Fatalism, Literature, Ontology, Quietude, Truth

The Shelf Life of Glory

Most Beloved Goodreads Author 2017

GIWWPN Genius Fellowship Grant

A Synoptic Survey of Estimated Prophet

On the Eccentricity of Bruce Springsteen

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Existentialism, Literature, Ontology, Truth

The Shadow’s Dream

Greatest quote of all time? Pindar said we are the dreams of a shadow. Others agree on the first part.

Do Androids Dream of The Mars Hotel?

The Abominable Unau

Sweeter Than Honey

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Nihilophobia, Ontology, Quietude, Truth

Hoarders of Dust

A picture can be worth more than all words, the immediacy of its truth unimproved by newfangled abstractions.

One-Millionth Visitor, And He Never Knew

Ask Your Dr. About Tryposoothe. Now!

The Danzantes of Monte Alban

The Abominable Unau

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Schrodinger's Dachshund

Coarse Encounters of the Fed Kind

Seated on foam padding bursting through blue upholstery, you recoil from a moldering mass grave of soda cans, candy wrappers, and strata upon strata of fast-food containers. Like anguished spirits unable to enter the next realm, fierce vapors linger, the ghosts of these mortal remains. A black tube lies across your lap; another half-pint fills your hand. Accepting a ride from these littering marauders seemed like madness until a free beverage entered the equation. To the relief of your long-suffering ears, the passenger ejects a cassette.

“Kid, I was gonna rewind that. Buddy Rich is a gem.”

“Kid, Buddy Rich is the emperor of ice cream, but we been listenin’ to him all day.”

Toothpicks impale the loaves of flesh protruding between their shoulders. The change from concrete to gravel levitates the three of you along with the moveable burial ground. Beneath a cloud whose tentacles dissolve into membranous nubs, broken glass glitters on the hills and recesses of a serpentine road. Even at five mph it’s clear the wagon’s suspension is in the same state of dilapidation as its upholstery.

Two boys wearing black and gold hockey jerseys throw rocks at beer bottles lined atop a doorless refrigerator. They stop and stare as though frightened on your behalf. One runs a finger across his throat. The side-burned blobs sneer in unison. “What the hell you lookin’ at?” says the driver.

“Go ask your ma where babies come from,” says the passenger. “Tell her to show you. It stinks worse than any stork.” The boys dutifully trudge inside a trailer.

Disassembled cars suggest a village of aspiring mechanics. A black cat peers through reeds of long-neglected grass before darting in front of the wagon. You lean back and smile. Right to left means good luck. Then the cat risks its life to run back, double cursing you. Just as Bobby and Jerry played the same songs differently night after night, Chaos and Entropy are doing a wild jam with the trailer cars. Any individuality stems from unique states of disrepair. Tiny and sparsely allocated windows look like the holes a child pokes on a box before confining a frog in it. Partaking of the knowledge that it’s five o’clock somewhere, men uniformed in flannel pretend to ignore the wagon.

After rounding a sharp turn, the homage to corrosion stops in front of the last trailer on the road. Sprawling vines of poison ivy almost hide a barbwire fence. Which design is crueler? The driver pulls a cassette off the dash. Like a genie trapped in a plugged bottle he writhes his way out of the car. The silver chain connecting his wallet to his jeans could constrain King Kong. The car rises two feet after the passenger emerges. While comparing them you remember a principle regarding the identity of indiscernibles. Or was it the indiscernibility of identicals? Their grace on land suggests the front seat is their natural habitat.

“Kid, where’s the other tape?”

“It was right here, kid. If you lost it again the Kangaroo will go berserk.”

While four mitts turn the car inside out you pretend to sift through layers in the landfill.

“Kid, this igit was sittin’ on it.”

“Thanks a lot, cockbreath. Here, you carry ’em.”

In loose-fitting clothes they would look intimidating, retired power-lifters enjoying la dolce vita. In tight undershirts the show’s over. Meaty inner-tubes jiggle and jangle beneath the flimsy cotton medium. One runs his knuckles across a homemade wind chime made out of five lacquered cans of Olde Frothingslosh ale. They wait. Rotund shadows pool at their feet like pits of tar swallowing prehistoric beasts.

A girl with cinnamon skin and one black eye opens the door and steps out, ferociously beautiful, skinny like a famine survivor medevaced in the nick of time. The breeze lashes long dark hair against her shoulders. Wildly arching eyebrows send a lupine fury cascading down her face to break on pouty lips. She takes a drag off a cigarette, revealing scars like disorganized crop circles on her stringy forearm, and blows smoke at your escorts as they enter. Thimbles threaten to pop through the planar surface of her green tank-top.

The queasy shame of a man denying the allure of Balthus’ nymphs compels you to look away, to peek around the corner where a satellite dish points at the ground. Behind it stands a gaunt man in his third trimester. “You got business here?” he says, clutching the wrong end of a .454 magnum like some deranged judge preparing to declare order for the last time.

You hop back to the cinnamon girl, who shuts the door behind you. Cardboard shades banish all rumors of the sun. The lambent glow from a TV illumes a pyramid of milk crates jammed with walkie-talkies and assorted gadgetry. Handcuffs and a cattle prod are not the most conspicuous. Empty popcorn bags litter a kitchenette counter like conches washed up on shore.

Standing in front of a narrow door one of the twins clears his throat. “What is the difference between an orange?”

“Just go in,” says the cinnamon girl.

“What … is the difference between an orange.”

“This is so lame.”

“If I have to say it again.”

In one long groan she says, “A bicycle because a vest has no sleeves.” She stands beside him and they both put a key in the door.

“Turn it,” he says.

“I am, you fucktard.”

“Try it again. Turn now.”

Nothing. He takes a step back and lands a savage kick, opening it. You join the brothers inside a closet lined with Pabst tall boys. Next to a dangling bulb their faces look like freshly-waxed cars on a drizzly day. One turns around. His flabby arm pushes you into the absorbent mass of his cohort. He selects a beer at eye-level and carefully pulls it to a ninety degree angle.

“It ain’t that one, kid.”

He tries the one next to it, and the next. “This’ll be the death of me.”

“What the hell, kid. Any day now.”

“Kid, it’s one of these.” And for the next ten minutes he pulls cans in the general area until the closet makes a terrible grinding noise like buckshot in a blender and begins to descend. A whiff of burnt oil acts as a desperately needed air freshener.

“Kid, don’t forget which one it is.”

“You ain’t no better at findin’ it, kid.”

After a prelude to eternity the closet jerks to a stop, rises a few feet, and squeals with a pitch and volume that has to be audible to every pooch in the Northern Hemisphere.

The door opens to what looks like an old submarine. You follow them into a dank room and take a seat at a picnic table. Along a wall nourishing barnacles of rust, silver keyholes fail to correspond to lines, recesses, or anything indicating the presence of doors or compartments.

You place the tapes on the table. One of your hosts taps it with both hands, doing a percussion version of “Kilimanjaro Cookout.” His twin joins him for an inspired take on an old favorite before veering off into tribal drumming.

A walking affront to the proportional standards of the ideal masculine physique enters the room. Atop shoulders too narrow for everything beneath them, an oily leather face droops off a cylindrical head tucked into a Packers cap. Mighty gray tumbleweeds cover his cheeks.

“This week on the Home Remodeling Show, the house that Pabst built,” says one of your hosts, pointing to a bulge taxing the seams of the Kangaroo’s bib overalls.

“Shut your pie hole, Remus,” he responds in a quavering voice.

“Yeah, Remus,” says his brother, doing a pitch-perfect impression.

“I’ll bitch slap you, Romulus.”

“Sorry boss.”

The Kangaroo pulls a key from his overalls and turns it in one of the shiny holes. A section of the wall ascends like a door sliding open on a concession stand, revealing a red panel where silver knobs descend incrementally in size from a softball to a penny. Above them a yellow grid subdivides a green screen. Four speakers descend from the ceiling. “You fellas get anything on tape?”

“Signed, sealed, and delivered, chief,” says Remus.

“You fellas sure you know how to use the tube?”

“Piece of cake, boss,” says Romulus, handing him one of the tapes.

The Kangaroo inserts it in a slot. Scraggly white lines dance across the screen and static explodes from the speakers. You cover your ears. He adjusts knobs like he’s playing Tetris. The lines on the grid become less jagged, almost parabolic. “That boy is a natural born scrambler.”

“Scramblin’ like a cook at George Webb,” says Remus, drumming his fingers on the table.

“Whose tape is this?” says the Kangaroo.

Like some inquisitive beast discovering a mirror in the ruins of an abandoned town, the twins eye each other amid a pantomime of shrugs and grimaces. Though capable of one basic expression they make the most of it with virtuosic skill. Romulus hunches his shoulders and throws up his hands. “The big fella?”

“Travis something,” says Remus. “Something Polish.”

“Kid, what’s the difference between a Polack security guard and a bucket of shit?”

“A bucket of shit can feed a Polish family?”

“No, the only difference is the bucket.”

The Kangaroo puts the other tape in the slot. “Looky here, looky here. This boy is one king-hell scramblin’ man.”

“That’s from the chess doofus,” says Remus.

“Chief, are you sure you’re usin’ this new shit right?” says Romulus. “They’re always scramblin’.”

“The likes of you two will not be tellin’ me how to do my job. These are the fellas the Mantis led you to?”

“His job performance needs improvement.”

“He was failing to accomplish tasks with a sufficient degree of sufficiency.”

“In English,” says the Kangaroo.

“He was barfin’ like Linda Blair.”

“Has he been drinkin’ again?”

“He’s been drinkin’ all the time. Somethin’ purple.”

The Kangaroo strokes a cumulonimbus sideburn. “What’s up with him? He’s been actin’ weird lately. You’d think he’d consider boozin’ to be a dereliction of his sacred duties.”

“He no longer demonstrates a proficient sense of pride in the organization.”

“Long as he gets the job done a little hootch ain’t gonna hurt. Good thing we’re trainin’ another, just in case.”

“I don’t think Zelda’s got the right stuff, chief.”

“She got a mouth on her, boss. Her cussin’ could take the paint off a wall.”

“Her cussin’ could knock flies off a turd. She uses swear words I never heard of. It ain’t right for a girl to talk like that. She’s violent too. Kneed me in the balls just for lookin’ at her. Romulus was thinkin’ this guy here might have what it takes.”

“It was Remus’ idea.”

The Kangaroo looks in your general direction and shudders. “Quit bringin’ rummies down here. Does this look like a flophouse? Stop fartin’ around. This location is secret and your jobs are serious. We ain’t workin’ for the CIA or FBI no more. Give Zelda a chance.” He ejects the tape and sits beside you. Suppressing your gag reflex you watch him roll a wad of syrupy chaw juice over his bulging lip while adjusting a huge black mound of snuff. “You boys sure these fellas are full-time third shift?”

“These guys are hardcore third. Drunk or not, you gotta trust the Mantis. He’s like a dividin’ rod for findin’ guards.”

“These fellas ain’t rent-a-cops, are they?”

“No way. Lodestar’s a classy joint. These guys are in-house.”

“Keepin’ tabs on rent-a-cops is like tryin’ to keep track of migratin’ deer,” says the Kangaroo.

“It’s like trackin’ meth sluts.”

“Kid, you could implant a chip in their ear while they’re knobbin’ you.”

“I got us a hee-uge contract lined up,” says the Kangaroo. “We take good care of this client and we’ll be eau de bologna.”

“Are these two gonna be the containers?”

“They’ll make top notch containers. They both got  some serious aptitude for scramblin’, specially the first fella. Now it’s a matter of matchin’ the initiation process to each one’s specific profile.” The Kangaroo spits a dark stream over your head. Some of it lands in a puddle on the floor where many have preceded it. Most of it does not. He pounds his fist and points between the stout twins. “A few of our other clients is less than satisfied with the services provided. You fellas can’t be blabbin’ about the secret key.”

“I never said nothin’,” says Remus.

“Am I supposed to believe the containers heard it on the news?”

“It wasn’t me,” says Romulus.”

“Well it’s gotta stop. Word of mouth is our only means of advertisin’. I don’t think the brochure was one of Duane Callahan’s finer ideas.”

Pretty boy Duane,” laughs Remus.

Sweet Jane Duane,” says Romulus.

“What in tarnation is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothin’ chief. Your cousin’s a good guy.”

“Duane’s fine by me, boss.”

The Kangaroo cracks his knuckles and stares at the table. “I regret to inform you that due to the new technology we have acquired and successfully utilized we will no longer be needin’ the doses of William Werzinski.”

The brothers bellow like tenors in some ungodly opera. “He’s practically family,” pleads Romulus. “Nobody gets better acid than William.”

“You can’t replace William with a tube,” says Remus. “He’ll take it hard. He ain’t exactly stable.”

“He’s a sensitive genius, chief. You know how they are.”

“The LSD method wasn’t workin’ for shit and you fellas know it,” says the Kangaroo. “He ain’t gonna starve. If I ain’t mistaken, him and his wiener dog still live at home.”

“William says Maestoso is a quantum mechanic.”

“Kid, how could it fix anything with them little hands?”

“There’s somethin’ special about that wiener dog, especially when you’re dosed.”

“Kid, I wouldn’t worship him like William”

“I sure as hell wouldn’t mess with him. You see the  way he watches you, like he knows what you’re thinkin’ and he ain’t impressed.”

“Let’s make sure things go smoothly,” says the Kangaroo. “Good containers is hard to come by. I’ll need all the usual details about both loads. I mean guards. Then, I swear, if their uploads don’t go right there’ll be hell to pay. We never had a Jawa for a client before.”

“Ain’t they those grubby little critters from Star Wars?”

“Even worse. Now give this dirty rummy some free drink chips and get him the hell out of here.”

On your back in the alley behind Straight Flush tavern you stare at the speckled canopy above, no more lost than anything else up there. Visions of Zelda dance through your mind: reflections on the contradictory conjunction of her frailty and fierce demeanor; 1,001 inferences based on several seconds of observation, the notorious first impression to which everything else is an appendix; longings that feel awkward even here, as though some prohibitions are not the excrescence of bureaucratic fiat but etched in the tablet of existence. Maybe you’re tasting the bitter fruit harvested by recluses and misfits throughout the ages, the discovery that we remain attached to the fabric of humanity simply by being alive. An invisible strand keeps us connected to this web, which has no statute of spatial limitations.

The stars, are they not confetti? There is a direct relation between the number of them and the triviality of you. Squint your eyes. The constellation of a long slender hound appears, marking the heavens more objectively than dippers or crabs or bowmen. Trace it with your finger. The dog glares as if perturbed by your discovery.

Perhaps the ancients didn’t name him for a reason, or only spoke the name during ceremonies where his guidance was sought, his wrath placated. They looked to the stars and the stars looked back. What became of them? Survival was not among the blessings from this deity.

Close your eyes and seize the earth. So solid. So flat and stationary. Your senses are liars and fools. The hound in the sky continues to scowl, as he did before you were born, before all men were born.

Delirious Raving from Publishers Weekly

Eyes of the Lotus Pod

Thieves, Repent!

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Annals, Literature, Truth

From A Great Length

When the next great historian writes of the decline and fall of our Empire, I will have no difficulty in pinpointing its zenith.

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Few mourn their passage. Few know what has been lost. Perhaps the Truth swims too deep and fast to be caught in the flimsy nets of most men. What ennobled this period in history was neither our knowledge nor the opulence some enjoyed.

1970-Cadillac-04

What merits striving? What should be sought? Fame, a function of herd contingencies, is obviously worth less than nothing. A mate can bring joy, but they are plentiful like stars and as different from each other as Tuesdays from Wednesdays. The best that can be said for the pursuit of riches is that it distracts from the grievous uncertainties of Existence, assuming, as you should, that most would crumble if confronted with the ultimate puzzle.

120A_4-1972-Cadillac-Fleetwood-Brougham

Posthumous glory, dependent on the beliefs of those yet to be born, is the most senseless of all. If the imbecilic estimations of the mob currently wandering the earth are to be ignored, how much more so the ravings of the brutes who will follow? Indeed, a wise man will shun renown like death itself. In this world of flux and woe, does anything warrant pursuit? Is anything intrinsically good?

1976 Lincoln Continental04Quietude, of course: a state of mind tranquil and serene, yet confident and affirmative of life despite its precarious nature. The courtship of Truth is long and austere, but it spares one from countless delusional allurements. Despite a paucity of honorable men, the pursuit of honor may seem a fool’s errand, but aren’t ideals unattainable by definition? Are they not the stairway from the swamp of our beastly nature? Dignity and heroism certainly merit striving, but intertwined with them, inseparable from them, is a man’s car. But not any car will suffice.

1976-cadillac-fleetwood-talisman

If a wise man were called upon to demarcate the epoch when the automobiles were most magnificent, he would, without hesitation, name the Golden Age between the decession of Johnson and the inauguration of Carter. The cars were colossal and solid, forged from the purest sheet metal. Powered by the blast furnaces of the gods — the grandest V-8 engines — they had no peers in strength. In homage to Euclid, all the great four-doored ones exemplified rectangularity: the Cadillac Fleetwood and Sedan DeVille, the Lincoln Continental Town Car, the Pontiac Bonneville and Catalina, the Buick Electra and Chrysler New Yorker. And, of course, the Caddillac Talisman. These glorious bricks blessed the concrete seas with their majestic bearing. And by 1980, darkness fell. The Great Ones were desecrated (“downsized” was the coarse euphemism) with puny bodies and feeble engines. What is there for a man to do but cover his eyes and weep as he beholds the degradation of what was once mighty and proud?

15

Delirious Raving from Publishers Weekly

The elegant lane shifts, the Renaissance curls of their turns, even the smooth course down a straightaway, are these not calligraphy flowing across the pages of the road. Or syllogisms necessitating every coordinate on this perfect line. Though hurling through space at 120 miles-per-hour, one experiences it not as motion but the exaltation of surfing a tsunami in a luxury liner. Brush your toe across the landmine gas-pedal. The ravenous hood devours the road and the distinction between you blurs. “You” become the rational faculty of a mythic being: half car, half man.

cadi1971calaissedanduchessgold

As if mocking the distinction between transcendence and immanence, the soul of this latter-day satyr neither exists apart from you nor is it pantheistic. Though the product of a synergy, it cannot not be equated with any sum. When the dichotomy between you and your car collapses, when you attain oneness, the coalescence becomes irreducible — not like an elementary particle in the dusty attic of Physics, but a Necessary Unity in the basement of Ontology.  Something infinitely greater than man’s powers of reckoning absorbs you. More cannot be said. Some experiences cannot be contained in the cheap Tupperware of language. You cannot take a shining star from the heavens and place it in a meatloaf dish.

An Odyssey of Historic Proportions!

1976 Lincoln Continental03

Visions of The Chosen Chariot

Serial Killers Who Worked Security

Ask Your Doctor About Tryposoothe. Now!

Maestoso The Dachshund: Why Is He Following You?

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Content & Declaration of Intent

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Petronius Who!?

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Canes pugnaces, Schrodinger's Dachshund, Truth

November of Her Years

Zelda Alpizar 101

surreal-painting-vladimir-kush (10)

Appropriated* from the Adventures of a Hero

Zelda’s confrontation with the mirror reveals that  her collarbone is diminishing like a treasure abandoned to sandstorms. She has one stick of celery instead of three and pops two Provigil. In her room an army of PEZ dispensers overlooks piles of clothes discarded like shed snakeskin. On two framed pictures she stands beside the stone altar at Monte Albán with her father. His Summerfest shirt and her gap-toothed grin neutralize the morbid ambience. Would those butchered there have found comfort or despair from knowing it became a tourist spot? She sits on the floor and powers up an old laptop. On a site filled with pictures of stick-figure models and celebrities she checks her latest entry:

they say u hav a disees. Maybe its cuz THERE AFRADE OF UR POWER AND WANT 2 CONTROL U!! ur ability 2 eat how much u want gives u TOTAL POWER and they hate u 4 it. they want 2 keep u trappd in a JAIL of FAT! Are u sik or R THEY JELLUS? stay strong thru Ana!

Yerkaland-surreal-paintings-of-Jacek-Yerka-32

Covered with shingles instead of vinyl siding, her house would not have appeared out of place in an ancient time. She locks the door and runs to avoid intermittent downpours. Thunder growls like some deity provoked and silver veins pump life to the gray hide wrapping the world. Under a bus stop canopy she savors a head-rush complete with tingly feet from the first Newport of the day. Then it’s all downhill. She runs through alleys and across a field and with the precision of an insect climbs a fence where a section of barbwire is missing. Through puddles reflecting the bright garages of a U-haul storage facility she splashes like some urchin traversing a blood-soaked battlefield. She pokes her head around a corner and looks both ways and pounds on a door.

“Agent Alpizar, you’re late,” says Rolando. If his greasy pompadour isn’t the result of a genetic snafu, surely the faculty that chose it is. “Don’t wait for it to open all the way. Dive under.”

“Maybe tomorrow. Tell me again why I have to get up this early. Those slobs don’t get up before noon.”

“What happened to your eye? Who did that?”

“Who do you think? One of the fat fucks.”

Illuminating walls where the main event, Rust vs. Metal, was decided long ago, portable lights dangle from plastic shelves crammed with files held in place by cement blocks and cans of soup. From the roof water drips into three buckets, a coffee can, and two Tupperware bowls. A beanbag-shaped woman with gray and auburn hair pecks at a word processor. The motion sends waves rolling across the subcutaneous seas covering her arms. Zelda stares  at  the tidal pattern and rubs her triceps as though dispelling goose bumps.

Yerkaland-surreal-paintings-of-Jacek-Yerka-22

“It’s not because they suspect you, is it honey?” the typist says. “You can’t stay there if they suspect you.”

A sheen of rain and sweat glistens on Zelda’s face. “They don’t suspect nothing. I kinda kneed one in the balls.”

Rolando straddles a folding chair and rests his hands on the back and his chin on his thumbs.

“It was an accident,” says Zelda.

He waits for her to look at him. She doesn’t. “What  kind of recruits do they have?” he says, picking at a mole  that bisects his thin mustache like a cow blocking a railroad track.

“Losers.”

Third shift security guards?”

“I said they were losers. When do I get paid?”

He wraps his knuckles on the chair. “Are they third shift guards?”

She lights a cigarette and inhales deeply, chasing the dragon of the first. “Look, they’re gonna show them to me, okay? I only know what I hear.”

“Why is it always watchmen? Why couldn’t a delivery man be a secret container, or a retired senior citizen?”

Yerkaland-surreal-paintings-of-Jacek-Yerka-4

“They need someone with special mental conditioning, like in a trance or something. Most of these dipshits are half- asleep. And they’re the easiest to sneak up on. And you can always find them again.”

Wild with yearning, Rolando’s eyes harvest light from the halogen lanterns. “Is that your theory or is that what they say?”

“What they say? You wanna know what they say?” She drops an octave and talks out the side of her mouth. “Kid, Omega gyros ain’t half as good as Aristotle’s gyros. Kid, let’s score some doses. Kid, smell this fart. Kid, kid, kid, all day long. They’re total fucktards.”

“Do not underestimate them. And you’re not there to judge. You’re there to observe and report.”

“Judging from the shit they say that isn’t about food or acid, the secrecy of who’s a container is important. The containers don’t even know they’re containers.”

“I, too, read their pamphlet.”

“Then why do you keep asking me?”

“What about the man in charge, the Kangaroo?” whispers Rolando, as if saying it too loud would cast a spell or summon forces he dare not provoke.

“He did something for the government. They fired him for being an arsonist.”

“You mean isolationist?”

“Something like that.”

With the reservation of a man inquiring about his wife’s fidelity, Rolando says, “And the big guys, the terrible twins, Remus and Romulus?”

“I’m working on it.”

“Are they mantises?”

“More like mana-tees.

Vladamir-Kush-Surreal-Painting-Art-Gallery-Fish-Crusades

“Agent Alpizar, you need to learn everything about the hierarchies within their agency. What is the significance of a mantis? According to the Greeks it resembles someone who is praying.”

“This one should be praying for a clue. He’s so out there. A mantis hunts guards. That’s what  they’re training me for.”

“What technique is used?”

“He goes from building to building and looks in the window. If anyone in a uniform is passed out in the lobby he’s found his man. Then Remus and Romulus make a note of it.”

“They haven’t made any uploads yet, have they? It’s essential that you’re there when they do them.”

“We still have to get profiles of the containers. It ain’t easy. We can’t just walk up and do a survey.”

“The most important thing is to get the key to the containers. It should be a phrase or a sentence.” Rolando stands and scratches his chin and watches crystal drops fall from the ceiling. “It could be a single word. I suppose a number would work, or a tune they hum. It could even be a noise they make.”

“Thanks for narrowing it down. Is there anything it couldn’t be?”

“You need to turn your memory into a magnet. Ask lots of questions. Tell them you want to be the best mantis you can be.”

“Whatever.”

“Don’t whatever me. Why can’t you be nicer? It’s  easier to infiltrate if you’re friendly. They probably wouldn’t have hit you if you weren’t sulking all the time.”

“Are you saying I deserved this, you bumblefuck.”

Shhh, there’s families living in some of these garages. You were smarting off again, weren’t you?”

Her glare emits waves of sullen hostility that threaten to melt the feeble metal structure. “Following cheating husbands was easier.”

“There’s too much competition.”

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“Why don’t you start your own agency? Why are you copying these dorks?”

The typist chuckles. Her pointer finger circles before landing on the letter G. “Honey, if I had a nickel for every time I told him that.”

“I don’t pay either of you to tell me how to run things. I know nothing about uploads or scrambling. They make it look easy. Don’t be fooled. And how do I get their clients? Those are some of the most dangerous men on earth. Agent Alpizar, you need to remember what you learned from your training films. Always ask WWPGD.”

“I know,” she groans. “What would Pussy Galore do?”

“Also study the example of Anya Amasova.”

“I’ve watched all those stupid movies. The guys after Sean Connery are wussies.”

“James Bond is not your role model. After you observe an upload and get the key to the containers we’ll run them out of business. But it’s all up to you.”

Zelda practices letting smoke float out of her mouth and into her nose. She feels her eyebrows for signs of  asymmetry. She examines her chest for signs of its appearance.

“Agent Alpizar.”

“I heard you. Get the key to the containers.”

“And you need to keep sabotaging the Mantis. Once he’s gone you’ll be the only replacement. Then you can divert their clients to us. What is his current status?”

“I gave him the secret message that the only way to protect his thoughts from being intercepted is to stay drunk all the time.”

“Good work, agent Alpizar.”

“Whatever.”

22

Excerpted from Schrodinger’s Dachshund

Most Art by Jacek Yerka

*Who else could write about Zelda and her heroic (if Pyrrhic victory) over the Sentinels of the Chandelier? If only one writer was there only he can tell the tale. ‘Cultural appropriation’? Bullshit! The only freedom of speech we don’t have is cursing G-d.

Yerkaland-surreal-paintings-of-Jacek-Yerka-23

Serial Killers Who Worked Security

The Mushroom of Consciousness

Eyes of The Lotus Pod

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Springsteen, Truth, WTF?

On the Eccentricity of Bruce Springsteen: Case Studies & Analysis

An Artist’s perception of his work can resemble Bizarro World. Consider The Boss. Some of his best songs were never commercially released. A perfectionist is his own worst critic, sometimes misconceiving the quality of his finest work. As will be demonstrated, the picture below is no “stranger” than whatever mad criteria rejected the musical selections discussed here. Proceed with caution. This could divide your mind, generating dual personae: your conception of Springsteen prior to seeing the kitten and manatee (BKM); and whatever remains (AKM). In one fascinating respect, Bruce is more “eccentric” than Warhol, Dali, and Pynchon combined.

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This catchy gem had Top 40 potential in the way Pearl Jam’s biggest hit was Last Kiss. They share a vibe, yet it missed the final cut. This is why some of us endured Indiana Jones-like odysseys to acquire Springsteen bootlegs back in ye Olden Tymes, before everything was released in box-sets of outtakes. You kids don’t know how good you have it!

Rendezvous, never included on a studio album. Badlands-tier. Seriously, Bruce?

Thundercrack, primal, wacky, MIA.

Once you process that Santa Ana was a mere demo you’ll be ready to entertain conspiracy theories or Freudian hooey as explanations. Wait. You’re still at base camp. The next two songs can change your life.

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Ecstatic Raving from Publishers Weekly

This outtake of Stolen Car is arguably Springteen’s greatest moment in the studio. (AKA Son You May Kiss the Bride.) Art. Life-changing. “No matter what I do or where I drive nobody ever sees me when I ride by” captures a chilling sense of life’s transitory, ghostly quality like James Dean stopping at A Clean, Well Lighted Place. Yet the version that landed on The River could most charitably be described as filler. What. Was. He. Thinking.

In what fallen, twisted world is Stray Bullet an “outtake”?! This is Stolen Car-tier. This is one of his best songs. By the second verse you’re in Cormac McCarthy territory. (How’s that for synesthesia.) Allegedly it sounded too much like Point Blank. To the contrary, Point Blank is reminiscent of Stray Bullet. It’s simply stunning that The River could have been a better album, which seems impossible in principle.

Unsatisfied Heart, rough as rough drafts come. Haunting story: “Once I had a home here. My salvation was at hand. I lived in a house of gold, on a far hillside. I had two beautiful children, and a kind and loving wife … One day a man came to town, with nothing and nowhere to go. He came to me and he mentioned something I’d done a long time ago.” Achingly beautiful chorus. What could this have become? Why would you abandon this?

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The “official version” of Racing in the Street isn’t even a shadow of this … masterpiece. (Clearly some of the lyrics hadn’t jelled.) There’s an urgency, a fury, a desperation, a magnificence never surpassed by anything on Darkness on the Edge of Town.

The River should have been a triple album. Restless Nights is a surfin’ safari. Depriving the faithful of Loose Ends was theft. Grab a towel. Clarence’s solo will melt your face.

Johnny Bye Bye, b-side with a stone-cold groove few tunes attain. 112 seconds of Satori.

The studio version of Incident on 57th Street contained, only in embryonic form, The Beast it became live.

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Jablonski met Springsteen after a solo acoustic show. He paid a few weeks’ wages for a seat in the orchestra pit. Paul Molitor, in the front row behind him, was teased by Jablonski for having a crappy seat. Jablonski told Bruce, “You know how you just made a concept album based on The Grapes of Wrath? Consider a reggae album inspired by Duck Soup.” Bruce laughed. He’s always laughing.

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  The plot thickens. What became of these:

Night Fire

Janey

Frankie

Because the Night

The Promise

Back In Your Arms

Did Springsteen consider turkeys like Hungry Heart & Born in the USA better than the ones cited in this post? Maybe Shakespeare preferred Titus Andronicus. Freddie Mercury’s favorite Queen song was Crazy Little Thing. If there’s no accounting for taste there’s no accounting for most of what individuates us. There’s no accounting for taste.

In candor, what would possibly constitute an “explanation” of the Eccentric Genius Archetype, a pattern documented before Hippocrates. Recognizing the vast divide between mere descriptions and true explanations, marveling at the sui generis nature of our subject, the only conclusion is to redouble our gratitude to all those who made sacrifices to circulate Springsteen bootlegs back in ye Olden Tymes.

Jablonski once possessed 2k+ hours of Grateful Dead, Springsteen, Allman Bros, Dire Straits, Stones, Hendrix, Phish, Doors, Pink Floyd and sundry boots. On cassette. Those were plastic thingies with two small spools of tape inside. The preferred ones held 90 minutes. The GD let you record their shows if you sat in a special section. Jablonski would trade all his tomorrows for another run at Alpine. Paging Sean Carroll

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Estimations: A Synoptic Survey of Estimated Prophet

The Millionth Visitor, and He Never Knew

Petronius Who?!

Standard
Existentialism, Fatalism, Quietude, Truth

Man, Burning

The alien astronomer gazing into his telescope light-years away, someday he might see you. Pull over and jump on the hood and flail your arms and shake your fists, for you will leave no other trace.

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The restless ghost of Lake Lahontan fills the desert. A primitive mind would accept no explanation short of smoke from the extinguished sun. An educated one might fear that again a great asteroid has struck.

“You can’t drive,” she says. “It’s a sandstorm.”

“I thought it was the gentle mist of a rainforest. I’m recharging the battery.”

“Do we have to listen to this?”

“It’s an antidote to the techno music. Dean Martin soothes me.”

“How bad is your sunburn?”

“Don’t look. I can feel the pressure from your eyes. Amputation might be necessary in one area. I hope we can still be friends.”

As though celebrating the celebration of a celebration whose meaning mutated across some great Chinese whisper, three gypsy women with pink hair and Hula Hoops lurch into existence. A plaid unicorn struggles to keep up then splits in two, amoeba-style. The posterior curses the anterior. You buzz the window down and call to them but they keep going, making their way back to the Martian Mardis Gras.

“Close it!” she says, covering her eyes. “The sand will ruin the stereo. Are you out of your mind?”

“I spent the day wandering around in a desert. If A then B.”

She laughs and takes a long drink of water and hands you the bottle. “You have to drink even if you’re not thirsty.”

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“[E]mploys secrets and intrigue as a driving, page-turning force”  Publishers Weekly

What will you say to your friends at work about this dustbowl Dada exhibit, this infomercial for Archetypes Gone Wild? Will you mention it after a discussion of the ballgame? Words, those crude nets sufficient for trolling shallow waters, how will they transport these fantastic creatures? The inability to describe something makes it your captive. And vice versa.

“How long do sandstorms last?”

“This is no biggy,” she says.

“What about Ozymandias?”

“That statue was ruined, not buried. Let’s try again. This is romantic.”

“It hurts too much. That stretches the skin. Think of a balloon inflating.”

“Why did you have to walk around nude?”

“Because I never did before and this is the place to do it. I can’t believe we saw your friends.”

“That was so weird.”

“You didn’t have to yell to them.”

“They won’t remember.”

“Thanks.”

A man in red, white, and blue greasepaint walks at an angle against the wind as though approaching an angry god not by faith but through sheer force of will. Fantasizing about a motel with soft sheets and a pool, you watch a yellow submarine materialize out of a receding brume. Brontosaurs of black rock slumber in the distance.

“It’s clearing up,” she says. “Let’s go.”

Enter a world where Nature endowed her children with bioluminescence. They dance and roll and galumph across the playa. Held by an indecisive stagehand, the moon can’t decide which circus ring deserves attention. If an alien astronomer 12,000 light-years away peers into a telescope it will see the campfires of those who once lived here, see them fishing cutthroat trout, nursing babies, dying. How long until a band of nomads are burning effigies on the floor of Lake Michigan?

You climb the spiral staircase of a dragon’s neck and stand in line for two Martinis. “We shouldn’t be boozing,” she says. “Alcohol is a diuretic.”

“I read the all the survival crap too. Think of it as medicinal. We don’t have to worry about snakebite. Is this Burning Man bigger than last year?”

“Probably. It’s hard to tell.”

Enchanted by throbbing bursts of sound, a gathering of gyrators proceeds as if dancing in the moonlight is no less natural than flying south for the winter. Maybe they’re right.

“Let’s find the Abstininthe bar,” she says. “Keep your eyes peeled for Sigmund the sea monster.”

“There are 30,000 people here and we’re going to hang out with your ex. We saw his lame costume at Halloween.”

“At least he has one.”

“In case anyone asks, what are we?”

“You’re Angry Sunburned Guy. I’m your longsuffering girlfriend who’s really an android.”

“Why am I angry?”

“You thought I was conscious but it’s only a simulation.”

“All this time you’ve been faking. That’s a crusher.”

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Winner of the GIWWPN Genius Fellowship

Outside a tent lit from within by a strobe light, two men in pink suits sip piña coladas. They’re wearing stools on their heads. You gawk. Perhaps the absolute absence of meaning creates a black hole from which not even thoughts can escape.

“Think about it,” says one. “You can figure it out,” says the other.

No you can’t. Like the sound of one hand clapping, this koan withholds its satori.

“We’re pieces of gum.”

Standing beside you and taking judicious inhalations from a balloon, Moses Jr. says, “I don’t get it. Why would gum wear a suit?” He offers you a hit. It’s a simulacrum of dessert, matter-free whip cream. The sounds of things stretch and convulse on their way to your ears, slithering on the ground where they receive an electric charge. Everything you’ve heard heretofore has been acoustic. Now it’s plugged in and distorted by a wah-wah pedal.

You look to the stars for mooring, the only constants in this carnival of flux, but you’re forgetting something. They are no more eternal than breadcrumbs tossed across a dark pond. Permanence is relative; oblivion, patient. That even they must die, these cherubs who shone for billions of years in a wondrous way, should their mortality bring you comfort, a familial affinity, or despair? Are ceremonies underway on any of their adjacent planets or have they all blown themselves up?

She takes your hand and leads you away. You catch the vapor trail of her thoughts until the magic gas releases you from its spell. Why couldn’t our atmosphere be composed of nitrous oxide? Would that not ensure utopia?

A statue of Medusa dwarfs you. Glow Stick serpents flap in the gritty breeze. Zealously she withholds her raison d’être or denies its necessity. What were the surrealists rebelling against? you wonder, clinging to the absurd idea that all this makes sense in some Big Perspective if you step back far enough. Careful. You could fall off the edge of the world before figuring it out.

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Eyes of the Lotus Pod

“I wish you wouldn’t huff that shit,” she says. “There’s no way of knowing if it’s pharmaceutical grade or the stuff they use in cars.”

“If it’s good enough for A.J. Foyt it’s good enough for me.”

A man draped in green rags calls to her. They hug. Reluctantly you bump knuckles with her ex. “A tossed salad? That’s hysterical.”

“I’m Sigmund the sea monster.”

“No one remembers that stupid show. You could say you’re low tide, or a pile of leaves, or the Green Reaper after he’s fallen on hard times.”

“I’m Sigmund the damn sea monster, alright?”

She scowls at you. “This is awesome, hey?”

“Yeah,” he says, which marks the high water mark of their conversation. The tedium of what follows, how it hobbles the frenzied majesty of the night, serving to demonstrate the banal essence of language, proving that whereof one cannot speak he should remain silent. (But could a romantic poet do any better? Dante, maybe.)

“You ready for the burn?” she asks him.

“Why do they burn it?” you say. “Per Frasier’s Golden Bough why not have a corn man everybody eats? Or, to symbolize the transitory nature of things, they could have Dissolving Man, who’s made of dry-ice and fades away to nothing. Burning is too medieval, too inquisition-like. Don’t they want something more in tune with paganism?”

They regard you with brute stupefaction. “Have you seen Steve?” he asks her, not deigning to engage your inquiry.

“Hey Squidward, is there a port-a-potty around here?”

“Sigmund! Yeah, keep walking that way. You can’t miss them.”

Your not-so-distant male ancestors would have bathed in his entrails. You’re not fit to kiss their feet. You hear her apologize for you being “like that.” How wonderful it must be to have risen so far above our nature. How did she do it? And why hasn’t she shed temper tantrums and her belief in astrology, or do those increase with enlightenment?

Harpo and Groucho ride unicycles while juggling bowling pins. Chico sits on his haunches yelling some eastern European dialect into his cell. “I loved Animal Crackers,” you tell them. “It was your best one.”

Groucho smiles but shakes his head. “Night at the Opera,” he says, his voice an accidental property of his accent.

The splendor of five-foot cupcakes cruising past is negated by the painful need to defecate and knowledge of the horrors it will entail. Why must the earthly trump the transcendent? How can Flesh prevail over Spirit, not content to conquer it but insistent on derision? When you raise your eyes to heaven you get kicked in the groin.

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Everest? Big Whoop!

“Did you find one?” she says.

“No, but there was a signed urinal out in the open.”

“That was an exhibit,” says her ex.

“Relax, Spongebob. I’m joking. Let’s get going.”

The space you travel cannot be measured in meters or minutes. It’s more like the distance between Alice in Wonderland and Zod Wallop. A wave of sand deposits Ye Olde Nutmeg Tent. Subsequent waves threaten to take it back.

“Hot chocolate drinks aren’t going to be too popular,” she says.

“It’s hallucinogenic.”

“Nutmeg? No way.”

You smile at a girl who’s wearing a Daniel Boon hat, furry boots, and nothing else. Below her pierced naval, four tattoos depict an animated sequence of dancing bears. The narrow entrance to heaven is not obscured by any dark medium. “Nutmeg is like a six-hour panic attack during a hangover. It makes you feel –” The first bear, red, stands with feet planted. The second bear, green, has one leg lifted. The third —

“Why don’t you take a picture. If you wanted to drool at naked women you could have spent the week on a stool at Heartbreakers.”

“I wasn’t looking at her tits.”

“I’ll give you that.”

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One-Millionth Visitor, And He Never Knew

Clouds at dawn exhibit more evidence of design than anything below. Chariots of mutant divinities scramble for parking. And that hovering molten ball, what is it?

“I can feel something,” she says. “It’s kicking in.”

Should you mention the neon paisley swirling on her skin? Hopefully the realization that this was not an ideal time for spelunking inner space will be as fleeting as most sensations. If it bothers you, subdue the monstrous blazing ball with the cure-all potion of familiarity. Compose a dossier. It’s 31,000,000 times as far away as your apartment is from Heartbreakers. Its age spots are cancerous and malignant. We revolve around it and it revolves around something else and what if it starts leaking? One drop will burn everything to cinders. Grab her hand and run!

“What’s wrong?” she says, the two worst word-thingies to hear at this time.

“Nothing. Just trying to block the glare.”

“Here. We need to keep drinking water even if we’re not thirsty.”

An unspoken rejoinder seeps into your mind. Or we’ll die. But what is death? Stranger still, what is life?

Four chessmen skip past holding hands. Maybe they’re refugees fleeing the genocide of pawns in the Old World. Will their communist experiment result in an egalitarian paradise or even worse horrors? You know the answer. Stop them before it’s too late.

“It’s getting hot,” she says. “We should look for shade.”

Or we’ll die. Killing time on acid was precarious enough in an air-conditioned hotel room after a Grateful Dead concert. This is of a different order of magnitude. What were you thinking? Her brainless ideas — foolish in theory, disastrous in practice, unyielding to the stern professor of experience, subjected to the analytic rigor of a child at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor — why don’t you act as the break of sanity? “If you think about it, Burning Man isn’t any stranger than the sun,” you tell her, longing for companionship on the lonely frontier of obvious but neglected musings, the stock-in-trade of your rueful choice for breakfast.

“How’s your sunburn?” she says. A malevolent gleam in her eyes suggests the interior is being leased to demons.

“Would you like to see my tan?” And in an instant you’re observing the redundant ritual decreed by the one tyrant against whom there can be no uprising. It commands your return to the oneness whence man emerged, its titles as silly and insufficient as the strings of letters and numbers used to name distant galaxies. Those crude and diminutive monikers, make love, coitus, fuck, are they not the flimsy shields of cavemen cowering before an unfathomable force?

Aggregate of life’s bliss and purpose, beauty and filth compounded, joyous mocker of our spiritual yearnings, derider of the conviction that our lives are necessary and not the by-product of hapless rutting brutes, why must it come with the disconsolate reminder that the best thing about existence is the means of its perpetuation?

While an earthquake crumbles the crust of your mind, pulverizing the shanties that make you different from other animals, the misery of being human abates. Sweet misery. Focus on the counterpoint between the squeaking seat and the rhythmic squish until the little geyser aimed toward the future departs the present.

“Sometimes nasty, brutish, and short is even better than nasty, brutish, and long,” she says.

“Your perception of time is all goofed up. That was at least three hours.” You supplement the post-coital euphoria with one of her cigarettes. “An ultra lite? Why don’t you just read about having a smoke? That would be more intense.”

“Let’s walk around. It’s too hot to stay in the car.”

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A Bucket List for the Dosed

A Stonehenge of wiry sculptures stands on the dusty plane, skeletal extraterrestrials reaching toward the sky as though forsaken by their mother ship. You feel their pain. The artist walks beneath a purple parasol, beaming. A motley assemblage of admirers compliments him. His pride is misplaced. Look at his hands. They did not create. They transported items from the warehouse of the Possible to the garden of the Actual. But who guards that warehouse? Who laid its foundation?

Under plastic palm trees, dreadlocked drummers beat out Morse code in many languages, each competing for aural supremacy. As always, the sum absorbs the parts, nullifies them. Remember that. A green-haired fairy with nipples like drawer-pulls performs a rain dance, waving a magic wand. One of her wings flaps in the breeze; the other dangles from her back as though swatted by a surly ogre. Correlated to her supplications or caused by them, gray and white intestines ooze from a mortal gash in the sky. The lake that once resided here, perhaps it’s only vacationing.

At the main camp sits a throng of laptop jockeys. What on earth are they blogging about (other than the all-important fact that they’re blogging)? The one in the mink shawl and aviator goggles, maybe he’s updating his Facebook profile to reveal that asparagus is his favorite vegetable.

“The dust is going to mess with their computers,” she says, dancing to a jazz trio composed of obstinate soloists. Beside her a girl rolls a crystal ball from arm to arm and over her shoulders as though privy to its orbital irregularities.

“What do you get when you cross the cantina from Star Wars with the Mall of America?”

“Base camp isn’t like anything,” she laughs. “Your dumb metaphors don’t apply.”

“Similes. And everything is like something. It’s a matter of figuring it out.”

Good luck.

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Existential Horror

“Why are they cheering?”

“The man is burning,” she says.

“Why is that a good thing instead of a reason for mourning? If the ceremony doesn’t have a fixed meaning it could be interpreted as some purgative tragic festival.”

“So cry if you want. Maybe some over-arching theme will be created retrospectively. None of the big religions started all at once. The stories snowballed. What if the man keeps coming back, like a phoenix?”

“They can do better than that contrived mess. How did a bird set itself on fire? Did it rub two rocks together? Weren’t the Egyptians aware they lack opposable thumbs?”

“I don’t think it was meant literally.”

“It’s the curse of the Pharaohs. No one can go within fifty feet of a keyboard without making a reference to it.”

The man implodes. Like the anointing of a holy spirit, the pyre bathes the crowd in light and embers.

“Let’s do a theme next year,” she says.

Good news: she plans on being with you in a year’s time. Bad news: she plans on being with you in a year’s time. “I heard Epcot is having a Burning Man exhibit. Let’s go there instead.”

“That’s not even funny.”

A sandstorm absorbs the cars and tents, dissolving them like solids in a clear plastic blender. You feel like a tranquilized animal on a nature program. Sweet blessed exhaustion. You can enter the kingdom of sleep as an honest man. No need to storm the gates with her little white pills. Hobbling across the bridge to Nod, your last thoughts resemble a prayer. Grateful for this gift, you bless the arbitrary and deranged source that doles it out, the way prisoners freed from the Gulag thanked Stalin. A tenebrous dream about marionettes riding a train with no conductor infests your sleep.

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A Novel of Vengeance, Honor, and Bobbleheads

Conspiring in an empire’s decline they disassemble the carnival. What analogue does this willful, ordered, peaceful fall of a civilization have? Monks smearing away a Mandela? A video of ants building a colony played in reverse? The obscure theory that Time ends in neither a quiet diminishment nor a wrathful judgment but a yank back through every instant of history to that first moment when the Great Watchmaker finished winding?

“It’s a long ride home,” she says.

“Seventeen-hundred miles will go by in a snap. I can’t wait for Nebraska. Remember to pinch me so I don’t think I’m in heaven and go off the road.”

Driving down I-80 you feel like you’ve seen a ghost. Something maddeningly more than the sum of your senses yearns to escape but cannot be freed. Is that not a form of possession? How will you describe it? As it slips through your verbal nets you’ll wonder if it happened at all. You sneak glimpses in the mirror but there’s nothing to see. The celebrants at Burning Man, shamans replete with rituals and sacraments but no creed, shadows cast by spurious deities, paintings by Louis Wain on the canvas of the desert, their beauty and mystique is a function of their impermanence. Leaving neither fossils nor temples they vanish, created ex nihilo and parting with equal abruptness.

“Someone should at least plant a flag,” you say. “Archaeologists won’t even find footprints.”

“That’s one of the main principles.”

Take solace. The alien astronomer gazing into his telescope light-years away, someday he might see you. Pull over and jump on the hood and flail your arms and shake your fists, for you will leave no other trace.

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Plato’s Cave? Big Whoop!

Petronius Who?

Standard
Existentialism, Nihilophobia, Quietude, trypophobia

Ask Your Dr. About Tryposoothe. Now!

Meet Soothey, Official Mascot

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“If I look gross you need addictive mind-numbing drugs.”

Do hole-pocked patterns bother you? Radical idea: Stop looking at them! Turn off the gadgets. Unplug the digital intravenous. Open a book. There is no law of physics compelling you to “ask your doctor about Tryposoothe,” the new-fangled miracle treatment for “a serious disorder that often goes undiagnosed.” That this state of mind is actively sought by some Eastern religions is never mentioned. Where’s the multiculturalism?

The ads are so creepy most viewers will wonder if they’re ill. Cole and Wilkins explained how this is a natural response to patterns that were often deadly to our prehistoric ancestors. Is it asking too much of Psychiatry to pretend Evolutionary Biology exists and has something so say about defining “illness”? If it’s not a disorder in the Darwinian sense you’re pitching snake oil with scaremongering, not unlike a recent campaign to convince the public that opiates need not be addictive and everyone needs them. (No, that wasn’t true.)

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SPOILER: Tryposoothe is a designer Benzo “specifically designed to reduce and re-balance the stress chemicals saturating the receptors overloaded by the flight response this phobia triggers.” Right. Behold the glossy brochure with a colorful graph and huggable homunculus and all shall be revealed.

You’d have to be peaking on acid to believe a word. Not to imply this was predictable, but there are Andromedan civilizations who saw it coming. Name a condition Benzos wouldn’t help in the short term. But are they necessary for an altered state actively sought in other cultures as a means of Quietude? It’s a “mental illness” on one continent but enlightenment on another. Psychiatry, you’re making baby Derrida cry. Our faith in you can no longer prevent Reformations.

(BTW, why did the suicide rate EXPLODE during a time when SSRIs became the third-most consumed substance after air and water? Shouldn’t that almost be impossible on a priori grounds? Psychiatry, from now on you’ll need more than pens and clocks to distract us. )

Everyone’s a socialist but no one reads Lenin. Who stands to gain from these potions? The masses huddling at the feet of savage lotus pods? Please. Follow the cigar smoke.

Early Ad for Tryposoothe

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A Response to an “Empathy-Challenged” Writer

Later used in a novel

“You write that we should just ‘turn off the gadgets. Unplug the digital intravenous. Open a book.’ Thanks! Great advice, jackass. Is omniscience fun? Does G-d ever get jealous? What about those of us with intrusive thoughts — regardless of where we look? What about people like me who only lose control when we dream?”

A montage of his recurrent nightmares, based on a lengthy email exchange:

I sit up in a park on the outskirts of a city. Furious clouds tumble across the sky like boulders down a mountain and smokestacks of lightning turn the buildings into tombstones. Seven Lotus Pods surround me, cocking their heads inquisitively, beaming their thoughts to me, judging mine. Somehow we converse without speech and I can detect unique ideas from different Pods.

(“No, it’s not ‘interesting,’ as one shrink said. It’s the most disgusting and horrible thing I’ve ever experienced. I’d kill for a script that mellows this out. So what if it’s a Benzo! Not to get all cosmic on you, but maybe this is why these drugs exist. Be glad you don’t need to resort to drastic options. Who TF are you to tell my doctor what solutions he can utilize?”)

Two of Them part, permitting me to leave the circle. At my feet there’s a silver walking stick with a golden thermometer attached to one end. The Pods watch, their segmented blue eyes fixed on me. Per their sovereign decree, I retrieve the stick and head into town where people writhe on the ground clutching their throats. Some run amok through the streets dodging dog-sized rats and covering their mouths from whatever plague has doomed the others.

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Serenely I approach a bank and hold up my staff to its sign. Darkness like ink spills across the sky but an auroral light surrounds the thermometer. The Lotus Pods examine the reading through my mind and dispatch me to another sign to measure its temperature.

The bank thermometers DO NOT correspond to the actual temperature, They insist. To prove this We need readings from other thermometers. But they might be lying too. This could be demonstrated by a third group. But if those thermometers are inaccurate We’ll need another set. There is a way to settle this for once and for good, to escape The Loop. Proceed.

“And eventually I wake up. But you can’t stay awake indefinitely, not that I haven’t tried. Tell me more about ‘turning off my gadgets!’ A designer Benzo sounds just about right.”

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A Sympathetic Author Responds to the Dreamer of Holes

Face your fears, always, absolutely, directly. There are practical considerations you have neglected. The author endured Post-Traumatic Mountaineering Disorder sans chemicals of any kind, sublimating the existential agony to create Art. Perhaps these dreams have meanings you shouldn’t flee. Is it not curious how we once explored them to heal the psyche (the disguised fulfillment of suppressed wishes, said Freud) but now they’re shunned? Who stood to profit from the destruction of this paradigm?

The U.S. does not need another buckshot blast of an addictive pill (proven safe by two six-week studies!) Our deaths of despair can only be remedied by subtracting the despair, not by adding drugs. There is only one consolation for the Trypophobiac: You look as strange to them.

Once upon a time, alternative explanations could at least be mentioned. On the Wiki page, the philosophical analysis provided by Jablonski occupied as much space as the reductive bio-materialism hooey. Then it was reduced to what you see below.

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Then it disappeared. Now it’s gone. Take your Tryposoothe and stop asking questions.

Reflections Broodings of a Trypophobiac

Serial Killers Who Worked Security

Standard
Annals, Existentialism, Schrodinger's Dachshund, Security, trypophobia

The Thematic Unity of “Alex”

In response to disproportionate (and frankly disturbing) interest in Serial Killers Who Worked Security, the most popular entry on this site, consider a case study: the phenomenology of a Security Guard in Existential turmoil, the clinical description of what we’ve come to suspect. Based on a true story.

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Are we the sum of our sensations, or the remainder when they’re subtracted?

If a zoologist from another planet studied Alex Jitney, the milky pallor and nondescript features might instigate regrets that humans aren’t reptilian. Despite acknowledging that hair once enabled our drab but vicious species to exert pheromonal influences by trapping body scents, it would soon focus on the rich tapestries of the Rainbow Boa-constrictor and Peninsular Rock Agama. The field guide would recommend visiting the deserts and rain-forests while proceeding with extreme caution on this woebegone planet of apes.

If Alex shared his shift with other workers, the uniform dangling from his angular frame might initiate questions about his ability to defend Lodestar’s Shipping and Receiving Center in the dead of night. “He can’t be here for deterrence,” they’d whisper. “What could he deter?”

At 2:11 A.M. Alex steps over the red beam of a motion detector and walks down rows of brown boxes in a  cavernous room, lost in thoughts of Security, pondering its essence: Why did Petrosian lose to Bobby Fischer? How could Karpov lose to Kasparov? Defense is superior to offense. A state of equilibrium smiles upon those who work to maintain it, not those who rupture its static pattern with aggression.

He removes the pineapple from two pieces of chicken pizza before eating them. Love the sin, hate the sinner. After lunch he clasps his hands behind his head and props his feet on the windowsill to enjoy the harmony of silence. But there is no such thing. The illogical pattern of the herringbone wall across the street is louder than any stereo, more offensive than swastikas. He closes his eyes and a parade barges across the space between his ears: a list of prime numbers separated by two, the sweet aftertaste of fruit, the sound of a car backfiring, the stretch of a full bladder.

Unknown is whether “Alex” is the sum of these impressions or the remainder when they’re subtracted. Time spent alone, rare and awkward moments when he’s  not thinking about chess send him searching for a mysterious being called the self. It’s like looking for a shadow with a spotlight. The commotion and chitchat must hide this from first and second shift. Are they lucky or deluded or both?

the-mystery

What are we, and Why, and Where — you wouldn’t think to ask such questions in a crowded office. And there’s no screaming silence to those queries when everyone’s talking about the Packers. Quiet time spent in solitude, paradoxical potion, familiar friend and dreaded torture, its company attracts and repels, revives and kills, and creates addicts of some who hate it.

While Alex turns an abstract painting on the wall  around so only its non-chaotic backside is visible, a green silhouette like Nosferatu with a beer gut appears in the window and points a trembling finger at him. Alex checks his watch. Contrary to the trite expression, there is no crack of dawn. A dirty yellow growth will soon spread across the horizon like fungus on chocolate cake, devouring  the delicate textures of the night.

He removes a silver pendant from his neck. You don’t need to check it again. You’ve checked it twelve times since the start of your shift. He opens it and extracts a tiny scroll. Such elegant and simple premises. So harmoniously the conclusion flows from them like a river filled by lesser tributaries. No wonder it’s never been found. Everyone expects something dense and convoluted.

He puts the pendant back and doesn’t hear voices in the street. For all their rage and urgency they could just as well be the croaks of bullfrogs, differing only  by degree. When crimson guts spill from the belly of the night, he watches for his relief, for the 2003 Saturn stirring up clouds of dust like some chariot riding out of a whirlwind. Watchmen, sentinels of the remorseless hinterland between dusk and morn, priests of the rosary beading all the days, keepers of the promise that renewal comes with dawn, are they not warriors?

***

“Like a surreal existentialist crisis” Publishers Weekly

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