him as if to kiss him, but she would only smell his after-shave. Her inspiration started at his chin and went up to his ear. And he’d felt a need to write, preceded by a need to experience death.

Last night, words did not matter as much as the thoughts that blew like fierce winds between the streets of Hamra, blowing curtains, exposing damp rooms with wet whores and angry sisters. The thoughts blew through Jamal’s head like savage and ferocious winds without enunciation. Or to put it differently: a wave of thoughts trapped him in its undertow; he found himself unable to speak, unable to distinguish his necessity to write from his necessity to break free from the inspiration of the lady next to him. His ear trembled and cold shivers travelled down the side of his body. He lay in paralysis until the morning when the wind calmed; the bottle of wine beckoned in the absence of a rooster; he wore his tie like a tight noose and went out the door to meet his former student.

“Hello,” this time he said it in his mind. And he imagined his student’s reply.

“Hi,” his student would smile, “it’s been a very long time,” his student would say.

“Yes, six years to be exact,” Jamal would say, “You were younger, I was still fresh.” But no, too bleak. “You were younger, we were both younger.” Realism invades the imagination.

“I’m really glad I’m meeting with you today, I have amazing news to tell,” his student would say, and Jamal’s desire to kill him would grow strong with such a gleeful remark of the obvious.

“I figured so, I’ve heard rumours,” Jamal would say, ruining his student’s surprisal, ruining the crescendo his student had engineered, taking into account the random variables of human action.

“Oh,” the surprise would turn on his student, but the smile would not vanish, it would only lessen. “Then I guess you know, this will be my last summer here,” the student would say with sudden recalcitrance.

Jamal would nod and force a smile.

“I want to express my infinite debt to you,” the student would academically exclaim, but Jamal’s face would shrivel as if faced with a sublimely appalling nightmare. And Jamal would wonder, What happened to him? How did it ever come to this?

“Please don’t say this,” Jamal’s face would metamorphose into that of a therapist threatened with a knife by his patient. The student’s face would also turn rough, waiting for his mentor to continue speaking, perhaps another lesson? But when do we ever learn?

“Don’t look up to me,” fear into the eyes of the therapist. “Just do not. You did not reach where you are by looking up to me, but by doing the complete opposite.” A lesson would formulate: “The problem with our generation was that we looked up to people, and after the people left us or betrayed us, we still followed with still-born idealisms. Don’t be inspired by people. Be inspired by events, by happenings, by acts and performances. Do not follow, participate. Do not stand on the corner and wait. That’s all they do here. They stand still in anticipation, waiting to be given, never giving, never initiating, always following. They wait and then—

Bang.

A waiter smashed the arthropod on the page; its limbs squashed resembling a gob of spit. It became formless on the page and its potential now became multiple: a spider, a cockroach, a caterpillar, a worm, goo…the mixture of all creation from which the universe takes its shape.

Jamal looked at his former student looking at him, realizing just now that they have not yet said a word to each other. He had lost track of time only to realize that now there was no time to lose. He saw the defilement he needed; the waiter granted him his desired death. He grabbed the white paper on which the formless death-rattle held the potential of a new idea, the mark of a painful birth, and went to the see the lady he left sleeping.

With trembling fingers his student turned the page.

by Alia Al Wahab

by Alia Al Wahab

 

Divagations and Ravings

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I understand the temptation of rotting at home.

***

Narcissus and Echo – their story can be summed up in the two words of their name. Narcissus can do nothing but fold on himself, in a primacy which nevertheless attracts; Echo can do nothing but repeat this folding, inflected in the end of every utterance by Narcissus. A double folding. A double bind. It collapses them both, and so the story goes because they’re condemned to their name.

To the same extent, as much as “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” then God can only function sovereignly as Narcissus and Echo. In other words, this only shows His anthropocentrism.

***

Compromise is merely a word to disguise gross utilitarianism.

***

Rien, cette écume, vierge vers
A ne désigner que la coupe;
Telle loin se noie une troupe
De sirènes mainte à l’envers.

(Nothing, this foam, this virgin verse
designating the cup, no more;
so plunges far away a corps
of sirens, many in reverse.) [Mallarme.Salut]

***

Our quest for knowledge is curiously insatiable. Our quest for self-knowledge is insane.

***

In cities by the water, the humidity of strangeness glaze your skin. Beirut and New York share this affinity to strangeness. The difference lies in how the former city forbids you from shedding your skin and how the latter makes of it an obligation. Beirut is a city of stagnation and paralysis. New York allows for the willful return of the new. Beirut is an echo of its own strangeness. New York’s echo is only heard outside of it.

***

Longing and ambition promise nothing. Neither do beginnings. If any location is witness to that, it is Beirut, where beginnings are only a means to an end.

Longing and ambition promise nothing. Neither do beginnings. If any location is witness to that it is New York, yet in New York, beginnings are an end in themselves.

***

De-lirium is praiseworthy.

Despair or A Secret in Between

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A rattle of candy folding disturbed me from the noise coming from the street. She ate a Kellogg’s Special K bar, the aroma of cherry replaced that of the smoke in the room.

There is no need for names. I am me and she is you.

Let’s burn ourselves to see. We need a vision, even if surreal. Call it a fire or the delusional feel of divinity up our anus. Salmon-flow of the body. Shit up the stream. An ego’s love for control.

Let’s burn ourselves to see. Let’s sing in units of vocal range. Let’s fight in units of weight. We will overcome the purposeful myopia with our burning skin…it’ll be easy…it’s all downhill from here towards the bottom. Let us be like Van Gogh’s sun(flowers).

I turned off my cigarette in the face of Marilyn Monroe, an ashtray of plastic. The red light made the room look like a whore house, a Hamra brothel for lonely leftists. Adorned orphan of Palestine; the wrinkle-free map of meek Lebanon engulfed by Syria. She passed by. Slender. Cleopatra’s snake. Poisonous release, ancient medicine. The echo of pharmakon…and the agony of separating one from another.

Only a few days are left before I leave. There will be no electricity. Beirut will be blacked-out as the plane ascends. Even if in daylight. Beirut will be blacked-out without memory or secrets.

I follow her past the orphan of Palestine and the map of Lebanon. My shadow borders off the red light on the wall.

Vicious city. Sitt Al Dunya. Old mother with varicose veins, immobile. Old mother smoking nargileh, watching same-old plots on the newest smart, HD, 3D LED TVs. Old mother resting comfortably inside the empty graves of sons and daughters, sucking the flaccid dick of an impotent father, with or without a beard, sagging bull testicles, sweating – the closest thing we’ll ever see to his tearing eye. Old mother…

The sun shines in its full blaze and the flowers bend down, the rightful surrender to summer – the use of a season comes with no metaphors – summer comes after spring; summer comes before autumn; summer dries us up. Beirut I am leaving you and leaving a lot behind, and this too is my rightful surrender.

Six months ago, in Amsterdam, I got the word. Sub-zero temperatures and lots of tea and herbs – organic natural stuff, as they say. Five friends toasted to New York all night long while laughing uncontrollably at the flickering lights and music videos playing overhead. All the while I kept on thinking, with magnificent detail – it was the only way, to keep on thinking.

Caramel and Chocolate syrup melt over a vanilla sundae. Plastic spoon-full of sugar and a smile sparks on her face and mine. This is not gratitude, but love.

…and I’ll leave – I like to think there is a plan, but…

I’ll leave nothing behind – If I could, I would. And if I could, she would. There should be a plan, but it’s a step into the darkness.

Beirut, you’re uncovered. Everyone can see you naked, without the excitement of adventure. You offer me nothing. Your Zionist Caterpillars have spent all your secrets to rubble, and you opened the gates gladly. This step is one I take into a darkness which asks for proof of life every passing second. Every moment necessitates a pulse. There shall be life away from home.

New York! Another toast in Amsterdam. My arms were heavy, my body was tired, and I was laughing; yet I was thinking – for the first time I was as young as I felt. I read the acceptance letter out loud on an iPhone, the people around me cheering and laughing. I kept on thinking, and I felt. For most, this would have been a retreat; for most, this would be a pseudo-religious calling. Yet the news rang like the final period of immersion in life. There was no retreat in this for me. I laughed, I thought and I felt my body soaking in the tawny colour of this new sun, rising on this new horizon.

I will bring life back with me, but not for you Beirut; but for this new stage of time, new sands in the hourglass and chocolate and caramel syrup on top of a vanilla sundae; for new-old mattresses and books, beautiful writing and morning smiles, coffee and cornflakes, music genealogy and storytelling; for the people I love who have showed me how to live fully, and for whom I’d be Prometheus, Van Gogh, stealing the fire from the sun and handing it in a sunflower.

I lied next to her on the bed. The AC blew cold air on our feet, locked together, gray-blue pants over a white dress. Together, we imagined how my new life would be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the comic, conjuring up a You’ve Got Mail city life: an affection to the past of books while running along the freight train lights of high speed internet, social networks and cloud systems. And a dog. It is not complicated. Simple, straightforward and made in Hollywood – together we ideated a condition for a peaceful return and a happy ending.

We can’t shut the hour glass. Beirut, time is not a highway. Your burning tires will not light you up, and it is not enough for us to tell you that we love you; it is not enough to be disappointed; it is not enough to be observant. The burden is upon us as much as it is upon you.

She left me in the room and sat alone, hiding in the swoon of red light. Perhaps she does this to tend to my heart, preparing it for the days to come. I followed her and we watched a film in our swoon.

This is definitely not a retreat in which I hide to retrieve what I think I had lost, but a new way of gaining from a profound yet mandatory loss. This is a new path forward in which I experience judgement, heaven and hell without dying. This is not a path paved by a kinetic emotion, such as desire – the need to possess – or loathing – the need to abandon; this is a path paved by despair, and for this I am assured, for I go with no desire – thus I cannot be satisfied – and with no loathing – thus I cannot abandon. My only worry is the consummation of my despair.

…And Beirut, you’ll still have her and many others. They are youthful and many and diverse. They can teach you as they have taught me. They can love you as they have loved me. And they will cry for you, Sit Al Dunya, when you bow down on your knees, close your eyes and surrender. Love them well and correctly. Make of them your secrets, upon which you will shine explosively like a star light-years away; a marvelous glow on the Mediterranean.  Love what I’m losing and you’ll be on my mind. Love what I’m losing and I’ll return as Prometheus, a Van Gogh sun, a perverted dance of sunflowers in the stillness of life; and beautiful Nero, a stirrer of culture and fire.

Before the credits rolled, I headed home, and on that ride, separately, we knew how my new life will be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the existential-dramatic, conjuring up a No Exit hell of grim gridded-streets and Egyptian hot dog vendors, hearts held in hands and thumbs that forget to grasp; The fog covers the limewater in which she had baptized me. And the heart sinks invisibly into secrecy.

And that will be my secret. My secret held from New York and Beirut, from the living and the dead. Between the poison and the medicine, between two echoes, it sleeps comfortably impossibly.

Beirut,     Now is the winter of [y]our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of [New] York  

[Opening lines of Richard III, obviously modified]

‘My reason to write is to reach B./

‘That which would consummate despair [Le plus désespérant]: that B. loses in the end the thread of Ariadne which is—in the maze of her life—my love for her’ [Bataille Oeuvres Completes III 13-14]

Despair cannot be defined as a claim, hesitation, denial, or uncertainty. It is an abandonment, and a plea without conceivable destination; a desertification resulting from the catastrophic disappearance of the value of being. Despair is not humble, but hubristic, and it is not pious in the least, but tragic. [Nick Land. The Thirst for Annihilation.58]

وداعًا، وداعًا اخوتي الصغار
أنا راحلٌ وقلبي راجع مع دخان القطار [محمد الماغوط – “القتل”]

Thank you.

Isaac Israels “Woman before ‘Sunflowers’ by van Gogh” 1917

Acacia

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Regret, I heard her say, comes at the expense of enjoyment.

There is an uncanny silence and a recalcitrant disappointment which remains unseen and hidden behind a shame I consider myself privileged to feel.

The weirdest feeling in the world is putting yourself in front of a camera and speaking self-consciously about no one but yourself, as if the words you utter echo with a universal verity hidden above the clouds. This weird feeling causes a rupture in the self-reflexive self and from within the open shell, clad with flesh and skin, climbs Acacia. Flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood. Yet she can’t claim freedom; my words will not redeem her. My flesh burdens hers with my encrypted words; my blood taints hers with my heavy heart beat. She sprouts in May from a desert-like dryness, embodying an unquenchable thirst amongst the Ténéré region of the Sahara.

The Tree of Ténéré, Acacia; my best friend. I commit myself to rupture with this declaration. Acacia will die as a condition of my writing. My best friend, this is a promise I’ve made from the very first sentence, when I decided that I’ll sacrifice your life unto fiction. All friendships begin with the possibility of survival. “Surviving—That is the other name of a mourning whose possibility is never to be awaited.” Jacques Derrida.

Acacia, she lived among many others, learning from them and befouling them. Nevertheless, it was a communal feeling which made her feel as part of a whole, invincible, purposeful and grandiose. How blameless and shameless time passed. She was as uncomplicated as a child, and I watched this tenderness grow with drunken yet unquestionable eyes. But all things come to pass.

Acacia, you were neither good nor bad. You were divine.

Did not the child grow? Deceit and envy filled her and she became like a jealous God. Condemned to the black violence of the Sun, she cried to her unbearable mother for help. The nails of the sun taught her of the monstrosity of the cyclopean eye of God.

In my head, all my stories start with the conjunction “and”. And Acacia looked at her uncle in such bedazzlement; a nine year old child in awe of being in the penumbra of uncle Arb. And when they were alone he’d tell her, straightforwardly, “don’t grow tall like me, spread wide beneath me, go beyond me. There is nothing beyond the sky except the sun. Keep the sun at a safe distance.” But what can a nine-year old understand from this except everything uncle Arb did not mean. So she kept herself under his shoulder whenever she could and tried to dance around and between his feet. She danced like ripples around a centre, her hands joined her uncle’s and unaware to his direction, she was led to the periphery. Decentred roots travelled in all directions, but avoided the sun. She danced like ripples with eyes closed, the inertia created by her uncle Arb led her on. She danced like ripples until she could dance no more. She danced like ripples until she felt the bottom with her saltatory taproot.

Great Bermuda. Acacia opened her eyes and looked upon the Ténéré; the landscape forced her to close them again completely. She witnessed a vast nothingness and the horror of dancing with eyes closed. All was gone and she was left alone; no more tall trees to compete with for uncle Arb’s hand. Dunes of sand enveloped her. She was no longer in the penumbra of her uncle but under the direct gaze of the sun. And did not the child grow to an aloneness disguised as independence?

The Ténéré became a space for herself and she occupied it with a lonesome stillness which filled the Sahara with trepidation. Acacia closed her eyes and created another world through the imagination of the sublime confronted by no limit. She closed her eyes and imagined a studio with red walls, a staircase leading to a tight low-ceiling bedroom. Beneath the bedroom, a bathroom stood opposite a kitchen, a refrigerator and a microwave cramped next to a sink. She hung paintings on the walls and adorned the balcony door with thin velvet curtains. And on she lived, with imaginary friends and imaginary conversations; she wrapped herself in the night time of shut eyelids and made of herself a God, indifferent to circumstance. It was not good and not bad; her imagination was sublime. Her aloneness was no longer a sickness, but an opportunity, a door.

But every once in a while, she’d scratch the bottom with her taproot with an immense hatred for life. The bottom reminded her that her tragedy will soon know completion under the real sun.

And I joyfully watched her closed eyes and kept silent. I was alarmingly close, but subtle, accepting of everything. I was every grain of sand upon a dune sculpted by zephyrs. And I thought I was safeguarding her freedom with my mute and cautious drifting; And I thought I was maintaining equilibrium as I stood behind velvet curtains and imaginary doors, stalking, listening and gazing on eyes closed shut. And…And…And…

…she opened her eyes; she had to. Stability is inevitably short-lived, as unreal as the illusion of my clear conscience. I sat on the edge of the bed as a clash of substance in the middle of nothingness knocked her down to the ground and derooted her: a chance-fuelled event of rupture.

She opened her eyes. Regret, I heard her say, comes at the expense of enjoyment.

[Excuse the anthropomorphism.]

Immanent Reflection and Thirsty Meditation

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“…any possible self—or relative isolation—is only ever precipitated as a precarious digression within a general economy, perpetually renegotiated across the scale of energy flows. The relative autonomy of the organism is not an ontological given but a material achievement which—even at its apex—remains quite incommensurable with the notion of an individual soul or personality.” (Nick Land The Thirst For Annihalation, p. 45)

The formless. [Bataille] argues, is not to be found in a sense deriving from “a non-form” or “nothing at all” but in a certain painful and yet fertile effort that we could describe as giving birth, a death rattle-tearing and a cruel suffering…” (Francois-Xavier Gleyzon “Lynch, Bacon and The Formless”)

I cracked the sky with an involuntary yet necessary shudder, and slowly, like water staining paper, the crack expanded. But its presence did not emanate from a centre, but from the ever-expanding boundaries. It is from boundaries that presence begins, not from a centre.

I sat on my chair and I knew that the androgynous creature behind me was staring at the keyhole of my skull, enraged.

“I am androgynous,” it said, “I do not and will not perform part in your reality. You will only perform one in mine. This is the only way, or there will inevitably be a fissure.”

So I nodded and looked away. There is no point in seeing an androgynous. A salient noise is all that is needed to mistake it for the voice of a friend.

A friend?

When I turned, I didn’t find it behind me, it had disappeared. And still, the cracking sky was still expanding, opening up the void into which everything was going to be sucked in; a vertical anti-gravity drainage system. Annihilating, aborting, obtrusively abolishing. De-centred by explosive boundaries. And soon, including everything, spreading from wall to wall, end to end; Ouroboros. Cannibalism without reserve.

I craved without seeking. I closed my eyes to shut down the most distant of senses. I did not want to seek truth anymore, for all that has seemed true turned out to be contingent, at best. I renamed transcendence as discontinuity, and immanence as continuity, but with no revolutionary vigour. This simple inversion I crave with an aversion as intense as God’s longing for Easter or the phoenix’s longing for its own pyre. So I close my eyes, and crave without seeking, simple dreaming, becoming larval again, and even more minute, smaller than an atom, formless energy.

I flowed like a constantly repeated mantra, no end, no beginning; Infinite and out of the labyrinth of vision without and outside of Being. No mediation, the open wound of unconscious primitiveness spilling forth unintelligibly, gushing through like the slit throat of an eleven year old male who was willing to blossom, and yet prematurely violated, ended, opened, cut, annihilated by the sacred monster known as Gilles de Rais. I am him at his utmost moment of ecstasy. The apex of aversion. And it’s joyously horrible.

There is an eventful connection, a mode of communication which no Enochian or lesser language can enunciate. A renunciation of life, this is a bridging which dissolves me and everything else.

But the fangs of time clawed at the drum of my ear; the sands of the hourglass rumbled against each other in ultimate fury. A negligible snap forced me to take an all-too-human form again. I am Saint Theresa with eyes closed at the advent of orgasm, then suddenly coming back to life, dismally.

I beheld the distance of vision like a labourer beholds his tool as a source of discontinuity and recalled Blake: If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.

The androgynous, an Andy Warhol look-alike, appeared in front of me, thin, flat, disgusting.

“I am your friend,” it said with a vile high-noted voice.

“And I am your corpse,” I replied knowing fully well that this is a culminating existential disaster. I have been through this before. The hourglass of time has been flipped.

“This is the way it should be,” it smiled at me with sadistic eyes.

That’s the only way it works.

“In a sense, the world is still, in a fundamental manner, immanence without clear limit (indistinct flowing of being into being, I dream of the unstable presence of waters interior to water)” (Georges Bataille).

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Circle

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L'attente by arThinker

When God is seen in the dark light of death, under the fluorescence of dim inner experience, you realize that God died for the sake of communication with a community. And so death comes out to be the only effective means of communication free from the all-altering and alienating arm of language. Death is inner experience.

The mosque’s Morning Prayer ricochets off of the buildings, echoing between the alleys around the building, searching desperately for an alluring ear to instil a message. The swarm of people kneeling in the direction of the Qibla, their bodies rising and falling unanimously, directed towards a black stone far off in the Arabian Peninsula. I wake up, the walls shaking from the Imam’s reprimanding of all present goings-on. If only he knew how ineffectively his words disseminated themselves in the vacancy of alleys and homes.

I hear Father coming back from the morning prayer. He steps proudly in the house, his heel knocking on the floor with ostentatious force. I hear his footsteps pass the bathroom as I empty my bladder. He calls my name, but I don’t answer. He calls Mother, and she comes running to him. I imagine her oversized maternal cheeks and boobs sagging dolefully to the ground, her thyroid gland exploding in her neck, and her body having heat waves which turns her skin red and saline. I get out of the bathroom and I see Father and Mother standing outside my room, looking inside, then looking at me, a look of repugnance.

“You were a dove once,” Mother says nostalgically, her wrinkled fingers pressed tightly on her body.

“But now you’re a snake with your blasphemous thoughts and a pig with your filth!” Father’s invective does not strike me as odd.

But no longer. I feel I’m going to die, any time, and it would be good.

Mother complains how I lock myself in a room which I never tidy up. Mother tries so hard to talk to me, but to no avail. The strings of maternal love have been cut and the bond has been indefinitely repudiated.

Father. I am speechless. Father, this is for you. Father wishes I were Lavinia; Father wishes to find a reason for my silence. Father would prefer rape and a cut tongue over an unexpressed feeling of blankness. Father would wish to rape me himself, to make me utter meaningless sounds to his delight. Father’s presence eats me alive. Father can’t hear me now.

But I prefer the silence. I prefer the darkness. I prefer to be indistinct like the point when a river joins the sea: the point of annihilation. I am annihilation. My room: my closed-off womb lacking openings always invites a series of Mother’s impotent, tepid objections.

When I die, it won’t rain. It’ll be like a bird of prey hunting under the azure of clear sky.

But I remain inside. Dwelling in silence; irritated by the noise of my flesh. It screams from the abyss of anguish and I listen to it in my room, alone, afraid of the consequence of my own words.

The excess of flesh is balanced by the scarcity of words; I only communicate through lacerations, the (s)laughter of flesh: the concrete promise of human freedom. From the abyss of language it laughs; from the non-place of the abyss, I hear the nonknowledge of my existence. I hear the laughter and I know that the future has already been; this is Zarathustra’s laughter, and who knows better than Zarathustra about the discomfort with one’s place in life?

Zarathustra, the character who preceded me, made clear the circle which is eternity’s trajectory. The circle onto which I was thrown by Father and Mother, my original fall, and now, eternally recurring, timeless, I await my final fall: the fall of ecstasy.

I fall, and the noose does not hold me. I fall on shards of glass and they pierce through me. I bleed and laughter echoes from the ruptures of flesh. I open up and I say my last word in a state of glory.

Father, Mother. Listen to me. What I am, I am. A dove. A snake. A pig.

000041 by wesleyharmon

Mother hears the thud, Mother rushes and holds me in her trembling eyes, seeing the truth of it all; the failing of the womb that turned into a cage that turned into a coffin. The image takes her back in time, twenty-one years back, when I was decided to be a keepsake of some highly marvellous night, their shadows disappeared and so did their shame; they washed off on me.

Mother tries to hold me, but every touch is suffocating. I’m closer to the edge, to the final fall. Shards of glass cut my mother, and I’m so close to her wounds, I hear the laughter. Does she hear them too? Can she tell how close I am?

Father. Where are you? Did you die already?

Decorate my room with flowers after I’m gone. Get rid of my awful smell. Scrub the floor clean from the dry black blood. Leave no trace of my language-deprived yet loud goodbye. But beneath the bed, if you see a circle, do not scrub it off. I am treading that circle now, forever, in the abyss of nonknowledge. I am laughing and dancing with Zarathustra.

Circle of life by BlackCloudConnected

Solidarity of a Broken Temple

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The music filled the humid air beneath us; sweat drizzled down our forehead itching our brows, but we didn’t care. We stood next to each other, building our temple, one brick at a time towards heaven. The sun glared as a foe in contempt; the ladders cracked beneath our feet like traitors; the water drops dried like unfaithful believers. But we persevered and kept on building.

Then a God stepped down from his divine throne as He felt a strange jab in his heart. The god sensed an uncanny threat from our strong solidarity. Could this be love? The God was unsettled by this relationship which did not include his divine presence. How can a relationship without God exist so smoothly without troubles? Thus did God say his word to break all words into multiples, to condemn all tongues with difference, and to differ all meaning infinitely. Voila, differance!

We were laying brick over brick, smiling incessantly and proudly, and not giving a divine damn. But all of that was broken when suddenly our mouths were of no use. The sounds we did immediately became foreign, and phonetically, we were strangers. Perplexed and astounded, I looked at the person next to me, the tongue made us complete strangers. Communication was suddenly broken and a schism occurred.

The God of the immutable order smiled.

I talked, but the other could not understand; the other misunderstood me as if a different structure had been encrypted in the fragile mind, and I the same. So we came down from the incomplete temple, not knowing what to say to each other, but with hearts filled with contempt. Even our eyes were mute. We suddenly became complete strangers, unable to look at each other in an understanding look of regret.

Autumn came and autumn was all around and so were clear skies and afternoons. But we became more distant as the silence between us grew. And cold silence stayed true to its purpose: it atrophied any sense of compassion between us.

Every hour became still; every hour was the hour of departure.

But sometimes, I would remember good bright days. Remembrance would be a sort of meeting, and I would remember every detail, every joke and every lesson; every word and every sigh; every sorrow and every joy. Yet on the penultimate point, I would also remember the moment when the schism happened; when my tongue strayed to the right without reaching a common point of understanding. Different tongues, different languages gave us different common sense. Different common sense gave us different perspectives, and different perspectives gave us different realities.

At that point, forgetfulness acted as a form of freedom, and every unintended memory was bitter, even if it was the sweetest.

So I pleaded to the divine god who set us upon our fate: “Merciful as thou art, let me die at the right time. The right time, be it now, for I have lived at the right time, found happiness and joy, but now, the time is the time to die.”

And as the God heard my calling, he gladly heeded my call for help. My god felt needed and aptly responded in kind.

In the final hour, I went to my old friend, looked in the eyes facing me and saw that the eyes were too cruel for me to look at. Suddenly, our incomplete tower toppled over and everything in front of us was covered topsy-turvy with dust. When the dust cleared, I looked at my old friend and finally, we understood each other’s gazes. The gazes uttered a truth which can only be spoken in the silence which belongs to the ambiguity of existence:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

We relished the mutual silent understanding and defeated cold silence.

Finally. Welcome Little Death.

Victims of the Immutable Order: A Testimony

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I wonder what she’s doing right now. I wonder where she is.

In that home which trenches itself in the ground facing wide and long fields of wheat, bordered with cypress trees, lilies, but…

I’ve been counting the years and the months and the days. It’s an obsession. Three years, one month and fourteen days. I dream of myself walking up an arid hill, walking towards a door seen at the top of the hill. Every day makes it steeper.

She hates me.

…I told them everything, but they couldn’t understand anything. I faltered when I shouldn’t have. I gave in to reason. But there wasn’t any time for me to make things right. The absence of any kind of certainty made me a basket case of doubt. But that was in the past. Now she’s gone.

She went before. She’s gone again. Indefinitely. It was an immutable order which she found a way out of, only to be dragged back in, slamming her head on the crux of its foundation: family. She took a bad hit. Fatally, she bled.

Faint by precision, but strong by imagination. The memory of the best first night ever. The memory which I always add to by use of imagination. Sometimes I wonder if anything we remember is not just a simple fantasy. Every time I reach the same conclusion: we are the plaything of memory.

The worst last night ever. She looked at me with eyes beyond the threshold of despair; beyond patience and perseverance. She looked at me with eyes too shocked to be disappointed. Her lower lip wibbled as it did many times before, but this time she could not restrain the storm of incessant wailing. She was taken.

I know why she doesn’t call. I know why she no longer talks to me. She definitely hates me.

If only I could: squeeze her hand; whisper in her ear; look into her crystal blue eye; look at her; count the freckles on her face; feel the pulse on her wrist; hold her close; relish the mundane with her.

If only I could take back a mere hour of my life to give years for hers.

The best first night ever. After weeks of wanting to be a stranger, she was my opportunity. After years of being trampled over, I was her opportunity. We immediately exchanged hearts and permitted the other to dance and sleep with it. Purge me and read me. And so we did. And my heart read aloud, I am. Her heart screamed, thank you for not stomping over me.

We cleansed each other, naked, beneath the shower head, inside the bath. We were like leeches stuck on each other, forming a closed circuit; she sucked so I could feed. The water was hot and the humid air cooled our hearts down as we sucked each other dry.

Nostalgia gives birth to regret and remorse.

She hates me. I sold her out because I thought I would be helping her. I listened to all the others who had failed her before. The evil sly roué who told me to open my eyes and then forced me to see things through his eye; the pernicious viper who silenced me and spoke and told me to listen to her voice. I listened and I saw, but it was trickery. And I failed her. I let them take me away.

I cannot be sorry. Everything has bled into this; the borders of blame are all mixed up. But she is the angel that fell.

The best first night ever. We walked through darkened streets and alleys until the early hours of the morning. We drank energy drinks mixed with vodka. We sat on long winding stairs and watched couples trying to be intimate under the eye of the public cats and bats. And we tried it too. We were not afraid. We did not care. Intimacy empties a crowded room when it’s real. No one matters. We believed in love. I don’t anymore because I don’t believe in myself, but for a period of time, love was the answer. We readily tried to understand each other. We shared Frankfurtian views and loved our music. We enjoyed charades and paraded our skills on the street. We loved each other the way we like to be loved.

The street is the home for youths in love, where lovers grow, become sick and die. The rare public benches act as couches. The people eating inside restaurants act as pay-per-view TV programs. The stray cats as pets. The shitting pigeons, the church bells, the propagated prayer as annoying reminders of what awaits when we go back in.

But to survive on the streets, you have to make a promise of loyalty, a vow of devotion. And the promise you take until the end of you; a promise which I broke; a promise which she kept.

…and the skies turned grey.

The door at the top of the hill will never be open. What lies on the other side is imagination. My climb up the hill is an inevitably destructive fantasy. We’re still the same, inventing myths to feed our limited humanity: I can’t bring her back.

I wish I can wonder what she’s doing; I wish I can wonder where she is. But I can’t because she’s not here. She is not. I am, but it is not my heart which proclaims it. I have become defined by her absence.

Credence To a Devil’s Promise

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I’m in a private hell.

I call it the cave. Many people call it the cave. But it’s never the same place. The only common factor between all caves is the characteristic of solitude. But there’s always a devil waiting outside, wanting to come in, waiting for me to slip and come out. Temptation outside the sanctuary where I retreat to let many thoughts play out; to let many ideas battle each other, allowing possibilities to cancel each other out, so that by the end, when it’s safe to come out, I’d have a clearer vision of my reality.

I relish that moment of comfort when I come out.

But there’s a devil outside, waiting.

I create my own misery, and excuses are defence mechanisms which rid me of the clear insight: I am responsible for myself.

How I wish the eternal can truly be the momentary.

The first beginning broke its promise. I was promised nonexistence, but abortion was aborted and I came out, disappointed. Ever since, I’ve been trying to make amends, as if it was I who broke the promise. The years went by, and the play developed; the theatre at home became more complex, but it always centred on the same fights.

When you meet your maker, your only obligation is to make him cry, simply because he offends you by trying to claim that he knows what he has created.

By the end of every act, I was expected to retrieve and extract the moral of the drama. The moral is yet to be extracted. With each act, alienation increased, and the only truth I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to be. So I rid myself of experience and life and strove towards intentional unhappiness, disappointment and loneliness. I dented my mind awkwardly.

The unlived past is my psychological burden. I always try to dance with what might have been while everything good passes me by. An unfulfilled past haunts me and every beginning breaks its promise.

So I invite clandestine characters into the play of my life. Secret acts are played behind the scenes with actresses of different kinds. Soon enough, I realize that I need them, each and every one of them; this realization strikes me like a cancerous imperfection: dependency and necessity.

Truth, unless I find it, is not truth. Find a voice. The voice tells me what I long for. “Ahlan” and women crying from the impeding great doom. What could I possibly long for?

Home. Family. A pillow and a good night’s sleep. The actresses would promise me that. But every beginning breaks its promise, and I’ll die in dark corner after experiencing the most agonizing breath possible. My actresses love so that they can be loved, but I’ll die in a corner distant from their eye. My inner acolyte will be disappointed. My inner acolyte told me to follow, but I did not listen when it mattered.

Take me to the place where you go. Take the look off my face. Don’t go away. I need more time. Say what you want to say. But don’t go away. Take me away. Crazy days make me shine. A little bit of craziness, a little bit of eccentricity is all for the good. Allow me to jump before I think. It will be a constant, inexhaustible, unfathomable adventure. But I’ll try my best.

Love is the law. Love under will. And there is no law beyond do what thou wilt. But my inner acolyte leaves. Every one leaves. An unfulfilled past haunts me and now I fear the tomorrow. I destroy my today. Am I to blame? Is what I’m feeling inside guilt?

Everything arising from guilt becomes a duty. But the important thing to remember is that guilt can only come from memory, a product of the past. That said, it is clear enough to say that everything arising from guilt is a reaction produced by the unfulfilled past. It’s hard to start acting again.

I create my own misery. There are no more excuses. Compromise is ugly. All this could have been solved by living up to the promise. All this could have been avoided with abortion. One broken promise can alter a whole life. Do I deserve this wanton life? Question the equation.

The devil outside is waiting. The devil who wants to tear me with its mammonic claws. The devil who does not ask questions. The devil with no predetermined answers; just a desire to rip me apart and tear me asunder. A devil doing its job perfectly. A devil who would have probably been a better master. The devil would not have acted. The devil would have told me to forget about nouns. “Take love only as a verb,” he’d tell me. And perhaps, if I had embraced the devil I would have lived.  But I’m coming out of the cave this time without a thought. The devil can tear me with its claws. Nothing will come out. The devil will always be responsible for the end; credence to the devil’s word. I’m coming out as light as a white cloud above a field of wheat. I am empty. Perhaps the devil will fulfil my past and rid me of a tomorrow and give me the paradox of finding eternity in a moment. I am ready.

“Ahlan,” says the devil, and I hear a mother and actresses crying when they see my doom.

An Untimely Remembrance of a Timeless Memory

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She sat on the balcony late at night, puffing coolly on her cigarette; a nightly routine which she has been doing for the past ten years. She’d sit cross-legged and look downward at the changing quick-paced world while her husband and her children slept inside. Trails of cigarette smoke disappeared in the darkened space like forgotten memories dissipating inside the dark caverns of the mind. But a sudden breeze blew and the air-born memories came blowing in her face, seeping into her veins again. It was the smell of meat and blood which took her back thirty-four years into the past.

She was in her uncle’s car, the same car he used to transport the meat he sold. The smell penetrated her every pore like the sweat of a rapist dripping on her skin, but there was no room for complaint or second-thoughts. They were fleeing a country in flames. Syria, for the first time, seemed to be very far away. Her uncle was driving at lightning speed, but the more he drove, the closer the heart was to home, and the further Syria seemed to be. Just sixteen back then, she thought what every teenager facing, or more accurately, fleeing the threat of war would feel: this life is not the life I deserve; that phrase, to which she now responded cynically, this undeserved life has taught me who I am.

She smiled at the ridiculous memory as she puffed more off of her cigarette. The jab of nicotine gave her full remembrance of her time in the Comoros islands where she spent four years, trying to enjoy herself, but always feeling like a refugee hiding from the terrors of home. A small fire joined what was left of the family together at dinner: the uncle, the brother, the aunt. The parents were absent. Perhaps, she thought, if her parents were near, home wouldn’t be so far away.

Her brother talked about the well-known strife of their grandmother; a story always told in times of trouble to garner strength and perseverance. That supernatural quality made the story more fictitious with each retold, slightly re-shaped account of it. Her grandmother, born in America and returning to Lebanon, found herself, somehow—the details scurry off and are not important—as the only Muslim child in a Christian family. The story goes on: how she was trapped in chicken dens for countless days; how she was forced to go to church; how she was forced to take part in rites not of her own; how she was beat up when she would not obey; and eventually, the apogee of the tale, how she fled the pseudo-home, and luckily enough, found a goodhearted Muslim family to take her in. So feathered a story, told around the lightly burning fire, constantly inspired anyone looking for any sort of cause. Her brother would always conclude, “We should take our grandmother as an example.”

We? An example? A metaphor of the strife of a country; an example of fleeing, and they had done just that. A sad solidarity. She exhaled the accumulating smoke in her mouth and exuded the trickle of sweat on her forehead. Her parents were in Paris while she was in the Comoros. Family, dubbing itself as protector, once again failed to protect, but somehow, family always takes the indomitable form of something religious, or, for that matter, something irrationally believed in.

Where were her parents now? Her father, dead for sixteen years. Her mother, dead for one day. The formidable thought of death could not escape her. In the distance, she can hear her brother recounting the story of her grandmother once more, to his children, to his grandchildren, or even sometimes, to them, pretending they’re all sitting around a small shy fire, which the lit cigarette can be compared to. And that is all that is left: the story of her grandmother (soon to become the grandmother); the Muslim child persevering against the throes of Christian perdition; A prototype of reality in the minds of children sleeping inside; a timeless memory taking the form of a lesson to be learned. And what would be left in the heart of the woman smoking her cigarette: the saddest thing: the truth that we were meant to be together from the start, but a story of perseverance entrenched and bolstered the immutable order of the home which will always have someone flee it.