The Demented World – Part Aleph
I need to see this all in one place. Sorry.
Stop. Just think of all the books. Try and picture them: all those fucking books. They’ve been printed. And then what? How many of them will go unread? Do you not feel this feeling of the shadow of all the printed books? They outnumber us by the tens. They’re everywhere: sure, in the libraries but that’s safe, right? They’re in the homes though, on the street corner, in the shops. Everywhere, these sad, lonely creatures. Unread books. Just picture them, really try and feel the cover, the spine, unopened. The pages crisp from misuse.
Umberto Eco is a bastard. He says the book will never die. Well, gee, thanks. Have you ever thought about the books? Stuck, like our half-dead elderly, kept alive by the machines of maybe-someone-will-read-me. But no. They won’t. Not because they don’t read (which we don’t) but because there’s so many of you. You’re like pandas in reverse: some fucked up genetics have screwed your reproduction system and you can’t fucking stop. Just stop. Stop writing yourselves, stop pollinating our thoughts, stop incubating in our shadows. Stop.
Just think of all the books. Really try and think about them.
And when you’re done, you’ll just move on. Your hands might touch them but your minds are long past. The words are unspoken, maybe that’s the hardest part. Think of being a book, having all those words fucking burning in your stomach. And you want to speak them, to spit them, to vomit them, and the only way you can do that is with this alien, this stranger, called Man. And Man? He looks away. And you’re alone, together with all these “friends”, all these “relatives”, forced upon you by the virtue of ink and page and letters and all that fucked up shit you didn’t even ask for. Fuck, just think of the books!
Books. What will become of them? God, I hope they die. God? The God of Books. What a pathetic creature that must be, even more so than the God of Man. A library card perhaps, floating in the discarded corridors of the cosmos. Meandering about, moping, trying to read his children, to open his children to Man, to open Man to his children. But his voice is parched, is parchment, the throat is filled with ink, the Blood of his children. And there’s probably a fucked up, reverse eucharist, since the God of Man can’t keep out of anything. “Hoc est verbum”, and the bread turns to words and the wine turns to the ink and my tears are still tears. Weeping for the books.
The thing that really gets me though are the corners. Not the geometrical ones, listen, I’m talking about corners. These corners, they’re everywhere. I see them when I’m driving, when the rain is on the window and in my mind and all I can think is: fuck, I’d really like to go to that corner, between that tree and the ruined fence and just curl up and sleep. And they’ll find me, I have no illusion of that, this is no utopia. Why are all the utopias solitary? I’ll go over to that corner and I’ll just be in it and it would be fine. I mean, I know it won’t because all the cares and fears will come with me to that corner. But in some way, fuck I have to think that in some way, it will be better.
Who put the corners there? Between the rusted pipe and that parking van that seems as if they haven’t been using in years, who put that there? Fuck that, who put it in me? Is that it, there’s a corner inside me and it’s crying out to all the corners out there? And that corner, the disused space between what I am and could be, is that the place that cries, alone, at night? Cries from remembering all those corners, all those places I know nothing about but still long to be in, for them to be in me? Fuck, there was this one between the underpass and that copse of sad, wavering trees. I nearly cried as the bus just kept driving, bashing my hands against the windows “stop the fucking bus, look at that corner! Listen to that corner!”.
I remember one outside of Prague. I was so alone. I was looking for my place, for that feeling that I knew would come, and it wasn’t there. It seemed the corner was gone but I knew it was there, like a bell that has rung years ago but you can still hear the echoes. I was starting to freak out, nails digging into my pockets. Where was it, where was the cry, why was I not feeling? When it struck, fuck, when it struck me it was like a thousand pens writing, a thousand elephants on the gates of my Roman soul, a thousand Brahmani dying. A simple thing; caught between what was surely once a proud house and was now a filtered out shell of miserable human life and a curb of a dirty pavement. It was so loud, so imminent, that I started crying, in a fucking street in a fucking Prague, a corpse of history if there ever was one.
And everything else was empty after that.
Consider the Lictor. The executioner. The carnifex. He is dragging my wounded soul, not to be confused with my soul, through the ragged square of every minute. Saying he is always there means nothing, because there is no “there” or “when” without him. How then can I describe him? But I must. I look through the goggles of night, bewildered and guided by my tears. I’ve always read that tears obscure vision, some sort of film that covers the cornea. But I was born with broken eyes, my cornea never more than a small padlock on the eternal doors to the wounded soul. There’s a book where a hero falls into a bar and two monsters fall into a pit. I feel reversed, the pit into which heroes fall, the bar where monsters drink, long hail the King!
There are no Kings without Lictors just like there is no me without words, no thought without paragraphs, no pain without books.
Through the square, then, he drags the naked woman, my wounded soul, grasping her by hair long made brittle by considerations and after-thoughts and after-despairs. His other hand, the second fist also clenched, holds the sword. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to tell you about the sword. But not today. The twisted nevers that make up the buildings, all second-story abandoned, empty hovels of lost breaths and lost hopes and lost coats, frame her face with silent words. You do not deserve her face. It un-shines, un-calls, un-winds but you do not deserve it. The Lictor doesn’t care. Bespectacled with the vision that comes with prayer, he gazes through and out and sideways into the never-place through which he walks, where the minutes breathe. In my fragile hours, places of love and doubt and longing, I try to work the writer’s tool, empathy. I try to see-feel-think like the Lictor, try to feel my boots, armoured, ripping apart the fabric of the square, holding the woman, holding the sword. These are usually the moments where I come the closest to insanity. The worst thing about those moments, is that you’re supposed to hear voices but I hear nothing, silence, except the thump-clang-thump-clang of the Lictor’s-mine own iron boots tearing the cobbles.
So through that place he walks. And all your Freuds will now chime in of phallic symbols! and mother complexes! taboos and ancient rotes! and to them I say, mark these well:
The carnifex is real. Consider the Lictor. I have not managed to say a word about him.
These are not necessarily the things that have happened. These are the folded vestiges, the almost-reals, of who I was and still could be. Give me a break, OK? I am trying to love and exorcise these things at the same time. All I ask from you is silence, which is more than you have ever given me. These are the sharpened ridges. Curling up now, I try not to cry. Hold. Look back. The Lictor is close, holding his sword above the infinitesimal memorabilia that is my identity. I am trying to love and exorcise these things at the same time.I regret giving birth to him. The books, they were there. The corners, they were there. But The Lictor, I have birthed him from inside the outside of my mind, where my shadow sleeps and my skin is reversed and the cursed man with the sword hunts what is left of my self-loathing.
These are the demented. They live in a world which I attempt to describe but must fail to, time and again. Like the fucked up panda-books, they breed without stopping, without thought or will or appetite. I am nothing to them, nothing more than their creator, which is nothing much. There is a general outline to this world, as much as there can be an outline for a dictionary of the untold, the unspoken, the un-uttered. This is what it is: an ocean. People always say, oh the ocean is so blue! and I’ve always thought blue? this ocean is black, what is wrong with you. It’s possible that this is the proto-ocean. Proto-black.
In any case, we stand now on an island. This is a safer place but not a safe place. There are no safe places in the Demented World. By decree of the King but we must not speak his name too often here. Why? I don’t know. When I do, the flock of books in the distance cries loudly, shattering what is left of the air in this primal place, in this no-land and all-land, proto-land. I can see more islands in the distance, but the water is deep and black and there is much of it, planet-loads of it, universes-loads, mind-loads. We shall swim. We shall attempt the crossing. We will probably fail, as much as everything can fail in a place that’s already failed to exist.
Much has been said of maps, in many places. There is a map for this place, in spite of what you might expect which is in itself the answer to this riddle. Proto-riddle. I lost the map. I seem to remember being born with the map but random chose, as far as random chooses, to inscribe it on the back of my shattered cornea. So, the map has been shattered and the Demented World has been shattered. Which first? Proto-shattering, the first shattering, was it the world or was it my cornea or was it something else, some glue and substance that is holding this soul-archipelago in place?
In the wake of this cicada-swarm, I fear the only thing left will be my sanity. I walk into the water. Proto-water.
I’m wounding myself in order to write these words. We’re off the island, bye-bye relative safety and sand. I am buoyant in the water, it won’t take my weight. But my blood, my blood is heavy. A dead-weight of wounds, a scab of memories. So I wound myself and I sink. It seems the only thing I can do, devoured by the darkness of the ocean. Darkness, remember, not blue. Not a fairy tale kingdom from a book, no minarets made from coral. This ocean is currents of thought process, beds of identity, schools of fish-fears. Somehow though, for the first time since I have set on this journey, I feel a modicum of peace. Like victims of hypothermia; once you let go, all that might have bothered you is hugged in the cold, embraced into this permeating freedom that stems from everywhere. Like an ocean. An ocean of ice.
Why words? Why have I chosen words to express these things? Did I have a choice? It seems as though not, as if all my arsenal is words and words, decked and arrayed and shined and polished. They look different: long words, short words, shocking words, boring words, words words, not-words words, words in a sentence, words in a sentence, words not in a sentence, boring words, frail words, strong words, words words and so forth, stretching out on this ocean bed. But they’re all words. Rotting here, in the depth of the ocean. Every once in a while, one brakes free and strives for surface. Oh. I know this one. This is Freud’s Iceberg, isn’t it? I never imagined it was a place, but why not I suppose? If corners and books and the Lictor’s square are actually places, why not the Iceberg?
Wait. Not-words words? What are those? I pick at the space left by them, the caves that they dig with their flaming not-bodies into the Iceberg. These places, before the ocean rushes in, are where I live, are they not? When I am in the ocean that is. Yes, I swim to one now, created by the not-word “Love”. It has scorched a flaming, scorching, embracing, caressing tunnel into the Iceberg. There is air there and a little space to sleep, in the nook created by the not-word “Love”. But the ocean thunders at the door, thunders at the space created for me by this not-word. Of course it does. It is in the nature of oceans to flow. There are many who try to stop the ocean: philosophers, artists, scientists, me, my mother, dream. Fear. Pain. Kings.
Where is the King? I think the ocean killed him.
I can see a bridge now. The bridge. Think of how many bridges we have taken and lost and taken again. “We” as in us, whatever this throbbing mess called humanity is. “Corsica has taken the bridge! Rome has taken the bridge! France has taken the bridge! Athenes has taken the bridge! Israel has taken the bridge! Corinth has taken the bridge!” Its like a talk-show game, a prime time ditty to amuse the mind. Instead though, it leaves me beggered, a parched man in the middle of a storm of tipping glasses. In a way, the bridge emulates who we are and what we do. Racing constantly along it, frozen by the dark waters that from time to time nudge us as if saying “hey, look across the bridge. We’re an ocean not a tide.” An ocean, not a tide. I try to remember where that’s from, why I know that line.
Right. I’m drowning. The waters of the ocean have raced into this place carved by the not-word Love. And all I can see is the bridge, impossibly close and impossibly me. Its edges are familiar, the long traced scar of sadness and wanting-to-be-there. All not-words. All spaces, left by me for the future discovery by myself. I’m really trying to stay coherent but the waters, the freezing waters, are making it impossible, like it’s impossible to keep a regular breath after drinking a cold, tall glass of water. Its the same feeling: grasping for sweetness, choking on sweetness, breathing on sweetness, vomiting on sweetness. It starts to make sense, as the water crowds around me, leaving black spots at the edges of my vision. I can see, inside them, all those people cheering for the bridge, for the taking of the bridge. While the tide becomes an ocean.
I used to think the cheering was to silence. To quiet the turning of the tide into an ocean, even as the waters take their toll and plant those not-visions of black spots at the edge of everyone. The cheering hardens the edge of everyone, gives them the feeling, the sight, the notion that the edges fit, that the puzzle is not broken. That we’re something to be cherished. But this is all false. The cheering is the edge of everyone. The cheering is the place that makes you take the bridge, that makes you give a damn about fucking bridges in the first place. I mean, what good are bridges, except for the crossing? And what cares about crossing other than an edge? The edge of everyone wants to be the edge of everything, the edge of allthatis. And so, we cross the bridge, and cheer and laugh and think “oh this is wonderful everyone has an edge just like me that must mean we can all fit together right?”
No. Wrong. At least not for me but am I alone? The edge of everyone grates on, grinds on, grins on. It’s much worse than the roaring of the ocean. The edge of everyone doesn’t fit, it’s not a puzzle you can solve. But we linger on, linger at the edge, trying to make sense of the noise, trying to find the song of communion in the cacphony that is the screaming of the edge in the face of everyone. Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that there is no song, no sense to this endless screech of horror at the meeting of everyone, at the fulcrum of everything, at the joining of allthatis, that there is only pain and sound and horror in this place where we are supposed to join. To join. To cross the bridge. To silence the sound, to hear the sound, to hear the song. Grasping at the notes of the familiar, of the same, of “look he’s just like me” when in fact the notes are out of tune and the octave is not the same and you’re singing words forgotten by both of you since before you were born, by your parents and whatever silent, twisted, conductor first wrote the lines.
I’d much rather drown than live at the edge of everyone. Goodbye, the edge of everyone. I’m going towards the water. Proto-water.
Open. Open your eyes. Open your throat. Feel the water sliding down, inside that sore spot in the middle of your jugular, that parched place that never seems to end. The dark waters of my silent attempt, my desperate struggle to drown myself, should be reaching you by now. I can’t really know though. Like listening to Titan, like fingering the sand on the beach in the hope that it will call out my name and, finally!, I will be let free, there is no way for me to know if you’re hearing this. In any case, open your eyes and your throat and drink deep. Taste that? Maybe. That’s the water of life, derived from the worm. That’s my tearing of the veil, through which you see faint glimmers of life, faint echoes of thought, faint screams of love.
Write about this, I tell my self, turn the eye towards the blank space where all the words and not-words die. OK, fine, I’ll try. It’s so hard, this point, where everything clenches, not just my throat and eyes and heart but me, I clench, a tired, flaky fist grasping my own tail, pulling towards a place that is far worse than an Abyss. Far worse. This is where the veil is made, woven from my own frozen blood, cast about my eyes and throat. But, and this is no paradox for there is no dox in such a place, this is also where the water is distilled and poured and lovingly made possible. This is where the clear stream, the rough fountain, the babbling brook, all stem from the crux, from the terminus, from where I thought that nothing could be born.
Is this healing then? Are these writings, babblings, screams, are they my attempt to reach that place, to breach whatever seal often lies on that place? To make the water flow? It flows now and I dive deep, immersed in the shattering, healing, freezing waters of my own attempt to drink deep. Swimming now, I come upon the place where the veil is made. Giant machines of flowing nothing, endless devices of my fears, of my desires, of my untold lies, those places that even the eye cringes to look upon, where even light is sullied. And it too is washed. It too is washed and not made clean, no, allowed to keep its dirt. Made into the water, woven into the stream, made into a veil of the stream, all those places are joined in what? I can’t find the word for what this is. Not even a not word.
And the veil and stream, however unnamed they may be, tear. And from the bed where the water has flown, from the air where the veil was raised, come the faint screams, the faint echoes, the faint glimmers. Of what though? How can I name this, how can I name you, how can I name myself? The sand is mute and I still don’t have anyway to know if you are hearing this. The great disconnect, back on whatever Titan or Europa you supposedly inhabit, on whatever lonely island (oh the island) that you might stand on, I can’t go, don’t you understand? I can’t go. I can’t know. If the waters of this silent attempt even reaches that parched place at the base of your throat.
Open your eyes. Don’t you see? I’m just a book. Unread. I am the fucked up panda in reverse, I can’t stop copulating with myself, fucking myself, birthing myself, loving myself and then fucking again and then birthing again and then loving again. Can’t stop, can’t drink, can’t read, can’t be read. Inhabited by not-words, infested with not-words, I am unread but written, alive but constant, changing but not-moving. I’m just a book. Fuck, how I wish I could burn this library, this shelf I inhabit, you besides me, just another fucking book, stuffed with your own not-words. All unread.
I think I owe you an explanation. This is a good time for it, since we seem to be climbing up the dry, inviting arms of another island. And this is the crux of what needs explaining: how is it that I am drowning, and running across paved pavements, and on an island, and inside myself? This is a stupid question, but we’ll come back to that. You see, even now my breath comes quicker, my throat is tight and my lungs just won’t draw in the precious poison called air, just won’t do their job of pumping life and memories and thoughts into my body. It’s pathetic to say you’ve discovered you are broken, since you always were. Admitting that you’re broken is not the embarrassing part, admitting that it’s taken you so long, is.
If the world we inhabit is a garden then we’re all birds of paradise, birds of our own desire, croaking and chirping “I’m broken”. But once in a while a bird finds its voice and is silent. I met such a bird, a long time ago. She was the most beautiful bird I’d ever heard, even when she was speaking. But when she grew silent, that’s when my heart started listening, that’s when my tears started articulating the sheer depth of the wounds she’d left in me. And I drew towards the wounds. The puckered flesh around them spewed words, like the mucus from an infected fingernail, like the glistening, viscous excrement of a vile disease or boil. And in front of the ocean, under the witness of stars, I lanced my wounds, the hot red needle of my own self-loathing, self-love, self-hunger. And still, she was silent. And finally, there was nothing more to speak of. And that’s when I grew curios, for the silence that I had seen in her was growing in me.
And I came to slowly understand that she had already spoken all that she needed to say, already uttered all she thought of this world and it wasn’t much. And in the wake of her truthful speech, short and short-lived, like all truths are, there was nothing more she could do but be silent. Her eyes spoke of depths but she was silent. Her smile spoke of promises, but she was silent. Her embrace spoke of safety, but she was silence. And, slowly, I came to love that silence, came to gravitate towards the core I could feel pulsating in the middle of it, a quasar of emotions, a quasar of love and distance, a quasar of her. And I dove. Head first into the immense stream of bewildering emotions, head first into an ephemeral river in the middle of her silence. And it was divine. And it’s never stopped wounding me since. But the wounds are not angry, they are not diseased or infected. I wear them with pride. Now, they stream silence, they evoke separation and an eerie chill that binds us together. An eerie chill that says this is us, you are them, there is nothing for you here. Only our silence is here and we offer it, her and I, and you can take it, or leave it, or freeze, or none but that’s all we have for you. I pity Jesus.
How is this an explanation? Well, this is all created now. In the center of the silence there is no creation. And for some reason, I am flawed. I must create. I must create myself. This is the true manner in which I am broken. I cannot really be content with the silence. While she sits there, alone, at peace, in silence, I must walk and rage and wage and anger and heat and laughter and madness and beauty and all that which she has no need for. And I must write. I must articulate the silence, which is a stupid thing to do. I told you the question is stupid. And that is the question I’m asking, even though it’s stupid and can never be answered: how is it that I am running and drowning and on an island and inside my self, all the while part of me is in the silence? And all of this, this island I have constructed, this ocean we have been swimming, the iceberg, the bridge, the books, the corners, the King, the cicada swarm, all that is to come and yes, even the Lictor, all of this is my answer.
Sorry. I tried. I think I’ll go cry now.
“We are the Dismantled” is what I would write if I still cared about any of you. But that was a long time ago, before the islands, before the faucet broke and this ocean was poured from where your dirty fingernails broke into my skin, the only skin I ever had. “We are the Dismantled” I would write and would follow with something like “and so we are doomed to walk, together and alone, through a weeping jungle, this world that is all we, being Dismantled, really ever had”. But that’s not what I’m going to write, since you fucking pushed me off the path, drowned me in the tears of the jungle, set fire to the hive, to the trees, to the leaves that cried as they tried to softly shelter me from your nails, your dirty appendages digging into my skin, the only skin I ever had.
You are the Dismantled. You are the shattered left overs of yourself, the hanging skin, nearly detached, from where your core should have been, from where you should have been, if you had any fucking guts, any valor, any truth to you at all. Truth is not a term I use willingly but the absence of it in you is so apparent, so glaringly bleeding, so profusely screaming the filth that has been born from the half-measured surgery you preformed on your self, that I cannot ignore it. It reeks. Where you should have been, where you should have built your self, there is only a gaping hole. Where the foundations should have been. You dug that hole, you see, you dug it searching for some pre-conceived foundations your god, or your parents, or your society, or your saviour, or whoever the fuck you believe in this Tuesday should have given you. You focused on the digging rather than the building, not knowing that there is no capsule, no message, no warm season greetings, no blueprint that is buried, nothing for you to excavate.
They are the Dismantled. Look at them, your brothers and sisters, your dopplegangers, your mirrors. Shattered, bewildered, thinking they are lost. You made them think they are lost. Do you understand how fucked up that truly is? You took these people, these brave, depraved, sickening, amazing, beautiful, ugly, wrecked, insane, genius people and you convinced them there was a road. That the foundations would unfold, that the path would be made clear. If they only kept digging. So they dismantled themselves for you, gave up on building and focused on digging, digging into their own dirt, the earth that was not even there. For they hadn’t built the earth yet, do you see? You caught them so early, snatched them from the cribs, that they didn’t even have time to build the earth. “And god said ‘Let there be Light, so they may search all their lives, let there be Darkness, so they may think it hides the truth, let there be Me, so that there will never be a You”. Thus you spoke.
I am not the Dismantled. That’s why you will kill/is killing/have killed me. Look, you’ve sullied my island. I’d threaten you with their revenge, but the idea is so prepostorous that my laughter will accompany me back to the ocean. Hello, cicada swarm. Here we are again. Look at the Dismantled. They will try to follow me, cicada swarm. Try not to let them OK?
The cicada swarm hates you Dismantled. At least I can count on these alien, blood thirsty, sex thirsty, cyclic creatures to protect me. In the process they shall devour me, as is only just. Goodbye Dismantled. The cicadas will soon fill my own blank space, the blank space you created. And then, I will forget you. And I hope that, once forgotten you will disappear. But I have learned not to count on hope. I’ll be seeing you around, Dismantled.
Seasons greetings from me, your god.
Give in. The softest moment, the delicate crux of what is bound to birth pain, is when the water first embraces you. You can feel the tension of the water, that thin line that we think we can see when looking sideways at our glass. I was always captivated by the way water hugged my skin. Small colonies of something so close to you, so close to you and yet not you. Fascinated, I bowed into the water, completely falling into something that was awaiting me, awaiting to hold me. I used to ask my mother about it incessantly. She would smile and say something adults say when they know all their answers will run out. That moment, the unique summation of the fall that had preceded it, is my moment. When the thin film of the water closes around your mouth and nose and eyes, that softest moment when you are not drowning but knowing that you are going to drown. You can feel the panic that will hold you, but you are not in its embrace yet.
Give in. This is what they tell you with their two minutes YouTube videos talking about NEW, new-science new-thought new-politics new-mind, NEW. And they tell you these things that you have always known and spoken about and they take them for their own. You’ve been trying so long, I’ve been trying so long, to make people see the OLD, to gaze back towards a place that cannot be solved, and take it as their lab, take it as their easel, take it as their pen and paper and tears as ink. And now the new-fonts glaringly scream and the logo is well designed, and the speaker is well dressed but not too well dressed, and he’s just enough geeky to be appealing to the NEW but not geeky enough to be his own person, to be his own flesh, to show any signs of ever having entered the lab, or picked up the easel or used his tears as ink.
Give in. There are moments when even the ocean is a floor and I can sense that only running will turn it back to water, only running will give it a semblance of the horrid, beautiful things I used to love. It has solidified; broken and then gathered again by a cruel hand, an unseeing hand that only knows how to scoop, scoop and devour, scoop and devour. Nothing is achieved by running of course, since the field itself is the back of the hand, the boundaries towards which you run are only the dirty irises of the face that directs the hand, the sickly orifices which give vision to a thing which was never meant to see but craves only sight. I tried, I tried to scoop the ocean and use it to clean the irises, to turn the dirt into mud and then wipe it off.
Give in. I am running now, looking for a hole, a break in the surface that has formed over the one place I really hate and really love, the one place where there is both a madness and an ending, the one place where there is both a sanity and a beginning, the one place where I can feed on the not-words. Burn the words, seize the emotions, forget the swarm and the cobble stones and the giant eye flickering in the light of the fatal wound I myself inflicted on the sky, the fatal wound that I myself gashed across my own ribs, my own throat, my own heart, my own lungs, my own, swollen, devolved, rotten, collapsed brow that once housed my mind. The eye, the same eye that moves the hand that scoops, it was my own eye. That’s why I had to tear it out, you see? And as if you didn’t have enough words that basically told you nothing about what I am doing here, this is all the blood that still drips, that is still dripped, that is drawn and leeched and lanced and sucked from that original wound.
Give in. I look for the hole. I long for that sweet moment before my face hits the water. It is all expectation. I was told this by the nightmare of many men: “But who is that man who lies submerged? Perhaps that swimmer is both sinner and saint, until he is revealed unto the eyes of man”.
I do not believe in either sinners or saints or men but I do believe in eyes and swimming and being submerged and lying. Most of all I believe in lying. Dying.