whispers in the game

There comes a time when surviving becomes more than just surviving, but also the way you might lie. You didn’t sense the temptation because you’ve already made the choice: nothing can be worse than what’s passed behind you. It was the worst time of your life, because the last worst time was better. Always you were certain the most recent fall was final. Now this conceit will be your undoing.

You may eventually live a shade of black that’s indiscernible from every other maximum loss. This is because no one wants to live in a world that permits your experience, so it’s just easier to erase, correct, and forget. And when it happens, instead of asking what happened to “common sense,” you’ll ask when it was that real life was no longer concerned with human beings, and therein lies the biggest conceit — a reason you can take for why this is happening, if it’s what you think you need:

It was never about you, nor anyone else. Vonnegut tried to sway us all with his aphoristic “so it goes.” Tried to hint at the indifference behind the stories we tell ourselves about being alive. And it is this: the story is always more important than your life. We talk about the end of print and fiction and everything nice, but narrative is more powerful than ever. Moreover, it is also the most unconscious, and therefore real, force.

Say it like a statement, not a question: cui bono.

And when popular desire becomes simpler than a children’s book, that’s when the full tour of american horror really hooks you, and so without recognition, or end or help or hope of catharsis, your language becomes too complicated for relating. So you have to pass over your very own little hell, in silence. And smile.

Welcome to real life.

This is where the first-person is supposed to resume, but, as Derrida knew, I had to say something, even if nothing is all I’m allowed. Maybe someday I’ll say more, but not yet. Maybe in five, ten, or twenty years. Of course, I can always choose when to say, but not when I’ll be heard. That’s up to something much bigger, and slower. I don’t know when or if it’s ever really coming, but.

I can speak to the general. In the last two years, my relationship to friendship came to resemble the indifferent guise of an estranged ex-husband. And so as the global seasons warmed I found a new kind of sincerity; more visceral and unrelenting than “new sincerity;” more self-aware than modern; more tender than nuanced. I’m finally writing again, although very, very slowly. The weight is heavy, and I spend most days not being crushed.

Sometimes I laugh, in a scary and somehow electric repetition wave, at the new depth behind cliché lines like wishing one knew then what one knows now. If I could go back to 2014, or even bittersweet ‘sixteen, and warn myself of what was coming — what I’d find — I don’t think I would have believed myself. If I cited my proof to that very young man, he might even commit himself. What’s shocking is my feeling like it might have been the better call.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see myself like ripped stitches of one finger of an unseen and very sinister (cf. “transhistorical”) puppet. It checks this body I use out, assessing its eyes to see what it can really do with me. It’s so strange seeing the object before the subject, to view yourself as something to work with, instead of that old and naive first person.

I’ve been nearly silent on social media because I’m almost ready. There’s nothing to carry on, only a new direction. And I know, since it’s not about me, I don’t owe the past a thing.

Everything before was exhibition. For better or worse, I am whispers in the game now.

 

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on the privilege of trauma.

The night before last I spent five hours analyzing the semantic and performative contours of the phrase “as if” in-text. Tonight, I vacillate between secret applications on one imperious hand, and the abject denial of the pernicious contingency my last ex proved me right in inevitably being on an Other’s.

Accepting that second-guessing intelligence is more harmful than acquiescing to the truth of said intelligence’s brutally proven first nature in its first instance has a lovely indelible flavor, and a third hand is holding spectral position over this amazing Crown Heights studio I’ve enjoyed for two weeks. Nevertheless I remain ever-readied for a second move in two days, and I’m writing fiction like never before on yet another fucking hand, and I threw Anaïs Nin’s “trauma of privilege” motif out the frigid window with fully conscious glee, and I drink under a nomme de guerre with two-dimensional strangers.

I’m beginning to believe in the existence of an intermediary class of inauthentic extroverts, those who are really introverts, yet lack the commitment to follow through, and so make much better extroverts, digitally. No hate, no foul.

Don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be here right now.

I barely touch my social media accounts. It’s kind of exhilarating to imagine the emotional détournement everyone is copping on the hourly, perpetually fighting the urge to conflate their concrete situ with their self-produced produced-self.

But clearly it’s still worse to run from the acts one does, or continue metanarrating one’s failure to act from an abstract, presumably innocent position. My god, the casual ease of blaming one self for hurting oneself, while one freely switches between judge and accused.

In other words, I’m quite pleased with myself, and I know it. Apologies to most readers for the cryptic nature of this post, but look at your fucking clock. Look at it. Goodnight.

02.13.2015

Today my bag was stolen from 96th St in the upper west side. I suppose these things happen. Its contents were a tin water canister, a notebook, a scarf from Cambodia, French sunglasses, a bottle of ibuprofen, a book of poetry, a pencil I’ve owned since 2001, and my journal, which contained fragments of manuscripts, essays, personal thoughts, speculation and poetry. I sincerely hope whoever decided to take it performs a gestalt of reason on these contents, and concludes that he or she just stole from someone who was out to do something spectacular, but it’s almost certainly already in a garbage container by now, because there was no money in it.

I am trying to think of something profound to write in eulogy to these items, with my last modest spurt of energy, but it isn’t coming.

A part of me feels relieved, as my manual writings were becoming more theory and itinerant plans than actual passionate writing. Only half of the journal’s contents really seized their respective days. The rest were notes on others’ thoughts, and the depressive motions of a man in bad faith of a futile relationship. Maybe it’s for the best to forget my first few months in NYC. No record of beginnings really make a difference, because in retrospect, it’s during the middle and the end that the most profound recognitions occur, when the old habits break down and deconstruct, when one transforms and realizes he or she has already become an other, that the story actually comes to life.

But really, there was much to be unpacked that I wrote down … ideas i consented to forgetting because i wrote them down. Fuck. I’m going to have to re-research so many things. I feel so empty without it. My work and its media are obsessed with stoicism and buddhism right now, and it’s been getting on my nerves; as if I haven’t already practiced this. I don’t want to play mind games and trick myself into feeling better about the state of things. I want to go, go, go, move on and higher, and stop doubting how I feel. Of course no one needs to feel any different than they already do. I’m (ironically) a radical individualist. One can choose to remedy any set of emotions if they are an obstruction to extending a genus of ethical conduct, a flow of desire,  but one should never be forced to assuage one’s present body. However, you’ll suffer that,  regardless.

But moving on is all one can do in this situation. Damn. I’m so unattached to everything and everyone. Oh well, moving on …

I can’t stand only writing at night, when my mind’s spent and my imagination is asleep. Everything in this post feels so quotidian and uninspired, and that isn’t me. (PROGRAM …) This isn’t what it’s like to be around me. I can’t wait for this next job. Which one of the two awaiting me I cannot say.  that is up to the economy.

I suppose this blog will be my journal of the more profound kind, in the meantime. But I miss pen and paper. At least the screen lights itself, but still. Text is so fucking democratized and minimal on these flat dull screens. There’s no character, no mistakes turned semiotic tricks to play off as coy slips.

A few notes:

reactionary→i am so very tired of people of ordinary craft and creativity using SNS sites to document their self-sabotage. (I made it! I did it! I’ve achieved jouissance! it exists only for me,  and pretty soon it’s coming to destroy you,  too!)  … there should really be a public announcement illustrating the phatic nature of remediating gestalt-recognitions. It should begin with a soundless definition,  and conclude with examples of online socialites of ordinary craft being cross-examined by homeless geniuses (again, soundlessly), to reveal how irritatingly much desire the viewer discharges in he/r adoration of them.

spontaneity→time. work. sign. lit. revolution. open relationships. negative capability. indifference to public dissent/assent. art, genesis, concept. reading//writing. thought, thought thought. sleep.

a tardy review of a show at yoko and a critique of expat cultural production that earnestly reads like a rather dated cry for better abstract expressionism

the review      

Stepping into the redesigned Yoko, I greet the doorman with a nod, and look up. A skyline of stolid silhouettes jerked to unsyncopated rhythm, pulsing with each tremolo scratch. The experimental pastiche is pulling their heads forward in random cycles, as if some monstrous question were being exorcised from the audience. Hanging off of the white walls are comic-portraits of John Lennon, Kurt Cobain and the like, each framed with a single-served quote-to-enlightenment.

Everything is black, or blue from the artist’s five meter runway of synthesizers and record players. I look up to see the introvert’s nest I remember retreating to last year. Empty space has replaced the loft.

fitting

fitting

I also notice an apparently non-functional A/C. Take a deep breath. The air is thick, watered down. I can smell bodies, perfumed and not. Also, whiskey? From the entrance, the bar’s bland white fluorescent light spills over more silhouettes in the far-out right. The customers stand there, no cash in hand. I continue up the stairs and navigate through a plethora of pillars decorated with woven wood-urns, dying candles and brand-new ashtrays. Conspicuous cosmopolitan eyes guide me to the menu. It’s as thick as a magazine, all done up and gleaming with the white light’s reflection. Unfortunately, perhaps pretentiously, the beer is 69K VND and up. Oh well, I thought, there’s cheap beer across the street and as long as I look beneficially busy, no one will object to externally purchased booze. I decide to splurge and buy a G&T (120K). The servers speak English fairly well, although it took an awkward exchange to learn that my Viet-accented English was unnecessary.

After several “excuse me’s” and bright-eyed smiles, I hugged my German Viet-kieu friend at the front of the crowd and saw the spectacle I’d come for.  It took a few seconds for me to realize why Yoko had changed. Or rather the kind of venue it might become. On the screen, images of average Saigon sights; xe oms, food stands, and other small businesses. I began to wonder why only businesses with no upward or downward momentum were chosen.

not yoko, but the feeling's parallel

not yoko, but the feeling’s parallel

As my thoughts began to dive into postindustrial squalor, the image was cut out, piece by piece, and lines of static appeared at the top and bottom. Imagine an old VCR fast-forwarding long enough to achieve sentience. A rainbow of colors and fractal effects begin to fill the bodies, overwriting them one organ at a time. The next few minutes feature traditional Viet hats resting on a Fibonacci sequence resting on a hoodie proclaiming “USA #1.”

This show wasn’t just entertainment; it’s a reproduction of a city casually reinterpreting its place in a possibly non-mutual consummation with neo-colonial markets. A regular cannibal’s Babel, Yoko is. Two obligatory femme fatals shook their stuff to the left of the screen, baiting me to join in. A tall blond man to my right smiles and gives me a thumbs-up, nodding, to dismiss any doubt. But before I could bite, the projector switched functions, and suddenly the crowd was displayed on screen: silhouettes of static noise, fractals and bubbles pushing and melting into everyone’s crossed arms. Only the girls moved like the screen. Everything was scratches with velvet and perfume. A dolly shot of five ambiguous bubble-shadows standing in a semicircle. The girls and their go(o)ds. Scene.

the critique

Bringing experimental noise music into a venue like Yoko, where the object of the show is either to dance or talk, creates the same familiar paradoxes accompanying entertainment universally. Here you have long, Wagnerian moans and pulls laced with absolutely spontaneous tremolo scratches and effects generally not heard above the radio spectrum. But still those scantily clad femmes’ goods were shaking to their best guess of a rhythm.

Anticipating the crowd’s response, the DJs gradually alter the soundscape until some base rhythm achieves a veritable omnipresence. But why? My contention is that they have three at-hand choices on stage, or three ways to respond to the polemic of production. Giving the artists the benefit of the doubt (in that they are not putting on a show only for fame and fortune, but actually have something to express), there are three kinds of audience members:

i) the avant garde, listening not to be entertained, but to study, interpret, travel-with, suffer; listen.

ii) the entertainers, who analyze the production for value alone, be it financial or sexual.

iii) the entertained, who cheer or jeer only in conjunction with passing levels of jouissance or alienation, note with this last group, their actions have less to do with the production than with their happiness.

These three types are not rigid in the sense of being composed of the same individuals at all times-there is always the contingency of psychological transformation or perturbation. and there’s death.

But so the question begged is: which audience do the DJs play to? Are they purists, abstaining from the cupidity of entertainment and shock-value in full fidelity to artistic expression? Perhaps, but then, if they really are there for the art alone, and bland bloodless repetition for entertainment’s sake is the abject, then those of us poor fools suckered into one of the last two categories (and i’m fully aware of the religious irony here) must be saved.

But here they realize in order to save us from blind entertainment, in order to overcome entertainers, they must Entertain. This is already weird enough to signify some sort of cyberpunk continence. In order to hold the entertainers in a symbolic chain capable of eschewing business par usual, to Rising Above Entertainment, the producers (if avant garde) must keep the girls’ goods swaying, keeping the entertained profitably distracted, leaving the entertainers’ minds in a good space to Listen.

From what space-or continence or whatever-can someone really Listen? A place where they are willing to be (although not necessarily always are) beside his-or-herself. An element of amnesia is required, but this must be one of forgetting the short-term hyperactive emotional affirmation of the now (à la Dionysus); the entertaining quality of the production must not rely on happiness, or any quick derivation of some other easily triggered emotion.

the production must induce amnesia of something

The entertained must be just that (i.e. entertained) until the entertainers forget their existence as such, in favor of a deeper, more impassioned self, willing to experience anything-even boredom, for the sake of experiment and expression (or to speak Sartrean, transcendence). Since the entertainment of the entertained is primary, the production must first induce amnesia of the drawn-out, big-self identity that the artists, the avant garde-is always striving to be.

the production must cloak the producers

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for “d’auteur”

*I claim no rights to any photos shown here, which rightfully are the exclusive property of the included website’s content-producers*

some deriding circles running-on around prose form and audience(s) i.e. two questions i’d like to see on the GRE

in order for short fiction to serve its function as not only a thoroughly concrete phenomenology of the real, but also an experimental journey into both signs present and as-of-yet unsignified, unentered or otherwise not-yet-triggered, and then also signs so far not even present in mainstream media, alternative indie or otherwise not yet within the scope of public discourse w/r/t mundane consciousness, the characters involved must embody already existent political standpoints, complete with old and new ideologies, each with their own individually signified utopias (i.e. the unspoken lack, the frame, the incompleteness in their theorems; the rub).

q1: T/F? Elucidate.

From here, with an a priori noncomplimentary ideological difference-in-corpus, the story, through narrative twists and vocalized synthesis (i.e. dialogue), must convey some interesting critique of what is, what’s said should be, and what-could-but-so-far-probably-isn’t-but-might-very-easily-be-via-a-modicum-of-thought, could strike the reader to interpret ways, going beyond what picayune options I may privately intend (à la mort d’auteur), but so interpret ways to bridge the growing mise en abyme all indie writers find themselves starting in contra the inevitable post-punk jump aboard the hashtag(ged) locomotive bound both for the liberal elitism found in the physical confines of manhattan and brooklyn and yes also in the virtually enclosed ivory tower of academia (now on Linkedin?!), and the neoconservative mainstream that kept them from pursuing the very same kind of sincerity-laden auteur-sentiments that got them in front of the proverbial-perfunctory typewriter in the first place. goddammit.

q2: is the last word rhetorical?

ship-of-fools