Thursday, November 26, 2015
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“Wake up wake up wake up,” Neena hears this mantra repeated, close to her ear, as someone shakes her, jostles her, but without any real urgency at all; it’s a hushed voice that speaks, more like a subliminal suggestion than an actual alarm. “Wake up darling,” the electronic voice coaxes, repeats, a voice half-familiar, which is to say, at the same time half-unfamiliar, repeating with the aforementioned lack of any urgency it’s message “wake up wake up,” a sing-song drone, sounding almost bored with its own lie, telling us what we most of all would like to hear, “wake up, wake up my darling, it was all just a bad dream.”
And Neena wakes, in spite of herself, wakes from one lie to another lie via a lie, her body returning from the exploration of some distant planet, a heavenly body sending messages via satellite in a semaphore that she doesn’t understand.
It is, of course, her husband, the chief interrogator who wakes her, who peeps over the railing of her crib, did I say “crib,” oops! I meant coffin, double-oops! I didn’t say “coffin” did I, you must think I’m crazy, her bed, I meant her bed, of course, that is what I meant to say, her bed, it goes without saying, (bed, bed, B-E-D, duh-uh) the protective railing of her…hospital bed, yes, that’s what it is, and his face wears the special kindness, the maternal masculinity of a saint, not the locust-munching, fire-spewing doomsday desert kind of saint who stinks and rages, his inflamed and filthy flesh alive with lice and shuddering with revulsion, but the gentle, mild sort that birds hop up to fearlessly, the garden variety of saint upon whose sackcloth shoulders the most timid of birds trust to perch, hopping into sexless laps to peck the crumbs of kindness from a smooth and holy hand.
“What happened,” Neena asks, sensibly enough, who wouldn’t, under the same circumstances, ask the exact same or similar question? There’s no fault there. But who does she think is going to give her an honest answer, who does she think will know if she doesn’t herself?
“Where am I?”
“What have they done to me?”
Imagine it were you in attendance upon her awakening. What could you possibly say by way of an explanation?
The Chief Interrogator, (did we mention his name is Thoth? Of course, we must have. Is it the truth? Well, that is the name he gave us and we’re just passing it on) waves these questions away like allergenic phlox floating in the warm breeze of a summer day; after all, as Chief Interrogator, answering questions isn’t exactly in his job description; it’s none of his affair, quite frankly. You might just say it’s really not his thing; no, it’s not his half of the equation; others do it so much better, and he knows it. He’s a man of a certain modesty, Mr. Thoth. He knows well enough to stick to what he’s good at, to keep working to his strength. The knowing smile, the bland reassurance, the false promise—these are his strong points, his stock in trade, his specialized skill-set. The growled threats, the ominous innuendo, the thrown chair and the rubber truncheon—these are his tools, the implements of his office. The cinderblock room, the chilled air, the too-bright light--this is his milieu and his natural habitat. The broken innocent, babbling stooge, and the forced confession are the highlights on his resume.
A man who loves the truth, loves it so much no word of it ever leaves his mouth; a black hole of veracity, a voracious consumer of confession, the truth is sucked deep inside him and where it goes from there no one knows, no one ever sees hide nor hair of it again, not a whisper of it, not a rumor. One day, or so it is postulated, once and for all, all the truth in the universe will vanish to that place we presume exists on the other side of Mr. Thoth, if it hasn’t already. In the meantime he’ll keep asking the questions, thank you very much, and you’ll keep answering them, questions to which there are no right answers anymore, because he already has them all. From now on, only lies, outright lies, exist.
“No, don’t look,” he admonishes lightly, but firmly, as Neena makes to lift the covers off her supine body in order to see what the damages may be.
“Don’t look,” he repeats, “there’s no need to look, there never is, there’s nothing ever under there to see,” he says, “and if there is, I assure you, it won’t be to your liking.”
But Neena isn’t listening to his sage advice; she’s paying no heed to his words of warning. Who can blame her? Who would listen, under the circumstances? She has a right to peek. It is, after all, her body. Well, at least in theory, at least for the time being
Peeping under the covers she sees the thick wadded pad, the rusty-crusty bloom of that awful flower planted on the spot of unspeakable violation, it’s even worst than she feared, it’s even more radical than anything they prepared her for, and who would have thought that possible? There is no point in even answering the question, what question would that be, well, any question, actually; no wonder he told her not to look, not to ask, no answer would suffice, no explanation sufficient to explain anything. Instead the old lady with the wheelchair arrives and says things like “Tut-tut now,” and “there there,” and “pull yourself together dear it’s not so very bad as all that after all; it can always be worse, believe me, you should see me below the waist, and besides, you’re going to be discharged. Have you any idea how many people would die to be in your shoes right now, heh-heh?”
But they are not shoes that Neena wears; they are the burning carbuncles of stigmata that grace her insteps. In each hand she palms a dragon-guarded magic ruby of a wound. She feels as light as air, as if she might defy gravity itself and float spontaneously up to heaven. Her mortifications have rewarded her (is “rewarded” the right word, for crissakes?) with the necessary coins of passage—but is it passage into or out of hell?
Read the complete novel here:
To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day November 28 1986
Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers.
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind their own business.
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the memories—all right let’s see your arms!
You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.
Listen to WSB give his thanks here:
Listen to WSB give his thanks here:
Posted by mw at 12:41 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I'm not interested in imposing my vision or my interpretation on anyone. That would just be another form of fascism. It's impossible, anyway. Everyone misunderstands what you're saying no matter how painstaking your effort to be understood. To hell with it! Let everyone come to their own conclusions. It's inevitable. And it's better that way. I want my work to be a starting off place for whoever happens upon it. After that, let everyone go their own separate directions. I'll continue to go mine. I don't need an audience. When you carve your initials into a tree you don't stand around waiting for someone to come by and see it.
Posted by mw at 7:09 PM
This way, folks, this way, please. That’s it, follow right along, no lingering before the exhibits, please. Catalogs will be available for purchase in the gift shop at the end of your tour. That's it, thank you very much, let us proceed, then, shall we?
The preceding diorama is one of countless others, innumerable in the sense that additional ones are being constructed all the time, each illustrating a new discovery in the compendium of research collected, compiled, and catalogued by that preeminent psychosexual archaeologist, secret police interrogator, serial killer, museum curator, surgeon, and god-only-knows-what-else who, up to now--and from now on--we've been pleased (as we've no choice but to be) to identify in our narrative (inasmuch as our so-called “narrative” narrates anything whatsoever) as "Mr. Thoth."
Each heretofore undreamed of variation of sexual fantasy unearthed, coaxed, coerced, induced, deduced--well, take your pick--by the esteemed Mr. Thoth is thus represented here in this wonderfully intricate maze of disturbingly lifelike tableaux for the education and illumination (and, in some cases, let it be admitted, the lubricious titillation) of visitors such as yourselves. Endless hallways of such exhibits, a vast and labyrinthine network not unlike the inextricable (and inexplicable) knot of a large tree's root system, a kind of psychic world oak of humanity's sexual psychopathology, impossible to uproot, is laid out here, far beneath both ground and consciousness, as museum, symptom, and scene of the crime--all three and all at the same time!
Quite a feat of inhuman engineering, don’tcha think?
On the wall beside each sickeningly lifelike diorama is a descriptive plaque, which, at the touch of a button, offers in over seventeen-hundred-and-seventeen different languages (including the dead and extraterrestrial tongues), Mr. Thoth's illuminating ruminations upon the visual banquet set before your disbelieving eyes. These spicy meditations add an interpretive depth and personal dimension to the displays that would otherwise be simply indigestible theoretical sexoterica. What’s more, these extemporaneous oral essays are being updated and expanded in real-time even as Mr. Thoth continues to ruminate, which he does, let us assure you, constantly, compulsively, like a cow on a cud.
With incomparable art and technological artifice, the characters appear to move and speak as if they were, in fact, still alive, and, thus, they seem to suffer the same cruel sufferings again and again, lending the facility a certain similarity, we must admit, to commonly held notions of Hell.
So be it. We make no apologies. Even if we did, they'd fall on dead ears. Ha ha...did we say "dead"? Ah-hem. We meant "deaf," quite obviously.
Come now, step lively. Don’t mind a mere slip of the tongue. But do be careful not to let your foot slip on that slick patch. You wouldn't want to break a leg at this point. We'd have to leave you behind for the wolves. It would be a real shame for you to fall prey to the wolves having already come this far. After all, we are very nearly done with our tour. If you squint real hard you can just make out the exit up ahead.
Read the complete novel here:
Read the complete novel here:
Posted by mw at 7:08 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I wake up from a dream I can't remember. I retain only a single clue about the subject of this dream. It's this thought, which keeps repeating itself as I lie quietly, staring at the ceiling: I need to read Oblomov.
Later, at breakfast, my husband sips his coffee and says, apropos of nothing that came beforehand, "Maybe we'll take a drive to the German deli today. I'll pick up some more bacon. Then I'll take you over to Topos. Would you like that?"
"Yes. I always like going there."
Topos is a used bookstore/cafe located on the corner of Woodward and Putnam in a residential section of Ridgewood, Queens. I know, from past visits that they have a well-preserved used copy of the Yale University edition of Oblomov on sale for seven dollars. I can see its exact place on the wall of shelves as clearly as I can see the coffee pot sitting before me at the center of the table.
(view from the windshield heading towards Topos Bookstore)
The section of Ridgewood where both the German deli and Topos Bookstore/Cafe are located is always a busy area. Today, it seems even more busy than usual. We've already gotten the bacon and now we're on Woodward Avenue. We're circling and circling the block looking for a place to park. "It's okay," I say, "we can come back a different time." My husband is annoyed but determined. On our third pass around the block, he swoops into a tight, illegal spot right beside a fire hydrant. "You go in. I'll wait here. I don't need any more books right now anyway. I've got plenty to read. But you take your time. No rush." "I won't be long," I say.
I stop briefly inside the door of the bookstore; it's where they keep the poetry. I scan the titles but really I'm just getting my bearings. Then, as if I'd just risen from bed, as if my bed were in this very bookshop and I was stumbling out of it under direction of the first thought of the day, I head straight to the place on the shelf in the fiction section where I know I'll find it: Oblomov.
I don't question, as I've done on past visits, whether I should buy the book or not. I bring it to the counter where a woman prepares the sale. At the same time, a tall man steps up with his own purchase. He points to the copy of Oblomov on the counter and says to the bookseller, including me in his enthusiasm, "Hey, that's the copy I sold you guys a few months ago." There is a moment of silence during which we all marvel at this coincidence. No one seems to know what else to say. I think of two things I might say:
1. (jokingly) Now I'll know who to blame for any stains I find inside.
2. (only half-jokingly) Hey you should sign your name inside.
Fortunately, I don't say either of these things. I don't say anything at all. I just continue to stand there, smiling, as we all do, until the woman behind the counter asks me if I need a bag. "No thank you," I say. In fact, its one of those rare instances where everyone has the good judgment not to say anything further. A perfect moment of synchronicity is thereby preserved, instead of it being turned into just another stupid and awkward social moment.
Excerpt from Oblomov:
(1 pound of Blackforest bacon purchased the same day.)
Read the complete novel here:
“The worst part is that this isn't even the worst part, that the worst part is still to come. The blows, you see, are excruciating in themselves, but invariably, (barring a lucky strike--lucky, that is, for me--which, unluckily--for me--is never struck), they are for the greater part wildly inaccurate, more painful, perhaps, for their wildness and their inaccuracy, thunking as they do across my shins, glancing off my kneecaps, clipping my ankles. They cause pain, in other words, but they do not lead to the quick and efficient end of my life (=suffering).
“The game doesn't engage everyone's interest, nor hold it, at least not initially—two or three take it up, abandon it, then two or three more, another and another, joined by four or five, losing a few here and there who drift off to the bar or bathroom or whatnot. Sometimes, for a time, at least, the game is neglected altogether; inevitably, though, someone weaves drunkenly up to where I’m crucified, takes up the bat, and without even bothering with the blindfold that supposedly provides the challenge, rears back and takes a wild hack.
“The party goes on, advances, contracts, takes on a life of its own, as parties do, amoeba-like, dividing and reuniting again. There's my ex, oh Christ, it's true, there she is, I can't believe Cyn invited her, but here she comes, blindfolded, grinning, the aluminum baseball bat in an awkward two-fisted grip. Her chopping blow catches me in the groin, the backswing lands square on the nail driven through my right instep--I go icy cold with pain, blinded by a brick wall of white light. Her lover comes up behind her, wraps his arms around her waist, guiding her through a swing or two.
“The blows that follow land without a great deal more accuracy, but they provoke a good deal more amusement—and pain. At last, oh thank god at last, the coup de grace is delivered; it's her new lover who takes the bat, removes his sports coat, and takes what is recognizable to anyone, even those unfamiliar with the sport, as an ‘expert stance.’ A crowd materializes out of thin air, like ants around a fallen chunk of cherry popsicle (it’s easy to forget that even Aristotle believed in spontaneous generation).
“Tall and athletic, still broad-shouldered and muscular despite growing a potbelly, an ex-ballplayer who years ago played in the minor leagues of one professional team or other (the St. Louis Cardinals? the Cleveland Indians?), he won't be cheated, so he cheats, determined to play the hero for his honey. I catch his eye from beneath the blindfold he's managed to partially slip to the side as he strides purposely and unerringly forward, takes up that expert stance I’ve already mentioned, first from the right side and then from the left –he’s a switch-hitter! The years haven’t eroded the beauty of his fluid and level swing; age and a few extra inches around the middle haven’t thrown off his timing. He measures me up just right and catches me on the sweet-spot (an inch above each knee), a pair of homeruns for sure, going, going…see ya! He wins the big game, my ex throws herself ecstatically into his arms ("my hero! she cries"), and the crowd, as they say, goes wild.
“Meanwhile, I sag down, pitifully, fatally, on broken legs, never to rise again for breath (or anything else); my head drops dumbly to my chest and through fluttering false eyelashes I see my pink bikini-style panties rapidly darken as my bladder empties and I wonder, am I actually pissing blood?
“Standing on hand, monitoring my progress (Progress? Can you really call it that? Sure! Why not? Fine...progress then) is the surgeon with his stethoscope and scalpel, his cooler of dry ice. Nothing here will go to waste; after all, a human body is a treasure chest of invaluables--an iconic senator dying of nephritis, the aging rock star with the pickled liver, the clogged and rotted heart of the cutthroat venture capitalist-turned-philanthropist at the eleventh hour, but, alas, too late. Who said money can't buy everything? It can buy whatever you can afford. It can buy you a second life; it can buy you a cure for death.
“Already, unable to wait, and because it makes for better theater than carving up a corpse, the surgeon has worked the urine-soaked panties over my hips and down my smooth thighs. He performs a makeshift orchiectomy, that's castration to you laymen out there, slitting my scrotum open down the middle (my what?! My scrotum!? How did that get there?!), reaching inside and prying out my testicles (my what? My testicles?! Hey, what gives? Surely you jest!), cutting the cords and nerves and whatnot, his latex fingers slick with blood and unexpressed semen. There's some impotent Russian bazillionaire somewhere in the Urals who's convinced that a ground and dried concoction including such illicit ingredients harvested fresh from the source makes Viagra seem like taking baby aspirin for a brain tumor.
“Corneas, hair, teeth, not to mention lungs, the pancreas, and adrenal glands, the skull cracked open, that jellied meat a delicacy, the pituitary rare as a four-leaf clover, bones have uses too, damn it's all good, and when the body is empty so long as there are recognizable orifices and a certain quantity of meat remains a necrophiliac can be found somewhere who'll pay to fuck it, a cannibal to eat it, and when that's gone there are master tattooists around the world who’d kill for a skin as pale and smooth as mine to stretch and ink with secret grimoires; rich collectors are paying fortunes even as we speak (so to speak) to secure such precious canvases for the unimaginable collections of the darkest galleries in the most secret of private museums.
“Cyn will make a bundle on my carcass alone, not to mention from the proceeds of the film she's paid a photographer to shoot of my torture and butchering. She’ll net enough to never have to work again, even if her film career doesn't pan out the way she plans, and knowing her, with that short attention span, addictive personality, and alarming tendency to self-destructive dissolution, it surely won't. Well, at least she'll be able to have that child she always wanted and that's not cheap without a womb and all, but what can science not do if it has a mind to do--and a full enough pocketbook...in a word, nothing!
“They'll implant the brat in her tummy, or thereabouts, like a virgin birth, a child of no man (and, in this case) no woman born, a propitious and unprecedented pseudo-event. It's always been a dream of hers, motherhood, that is, the ultimate fantasy, to be a big-bellied, big-titted, transsexual earth mother with a Munchausen fetish--it's nice to be able to help a dream come true, although I have to admit I wish it hadn't cost me quite so much. Speaking of which, why haven't I lost consciousness by now, haven't I suffered enough, why does this horrible moment seem frozen, like it's going on forever? If only I could wake up, if I could just wake up for five seconds, maybe, just maybe, I could die once and for all at long last and be done with this nightmare (=life), is that too fucking much to ask?
Read the complete novel here: