Squirt Guns and the Death Throes of Emojis

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by Guy Walker

When Apple released that they were going to replace their real-life looking pistol emoji with a squirt gun, there were a few hours of nervous unsteady control amongst the avenues of Downtown LA. The dreary overgrown intersections between Chicago gang outfits stopped as well, not because it was the Parade of Nations at the Olympics and it’d be the appropriate gesture of solidarity to do here in Chicago, but because their mutual communicative devices had changed, their metonymically pixelated hieroglyphs had been translated into something else, something either mockingly childish or terribly magniloquent, and it was done so overnight. For a moment, the mutes, the schizophrenics, the retards, the gun enthusiasts, and the gun control advocates were all the same, all floundering in the tepid shit-ridden swamps of language, unsure whether they would sing the poems of Whitman or belch a bit of hell.

The Walmarts and mega shopping malls uniformly hushed, everyone frozen in place as to not disturb any temperamental idiot with a gun and the wrong set of emojis who could be pushed over the edge. A man with a round hunched neck and soiled polo shirt froze with his hand shoved in the discount bra bin at Sears, his eyes nervously and silently scanning the rows of empty clothing racks. A six-hundred pound woman with a Trump-Pence nightgown used as a t-shirt who was once galloping through the soda aisles on her scooter-made-for-handicapped-people, stopped and tried to camouflage herself amongst the American themed sugar cookies. A stock-boy who was stacking cans of Campbell soup, wondering what is the difference between him and Andy Warhol, stopped and waited expectantly with everyone else for the effects of replacing the pistol emoji with a squirt gun.

To confirm their worst, most exigent fears, it was the children who stormed and terrorized the public. Great herds of kindergarteners simultaneously broke out of their classrooms and flooded their playgrounds, shooting their super-soakers into the air, all just to celebrate the warrantless expansion of their prepubescent lexicon. A five-year-old with half-inch thick reading glasses was trampled in the sandbox, water balloons that looked like hand grenades splashing all around him. Boys drew six-pacs on their stomachs and Hitler mustaches with markers, and spoke only in quotes from Napoleon in Animal Farm. A young teacher assistant fell to her knees in agony, but was completely silent in doing so, and began frantically pressing the crying emoji on her smartphone, not sending messages to anyone, just haphazardly scrolling multi-page compositions of tears. Two of the kids began swinging on the monkey bars at the same time, cackling under a torrent of rain bullets, and one of the teachers tried to communicate that two at a time was not allowed. She pressed the two finger emoji, then the monkey face emoji, then the red circle with a line through it, then held the iPhone screen up to the boys. “Peace, Monkey. No Way!” they read. “Yeah! That’s Right, No More Peace! No More Glossy Apples! Just Penis! Poop! Butts! And More Bad Words!” they screamed with rotten humor, firing their water pistols into the teacher’s face. She responded expectantly, with an Instagram selfie ending in a series of hashtags: #tgif #newemojiday #boysareweird #iminlovewithkanyewest.

But the hazy tautology of our spectrum of possible communicative symbols did have some positive net effect. Action movies suddenly turned into animated sandbox dramas, and young inept children and politically correct adult virgins went to see them, stuffing sugar-free cotton candy into their smacking esurient mouths. God turned out to be a naked comedian who only made jokes about Teletubbies, Jarool, and Princess Diana, as he chewed tobacco and spit casually onto the glistening bald heads in the audience. Down on skid row, a skinhead touched his own chest with a sentimental caress, and where there was once a massive opaque swastika was now a tattoo of a unicorn rubbing himself with a bushel of orchids. The skinhead smiled to himself, cupped his mug with both hands and sipped his steaming chamomile tea. All women became men. All men became women. White people stained their skin with floor stain in order to look black, and they took to the streets, chanting “Black Lives Matter! It’s Pretty to be Fatter!” for 72-hour shifts, before finally collapsing onto waterbeds filled with distilled fluoride-free water. Caitlyn Jenner transitioned into a human fetus, then a Venus Flytrap, because, in her words, “fetuses are like amorphous sexless heroes, but flytraps are enigmas of bloody heavens.” She petitioned the public that she shouldn’t be forced to eat flies, and went on a hunger strike and eventually died. Hippies bought suits from Saks Fifth Avenue and began hating gays because they didn’t know what to do with themselves. Overnight, the whole emoji-speaking world flipped—peace became war, and war became peace—and everything stayed the same.

Words have always evolved and transformed their meaning into strange agglutinative forms. “Nice” to used mean silly and foolish. “Awful” used to mean “worthy of awe.” “Naughty” meant being poor or needy. In the story of Jesus’ conception, the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew “almah,” or young woman, translated it into the Greek “parthenos,” meaning virgin. This single mistranslation led to countless generations of zealous followers to synch up their private tingly areas, to deny themselves untold libidinal splendor. It is expected to have a few embellishments along the tortuous banal profession of storytelling and translations—a bit of exaggeration here and there, a few less loaves and fishes, a few more people in the crowd, year by year, until miracles are made.

When Plato defined humans as “featherless bipeds,” Diogenes brought a plucked chicken into his classroom, retorting “Behold! I’ve brought you a man!” Plato then expanded his definition to be a “featherless biped with broad flat nails.” To Einstein, “god” meant the sum total of the laws of physics. But to an Islamic extremist it means the disperser of martyrdom, the ghostly gallant king that will grant you 72 virgins. But 72 isn’t 72. It means “a lot,” “a bunch,” “a fuck ton,” whatever your most lyrical paeanic way is to put it. And the Quran never said it would grant a martyr many virgins. The original word that the Quran used means “raisins.” You’ll get a sack of raisins if you honor god’s word and kill a gang of French people drinking champagne. It’s because the ephemeral capricious nature of our words and their definitions are too easily manipulated to our desired meanings, to meanings that could serve us very well to believe. It’s easy to believe the virgin definitions, both in the story of the birth of Jesus and the gift of martyrdom, because they grant us an advantage, they grant us the awe and wonder that we so desperately crave on this ransacked polluted desert, to liven up these dreary hungover routines that leave us hunched over night after night wondering when all this hapless confusion will end. Someone was the first to grunt the word for ‘food’, ‘rock’, ‘sky’, ‘god’, ‘fart’’, egodystonicity’, ‘symparanekromenoi’, and the rest of us agree that these are the words and their respective meanings, from chimps plucking and eating the lice from each other’s heads to hairless pink men hurling themselves in a metal tube towards other planets, we croaked and coughed our way towards collective progress.

And emojis will unwittingly shove us towards the next glorious frontier.

Last year, Oxford Dictionaries named the laughing-crying emoji, or the ‘Face with Tears of Joy,’ the word of the year. And naturally, parents and prudish types will wince at the seemingly accelerated degeneration of human language, and point to the Yeats and the Eliots and the natural prose on the common man from the past, but their sordid complaints are wrong and have no strength against the impenetrable momentum of the human lexicon. These assorted hieroglyphs are the cute articulate paeans of modern man, something Hegel and Wittgenstein would have envied, because of the economy of language is dealt in a single image. Ever since Webster’s Second Edition Dictionary, words have been defined according to how they are being used on the street, in the cafés, amongst the silly gaggles of girls and their daily banter. There is no fixed meaning to anything anymore.

According to the Global Language Monitor, there are over a million words in the English language. Teenagers today speak an average of 800 words a day. But, if we are lucky, emojis can potentially reduce this even further, to just a handful of muted voguish symbols, to a squirt gun and a smiley face, to praying hands and an eggplant, to an alien head and a thumbs up, and together we can rid the world of violence, misery, color, and all meaning. We can finally return to where we came from, and point to things and grunt, and throw our feces from up high in trees. Together we can be free.

The Depraved Fiasco at the RNC: We Choose Death

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by Guy Walker

Amid the squalid cornfed landscape of middle America, the Republican National Convention took place over the course of four miserable days, concluding that Donald J. Trump will in fact be their leader, marching them into vague Edens of gold, mosaics of orange wrinkled flesh, everyone strutting in unison to their choreographed modish chicken dances, everyone putting on 3-D glasses and staring blankly at the stage. It was held in Cleveland, Ohio, a swamp settled in the late 18th century, home to the Cuyahoga River which caught on fire in the late 1960’s, at the Quicken Loans Arena which stands like a silvery plateau of troglodytic fuckery, where church pastors, soccer moms and other livestock huddle around the booming stage, everyone waiting for their instruction to applaud or sneer or laugh or cry. Cleveland was a weird choice, because, simply, it’s a weird place. As everyone knows, ‘Cleveland’ derives from the Middle English cleove, or cliff. But there are no cliffs in the the Land of Cliffs. There’s only the dreary sastruga of nostalgia for the Wild West; there’s only the porcine peasantry of modern day conservatism that is packed neatly into this carnival of hell.

The first thing to shrivel about is the group attire. The Republican Convention is supposed to be about confirming their nominee, to prep him into going into battle with the Democratic nominee, the rallying cries of all the supporting delegates ensuing confidence for the home team. And that’s typically what it has been in the past. But 2016 didn’t seem that way. It was about hats, costumes, glitter. It was a scintillating hell of lavish ghouls doing whatever they could to forget that their political party has finally devolved into a crusade of paranoid religious fanatics.

So, naturally, everyone dresses up.

Whatever your politics, one must be necessarily suspicious about a stadium full of adults who dress up in full ornate feathered costumes for a weekend to scream about guns, brown people, freedom, god. Everyone counted their pieces of flair, embellished in glitter and neon blue and red eye makeup, long ribbons streaming from their hats like tendrils-of-patriotism.

Men in cowboy hats, huge gilded belt buckles that trick you into looking at their dick. There’s a man with an elephant hat. There’s a man in a diaper. A woman who’s been drunk for 35 years. There’s a man with a red helicopter hat who physically can’t pull his finger from his nose. Most of the men wear push-up bras and expensive plaid dress socks, only because their wives don’t let them do so at home. Two men—one with a bowl haircut and an enormous man-fupa, the other with alabaster gelatin arms and cut-off cargo shorts so the pockets are just open holes—decide to duel. But there are no guns allowed into the Convention Hall, so they stand at each end of the aisle and run at each other. Their arms waving back as they run, huge amorphous mounds, like congealed buckets of kindergarten paste, cellulite and stink surging towards each other, the slow motion of their heaving bodies moan like sadness on a humid afternoon. Fog machines are lit with blue neon light, caught and captured from blue supergiant stars. The two men crash and there is an explosion, and Donald Trump steps cooly from his twinkling gates.

I could’t help but posit the necessary interactions between delegates and attendees. It was obvious at this point that everyone carried little velvet satchels of chocolate gold coins strapped to their right hip, but in keeping with theme, they’re white chocolate, engraved with quaint passages about virgins, football, and light beer. The Texas caucus read their coins aloud to each other like normal families do with fortune cookies. “Read yours, Hank! Read yours!” a woman with white-blonde hair ironed to a frizz, says to a man with a handlebar mustache that runs straight down to his nipples, everything else shaven. Hank squints, the mounds of fat around his eyes tighten as they focus on the wisdom offered from his gold coin. “Our team is Red. Whole milk is better than skim. Wifebeaters are not just undershirts, they are a way of life.” At this, the Texas caucus erupted into a chorus of hoorays and hallelujahs, everyone passing around an American flag to rub on the private parts, everyone sniffing the flag like a teenager huffs a hankie saturated with Crisco from a spray can.

“Make America Great Again” is the theme of everything now. Like preteen bff’s singing along to a song by One Direction, the genius of easily repeatable sayings is that they don’t require any thinking. Kids repeating the Pledge of Allegiance. Muslim extremists croaking Allahu Akbars before shooting a bunch of people drinking their lattes. Seemingly grown adults doing brutish sing-alongs about the betrayed Greatness of their country. Others plaster Coexist bumper stickers on their cars because it is a short gruesome virtue of the new-age hell. Others tattoo tattered feathers or incoherent Japanese writing onto their easily visible inner forearms because they are universally vague and inane. The allure is that we don’t understand them. Conceptual art. Slobbering drunkenness. Religion. Dancing aimlessly all night on ecstasy. We necessarily love indulging in things that don’t follow any intelligible goal. “Make America Great Again” is a perfect Sesame Street rhyme, cowing to the weeping and rabid animals of modern age.

So what about the speeches at the convention? Is it all a piece of surrealist performance art? Is it Mozart’s Requiem played out in high definition spectacle? Is it a mescaline trip gone awry? The convention itself was a drunken shit show without any of the comedy. Melania Trump plagiarized her speech. A speech writer eventually came out admitting responsibility even though Melania said she wrote the speech herself. Ted Cruz got booed off the stage. Joanie Loves Chachi superstar confirmed that Donald Trump actually isn’t Jesus. Expert Duck Commander Willie Robertson said that one of the things him and Trump have in common is that they are both ugly. Former underwear model Antonio Sabàto Junior groped his own crotch as he fell to all fours, squealing and oinking about how all Muslims wear their underwear backwards. Rudy Giuliani screamed until an artery broke, and he collapsed to the floor, convulsing, muttering something unintelligible, but most likely about crime. Benny Hinn, the televangelist and “Miracle Crusader” famous for scandal and fraud, came out twirling his white jacket over his head like a lasso. He knocked out Ivanka Trump with a healing blow to the head. Then he shot a beam of coruscating neon smoke from his hands that threw UFC president Dana White off his feet, the ground rumbling in a dramaturgy of conservatism ridden with dank perversity. At this point, for obvious reason, the crowd went wild. Everyone collapsed to the floor, their eyes rolled all the way back, and they began shaking violently.

After four gruesome days, Trump gave his acceptance speech. He waddled out, grabbed Ivanka’s ass with a promise of victory, and opened his mouth, the smutty paste on his lips sticking with each syllable. He sang a ghastly anthem of pride and nationalism that lasted over an hour, and relished on the fears of the people, demonizing Black Lives Matter, Mexicans, Muslims, adding that he would protect the LGBTQ community from “foreign” threat, though not necessarily domestic. He stared into our sobbing earnest eyes, and said he would make everything great again, like it used to be, before it wasn’t great, to an indefnite past, an eternal nostalgia for horse carriages and misogyny. At this, the deafening crack of thunder released a million balloons like fat American raindrops, wetting the faces and foreheads of the delegation like the healing aromas of petrichor on an autumn day. After all were healed, standing in their soggy dresses, before exiting, Donald Trump pretended he had cerebral palsy one last time, and the crowd nodded their head and politely clapped as if to say, Yes, indeed, that is an accurate portrayal of that silly journalist.

At this, the stars shined a little brighter, the night a little cleaner. The heavens looked down on its children in Cleveland, Ohio, and smiled one last smile.

“Famous”: The Passion of Kanye West

“Self-attachment is the first sign of madness, but it is because man is attached to himself that he accepts error as truth, lies as reality, violence and ugliness as beauty and justice.” Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization

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by Guy Walker

Kanye West’s new music video for “Famous” was a non-event. Actually, it was an awful 8 minute episode of pubescent vagary. The soporific post-coitus scenery of famous people with their clothes off, the illusory novelty of seeing a politician’s naked wrinkly body, or Taylor Swift’s elusive belly button, lacks the shock value that it so desperately craves. He’s mimicking what every young boy does when they’re first stepping into the shallows of internet porn, as they look up pictures of Britney Spears with photoshopped bare tits, as they jerk off into a dirty sock, looking behind their shoulder to make sure mom isn’t walking in to check what all the padded smacking is in the middle of the night. Kanye uses the banal and dreary antics of sex, celebrity, and scandal to cobble up some hermetic perversion, like the chubby kid in film school who decided to make amateur soft-porn instead.

But I’m not saying anything new. Nobody liked it. The narcissism is obvious. The lack of artistry is obvious. The plagiarism is obvious. Kanye said he was directly inspired by Vincent Desiderio’s painting “Sleep.” This is incorrect. Being directly inspired to this extent is nothing more than stealing an artist’s original idea and posturing it as your own interpretation of it, as something more deep and enigmatic. He directly lifted the composition and concept from Desiderio and glued in the bodies of people we recognize. Art has this weird brutish tendency that says it’s okay to plagiarize as long as you say you plagiarized it. It praises this, in fact. Because it allows other oleaginous Calabasas illiterates to repeat to their doleful friends, “Oh, it was inspired by Desiderio’s painting ‘Sleep,’” and sound like they know what the fuck they’re talking about. “Desiderio” rolls off the tongue like butter on a horse dick in the scalding summer heat. You can hear Javier Bardem whisper “Desiderio, mi amor” into your ear, the moist titillation of rosebud and jasmine filling up your underwear. You can see Kanye in a moss-laden forest somewhere, screaming “Desiderio! I like art! Desiderio! Now I’m smart! Desiderio! Smell my fart!” and then scamper off to steal some bird eggs and tell his friends that Kim just laid them.

Of course it’s a pity that all the fuss and attention is directed at Kanye, because “Sleep” is a phenomenal original work of art, and “Famous” is cornfed tabloid fuckery. Comparing “Famous” to “Sleep” is like claiming “Babe” is a film adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm—we are all sadder and more cynical for seeing the former.

But as an artist, what did Kanye actually create? He obviously didn’t sculpt the waxen effigies of all the celebrities. He didn’t do the filming with a shitty camcorder. He didn’t come up with the original concept. We can give him the benefit of the doubt and say he wrote the lyrics, with all his grand Rimbaudian paean:

Bam bam, bam bam

Bam bam dilla, bam bam

Let me see you act up in this motherfucker

‘Ey what a bam bam

Bam bam dilla, bam bam

How you feelin’, how you feelin’, how you feelin’ in this motherfucker, god damn…

And on and on until you want to kill squirrels, eat pinecones, dress in those silver heatsheets, anything to take your mind off his scabrous hell of dick and meatloaf.

So what actually makes this Kanye’s video? He did after all admit it was merely a “comment on fame,” a lonely grunt in the whirlwind of theater, a shrug of troglodytic humor amongst the 7 billion handicapped tribe dragging themselves up the moor of mortality. Or is he playing a practical joke? After all, when Marcel Duchamp bought a urinal from a New York plumbing supplier and turned it upside down and signed it “R. MUTT 1917,” he was playing a Dadaist prank on the entire art world, exposing it for its appetence for sham. And every non-artist bought the bullshit, and began the conceptual revolution in the art world: Damien Hirst glued diamonds onto a human skull, Tracey Emin displayed her messy bed, Joseph Kosuth set a chair next to a photograph of a chair next to a dictionary’s definition of a chair, Piero Manzoni canned 90 tins of his own shit (and sold them for the price of gold). And Kanye West created the film to his song “Famous.”

In Either/Or, Kierkegaard says the original sin of everything is boredom. God was bored of empty space so he created the world. He was bored of algae and flies so he created Adam. He was bored with Adam so he created Eve, then the apple, then tits and lust and hunger and war. We were bored with Africa so we went to Europe, then the New World, then the moon, and now Mars. We’re bored of sobriety. Bored of whiskey. Bored of coke and strippers and love. Pop stars are known to have about three years of fame before we all get bored of them. Fortunately for Kanye, he’s not a pop star; he’s Pablo. He’s Andy Warhol. He called the wax artist for the video his Jesus, which makes him God.

For these few years of ephemeral misery, there is Kanye to show us the way forward. From the bright empyrean gates, the massive gold clouds continue to swell, overwhelming the heavens. The cloistered cum-encrusted bedsheets mummifying Bill Cosby, who giggles rudely as he humps Rihanna’s leg. Donald Trump is of course on all fours, Kanye tossing his salad, his glossy face covered in damp Cheeto dust, the moist triumph dripping down his neck. Everyone wheezes in the heavy air, Kim’s ass continuing to swell, larger than the clouds—finally, she is just one enormous ass, chomping on everything around her, smacking on the food of other bodies, all that hunger for the world. The celebrities disappear one by one, down the hatch. Taylor Swift croaks “What did I do?” as Kim’s ass gobbles her up. Soon, her ass has eaten everything. No clouds, no forests, no whales or fish or mountains. There are no more planets, no more stars. Just one stagnant black hole, her greased-up buttocks waiting in the infinity of empty space.

From Barcelona to Mars: Gentrification of the Universe

“The hierarchy of the world of created things, which has its apex in the righteous man, reaches down into the abyss of the inanimate by many gradations. In this connection one particular has to be noted. This whole created world speaks not so much with the human voice as with what could be called ‘the voice of Nature.’” -Walter Benjamin (Illuminations)

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by Guy Walker

Up along the bright cloistered avenues, where the dull pleadings of shopkeepers echo down the piss-drenched alleyways, where packs of British men dressed in uniformed khaki shorts roam like lost fat dogs, where the steaming farts of thousands of tourists choke the sparrows and limping pigeons, there is yet another enormous stained-glass church, another bar of florescent yellow blaring a song by The Offspring, and another hundred festering scabby boutiques selling jewelry and pink skirts, Hello Kitty lunch boxes, floor cleaner, toy trucks, and bottles of rum. I shove my way between a German family arguing over a dropped ice-cream cone—the dad figure wearing a paper crown from Burger King, the mother figure sobbing into a lace hankie, and the toddler squatting low and slapping the amorphous glob of vanilla with his open palm over and over again. Past the fruit vendors crammed in their narrow stores, dozens of crates of petrified fruits glaring up at me, the onions and glossy aubergines wriggling in their plastic cubbies—choose me, choose me! Past the Irish-themed pub, the right-o proper bloaks tripping over themselves. Past Tapas & Tikki. Past Subway. Starbucks. Rainbow Munchies. Porcupine Kebab. Corpse Cuisine. Soon the endless road of deli-striped canopies and air misters leave me soaked and anesthetized. I’ve walked for days, then months, and my legs are stiffening into leather-stitched tree trunks, my whole sense-experience melting into the flat eternal monotony of a cosmopolitan conveyor belt. For a moment I don’t know if I have to it takes to continue, but then I remember there still are so many more shops to see, so I lean forward and push on.

The sweating cretinous herds of tourists and vendors are multiplying by the minute, like the horrifying images of binary fission of bacterial growth, the asexual reproduction of human bodies, everyone packing in tighter and tighter, everyone shoving each other to buy paintings of sailboats, traditional döners wrapped in foil, fake Ray Bans—really, anything they can get their hands on. I’m in Barcelona. Or is it Madrid? Rome. Athens. Copenhagen. Chicago. I can’t remember. And the frank reality is that it doesn’t matter. There are no pungent visible signs that suggest where I actually am. Just one swelling body of humans, everyone white, everyone shopping, everyone so desperately content. This is Life. This is the apex of modernity, the post-Utopian shift of the culture industry. The entire world, wrapped all the way around from pole to pole is one tremendous glittering outdoor shopping mall, people extending their selfie-sticks in front of the swirling pillars of Gaudi, or the glass pyramid of the Louvre, or with Spiderman on Sunset Boulevard. Groups of young women jump up in the air, kicking their legs back as their friend takes the photo. And then they giggle. We dropped the A-bomb for endless rows of boutiques and Apple stores, to drink our foamy café crèmes under patio umbrellas. We are finally alive, finally happy, finally well-fed.

It didn’t used to be this way. Barcelona used to be very much Catalonian. Just ten years ago you could play football in every town square, drink from wine bottles in the parks, play guitar and skateboard and pick-pocket the handful of tourists with your longtime childhood friends with nose rings and black mullets. Today it’s a collection of gift shops where you can buy key chains with your name on it. Because tourism is essentially the same thing as gentrification. New York: prior to the 90’s, Manhattan was hookers, thieves, drug addicts, poverty-encrusted artists and poets, and the hunched flâneur with crooked fingers. You could pull back a door curtain while standing on the sidewalk and pay a dollar to touch a woman’s baby-gnawed tit. But Mayor Giuliani pushed everyone interesting out, and the wealthy and super wealthy decided it was cool to live where the poor people used to live and now there’s just rows of stammering neon signs and storefronts for mega-corporations, and now a 600 square foot flat is $4,000 a month. Venice Beach is self-explanatory. But everyone who grumbles about gentrification, day-dreaming and eulogizing about the glory days when you could get robbed by a heroin addict and it was somehow romantic, are your standard young upper-middle-class types. It’s why Venice Beach is so awfully boring these days—the kids who live there are good looking, but just extremely flat and uncomplicated. It’s why the art produced there consists of faces of Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin painted green—there’s an empty acheronian nostalgia for the glory days, a celibate-lust for the wandering eidolons of yesterday. I too am just another smug millennial leftist who will find an excuse to reference Kubrick films, The Brothers Karamazov, or discuss Kant’s transcendental normativity as I sip my Pinot Noir at an art opening of some linen canvases splattered in ink. We all know we’re part of the weeping cyst of our own banality. My poverty is not a real poverty, not the kind that creates anything wondrous and burning and necessary. It’s comfortable and amusing, and still somehow lets me fly to various centers of the world and get drunk over and over again, like some stammering lost version of Groundhog Day. The ever-expanding fog of global capitalism now blankets everything, and the systematized copulation of the bourgeois has conquered everything that was once naked, tragic, and beautiful.

The phenomenon of self-herding tourists is of course the result of warenfetischismus, which, as everyone knows, is German for ‘commodity fetishism,’ the theory Karl Marx proposed in Capital: Critique of Political Economy, describing the relationships of production not between people—between worker and capitalist and consumer—but rather between the money and the commodities exchanged in the market transaction. “[T]he commodity-form, and the value-relation of the products of labour within which it appears, have absolutely no connection with the physical nature of the commodity and the material relations arising out of this.” Marx was, in part, responding to Karl Heinrich Hermes’ religious justification of the Prussian state. Hermes (as with Hegel) argued that religion raises man “above sensuous appetites.” Wearing chainmail mittens will make you not want to masturbate, for example. Chastity belts will purify your crotch. But Marx contested that it was in fact fetishism itself—economic, political, industrial—that was “the religion of sensuous appetites.” In the same way that we stare at a screen all glazey-eyed, fantasizing that the humping naked woman is actually moaning for us, we view the inanimate object of commodity that is endlessly churning out from the capitalist machinery will somehow come to life, will somehow bring us life. It’s why shopping malls are so horrifying and manic—everyone is caught in the coma of commodity fetishism, their screamings on mute, trying to break free.

In A Companion to Marx’s Capital, David Harvey details the concept of fetishism entirely dictating the norm of our desires, fantasies, wit, emotions, and so on: “we foreclose on revolutionary possibilities if we blindly follow that norm and replicate commodity fetishism.” To withdraw from all ‘revolutionary possibilities’ is to submit from independence entirely, especially that of thinking. It’s why there is always soma available in Brave New World, for every occasion, every holiday and weekend and momentary lull of sobriety, soma allows us to quickly return to the gorgeous bloom of glee.

Of course there are many who are taking opiates and soma-like substances to numb the state of all this incredible madness, but it’s the culture industry itself that allows the entire world to quiet the naked roaring animality of real-life.

Theodor Adorno’s and Max Horkheimer’s theory of the culture industry is the present culmination of commodity fetishism, the ever-present zombie of stimulation that counterfeits our desires and fantasies to adapt to its own. Samo Tomšič says the same thing in The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan, in that Lacan’s unconscious is not the realm of the private and the irrational, but rather a place where our political and social systems are most perfectly mirrored and reproduced. The capitalist construct is not a response to our inner private desires for more stuff; instead, our relentless libidinal appetites are a result of capitalism. We never wanted the shitty sailboat painting in the first place. We never wanted the Hello Kitty lunchbox. You may enjoy that açai berry smoothie, but you’re the same ugly thing as before. The culture industry is Life now. It is the first light after winter, the forever-flowing tit of humanity. It is the sun itself, the dreamy constellations we stare up at with gaping mouths. It is the first gurgling of microbes, the spark of cell growth, the whirlwind of neutrons creating matter from virtually completely empty space.

The first U.S. cruise ship has just docked into Cuba for the first time in fifty years. Buck-toothed children with runny noses ask their mothers with heaving muffin-tops what these strange brown people are doing on the island, or why everyone only drives old cars. There is no public advertising allowed in Cuba, but ships and planes full of white people are essentially the same waddling billboard for the fetishistic ideologies. I’m interested in what Cuba will look like in 5, 10, 30 years from now. Historically, when a ship full of white people arrives to a new virginal enigmatic landmass populated by exotic brown-skinned islanders, the events that follow are less than handsome. I don’t know what’s worse: the Santa Maria landing on your shores with conquistadors who want gold and slaves and wants to convert everybody to Christianity, or a cruise ship full of Americans in plaid polo shirts sucking on lollipops wanting to experience the so-called ‘preserved authenticity’ of your culture. I once hiked to Mount Everest Base Camp, and there is an inauthentic Starbucks on the way, in a quaint little village tucked away in the Himalayas. Neon clad mountain fanatics checking their wifi connections, ordering cappuccinos with extra foam.

But today is the age of space exploration, and now, finally, space colonization. Elon Musk has continued to repeat SpaceX’s plans to colonize Mars. Mars One, an organization based in the Netherlands, plans to begin colonizing Mars by 2027. We’re torpedoing our tepid flailing bodies into the empty cold blackness, the excrescent metal tube of humanity hurling to cover the universe. And don’t get me wrong, I am enthusiastically in support of colonizing other planets, and the indelible wealth of innovation that comes with it. Our curiosity for brighter horizons and frontiers is unrelenting. But this isn’t the same as before. Our prior horizons were drearily shoved along with priests and Puritanism and their death cults of banality, forcing tribes to swear off their practices that had worked for so long before. The United States government has long supported dictators all across the world, but at the same time attempted to force its neoliberal principles everywhere. But on Mars, there is no one to conquer, no one to convert. As far as we know, we are the only ones out here, the lonely dying match in the infinity of darkness. There is no one to overcome but ourselves. Where do we go from here?

Is Ryan Seacrest the Erection of God?

I think of my great swan with his crazy motions,

Ridiculous, sublime, like a man in exile,

Relentlessly gnawed by longing! and then of you.”

-Charles Baudelaire

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You wake up squinting under the blinding effluvium, the jasmine-scented hand lotions overwhelming your dream state, the ocean breeze of Malibu shoving its way into the white marble living room, the long alabaster silk curtains blowing in and gently caressing your glossy buttocks. The couch is, of course, made from endangered hippopotamus leather, dyed bright orange. A bowl of plastic peaches and bananas are arranged in stellifariously kinky positions. A six-foot portrait of pop radio host turned reality tv producer, Ryan Seacrest, looms above the fireplace, and Don’t Stop Believin’ is playin’ softly somewhere—in the surround sound perhaps. You look around, still half-awake, not entirely sure what all this is about. Then a meaty little Guatemalan maid dressed up as a Sugar Plum Fairy walks into the room, her huge feathered wings knocking over a vase of pearl-plated dildos, smashing them to the ground; she ignores the mess completely and greets you with a crystalline bowl of M&M’s, except instead of the colored chocolates they are a blazing assortment of muscle-relaxers, anti-depressants, opioids, and sleeping pills. She smiles, and then opens her lipless mouth. “A tribal offering from our leader, mister Ryan Seacrest himself,” she says. You take a handful and pop them into your mouth, and spend the next 30 minutes thoughtlessly scrolling through photos of your ex-girlfriends, when the maid returns. “Mister Ryan Seacrest will see you now. You must wear this when in his presence.” She hands you a pair of leather pants and suspenders, with the dozens of miniature faces of the entire cast of Keeping up with the Kardashians (a show Seacrest created and produces, as well as the spin-offs Khloe and Lamar, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, and of course Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami) printed all over them, every one of Bruce’s face crossed out with a red marker and Caitlyn’s printed even larger next to it. You walk across the living room and push open the white marble door, and there is a roundtable of the entire cast. Caitlyn is sitting with her legs spread, her cryogenized shriveling raisin face barely held together with Elmer’s glue and Onabotulinumtoxin, her neck skin hanging loosely like a chicken’s gizzard. She drums the tips of her long red fingernails against the glass covering of the walnut table, staring at you blankly. Kim Kardashian has disappeared completely into her own ass; she is just one huge glistening ass sitting in the leather chair, an amorphous sphere, she is used more as a steatopygous scrying stone for Kanye and company to peer into. You look up at the wall, and Ryan Seacrest is a flickering hologram, a static two-dimensional image talking to everybody—yet nobody—about cooking utensils, then nail polish, then dead cats. Then he turns his gaze and stares directly at you, his eyes piercingly familiar. “I want to make a television series of you,” he booms over the loud speakers. “You will become a black woman who’s only desire is to be spanked by Donald Trump. We’ll call the show Margaret gets the Donald. You will be famous. You will be wretched and hideous, but you’ll be incredibly famous.” You turn and flex in the mirror, and you smile.

The question remains: Exactly who is Ryan Seacrest? Of course, he’s the radio and television personality, but who is he beyond the coruscating blush of personality? In Adorno’s Minima Moralia, he writes, “The self, its guiding idea and its a priori object, has always, under its scrutiny, been rendered at the same time non-existent.” The ego, the superego, and the id, are dressed in the womb and then shoved into the florescent screaming world, growing unwittingly into a child, then an adult, then a drooling automaton, all with varying degrees of morality, decency, and libidinal dandyism, until death finally sweeps us into the curdled pile of wet ash. But Ryan Seacrest is not actually human. He is perhaps something closer to Baudrillard’s “hyperreality of God,” a turgid simulation of a man, or beast, pretending to be a god. He is not even a thing, but rather a personality. He’s an abstract filament of the psyche itself that has manifested into a man on your television screen, asking movie stars what it’s like to be human. It’s obvious that Ryan Seacrest was the voice inside Nietzsche’s head, forcing him to toss himself onto the horse in Turin. He is the complete and final annihilation of the Self. Adorno continues “…that which posits itself as ‘I’ is indeed mere prejudice, an ideological hypostasization of the abstract centres of domination, criticism of which demands the removal of the ideology of ‘personality.’” But the ‘personality’ is the necessary lie that holds all the chaos and drama of our lives together. The award-winning actor, for example, is a chameleon of personality, beautifully blending into the charismas of crime lords and superheroes through his mastery of method-acting. But wild-eyed fans don’t want the man or woman behind the mask—they only want the personality. When Hunter S. Thompson was interviewed on his property in Colorado, he confessed he never knew if people wanted Hunter or the caricature of himself that he portrayed in his books—because they were drastically different persons, one a man of desires and despairs, the other strictly an ‘ideology of personality.’ This rationalization “confirms man’s non-being,” as Adorno later put it, for personality is everything, and it is itself fraudulent. This is why man can never be in love without a bit of mystery. We are drawn more by fantasy, more by the picture of a gorgeous woman or man that we say we would ‘love to know,’ when in fact we must never really know. Because once the facade fades, we are merely another hairless ape trying to dampen our private parts. The divorce of intimacy naturally ensues when the alpha and the cowboy and the ballerina are dragged out into the open, and the shattering despair of reality is all that’s left. We live for eternal desiring, eternal longing for beauty, for something that will make us ache for life. Slavoj Žižek said in A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, “there is nothing spontaneous, nothing natural, about human desires. Our desires are artificial. We have to be taught to desire […] Cinema is the ultimate pervert art—it doesn’t give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire.” It’s obvious that Ryan Seacrest studied Adorno and Žižek when constructing the psychoanalytic format for American Idol and Keeping up with the Kardashians—these shows gently stroke our incessant desire for personality more than anything else. The culture industry is a great machine of glistening asses, led only partially by Ryan Seacrest. If he wasn’t there, somebody else would be, tirelessly grinding away at the stone of desire. Soon there will be nothing left. Just an orgy of holograms, rubbing against the immense black emptiness all around, a white burning comet hurling by.

What Is It Like to Be Kim Davis?

by Guy Walker

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“Most of the neobehaviorism of recent philosophical psychology results from the effort to substitute an objective concept of mind or the real thing, in order to have nothing left over which cannot be reduced.” Kim Davis, equal rights advocate

When Kim Davis woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, she found herself changed in her bed into a monstrous woman. A coruscating morning beam shown through the far window, like a signal from God, into the humid grey cloud that swelled through her house. A dank effluvium filled her room, a heaven of stink in which she prayed and cooked and fucked—if what that was could be called fucking. There were many half-emptied glasses of sour milk, pizza crusts, a library only of Regency Romance novels, no plants whatsoever, and a tub of K.Y. sat open on the kitchen counter, gross little pubic hairs caught in the vaseline-like substance. A fly was caught behind the faded window curtain, trying to get out, flying into the windowpane again and again, the stale air too awful even for the fly. Did the fly lack the cognitive capacity to ever learn this was not the way out? Or was this blatant suicide? Kim opened her eyes in a cold jolt, a sudden contempt for everything alive and florid and beautiful. Her current husband—or was this the third husband? or her future husband? she couldn’t remember—laid next to her, above the sheets, in soiled overalls and a straw hat, his wrists and ankles shackled to the bed. He pretended to sleep, peaking out between his eyelashes, as her huge amorphous body pushed itself to her feet. The floor creaked. A flock of white king pigeons outside her house erupted from their tree, flying away in a mad ivory dramaturgy. An oak tree made a sudden deafening crack, falling across the road. A car crashes. All in the same moment, a cop kills a black 6-year-old for playing hopscotch without a permit. Donald Trump booms in a speech, “I love Mexicans. [he squints down at his podium] I love Mexican, the Mexican language I mean. I mean, in addition to loving Mexicans. I love women. [he turns the page] And they love me.”

Kim Davis barely eats. She doesn’t spend time in the sun. She only reads from the Bible. She opens to Ezekiel 23:20, one of her daily favorites, and reads aloud. “She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.” She glances out the window like a daydreamer in love, into a Wal-Mart parking lot across from where she lives. “Ahhhh,” she sighs, smiling, as an obese family shuffles across the lot, the youngest of the children strapped in a vest and a leash, chasing a butterfly with both of his little arms reaching towards the sky. Kim plays with her hair, curling it between her fingers, and says to herself, “It never ceases to amaze me, the poetry of this text. Such sinners in this world, God. Why do they not all see you as I see you.” She turns to another. Deuteronomy 25:11-12. “When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.” At this utterance, she came a little, just a quick pretty orgasm. “O God!!” She read it again, this time faster and louder. “O Jesus Christ!!!!” Her libidinal scarlet thrusts grew almost to full convulsion. She bent over, closing her eyes, reached for the empty air, and knocked a glass of milk off the counter, smashing it to the ground. Once she collected herself, breathing deeply, she returned to the Holy Book, opening it to her all-time favorite. Exodus 23:19. “Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Kim’s face contorted, her eyes squinted like someone waking up to a bright summer sun on the beach. Her mouth opened and made violent inaudible chokings, until her cheeks flushed bright red, her blooming complexion then gasping for air. “O FUCK!!!! O GOD!! O GOD, FUCK ME!!!!! JESUS CHRIST, FUCK MY TITS!!!!”

She fell to the ground, and fell asleep immediately.

When she awoke, she was still laying on her side on the cold kitchen floor. She saw a terrible dark vermin scurry across the floor. It stopped and looked at her, blinked rapidly, Kim thought, almost with human eyes. The monstrous bug, with all its grotesque features, its hundred threadlike legs, tried to signal something to Kim, with its front legs. It wiggled them frantically in mid-air, then tapped the floor, then back again. “Git away from here you terrible monster!! I don’t want anymore of your kind!” she yelled, spitting at every syllable, the vermin taking a few steps back, but still holding its ground. “Git! Git!! This be God’s country!!” And she heaved towards it on her belly, like a walrus trying to lurch itself across the awkward land. The bug then scurried away as fast as it could, back to the room it spent most of its time, and died alone, quietly, actually feeling free for the first time as everything faded away.

Kim’s heart was beating furiously, rubbing her arms as her formications crept all over. Still on the floor, she looked up and saw the clumped white silk of a cocoon just beginning to open up under the kitchen table. She had never seen the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, but in the pneumatic threads of her more ecstatic buoyant dreams, she always wanted one. No, she always wanted to be one. What was it like to be a butterfly? Not as a woman projecting herself into the body of a butterfly, not merely to fly and love flowers, but actually to have the subjective experience, away from the human mind. She laid on her back, breathing heavily from her nose, like a fat girl with a cold who still tries to breathe from her nose. The butterfly pushed its antennas through the seal, the first true beams of light shining through into its cramped world. It emerged slowly at first, getting only part of its wings out, and then suddenly in one final swoop, it opened its wings for the first time. Huge, bright, iridescent blue wings, countless microscopic blue scales on the backs of its wings, reflecting the scintillating orchestral hues even in such a dingy home. The Blue Morpho Butterfly, not at all native to Kentucky, emerging from its mystery. It opened and closed its wings, the learning curve for flight was immediate—no one taught it anything, and it couldn’t allow to fuck up. Kim Davis grunted, and tried to roll closer. The husband, still shackled in his bed, looked up in amazement, like a blind man seeing the world for the first time. The butterfly then lifted off as if in slow motion, its great blue wings lifting it higher and higher. Kim reached for it to pull it down, but only just missed it. It flew directly for the side entryway, the door cracked open, and it disappeared forever into the wide open sky.

The Dawn of Fetishism

by Guy Walker

This man wants to rule the world.

After the initial depression-induced hilarity fades from watching a Republican Governor who is running for President do push-ups in a miasmic display of retarded cryptofascism, and you are left wondering what obscenity did you just witness, wondering if you should call your children to come inside and lock all the doors, if you should drink a handle of whiskey immediately, if you should punch a wall, or even worse, post it on your Facebook page  .  .  .  after all that fades, you are still left wondering, How did we degrade the body politic into such an androgynous ass of failure? How did this man (if what he is can be called a man) corral the masses to elect him as their guardian and governor?

I wonder sometimes if Jefferson and Paine feared the inevitable collapse of Reason, if they knew the Dawn of Fetishism was near the horizon. My elders tell me it’s always been bad, we’ve always been dissatisfied and antagonistic towards the State, that my despondent routine is nothing original  .  .  .  even Plato believed all existing governments were cheap corruptions of virtue, and beyond redemption. In Greek, The Republic can also be translated as The Ideal State  .  .  .  Plato was a philosopher of idealism, of unachievable Arcadias, unmolested landscapes for Pan. Given this pretext, humans are flaccid emerald-nutted slaveholders, dressed as clowns, twirling in their tents. Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a chance at winning the presidency. But his cruel attempt at trying to be fun and relatable isn’t the exception. Ted Cruz did impressions of characters from The Simpsons; he also grilled bacon wrapped around the barrel of a machine gun as he fired it, saying that this is how Texans grill bacon. Donald Trump hailed his elephant-killing sons as great Americans. Jeb Bush sung “Slow Jam The News” with Jimmy Fallon, as The Roots played the harmonies and Jimmy Fallon did his predictable almost-laughing side-act, in a sort of new-age nostalgia for dystopia.

The cartoonish perversion of politicians’ attempts at being fun and relatable through social media is the caliginous simulacrum of retardation. They treat us like children from the 1990’s, sucking on popsicles in front of Nickelodeon. Are we supposed to laugh? Are we supposed to turn to our girlfriends, and discuss how his relatability now outshines the entire GOP’s misogynistic platform? But then again, Jindal and others are speaking directly to us; they are articulating a very sullen modernity of performance and fetishism, projected through Buzzfeed videos and emojis. Guy Debord calls it “the principle of commodity fetishism” that dominates our society. The tangible real world of women, men, poverty, heartache, literature, police killings, Sibelius, death, incest, enormous fields of wild flowers, they are all exchanged for this awful fraudulent world of viral videos and listicles. Videos such as this impose themselves onto our reality, like a cave of shadows and shackles. But they are self-imposed. More Huxlian than Orwellian, a kind of self-imposed fetish with stupification and apathy. Every time I open Facebook I regret it. Another video of a raccoon eating grapes at the dinner table, or a cockatoo screaming into a cup. The world disappears into a sempiternal feed of viral commodity, of tufted caricatures flexing their Botox brawn. The man smiling like a pedophile and then doing push-ups against Buzzfeed employees is no longer the man who hates gays, hates women, hates Mexicans, defunds public education, requires schools to teach intelligent design, refuses government funds to expand Medicaid, votes to extend the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (rejecting provisions under the Geneva Convention), among various other fascist attempts of governing. He is no longer that man. He is an intangible abstract détournement who has nudged the United States a little further towards the edge, into the Abyss of Fuck. Jindal isn’t even interesting enough to talk about. He, like Trump, is so ugly that it has caused him to hate the world. But it is interesting to examine how far we have come: Howard Dean was ruined when he screamed a little too flamboyantly back in 2004, whereas today, Donald Trump can call Megyn Kelly “bleeding from her eyes, bleeding from her wherever,” and somehow get away with it. This is the man who owns Miss Universe. When he called Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig and a disgusting animal, the attendees of the debate roared with enthusiasm. They loved it. In the secondary GOP debate, with the lower-polling candidates, one of the questions was to describe Hillary Clinton in two words—a question that can only serve baseless name-calling. It’s a performance of cruel perversions, like the rape of Reason under a melancholy dawn.

The principle of commodity fetishism is the force on the other side. It allows insane men and women to come to power, to become fascists, to star in viral videos as they do it. There is nothing real anymore. Modernity itself seems fraudulent. Even sex is becoming a sordid wet humping, a pornographic imitation of what we saw on PornHub. Fake people with fake profiles ensue. A girl who I apparently slept with made a fake profile on Facebook and contacted at least several women I’ve slept with recently and told them to no longer fuck me. My love life totally sucks now, and I totally want her back, whoever she is. But this is the sort of unprovocative simulation of lust and ownership that Baudrillard wrote about, in that symbols and signs are now the content of the world, and they act and react merely as a simulation of reality. There are no actual bodies doing anything, no mad mad dancing in the middle of the night  .  .  .  just a peasantry of emojis and asses on Instagram.

Bernie Sanders is right, in that it’s the billionaire class that needs reform, it’s the bankers who were never prosecuted, it’s the blatant assault of wealth and power in this country that has ruptured stability in America. And the growing momentum of support for Sanders is coming from people’s awareness of this. There is more awareness that Hillary Clinton is a fiscal conservative, and always has been, that she has accepted bribes from the fossil fuel industry and terror regimes around the world. Even Eric Holder has now returned to a job at the corporate law firm Covington & Burling. And the everlasting War on Terror follows the One Percent Doctrine that Cheney established, in which he described if there were even a one percent likelihood of Pakistani scientists helping al-Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon, US intelligence has to treat it as a certainty, and respond accordingly. This thinking has spread to all forms of conquest and threat. If a cop fears there is a one percent chance a black man has a gun, he sees fit—necessary even—to shoot him dead. In contrast, it’s been reported incessantly that 97 percent of scientists agree with anthropogenic climate change. That number is in fact false. Of the 69,406 authors named in the peer-reviewed scientific articles regarding climate change, a total of four of those authors rejected any human influence. Less than one one-hundredth of one percent. It’s an assault on reason, yes, but the force from the other side, the force that makes any of this possible, is that of commodity fetishism. Bernie Sanders can’t say people are terrible for their obsession with the trite and shallow. And he can’t advocate for any barrier against this freedom. Because we are free to worship the trite, and no freedom of this sort should be taken away. But I know of no reasonable explanation why hard work is so hard, why it’s easier to gaze at butts on my phone or at the strip club than it is to write a symphony. But so it is.

No one said it better than Louis-Ferdinand Celine:

“The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.”

Dan Bilzerian and the End of All Life

“Always one times one–eventually that makes two.Dan Bilzerian, completely hairless, commanding a group of ravens shivering in the moonless night.

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The last casino locks its gates. Only a few dazzling neon lights are left, most of them burnt out and looted in a wanton frenzy for bright color, leaving the Vegas strip a squalid Sophoclean tragedy, a small world of dimly lit acheiropoietons who already turned somber. The deserted clubs host only vague starless eidolons, glitter, cocaine dust  .  .  .  a single Louboutin with the heel broken lies in the center of the dance floor. The VIP rooms and dance halls will be flourishing terrariums before long  .  .  .  like scarlet Edens, posthumous humans. The hookers and the DJ’s all died in a massive orgy gone wrong. There is still war and heartache, but because the DJ’s are dead, there is peace. Donald Trump is still locked in a dark fetid bathroom stall, whimpering to himself, as an anonymous half-erect penis pokes him in the ear through the glory hole of the bathroom wall. Even the street-sweepers and the garbage men gave up and got drunk and tried to caravan to South America, but were last seen driving through the desert, waving an enormous American flag behind the leading truck.

A great wind kicks up and a bald girning coyote runs across the street. A homeless man, hunchbacked and wrapped in a Pendleton blanket, walks up and stops at a magazine newsstand, flips through a few of the covers. He stops at Vanity Fair. “Call Me Debra!” one cover reads, with a woman who was once Dan Bilzerian, but she still has fat cheeks and still has bad teeth. “What an ugly woman,” the homeless man whispers to himself, and takes another pull from his fifth of Jack, and drops the magazine on the ground.

When Caitlyn Jenner inverted his/her penis and put on lipstick, the servile affairs of rich people were more or less routine: liberals hashtagged for equal rights, the corporate oligarchy obliterated what was left of the American dream, the oceans acidified, factory farms killed everything, and celebrity kept everyone waving their arms, screaming “Everything is fucked, but I don’t want to pay attention!” Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning back in 2013, but because she’s merely a whistleblower exposing some of the most egregious modern U.S. warcrimes, and consequently imprisoned for 35 years, she didn’t win over the paparazzi. But when Dan Bilzerian became Debra—or Debs to his closest girlfriends—the heaving androgyny of modern man turned a new page.

Dan was once a big deal on Instagram. He had millions of followers, his photos consisted of guns, escorts with fake titties  .  .  .  and that was more or less it. He had a beard that disguised his resemblance to a female Pavel Smerdyakov, and was once offered $100,000 by an unnamed co-owner of Facebook to shave it off, which he refused. We know that hidden behind Nietzsche’s tremendous mustache was an insane elitist, but only until now do we realize that hidden behind Dan’s beard was a lonely deformed woman. Born the son of Paul Bilzerian, a Vietnam War veteran of Armenian descent who also sports a big mustache, Dan quickly learned the inarticulate madness of a fraudulent existence. Paul was an “American corporate takeover specialist,” even though he’s Armenian, and even though he was unsuccessful in his takeover attempts. He went to prison twice for fraud, has filed for bankruptcy twice—one of which he only paid $400,000 of a $300 million debt, and another declaring assets of $15,805 against $140 million in debts—and currently lives on St Kitts in the West Indies where he has paid $3.7 million of a two-decade old $62 million corporate fraud charge against him. The tepid egodystonicity of trust-fund children are rabid nightmarish realities, the drunken vultures of misery, vacuous orgasms of death  .  .  .  because one of nature’s law is that a life of great privilege leads to great squander. As a kid, Dan brought an M-16 to school, obviously resulting in his expulsion. He got kicked out of the Navy SEALS training program twice, boasts of his poker achievements when his greatest claim to fame is coming in 180th place in the 2009 World Series of Poker; he threw a teenage pornstar from his roof and broke her foot, he kicked a woman in the face at LIV Nightclub in Miami, leaving her bleeding; he paid $1 million to have eight minutes screen time and 80 words of dialogue in the film Lone Survivor, and sued the producers when he was only given less than a minute; he’s had three heart attacks (one of which he got from taking Viagra), has two goats, lasered off his chest hair, and has just announced that he is running for the President of the United States. In a profile of him in British GQ earlier this year, it stated that Dan is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, to which Dan’s social media manager emailed the writer of the article immediately to confirm that he is in fact 5 feet, 9 and a half inches tall. That extra half inch. It’s like a child who says he’s 4 and a half. Dan’s penis isn’t 3 inches, it’s 3 and one quarter inches.

Nietzsche argues that in war, the victor is made stupid. The sword lunges at the throat of madness. There’s a kind of luxuriant ennui, an overwhelming boredom that erupts from his Instagram photos  .  .  .  his lifestyle shots of guns and women and cars are more than just banal modern hedonism  .  .  .  they suggest something of a current war to fight back a quiet overwhelming truth  .  .  .  they are threatened by everything real, everything candid and strong. As Herman Melville declares: “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me!” Dan Bilzerian is forced masculinity. He refuses to take photos with fans who are taller than him. It begs great wonder. It is clear there is a nagging insanity he has with his father  .  .  .  even he has admitted this. In Absent Fathers, Lost Sons, Carl Jung analyst Guy Corneau writes that if the son does not develop a positive relation to his father’s male body, he will run the risk of not developing a sense of self as a masculine, as well as possibly developing negatively towards all bodies, male and female. Dan Bilzerian is the incarnation of Sophoclean tragedy: as the story goes, the 5th-century BC Greek character, Oedipus, unwittingly kills his father Laius, and marries his own mother, Jocasta. It’s a crude innate avidity in us all. In Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, he proposes that all humans are born with this Oedipal desire (or Oedipus Complex), to love or lust for your parent of the opposite sex, a desire that potentially causes much guilt if not resolved. And in classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory, in order to overcome this complex and its accompanying guilt, the child must identify with or grow close with his or her same-sex parent. A boy identifying with his father is the critical psychological experience that establishes a mature sexual identity. If the complex is never resolved, if the boy does not develop through his father, he runs the risk of neurosis, pedophilia, or worst of all, Dan Bilzerian. In Greek mythology, Chronos, the father of the gods, is in perpetual war with his sons  .  .  .  an endless warfare of masculinity. The gods of vanity are before us! The heartache of Youth! Fire, Wine, Death! I swear, I want Misery!

This is why Dan is becoming a woman  .  .  .  the era of guns and cars and g-string women was merely an ephemeral fart of denial. He has already begun the transition  .  .  .  like I mentioned, he lasered all the hair off his chest.

Vanity is no more complex than masturbation: the immeasurable pleasure of touching yourself. In the mirror, the smile, the serious face, and finally, the face of orgasm. But the bloated tit of our generation is declaring something profound. As we are amid the sixth greatest extinction the world has ever known—the last of course being the extinction of the dinosaurs—as the corporate elite is giving this planet a violent permanent skull-fucking, there are somehow great storms of us who cry with wanton support for the Bilzerians and the Kardashians of the world. The point is not that Dan Bilzerian is an elegiac automaton of a human, nor that Kim is a ho, but rather that the masses crave for the insipid alpha figure, for a white wolf stalking behind the trees, conveying leadership and protection. Instead, Kim sucked a dick on camera and has a fat ass, and Dan has the personality of a dry fuck. He wins an estimated 20,000 new followers everyday  .  .  .  an endless conveyer belt of grunting jeering humans, masses of bodies breathing heavily with their mouths open, a fetid orgy of self-induced Orwellian proles, overshadowing every standing army on the planet. Bilzerian has been compared to Hunter S. Thompson, for his pseudo-hedonistic parade of guns and women, but this is like comparing Jonah Hill to Chris Farley (they both may be fat, but Jonah’s still stupid). Firstly, Bilzerian pays escorts to be with him  .  .  .  Thompson was just fly as fuck. Secondly, Bilzerian admittedly no longer does cocaine  .  .  .  Thompson snorted egregious amounts of it, as well as every other dazzling tragedy under the sun. And lastly, and most importantly, Thompson actually wrote  .  .  .  we love him because the gurgling libertinage of youth grabbed hold of him, because he had the gumption to sit and write The Great Gatsby word for word because he wanted to know what it felt like to physically write the thing. Thompson would do cocaine and acid and women all day, and then create a hysterical madness through the written word. Dan just grunted as he gave his pubic hair a buzz. Dan has every right to be a woman, I support him a hundred and five percent. Because he was never a man in the first place  .  .  .  he’s a symbol, a grotesque reeking ulcer of humanity  .  .  .  he represents the death of mankind.

Charles Darwin described natural selection as being granted vast periods of time by Nature, but not indefinite periods of time. To paraphrase, if a species does not improve itself, it will be exterminated. Darwin was warning us against not a vague fustian concept of extinction, but rather a very definite morbidness, a misshapen horror named Dan Bilzerian. He is our cruel punishment, our Hell. He is insomnia and drunkenness. He is Death itself.

The Solar Anus

desease

And here’s the final touch, for Mary’s sake:

By mixing love with cruelty I’ll make

A penitent inquisitor whose words

Turn Seven Deadly Sins to seven Swords!

Then, heartlessly, for pure perverse delight

I’ll plunge them, one and all, with all my might

Deep in your merciful, still-beating Heart,

Your throbbing, sobbing, sweetly bleeding Heart!

-Charles Baudelaire

There is too much dust to keep our eyes open any longer. There is too much heartbreak to run any further. This is it. The desert swells into one huge praetorian barrenness. A starving hyena squats near a dried up creek, his gaunt balding legs quivering in the moonlight  .  .  .  he makes an unpleasant face, pushes once more, and a little dehydrated turd falls from between his legs. In the vampish human encampments, words such as love and rain and beauty are forbidden, and exchanged with butt, stuff, fart, and steatopygous.

On the other side of the world is New York. All that’s left is a gross phallic ruin that was once our Statue of Liberty, the garland matriarch that was once our symbol of hope against the storm, something akin to Gatsby’s green lantern, except this time it’s for the Atlantic migrants dreaming of something better than peasantry and old beer. But Mrs. Liberty has since crumbled into something more resembling of Stonehenge. Now, the streets of Times Square are empty, filled only with a vile flashback of a great party. And the smell is horrifying. City-wide sirens that were meant to alarm the people in the event of something catastrophic, instead play the discordant echoes of Justin Bieber, singing “Baby, baby,” again and again until it slows down into the moanings of lost innocence.

But it wasn’t the bankers, or the drones, or Israel. It wasn’t even Kanye who ruined the earth. It was our own abject nihilism, quitting on life before we were old enough to start it. Take the assorted facts you learn on any given day. For example, these are the things I learned today: Olive Garden served 700 million bread sticks this year, two gay twins just made a porno called Twincest, One Direction has 21.5 million followers on Twitter, planet Earth is amidst its sixth greatest extinction of all time, and I’m still drunk after trying to recover after three months of heartbreak. Once you have made your list, climb to the top of the highest structure around, rip your shirt off, and scream as loud as you can, “Does anybody really feel anything!!”

Because it’s easier to complain about the servile Persesian misandry within our current political structure than it is to run for Congress yourself. It’s easier to sign another online petition that calls on Obama to end any one of his Peace Prize-winning wars than it is to blockade and stand alone in front of the deploying tanks. It’s easier to feel smug about deleting your Facebook account in search of real-life human interaction, only to realize we’re all wallowing in the same cursory dream, searching somewhere for splendor and beauty, swiping frantically through our phones, stalking cafes and pool halls and libraries and parks and pristine wet pastures, trying to hang on to a better memory of Beauty, to the august suffering of romance, to all that tragic light that once made us human. It’s like trying to hang onto the memory of the first person you loved, all the while choking in its madness. I don’t know the answer; it could be hidden in Baudelaire’s poetry: “And, drunk with my own madness, I shouted at him furiously, ‘Make life beautiful! Make life beautiful!’” It’s the reason any of us pretend to do more than sleep and eat and fuck. It’s the reason you can find a guy on the internet play the clarinet with a carrot he hollowed out himself, or why you can get an organic spray tan down the street for only thirty-five dollars. We’re standing on the edge of life, screaming “Make life beautiful!”

Southern Iraq was once a land covered so thick with cedar forests that light couldn’t touch the ground. The Sumerians cut down all the trees. But their excuse is the tragic tale of Gilgamesh disobeying the gods by cutting down the forest, and the gods plaguing the land with drought and fire. The once verdant terraqueous globe now defiled and betrayed, by 2100 B.C. the soil had eroded and depositories of salt had ruined all future agriculture. We are not the infant species we wish ourselves to be: the Mayans collapsed due to overpopulation and over-farming; the Minoans cut down all the trees; so did the Nazca of Peru; so did the Rapa Nui of Easter Island; many of the cultures from the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras did the same; the Anasazi overpopulated and died of thirst; the girning nomads of the last ice-age killed off all the megafauna of North America; the first migrants of Australia 50,000 years ago did the same.

In our tragic pursuit of Beauty, we kill the heavens. “A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism,” is what George Bataille said, and he’s never wrong. We turn the verdant aching thrones of life itself into a bleeding nihilistic cough. All love turns to heartbreak, that’s a fact. And if not heartbreak, it turns to lame routines and the stinking decay of ennui, which is worse than all the blinding enthusiasm of heartbreak. But we can deal with heartbreak—we write books or songs, we create art, we sleep with a bunch more women, we drink heavy amounts of alcohol. And it passes somehow  .  .  .  I guess. But it is in Bataille’s concept of base materialism where we find the rather banal origin of our hatred for the beautiful—why we kill the oceans and the forests and the animals and each other en masse—for in base materialism is the origin of the beautiful and the bad and everything else. Not unlike Spinoza’s neutral monism, base materialism describes the fabric of all existence as neither physical nor mental, but rather a vital base matter that underlies everything. It lies entirely in experience, immune to all rational conquest, making base materialism not material at all. It’s stupid in its obvious generality: everything is what it is, deal with it. I was in an alleyway the other day, minding my own business, and an old man with horrible teeth came up to me and went on an incoherent polemic about graffiti and insanity. “Shit is shit! Deal with it,” he said up close to my face. I tried to argue with him but he had a gun in his backpack, so I didn’t.

In Bataille’s L’Anus Solaire (The Solar Anus), he references the sun as the provider of all life that can also cause unimaginable death and suffering through its unbounded energies. And the anus itself is the symbol of the inevitable waste and tragedy that dominates much of the landscape. By mass there is seven times more plastic in the ocean than plankton. There is the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. One of the largest human-made structures on earth is the Fresh Kills Landfill of New York, covering over 2,200 acres. The Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. The Three Mile Island nuclear explosion. The Kuwait oil fires of 1991, burning off six million barrels of crude oil into the atmosphere and surrounding environments. The eccocide in Vietnam through the large-scale spraying of Agent Orange and other chemicals. The Sidoarjo mud flow, caused by gas blowout wells. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone, the hypoxic zone from the nitrogen and phosphorus agriculture runoffs from the Mississippi River. The dioxin contamination of the Love Canal of the 1940’s. Minamata disease of Japan, from Chisso Corporation’s severe mercury poisoning of its wastewater. The electronic graveyard in Guiyu, China. The Baia Mare cyanide spill. The shrinking of the Aral Sea. The Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion. The Bhopal Disaster. The Great Smog of 1952. The massive asbestos contamination from vermiculite mines in Libby, Montana. The list is endless. But as the old man with bad teeth said, “Shit is shit! Deal with it.”

It’s all so sad, when the pure yearning child asks his parents why bad things happen, why evil rages wild in the night. Why does Boko Haram (not to be confused with the 1960’s rock group Procol Harum) abduct 300 school girls in the night? Why has the self-proclaimed Islamic State kidnapped up to 7,000 women and girls? This last December they released a formal guide that outlines the capture, punishment, and rape of female non-believers. These days, if one mentions ‘catholic priest,’ we think immediately of pedophiles. William Kellogg, founder of Kellogg’s cereal, created Corn Flakes with the hope that such a boring food would kill all sexual appetite. I’m not kidding. He advocated for the circumcision of boys and girls alike. These instances are to good sex and true love what environmental pollution is to human industry. It’s the Solar Anus we need to destroy, and the heavens to restore.

I don’t even like Bataille, his prose and life were shit. I want the Sun and not the Anus. I just want to make life beautiful again. I really don’t know, I’m going surfing.

50 Shades of Grey and the Attack of the Throbbing Penis

by Guy Walker

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The sun finally rose just enough to push through the beige tellurian blinds, the first ray of morning light shining through the dusty soiled bedroom, shining on the huge heaving butt cheek of the fat woman sleeping. Her breasts weighing down the bed, the blue veins beating slowly and tired, like each heartbeat was a victory. A fan in the corner oscillating over and over, blowing the long draping fern, then moving towards the sleeping woman, blowing all her starless sordid hair like she were really resting under a coastal breeze. A kitten was still waiting by its empty bowl, as it had waited there for most of the night, just waiting for the fat woman to stir, then wake, then feed him, then he could finally eat. But she didn’t stir  .  .  .  she just groaned as all the little robins sung outside.

Lots of time had passed. The room was now full of steaming light, and the woman rolled over onto her back, naked, little heads of sweat pushing from their pores. She opened her eyes finally, her eyelids encrusted with all that grossly golden night, and she was staring up at a huge and absurd paper mache of a dragon hanging from the ceiling. It just hung there, completely lifeless, the blowing fan not even making it stir. Like it were some recoiled memory of life, just hanging there in the middle of the room. The woman shoved that whole body of hers onto her feet, picked up these old enormous panties, and slipped her legs into them one by one. And then those great breasts into a bra, trying to contain the impossible. She stood up and walked towards her desk, making the antique floorboards creak. She didn’t eat, didn’t wash her face, didn’t piss, and didn’t feed the little kitten. She just sat into the deep cracking leather chair, opened her laptop, and began writing instantly, her fingers burning furious, page after page written. Outside, the wet temporal English countryside buzzing and spreading, but the fat woman never once looked out the window  .  .  .  her words were just too magnificent. She can’t stop, she is so inspired. Words and love and scenic delirium 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 poetry flood over her. It’s all too much. She’ll need a glass of water soon.

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 desperate women seeking something far from their pallid arid landscape empty of any romance. In other words, Erika is going to sell books.

In its primitive and immature stage, it started as a Twilight fan fiction series named Master of the Universe, and her pen name was the extraordinary Snowqueen’s Icedragon. Unfortunate for us, He-Man, Prince of Eternia was cut from the original, and Master of the Universe was renamed to its current title, 50 Shades of Grey, a title of great enigma and enthusiasm. The book is nothing less than exceptional. Its prose is something that edges close to masterful, something that Tolstoy and Melville and Thoreau and Nietzsche and Joyce all writhe under envious graves that they did not come up with her words, or her bold original characters, or her complexly enraptured storyline: an average-looking young woman falls in love with a hot billionaire. And they have really hot sex together. In fact, our hero, Christian Grey, spanks the young woman, Ana. And she likes it. Then he whips her with a belt. Ana doesn’t like to be beaten that hard, so it doesn’t work out in the end. But in the midst of her libidinous appetite for abuse, we are graced with Erika’s natural talent for words, something that 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 an aspiring writer, I can’t focus on my own words anymore. I am completely aroused. My fully erect penis throbs for the next page. I read further and further, almost as fast as when Erika wrote the thing. This is as dangerous as Mozart’s Requiem. It’s something that has been sold to 90 million readers, in 52 languages, and read also by all the screaming shopping girlfriends who have borrowed the book from them. They’re all women of course. But the sorts of women who buy and read this shit come from all sorts of chivalrous conditions: single, divorced, widowed, married, prostitute, suicidal. All sorts. None of them have actually ever been in love, and none of them have ever even had reasonable sex, but they all read and dream and fantasize about being spanked on the ass. They like thinking about naughty stuff like penises but they would never dare to do anything about it. Quite seriously, women who join book clubs, and discuss over tea and biscuits the allure of being bitch-slapped is something akin to men watching hours of hazy porn as their eyes turn red under all that languid hopeless heat, their penises sweaty and tired and flaccid again. In other words, everyone is too coward to realize out their fantasies. Rather than having great sex with a great partner, the women who buy this kind of shit prefer to read a book in their sweatpants and drink green tea sweetened with three packets of Stevia as they text their girlfriends how much they hate their ex’s.

J.D Salinger may have forbidden any film adaptation of Catcher in the Rye, but E.L. James is smarter; she knows that her story is too important to keep from the masses of moviegoers, and so she sold the rights for $5 million. Hollywood makes great films about our most exigent ponderous heroes–American Sniper for example, about the smarmy brittle character of a man, casting his Châtiment de l’Orgueil across the deserted landscape by killing any brown male between the ages of 16 and 65. 50 Shades of Grey is opening on Valentines, which is just perfect timing if you and your date like watching sadomasochism but not actually taking part in it. You can watch a girl being tied up and beaten, and eat more popcorn while holding your girl’s hand. It’s something that hits right at the heart of a serious philosophic inquiry, something that Gilles Deleuze argued didn’t even 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. For Deleuze it’s something else. In his essay Coldness and Cruelty, Deleuze argues that the sadist actually attempts to destroy the ego in order to unify the id (the human’s basic instinctual forces) 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 known as The Contract: the process of controlling another, and turning them into someone cold and cruel and callous. 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 a little better about himself. This is something every sex-related serial killer has in common with Christian Grey—they all need to assert their dominance over their named inferiors. Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, for example, had an insatiable sexual appetite; he would charm women (mostly prostitutes) with a picture of his son, then he would have sex them, then he would strangle them—seventy-one of them in fact—and then he would dump their dead bodies in the river. Or David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, a New York serial killer in the late seventies who shot and killed several couples; whether they were kissing in their car, or having a picnic in the park, David didn’t enjoy seeing couples in love while he had nobody to share romantic company. The most exemplary failed masochist of all is Elliot Roger, the 22-year-old who couldn’t get laid so he decided to kill six people, targeting young women. Elliot Roger was Christian Grey’s imperial predecessor: wealthy, the son of a movie director, somewhat good looking, and sexually frustrated. In his last video before his killing rampage, he says, “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.” Elliot was as much of a gentleman masochist as Christian Grey, the only problem was that he didn’t have anybody to turn cold and callous, so he just killed them instead. His masochism was so confidently intact as he waited outside a Dominos for hours and hours waiting for a girl to walk by and smile at him so they could start talking and eventually fuck in a glorious fashion. The only difference between Christian Grey and Elliot Roger is Christian actually fucked. In the masterpiece 50 Shades, Christian Grey loves a gentlemanly dominance as much as Elliot: “I don’t make love, I fuck…hard.” In other words, Christian is empty of any human empathy. He feels absolutely nothing except for his throbbing aching penis and his alpha carnality for dominance. He is basically a complete vacuous fuckwit. Again to Ana, he says, “I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.” According to Sigmund Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Christian Grey is probably just an incredibly guilty piece of shit who wasn’t breastfed enough. Freud argued that inflicting pain on another during sexual intercourse is “the most common and important of all perversions,” and that masochism is a form of sadism against the Self. Guilt, he continues, is very much a part of masochistic sexual tendencies, originating from an incorrect development of the child.

As much as people love discussing whether a pernicious chewing individual was born that way or the society they grew up in molded them that way—the old stupid debate about nature or nurture—it doesn’t really matter for Christian Grey. Christian was one lonely fantasy of one lonely woman. What is impressive is that 90 million women are desperate enough to go out and buy a book to quench their muted doloric utopias of being tied up and beaten by a hot rich guy. Master of the Universewas the perfect title. Its only problem is that its meaning is too straight forward. People love their subtleties.

Across the road from where Erika is writing her epic, there is a cherry blossom where a nest is shaking and the mother bird is peering down. Beyond that there is a garden, full of pretty flowers, still covered in morning dew. And beyond that there is another tall house. Inside, a fat man in a stained white wife-beater is sitting back in his sad porcine couch, his hand wrapped around his sweaty throbbing penis, tugging on it madly as the man on the television gets whipped and whipped again, naked, screaming for more. The fat man is almost there, he’s so close. His face contorts and freezes. Everything is silent for a second. Erika pauses for the first time in hours, thinking of her next word. She looks out the window. Outside, a group of pheasants erupt from the tall grasses. The fat man leans forward in the dim opaque room, coming 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?”