ISSUE 9: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS / FIN
n o v e m b e r 2008
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Special guest writers/texts this issue:
L. R. Núñez
Arturo Ernesto Romo-Santillano
Luis A. Vega
EXCERPTS, ISSUE 9
THE BRIEF WONDROUS ORAL HISTORY OF A VOID
“According to Socrates, one day Thoth approached King Thamus with an offer of a brand-new techne: writing. By giving the gift of writing to the king, Thoth hoped to pass on its wonders to all of the Egyptian people, and he promised Thamus that the new invention would not only augment memory, but amplify wisdom as well. Thamus carefully considered the matter, weighing the pros and cons of this major communications upgrade. Finally, the king rejected the gift, saying that his people would be better off without the new device. … Thamus realized that writing would actually destroy memory by making it dependent on external marks. … More important, Thamus feared that writing would erode the oral context of education and learning, allowing knowledge to escape from the teacher-student relationship and pass into the hands of the unprepared. Consumers of books would then ape the wise, presenting a superficial counterfeit of knowledge rather than the real deal.”
—Erik Davis, Techgnosis (23–4)
When it begins, I am an academic transcribing an oral history of early 20th century honkytonk musicians in the rural South just prior to the Great Depression when I suddenly find myself giving some kind of political speech that begins to anger my audience, who are mostly politicians and other corrupt officials. On several truckloads to the side of the stage and audience, though, are The People—regular working folks trucked in to occupy the sidelines. They cheer when I speak on their behalf. But about halfway through my speech, the trucks fire up and they are hauled off, and I am left to finish with the conservative crowd.
Afterward, there is little applause. Awkward, I step off the podium and begin to wander as the whole scene morphs into a cocktail party. A white, rightwing woman, in her 50s, with perfectly coiffured, dark brown hair, walks directly toward me. She says, “You know, I liked your speech.” She’s got a Texan accent. I thank her. Then she leans in and whispers, “And I think you’re kinda cute, you know, for the ladies.”
I say to her, “Thanks, so are you,” and she looks at me funny.
Then I leave with some people in a car. I am still dressed well from giving the speech. We wind up at some kind of shopping mall, and there is the feeling that we are deep in the heart of “America.” I go into a candy store, and it’s around Christmas time, and I see some teenage girls making speeches to younger girls about how they turned their lives over to Jesus. The last one who speaks is apparently pregnant, and after her speech, her mother starts talking about how she began to devise a pain-management program for her daughter after her daughter had her first baby. And that’s when I realize that the girl is very young still, no older than thirteen, and it occurs to me that by devising this “pain-management” program, the mother has actually somehow made the girl get pregnant again.
ZAPRUDER REMIX, VOL. 2
When the future FBI/CIA agent comes over to my place, I make sure to take down all the dissident posters—I BELIEVE IN ANARCHY; I HOPE I LIVE TO SEE THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE; EMMA GOLDMAN—ANARCHIST SHEROES.
PHANTOM SIGHTINGS I leave up.
When you are fucking, does the ideology dissolve?
When you are fucking, does history dissipate?
When you are fucking, does the violence disappear, subsumed, turned inside out, in all your orgasmic spasms and moans?
There is a moment when I begin to wonder how deep the mutual mutation runs. I am betting on a kind of contamination that flows both ways, a mutual corruption that runs to the core of who we think we are. The mutation occurs in both directions, each orgasm another bomb chipping away at ideological façade. Your organs infiltrate, undercover, lay my ideology bare. Each inhibition dissolved is another small victory for all of us. That tingling sensation in your hands when you push my face away from your sex because you are certain that you will die if you keep coming like this—you do not see that you are already dead, that part of you is gone, the cells have begun to mutate already.
“I do not believe in anarchy,” I nibble into your ear. “I do not believe in the American Empire,” I suck into your neck. “I believe in these collapsed limbs, this sweatsoaked flesh, your smell on my face, that glazed, dazed look in your drooping, satiated eyes, your fluids seeping into mine, your complete release, your retreating curve of infinite horizon line. This is what I believe. I hope I live to see the fall of every last one of your inhibitions. I hope I live to see us learn to breathe. I hope I live to see us see—“
“Shhh,” you say. “You talk too much. So many things you could do with that—words are such a waste of tongue. Still it, lay it in me. Mmmmm … ”
NOTES TOWARD A BROKEN RECORD: “THESE B*****S NEED TO READ SOME PO-E-TRAY”
What we really need to do is all breathe in at once and then plug our noses and let our cheeks puff out with all the air on the side of life. The resulting explosion will hopefully send enough bits of flesh and teeth and gum and skull outward and upward into the stratosphere to mercifully perform the punctum we all so desperately need and crave and desire. Once the sky is a big gaping wound, maybe then we can all start to crawl our way up and out and onward into the safety of a perfect void.
“You’re right,” the individual says. “I am sick of all these words. This is the real disease. Not the irritation in my eye, not the infection. It’s a fetish, this thing of seeing. It’s a kind of fascism. This thing of speaking, this thing of words.”
“Do you know what I smell like?”
“Each sighting deodorizes, sanitizes, fixes us in place. My eyeballs are antiseptic tanks just waiting to be filled with the world, emptied spaces anticipating the neutralization of any possibility that might arise.”
What we really need is to receive some signal from you that you recognize that the problem is that your idea of presence is a form of absence.
Fear abstracts you from yourself, from experience, from life, until that is all that is left of you.
You think that you are present but your violence, your pettiness, your narrow-minded silencing, betrays you.
You do not realize that you are nowhere in sight.
You do not realize that all we see is your fear, because that is all that you have become.
Maybe if we held a mirror to your face, you might see the phantom that you really are.
Maybe if we held a hand out you might grab hold instead of biting at it like a trapped wolf gnawing off the wrong paw.
In that space between theory and reality, you stumble around trapped, afraid, decaying, collecting oral histories of all the voices that you have silenced, and lodging them within the grooves between your narrow lines of sight.
Meanwhile, the Johnny Rebel Show continues in 24/7 rotation broadcasting back-to-back reruns on all major networks day and night. I keep clicking the remote but it’s the same old thing. I keep clicking the remote but it’s the same old thing.
“Just because one of you is wrong doesn’t make the other one right.”
You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are playing. You are not the roles you are