Paradise of Storm

Category: Literature and Books

From Silicone Implants to Silicon Humanoids: The Body Must Die

androidcover

by Guy Walker

It’s always the same shameful exposition: standing completely naked in front of a full-length mirror, self-criticizing every lifeless pouch weighed down by gravity. If not that, there’s an extra piece of baggy skin somewhere that hangs like a kite begging for the wind. If not that, your legs are too scrawny; or your lips aren’t plump enough; or your lower-back-to-buttocks ratio isn’t what it should be. We’ve all done it—staring at ourselves in our full bleakness, wishing we had it another way.

But these peripheral fixes are mere trifles. Hacking open a woman’s chest and stuffing it with water balloons, or trimming down an obtuse nose with a metal file doesn’t suffice as a satisfactory remedy to our quaint ephemerality. Our agreed upon commitment to resent our own bodies is driven by far more than the fluttering vanity for a better figure—we’re trapped in a decomposing suit of meat, a slow entropic nightmare drawing out over many decades. A few bright years perhaps, but the window between crawling on all fours in a diaper full of your own excrement and being pushed in a wheel chair in the same embarrassing condition is excruciatingly short. In the grand scheme of things, we’re here for a few seconds and then all drop dead like flies.

Humans have always been at war with their own bodies. We want our fittest most enviable qualities to carry into the future, selfishly imprinting ourselves in as many offspring as possible. Plutarch told stories of the Spartans tossing their unhealthy babies off the mountain—a practice that was presumably meant to heighten and preserve their genetic fortitude. This is, perhaps, a display of antiqued animalism, like an unwarranted human sacrifice without the gods to accept their gifts—babies flailing and crying as they somersault down the hill, smashing into rocks as they go. It’s the human version of a mother bird eating her weakest chick. Ancient Greeks and Romans were known to leave sick infants on manure heaps, sometimes being rescued by others and turned into slaves. We like to think that things have changed, that our proud domesticity has evolved enough to care for the destitute and disadvantaged—but the 2,000 year history of female infanticide in China that still continues today is evidence that the brute is still there, that we can do the unimaginable just for the right set of genitals.

For a while, it seemed like religion’s fault. It’s always wanted to turn the human into some sort of sexless troglodyte, inhibiting the body of its most carnal features until all that’s left is a stinking abstract form of functioning organs, everything wrapped up in a colorless gown. When Catholic nuns—and virtually all women in Saudi Arabia—cover themselves from head to toe, they presumably wish to purify the body’s total libidinal sense. It’s intended as a visible sign of getting closer to their god—a display of ornate sterility, like a peacock who jumped in a bog because it was afraid of its great color. Many Orthodox Jewish married women cover their hair with a wig or half-wig (a sheitel) in order to conform to the religion’s standards of modesty. Cover yourselves, or be damned!

Female genital mutilation is clearly the result of a desperate phobia of pleasure (98% of Muslim women from Indonesia have been hacked at, 93 % of Muslim women from Malaysia, and 98% of all women from Somalia, just to name a few). Masturbation in males was long thought to have caused blindness, mental illness, and epilepsy; and circumcision was the popularized remedy, now postured under the guise of just better hygiene. John Harvey Kellogg, a Christian fundamentalist, created Corn Flakes as an anti-masturbatory breakfast cereal, also advocating for pint-sized yogurt enemas to clean the gut, consequently purifying the soul. Religion has done everything to destroy the human body in some sempiternal quest of holiness, driven by the belief that the body is inherently filthy.

The once prominent religion, Christian Science, declared that there is no body at all, that the material existence is mere illusion, and we should simply ignore growths on the body, symptoms of disease, even death itself. Because you don’t even die—you pass on, presumably to higher worthier frontiers. Nearly every ancient religion seems to have had human sacrifice as a necessary theater of gore in order to appease their gods. Even Christianity is based on the human sacrifice of one man: he had to be crucified for the sins of unwedded orgasms and envying our neighbor’s ass.

But maybe it’s not religion that is innately anti-human. Our war with ourselves has modified through the ages—it has reshaped itself to every cultural and moral custom since monkeys threw feces at each other, and now conforms to the acceleration of scientific and technological advancement. There are those who still pierce their faces with blunt sticks, or stack their necks with thick golden rings because for some reason or another they must manipulate what they were born with; the forefront of modern science basically does the same thing—people naturally indulge in the technologies available to them.

Embryo selection through in vitro fertilization (IVF) is of course the expensively high-tech way to avoid tossing our ugly crippled newborns off the mountain. From what is available from a woman’s supply of eggs, parents can curate their child to their preferred gender, eye and hair color, even selecting the “most intelligent” embryo. But this is only from what is available. Maybe one’s entire gene pool is shit.

So when a new technology called CRISPR-Cas9 emerged in 2013, everything changed. We could now begin the quest of the gods, not curating what was already available, but engineering something entirely new. The Cas-9 protein has been used as a genome editing tool, in which an unfavorable section of DNA sequence can be cut out and replaced with a more desirable section. It’s through this permanent modification of genes within organisms that we can hypothetically build superhuman immune systems, completely eliminate disease and malformities, and finally sculpt man with features from Homeric epics. CRISPR is avant-garde eugenics—it’ll be for parents who want superior babies, no different than when the Nazi’s attempted to manufacture a racially pure race in their hospitals.

For now, CRISPR has only been used to edit animal genetics: researchers have removed malaria from mosquitos, treated muscular dystrophy in mice, modified pig organs to be safer for transplantation into humans. But even now, this research seems pedestrian and passé in the shadow of what we know is possible. An all-knowing übermensch is marching on the horizon, chanting with genius and prose—man will finally achieve his god not through ancient myth and sacrifice, but through scientific excellence, turning us shit-tossing monkeys into computerized cyborgs.

But the allure of genetically reengineering human embryos is here. Once this technology is deemed safe enough, parents will swarm the editing rooms in hospitals (or just laboratories), curating their soon-to-be babies to be a blend of Mozart and Tom Brady, or Marilyn Monroe and Simone de Beauvoir. Every Little League sporting event has a squad of dads at the edge of the playing grounds, their eyes raging and cynical, their mouths frothing like wild dogs, yelling at their sons to play better ball. Soon these same dads will be hovering behind doctors, yelling at them to max out their son’s gene sequence of athleticism. And the levels of excellence will so quickly surpass anything any human has ever achieved. Of course only the richest will be able to afford these “designer babies”, consequently widening the wealth and opportunity gaps to unimaginable levels, impossible ever to recover from.

In our fury of anticipation of CRISPR’s potential, we have already begun the dramatization of where we’re headed. The ultra-fustian HBO series, Westworld, about a vacation retreat in the near future that’s populated entirely with Wild West humanoids, in which wealthy human clients pay to rape and kill anyone they choose without consequence, is a moderately fun thought experiment. Most of it seems possible. The morbid titillation of living out our Grand Theft Auto dreams would be too much for us war-crazed humans to resist—the theatrics would be too great; the ornate bloodshed would be too glorious.

The series begins simply enough: a train of new clients—who are as excited as a gaggle of frat boys headed to their first toga party—arrive in a dusty nondescript town, every detail of which has been tailored to the predictable look of every other Hollywood depiction of the Wild West. After they drink their whiskey and kill their prostitutes, they return to their boring lives back home, in the real world, plodding along on a treadmill at the end of a cul-de-sac. As viewers, of course, we don’t see that part—nobody wants to watch their own tedious lives laid out in front of them. What we see is the dramatized bloodshed, and then the repair, and then the evolution of artificial intelligence take over. Whenever a humanoid is injured or killed during a session of rampaging tourists, they are taken into laboratories and repaired by technicians, reprogrammed and erased of all the horrific memories for the next round of torture. A humanoid’s level of aggression, compassion, hostility, and so forth can be controlled with simple dials on an iPad, allowing a Westworld engineer to easily manipulate how he or she wants a character to behave. It’s little different from the Nexus-6 brain units in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, in which androids can modulate any one of “fourteen basic reaction-postures” and are more intelligent than most of the humans left on earth. In Philip K. Dick’s classic dystopian novel, the robots harness their power and fight back against the humans, who are now a threat to their survival. In the HBO series, they do the same. One of the main characters, a humanoid prostitute, eventually controls her own character dials, giving her abilities her fellow characters don’t. From there, it’s all runaway chaos.

As devouring consumers of these types of shows, we’re programmed to want nothing more: three billion years of evolution and all we want to do is watch robot hookers running wild with guns as we grab another handful of Fritos. But it’s not hard to see the bridge between the CRISPR technology being used to enhance characteristics in embryos and these angry self-controlling AI bots who will do anything to control their own settings. The acceleration of this technology is compounding on itself. Look at video games. When Pong was released in 1972 as the first ever video game, it was radically advanced, capturing the obsession of every runny-nosed kid at the time. It’s only been a few decades since, and we’re already battling other players from around the world in three-dimensional high definition virtual universes.

But this already goes well beyond video games. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on an implantable chip for U.S. soldiers that will connect their brains to death-obsessed computers, consequently turning boys into military cyborgs. It’s what President Obama referred to in 2014 during a White House manufacturing innovation event when he chummily quipped, “we’re building Iron Man.” It’s easy to see where this could go. Previously, police departments have been equipped with the Pentagon’s excess—an overflow of MRAPs and grenade launchers have been used to deter protestors after a black kid gets shot and killed by the police. It doesn’t seem far out to imagine a time when cyborgs—or full on androids—police our streets, lurking in and out of alleyways, suspicious of anything that moves.

Maybe that’s where we always wanted to be: anywhere but this carnal Eden of humans wrapped in nothing but leaves. The religious want to drift amongst the heavens, whipping up clouds behind them as they smile for the rest of eternity. The futurists want to be cyborgs with superhuman strength, nostalgically reenacting their unlived pasts with gun-wielding prostitutes in the desert. We’re stuck too much in the past and the make-believe, while at the same time catapulting ourselves into a future that cannot host something that is committed to destroying itself. Religion never fixed our basic human anxieties, and CRISPR won’t either. It’s one thing for Donald Trump to go giddily insane when Mack Trucks pull onto the White House lawn, as he hoists himself up onto his high chair, blowing the horn and screaming like a chubby toddler with chocolate frosting around his mouth who just got a new toy truck. Just imagine when he gets ahold of DARPA’s Iron Man. He’ll stomp the world, holding the thing like a G.I. Joe action figure, wreaking havoc on us like we’re a city of ants.

“It’s a disaster, a total disaster,” he’ll say, looking upon the rubble of death. “Oh, I did this. Just incredible. Good work everybody, this is incredible.”


Donate Button

Advertisements

50 Shades Darker: the Banality of Fetishism

50-shades-darker-trailer

by Guy Walker

The sun finally rose enough to push through the beige lace curtains, the first rays of light shining into the visible effluvium of the bedroom, shining on the huge heaving butt cheek of a fat woman sleeping. Her breasts weighing down the bed, her blue veins beating like knotted spurts through a garden hose. A fan in the corner oscillating over and over, blowing the long draping fern, then moving towards the sleeping woman, blowing her mass of starless sordid hair like she were resting under a coastal breeze. A kitten is sitting by its empty bowl, as it had sat there for most of the night, just waiting patiently for the woman to stir, then wake, then feed him. But she didn’t stir—she just groaned like a dying antelope, scaring away the many little robins outside.

Many hours pass. The room is now full of steaming light, and the woman rolls over onto her back, naked, a million individual beads of sweat pushing from their pores. She opens her eyes finally, her eyelids encrusted with sticky yellow globs, and she stares up at a huge and absurd papier-mâché Chinese dragon hanging from the ceiling—completely lifeless, the fan not even making it stir, like it were some recoiled memory of life, an illusory modish object just hanging there in the middle of the room. The woman shoves that whole body of hers onto her feet, picks up a pair of soiled panties, and slips her legs into them one by one—they are, naturally, baggy around the bottom of the ass, seeming to always flutter loosely in that warm gap between the buttcheeks. Then her breasts—she packs them into a bra, cinching it tight around the front. She stands up and walks towards her desk, making the antique floorboards creak. She doesn’t eat, doesn’t wash her face, doesn’t piss, and doesn’t feed the little kitten. She just sits into her tufted leather chair, opens her laptop, and begins writing instantly, her fingers burning furiously, finishing page after page like a flip book. Outside, the wet temporal countryside buzzes with excitement, the satyric affairs of bugs more rupturous than all other predatory fauna; but the woman never once looks out the window. Words and love and the scenic delirium of fantasy devour her. Her heart beats with more nerve and adventure than she has felt from all the real wanton intrigue she’s had in the bedroom. She writes her next sentence: Holy crap! He’s wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and tray flannel pants that hang from his hips. She feels the illustrious paean flood over her. It’s all too much.

She is Erika James, EL James, and she is halfway through her life epic, 50 Shades of Grey. No one knows it yet, but Erika will excite and satisfy tens of millions of desirous frenzied women seeking something far beyond their domestic passivities. In other words, Erika is going to sell books.

In its primitive stage, it started as a Twilight fan fiction series, originally titled Master of the Universe. Her pen name was, fittingly, Snowqueen Icedragon. But the story was always the same: Ana, an average-looking woman gets fucked properly by a billionaire, Christian Grey. He is young, handsome, a stalwart type who satisfies himself by tying up women, fucking them, and spanking them until their buttcheeks pulse cherry red. When performed on Ana, she at first admonishes these advances, but when he pulls off his belt and begins whipping her, she hesitates and pulls away from him. Classic boy-meets-girl-boy-whips-girl love story. But in the midst of her libidinous appetite for abuse, we are graced with Erika’s natural talent for words, something we as readers are forever in debt: I pull him deeper into my mouth so I can feel him at the back of my throat and then to the front again. My tongue swirls around the end. He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. I suck harder and harder … Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves. As a fellow writer, I am completely aroused. My fully erect penis throbs for the next page. I read on, almost as fast as when Erika wrote the thing.

50 Shades of Grey has sold over 100 million copies, in 52 languages. At its peak, it was being sold every second somewhere in the world. They were mostly to women of course. But the sorts of women who buy and read this type of shit are an especially malnourished breed—none of them have ever been in love, and certainly none of them have ever even had great sex, but they do all fantasize about being spanked over and over, their orgasms bellowing across town like a Call to Prayer. After the first of the 50 Shades trilogy premiered in theaters on Valentines of 2015, stories began to arise of soiled cucumbers and sex toys being found in the back rows. This is clearly more than a distant fantasy, but rather a very real fetish. It seems more like a sex-deprived epidemic—women numbering the size of a large nation are paralyzed by their domestic sexual inhibitions, in which the only conceivable outlet is a terribly written novel and its equally terrible film adaptation.

With all our customized dating apps and easily accessible drugs, my generation is having less sex than men and women were 60 years ago. Our grandparents, with their prudish raisined lips and crooked genitals, fucked more than us. And the 50 Shades phenomenon is testament to that. Yes, the genders have their preferences—men are more brutish, humping and snorting like a warthog until they ejaculate all over her glossy buttocks and immediately roll over asleep. Women, it seems, read books. They join book clubs, and discuss over tea and biscuits the allure of being whipped with a belt—it’s akin to men watching hours of hazy porn as their retinas burn red, their penises sweaty and tired, still hanging flaccidly in their clammy grip. We humans are repressed animals, with too much religion, porn, and anti-depressants to manifest our fantasies. Rather than having great sex with a great partner, the women who spend $15 on a book like this—or $15 on the movie—prefer to shuffle around in sweatpants, their unruffled panties filling with the stink of resentment.

50 Shades Darker, the film sequel to the original, opened Valentines, which was perfect timing if you and your date like watching sadomasochism but not actually taking part in it. You can voyeuristically watch a girl being tied up and beaten, and eat more popcorn while holding your girl’s hand. It’s something French philosopher Gilles Deleuze argued didn’t exist as a real term. Sadomasochism is of course the combination of one’s desire to be bear pain through sexual acts, and another’s desire to inflict the pain. But in Deleuze’s essay Coldness and Cruelty, he confers that the sadist attempts to destroy the ego in order to unify the id and the super-ego, while masochism alone is the desire that intensifies because of a delay of sexual gratification; its sexual frustration is ‘rewarded’ as ‘unwavering coldness.’ This is The Contract, the process of controlling another, and turning them into a cold and callous prey. In other words, because a man is sexually insecure or unsatisfied, he will be more prone to tying up girls and whipping them in order to feel closer to an illusory alpha dominance.

We all have our perversions, and there is nothing better than carrying them out with a willing partner or partners—and if ball gags and hot wax are involved, all the better—but this 100-million-person fetishism for abuse is a strangely gruesome one. It’s not who is conducting the abuse that’s important, but rather the abuse itself—because Christian Grey happens to be handsome in this case, his abuse is desirable. If he were fat and pig-snouted, the same actions would be condemned as violent and rapish. If the novel itself were written by a man, it would of course be viewed as misogynistic, as hostile against women, and possibly protested against with pussy hats and vitriolic chants. It’s the fetish itself—the sadomasochism—that every sex-driven serial killer has in common with Christian Grey—they all need to assert their dominance over their chosen inferiors. Gary Ridgeway—the Green River Killer—for example, had an insatiable sexual appetite; he would lure women (mostly prostitutes) with a picture of his son. After raping them, he strangled and killed them (totaling seventy-one in all) and then dumped their bodies in the river. Or David Berkowitz—Son of Sam—the New York serial killer who in the late seventies shot and killed several couples. Whether they were kissing in their car or having a picnic in the park, Berkowitz sought to end the romantic affection of others.

The quintessential modern-day failed masochist is Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who couldn’t get laid so he killed six people—mostly young women—near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in May of 2014. Rodger was Christian Grey’s hallmark predecessor: wealthy, the son of a movie director, good looking, and sexually frustrated. Before carrying out his killing spree, he posted a 141-page autobiographical manifesto titled My Twisted World on the internet, a scrambled barely literate diatribe of his young adult trauma of still being a virgin. He also posted videos, the last one of which he justifies his cause: I’m 22-years-old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I’ve been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because  .  .  .  I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

Rodger was as much of a gentleman as Christian Grey—the only problem was that Rodger didn’t have anybody to turn cold and callous, so he just killed them instead. His misogynistic narcissism is tragic and predictable, comparable to the schoolboy reverie of Donald Trump, the title of his manifesto in ironic similarity to Mein Kampf. He wrote in his journal that he would wait outside a Dominos Pizza for hours on end waiting for a girl to walk by and smile at him so they could start talking and eventually fuck in a glorious fashion. Clearly, Dominos is mostly delivery.

Elliot Rodger was a product of American Pie derangement—the mania of some tepid conquest overpowering him. If he ever did lose his virginity, he would have been utterly disappointed, the full-steamed climax immediately evaporating into the room. Christian Grey was tirelessly charging against this same vacuous despair. He was one lonely fantasy of one lonely woman. Erika James had to keep writing about him because he kept disappearing into the same evaporation of ecstasy—without her words he would be a cloud of smoke, a fading symptom of sexual dissatisfaction, opening up space on book shelves for better writing.

Across the road from where Erika is writing her epic, there is a cherry blossom where a nest is shaking and a mother bird is tending to her chicks. Beyond that there is a garden, full of lilacs and grasses hanging heavy with dew. And beyond that there is another tall house. Inside, a bushy porcine man in a stained wife-beater is sitting back in his  couch—the foam cushions bulging out the torn ends—his hand wrapped around his sweaty penis, tugging on it like a madman as another man on the television gets whipped again, naked, screaming for more. The porcine man is so close to climax, his face contorts and then freezes in place. Everything is silent for a moment—the man, the porno on the television, the grasses and birds outside, they are all frozen in place. Erika too pauses for the first time in hours, thinking of her next word. She looks out the window with a look of devoted contemplation. Suddenly, a group of pheasants erupt from the tall grasses; the porcine man leans forward in the dim opaque room, ejaculating all over his coffee table; Erika smiles, and then writes, Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?

Father John Misty and the Death of Cool

“Very evil people cannot really be imagined dying.”

Theodor Adorno

father-john-misty-live-oct-670

by Guy Walker

It’s always been the same. Musicians are those veiled effigies we look to for momentary reprieve from being alive. We demand to be entertained, like sticky-fingered children gripping onto lollipops, yelling at the monkey to be funny again. We go to concerts and music festivals with the same gluttonous exigency, herding ourselves around towering stages, gleaming up with glossed-over eyes at the chugging fog machines soaked in red light, anticipating the silhouette of our hero for the evening.

“Distract us from this catastrophe!” we cheer. “Take us on a journey, and make it rhyme!” as we clap our hands and shake our sweaty buttocks to the main chorus. But our love of amusement is nothing new. We’ve always said it. Plato scribed the hedonistic torments of our survival, that we’ve always needed human marionettes, dancing shadows against the light. In the medieval and Renaissance periods, jesters weren’t only used to amuse noblemen. At fairs and markets, they sung songs for the common folk, pulled never-ending ribbons out of hats, told jokes, eased the restless tension of being poor and having little prospects. They made the crushing hysteria of living under a monarch that much more tolerable. Today, we’ve brought Netflix in the bedroom, Youtube channels in our back pocket, and regularly attend concerts with the same intent of escape, soaking ourselves in Red Bull vodkas and MDMA. A blast of serotonin and idol worship—today we are free!

The machinery of entertainment smothers us. The cornfed paradise spreads on. Remember Franz Liszt and the hysterical fan frenzy that ensued when the Hungarian composer and pianist took the stage, now known as Lisztomania. In the mid-19th century, crazed fans would treat Liszt as a greased-up celebrity, making bracelets out of his broken piano strings, fighting over his handkerchiefs, gloves, even locks of his hair, collecting his coffee dregs into little glass vials. One lady resurrected his old cigar butt from the gutter and encased it in a locket surrounded by diamonds. We hoist musicians up on stages so they tower over us. We blind them with coruscating measure, leaving us all in the anonymous pathetic dark. God is dead, so we needed to manufacture new gods.

A century and a half later, the mania has only worsened. For the breed of ghoulish beard-entangled apathy, there is Josh Tillman, or as he is popularly know, Father John Misty. He’s one of the leading figures of the indie rock scene; or the indie folk scene; or folk rock. With songs such as “Bored In The USA,” “I’m Writing A Novel,” “I Went To The Store One Day,” he leads us along the meandering ennui of celebrity libertinage. He exerts great effort to come across as a pessimist, a son to Hermes, to seem deep in thought, tortured, enigmatic, all the usual attributes given to artists and contemplatives. But Tillman is more. He is the direct reincarnation of two classical figures: Julie Andrews twirling between wild dandelions, unable to suppress the libidinal volcano inside her; and Nero playing the fiddle as America falls into an entropic spiral of spectacle and misery, the parody of indifference swelling inside him. Tillman is ravished by the orgiastic features of life, but needs to wear a more putrid pixelated glaze in order to exist. It’s high-definition theater, and he’s caught in his own madness.

Josh Tillman is tall, lean, his face covered in a bushel of perfumed pubic hair. Yes, he may be hideous to look at, but he fashions himself as a mirror to Jim Morrison’s last drunken days in Paris, when he was the most self-indulgent, right before he died in the bathtub with chunks of half-digested Cheerios stuck to his chest hair. His look is a biological mishap—an extended phenotype of hipsterdom—what a nest is to a bird, Josh Tillman is to hipsterdom. His entire personage is a performance, as an aloof misanthrope, like a Dostoyevskian antihero who’s won our pity because he has one or two squabbling virtues left, because we want to see him go mad in front of all of us. His charisma is synthesized glee, like he’s dancing and making jokes so he doesn’t collapse in a puddle of his own drool and beg for forgiveness under a cloud of fireflies. All in all, he is the ideal figure of a cult leader (this is of course what musicians are). Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson—they were all able to command over their disciples, their screaming fans begging to drink Kool-Aid, piss, buckets of semen, anything to say they were by their leader’s side.

When Josh Tillman dictates over the mud-soaked peasantry from high on his stage, he’s weary of his own power. It’s not that he’s pretentious; it’s more that he’s exhausted from trying to seem pretentious. Under the guise of pubescent narcissism, with his spongey tendrils waving in a burning desert, Tillman makes an appeal to the hysterical crowd of disciples: “Fuck you! I hate entertaining you, and everything it involves. Also, I’m conflicted about my manbun!!” The crowd goes wild. Kids in skinny jeans yell “Hell yeah! I’m cynical too. I haven’t washed my socks for a whole week!” A twenty-something year old with rainbow colored John Lennon glasses turns to his friend, and comments simply, “Rad. He gets it … Here, hit this.” Tillman scowls at the crowd. They’re not getting it. I actually hate all of them, he thinks to himself. At that, young women lose strength in their legs, and faint one by one like dominos, like the gaggles who collapsed during the early Beatles concerts, their 1950’s chastity bursting into wanton cherry-nippled flames, pheromones of spring and dawn collecting into visible clouds above the stage.

In the end, Tillman will go mad. With cardboard cutouts of the Snapchat doggy ears and nose glued to his face, he exclaims to a crowd of invisibles, “I’ve read Norman Mailer! I can quote Nietzsche!! I think about serious matters!!” At the impenetrable silence, he looks out across the wilting cherry blossoms, pulls out his acoustic guitar, and sings a song about canvas shelters. And all the wild animals run far far away.


Donate Button

The Swan

Of whoever has lost that which is never found
Again! Never! Of those who deeply drink of tears
And suckle Pain as they would suck the good she-wolf!
Of the puny orphans withering like flowers!

Charles Baudelaire

105704

Elisa opened her eyes to an overweight cleaning lady standing over her, nudging her, saying “Excuse me miss, very late now.” Elisa jolted immediately, as all people do when woken by a stranger, and then seeing that the middle-aged Guatemalan lady was of no obvious threat, Elisa leaned back with relief and glanced around the hotel room, still unsure of it all. The sixty-inch flatscreen was still on, an infomercial with a man screaming about a vacuum cleaner with ten free attachments. The windows were open, and the tops of perfectly manicured palm trees could be seen blowing gently just outside the window. A seagull flew by without flapping its wings, and the long white window curtains blew inward, in their stiff polyester sort of way. Elisa felt a pain in both feet, looked down and saw she was still wearing Louboutins, and then she grimaced, as if to confirm to herself that her feet actually did hurt, having worn them since the shoot the day before. It was a different pain than in her ballet years, when the pain was a distinct effort of height and poise, when it brought a modish pleasure to ache with one’s own athleticism. The overweight cleaning lady bent over to plug in the vacuum cleaner. Elisa grabbed her purse and sunglasses, thanked Juanita, and hurried out the door.

The throbbing dreamless heat of Los Angeles has not let up for over a month, and the drought is worse. In the hills, bobcats panted during the day, and they are not supposed to pant. Flowers died, or just never grew in the first place. Couples generally had less sex in the summer, not on purpose, but because people don’t like the sweating agglutinative automation of their humping, and so it just works out that way. But the singles slept around even more, almost in a confused frenzy, like trying to get one last fuck out before the end  .  .  .  strangers’ pudenda sticking together when they fell asleep, their dreams plodding along like ephemeral dehydrated farts, trying to pass the restless scenery of dreams.

Songbirds wished they could groan, but in the mornings they open their tired eyes and know they must sing. Heat does not come to a place to be enjoyed  .  .  .  it comes to repulse, to make everyone sweat, it’s a mode of lethargy, a starless drunkenness that hangs from all your body parts. People have different ways of dealing with the heat in Los Angeles: many stay indoors drinking blended margaritas, watching new episodes of The Price is Right on mute as a rotating fan no longer rotates but points directly at a man or woman’s bare chest; others stalk the cafes where there is air-conditioning and other people to sit next to, thus evoking a sense of commonality through association (most people don’t actually talk to the others sitting around them, but they would not typically sit comfortably alone in a largely vacant café either  .  .  .  it’s a declared but unspoken trade: sitting near to one another gives each other an attestation of one’s life, but to speak out of context would be uncouth); others snort cocaine in bathrooms and sweat and talk about future business ventures for hours; others watch Netflix as they munch on summer-themed cookies and milk and wait for the sun to go down, when they can finally come out, like hyenas of rage tempted at the fall of dusk. Elisa was different  .  .  .  she thrived in the heat. She grew up on a ranch in New South Wales, Australia, herding cattle from a young age, One summer when she was thirteen, she castrated several bulls, and could ride a horse better than any of the boys in town, and though her hands were firm and confident they were still slim and gentle. Tough work does not certainly turn one’s hands tough  .  .  .  there are those who cannot callus-over elegance, who cannot make one’s tendencies hard. By fourteen, she moved to New York to dance at Juilliard, and by seventeen she was discovered by a young fashion company in Venice Beach, California, while on a family vacation, while she was playing basketball on the outdoor courts near Muscle Beach, her long red hair tossed in the bright jovial rage of competition; and her fame as one of the prominent models in the world has risen ever since for the last one-and-a-half decades. Women from all over the world sought to have her figure  .  .  .  they drank coconut water and did yoga and rubbed themselves in facial creams, even though Elisa herself did not do any of these things, because men and women alike draw out huge proportions of their leaders  .  .  .  a large-breasted Dziwozona alluring in the fog, Anna Karina smoking cigarettes in Technicolor, Hillary Clinton wide-eyed and cackling about a newborn  .  .  .   it is the brittle tautological nature of the idol that makes it so. The rose-cheeked inamorata convulsing in heat, then lunging at a star. The very static nature of a picture of a man or woman in a magazine is the ontological pseudo-world that we lust and crave. Because the whole physical thing, beyond the representation, beyond the quixotic undergarments and the saturated dawn, is too much. The entirety of a human is too much to remain sane and sober.

Elisa canceled her Uber, and waved down a taxi. “Apollo Studios,” she said to the driver, “It’s down on Main. I’ll tip you well if you can make it quick.” And the driver hit the gas faster than she was expecting. She fell back into her seat, pulled out her phone and texted the photographer: “Traffic is terrible. I’ll be there in 10. Frustrated face emoji.” She looked up and saw one of her billboards: a black and white advertisement for a perfume  .  .  .  in it, she’s shifted most of her weight onto one leg, is wearing only panties and a faded white spaghetti strap, and her thumb hangs candidly from her panties, and with her other hand she lightly bites her index finger, touching the tip with her tongue, staring at the camera, and therefore at everyone who looks at the advertisement, as if to say, “What might be under these panties of mine  .  .  .  and, I thought this finger was food.” The spectacle of the desired is a positively active phenomena, an intenerate dynamism that is held in place for eternity. The picture of Elisa is not a picture, not a pixelated representation to be jaded by in the thrusts of stardom—the picture, or simulacrum, is the active being frozen for eternity. Like a single point on a multidimensional plane. The Knossosian remains are carried in the dust. The Beatles play in outer space. And man trembles to a photograph of a woman in her panties.

She looked to the cars and people shoving amongst each other on the streets of Los Angeles. A lady in pink spandex rode by on one of those bicycles you stand up on and ride like it was an elliptical. Her ass retracted and bulged with each motion, like a physiognomic pulse of weight, you could tell everything from its countenance, enough ass for King Zhou of Shang, a neon envy, a celebrated lodestar in the fog. A girl was sitting on her father’s shoulders, holding an ice-cream cone, staring with her mouth open at the lady ride by, the strawberry swirl melting all over her miniature fingers, the first drips plummeting onto her dad’s balding head. Tourists from Minnesota and Idaho and Japan, wearing large sunglasses, extending their smartphones onto selfie-sticks, posting their photos on the internet with #relaxingwithmygirls and #winning, brief forays from the beige tedium of regular life. Couples drank cocktails under yellow umbrellas, laughing, and smoking long cigarettes. They do this over and over, for months, years, making the nihility of idleness—of life itself—intoxicated just enough to make it bearable.

Elisa made it to the studio almost an hour late. “I’m so sorry,” she said, taking off her sunglasses, “Strange morning.” During the photo shoot, Guy (pronounced the French way of course) asks Elisa to stare into the camera, asks her to, as he puts it, “look sexy.” She shifts her weight, points her chin up in order to pull her jaw line back, and smiles flirtatiously. The camera shutter clicks rapidly. “Yeah. Oh. Yesss. More of that,” Guy says behind the camera. “Oh. Oh yeah. Uh-huh.” She turns around, sticking her ass out a little more than seemed natural, and looks back to Guy, her hair tossed from the large fan blowing in her direction, blowing her up and down. Her smiles straightens into a face of mysterious sophistication. Guy loves this: “Oh baby, you’re so good,” as he clicks away. André Breton ended his book with “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or it will not be at all.”

It was almost a year later. Elisa tied her bootstraps and pushed open the barn door, and could begin to make out the darker silhouettes of fences and trees against the dim horizon, like a little flame was barely lit behind all that sky. Her fingers were cold, and every movement she made she could feel her joints rub in the stiff winter morning, and her own body heat had not rubbed against the inside of the jacket long enough yet to make it warm. She walked past the stall where two-hundred chicks huddled together under a heat lamp, a couple more of them dead, because, as Jim says, the cold pushes out the weak. Jim has farmed and ranched this same land all his life, but his back is old now, and he cannot do the amount of work he did just a couple years prior, and so Elisa has taken over much of the work, and they have dinner together a few nights during the week. Fyodor, the Queensland Heeler, the most compassionate of all the dogs Jim has had on the farm, came trotting up beside Elisa, as he does every morning. His light fur contrasted against the dark air, his tag lightly jingled against his collar, so Elisa always knew it was old Fyodor coming up behind her. He accompanied Elisa through her morning routine, and seated himself politely as she fed the goats and the turkeys and the chickens. The two of them walked to the next pasture in a gorgeous silence together, side by side, the sky still perfectly at rest, and she looked up as she often did and felt satisfied by seeing all the stars again. She could see her breath now, and made a point of exhaling deeply in order to see how much of her breath she could see at once. The many piglets heard their footsteps and came running up to her, snorting in unison, lining up against the other side of the electric fence, one of them getting shocked on its nose, and squealing sharply. Elisa stepped over the wire and set out several large plastic pans in the grass, the little pigs rubbing their wet noses against her legs, drawing a mess of glistening snail-trails on her rubber boots. She poured them their food, and they all fought over each other, as they always have, since they fought for a drop from a nipple, stepping on each other and shoving each other for more room. From the beginning, all animals, including man, must shove away the others and grab hold of the huge leaking tit, and never let go. If he does not follow this rule, the others will, and he will die alone in the cold.

The sun was just now coming over the furthest ridge, the bright love-maddened ribbons shooting across the sky, bringing with it the slightest edge of warmth to Elisa’s face and fingers  .  .  .  the grasses hanging heavily with frozen dew, like limpid coruscating lanterns, the grasshoppers hushing off their frigid bulk. The lethargy of the world was waking up again  .  .  .  no amount of nihilism can stop the grasshoppers from rubbing their legs. “Good Morning Ferdinand!” Elisa said cheerily to the dark sinewed thoroughbred as she entered the stable. Ferdinand looked up and nodded with a gentle excitement. He liked the sound of her voice, and she liked talking to him, and she sometimes thought it looked like Ferdinand knew what she was talking about. “Have you been waiting for me? Look at you.” And he cocked his head and blew air from out of his nostrils playfully. She brushed him down until his hair was smooth and glistened under the lights hissing overhead, and he stood there patiently, his big dark wet eyes watching her. She scraped under his shoes, put on his blanket and then his saddle, and tightened the belt under his belly, his long veins permanently bulging. She hoisted herself onto the saddle, and didn’t say anything because she didn’t need to say anything, and they walked out of the barn and into the pneumatic plain. The flirtish Australian desert gnawing with a million tiny antagonists, long shadows of the dawn stretched beyond the edge of the grasses  .  .  .  the gentle madness stirring from its slumber. They walked beyond the ranch land, where the birds were singing and beginning their flights out from the tall grasses, and they walked up the mountain along the narrow trail. A snake crossed the trail directly in front of them, but neither Elisa nor the horse were afraid. Ferdinand simply held back, watched the snake slither by in the sand, her large pixelated diamonds across her back, her cool loneliness breathing again, as she disappeared into the sagebrush.

The line of sun was a little further up the mountain. They were still in the shadow, but would be there soon. Elisa looked back, and the barn looked so small, and the cows and pastures like little toys, and she smiled.

Iggy Azalea and the Death of Freedom

aeonflux

“The high pool is always steaming. What witch will rise up on the white sunset? What purple foliage will descend? …While public funds flow into fraternal holidays, a clock of pink fire strikes in the clouds.” Rimbaud

An ambrosial heaving sun made the four men sweat, standing and talking amongst themselves on the asphalt atop the Santa Monica stairs. The insignificant veins of shade cast from the many manicured palm trees did not provide any reprieve for the men, but they were strong men so they were tougher than the sun. Their shaven chests were immaculate, perfectly glistened with diamonds of sweat, their iPods velcroed around their biceps, their headphones draped around their necks like loosened neckties. Beside them, a young black guy wearing a headband was playing Iggy Azalea’s Pu$$y on his boom box as loud as it would go as he hopped around on work-out cones. “Pussy, pussy, pussy” Iggy repeated. One of the four men adjusted his cock, just a useless reposition, as if to make certain it was still there. Another uncrossed his arms and then crossed them again. The man wearing Adidas striped basketball shorts cleared his throat and then said “There’s no way they’re real. No fucking way, dude. She’s a tease anyways. I’d let her suck my cock, but that’s it bro.” “I guaranfuckintee they are,” the blonde crewcut one said, “and no, I’d definitely fuck her, I’d just maybe slap her as well.” They argued like this as various libidinal types ascended the stairs, usually moderately young men and women reaching the top of the stairs and then turning back again, returning to the bottom. Everyone repeated this awful hopeless routine like Botoxed automatons, walking up and down again and again until everything was clenched and taut, until their tiny unctuous assholes pulsed in and out with stair-walking fatigue. Hundreds of people here do this every day, pacing back and forth in a way, like a Smerdyakov character lost on a displaced treadmill, kicking the modish dust back towards a desert. A tragedy of adventure, a drunken childhood that never explored a cave. In front, lined $10 million homes, all pruned and maintained by Mexicans—that’s what the owners of the houses called all of them anyways—their lawnmowers and blowers trimming everything into tidy slavish lawns, neat rose bushes that waited like old ladies sitting with clotted lipstick and heavy jewelry, geraniums tired of beauty, a few remaining bees fading away. A chihuahua barked obsessively at a Mexican man digging in the soil around a freshly planted birds-of-paradise. A woman in a purple bathrobe and perfectly combed hair and grossly thin lips opened the stained-glass front door and stepped outside. “Jeremy! Jeremy! Get back in here you adorable little monster!” And the chihuahua turned and ran into the house, and then barked again at the Mexican as the woman closed the door.

The egodystonic fuckery of our banal modern existence did not just appear out of nowhere. The utter triteness of affluent America isn’t merely the temporary prima donnian resolve of an ill-fated Big Bang, nor is it an ontological mess of countless evolutionary fuckups  .  .  .  yes, the four men standing around proud of their sweat are in some ways the horrid face of billions of years of cosmological occurrence, of various colliding supernovae and pulsars, but still, there is more complexity here. There is a demon at work, a heautontimoroumenos of a trite undertaking. Iggy Azalea’s Pu$$y—presumably the dollar bill signs represent ’S’ in the English alphabet, as Iggy repeats ‘pussy’ over and over again—signifies something close to the culmination of universal Self-Torment. In the music video, Iggy licks a few different popsicles, holds an umbrella on a normal dry day, and lays her head in the crotch of a little black boy who was previously riding on a plastic electric horse as he slaps the inanimate object’s ass. The video itself is not anything new or especially provocative—merely a blonde Australian girl with a huge ass supposedly rapping about pussy. But it is difficult to determine exactly what Iggy Azalea is trying to communicate to us—is she in fact rapping about the condition of her pussy, or is she stating that men spend egregious amounts of money and thought on getting any pussy they can, or is she actually claiming that the nomological determinists were correct about Laplace’s Demon, that in fact we have no moral responsibility today because the laws of the universe previous to our birth determined everything that is and everything that ever will be? Let us examine:

It is rumored that if you play the song backwards at the same time you play the audio of Kim Kardashian’s moanings in her sex video, you can hear Kamikaze war planes exploding. I tried it when I was alone and particularly bored, and the rumors lack any serious evidence of such. But the banality of her music video, as well as Kim’s as she imitates a donkey, as well as countless other spectacles of our sexuality in popular culture, represents something of a higher order. Iggy’s song and video is interesting because it is so uninteresting. Perhaps we are desensitized to the mountains of cock and tits that swell over us, but perhaps it is more than this. Aldous Huxley, author of the dystopian classic Brave New World, made the claim that the rise of our sexual freedom coincides directly with our political enslavement: “As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase. And the dictator  .  .  .  will do well to encourage that freedom  .  .  .  It will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” Now, the religious folk will predictably applaud such a claim; they still protest that we should not have threesomes, that we should wait until marriage before falling asleep in the same room, that we should wear full-legged knickers over our bathing suits, that women’s panties should be huge. As a child attending Sunday school, I once had a teacher who told me we should all be striving to be like Mother Mary, to give birth to a child without any fornication whatsoever. Here we are caught between two worlds: one that popularizes sex until it becomes an indistinct fustian hunchback of dick, and another that is so afraid of anatomy and pleasure. And even though marriage as a societal institution predates all known recorded history, its original role was obviously never meant as a declaration of love, but as a banal alliance between families  .  .  .  and monogamy wasn’t mandated until the 9th century, when the Catholic Church could declare and enforce law.

The Church has always fucked everything up for us sexually. Dildos for example existed in the Upper Palaeolithic period 30,000 years ago, made of stone, tar, and wood, found in the Hohle Fels Cave in Germany. Didlo-like breadsticks existed in Greece prior to the fifth century. Today, American Baptist preacher Dan Ireland has spoken out against all fake dicks, stating “There are moral ways and immoral ways to use a firearm  .  .  .  There are no moral ways to use [a dildo]. They entice improper and potentially deadly behavior.” It is an interesting argument he makes: guns are good, but dildos can kill people. In some ways he’s right. I know a firefighter very well who found an obese dead guy prone on the bed, with a mechanized dildo still penetrating his ass after at least a couple days of laying dead. I wish I was making this shit up. Dildos are deadly. But then so are Bibles and toothbrushes and catnip. So why is Dan Ireland so afraid of dildos? Was he beaten with one as a child? Did he walk in on his father? In 1998, the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act prohibited the sale of sex toys in Alabama, and it still stands today. Dildos are only black market material in Alabama. Condoms are another example. They were used at least as far back as 11,000 years ago. In China, in the 1400’s A.D., they would wrap it in sheep intestines, and then pack it into their lover like a marshmallow into a keyhole. The Catholic Church has always been outspoken against the use of condoms, but they are great at covering up child molestation. Religion prospers during war and economic strife, but when exactly does it fade, consequently opening room for further sexual liberation? French philosopher Michel Foucault agreed with Huxley, in that furthering sexual liberation also ushered in “devious and discreet form[s] of power.” But one must remain skeptical of the intellectuals, because yes, Foucault and Huxley are considered by most as smart men, but Foucault was bald and Huxley had a terribly dull love life, and a man is still a man, no matter how strict and revered an academic he is, meaning they were both likely bitter non-alpha types. Wilhelm Reich on the other hand ushered in the sexual liberation to the United States immediately following the second World War, and he did so as a psychoanalyst, and he fucked more women than the most pernicious Lotharios today. So where are we today? Yes, Iggy Azalea does rap about her albino vagina freely, but rates of sex-slavery are also higher today than any point in human history, something not so representative of an era’s sexual freedom. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, illustrates this perfectly  .  .  .  he spent £11,300 on his wife’s hair and make-up in a single year, and she is still fat and repulsive. So we are left wondering: does force-fed improvement actually improve anything? Does the popularization of sex actually make us more liberated? Edward Snowden even admitted the NSA can see all of your dickpics, something terrifying for modern man.

I slept with a Hungarian woman last night. It was fine and all, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we were only fucking because there is drone warfare spread throughout the Middle East, killing innocents who will never receive their justice. Does our gasping from a particularly sordid 69 originate as a direct way of coping with the NSA’s Prism program? Is reverse cowgirl in fact a testament of the disparity of wealth across the country and the world? Aldous Huxley thinks so. So does Michel Foucault. I spend a fair amount of my time and money staring at women in their lingerie as they twirl around a metal pole at Jumbo’s Clown Room, a burlesque bar in Los Angeles, and the dancers’ coquettish physiognomy that follows. Some people prefer to walk up and down stairs in the sun. Some attend church, handing money into baskets as they go by. I sit as the dancers twirl, throwing my money on the stage, drinking beer as California dries up.

God is dead. Iggy Azalea is dead. We are nearly there. The Chihuahua barks one last time then curls next to the woman and closes its eyes. Iggy’s fat ass wasn’t enough to keep the awful night away. She never had the guts to stay alive. Ferdinand Louis Celine said it best: “So many vaginas, stomachs, cocks, snouts, and flies you don’t know what to do with them … shovelsfull! … but hearts? … very rare! in the last five hundred million years too many cocks and gastric tubes to count … but hearts? … on your fingers! …”

From Here to Eternity

by Guy Walker

19326392

Three oysters for twenty-four dollars. Every time I sucked in the erotic phlegmy growth, I paid the waiter my half-hour working wage. I have a habit of counting ten dollars in hits of ecstasy—an appetizer at a fancy restaurant in Hollywood on a three-course Christmas eve dinner for the price of two and a half hits of ecstasy. Not bad. I couldn’t help remember when I lived in a spare closet in a house on an island in Norway, and in the evenings we’d bicycle out to the river mouth and collect hundreds of blue shells, and the pretty girl with the long red hair would cook them in garlic and butter, and we’d drink a jug of cooking wine together and make love until the seagulls screamed their vile obscenities—it was mating season for them too, and the sun never slept, and neither did we.

“Sounds like this is clearly a pattern for her,” my uncle said, sitting across from me, always slightly smiling in his jovial penetrative old age, “to just run out on someone who loves her.” He was speaking about the ballet dancer who broke up with me and then drove off in the middle of the night, leaving Los Angeles altogether.

“Another Pellegrino please,” I called to the waiter. He wore an ironed black collared shirt, his hands folded behind his back, and he bowed obediently at my request. I craved a martini, but my aunt and uncle don’t drink, and I respect them because they are rare and gentle and good enough to be respected, so this arrogant magisterial form of water was the best I could do. I don’t remember what I replied to my uncle—something about the loss of innocence—all I remember was the girl with the long tan legs and the good posture and the gorgeous face walk into the restaurant. It’s easy to automate any conversation—I do it with everybody as I think about the ocean, or how I would like to throw rocks at sand dunes, or how it would feel to hold an ice-cream cone until it melts completely over my hand. Anything. We live in playgrounds. So I automated the rest of the conversation with my relatives, and stared at all the strutting pullulating romance ahead. The girl sensed I was still looking at her, and her eyes turned to mine, and she smiled a little, I’m pretty sure.

She then turned away and headed to the other room of the restaurant with her family, to go suck oysters in their buttered cream.

“Any special plans for New Years?” my aunt asked. She sipped her raspberry Izze from a champagne glass and then wiped the corners of her mouth with a crudely neoteric purple cloth napkin. My aunt is one of those extremely beautiful women who could probably heal the world if given the right chance. But we’re all chewing on the last morsels of innocence, and I knew not many of her kind are around any more.

“Well, a friend from college invited me to Vegas,” I replied, “It’s all very random and unexpected how it happened, but she was always just the sweetest person in school.” And we all smiled and agreed that it would be a very lovely time indeed. The waiter returned to our table and poured my Pellegrino like it was a choice Italian wine.

On arriving here, I parked my car around the corner, and walked past the sick miasmal backdoor of the restaurant, where the cooks took out dripping bags of food scraps and wasted meat and coffee grounds and crumpled blotted toilet paper all spun and sprinkled with used tampons. Who knows what else. My lonely cheap appetite for ruin wanted the overloaded bags to burst from their bottoms, for all their contents to spill into heaps of trash, as piñatas of misery, and the pigeons and the homeless and I could all scurry into a frenzy, sorting through the garbage and picking out little morsels of red velvet cake and hunks of fat cut from the steaks. But it didn’t happen. The trash boy just heaved the bags over the edge of the dumpster, and that was that. The sidewalk was stained forever from years of heaving kitchen waste over the edge. A homeless man walked by me, his head down, muttering his obscure lucid rituals to himself. A pigeon limped on her peg leg. A rose bush grew from its square-foot portal, cut back for the winter, but still pushing madly for a bud.

“O darling!” a lady across from our table touched her breast and smiled, and her apparent man-crush or husband leaned back and laughed approvingly. “O darling,” she said again, “you shouldn’t have.” And she set her nearly empty wine glass down and leaned across the table and he leaned across the table and they kissed—just a peck, if that even qualifies as a kiss. If no bodily fluids are exchanged whatsoever, then it is usually something else—a tepid grunt in the animalistic heap of conversation. They smiled more and said a lot more blushing reassuring things to each other, and then he excused himself, either to piss or to shit, or to jerk off or clean under the rim of his penis. Bathrooms are the last deserted refuges for us to go. Whenever I go out to bars or clubs, I go to the bathroom so many times when I don’t need to—it’s the only place you can breathe, the only place you don’t have to keep bluffing, where you can sigh in the comfort of yourself. The lady kept tapping her bright red fingernails against the edge of the glass, and she kept pressing her very listicked lips together, staring down at her glowing phone, scrolling through various doddering archives of the young and the famous.

I wanted to see the girl with the good posture and the gorgeous face, and make her smile and lean forward. I know it’s pretty much everywhere—the brief consorting episodes that help us make it through the squalid nights—a little hope and intrigue that keep our pulse quietly surging. Lacan was right—desire itself is what we have to chase but never catch—it’s what keeps us running towards the light again and again. When it comes to romance, we are all dogs, running again and again after the ball that was thrown, retrieving with little scraps of optimism, panting, gasping for more. Somehow we all believe getting laid helps, as if for just a moment it actually relieves us from the immortality of quarantine. Anyways, I looked down and ate my fish and velvet cake, and sipped my espresso. Before leaving, I asked the waiter for a pen, and wrote my phone number on a scrap of paper, and walked into the other room of the restaurant and gave it to the girl, and she smiled and told me her name was Lily. I would have kissed her right then and there because she was so damn pretty, and I know she could have too, but there are rules to these sorts of things—we would need a very tailored context to actually do what we desire. So I just told her to call me sometime.

I hugged my relatives, drove home to my little house in Topanga beach, collected my kitten, tent, coffee, stove, two huge blankets of many sewn together rabbit furs, firewood, and many other odds and ends for the next week. After Christmas in the mountains at my parents’ huge secluded home, I kissed my kitten on the head and he bit my finger and sucked on it, and he kneaded my chest with his paws and purred loudly, and I hugged him again, leaving him at my parents home, and then drove a hundred-and-ten miles an hour through the desert where all the Joshua trees grow and the spiny creatures hide in their corners of shade. The wind blew hard and burned my lips, and I went hiking and got lost amongst the huge swirling red rocks during the day, and huddled around my fire drinking box wine from a tin can. It was so cold, I couldn’t feel my fingers. Sometime that night, there in the middle of the desert, I received a text message from Lily. She wanted to meet up, sometime tomorrow evening, but I’d be out here a few more days in the desert before heading to Vegas before heading back to Los Angeles. So we wrote back and forth a while and made plans to meet up as soon as I returned. I set the phone down and stoked the florid embers until the flame returned.

Vegas on New Years Eve happened with the other beautiful girl who normally lives in Amsterdam. I could die just seeing her smile. We drank and danced and snuck into the parties, and did everything you’re meant to do in Vegas. I like strolling the casino floors early in the morning the best. Somehow you feel the same lonely confidence on the crowded casino floor as you do in the desert. The winds howl through the red canyons, biting you around your neck, and all the cacti shiver in the wind, and a pack of coyotes scream and convulse in the middle of the night, and you get a glimpse of Eternity, as if this here is the state of the Universe forever and everywhere—nothing but wind kicking sand into the overcast sky, and only you’re there to see it. Crowded casinos are much the same. Obese men hunched over their wheelchairs, pressing the buttons of slot machines again and again, trying to win back their happiness and youth, and the ubiquitous ringing of bells and chatter and coughing. Blonde women strutting around with cigarette trays, smiling at everyone, their panties sweating and aching from all that endless roaming around. Vietnamese ladies dressed in uniform, just standing there with unused aging faces behind their blackjack tables, waiting for any random half-drunken stranger to sit down and play cards with them. Every casino has its own distinct fragrance, but really they’re all the same miserable pheromone of a free America. A thousand bartenders pour their ten-thousandth drink at the same time, and a girl in a tight little white dress sips one from a miniature straw. I was with the beautiful girl, standing in line for a crepe at the Bellagio, staring at the chocolate fountain, staring at the parts that flow freely and the stagnant chocolate pool that had formed a thick film with a stray hair on top. A large Chinese lady in a long green and white striped penguin coat is behind me, and she smiles at me with big wide-open eyes.

“Helloo honey,” she says, “you having a fine time?”

“Very fine,” I reply. Her smile is contagious and honest, and I can’t stop grinning. “Sure is the happiest place I’ve ever been.”

“Oh yes honey. I’ve been coming here for twenty-nine years. My mother is waiting for me, she just loves it so much too. Oh you and your girlfriend are just so pretty. You are very lucky, you both are.”

“Ah, thank you. You been lucky tonight?”

“Oh yes, I started in the morning by losing thirty-two hundred. But I went to eat my lunch, and I came back, and I said, ‘Betty, you’re going to make it all back,’ and I’ve won everything back so far. Very lucky.”

We talked a while longer, and she told me of all her big winnings over the last three decades, and then told me not to eat the pastries in this front window. They are old and I will die if I eat them, she says. She eventually leaves without buying anything, and I never saw her again. But the beautiful girl and I danced more and drank many more Old Fashions, and kissed beautifully when the New Years exploded, and in the morning I dropped her off at the airport to fly back to Amsterdam, and I guess that was that.

Driving home I knew I would miss the desert—everything constantly roaring and exhausting inside your head is quieted when you are in the desert. The cities are just a perishing thunder. All that empty squalid paradise passing by—there was an abandoned hotel in the middle of nowhere with huge overgrown palm trees towering over its crumbling walls. I was writing a lot with Lily during my drive, and then she told me during “a photo shoot in Malibu” her car got broken into. Just terrible. “And now I have a lovely cardboard box on the window haha,” she wrote. I told her not to worry, that my front window has been stuck rolled up halfway for the last several months. That was the last I heard from her, she never wrote again. I wanted to tell her I didn’t like the window in the first place, or I can do eighteen pull-ups, or I can beat everybody else on the freeway. But I didn’t, I just turned up Giorgio’s From Here to Eternity as loud as I could, and drove with only one hand on the steering wheel.

From the road, I could see above me a flock of birds flying in formation. I pulled over and ate a hotdog at a remote dusty gas station, and watched the sun set across the enormous old desert. The wind had calmed, and everything was quiet once more. For the first time in months, I finally felt happy again.

The Return of Nietzsche: God is Alive and Well

by Guy Walker

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on October 16, 2014)

tumblr_inline_ndk309zwbA1r1pxgx

The spider hung from the elm tree from one thread of silk, about to cast its web as the buff cornfed scenes of the middleclass passed by, humming along in their Priuses, squinting into the setting sun, or staring intently into their own private glowing rectangles. The sky could only sigh with fabulous ennui as the cloudless weight of another torrid sapless evening rolled in. It hadn’t rained for months, and before that it was just a distressed cough of moisture that fell rather than rained. The pigeons still limped as usual—that didn’t change with the drought—and the humans were still achieving their various tasks of import, like driving around getting ‘Thank You’ cards, or picking up soy milk, or buying Halloween preparations, or attaching a 1977 filter to an image of their 2014 life. Various scenes of normality ticked throughout the biscuit-colored towns: a cat tossed the headless body of a mouse around on the sidewalk; a boy wearing a huge helmet bicycled towards Main Street, then stopped to pick his nose; a man sneezed as he collected the mail in his bathrobe. The setting sun warmed all the west-facing stucco walls of all the track houses throughout all those endless miles of suburban bourgeois happiness, and the sprinklers were soaking another lawn, their expensive drops flying and pummeling the little ants as they tried to run for safety from their exhausted flood. The banausic hum of humanity was wrapping up another day.

A blonde lady wearing her favorite leopard-print fedora—she had several—pulled into her driveway in her red convertible mustang, and reached down to reposition her panties between her short skirt. She took off her sunglasses, looked at herself in her rearview mirror, and sighed. She didn’t know it, but the Universe really didn’t care for her. But she had a half-emptied baggie of Prozac in which all the pills were crushed into a fine mephitic powder, into which she scooped a sizeable bump with the long red fingernail on her pinky finger. After sucking in all that ashen voodooed happiness, she pinched her nose, wincing, feeling the sting. Her fingers dripped with blood, and she mumbled a bad word, and wiped her nose with her hand and looked in the mirror again, and her whole upper lip was smeared with blood, and she heard voices and footsteps and rustled around to find a tissue that was still clean.

Good evening Mrs. Freeman, a female voice said sweetly.

Mrs. Freeman looked up, her leopard-print fedora crooked on her head, her big Jackie Kennedy sunglasses hiding her tears, blood dripping sweetly from her nose. O hello Aaeesha, she smiled. Aaeesha means Life and Vivaciousness in Arabic, but Mrs. Freeman had always thought it a queer nondescriptive word, like Shampoo or Scissors. Aaeesha stood there, looking sweet but concerned, her eye still healing, her thin mauve burka tickled in the evening breeze, her two young children hiding behind her dress, and she offered Mrs. Freeman a tissue.

The spider paused to watch the two women interact. He didn’t know anything about race relations, or the recent clamor to be the most politically correct, or the recent televised debates about the intrinsic misanthropy within Islamic religious belief; he didn’t know which pew poll was most accurate in describing Indonesia’s support for Sharia Law (some estimates are in the upward range of 70 percent); he only considered Nietzsche’s fifth book in The Gay Science: We do not by any means think it desirable that the kingdom of righteousness and peace should be established on earth (because under any circumstances it would be the kingdom of the profoundest mediocrity and Chinaism); we rejoice in all men, who like ourselves love danger, war and adventure, who do not make compromises, nor let themselves be captured, conciliated and stunted; we count ourselves among the conquerors; we ponder over the need of a new order of things, even of a new slavery for every strengthening and elevation of the type “man” also involves a new form of slavery. The spider considered for a while as he strung his gossamer thread from end to end, as the patient Darwinian clock ticked away, pausing, watching as Mrs. Freeman accepted the tissue, excusing herself for yet another unsightly occasion, wiping her nose and trying again to smile to the children.

Mrs. Freeman and Aaeesha are part of that very rare breed of animals who don’t fight the setting sun to stay alive, who don’t still lurk the sodden currents for a drink of water, or dig away in caves with their squatting ape-man tribe. They fuck once a week, water their grass three times a week, watch Youtube videos of cats befriending owls, and search for the best parking spots at the gym—in other words, they’re just two regular ‘ol ladies trying to kill time before time kills them. Because once food and water and shelter and sex are won, Misery leads you to the shrieking grave. Wars are the obvious choice—they’re the easiest burdening romance to fix any boredom. Ferdinand Celine described it as “the minions of King Misery,” as he slopped in the shit-ridden trenches with his other Frenchmen, throwing bullets towards the Germans, screaming obscenities through the night. ISIS isn’t raping women by the thousands, or burying children alive, or beheading American journalists for any reason different than the US is bombing innocent villages in Yemen, or outsourcing their kill lists to Somalian warlords, or funding the Israeli occupation at an average rate of $6.6 million a week for the last 66 years, or funding and training deathsquads in Latin America, or establishing worldwide regimes of torture—they are violently bored nihilists who already wish they were dead themselves. Nietzsche pinpointed this over a century ago, arguing that our love for “danger, war and adventure,” didn’t arise out of intrinsic barbarism within the human animal, or within religion itself, but rather out of our need to never be captured. War is the collective scream to rid the Self of boredom, to assure that the Self will never be captured. It’s one last attempt to fuck the arid landscape before the sun goes down.

Last week’s debate on Real Time with Bill Maher, including Ben Affleck and Sam Harris, in which each other passed blows on whether or not some humans enjoy death and pillagery more than others, resulted in a long maelstrom of intellectual bitchfights, including Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan, some guy named @dan_verg_ and many others, all trying to yell who and what is more violent. As the impish grunting ape-men who so patiently evolved into high-fashioned bristled intellectuals of late night HBO talk shows argue about if Islam is intrinsically violent, they are all doing the same thing: merely trying to kill before being captured, trying to wear wings on the delusions of animals. Aspiring intellectuals still debate whether or not Hitler or Stalin’s epochal venom had anything to do with being anti-religion. But Hitler was also a vegetarian, making a dangerously good case that vegetarians are potentially evil centaurs at heart. He also enjoyed petting his German Shepherd, Blondi, posing the threat that dog owners are annoying life-killing Archfiends. But within religion itself, after “the crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child,’ justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men” (Violence in Christian Theology), and after Haun’s Mill massacre and the Mountain’s Meadow massacre, after countless kidnappings, suicide bombing, mass murders, assassinations, airline hijackings, in which only Communism as an ideology is responsible for more deaths and violence than Islam, after Israel really fucked everything up for everyone, turning to Deuteronomy 7:1-2 or Deuteronomy 20:16-18 or several others to follow explicit instructions from God to the Israelites to search and destroy other tribes, after countless tribes conducting human sacrifice and religious self-flagellation, one might begin to wonder if religion just maybe have the possibility of somehow or someway be related to violence across the world. There was the Constantinian shift, embroiling Christianity with government. There was the Christian persecution of paganism under Theodosius I. There was the Roman Inquisition. There was the Muhammad cartoon crisis, resulting in mass violent protests, including the burning of European embassies, death threats, even an attack with an axe on the cartoonist himself. During the siege of Beziers in 1209, a Crusader asked Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric how to tell the Cathars from the Catholics, to which Amalric replied, “Kill them all; God will recognize his.”

As for ISIS’s relation to the core teachings of Islam, Ben Affleck and Sam Harris are saints of reason, probing us to look ever deeper into the dark glory hole of religion: pew polls suggest a 99% support for Sharia Law in Afghanistan, 74% support in Egypt, 91% in Iraq, which would involve death to apostates, stoning of adulterers, and chopping off the hands of thieves. On the other hand, many leaders of ISIS have been held captive at one point in U.S. military prisons, something that the photos that leaked from Abu Ghraib don’t suggest helped U.S. relations with radical Islam. Reza Aslan, a Muslim himself, assures the world that Islam preaches neither peace nor violence, (even though the ISIS leaders have repeatedly turned to the pages of the Quran to justify their actions). Sam Harris wishes to believe that if religion ceased to exist altogether, there would be peace. Glenn Greenwald is just stoked he’s selling books now. And Ben Affleck already slept with J. Lo, so he really doesn’t give a fuck. What they’re really debating though, has nothing to do with radical or normal Islam at its core, but rather why man will never fill his lust for “danger, war and adventure.” By Lacanian theory, the whole point of this desire is to never reach it. A kingdom of righteousness and peace was never meant to be reached in the first place (which is why Muslims must die rightly in order to reach their paradise of virgins) . . . Lacan argued that wants and needs can be achieved with a rather urgent ease, but desire is the eternal elusive lust that we must always pursue but never catch. By pursuing his kingdom of righteousness and peace, man will create his wars, his little swelling torments of belief, his tragic flatulence of salvation. It’s the ape who throws the most feces wins.

Man loves his war in troops. He loves his slavery in droves of bleeding Prozac trolls, everyday another heartbreak as the sun sets and the sleepers fall asleep. Too bad, too bad, too bad.

As Aaeesha and Mrs. Freeman part ways, and head to their happy private lives, a fly catches in the spider’s web. All eight legs move him across to the writhing desperate fly, and he begins wrapping him in a spool of silk, tickled in the evening air.

Joan Rivers, Death Stalker in the Moonless Night

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on September 2, 2014)

by Guy Walker

tumblr_inline_nbanzgUt1j1r1pxgx

 

You, who like a dagger ploughed 
Into my heart with deadly thrill:
You who, stronger than a crowd
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill.

Baudelaire, The Vampire

The year is 2034, and it’s another thick sudoric Sunday morning in Griffith Park. The sun hasn’t even risen above all those frantic cheerless steel erections; instead, it parts into several different begging golden rays of light, each of them shining onto the remains of the park, onto a limping pigeon or a patch of tall dead grass or a bald and frozen oak tree standing alone. There are so many seagulls, thousands of them, crazed and screaming and flying between the shadows from the buildings and the pouring stuffed morning light. They’re flying in every direction and then back to do it again; it’s like watching the old ones in the asylums run their circles. One gull with a spasm in its neck lands on a stoplight that’s all blacked out in front of Capitol Records. The seagull looks down the long soundless streets; no movement in sight except for an occasional rabid dog running across. The seagull stands there, twitching his neck, trying to remember: what the fuck is wrong with Los Angeles?He remembers there was something, and it wasn’t just the enormous buildings and the long waiting streets and the ubiquitous scent of piss. There was some sort of commotion, some big deal that went on here. He scans his memory for a second as the sun rises enough to crest the top of his head.

Birds typically have remarkable memories, many of them return to where they stored seeds months prior. Even pigeons are congratulated with modest degrees of intelligence—psychologist B.F. Skinner, along with R.P. Epstein and Robert Lanza argued in 1981 that the pigeon shows levels of self-awareness, as demonstrated in a series of mirror tests. But the seagull; the seagull has survived this Last Collapse, this human orgy of death that turned the sky all red  .  .  .  and it doesn’t even know it; it’s always been destined to survive on other’s misery, like a Dostoyevskian hero as it parades in the dying morning sky. Gulls exhibit highly complex communication systems; they are one of the only species of bird to drink salt water; they are monogamous as well as faithful; and they are single-minded kleptomaniacs, making them more human than all other winged warm-blooded vertebrates.

The gull then saw the entry of a now-abandoned convenience store it had stolen from many times before. It all came back, the memories. All the thick entropic mass of human flesh and their cars and horns and stinking teenage farts. In a flash, he saw his last nineteen years of unadulterated vapidness. All the desperate neon light buzzing in the night, all the garbage and soiled panties he’d picked through, all the women with their Botox lips shooing him away. He looked down the miles of empty hot asphalt with a sickening nostalgia for humans. How could it all have ended like this? he thought. How could they have all died so fast?

Then he glanced across the road into Griffith Park, into the deserted anhydrous landscape. He thought about all the dog owners who used to come here to walk their dogs, and bring their little doggie bags, and talk to each other about each other’s dogs and how handsome or pretty they looked. The gull knew he would miss the dog people the most—they were so rational and levelheaded.

Suddenly the gull saw a movement where the chess players used to play. A shadow leaning over one of the tables. There were two figures in total. The last two humans, the only one’s he’d seen in years, and they were playing chess in the 110 degree morning. He flew closer, careful not to be seen. There was a little boy in a chair, his feet not even reaching the ground, and he was crying. The chess game was going awful for him, it was over with for the most part, just a tragic finale was left. Across the table from him was nothing less than a female villain, a volcanic perverted form of Anahita, her nostrils flaring orange napalm, her face completely embalmed by a hundred plastic surgeons who she later killed by chopping off their penises fluttering in the silver moonlight, saving them in a mason jar to perform magic tricks with. She was skinnier than the rotting corpse of Heidi Fleiss—every time she shifted in her chair she broke another bone, but it never caused her pain, it only made her more evil, more awful and smelly. The seagull felt the inhuman chill even from this far away, but he still couldn’t tell whothe woman was, her face was down in shadow, her white acicular eyes gleaming from the dark. Then she sat up, smiling a deathless smile, the baking sun shining on her cheeks, almost melting her plastic cheeks away. And the gull finally saw who she was. It was Joan Rivers, immortal and evil as ever.

“Holy shit,” the gull said to himself. “The legend is true after all: Joan Rivers still prowls, and she must kill to stay alive.” The gull had heard about Ms. Rivers many times before, as he flew among those high chariots of madness, the other seagulls screaming that they had seen her squatting on all fours, her face plunged in the open ribcage of an old celebrity, as once was Demi Moore screaming for her mercy. Joan was never actually funny! one of the seagulls yelled as the golden light poured under his wings. She hated everything! Once she screamed that my feathers were not white enough! she threw rocks at me, her legs spread in that stained fur coat of hers!

Joan Rivers still writhes for fragments of attention, like a star-nosed mole groping blindly in the tunnels of China, trying to claim some biological purpose. Ugly creatures who roam the earth are typically pardoned because of their unwitting importance to sustain life itself. They may not be the prettiest things in the world, a reasoned biologist purports, but the rainforest couldn’t survive without it. The helmeted hornbill, the blobfish, the aye-aye, the monkfish—they may all suffer under curses of hate and deformity, but at least they plead humbly for a better more fertile world. But no one knows why Joan Rivers was created. Why? a young lascivious Pan asks himself, Why the fuck did I create this contorting monster? Not only is she uglier than the worst I made on my drunken diabolical parades of madness, she is spewing commands about yellow-speckled dresses and bombing the Gaza Strip.

Every time a Jewish woman wears an unflattering dress, Joan Rivers has night tremors. She moans in her sleep, alone, a damp wind blowing in her long white curtains, a cockroach turns and scurries the other way. “NO!” she screams as she claws her wrinkled tits, “Wear the purple one, you bitch! How! How could you do this to us!” Then she whimpers away quietly, “It’s all Mohammed’s fault. Kill them, kill them all.” Every time a barefoot Palestinian boy is blown to bits while playing on the beach, Joan Rivers gets another nose job. Every time Israel makes an advance, Joan writes a holy scripture on the bathroom mirror with her lipstick. But Joan doesn’t just hate the Palestinians, she’s after Beauty itself. She pulls down a vampire bat hanging from the shower ceiling, and bites its neck, sucking out all the blood, her bloody portal of lips and porcelain fangs gasping for more. She limps down the creaking stairs to the basement, her bulging swelling knees quivering each step she takes, her varicose veins frigid and painful and fabulous; she flips on the light, the blue florescent lights buzzing and crackling. There are hundreds of them, maybe more, younger more beautiful women than her sitting there chained together, naked, with red ball gags pulled halfway down their throats, their mascara running down their smooth bright cheeks. “Hello ladies,” she smiles and rubs her nose feverishly. “I need a new nose.” All the girls’ eyes open wide, their muffled screams try to articulate that they disagree with her. “You have all been very bad girls,” she says as she limps nearer, “Your shoes have not been matching your underwear.” Then she rips the ball gag off a shivering Jennifer Lawrence. She begs, “Ohhh! Mommy dearest! Forgive us! We did not know what you know so well! We will all be better! O please! O please don’t. Not the nose!”

What Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t know is that it’s all an illusion. None of this is actually happening to her. If she had only read a little more Descartes, she could have slept in peace. Rene Descartes wasn’t actually right about anything. His adolescent inquiries into the Cartesian cogs and springs of interstellar dust even offended the Protestants. As his students were cutting open the stomachs of live dogs, the dogs mysteriously howling in pain, Descartes told his students to “ignore their screams, it’s merely the creakings of the machine.” But Descartes was still right about one thing: his dieu trompeur, his evil demon who is “as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.” It’s the evil demon who has orchestrated all this lusting waking reality, all our dreams and romances and penetrative scripture. All the fond religions, all the drunken nights, all the Einsteinian measures of intellectual progress—they all pay their debts to thedieu trompeur, the Mephistopheles of intellectualism, for it was She who made us think this life was real. She came to Descartes in a dream, a horrible Caucasian batlike woman, and she whispered in his ear, “I am Joan Rivers, therefore you are.” And Descartes woke, trembling, and began writing, scribing his famous scripture, “I think, therefore I am.” All those who think freely, she hates. Freewill is simply a demonic puppeteer with the face of a clown. It’s easier to give up now.

Back in the dusty shriveling park, the little boy has been locked in checkmate. Joan Rivers stands and metamorphoses into a human-sized bat. She spreads her wings and wraps the boy into them. The seagull knows he must fly away as fast as he can. He flies madly, nearing the golden light, the other seagulls looking at him, screaming. Suddenly, he feels a jerk, his feet are caught. Suddenly, his world turns black forever again.

%d bloggers like this: