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The Froth of Our Days: September 13th, 2014

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

I pressed the top of the pen a few times just to hear it predictably click. "Next time you have to get the program started the moment I say we're doing something with it." Yes, sir. He might as well be saying "You should anticipate what I'm going to do at any given moment so as to have available any and every function I might require regardless of the cost or the degree to which it fucks you up elsewhere, though I'll still be just as angry if you fuck up elsewhere and apply this lecture to that happenstance instead." He might as well be saying "Fuck you."

I pushed the top of the pen in a few times just to hear it predictably click. A tiny series of victories at having anticipated something correctly. The pleasure of touching something that works was my almost silent rebellion against the tide of broken shit. It worked now, anyway, it would, until one day the ink would run out and the man would want it from me to sign something and he'd inklessly scratch paper. Then the look would come. The look that preceded a different kind of world full of shit. I could anticipate what would come after the look, but there wouldn't be any joy in it. Maybe he'd throw the pen at my head. I clicked a few more times and imagined the man shoving the future inkless pen into my chest. Maybe he'd pull it out and push it in again, maybe he'd fuck my heart a tiny series of holes and kick me in the stomach when I fell, spit in my face and leave me to die on the floor of the post office. Or the lobby at the lawyer's. Or by a bench at the park. The pigeons would move away a few inches but keep on pecking at the dirt. They'd look at me sideways, wary of a broken thing but hopeful I might have had a cracker in my pocket or something.

I made myself dress and went out to preemptively buy water and milk and coffee. It was more than was needed but the security of having it would feel nice, a few more things I wouldn't run out of for a few more days. I liked it outside, for the most part; despite feeling like I was out of my element (what would that be, concrete? I wondered), it was good to see the disinterested faces of uninteresting people, old edifices uncaring about the passage of time, shitty kiosks stuffed with shitty cheap things no one could possibly want but which stuffed the eyes and the mind with low-cost information. It was a world of tchotchkes, some living, some not, some somewhere in between, men going into or coming out of alcoholic stupor slumped up against the doors of theatres paneled with blown-up photographs of tits and ass.

Audience

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

I woke and thought of you, I slept and dreamt of you, you unfinished, silent fountain, glimmering oblivion in stolid repose.

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I walked along the catalogues,

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and peered at awful oddities, and rent myself in listless lots, in search of you.

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Would you believe, for being willing, I found your form in all?

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The black, the brilliant, broken ghosts, all beauty something you had bade me see.

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The hallowed halls I entered, the crumbling corridors I left, mere rooms inside your story's speechless lines.

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And in each crossroads of the endless land I gazed upon your pain.

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Your glory called to me behind my shoulder, around each corner, in the eyes of strangers, in the salt of my own will.

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But when I see you, as from nowhere, what is it that I see? Am I even truly seeing you?

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Or dread made manifest, are you a mirror trained upon the hollow of me?

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It never mattered to the ages. It will never matter hence.

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And so I seek to let it pass, and to deny the overburdened synapses, the singeing edge,

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Lifeless, locked in orbit round unasked questions and unraveled seams.

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Pictures taken at Naturhistorische Museum, Vienna, February 2020.

The Good Old Boys Best Spigot Friends Club

Monday, February 17th, 2020

spigot-club

GOBBSFC holds spontaneous meetings wherever good spigotry is found to prosper; previous symposia include whether it is better to snooze beneath the nightshade or defy the sandman with midnight cappucino, the importance (or not) of possessing a hat, and traditional ethnic stovetop dancing.

Apply within!

Broken Sesame

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

The packing was done with an oscillating admixture of excitement and dread. What do you take on a road that might lead you straight to the Golden Horn, but which also might weave a few weeks' worth through the Dalmatian coast, to Greece, and in either case quite likely through Syria, and in Jordan, and Egypt, and further points unknown? For weeks, for months, you don't know, you've got one bag: go.

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The unpacking takes a lot less time and is done under a veil of melancholy, the excitement all wrung out and left in pockets here and there along the way, where some investigation lead to nowhere, or a playful hope was laughed away, a desperate attempt condemned. I have stood at the gate of the Orient and been denied. My soul's been weighed, if not against a feather, perhaps against some paragon of quality; I've been centrifuged and found constituently lacking, sick without illness, an impotent item incapable of claiming either stake or asylum.

It sucks, and that's all I can really bring myself to say about the rime or reason of this cut-short trip, for now. Unpleasant as unfurling the corpse may be, there's yet the rank dissection to be done, and then who knows what rituals and rites to come. Let no one tell you failure is an easy route.

On then, instead, to assorted observations, which are the currency of the broken and approximate.

I. Belgrade, Serbia

Pain-in-the-ass "demonstrations" are weekly by now. Exactly as in Buenos Aires, the Look, ma! rilers are a lot more about volume than substance, and trudge through the downtown streets to block traffic and prevent sleep. Why are loudspeakers cheap? Why are the apparent leaders of the agitated universally tone-deaf?

A strange bedfellow of the foregoing is the shallow luxury of Belgrade. Like gold, but plating, a pleasant kiss with no desire, a suite of rooms in the town crown jewel kept for a week with spas and sweets and soft piano music is a dream for a day or two until you want something real, which is I guess to say, inadequate for practical, rather than constructed, reasons. You'll never fit in someone else's complex vision of "the best". If you don't bring something ample of your own, the cast will ache, and itch, and irritate.

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II. Nis, Serbia

A fifteen year old waiter faced with well over a hundred patrons at half that many terrace tables tallied our bill in his head, on demand, a thing that makes most other servers shut down. He blushed and then offered a number. "Wouldn't it be terrible if he got it wrong, and was too shy to say anything about it, it's really like 70% of the actual cost, and now instead of a tip he has to dip into his check to cover it?" So we found a menu and checked him. It was right, a big thing in a small world.

Not incidentally, Nis keeps its oldness out in the daylight, and invites you to touch and trample.

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III. Sofia, Bulgaria

There is literally nothing to recommend this place. I feel for the snow-tipped crags in the distance, that do not yet have what with to cover this shameful valley. I never saw a bird, or a breath of life, or a trace of thought, or a mote of grit. The most prominent advertisement (for some subsistence concern shop, naturally) is of Гeopги Эвpэшмyk in his mass-market "casual" polyesters high-fiving a beagle with inexpertly enlarged eyes.

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IV. Edirne, Turkey

The cats began, and then the seagulls, the stray dogs, the genuine smiles beholding something different. The first Adhan, at dusk, washed over the loose stones and tiny shops, uneven pavement and sudden bursts of roses, making everything sparkle in the early winter mist. There is incompetence, but there is no pretense. In Edirne I feel myself a human among humans, and alien enough to appreciate it.

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V. Istanbul

Driving in, the nothingness breaks open to give height and vibrance to modernity as only a place still excited about reaching it can render. Glistening cubes of glass, obsidian in the night, rise from the plain kilometers out, getting denser, their lights and quirks of design growing more and more beguiling. Then suddenly, the swelling stops and you're in the center of everything, cross of all crossings, testament of all times. You stop for fresh pomegranate juice and while someone hands you a napkin (for they've noticed the falling drop faster than you) you wonder why the simple joys of Istanbul must be so particular to the city itself, and so foreign outside it.

Seated two streets down from the Galata Tower, a tiny cross-street intersects with what serves as the main, narrow and precarious as it may be, a curled ribbon fraying under loving daily use. Cars pass, entering intricate negotiations for clearance; cats zig-zag on the cobbles now trustful, now terrified. A row of preschool chairs and tables line the alley, where large adults balance themselves over ubiquitous parabolas of tea. A short old man makes the turn, plank longer than himself across his shoulders, anchoring on one end a tin tun of tea, a plastic box of sweets and paraphenalia on the other, calling out the çay شاي чай. I tell myself to remember him when the work at hand seems tedious.

Moments later a blind woman robed in the pinks and purples of girlhood rounds the curve and starts to climb, her flailing stick miraculously hitting nothing on the busy street, as though the bustle paused for her ascent. She's followed by a fellow sweeping carefully with broom and pan, without any obvious sequence or plan.

Laleli's plazas and faculties are fully guarded, half with would-be red-tape heroes, half with mere observer posts that wouldn't dream of blocking access. The youth, the female youth, is conspicuously busy, overpainted, flushed beneath the powder somewhere, palpably. They are not doers, but reporters, reporting others' deeds. They say they study economics and worry about safety, and I worry if I'm too late, I wonder if I've lost out. It's a ridiculous thought in this faultless place. The other side of the balance rings true: I'm not ready.

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The thought thus choked out, my head and heart and throat an aching tangle, I'll stop, except to note a simple irony: sesame is one of the hardiest crops on earth, resistant to just about everything.