Once Again…For Hatred

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No. 9 Ola Hejazi
In the idle situation of smoking a cigarette in the summer sun, memories surface like scenes seen from a scratched and scarred wooden windowpane. The heat radiates from the cement buildings, and from the windowpane the memory of the mountain breeze amplifies my fiery stillness on the flared sidewalk. An army convoy creeps its way across the street, its wheels are steady, a soldier mounts the gun on top of the truck, his eyes scan the panorama in front of the convoy, people indifferent to his presence, beggars following fast maneuvering shoes, cars honking at them from all sides, and in front of him a secret line he knows the convoy must follow stringently even though the gun he rides offers neither solace nor threat.

…But to go back to the mountain where my aunt would take me for indefinite weeks away from the blaze of Beirut; I take another drag from the cigarette and through the mind’s windowpane I see a cloud of dust in the distance approaching me, the pebbled road beneath me shaking. I am strange on this road, my aunt’s house is still unfamiliar to me and it’s just across the street, yet the cloud of dust entraps me within it from far away, and soon it is as if I am the one who is approaching it, even though its inevitable danger, this ominous taupe billow, freezes me in place. In the moment of immanent peril my legs respond again, but it’s too late, already midway on the road, I’m cloaked in a rough taupe mist…

They call me inside to the sound check. It’s midday, the chairs are still neatly arranged, ashtrays are clean and the smell of the detergent still fills the air with its thin sharpness. I pick up my violin as Hazem starts playing, waiting for my queue to start. Hazem’s oud picking syncopates between western rock and eastern melodies, my violin keeps to the eastern, alternating between different maqams depending on Hazem’s use of scale.

I started my violin playing as a child with a private teacher, a friend of my mother. She was a hoarder who lived alone; her house smelled like mold, and dust particles would mushroom after every step. My mother thought of it as a perfect arrangement: I’d learn the violin, and her friend would have someone to talk to, but I came to hate her after I joined the conservatoire. Her left hand had a nervous disorder forcing her to perch up the wrist  of her fretting hand more than usual, a condition I needlessly emulated because it was the only way I was taught to play. As long as my left hand fretted awkwardly, the teachers at the conservatoire separated me from the rest of the students.

“The person who looks at you playing will think this is a circus show,” Hazem says sternly, still giving me shit about my perched up left hand.

“If you were born after me and I before you, it would be you on the violin now”

“Me, unlike you, would have adapted.”

“What can I say, see what only one year of learning can do? Less, eight months. But no matter, I play as if I can’t wave my hand to saw hello in real life, I play for myself. You’d play with your hand extended, for others.”

“So existentially deep, as always. Next thing you’ll tell me is that some people pray with their hands on their sides, other with the right hand over the left.”

“Well, yes, they do. And they play the same game equally as good. The difference is I don’t play God and judge who is better. You do.”

Hazem, my older brother; he is playing football behind the house in the mountains. A stampede of bicycles, young kids, thinking whatever lay in their way on the road is a necessary victim; an unmerciful army sparing no reserves seeing no defeat in site marches to a steady rhythm. They ride together and form the taupe cloud; metal bodies collide with mine, one after the other they trip over me, scrubbing my body on the mountainous pebbles. But I feel nothing, floating, as if this moment is eternity, painless. I’m motionless on the ground, lying like a lie waiting to be found out, the blue sky slowly recovering from the taupe invasion. Then the discovery, hands over me, carrying me frantically, my body almost slipping from their hands, my blood spilling on the ground, and the bolts of pain…I think, the only way out of this is death.

I go back home after a long night of noise, music and smoke. I open the door of the garden full of mint roots that spread as other roots died of neglect. Brown and yellow roots rest wilted on the ground, begging for a modicum of water to remain motionless, but I decide to uproot them all. Mint roots spread crazily wherever you plant them, and uprooting them is as hard as forcibly forgetting what binds you. What’s left of them reforms them, as embers are promises of fire.

I dig in with my hands, insects crawl on me and I feel the tingle of necessary human transgression. Every root is a memory that I pluck for a momentary period of clarity.

rhizome

My aunt sits me on the porch, my elbows patched and a faint red slowly seeping through the most elemental form of a patch. She tells me to show the bikers what they have done to me, as if my lacerations are to be a source of my pride and a wellspring of their shame. I tell her to bring my violin, but my request is refused. This is not a time to flaunt my talent, but my soon-to-be scars. Don’t read. Don’t play. Simply be as if in the hoped-for state of perfect. A charade that I’ve been adopting ever since, even when in play.

One of the basest feelings you can ever feel is hatred for someone or something unknown to you. But to hate them exactly because you don’t know them, because you want to know them, that is to love them, these phantom foes and their phantasmal plans.

A wreath of paranoia adorned my mother’s head ever since, one that translated itself into a mortal hatred of my absence. She’d threaten and curse whenever I gave myself to the umbra of her sight. “Be late once again, and I’m never letting you back in,” she’d say, “I’ll never speak to you again,” she’d say, “I’ll close the door on you and forget you,” she’d say. But she’d never uphold them. Late and negligent, I always found the door open. Her threats functioned more as promises of endless acceptance and forgiveness. And I adopted them. I can no longer uphold a threat, neither as a promise to myself nor as a method of negotiation.

I pluck as much mint roots as I can in a performance of forgetting, even if only momentarily in the drunken rage of soiled fingers and bonds. But any act of uprooting is also a commemoration of a tragic event, so that one can always sense the last gasp approaching again and again…

…I know, something must happen now, someone must appear, or at least recognized, so that I can cease to hate and continue again in the state of play…

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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

 

On Snowflakes

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Snowflake

“Occurrence itself – or origin – is ‘communication’, sperm and egg slide into each other in the heart of the sexual storm.” [Bataille. “Games of Chance” – Guilty]

Descartes, in 1635, sketched snowflakes. He observed the Amsterdam snowflakes, sketched them and took notes; to use a pun, he waxed, meditatively. He observes:

These were little plates of ice, very flat, very polished, very transparent, about the thickness of a sheet of rather thick paper…but so perfectly formed in hexagons, and of which the six sides were so straight, and the six angles so equal, that it is impossible for men to make anything so exact.
I only had difficulty to imagine what could have formed and made so exactly symmetrical these six teeth around each grain in the midst of free air and during the agitation of a very strong wind, until I finally considered that this wind had easily been able to carry some of these grains to the bottom or to the top of some cloud, and hold them there, because they were rather small; and that there they were obliged to arrange themselves in such a way that each was surrounded by six others in the same plane, following the ordinary order of nature.

Six years later, Descartes would go on a meditative journey through the inferno of scepticism, questioning that very same order of nature, the perfect form, and the obligation he perceived in the snowflakes. Descartes’ encounter with the snowflakes, however—most probably due to the limited knowledge of the time—, is a missed encounter. Perhaps (and I only say this to compel you to read on) his whole philosophy, his scepticism and his dualism would have been altered if he had noticed the disorder inherent in the formation of every snowflake, the aleotary pregnancy of clouds at freezing points. Perhaps if Descartes “saw” this, he would have renounced God as the soul mediator between him and his fellow man and never penned an ideology of radical doubt. And it is no secret that in secular terms radical doubt becomes hope.

No two snowflakes are alike—Descartes missed this. Humanity’s dire need for explanation often projects purpose on symmetry, an order to disorder, and identity to difference. No two snowflakes are alike, and not because there is a unique order to each one, but precisely the opposite, there is a unique disorder: the temperate disorder of that multiple Mother we call Nature.

Chuck Palahniuk’s Tyler Durden also evades this in Fight Club: “You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” Palahniuk a la Durden is committed to an adolescent reading of Nietzsche (Nietzsche as the philosopher of angst and teenage nihilism), and his renouncing of the uniqueness of snowflakes-as-identity is only true as a fascist-breeding argument against consumerism (does not Tylder Durden typify the heterogeneous sovereign head of fascism par excellence, commanding a homogeneous army which, through David Fincher’s lens, is follow the neo-Nazi archetype?)

Both René and Chuck miss the point of the snowflake, the former in his assertion that it’s ordered (or intelligently designed), the latter in his belittling of its uniqueness—as if it’s ordered and programmed by the consumer apparatus of late capitalism. “You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else” (star dust?); yet there’s an aleotary element. A snowflake is only a snowflake due its chaotic journey between cold and colder temperatures, between different levels of pressure, between different wind speeds as it falls and between the different surfaces it lands on. Temperate mother, change me with a gust of wind.

…And how different Noor can be the next time, as I am, as you are…we journey from chance to necessity everyday. The condition of existence are contingent – coexistent.

***

The subway opens its doors.

Noor sits on my lap, he wears a pink wig. The artificial hair reaches his shoulders, his fingers are still stained with paint.

“How do you like my eccentricity, mother?” He laughs. I ignore him. “You wanted me to change didn’t you? Or does this change bother you, father?” He continues.

“How did you art exhibition in Beirut go?” I ask him.

“Well I’m in New York now, so Beirut loved it! They loved me!” He hangs like a monkey on the subways car’s ceiling railing.

“I’m glad to hear that, I’m proud of you.” I have never seen any of his paintings.

“Well of course you are, you created me,” he chuckles, “but Beirut, the people she loves and makes famous, she shits out. We’re the excrement of its society. All our poetry and paintings – we’re the world’s best sewage system. If you’re loved, you’re left. Right out to the Mediterranean…we are not the window, we are the anus and the mouth.”

“Tell me more,” I want to discover.

“About the anus and mouth? Or about my screaming and shitting?”

“About your painting Noor. Try to describe it to me.”

“You always ask for the impossible.”

“And that’s why you should answer!”

“All right then, here’s one I call “Embroiled in Fate””

We reached our destination, and out of the subway station, skidding icy streets, we went. Noor started to speak.

To be continued.
Coming Soon: Embroiled in Fate

“[…] that one necessarily ends up speaking of communication by grasping that communication pulls the rug out from under the object as well as from under the subject (this is what becomes clear at the summit of communication, when there is communication between subject and object of the same type, between two cells, between two individuals).”

“Communication still is, like anguish, to live and to know. The extreme limit of the ‘possible’ assumes laughter, ecstasy, terrified approach towards death; assumes error, nausea, unceasing agitation of the ‘possible’ and the impossible and, to conclude – broken, nevertheless, by degrees, slowly desired – the state of supplication, its absorption into despair. Nothing of what man can know, to this end, could be evaded without degradation, without sin (I think, by taking a more negative view of the situation, the stakes being ultimate, of the worst of disgraces, of desertion: for one who has felt himself to be called once, there is no further reason, further excuse; he can only remain where he is)” (Bataille – “The Torment” from Inner Experience]

800px-Sketch_of_snow_crystal_by_René_Descartes

Sketch of Snow Crystal by Rene Descartes

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

Whisky From A Wine Glass

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The whisky is smoky inside the dusty tumbler glass. It keeps me from waking up.

She wraps herself with the bed sheets, but she is not a prize.

The whisky needs more respect from me. I promise myself and I promise it that I’ll drink it from a wine glass. Maybe we could drink it together sometime, and with us, angels and hairy Scotsmen.

Yes, I’d like that. Wouldn’t you? We’d cling our hands like newly-weds and drink whisky from the wine glass. We’d cringe at our first sip. We’d drink it without ice so the aroma won’t wane and the taste won’t fade. We’d give each other a kiss after the first sip. And then another before the second.

I’ll stop loving you after we finish the bottle. I’ll stop loving you; it’s as simple as that. I’ll stop loving you like someone simply decides to stop practicing.

It’s always this simple. I’ll drink the second bottle by myself from a tumbler.

The next day you’ll bring two bottles when you come over. You come over because I ask you to. You don’t hesitate because you want to. I manipulate your will because I know that I can.

We drink whisky in wine glasses because we can and we’re free. We sip slowly all night long, making a profession out of our drinking. We sip slowly sitting poles apart on the table, looking at each other, with each sip, our gaze becoming less severe, and our eyelids giving up to the temptation of giving in. But I know that I already have you in my clutch.

I’ll tell you to leave at the penultimate point. I’ll leave you hollow outside in the dry air while I fix the green hat on my head like a horn of humility.

The truth hurts. I know it all. I can decide to stop loving you. It’s as simple as that. You should’ve let me know from the beginning that you’ve broken your promise.

I’ll forget you. I’ll give you what you never wanted, but what you set in motion. I’ll forget you, and all my ships won’t set sail to you, and all my mantras will have no mention of you, and all my thoughts will be free from your tainted image. I will not allow you to give me any scars. I’ll drink whisky from a tumbler again.

I can decide to stop loving you. It’s as simple as that: love, a decision, a practice, not a feeling. You cold breath of ice. You rid the whisky of its taste and odour. Whisky turns into wine in your mouth and angels break their halos.

You’re manipulated. I manipulate. You’re swayed. I sway. Above all, while you allow your emotions to puppeteer your decisions, my decisions control my emotions. You break promises because you know no other way but to be meek and fickle in front of the capricious blowing of the wind. I keep them. I can decide to love you and decide to stop loving you. Your decision is not in your hands. You’re a female—at best. Your mouth, a glass of wine and from it the vapours of wounded pride, fallen hope and baffled desire rise.

You desire. I decide.

Unwrap yourself and come to me, naked, hiding nothing, and I’ll please you like you want me to. Let me respect my whisky. I’ve decided and now I can wake up.

It

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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Nietzsche

I never thought I’d be an inept Father. 

Regret by kristelven

 

I hit him today with a slapstick whip. Each hit echoes as the second wooden board comes crashing on the first. He made not a sound, not a whimper. He made them with enormous amounts of energy, I could see it in the way his muscles tightened and his eyes closed. 

I never thought I’d be like my Father. 

He’d look me down with an inspiring look of dread. You had to love that dreadful look. When you fear something so much, you respect it. With his belt, he’d spare me not, no matter how much I crawled away from him, no matter how much I rolled over like a deceasing body falling down a hill. With his hands, he’d try to rip me apart, starting from my ear, moving to my cheeks, to my stomach; he’d stretch my skin beyond any endurable measure. 

How did things end up this way? Is it my fault? He hit his son; I hit mine. 

My wife weeps after what happened tonight. She weeps the tears that my son cannot shed. As if it is she who I have hit. How could I have done this? 

This is your fault,” my conscience, a woman, speaks from within. “None but your own fault.” 

From the dark crevice of my mind, she speaks, even though it’s too late now. I remember the time when I hit that woman, when she was only a girl, hoping to grow up and blossom on her own, while enjoying the fruits of youth. I remember how I hit her and with that hit, I blew away her essence, pushed her down into oblivion, shoved her until she fell into the gap. 

Regret by virtud

 

..and now I jump after her. 

I remember when my father’s loud screams were contrasted by my mute rebellion. I remember when my father’s stinging hits were contrasted by my acceptance of them as if they were injections of a favoured drug. 

I remember when she extended her hand to me in the bright light of day, when everything was clear, but I, under the influence, rejected what could have been my way out. But I put her; I put myself somewhere I never really wanted to be in. 

My acts of rebellion were false, passive and uninspired. 

When you fear something so much, you teach yourself how to respect it. And when you respect it, you imitate it. And when you imitate it, you become it. I shoved her and pushed her, and I lost myself with every shove and push. She fell down the abyss and all this time, she has been buried deep. When you become it, you hardly know what’s good anymore. Your whole life becomes a swoon because of your failed revolution. You lose touch of everything that defined you, and submissively, you lose any shard of subjective individuality. You’re it. 

…and I became it. I became my Father. Like many people do become only an image of an authority figure. But no excuses. We’re all wrong. To feel alive, I act like it

My conscience, the sweet little girl who I have forsaken, tells me that it’s all my fault. “You gave him imaginary authority. You allowed him to do this to you. You have a responsibility to yourself, to me, which you forgot and left behind.” 

Tragic wakes. Who I was long ago is no different from what my son was. 

Was. Past tense. 

The slapstick whip is still in sight. My weeping wife is within hearing distance. With my other three senses, I smell my son who’s lying on the bed, motionless; I smell the odour of an empty clay jar; I taste… 

There’s no love in this. There is no love in fear. But he had no other way. Our whole life now will dance upon his act like corks upon the tides of grief. 

My son, lived like a martyr, died like suicide. 

Waning In My Own Light by SelfRecyclable

When The World Was Young

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I fell in a dream and hurt myself, but I did not wake. I lucidly dreamt for hours on end.

The good old times, when we were youthful, when the world was young and the sun was soft on our skin…

Ariadne approaches me with her solemn gaze and looks at my feet. Move, she tells me. From that one word I know that the time has come for a stern sequence of events to occur. Ariadne tells me that we can no longer do as we please. The journey which has always been a single step must finally end. Ariadne stops and turns her back on me. Grapes fall from the rough sky, roaring like timid tigers in front of a threat. Upon hitting the ground, the grapes turn to dry raisins. Ariadne goes away, taking silent steps into the past, into the time when we felt high in the deepest valley; she treads with embracing steps on dreams and memories of the time when the world was young.

Uncontrollable and volatile, random and wild, the once-untamed spirit now tells me to abandon all hope of defying the world around me with unpredictable footsteps. She walks away while battering a gong with her wooden hand. The sharp sound echoes throughout the landscape.

Cynthia comes driving through, the car disintegrating as gears change. Black smoke fumes from the exhaust. Beside her sits Braidy, her long hair disappearing under the seat. They come out of the car and their feet elongate as if they’ve just mounted their wooden stilt legs. They look towards the evening sky and tell me, the way is high, but your eyes have always been on the ground. They never look down, but keep on going higher and higher.  Their legs quake, but their tall bodies remain as steady as thick tree trunks effortlessly blocking the wind passing between two mountains. Ripe avocados rain and smash and splatter on the ground; a maestro mounts an imaginary helm and conducts a symphony. The girls sing to the tune, It’s time to get rid of interpretations and believe facts.

Chaotic and open-minded, once causing havoc and controversy with word-play and mind-boggling ambiguity, they now tell me to accept the facts I come across. Their legs shake as they are engrossed in the soils of time, digging deep into the time when the world was young. Suddenly the stilts fall and the two girls jump on hidden trapeze hung in the sky; arrogantly catching on to nothingness and aerially flipping around in perfect circles, a trapeze appearing wherever they want it to appear. The fascism of imagination controls my mind with imagined facts which can only exist if believed in. They wail and scream and giggle and titter high up in the sky. Imagination will not spare me.

Night-time sheaths the hot rays of the sun and veils the eyes with its humid arrival. Fallen leaves crack and break beneath the feet of someone approaching. I close my eyes trying to find a place to hide, yet promising myself a searing pain. Fear projects itself on eyelids as Selene, who I promised to sleep without closing my eyes. She looks at me with contempt for having broken my promise. You betrayed our beginning, she says. She shines a bright light and forces me to open my eyes again, only to see her in front of me, wearing a white glowing robe adorned with half-moons.

She takes out a large mirror effortlessly from her wooden chariot. Look, her voice commands. I look into the mirror but I see no eyes, no mouth, no nose; I see no face, but the back of my head, looking at the mirror which Selene holds, only to look at it again, and again, eternally and abysmally. You have fought monsters and now you become one like them. She places me in the dark abyss which language cannot describe, which my mind cannot ever reach its end. I keep on staring at the image of myself staring at the image of myself infinitely repeating. But in each repetition, the only difference is Selene’s eyes that slightly become jovial with every repetition. And now I know that they belong to the time when the world was young.

Ariadne stands in front of me with her wooden arm; Cynthia and Braidy with their wooden legs; Selene with her wooden chariot, raisins on the ground and split avocados on the ground. They smile at me, telling me to move on, to lose, accept the credo of death, to suspend growth, to stop development and continuously repeat everything over and over again. But I won’t let it drag me down.

What a time it was, when moments of joy ran through us like broken shards of glass, bleeding sweet ecstasy; when we chewed each other like boxes of chocolate and were never afraid to refuse a bitter piece; when delight was sustainable; when we’d hold on to each other in times of trouble like small children hanging on to their mothers. I won’t leave that.

The time when the world was young, when a mistake created a fun memory, and the spirit of lightness made us laugh at tragic plays and tragic wakes.

I wake. Hazel eyes look at me astounded. I never thought I’d see your face like it used to be, she tells me and pours me a glass of seasoned wine; I laugh.

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.

Hanging on the Threshold of a Swoon

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He walks; head to the ground, trying to avoid the inevitable sun which feels like a veil tinting the world with a hot harlequin hue. He walks; there is no escape from the irrationality of the universe except through death, and what a though that must be, completely conforming to the belief in an irrational doomsday: the day the universe will seize to be; as if the universe continues to be after each individual death. Everyone will have their special day to die; the universe dies with them.

Give him death as he walks, and the thought which strikes him would be that of sex. He walks under the glaring veiled rays of the sun which feel like hot spears trying to hold him down and perform a vivisection on his sweating body.

Remember, this is not his description of himself; it is only the narrator’s. The only thing in common between him and me is the deathlike sun.

He walks, and as he jumps from shade to shade, he feels a light breath-of-ice Zephyr blown by chance and probability from the window just above him. And he hears a voice, a voice of a woman, and the thought reaches full fruition: The deathlike sun, and the erotic breath of ice coming from the woman. Imagination takes hold of that orgasmic moment, which the character and the narrator share, and we rejoice with our ability to imagine.

The orgasm, be it that of eroticism or that of the written word taken as the tumult of thought, is seen by many as the end. But the orgasm, as a peak, is only a beginning, for with it consciousness stands in the gallery of dreams which is the absolute and the infinite.

The woman holds our man on the threshold of a swoon. He stops beneath the window and listens to her voice. An anonymous she; could be anyone; could be you. Imagination, caressed with the light breath of ice, forces her to our consciousness. The woman in the workplace, wearing black high heel shoes, a V-neck black dress that skims her knees, which are now on top of each other as she crosses her legs. A silver bracelet wraps around her left wrist and two stud pearl earrings hang steadily from her ears like crucified gems.

…and beneath her chic clothes, the little golden hairs of her body play with the Zephyr which travels on her skin, through the hills of her breasts and her small grape-like nipples, across her navel which tastes like seasoned wine, down to her lily bearing seeds atop her white-marble legs.

He becomes the Zephyr—as she once was—travelling across her body, trying to possess it as he surrounds it with his cool touch. She looks at him with eyes that see desire without a leash, open up to its infinite boundaries of excessive passion. But her body does not give in to the terror in her eyes; she submits helplessly to his call for tragedy which will only stop at death. He pounces on her like a predator on a prey, but I cannot describe anymore, I have to stop at this penultimate point, for if I continue, the universe of words and letters and literature and poetry and language will die; they will die because eroticism does not have a language. We cannot aptly describe eroticism, no matter how grandiloquent our language is. To transgress the limits of language is to make language as strong a taboo as the themes we use it for, and silence is all that would be left. I am forced to withhold ejaculation and stop my verbal masturbation; I do not want my language to be announced dead.

But let me hope that the violence of love will turn into tenderness which only makes the prey yearning for the predator as much as the predator hungers for the body of the prey, but still, none of them would want to lose the other. The truth be told: love is the desire to live in fear of possible loss, with the beloved holding the lover on the very threshold of a swoon.