“Mom!? Jimmy told me I’ve got bad case of the glimmer! Feel my forehead. Jimmy said I needed to get a shot!”
Mom plays along, feels Lucy’s forehead. “Yes, I am afraid so. Looks like you’ve got the glimmer.
“Oh no! What’s the glimmer gonna do? I don’t feel bad. I don’t want to get a shot,” A tear trickles down Lucy’s cheek.
“Don’t worry. I can fix the glimmer. No shot.”
“All you have to do is go and wash up for dinner. Then, you must remain totally silent for the rest of the evening. If you say one more word between now and bedtime, you’ll still be sick tomorrow and we might have to think about taking you to the doctor for a shot.”
A look of worry and hope twisted Lucy’s face as she nodded.
Tomorrow Mom called Jimmy’s mom, telling her thanks.
Jimmy’s mom didn’t understand until Jimmy ran up and told her that Lucy’s big brother, who knows everything, said that it looked like Jimmy had a bad case of hubbub.
I came from chaotic matter, unformed, unnamed, a forest of thought, discord, a region of unlikeness. But now I am formed, symmetrical, a language, a song, a poem, matter between skin, meanings I would like to think of as endowed with light. I did not arrive to this personage, this being, by accident. No. In order to sing, I needed to learn the ways of the rest, the pause, to experience tacet, to witness the great silence. Transformation.
At first, I tried what most try. I tried the easiest way to the mountain top. “But this was merely an excuse for my laziness; and where others had already reached a considerable height I was still wandering in the hollows” (Petrarch 13). Even the shortcuts were infested by challenges, trials, performances. These appeared to me as three animals. The spotted leopard or falseness, deceit, and camouflage, the lion, who is an aggressiveness, an overpowering jealousy, and the she-wolf, which is a never-ending hunger, insatiable thirst. If I were to somehow cheat my way to the top I would be accompanied by at least one if not all three. It wasn’t until I listened to my fear, which is a realization of my worthiness or better defined as an acceptance of my readiness, that I allowed (yes, I allowed them) those beasts to push me back to the entrance of the long path, to where the sun is silent (1. 58-60).
There in the silence all manners of growls became transcendental, then transposed into reason. Don’t misunderstand me. This transposition or a what has been characterized as Death isn’t really silence for the fleshed ear, for the heart pounds at low frequency, and the nervous system’s high-pitched hum can numb. I only say that this long sleep I entered, the unfinished symphony, is a tempered silence. This tuning needed to be reawakened from a hoarse voice (1.63), a skill from the past where time is taken as silence itself, then, with that knowledge, composed into matter.
One thinks of discord as the devil’s tritone, but one must listen, smooth out the microtones who speak forgotten languages, decipher the slight bending of a third or the flattening of a fifth. Death is a noise? I did not know this until I slept.
Silence taught me. I became an enigmatic song, a dream state. This dream I had to interpret into a linear movement like life, like melody. I stumbled my way through voicings, gazed “on the teaching that is hidden beneath the veil of the strange verses” (9. 61), so that even “the grief-stricken notes [began] to make themselves heard” (5. 25). From there I gathered clay, bone, and blood like quavers, sticking noisy silences together into form.
It’s comic, now within the cover of my own silence, I sit on your bookshelf, possibly within your reach. I cannot tell you the shape of my forms. I produce the signifier. You produce the signified. But if you read, you will notice that my song moves what it touches (12. 79-80).
You find yourself out of the binaries, out of the black and white, where the plains no longer exist. You find yourself in color. This comes after years of crafting your skill, to escape the gravity of black and white. You find that little people inhabit color. They name themselves like a confectionary, as if easily edible, munched upon, Munchkins. You like them at first, but they’re pushy, stressed out little things. You just got into color and now they want you to leave. No one told you this would happen. How could you know, being from the black and white? The little people are noisy, skipping in circles on a brick road, round and round, in a horde. And they’re obnoxious. They sing songs in a nasal tone and have secret societies like lollipop guilds! You should be scared, but you are just too damned nice, innocent, and gullible. You’re aware of the sacrifices you’ve made for your art, but they know better than you. To get here, you murdered someone! Your house crushed a witch! What do they do? They sing songs! Ugly songs. These songs use lyrics like “ding dong” or “yo ho” and “sing it high” and “sing it low”. This is a sign of dysfunction.
Never mind, you are here, the deed is done. The stockings have been rolled up. You begin to sense something. They’re attempting to use you to get what they want. They want dead witches, sacrifices to heal the post-apocalyptic surrealism. You are the pharmakon, the healer of dystopia and the destroyer of utopia. Color is complicated.
Oh, and they have a mediator, a woman, who just happens to be extra tall and arrives in a bubble. This is a clue. These little people and the woman live in a bubble! They cannot see beyond the bricks that curl up inside their society! Why don’t you ask them how many times they’ve followed the yellow brick road? None, that’s how many. This tall woman’s hair is compressed in waves and she speaks in a condescending way, between a laugh, a wish, and a hex. She sparkles as if she were made of stars, but it’s just rhinestones in studio lights aided by animation. She could send you home with shoes of a color that would mark a permanent schism in black and white, a means to let art exist with meaning, but she obviously wants something from you she cannot attain. Again, you must kill another witch. To do this, she instills a mimetic desire for black and white inside you, a kind of black and white you feel you belong to, you feel is yours, excluding the little people. This black and white doesn’t exist. It’s a trick, a flip of desires.
You could stand up for yourself. You could just stay there with the little people and eat lollipops for the rest of your life, but no, they push you out into the street. You must go and murder. Why don’t they do it themselves? There must be something, a law, or a crooked kind of kindness, which bars them from murdering, wanting only to watch someone else do it.
It’s fitting you use water to kill the witch, as if you’re washing off a canvas, healing the dystopia, a purification ritual, melting color back into black and white. You find yourself back in the binaries, not even feeling guilty about the murders you’ve committed. You’ve learned. Sacrifices in black and white are self-extracted. Your art comes from the internal, from the red that runs through you, a death and birth of self, constantly in need of sacrifice.
I was invited to one of those huggy, huggy group meetings. You know, the type where everyone reveals inner lies about themselves, others, and the world around them. Well, we soon started picking out animal personalities for each other, which sucked, because someone else chose what animal you were. So, right off the perch, things weren’t going to be honest, just brutal like a writers’ workshop. There were cougars, bears, eagles, dolphins—lions, owls, deer, and yadda, yadda. Me? I was a bird. Not a specific bird, just a generic, B-I-R-D, bird. That’s the word. Not an avian personality like a bluebird or gold finch, but a plain old bird. What were they trying to tell me? All I could do was pretend it was a compliment. My feathers weren’t ruffled and I didn’t chirp up. I wouldn’t dare peep in public.
If I was to be a bird, then I must be a flightless bird. After all, I drove ten miles to attend the meeting. Somewhere, back in my sordid evolution, I had the ability to fly. Now, for reasons of survival, that ability was lost, because I wanted to drive a Prius, Passat, or Volvo and feel good about it. I developed a quick, efficient waddle that could outrun stupidity. Unfortunately, stupidity is stubborn and I have had to keep running, continuously. My beak became sharper. I needed the perk to peck the shit out of anyone who was particularly problematic. My eyes moved to the front of my head from the sides, so I could see who was insulting me and who I insulted back. I went for easy prey, foraging in schools of overpriced degrees, chewing on grants, choking on loans, leading to a career inside an aviary called community college. This led to teaching kids who don’t read, who prefer spark notes instead of critical thinking. Thinking is for the birds. Go America. I watched out for (not always successfully) bigger hunters who would kill my personality. They fed voraciously upon individuality like it was Tweety’s feed, spewing out rotten eggs of ego during union meetings. I would mate with those of my kind, but since none of us could fly we kept to ourselves. Occasionally a kindly scientist patted me on the head and gave me a treat, but they always wanted something in return.
So, the meeting was a success, yes I’m a bird. I’ve now been caged. But, I’m going home proud. You’ve heard about migration, so I’m going to get seasonal. By the time you hear my birdsong. I’ll be long gone. I just need to find my keys.
I sat down for a beer at a bar called “Dock Of The Bay”. One was brought by a handsome little bartender named ….. Ah, fuck I don’t know. I was halfway through my beer, reading a piece-of-shit novel named Howard’s Hind End when the bartender starts whistling. I thought what the fuck? This is no time and place to be whistling. There are beers to serve and deep-fried tater tots to dunk in boiling oil. You know, dried up pieces of batter, claiming to have potatoes in them that mysteriously taste like fish sticks.
He must have heard me, because that’s when he, the whistling bartender, returned with a bowl of foul smelling tater tots and placed them in front of some unsuspecting glut who suffered from an extreme stomach protrusion, named in its kinder version, a beer belly. Right next to the plate of steaming heart attack was a small bowl filled with some orangey goo with tiny green alien particles mixed evenly inside its custard. Whatever you do, don’t call them pickles. I was just getting over the initial stench when the tater tot eater started to whistle! That’s right, two blokes from my burb were puckering their way through happy hour, creating a duet that would make Sonny & Cher look like virtuosos.
Hey, I’m trying to read a novel jerk-asses. It may be not a very good novel, but damn, if I want to read something bad I should be given space to do so. You’ve got tater tots to worry about. Shouldn’t balloon man be filling his endless bag of belt-held storage called his stomach, and leaving Mr. Nameless a tip that won’t make a ding in his teeth bleaching bills?
I moved to a table outside and resumed Chapter 33 of Howard. I read about an uptight woman, who was about to marry someone she didn’t want to marry, because she was accused of winking at a bartender (This is when I looked up to see if Mr. Nameless was lurking around looking guilty), leading her to social ruin. (Hey, it’s a Victorian thang mother fucker. Don’t try to understand.) Apparently, this was also the cause of her picking out bad furniture for a palace. See what flirting will do. And that’s when it happened.
My protagonist, who I had been following through 33 chapters of painful nothingness, who would never touch a tater tot in her life or else she be forced into prostitution, started to whistle! That’s when all the whistles (I mean alarms) went off!
One year later, influenced by the whistling encounter, my PhD dissertation turned out to be how incidental inharmonic noise, heteroglossia, and contrapuntal reading led 19th century realism to blossom into Modernism. I whistled a happy tune (In tune, by the way).
We were underneath, before it crossed over the river. Tires sizzled above us like a new form of electricity. These were sounds of an alien world, our planet. Our arms glued on to it, tentacles. Yet, we couldn’t follow it.
The kid was on the freeway now, the river and dock still washed his body up to the shore, continually, forever, it seemed.
I was frightened of nowhere, of being nowhere. Living had strange sounds attached to it, like the kid’s voice as he passed over us. It shook me. There was no stopping the rush over the bridge, the sound of relentlessness. I swear I heard the kid laughing. I couldn’t tell whether that laughter was aimed at me.
Yes, we were dreamers and on occasion we threw ourselves in front of the traffic. But, we would only lose a limb or a head. And they wouldn’t stop! Why would they? The river doesn’t. The bridge doesn’t. The pavement… well it’s a different type of ghost. It looks like it stops when it’s alone, but it is eternally never alone, therefore, always moving.
I told him the bridge held two states together. Two kinds of worlds. He laughed, the little murderer. “That’s what they’re doing,” I told him. “changing states like beings, souls switched upon crossing. It’s like it’s a bridge of the gods.”
He told me the kid murdered himself, not suicide. That was a clue. Now, the freeway was so heavy, I couldn’t listen to it without my back bending into an arc. I thought I was experiencing age, but I was mistaken.
Sometimes, though, I think it’s the ocean, tides upon tides, luring me to somewhere I can never be. And the bridge is a snake, coiled in, upon itself.