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.

Le Temps de la Mère

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Christ…He thinks of the abortion he missed, lying wrapped in bloody rags on the floor of a cheap hostelry. He is excited by the thought of his mother in mortal sin, and of a harsher love than he ever knew. How was it possible for her to forgo the delight of hacking God’s fruit from her womb? (That was a chance for religion.) [Nick Land]

Outside. East coast coldness grazes my bare right hand. The sun is setting, switchboard of the night. Darkness begins to highlight 12th street. Key Food, trees, cars, Sweetwolf’s, Red Horse Cafe—all highlighted. I finish my cigarette and fling it over cars. These highlighted streets meet many flings. Inside.

Virtually. Wirelessly. A gust of wind heard from outside which calls. Switchboard of nature. Mother. Be there. Outside. Inside. The stanza, Italian for room. Pieza in Spanish. The piece which is for yourself. The room which is your voice. The womb which is your inner space. And the world of the mother outside. This I learned.

The incidence of lethargy demands a refraction of events, if only to highlight the processes of these events. So this is refraction, not reflection. Naturally, things are skewed. The several agents require some disappointment and some appeasement.

French press, pressing. Neo-liberal policies and the polities of lateness press on my shoulders, stressful pressure. French press, calling; a bit of half-&-half—the tawny tan of coffee, a first sip and the inevitable laxative feel. It is the late afternoon. The sun is setting. This is my first cup of coffee. First hour of my day. It is the last hour of the day. The sun is setting; switchboard a la pineal gland, or it may be a comfortable sinking mattress and my ever-drowning body.

Virtually. Wirelessly. A gust of wind heard outside calls; the voice which enters the stanza, the pieza, the “room of one’s own”. Should I answer and pick up the telephone? I hear and cannot be indifferent. I see and cannot be but subject. Be here. Now. But also, because it’s here now, was there before. Because it’s here now, will be there later. Before. Now. Later. This is chronological. But logically, perhaps cosmologically, it is Now. Before and Later. More coffee-laxative.

Pluck. The scenes of murder. Twitter feed mixed with the affects of loss and the twitter litter of the numerous luxurious dulled many. Pluck. Garbage finally found its recycled medium through binary codes. Swoosh. 140 characters of shit. I flush the toilet.

…And the need for communication with an absent other is already a radical affirmation of the loss of the other. The symptom of the telephone.

The room is also cold. The heaters are off. The floors miss the rug and the rug is not to be found or sought. My left knee shivers. I call it Parkinson.

I thought this virtual, wireless connection was a rebellion against patriarchal God; an affirmation of future motherhood. The voice from afar that disturbs the clergymen. But, the loss and the withdrawal of the maternal is something that the telephone maintains as connection. It erases and suspends the loss acting like a pacifier. The telephone as voice of the future mother of one or two children. And the telephone which performs the disconnection that makes this future impossible. It de-simulated the very loss that it marks. A monument to an irreducible disconnection. The telephonic communication doesn’t allow us to mourn the loss we feel by it.

I try to read. But perhaps I’m hungry. I read the twitter litter, the 140 characters of shit:
Dismal news stories of Israeli war crimes and criminals. Desolate news stories of Palestinians dead and the Frustrating Western propaganda [140 characters]. The masturbatory upheaval of the inner spirit of revolution & the pent-up rage followed by the post-coital feeling of complete helplessness [140 characters].

…and here the pressure of distance lies. The distance which highlights the aging of the potential mother. The potential mother which is made impossible by the distance amplified by the telephone. Sons and lovers kept apart from mothers and mothers-to-be. Mother as land, as Palestine and Homs and Beirut. Mother as woman. Mother as the caretaker of the womb, the tomb and the crypt of all hope and anticipation. Mother, the trigger of revolution. And mother, the Pink Floyd song.

Twins play outside this pieza-stanza-room. There are voices which permeate it, but none of which I heed. What kind of a drug is this virtual wireless telephone? How long can you live without the telephone and the voice at the other end of the line.

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani? [Mark XV:34]. There is no answer. Merely the blank violence of the sun.[Nick Land]

The father cannot answer the telephone. His duty is to cut the umbilical cord.

Lamentations:

“When reality does not coincide with deeply held beliefs, human beings tend to phrase interpretations that force reality within the scope of these beliefs. They devise formulas to repress the unthinkable and to bring it back within the realm of accepted discourse.” Michel-Rolph Trouillot.

Trouillot outlines succinctly what being a reactionary is: desperately clinging to your ideological beliefs to make them re-act to the ever-more estranged reality around you; dealing “with the impossible only after the impossible had become fact”. On the contrary, being active is allowing your ideologies to think themselves through your actions; to think of yourself politically and philosophically as you are ‘taking place’, without demarcating ideological limits on yourself. To act is to be in a continual state of revolution. Thinking the impossible and making it a fact.

Don’t most (aging) Arab Leftists, who flaunt their nostalgia on twitter and Facebook suffer from this gross reactionism, thus disabling themselves from seeing the reality around them, dare I say, as it is? Perhaps it’s an effect of age to submit to the impossibility of the impossible. “Pessimism of the mind (intellect), optimism of the will.” Even Gramsci rings through their ears in reactionary terms. Their mind is old and their will has metamorphosed to the guilt of their past. Their tactical and strategic bellowing is instrumental for their fundamental mode of stasis. Their names now ring the death sound of their crackling jaws. If even Adonis, the poet of the phoenix and eternal return of the new, receded to a reactionary position…they’ve effected the same fate for the Arabic language; controlled for centuries by reductive fanatic clerics and decadent Arabic departments, who choke it, keep it mute and restrained. Instead of striving for the impossible in and through our language (and its unremitting poetics), it has been made to be subordinate to the utilitarian economy of usefulness, homogeneity and positivism. Free our language from your theatre of superiority; it is no coincidence that the self-same aging ‘left’ are the same people who meditate on the dismal state of our language in trite manners. There is no greater abjection than to submit to their ball-ankle word-vomit they call critique, it swells up and reproduces itself like capital in an infinity coterminous with our own dis-solution. Language debates lead us away from the matters at hand, and toward the idea in the head. All is matter! Never Mind! Open up the Quran, it’s not enough to read it. The words on the page mean much more than the words in your mouth; but essentially they testify to the humanity of the words enclosed in the book. There is nothing divine about the Quran. I hope it is understood how this is not blasphemy but an opportunity to save meaning (and non-meaning!) even as it occurs in a wrong inflection. The fate of a revolution is always with its youthful in spirit. Be young in spirit. Become wild at heart.

Typical Brooklyn Night – Redux:

I listened to discordant jazz music as disconcerting thoughts ran through my head. The trumpets blew loudly and the drummer was guilt heard through the throbbing of the heart in the chest. How should I force the thoughts out of my head? And a Cello rolled through the room-stanza-pieza as fine as mahogany can be. Hands played on it with such style, the body and the neck were dancing, wobbling, roaring with a depth of an ocean-graveyard of de-shipped slaves. The subdued erotic voice of a woman reverberated from its hollow body. This was a woman subdued by age and in lament. Midgets wore bat wings and veiled the light, changing its color from a bright yellow to that of a darkened Brooklyn sky. My thoughts hid behind the deep voice of the double bass. I trembled. The disparate notes assaulted my cognition like Israeli warplanes over Gaza. Life on a global level was troubling, and so are the thoughts that accompany it.

Sirens rang outside the room, overpowering the voice of my mother. Sirens and their temptations, mermaids immobile on the street, trapped on the cement. I look at them, still-life like leaves, the beautiful Brooklyn autumn effaces me. I try to help them, but the winds blow down from the sky, complete verticality. It is the time of the sovereign abortion. Acid rain and hurricanes. A mother shall never thank you; she needs not to. Mother’s weather is always temperate. A mother is also always a mother-to-be, to the hope of her sons and through the anticipation of her daughters.

And I understand why mothers feel this way. The call of the umbilical cord is always an emergency call, and it has come. The call of motherhood by the potential mother is directed not to me, but to the one to-be-born. She aborted me to keep what’s sacred safe.

…And this is self-abortion, my kicking inside the room-tomb-womb; everyday is a chance for it. Everyday I await the subway train, underground—its voice comes howling from the dark tunnel. It comes fast and I’m on the edge, its washes over me like a temperamental wave, holding me prisoner in its undertow as I’m still surprised by its speed. An attractive speed that reminds me that I’m not in Beirut, I’m beneath the sea, sous la mer/mère, winded by the umbilical cord that strangles me; and the subway is the reminder of my daily missed encounter if I were to be in be in Beirut. This missed encounter is death, but also a rebirth. This was my future and for now: “The rest is silence.” Bataille

Postscript:

Everything is political. The above signifies the time and weather of the maternal mother. Le Temps de la Mère. The schism of today enacts this and it seems to be the only way: the mother-to-be’s freedom from patriarchy takes this decision to the heart, nobly, masterly, for not wanting or even risking to live as a disappointed slave. Revolution demands to let go of love and lovers, answering the call of future generations. Revolution is inherently maternal. The uprising of women in the Arab world is part and parcel of any uprising wishing for a radical change in the status quo of patriarchy.

“The radical abortion of tragedy and irredeemable waste is Socratically sublimated into the service of the Idea, becoming a police function of theistic sociality, within a political economy of managed sperm.”

“In Nietzsche’s text abortion—in the loose sense Schopenhauer has opened—is both the possible outcome of procreative anarchy and that which characterizes a eugenic regime.” [Nick Land]

“Heterology is restricted to taking up again, consciously and resolutely, this terminal process which up until now has been seen as the abortion and the shame of human thought.” [Georges Bataille]

“O mother
farewell
with a long black shoe
farewell
with Communist Party and a broken stocking. .
with your sagging belly
with your fear of Hitler
with your mouth of bad short stories. . . .
with your belly of strikes and smokestacks
with your chin of Trotsky and the Spanish War
with your voice singing for the decaying overbroken workers. .
with your eyes
with your eyes of Russia
with your eyes of no money. . . .
with your eyes of starving India. . . .
with your eyes of Czechoslovakia attacked by robots. .
with your eyes being led away by policemen to an ambulance
with your eyes with the pancreas removed
with your eyes of appendix operation
with your eyes of abortion
with your eyes of ovaries removed
with your eyes of shock
with your eyes of lobotomy
with your eyes of divorce…” [Allen Ginsberg, “Kaddish,” IV]

[post inspired by recent personal events, by the lectures of Avital Ronell at NYU, by the book The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Elissa Marder, and the ever-inspiring feminists of Lebanon and the Arab world]

Vanitas

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I am going to die. It is a fact. Sooner than I had expected. Sooner than twenty-seven.

Tonight I took my last shower. Before heading to the bathroom I was shivering like a person diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. All my muscles were largely out of my control. I was, as I also was a day earlier, a pebble upon a winter shore, similar to an ice cube except for the frost.

I am going to die and it’s not a shame.

I entered the bathroom, undressed and performed my last private pre-shower routine: air drumming. I flap my hands and wave them in the air, with facial expressions to suit the imagined song. I see my ribs being outlined on the mirror as my hands are above my head. I do this with the shivering, and I breath heavily and think, if only my cheekbones, if only my cheekbones. My lungs hurt.

After a mere two minutes of air drumming, an ensuing exhaustion invites itself, uncalled for, unwanted, but necessary. I step into the bathtub, making sure the water is hot, lethally hot. And memories sprout like water from the shower head, sort of a “your life flashes before your eyes,” but also not quite like that. It’s a feature of showers, they’re better than Freud’s couch, and I bet that would’ve been a novel discovery if I were living in the early 20th century.

But first memory, truly. Preschool and I’m imagining events. I’m predicting the liar that I am to be, so soon; the great fabricator, sitting in recess, thinking of all the possible happenings that are not happening, then going home, our old home, and relaying them to my mother.

Hot water strikes my not-so-European skin. I’m a beast. Je suis une bête. Une (la) béte. Feminine. I bite like Juno the dog, without reserve, hating everything. I’m an animal.

I’ve always been a follower of my eldest brother. Not a follower in the sense of a disciple. A follower in the sense of him being a role model, at least for the beginning part of my life, pre-puberty that is. Everything changes with puberty. Metallica (Segway to metal); LAU (Segway to pussy); TIm Burton (Segway to normal strangeness). In that respect I was a rather normal child. I cried when he hit me. I cried when I got hit in general, by father, by brother, by strangers. I cried when I was doing the hitting. What a pussy thing, but I guess it gave me intensity (a comforting lie).

Cry baby. But I’m not crying now when blood spurts out when I cough, when my ears and cheeks are blotched with such sanguinity worse than that of Andrei Sergeyevich Arshavin and Rafael Benítiz combined.

It has been stated earlier that everything starts with a promise. Being born starts with the promise of eventually dying. Meeting someone, starting a friendship seals the promise of future mourning. All acquaintances have a trace of a farewell. One must always go before the other. Surviving is the other name of mourning. But don’t be too excessive as to miss me in my absence; that would be unreasonable. Miss me in this moment, but not later on. Sadly the former does not happen, the latter always happens, and my death, all deaths become a falsely justified loss.

I never wanted voices and absences. I always wanted bodies and presence. Nothing satisfies me more than the people I love being here, not there, not far away, being elusive in their distance, feigning presence with an e-mail, a phone call, a message, feigning friendship.

And I used to run away.

I remember in fifth grade, 9 years old, telling girls that they are the juice (the triangular-shaped carton, a seminal part in every Lebanese’s childhood) and we (boys) are the straw. I remember it well, being threatened with expulsion for being knowledgeable and metaphoric.

And I remember everything past 2006 with the vivid clarity of nostalgic fucks. I remember how the joy ride ended on March 14, 2008. On that note, I remember last year’s tarnishing of what could have been the most beautiful, exciting, mesmerizing, perfect birthday ever (which eventually killed a large part of the summer among other parts of living beings). And on the night of June 14, I was in the wrong place, to say the least, in hindsight.

I don’t cry when I hallucinate, when the balance of the world disappears and things start closing in on me, or appear to be doing so. I don’t panic when the back of my head feels like it’s in a blender. I don’t cry when I suffer from severe air hunger because inhalation pinches my lungs like bullets.

I am dying and sometimes I hear a voice solemnly saying, “You’re going to die motherfucker. You’re going to die motherfucker.”

I’m thinking of a nice lollipop, the ones that have medicine in them, which at the same time is yummy and nothing else matters, not the failed promises, not the disappointments, not the insurmountable grief. A lollipop would make so happy right now.

Incommunicable

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I have weights on my bed. I can’t sleep without weights on my legs. A simple condition.

I’m holding on to every thread of sanity as you sway in front of me without proclaiming a purpose. I want to know you for who you are. I want to know why you’re here. I want to know what is making you sway in front of me with your smiling face, your wavy hair and your moving hands.

The tail that passes by the edge of the door does not alarm me. Everything I see, I see through Nyx, and her profession is erasure. I turn my head moments too late so as to make my vision dubious, was what I saw real? Was it reality under erasure?

Your meaning is elusive and I cannot help but torment myself with all the possibilities which your presence manifests. That is all I can do, torment myself with the passivity of inaction. An action would make me a transparent fool. I am not afraid of humility. I am just afraid of your reaction.

Everything starts with a promise. Being born starts with the promise of eventually dying. Meeting someone, starting a friendship seals the promise of future mourning. All acquaintances have a trace of a farewell. One must always go before the other.

You come closer and then you recede. You write me letters, but then erase. You move your lips without making a sound. You teaser of princes.

When I met her, she told me that her son is in a coma. That’s the first thing she said.

You move like the shadow of smoke. You touch me with your formless invisible hand.

“My son is in a coma.”

You fiery daemon, iridescent like an aurora. Look at yourself melt like a weak piece of wax, only to defy the laws which command me and reformulate your body, straighter than before, more dazzling, more perfect.

“Since when?” The place was brightly lit by an opening in the ceiling, and slowly, as dusk neared, the hall became dimmer and dimmer.

“Since as far as I can remember.” She seemed worried about the departure of the sun.

“It must be hard,” I said, stopping for a moment, hesitating before I asked the question, “where is the father?”

You unnatural virgin, your legs spread wide like the red sea, yet redness is all I see; there is no shore, I need no shore. I want to camp between your legs so that they’ll engulf me, choke me and kill me, mercilessly.

“There is no father, one of those things that just happen without you knowing how. One of those things that you just know will happen to you, as if destined, and there is nothing you can do about it.” She looked through her bag, took out a phone and checked the time. “What do you do for a living?”

You vile temptress. Look at my shaking hands. I clench my fists as if to threaten you, but I’m losing control. I must seize you before the morning, for the dew will destroy you and the light will sear your waxed columns.

“I’m an impresario.” I said, trying to impress her, hoping that I pronounced it right, praying that she didn’t know what it means.

“What’s that?”

But no. You are not to be had. You must remain a distant temptation, a boundary which my arousal shan’t cross. Fierce tyrant, know of what I withhold by this promise.

“I manage plays, help produce them. I’m the person who realizes dramaturgy.”

I arise and you stop moving. Your eyes don’t look at my trembling body anymore. You heard turns and looks abaft to the other end, where my father and his wife sit, judging my movement, entertained by the magnificent spectacle you are performing. He would sacrifice his own son for a night of enjoyment. He would sacrifice me to uphold his sovereignty.

She looks through the opening in the ceiling. “In the distance, I can hear the stars sing to me like sirens, telling me to come and enfold them with the black hue of my existence.” She walks to the centre of the hall, directly beneath the opening. “Do you want to see how I do it? Do you want to see things my way? Impresario?” I nodded.

But I refuse to be sacrificed you wretched servile soul. Stop dancing and come to me, let me put my hands around your neck and choke you. Let me feel the veins of your neck protrude, fighting my grip. Let me sense your pulse plead for a trace of mercy with its irregular beat. You are mine, even at a distance. You are mine. Become the vessel with which I sail away from my father’s kingdom. I will mount you and he will immediately be absent. We can make this happen.

I was immediately pulled towards the opening, and before I could catch a breath to scream, we were both floating weightlessly, so close to distant stars, seeing nebulas in the distance and Earth, lit by rampant civilizations, looking like an ember amidst the darkness which surrounds it.

“You can never sleep here,” she says, “my son would never sleep here. You can never sleep without weight. You need to be pushed down to sleep. But my son is lulled. My son sustains the subsistence.”

Stop erasing and write me unto you. Approach me and with your coming, bring a symbol of commitment. A ring, a piece of cloth, or just your integument. I will shear your hair and change your appearance.

But then I find myself awake, weighed down by heavy pillows and a heavy duvet. Everything starts with a promise, and I was her son, the impresario of dreams. I awoke and killed her with my awakening.

I will hold your tongue with my hand and stroke it with a sharp dagger. It’ll bleed and you will utter the words I want to hear stained with blood. I will never send you back to his highness, the tyrant sultan.

A promise fulfilled: one must always go before the other. A promise broken: never wake up.

"I am Disappointed. Disillusioned. Disenchanted. Dis-enthralled. Dis-entranced," says the asinine impresario before he absconds. And they all hear me, but they don’t know me. They all know it. Nyx is dead.

So I approach you. I come towards you with intent. I get a hold of your wavering wrist and pull you towards me. But I was naïve to think that I could. Your dancing body vanishes and I hold nothing but a perplexed clenched fist.

The alacrity, the emulous spirit departs. The subsistence is no longer sustained. An abeyance awakes the audience, but it’s too late, there is no chance for amelioration or superficial decoration; there is nothing to ameliorate, there is nothing to decorate. Surviving is the other name of mourning. I am awake and Nyx is dead. The subsistence is no longer sustained. One must always go before the other.

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.

In Memoriam

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We are the plaything of memory.

My memory is a masquerade of historicism; A façade which designs events with superfluous lavish words and a timeline as intermitted as loving relationships. A simple subject-verb-object would do most of the times, but with ignorant use I sprinkle adjectives and adverbs to make my memory seem as unrealistic as a teenager’s wet dream.

I am the truth.

A voice, rough and screechy.

I am the truth.

I am emptied. I am darkness. In Memoriam and any sense of Self is gone.

Ahlan. The voice, from a past, a memory. Ahlan. The voice, the orator of departure. I am the Truth. The truth is in the past. The past is in the darkness. The darkness reduces me to oneness, and I am timeless and formless. I am nameless.

In one sweet moment you’ll be home. Just come give me a kiss.

That voice, from my past, my memory. Mammon.

Precious.

My old way. The low way. It is the only truth I have known. Should I cross the line?

Cross! Transgress! Break the Limit!

I am as good as dead. The orator of departure lures me. Why has he come?

I am the Truth, the only Truth in darkness.

My voice, in the present. An event. And I depart.

But I go round and round and Mammon laughs. My old ways are circular. And he speaks as he gives me a lecherous kiss.

I am the orator of departure, and I speak only of departure. So excuse my sudden departure, but it comes at a right time. Listen to the world shouting. A cacophony of angry voices, driven by a demonic will-to-power. Each culture, each nation, each country, each city, each individual is trying to give meaning to the world, and these meanings fight each other, producing that ever defining, albeit negative, factor: difference. But is there meaning? Is there purpose?

Forgive me for always surprising you. I just did not feel obliged to work according to your structured meta-narrative of how I should be, and in the case of surprises, of how I shouldn’t be. Your knowledge of me does not create me. I am my own creator. I jump off the peak instead of trotting miserably down the mountainside. I bend my knees and embrace freefall. In mid-air you never miss the ground. I surprised you while tried to wake you up. The awakening needs violence because you are stubborn, and you stubbornly stood in front of me whenever you felt lacking. You handcuffed your own hands and boiled your mind so that nothing could have touched it without experiencing your hotheadedness. You met me with ready-made attitudes. I stood like a riddle already cracked before I spoke. Ever since, you have filtered my words according to the algorithm which you think can decipher me; as you did so, you only saw the pre-conceived image you had of me, the dead portrait hung in your museum, without a voice. You felt superior as you stared at me, as if my existence was contingent with your pleased eye; as if I was only for you and because of you. So excuse me for suddenly departing. I had to before I became cemented as the prototype you think I am and make me to be.

The world was once a curious little thing. At some odd point, the questions of curiosity became a quest of passion, and the world personified stood in front of me as a silent person, yet telling me, confirming that it was a person I desired. On this quest I realized that the world personified (for clarity, a she) is a shore never to be known, an abyss never to end. But at the same time I felt Vertigo, a fear of falling coupled with a strange desire. I could never tell if I’d fall away from me.

But let her forgive my departure. She gave me no truth and I could not trust her as she suddenly proclaimed interest then took it away. I loved her. Let her forgive my departure. She wanted me only because I hated to let her down; but I needed someone to fight for me, to bolster my existence and respect my mind. She saw what she wanted to see, she loved what she wanted to love, but she never really saw or loved the rest of me. I love the world, but the hurt turned to hatred and when she took a wrong turn around the sun, I had to depart.

You have to depart. I only talk from your memory. I am part of you.

Texts have connections to the physical realm; Maybe forgetfulness should be an adaptive measure for preventing pain. But who said that evolution is something other than mere useless mutation.

We are the plaything of memory. Without memory there would be no guilt. Any act arising out of guilt becomes a duty. A deontological presence lacks passion. Mammon gives me a lecherous kiss again and holds me dearly. The gates of my hellish past open and welcome me with their bright orange light. But I see Nyx. She is terror made flesh: sublime and ethereal. She stands like a mother standing above her child’s cradle and looks at me with ostensible love.

I am the plaything of memory. And I am the architect which builds on it and designs it. But for now let me go to Nyx who can give me a dream independent of my reality, a dream of her own words, a fantasy of her own mind, a trace of darkness from her memories. A dream which permits me to be without being in the world.

Mammon departs. the truth is that there is no Truth, but there is a way forward; I am not stuck in the same circle.