1) Ich forch
They are like my choosers, the world is a cup of hellfire
It is my church, my clientele, my bed, my family
by the talent of and patron of those skilled in
The master of the furies holds his guns, with his paper’s
I kill these people and I keep them alive
for the tricksters, for the artisans and every day
David Rothko’s Remake of the Bible
You might remember how within hours of David Rothko’s Remake of the Bible being released, everyone was asking each other who the lover he had named “Melissa” might be, this openly acknowledged pseudonym weaving her way through the rise and fall of each chapter. All the sensitive young men (as well as a good number of shit-headed ones and more than a few lesbians) were ready to fall in love with her, which felt like an implausible but statistically mentionable possibility for those in social circles adjacent enough for her to have been cast into, since of course Rothko had had to promptly shed her the way a red carpet dress must be discarded once the commoners have glimpsed it.
You’ll want to be able to Dr. Frankenstein a few of the more prominent takes on this matter together into something resembling an original one, so as to perpetuate the smokescreen the whole affair serves as, but should otherwise attempt to remain fully unconcerned with the gossip.
Your attention will need to be focused on posture. Whether on the bus, in the cafe, among socialites, in the bedroom, you must be able to optimally frame* the book’s cover, its wash of blue, green, orange (each in several shades) and most of all the incredibly chic reflective pink lettering.
*“Optimally frame” here doesn’t mean to simply draw attention to the book (it does that well enough on its own), but to direct this guaranteed attention in such a way that people notice how you’re reading it. The way the lettering brilliantly ricochets light may also be used for hypnosis or as a weapon, if one finds the right dark web tutorials.
Once you’ve fully mastered the work’s distractive properties, you can begin to drift through those subtle passages where Rothko threads associations between the crush of objects we all find ourselves surrounded with, building not quite a hierarchy but something not particularly distant from one either, undoing 1) Jesus’s dissolving of Hebrew law into an existential demand to love and 2) Peter’s subsequent ecstatic vision where he reinterprets this dissolving as invitation to consume every part of the world at leisure.
Colossal lifeflown forms hang
decomposing just below cloudlayer.
Needle scrapes through spine,
(Felt in teeth, soft hiss of administration,)
breaks vision into messy viscera.
Januarys voice degrades to tatters,
a static slush in your ear.
Eyes shutter to black, red sand
rushes to meet collapse.
January is a hollowed icon imprint.
He wavers in the heat.
Head a cracked mollusk shell
blooming raw flesh.
Gore dripping up towards heaven.
Messy splinter of smile.
Full ironsmoke night when you wake.
The Emitter now glowing on the horizon,
teeming with life, slow bass pulses:
dragging sand behind them cross plains.
From every icy dot torn in the skies flesh
god stares hungry, pearl light batters clouds.
Start moving shaky towards heaven.
Small pillars grow larger,
jut from the desperate ground.
Grow into a forest.
When you reach the other side
Dawn is bleeding up into cotton fever sky.
The Emitter lies before you.
Great hollows in its flanks catch the sun,
intensify it to melt-dripping glass honey.
White hot drool sears through eyelids.
Bent light, smeared gravity.
Isotope washed pulses pass through you,
feel flesh ripple, gods hand through
a curtain of beads. Your shadow printed on air.
Far above you the sun is grated
by lacy-thin fibrous lungs.
Each breath causes the shards of light
to flow across your skin, the stony landscape.
Each breath sounds like icebergs ground to slush.
January’s tongue billows behind shattered teeth.
Sloppy iron drools from the holes in his neck.
Words bubbling, messy clatter of ruined throat.
Your boot embraced by splayed ribs.
A circle of wings in the sun above you.
See the hollow light flickering above his eyes.
Behind your eyelids the Emitter blooms.
Quivering, a multitude of taut strings, high tension
Silver pearlescent tongues strumming flesh:
Ache, phosphorous, wet muscles writhe round bone.
Icy light envelops you, pushes desperate
through grain of iris, snakes down optic nerve
Sifts through you, your past, the belt snaps,
lays visions out, spinning disorientation,
tangled snapshots bleed color into the air,
moments hanging to be tasted.
The clouds pass before blank eyes.
Long moments stretch on the sand.
January’s voice still in your ears.
I was stepping off the Ferris wheel when things started unraveling. Amelia noticed it first. She touched my shoulder at the turnstile like have your arms always been that long? And I realized I could touch my knees without bending over and my elbows were slipping downward under my skin.
I became concerned and said holy fuck holy shit what the fuck. Amelia sort of smiled and I wondered if maybe we had fallen asleep or snorted three hundred milligrams of methoxetamine. But really we were just on the pier which made me start to panic. Meanwhile my shoulders were oozing past my nipples and my fingers fell lightly onto the damp dirty wood by my feet.
I got sick to my stomach and I needed to move or else I would die. I pushed into the crowd, slipping to the end of the pier where the waves were screaming over the railing. It was a cloudy but warm Saturday and the pier was busy enough to make me insignificant even though my body was rapidly assuming a grotesque morphology in defiance of all known anatomy and physics. A caricature artist with a Nick Cave mustache smirked as I passed, dragging my wrists behind like coattails; to him it was maybe not so strange. Another person pointed me out to their mom and said hey haha woah look at that. I tried to bury my face as more turned and stared but I couldn’t quite get my nose under my sagging drippy armpits.
By the time I reached the end of the pier I was mostly arms. Overall I had shrunk but my arms were at least ten feet long. I could barely see over the railing. Everyone was watching me with a look of bemused curiosity, like the faces people might make while looking up from their phones at a dolphin show. I wanted very badly to breathe and process, one two three four like my therapist said, but I was trapped between crashing waves and onlookers, both menacing, both sucking up the world and all the air with it.
Amelia caught up to me and said are you feeling okay? I jabbered something back at her and jiggled my limp appendages. I said Amelia you have to help me. Amelia call nine one one call an ambulance call a fucking helicopter get me out of here. I shouted these demands with great intensity even though the last time I used emergency medical services it financially ruined me. Amelia looked up and hopped away. A rogue wave exploded over the railing and soaked me head to toe. Head to finger. My toes were inside my hips now.
Now I was all wet and my eyes stung. When I opened them I was shorter than Amelia’s waist, my clothes had slid off and my arms were basically long as fuck. It was almost impossible to breathe and I wondered what was happening to my internal organs. I wondered if I would keep unraveling until I became one very long arm with a hand on either side and then I would die. I felt exposed so I spun in a circle and coiled my arms around my shrunken body like the spring on the inside of those nice pens. I heard everyone giggling. Amelia was a giant now, smiling down at me, and in a damp shaky voice I cried Amelia, Amelia what do I do? She rolled her eyes.
Another wave came then and knocked me onto my arm-wrapped stomach. I was small enough to see under the gap at the bottom of the railing. The ocean was very close underneath. The crowd had come closer, eager to see what I did next. Their smiles split their faces in two. They laughed and shouted and chanted, louder and louder.
Somehow they all knew my name. They knew every name I had ever used: the ones my parents gave me and the ones I gave myself, my failed bands and gamertags, the ID that showed me my bank account, names used to hurt me and names used to hide me, every slur and @ and AKA I’d ever known. They shouted my names in a vicious cadence, stomping and clapping, splitting my skull it was so loud.
Amelia whispered in my ear asking if I wanted a push. The waves rocked outside the railing and the crowd was stomping closer. Yes.
Hitting the water was like being born and murdered at the same time. My new form was not buoyant and I sank slowly in the cold murk. My arms unfurled from my tiny frame and trailed behind me. I found I could pulse them in such a way to propel myself forward, and though I couldn’t see much I felt them brush against fish and slimy kelp as I swam. I didn’t need to breathe and I wasn’t thirsty, but I opened my mouth and let in some water and it made me feel calm so I gulped it down. The sea felt cool and holy passing through me.
The crowd continued their chant on the pier, the cacophony muted by seawater like club speakers from inside the bathroom. I could just make out my name in the rumble. All my names, over and over, drenched in noise. I kept swimming and after a while it faded away.
Before we can lay out the blueprints of our future we must first deal with the particular question that arises when speculative concepts of a new world are put forward now in our boring period of time. Why are you a utopian? This seems like a reasonable question because years of propaganda have thoroughly sanded the brains of your average person completely smooth to the point where they can not tell the difference between a utopian and dystopian project. In fact, they believe that all utopias are dystopias as anyone who is irrational enough to stray from the perfect platonic ideal of liberal capitalism must be a genocidal monster. The USSR and Nazi Germany are conflated into a gray blob of totalitarianism by mediocre intellectuals of a “free society”. Of course concepts of totalitarianism are nothing more than a mechanism by which the ruling class cancels thought crimes among the masses. If we were to judge the utopian project like the Soviet Union by the body count it has then wouldn’t the same standard also apply to say the United Snakes of Amerika? Can we judge liberal capitalism based on the mass grave of indigenous peoples and dead slaves that it grew out of? It is a well-known fact that Hitler’s open-air Holocaust of the Eastern European peoples was directly inspired by the settler Colonial genocide of the U$ so should we dismiss the sanctity of liberal capitalism? The answer is yes. The bulk of Soviet Union’s body count comes from Noble but stupidly planned effort to industrialize a backward Nation whereas America’s body count comes out the settler Colonial genocide of Conquest and Global imperialism. The Grand historical mission of the Soviet Union, utopian in its character, is what separates it from the equally “totalitarian” dystopia of liberal Amerika and Nazi Germany.
This totalitarian consensus of totalitarianism leaves us with very few people willing to talk of Utopia. The minority that remains are academic schizophrenics like Fredric Jameson who are only capable of writing and speaking infinite patterns of jumble Jargon that mean little to nothing. That educated junkie James has sentenced himself to the cruel punishment of wandering the empty halls of the once Grand Hotel Abyss mumbling to himself aimlessly about utopia and emancipation as literary Concepts. We being neurotics of a different kind should pay academic schizophrenics nothing but pocket change, being professors they probably need it. Such academics have far less to contribute to the discourse of emancipation than actual schizophrenic homeless people, who at the bare minimum are proletarian in character.
You are a WEEPER. And the ground is wet.
Interior. Surgical suite. Performance.
We undergo trepanation. Your dura mater exposed.
And the cut-shard placed onto a metal plate.
Just listen to this, Mike (Ed Atkins)
The air is so much louder now.
Your skull is whistling with beautiful music.
An arrhythmic glitching of foot-pedals.
The scene. The scene.
You with your tongue out and eyes crossed.
The cut-shard belongs in an ossuary.
An ossuary is a pile of bones.
An ossuary is a small coffin for bones.
Performance of funerary rites.
Beginning with an elaborate march and dance.
The dance is built of small actions.
They are arranged into a field of choreographies.
The RUINER leads the march.
The cut-shard hums in its wooden chest.
Hues of pink light.
Underneath the surgery there is a cave.
The surgery is not over yet.
We are still at the suite, looking on.
Your dura mater remains exposed.
The trepanation is performed with a trephine.
Mouth-arms long, folded (Aase Berg tr. Johannes Görannson)
It shucks the shell.
A skeleton is practically an exoskeleton.
The only distinction is a thin layer of meat and membrane.
Intracellular destruction / annihilation.
You play us a beautiful song as we examine your innard.
ENTOMBED. RUINER. Leads the march.
They hold a quince over your box.
This was the fruit of the garden of Eden
No no no a pomegranate. A palmagranate.
What a lovely thought.
They march to the beach-head and bury you in the sand.
The ossuary waits there for sixty-four years.
This is a magical number. It is simple numerology.
Every year a black dog is thrown into the ocean.
What a lovely thought.
Interior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
The gait guard sits with his back-fat scraping the chair-back.
Splinters root into the unnerved flesh.
There is nothing here to hold onto (Anonymous)
We thud the trephine against your hard head.
The dura mater dries in the open atmosphere.
And now you are healthier. You are cured.
RUINER rattles the ossuary. Becoming-ossuary.
It should have that nice kind of pink blush on the inside.
And you are a WEEPER. And the ground is wet.
And a gourd is laid on the beach-head in your honor.
We envision a great feast.
Boiled liver. Young capillaries. Aged piss.
Everything in life is kaput.
We have inevitably taken up residence in an exclusion zone.
WEEPING in a meadow of sea vegetables.
Something like wakame or kombu.
In the summer they dry into stone-trees.
And we harvest them for the ossuary.
To venerate the march.
To summon the RUINER and visit the beach-head.
The rest of the body is expendable.
All that we need are the cut-shard and the dura mater.
Excess material can be discarded composted recycled.
Make a new skull.
Grow a new set of materials.
Like grafting a tree or a patch of skin.
Milque-chocolate or anonymous fluid exchange (M Kitchell)
The tech on your face is wet.
Are you a WEEPER? Someone asks. Out of sight.
Interior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
The tech on your face is replaced.
Or it is sprayed with a hydrophobic residue.
What do you mean?
We extract the eyeball carefully.
And sever the optic-nerve when it emerges from the shell.
And place the eye back in its socket.
With the visage of an owl.
Your tuft and feathery exterior.
Exterior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
Trampling your feet on the RUINER stomach.
Making them wheeze and crumple.
The ground is covered in viscous juice.
Either pulled from the soil or spit from the mouth.
Trepanation is a procedure for creating an unnatural facade.
A hallucinatory mise-en-scene (Slavoj Zizek).
The small actions of the dance mutate into new mediums.
An expanded field of movement.
The trephine looks like an egg-cracker.
The dura mater is a soft white membrane.
Between the shell and the loose gelatin.
A cruciferous head blooms from the cut-shard opening.
You look like a fungal sprout.
You smell like sulfur and moss festering.
We attempt to sever your connection.
Fungus… is vilified for its damage (Ben Woodard).
The surgical suite fills with a dense spore cloud.
Every particle of dust contributes to calcification.
This is a field of stone sculptures.
An invitation to the annual beheading.
We all look on with glee.
RUINER lifts the ossuary from a mound of drift.
And lodges it in the neck of the guillotine.
And crushes your cut-shard.
What kind of a performance is this?
What a lovely thought.
The trees look like fennel.
The grass is short and dead.
You are a WEEPER. Looking on your shattered chest.
The wood is built into a fire pit.
We plan a great feast.
You bought me this fundoshi for my twenty-third birthday, among other stupid cute sexy things. Said you always wanted to see me in one, and so I wanted it too. It was scarlet red, like fresh currant, red like the blood throbbing in my cock when I thought about wearing it for you, red like what I felt when I first met you and knew I wanted to marry you, red like the blood pumping from the tubes in your arms and chest and into the dialysis machine that kept you alive. Then red becomes a harsh piercing white.
With it came a thin Amazon gift note that read, “A Gift for you. Model these? Give me a show. Let me remove them with my teeth or my mind.” Today, the letters are barely noticeable, cheap black ink fading into the paper rolls they use for cash registers.
I took a three-day Amtrak trip to get to you. On the way, I was editing the final draft of my queer transgressive novel. We talked and texted endlessly. I sent you pictures and low-resolution videos of the mountains, forests, and valleys anytime I had a signal. ‘R u wearing it?’ ‘No…’ ‘Why not?’ ‘That’s weird. And hygiene.’ ‘Tighty whities aren’t that hygienic either.’ ‘I’ll wear it when we get there.’ Between editing my novel and talking to him, I had been reading Ocean Vuong’s new novel, which partially deals with the grief that comes with losing a lover. I couldn’t see the white beaming in front of me on the pages because the red was too pulsating under my briefs, thinking of all the stories I still wanted to write with him.
That first night, you made a ‘Jew joke,’ and I shouldn’t have gotten so uptight about it, but I just fucking explode to anything that could be deemed antisemitic. I know you didn’t mean it. You got me that Golden State Warriors Yarmulke. You’d remind me to go to services every Shabbat even when I didn’t want to. That day, we fought when we should’ve been fucking. Like, you as a sexy fucking bear roleplaying a Scottish accent, spanking my shaved little twink ass while I’m in a tight little chastity cage, or some other really crazy gay fetish shit that we’re into. But we made up the next day, ingesting five grams of a liquid mushroom extract, and I made sure to be kosher to what you fantasized of on that gift note.
And I remember how I felt like our bodies were like millions of tiny glowing angels locked in prison cells waiting to break out—my three-hour mix of tribal ambient music playing in the background. I was impatiently holding an instruction manual in both of my hands, telling you how to tie the fundoshi, while you were turning me around, moving your fingers up my crotch and around my waist. And it wasn’t sexual at all. Not until after the medicine wore off, after we cried, both of us imagining our eventual deaths, and each of us knew who would die first. Soft hues of red momentarily become flashes of white.
You tore the cotton underwear off of me with your teeth while I was tied to your bed. Made me cum all over my chest and face and then you licked it off. And I remember after the sex, the scarlet piece of cloth tangled between my feet as I lay on your belly, in an oceanic bliss, the fallen angels inside of me released from their prison.
I’d found videos on YouTube and pdfs of male Shibari tutorials. Hesitant, I worried that they’d be too complicated for you to master, but then I remembered your patience, your brain, things I won’t ever have. Like most things, I’d see some sexy Yaoi image on Pixiv, and I’d joke, ‘We need to recreate that.’ But then you’d find a way to do it all and better. Red bamboo silk rope to compliment the fundoshi, arms tied behind my back, feet bound together, many more knots and loops over my thighs, arms, hexagrams and constellations made of thread over my chest and back. The more I’d fidget to escape, the tighter the restraints would get.
Never thought I’d wake up with an erection, mourning the days where you’d leave me tied up in your bed, porn left on the TV, then you’d walk away to do nothing for an hour or two, before coming back to edge me. The only rope that I envision ever using again in my life is for crafting a noose, which would then transform into a squeezing halo, the tip of my tongue bitten off, eyes swollen bloodshot, but behind the iris, a permanent field of white.
I miss you more with each passing day. Some days, the red seems like visceral stab wounds, chewing on cartilage put through a meat grinder, and the white is like snapped bone. And I scream and sob in uncontrollable throes of psychotic torment, in private and in public, sometimes laughing maniacally at strangers, crawling into fetal position in the corner of a staff bathroom with my legs slashed up, breaking my left hand out of rage, feeling beyond pathetic, only wanting you back again. And yet I still learn to love you more every day.
The red fundoshi remains hidden, crumbled up in the far back of my underwear drawer, behind my cold lifeless white briefs, waiting to be touched by you again, but I know that day will never come.