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  • - * 13 DOORS OF X* *Meeah Williams* The Barking Cat Press * 2015 Brooklyn, NY * Seattle, WA copyright 2015 Meeah Williams/The Barking Cat...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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=Magick in Theory & Practice=

 He was such a gloomy Gus, always reading books about serial killers and internet articles detailing the more obscure warning signs of cancers caught too late. 
He was addicted to splatter movies, the gorier and more explicit the better. 

Death porn, I called it, and though he denied it, the lump in his jeans gave him away. 
When your boyfriend gets a hard-on watching maniacs tear the tongues and toenails out of women, shoot them with nail guns or bury them alive so they can listen to their pleading as they suffocate over two-way radios—well, that's what some people might call a red flag.

I tried not to be too judgmental—at least not right away. Connor had his good points. But the score was lopsided and not in his favor.

His problem, at least as I saw it, was that he was in love with death and terrified of it at the same time. 

For instance, he was the kind of person who scrutinized every mole on his body for signs of change. He'd often enlist my opinion.

"Does this look any different from last time?" he'd say, in a querulous, little-boy-lost tone. "I think its more spread out. I think it's granulating."
I'd look up from my book, give the black dot under his fingernail a quick glance, and shrug. "It looks pretty much the same to me. I don't know. I really can't remember what it looked like before."

He talked about making a photographic inventory of all his blemishes and doing a monthly comparison.

Fortunately, this plan never took root. 

Then he read somewhere that you could get a melanoma on your liver. He was incapacitated by fear for an entire week.

"What hope is there?" he groaned like Job, huddled on the couch.

I'd had enough. I could live with him being a wannabe serial killer but the crybaby routine was finally just too much. 

"That's it," I said. "You don't need a girlfriend, you need a magician."

"But you are a magician."

It was true. At least part-time. I did a combination magic-comedy act at a local club on the weekends. It was pretty amateur stuff, more a hobby than anything else. In truth, I was awful at both comedy and magic. I made a few bucks but mainly I did it to keep me from hanging myself in despair at my dead-end life. 

My act consisted mainly of third-rate card tricks and the sudden appearance and disappearance of a mangy dove with a troublesome cough. I called it a dove, but it was really a pigeon. These faded illusions I interspersed with "wry" observations from my life as an office-worker in a nowhere job with an infantile, commitment-phobic boyfriend. 
Let's put it this way. I was never going to make it to Vegas.

My big finale was where I cut myself in half. I pulled it off maybe 75% of the time. Anyway, I figured I had enough material on the bad boyfriend front. It was time to make my relationship with Connor disappear.

I prepared my incantation carefully, but he fought me every step of the way. He came back with an incantation of how he was going to change, how things would be different from now on. He made a big show of deleting several files of his death porn from his laptop but I noticed that he didn't empty the trash bin. 

It hardly mattered. 

"I'll change," Connor vowed. "I swear I will. Just watch. See? I'm changing already. Right before your very eyes. Ta-da!"

By then I was already half-gone. I was little more than a head and a partial torso. I was sawing myself in half again. But it's that last half that's the most stubborn. If Connor noticed, he didn't let on. He was still there, solid as ever. Maybe even more solid than ever. He was probably more there than he'd ever been before.

He craned his head over his left shoulder to check on what looked to be another troublesome mole on the tantalizing edge of his field of vision. 

Poor guy. He simply couldn't help himself.

"But first, just tell me what you think…"

I sighed like something already deflated, a kicked-out soccer ball left behind on the playground, maybe, when someone steps on it expelling that last pocket of air.

There was no way Connor was ever going to truly change unless I changed him, not by magic, but like a television channel. I closed my eyes to him and willed him gone. It’s the most powerful form of practical magic I know.

Hearing, I'd always read, is the last thing to go. It's true, I can report from experience. I heard his whining, pleading, angry voice for some time after he vanished.

It showed up on my cellphone, it was transcribed on my Facebook page and Twitter account. Inevitably it showed up at the club, drunken, belligerent, and spewing personal details that would have been embarrassing if anyone had been completely sober and paying attention. Connor was just another rowdy drunk ruining everyone's good time as far as everyone was concerned in what was the usual sparse Friday night crowd. 
Zack, our new bouncer back fresh from Afghanistan, showed him the exit faster than you can say "abracadabra." It was a trick done mainly with elbows and knees instead of mirrors, he later explained to me in bed, his cock fluttering to life in my hand. He grunted and then it was too hard for him to talk. 

The first thing they tell you: a good magician never tells you how it's done. 

It's better that way, I've come to learn. Keeps the magic alive.


The whole bedroom filled with doves.

=WIlliam T. Vollmann=

The prettiest thing is the darkest darkness.

=Matthew: Jesus walks on water=


=from David Stafford=



Sunday, September 27, 2015

=envelope art: the pigeon chaser=



=1 Corinthians 5=


=Samantha Pratt=


=Josep Pla=

It's a demonstrable fact that people are apt to get on one another's nerves. It is most likely that this tendency to poke our noses where they're not wanted is why people find it hard to get on. I have never taken it too far. And neither have I allowed people to probe my affairs too closely. I like to be with people who can remain silent for a quarter of an hour, looking at the clouds or simply smoking. These quiet pauses can bring people together much more than the usual endless—and often poisonous—discussions. Marta was a passive, silent type. She was as blank and still as a bunch of roses in a vase by your side.

Monday, September 21, 2015

=And one of these days=


=Book recently read: Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World =



I'm in the habit of saying that I have a short attention span. I repeat it all the time until even I believe it. I'm inordinately, irrationally fond of claiming such a distinction. Almost as if it were something of which I'm proud. But the truth is, it isn't true. 


My attention is as focused as a laser. It's virtually unbreakable. Unwavering. I'm practically rigid with attention, like a cat focused on a mouse hole. What's true, however, is that my attention is focused away from the world; it's aimed entirely within.

The world is a distraction. Little more. 

I'm totally absorbed in the ongoing conversation inside my own head—a monologue, really, is what I suppose you could call it, between myself and myself that's been taking place for as long as I can remember—a conversation that precedes memory itself.

It's the only thing that truly interests me.


I don't remember how the conversation started. What I do recall is lying in bed at night talking myself to sleep, drowning out the angry voices of my parents arguing downstairs.  I recall walking the circumference of the school playground at lunchtime, friendless, utterly alienated from the other children, boys and girls alike, fitting in with neither, and compensating for this extreme, inhuman loneliness by conducting elaborate interior conversations, dividing my consciousness into two, four, six or more voices.

I recall…well what difference does
it make what I recall. I could 
recall ad infinitum early 
examples of my complete self-absorption,
my worlds of make-believe,
my turning inward from
the loud threatening interruption of the world
around me and the people in it.

Because to this day, that's by and large
what I consider the world and other people to be:
an interruption of the only
conversation that truly matters.
I find it difficult to pay attention to
what anyone is saying to me,
unless it's something of extreme immediacy
and importance, unless it's a confession
or an emergency,
some taboo sexual admission, 
a secret intimacy,
or the recounting of some
awful tragedy
or act of violence they've experienced. 
In other words, someone has to have something really interesting to say to make it more interesting than what I find being said inside my own skull. And even then, 
it's not long before I hear the voices inside
me editorializing upon 
whatever it is I'm hearing.

So flash fiction is about the only kind of fiction that I can attend to with anything like my full attention
what little I can spare for the world outside me. 

This anthology is a middling example of the flash fiction form. The stories, as the title indicates, are international in origin, so there are a variety of voices, cultures, and viewpoints represented. 
Most of the contributors are not well-known. 
All well and good and not that it matters. For the most part, great flash fiction strikes like lightning from out of nowhere, and that means it can issue forth from the most anonymous of pens.
More importantly, in an anthology, is the number of lightning strikes.
There weren't enough here.
 What I found even less satisfactory was the overriding conventionality of the stories selected. With rare exception, these stories were straightforward narratives never straying far from the
tenets of traditional realism. 
The only thing that made them unusual
 were that they were very short.

So?

So this: I consider flash fiction to be a substantial departure from ordinary fiction. Virtually a separate genre altogether. I expect it to be different not just in terms of length, which, when all is said and done, is the least important consideration, but more importantly in terms of tone, perception, invention, & idiosyncrasy of vision. I expect flash fiction to offer me a different take on narrative altogether, not only in terms of word count. It's the brevity of the form that makes this radical innovation possible. Simply put: you can do things in this micro-form, reach places inaccessible to longer forms, and you should, it's the whole point.

The stories in this collection don't often reach those places. At least not often enough for my liking.

Still, it was a good read overall because even when the stories were less than interesting, less than original, less worth wasting time and eyeball on, they were at the very least…very short!

And that meant that I could get back to what was almost without exception the far more riveting conversation going on inside my own head.


  

=Jensen Beach=

Someone said to look out the window and someone else did, where they saw that someone was now lying on the grass near the house in a wet heap of someone. Someone said, did it happen? Someone said that it had and someone else said that it hadn't, and they all gathered there before the window in the kitchen through which they had all looked so many times but never together like this, and they looked for some evidence of the event they feared most, and they looked in every direction but could not see the past because time doesn't move in that direction and so they looked for a long while and nobody saw anything at all.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

=victory dance=


=The Pataphysical Inquirer: September 13th-19th=



=squareheads 4=


=Romans 8=




"God dealt with sin by sending his own Son in a body as physical as any sinful body, and in that body God condemned sin."

Jesus Christ as drug addict, Nazi, serial killer, pederast…no "sin" is outside the body of Christ. The worst you can imagine: Christ is all of that and worse. Christ is a fly strip of sin: being human, he attracts them all. He can forgive all sins because he has committed, at least in potential, all sins. Nothing, as the Roman playwright Publius Terentius wrote, human is alien to him.

"I cannot understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the things I want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate. The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me—living, that is, in my unspiritual self—for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body. Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? 


Well, it's obvious, isn't it? The body is an insufficient space-suit. We are literally not well-suited to this planet. But the ill-designed suit is a necessity to any kind of survival here at all, an "evil" necessity. Sin is bad only in the sense that we are incapable of doing all the things we want to do without doing harm to ourselves.  Recalling our unlimited abilities in the time prior to our "birth," we still desire to do all the things we were once capable of doing. We are tempted. We want to fly, change our form and consciousness at will, dissolve into universality & contract once again into individuality. We want to merge sensually with other beings beyond what we experience here as restrictive gender/sexual binaries, without moral strictures, without the threat of disease. We want, in other words, to be angelic. Divine. 

Christ, his definition debased as it has become, is originally the example of our true being released from the creaky, leaky, awkward space-suit of the body. Death is the shedding of the suit and the transcendence of sin, which is nothing more than limitation. That is the meaning of the resurrection stripped bare of superstitious accretion.  


=Book recently read: The Deep Zoo by Rikki Ducornet=



In this book of essays, Ducornet stresses that language
is magic. Words are alive. Writing is a way of reading
the secret of the world.
Calligraphy, as the Arabs
knew, is a way of breathing 
life into a text,
of inking the stripes
on the tiger,
of concealing the secret in plain sight
from profane eyes.
It's dangerous work. 
But it's what brings meaning & mystery &
beauty into the world. 

As when a lover of a Berber girl licks the symbolic text that is tattooed upon her breast, and swallowing, embodies and releases the alphabet of desire. An alphabet that, like the letters of the sun's illumination, is sacred, eternal, and profoundly human.


The Deep Zoo is the menagerie of 
fabulous creatures that exist in 
the deepest stratum of our
consciousness accessible only
through our imagination.

Ducornet urges us to contact the deep zoo within ourselves.
Even at this late hour, it remains the one way we might still save our lives and the world.

Well that is one way to interpret what she's getting at in this collection.

Gaston Bachelard gets referenced a lot.
So does Jorge Luis Borges
As does The Epic of Gilgamesh & the Marquis de Sade.
Ducornet wonders whether America has become a
version of Sade's Silling castle in the 120
Days of Sodom, where
a group of rich evil bastards torture
the voiceless, the powerless, and the innocent
in what amounts to a Gnostic
version of Hell.

The Gnostics get referenced a lot.

Bush is vilified.
American Imperialism is decried
as is American stupidity in 
history & politics.
Ducornet doesn't have  a lot of good to say 
about America. What thinking person does?
That's just the problem.
Thinking people in this country are a rare breed
of animal, very hard to find.

Kaspar Hauser is a significant
touchstone.
So is Aloys Zotl and his Beastiarium
so beloved by the surrealists.

There are a few essays on little-known 
contemporary artists
that she admires,
especially those who come from the Pacific northwest
where Ducornet makes her home.

There are appreciative, almost reverent essays on William Gass's Omensetter's Luck and
David Lynch.

There is some, but not a lot, of personal reminiscence. 

The main point here is art and its power
to animate,
to decipher,
& re/program our reality


Ducornet writes elliptically
in these essays.
Her "reasoning" is often non-linear;
it is not always easy to follow.
Her transitions are intuitive.
These essays do not plot,
but gallop.
They are usually unpredictable.
You don't rein them in.
You simply hang on.
But that is precisely what makes
them so exciting to read.

 They inform.
But they inspire more than they inform.

They inspire you to look closer at the world,
deeper into yourself,
to carefully open the cages of your own deep zoo.

This is one of those rare books meant to do more
than simply be read.
This is a book meant, in some way, 
big or small, to change
 your life.







Friday, September 18, 2015

=the Ambiguities=


=Ernst Bloch=

The book we begin tomorrow must be as if there had been none before, new and outrageous as the morning sun.

=Rikki Ducornet=

In his address to Congress, George W. Bush stated, "They hate our freedoms"-a phrase that sought to explain everything and was readily embraced by the government, the public, and the press. I propose that 9/11's failure to initiate a national inquiry and debate about our foreign—and for that matter domestic—policy is rooted not only in our profound sense of entitlement and, until then, a belief in our God-given invincibility, but racism and sexual anger. Born of genocide and slavery, our democracy staggers beneath a failure to acknowledge and address its own defining brutal impulse. In fact, we had long betrayed freedom's marvelous promise, and have, perhaps irretrievably, contaminated that promise. In other words, we were not betrayed by Bush, but already complicit in his lies. The questions that needed to be asked were voiced by only a few, who were tagged as neurotic and unpatriotic, and ignored.

Ours is a nightmarish land, both fearful of all it does not know and proud of this ignorance. Too many of us believe in miracles but not in evolution or global warming, the Second Coming but not social justice. We need to understand why.

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