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John Bloomberg-Rissman

From: "In The House of The Hangman"

… So no, no one knows what the Denisovans looked like, and only a few fossils including a stub of a young girl’s pinkie bone have been found at a single cave in the Altai region in Russia. From this ancient genome researchers say they’ve found genetic evidence of an even older human ancestor, from Asia, that has not been documented. He came back to see me. I saw two lights over the Downs: could it have been one of his flying saucers? When I hear Denisovians, I hear Ravickians … Salt in the air, chalk in the water. Weird, huh? But I was christened. I went over. I was born. Airfix airbrick. Nylon starspin. He came to visit. I came to visit. Bluebell gristleball. I fell over. It was my biology test. Instead of translating he cracked jokes in English, that my hair was a wig, etc. I phoned but it wasn’t me. Up in the belfry, he blathered about ‘the impenetrable fog of the epicentre.’ So yes, remove & clean filter regularly. Allow to dry fully before replacing. Stock stuck against the right shoulder, perhaps a brick. Way off in the distance there is a right hand. Finger the F key, F, E, D. C. Weight of a metal body on the thumb. Jostle in the ripples, congregate & swarm. Something may have hatched out, waiting, a hoover-bag of dust, in the beginning was the worm. Broken it shows inside a kind of buttery filling, as if all along its roboticality was only on the outside, it was not after all a mechanism but a soft thing with flows and runs of affect and sense. Neon Haystack etc. Where the path’s pith fits the hinge unsticks on their varnished lawns shone the vertebrate moon, the puzzle in a face, my phallus was spilling seed in great quantities, but without sensation. Also, it had passed through to the other side of what ever it was that I was penetrating, yet still my loins moved. My loins. How many of you have actually written the word loins? I reach an arm though the telescope and bring down a peach, it is furry and has small people on it, trembling with joy as they sense that they have a destiny now. Or a clang? Meet the Marines’ headless miniature pony robot. They are pretty great, actually. These dogs throw versions of you into a blazing inferno. Speaking of infernos, “My English professor’s ass was so beautiful. It was perfect and full as she stood at the board writing some important word. Reality or perhaps illusion. She opened the door. With each movement of her arms and her hand delicately but forcefully inscribing the letters intended for our eyes her ass shook ever so slightly. I had never learned from a woman with a body before.  Something slow, horrible and glowing was happening inside me. I stood on the foothills to heaven. She opened the door.” So what next: equestrian monuments to algorithms? Tilted Arc? My method is to dramatize the fiction of accuracy by performing it according to the most rigorously positivist standards imaginable — precisely because they’re outmoded standards — and branding the results as “experimental poetry.” I mean, I was leafing through some FBI files on French philosophers when a new candidate for occupancy of the populous Grassy Knoll in Dallas leapt out at me. To the massed ranks of the CIA, the Mafia, the KGB, Castro, Hoover, and LBJ, we can now add: Jean-Paul Sartre. FBI and State Department reports of the 1960s had drawn attention to Sartre’s membership of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, of which Lee Harvey Oswald was also a member. And — prophetically? — Sartre had “dismissed the US as a headless nation.” Naturally I rushed around trying to work out exactly where Sartre might have been on 22nd November 1963. Could he, after all, have been the Second Shooter? The ark is not a particularly fancy affair: a small space comprised of about six “environmental chambers” that look quite a lot like old refrigerators. These units allow staff to control daily temperature and light and “rain” cycles to provide ideal conditions for their slimy inhabitants. Inside each unit are a whole lot of small terrariums — terraria? — home to a variety of local snails — did yu know these snails don’t actually eat the leaves they live amongst? Rather, they eat an invisible layer of molds and algae that they scrape of their tops. With these statistics in mind, it is not hard to see why Hawai‘i is now considered to be one of the “extinction capitals” of the world. While conservation in general is often poorly funded, Hawai‘i really is in a league of its own in the USA. Despite having a huge proportion of the country’s federally listed endangered species, the state receives a tiny percentage of the relevant funding. Without the political or economic clout to change this situation, Hawaii’s vanishing species are fucked. And so, hope is often associated with the affirmation of life, the refusal to give up, and consequently the absence of hope is associated with … what? C’mon, class! Ultimately, I don’t think this means we should abandon our banking projects. But let us see what Adam comes up with. Ibis, crocodile, marmoset, dung beetle, pterodactyl, lion, porpoise, tick, etc. But, having given a name to each of those creatures that creeps upon the earth, having made them knowable to himself and to Himself, Adam is still lonely. And so the Lord makes for Adam a counterpart, the second of a species that we can surely surmise is itself yet to be named, as it is not the prerogative of the namer to give himself a name as well. And this counterpart, a female not dissimilar to the man from whose sleeping body she is created, despite her duplicate origin, is certainly privileged in her own right, for she is the one to whom the Serpent speaks. It is Eve, woman, who is the first and the last human to hear the animal, to fully understand its speech. Or, perhaps this serpent is also the first and the last animal endowed with the subtle gift of speech. Accepting both hypotheses, and putting ourselves in Eve’s place, let us listen, then, to the serpent, let us pay close attention, when it says No! No! No one can view my face! Hideously disfigured by a terrible accident I was brought up in the sewers of Paris where I learned to play the accordion. My genius went unappreciated. What did the critics say? “Honk! Squawk! Bleat!” Now, tucked away in my hidden fastness, I rule the border wastes, periodically emerging to fight in corrugated tin sheds for almost no money. Did you think for one minute I would not be drunk enough to spend three bucks for some stupid rubber mask at yet another Mexican wrestling match? Hah! I am Checkmate! I am the Eight Ball! And you, señor, are finished! Which is to say, yes, I wanted to fight the canary, but you held me back because the canaries carry electricity to our houses in even smaller canaries and because you held the canary up to my face. You vibrated the canary at a new frequency. You said the best time for canaries was 11:30 am. “Okay so I know this is kinda taboo but anyways. Frida Kahlo: Not too easy on the eyes. I mean she’s got the lady-mo and the monobrow thing going on. She didn’t know where to put her blush or what shade lipstick would obviously suit her skin tone. Really, she’s a bit of a wreck. So this got me to thinking. What would have happened if her girlfriends had done the right thing and taken her to a beautician (which clearly needed to happen)? I did a subtle re-paint over the top of her original self-portrait to ‘conceptualize’ what it would have looked like if she had been whisked off to Beauty Works or the likes … I didn’t want to alter the integrity of the original painting too much. What do you reckon?”

Frieda Kahlo

The positions of insolvency and utter bankruptcy. On the hyperhyperpostmarkets scene. One click – one click – by all of the real – SenkaBot; or as one of the many desert aphorisms collected in the novel’s final section explains, ‘Water is blood that has lost its true color’ (Anubis, p. 180) a sentiment echoed in Gold Dust’s characterization of ‘thirst’ as why, characters lost in the desert resort to drinking camel pee, a ‘thick, salty, and syrupy’ liquid – they are not presented as debased but rather as enlightened. In this perilous situation, dehydrated to the point of being ‘perched between consciousness and oblivion’, inhabiting ‘that interval between life and death’, Gold Dust’s protagonist Ukhayyad licks the piss dribbling down the thigh of his camel, a creature introduced as no ordinary animal but rather as a rare thoroughbred or ‘mahri’ piebald, who has been the man’s companion since childhood. It was great. So yes, I have time, via fb or I’m out shopping with Bloomsbury Fightback! So if we all are that, yes, there’s always hope to misquote Neil Young, vivacious, charming, who barraged me with a little social democracy, eee gee that’s known as the thing burn. So I told him that medieval badgers were ferreted out of their holes and then bashed, as they emerged, with clubs. “Like Whack-a-Mole?” he asked. “Yes. Precisely.” And the next day I had to confess I’d made it all up, and not even deliberately. And then last night: I realized we’d slogged through nearly an entire semester of The Canterbury Tales without once mentioning the risings of 1381. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale (“Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meinee” &c, VII.3394 ff.) gave me my entrance, and the animal theme led me to my grand finale: the story of the St Alban’s rebels, who, to show their contempt for the poaching laws, crucified a rabbit. My students immediately understood the significance. “Is that where the Easter Bunny comes from?” “I’m … I’m not sure.” I offered what I knew: “The French, they have an Easter bell. Instead of a rabbit.” “Yes, but they crucified a rabbit. Maybe that’s why we have an Easter Bunny.” But what can reading post-apocalyptic fiction tell us about the world we live in today? I love to play Remote Carbon. I start with ‘Set to Den’ and it fills the screen, completely teeming with squishy larvae and hard jewel-like insects, and it feels like the screen wraps round and I’m in a tank with all this zooming buzz. Which is to say that, if that stuff is what happened to parts of speech in this like very unhooked mindzone, then you’ve got to keep going down the blipblip breadcrumb trails you make out through this insanity on the terminal floor – and don’t stop, don’t look up, don’t look about, don’t scan, or you’ll spin right out of it, sick and dazzled. When you get to ‘Ode to Dragon Bond’ there’s an exit from full-screen, (warning: until then whatever keys you hit you’re in the tank, don’t panic) – but you’ve got to experience it yourself, definitely. That sculpture is made of squid! Finnish friends, how would you translate “Hän joka on nielevä ajan”? I’d like it to mean ‘the one who swallows all of time’. But perhaps we can just say that Mendieta is an image-maker. She cuts off a friend’s beard and glues it on her own chin. She coats herself head-to-toe in white feathers. And, naked, she takes hold of a decapitated chicken and holds on for dear life. So I am standing in the shadow of a lace curtain, that is the reason my face looks vague. I am looking at the woods, where dogs and lambs made of nickel and children with bald heads are walking, ah, I do not know where I’m going, a large, organism-like moon is vaguely afloat ahead of me. I love my life! You don’t know where my cave is. But I come out. Every day! To buy mustard & relish! See what — I can’t see the forest for the burn unit. I love my life! The information I gathered there remains thus far unused and neither of us has any money and crying’s easier. I have cried at times for so long that I have moved the activity in front of the mirror out of curiosity but let the record show there are no alibis for the green brain. I mean, “The state does not have an essence. The state is not a universal nor in itself an autonomous source of power. The state is nothing else but the effect, the profile, the mobile shape of a perpetual statification or statifications, in the sense of incessant transactions which modify, or move, or drastically change, or insidiously shift sources of finance, modes of investment, decision-making centres, forms and types of control, relationships between local powers, the central authority, and so on. In short, the state has no heart, as we well know, but not just in the sense that it has no feelings, either good or bad, but it has no heart in the sense that it has no interior. The state is nothing else but the mobile effect of a regime of multiple governmentalities.” To quote Jackson Mac Low,

They were a close family of giant otters
in Surinam giving a low growling sound when
they were insecure so they were called the Hummers.

Trace elements had landed near them and they effloresced
in even amounts throughout an even eon and an evening
fortune as they were in knowing nothing

or peering curiously into unknowable presence
alert to no future living the past as presence
whose elements were traces in their efflorescing being.

Those horrid days were not without their pleasure(s), tho, however evorsion- / èd. Goodbye, Wanda Coleman; happy birthday, Paul Celan. This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. How do you define “creativity”, then? Who or what qualifies as an “institution”? Are you just sitting around and reading a newspaper when inspiration hits? How do you define “concept”? If you weren’t you, who would you be? Where can I get some good food around here? Why are there people like that guy? Why is so much of what I love already dead? What do you think of Ernst Jandl? What do you think of Taylor Swift? What do you think of Kanye West? In what way is green Super Juice like a writing desk? Why do I feel scared when I see a white cat dead under the wheel of a dark car? “BRING DOWN THE SCYTHE OF GODS UPON THE NECKS OF THE GREEN-RIBBED LEGIONS AND SWEEP AWAY THEIR WRETCHED BODIES; THOU ART IMPLORED BY ME” is one way to ask me to mow the lawn. Keep riding on the macrolevel here, in our experience will be our great pleasure if people out wearing latex gloves social sciences and types of control, relationships between local powers, the central authority, and so on. “These are the old home trees.” Workers’ duende, Ana. When I first ate that rat after I first regurgitated that rat (see Johannes) and wouldn’t you know that rat was high on cocaine and babies (see Scientific American January 2006) I had the tongue of a songbird stitched into my tongue (see Chelsea Biondolillo, see Katrina Van Gouw, see Philomela). A blank spot on my tongue. A salt scar on my tongue. I only speak English, tho (see babies). I can identify tone. You have your search terms. Get the fuck away from me. I’ve puked my heart out and also my other organs. Three grey lurchers! Running down the muddy hill! Your own breath. And the sense that you still function. The sense of an ending and of something keeping pace with you. I identify with it, especially when all the umbrella heads are eating the main guy’s snotball and dancing with his dead dog around the interior of his lonely shack. These are some names of the hyena: Al-Ḍabu‘ is the female; the male is called al-ḍib‘ān and al-dhaykh. Among its other names are: Haḍājir, “Whose Gut Is Huge”; Ja‘āri, which translates as “Craps-a-Lot”; Qasāmi, “Divider-up [of Carcasses]”; Naqāthi, “Bone-Sucker,” from its [habit of] extracting marrow from bones, as in the anonymous rajaz verse: Jā’at Naqāthi taḥmilu 'l-birdhawnā / “Along came Bone-sucker, carrying [part of?] an old horse.” Then dot the plain. 186,282 cooped-up angels tall as appletrees. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca says, “I refrain from making a long story of it. Any one can imagine what might be experienced in a land so strange, like cybernetics reassembles globally and organically worker functions in the overall pulverized microdecisions of the individual: the ‘bit’ strong atom worker to ‘digits’ of the ‘Plan’. To sleep they enter the white cells. These are hollowed out in the rock-face by hundreds of thousands. These concentric openings are tangential. The women travel there at full speed. The women travel there rapidly, at full speed in fact. Naked, their hair covering their shoulders, they choose their places as they climb. It is possible to lie down in the cell, which resembles an egg, a sarcophagus, an O in view of the shape of its aperture. Several can stay there together gesticulating, singing, sleeping. It is a place of privileged sanctuary though not sealed off. The isolation of one cell from another is such that, even if one bangs with all one’s might against the ovoid wall, the sound of the blows is not perceived in the adjacent cell. When one is lying down in the cell it is impossible to discern the occupants of the other cells. Before the general retirement for the night confused murmurs of voices are heard, then, distinctly, the phrase, This order must be changed, forcefully repeated by thousands of voices. So be careful with those Gatorade ions. When I opened the door / I found the vine leaves / speaking among themselves in abundant / whispers, and the dredge-jet printer spraying archipelagos along the big river’s length.

Freed from all obligations,
Set out to seek his fortune,
Which, me know, my children,
Means seek adventure.

Spying Tristan & Juliet on the swell,
He made himself into a cod,
& dispossessed them of their coracle.
By hook & by crook, by God.

Orisons of sailors more pious
tested Japheth’s tempest-sped brains,
till his Saviour grew overgenerous
& swift He was forgot.

He came where once were fisherman —
Crabbers, whalers, trawlers — but all lived
Nowadays in Rawls’s Original Position;
“We prefer not to select,” they said.

They had not one resource of Earth,
And woven within their Veil,
A quality not unlike mirth.
He would not stay, but made sail.

Amphibious. Japheth traverses the sea in a Frog Ark, which may or may not be the coracle he stole from Tristan and Juliet, making his way to Spain, reminding us that Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, traced the origin of western civilization back to him. Like Lorca in Andalusia, Japheth sets out for the sun and is almost immediately executed by the Civil Guard: “After a whole month was done | He ventured out into the sun | But a guardsman shot him in the head. | Could it be that Japheth lay dead?” Not at all. “The headwound had reprogrammed” him. You know what they say:

Tin is a soft, lustrous metal which becomes brittle when
Edgar divided the dainties among the fiends.
Dick wept farther and further into the dense wood.
“Y . . r D . . K,” and

“Recalculating” is the term some satnav systems use when you take a wrong turn and the journey has to be replotted, from “The Jew is a textual construction” to “We aced the shit out of that asshole” to “It was a fork in the road, but he had always favored spoons … ” to “Strike because it’s not fun to tango alone.” I can’t say much now on account of this corroded connection, but tonight I can tell you this: Expect showers or heavy thunderstorms in the area, with temps steadily falling to 75 degrees. Tonight, expect to find in the center of one of your bedsprings something like a mouth by turns inverted from source-code to toolkit. It was like trying to vomit one’s own shadow or flay oneself with hands that felt like fins. Well, not snow as we know it. It’s a basalt frost remnant of metals that vaporized in the atmosphere. More plainly, Anubis stages a similar scene to call into question perspectives from which the animal-urine-drinking nomad might be pathologized as degraded and delusional. Eee gee, when Anubi follows a hare only to lose all signs of the caravan trail he had been following, likewise becoming blinded by thirst in the desert, he luckily stumbles across a puddle of gazelle piss, and, drinking it, regains his vision in time to look into the eyes of its source. Although he knows he ought tobe wary – ‘gazelles’, his mother had told him, ‘are the livestock of the spirit world’, the animals that the jinn ride – he finds that this silent exchange of looks enables him to recover a peculiar sense of spirit along with life: ‘I found within me the ability to comprehend the forgotten language, which reconciled my tongue with that of the gazelle’s, united my destiny to the gazelle’s, and created from my spirit and the gazelle’s a single spirit’. As with so many incidents in this story, it is not so much Anubi’s recovering a common language that seems profound here as the actions encircling it. So thus we have the man without a hat and who needed to work with a hat and went out into the street with a naked woman on his head and at the bus stop he ran into his best friend who asked him because it’s a serious matter as I should know I’m all about a three liter Maserati, — just like when during daytime, when we close our eyes to immerse ourselves in the sudden darkness we discover points of light and bands of color which remind us of the other part of the world, when likewise we descend into the vast and dark depths of our soul, when what is revealed onto us, in the margins of darkness, we find the reflections of an unsuspected golden world. Can these reflections be a calling to our soul? Then I pick up the house, then I throw the house through the window, pata pata, don’t forget I cross the labyrinth at six hundred kilometers per the square root of a ray of light plus even this is not stupid of us, or milk about two and a half kilograms 60 cloves of garlic 1 glass of rum 2 tenths of a liter of very sweet white wine a bit of salt and pepper, we are still chanting “The animals are coming: your spirit lives on.” The twilight has imbued the hills with antique gold / And gall. The shredded, shaggy steppe, lit up bright red / And brown, flows like chestnut fur in strands aglow. The shrubs burst into flame, the waters blaze like metal. Eroded hollows lay bare enormous blocks of rock / And boulders piled up, mysterious, morose. The winged dusk uncovers hints and figures … Here are the bared teeth of jaws a-grinning, a massive paw / At rest, a dubious hill resembling a swollen rib cage. Whose crooked spine, instead of hair, has sprouted thyme? Who lives around here: a monster? or a titan? It’s close and stifling where I am … But there, / In that vast expanse, the scents of rotting grass / And iodine suffuse the air, and the weary Ocean pants. The revolution will be convulsively intersectional.
‘How does fertiliser help the bomb?’ Ask what, or who, where, time, city, rural encampment, rubble shack, the evaluation at the abyss or in the long run, sans calculation, algebra, logical filigree, ask what epistemic holy ghosts hissing like a hot philosophical lava / or the limits of what he calls, as an abbreviation for the complexities, ‘enthusiasm.’ Of course there’s not a single proposition attached to that label. But it is something ‘not limited by anything & the imagination of flight is apparently a mild head cold to the viral germ warfare we ought suddenly employ when thinking about what we might do with our future time …’ like ‘Water / doesn’t need a boat you arrogant fuck.’ Alva Noe makes this point vividly. The art sense is like nipples on a man: before you laugh, remember what was said by Saladin about the worth of Jerusalem (it’s a ‘strange tool, an alien implement’). So yes, ‘This skin river was directly marked / Its tracks to l’esprit fou, for the second eye-opener / corrosive and colloidal at one throw’ ‘always a beloved space of trans. To accept what is / greed n pets not so much in reasons / for the closed will open in matters of delicate urgency / for a winter bonus to claim his prescience / because bark numbers anyway / with octopus limbs and no teeth …’

No Teeth

Which is to say, ‘You’ve never had it so good …’ is where the war starts … It’s like we get what Bruno Ganz’s angel in ‘Wings of Desire’ hears before he resigns himself to the voracity of the human: ‘… painted pink dips, the day of the dead … liver fluke packing ready bags … not born children … elicited sympathy … apart growing closer slower … frosted grass … the recent meat … new towns like Swindon … bear traps … ghosts of the civil dead … deaf dolphins … my human skull … cat’s paw … prison … bleeding nose and raw potato … comets … a lost jelly eye … your own regret … further nosebleeds … vigilante justice … the eyes of children … cutting off people’s heads … the venus nebula … a tomb of trinkets … eats the bed… god himself before social services failed him … the English longbaby made chain / mail redundant … baby men have always had murderers + mistresses … baby in the bath … baby bullet … bad parenting where the baby grows up to be a duck … a baby being made in the oven … a Shoah of babies … a shoal of baby Orcas … death throes is not a dance … as ephemeral as it is a colon is not a delusion … the butt of an Angolan rifle smashed the natural eye from his head … older / in the last white sun … horsepower colonies … a nightmare about a millipede / with pistons … into a black rubber bag … Every weeknight I’m at Paddington Station … There are always crowds … working Greeks, Pakistanis, Indians, Afro Caribbeans, Turks, Irish, English, Welsh, Spanish, Portugese, Italians, French, Nigerians, Poles, Ukraineans, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Australians, all kinds of different ethnicities and nationalities of Americans, Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christains, atheists, Hindus, Rastas oh the whole lot, all there waiting for trains or moving away to the tube or taxi ranks or the streets, or serving / buying / eating hot dishes from kiosks, or browsing temporarily inside the shops, or working on the lines, or tapping on their mobiles, or waiting, having a smoke, moving or rooted for a moment, or preening, or letting themselves go and all of them superior to the life being lived, closer to illumination than the notch of mere recorded conscience, caught between living and history’s noises unfolding outside in the super lucidity of exhausting, quivering liveliness. It’s a holy secular place of penetrable force, a huge disorder of facts where alchemies of existence take place like we’re all bubbling up inside an immense kettle. No matter that death and the butcher’s eye is always haunting it, this immediate and apparent reality of facts, this bodily, physical blossoming under the vast glassy dome of the station’s insane confabulation is delicate precious, of immeasurable value like the ghosts of deer

‘ … where thinking is no longer exhausting,
and no longer exists 
and where the only thing is to gather bodies …’

[as the saying is, not made by hands] as in Chuckle chuckle down fear year after year smile like a porpoisea raging storm whooaah whooaah coming into now the joy without even the smell of death on top of hot raspberry soup becomes an oyster-rhino as rigid as a wrecked bus.


Copyright © John Bloomberg-Rissman, 2016.