There is an old saying, the source of which now eludes me, a stray line in an old and musty book, the grizzled quip of a day laborer, or even the off-handed truism of a hermetic philosopher, which, as I have ventured this charred and dying Earth, alas, appears to be the very essence of existence, the very pin holding the loose and poorly stitched clothes together as they droop, barely covering the many pustules, boils, and lacerations that pock all of human life: “Oftentimes, that’s what the fuck life is: one vile fucking task after another”.
An oppressive and bleak notion, indeed. Yet, hitherto we have been less than forthright in it’s all encompassing despotism. For there exists a land which servers as counter balance, an idyll and verdant paradise filled with splendor, good tidings, magic, hidden so long for reasons surely valid when they were first writ in stone and proclaimed to those who had been able to dwell there – but this is selfish, says I!
Rather, the gates should be thrown open, arms unfolded and opened up for hearty embraces! The glasses shall clinkle, eyes shall twinkle, and a great merry reverie shall be ours this day! A great and happy song shall arise like the mist of the morning dew, waft down the mountain side and inveigh all those who toil without to journey here and find their respite within.
Yes, indeed! Let us all mingle together in a choragus and laugh away tragedy! Let us pierce the dreary grey clouds with the ardent light of our collective soul! Let us all dine and cavort among one another in a splendid banquet, bounteous and bully!
Let us venture to that glorious and perfect place, transcending this and other phenomenological and imaginal planes, that pristine and marvelous expanse of greenery and sublime vistas, that endless well of spiritual rejuvenation and unceasing dynamo of love. Let us go to RealCanada!
He wasn’t sure that he’d been dreaming at all; he could only vaguely recall muffled voices. But his alarm started sawing into his ears, and he was defibrillated back into his own mind. He didn’t remember going to bed. For about half a second he couldn’t remember anything at all- where he was, what time it was, what he was doing here; for an even shorter while (a stuttering and confused blink) he was slightly unsure even of whom he was. In the next instance, this data fizzed back into memory: I am Howard; I am in my underpants, in bed, in my apartment, which is in Iowa; it is Sunday morning; I have to work this morning; I’m still pretty fucked up.
He was very drunk, he could tell. The periphery of his vision blurred in and out of focus, a lens becoming smudged then clean, with each surge of his pulse. He felt his forehead stretching upwards from his skull, which, he half-imagined, was rattling around his brain, battering and bruising it. As he sat up, it seemed as though his vision adjusted to his body half a second too late: horrid nausea. He brought his knees to his chest and lay his head down for a moment to stay the urge to vomit even though he knew it didn’t matter: he was clearly going to puke a lot today.
He leaned back on his arms and looked to his alarm clock, still making that disgusting dead-cat chime: 7:47. He wondered briefly why setting alarms for times like 8:02 or 7:24 felt better to him than on the hour, but he knew there was no clear answer. Thinking too hard made him feel that his oscillating skull was being whipped into a paste. And, anyway, the only thing to think about was getting to work.
He stood up and noticed a dull searing in his right foot. He’d fucked shit up last night big time (as Wes would say), probably kicked a door or something: actually, he probably just tripped up the stairs to his apartment. The washroom light was still on, a pale lighthouse in the hall, and in his semi-conscious stupor he felt the lighting in there would be superior for investigating foot injuries. His bedroom was covered in clothes, books, and paper, his demented and silly writings crackling under his limped and drunken shuffle. He left the alarm babbling to itself.
He looked down in the washroom doorway and examined his feet: right foot very fucked up: middle toe colored like a rotten plumb and bloodied, the nail cracked: couldn’t move it for the pain and because it had stiffened up as though in a splint. He raised his gaze towards the toilet; he had already puked, it seemed. Long streams of a frothy orange had streaked and dried down the side of the bowl, little chunks of what he had to assume were tomatoes speckled among the filth; the seat was similarly dirtied. Crumpled streamers of toilet paper hung from the lip of the wastebasket like the mangled limbs of strangled animals. A haze wafted up his nose, pushed by the washroom fan in clunky gusts, as though it were attempting to hold its breath: bonk and piss.
He looked to the mirror on his right and saw his slobbering, bedraggled mushy form leering back at him. His hair burst out from his head in uneven clumps, a botched attempt at pigtails with glue, perhaps; his straggly beard had little bits of the same orange gunk around his chin. It was definitely his bonk, then. His bare upper body looked haggard, chest hair resembling to him soot and ash, his skin uneven on his frame, like a shirt that doesn’t seem to fit quite right. Poking in his belly button yielded magenta coloured lint.
“Jesus,” he slurred to his reflection, “look at you, huh? Look at you: eyes all raw and bleary: weeping in front of your friends again, I suppose. Fucking hell”. A burp followed.
He splashed hot water into his face, cursed, then batted himself with an orange hand towel. This was the surest sign to him that he was still fairly intoxicated: he and Wesley and Allen had developed certain irrational beliefs while drunk, one of the more foolish being that dousing their faces with warm water would have some affect of sobriety. Of course, being drunk enough to think that usually entails a certain lack of coordination, warm water more often than not becoming scalding water, making them look decidedly un-sober, three lobsters fresh from a boiling bisque.
The alarm continued to harry him; it would do so all day if he left it. But it was correct in being so insistent: 7:57; he had to open the store at 8: no time to pause and feel lowly- move on. He lurched back into his room and silenced it. Yes, just get the fuck out of here and get to work.
He had done this before, was all but without the crushing and all encapsulating dread of the first few times an evening had gotten away from him and stayed with him into the next day. Besides being downtown at the Deadwood, drinking whiskey with Jenny and Allen, he had no memories at all of the evening: he had no idea how he’d gotten home. But he trusted himself to have been responsible, even if he blacked out, so as he stumbled into his living room, loafing through without a glance or a thought, past his rumpled up clothes from the night before, past a pyramid of glasses in his sink, past the grey and tattered chair where Wesley used to pass out, and past the old blue, lumpy couch where, for a brief and lovely time, he and Jenny would spend nights laying together, entwined in arms and kisses and imaging their future lives, he remained grittily calm and was rewarded for it by finding his work clothes in a lump by the door, atop which rested his wallet, keys, and phone: never worry, never panic. After taking a moment to fight off more horrid nausea brought on by bending over to tie his shoes, he flung open the door and shambled into the damp and murky world outside.
I took up jogging. I’m not sure exactly when I got the idea, but I put it to practice the week after my twentieth birthday. It marked roughly the fifth time in my life that I’d ‘took up jogging’, and if I lasted more than three weeks this time I’d consider it a major victory for my resolve. Somehow I have conquered my natural inclination to sit around and do nothing. The biggest factor in this un-Jesse-like behavior is that the most sublime of joys is mine: I run in the cold.
Perchance, for which, might a Zombie sleep?
The sky darkens above the Zombie’s head, too.
Perhaps it always a sunset on the hopes of the Zombie,
Dragging around his foot, perhaps trying to place his eyeball back into its socket,
If his eyeball is even salvageable.
Is it eternal darkness, is it always night, is it the Dark Side of the Zombie moon at all times, Man? Well, I don’t know. Do you?
Have you seen the Zombie sleep? Better question: have you seen the Zombie dream, Man? Have you seen that glazed look in his eye, as he looks up at a tree and sees a squirrel?
Or, per chance, on a particularly beautiful dewey morning, Do you see the Zombie contemplate his own reflection in the waters, The gentle twinkle of those millions of dewey diamonds, Does a Zombie dream!
Can a Zombie feel emotions? Or do you even care? Oh yeah, it’s easy to rag on the Zombie, easy to throw garbage on that which already lives in muck, It’s easy to just point and say, “Run away, he’s going to eat you!”
But if you look close, if you split the hairs,
Crack open the skull, dig through his brain matter,
I think you’ll be surprised at what you find.
Well, you’ll see rotting brains, But you’ll also see the seedling of a beautiful, marvelous, tall tree, A tree that could grow so high, reach to the sky, sky high, And bear unimaginable, wonderful fruits.
Can a Zombie create art? Can a Zombie sculpt? If Michelangelo had been bitten by a zombie,
Do you think the Sistine Chapel would still be as marvelous and beautiful as it is today?
Can a Zombie dream?
And if he can dream, of what does he dream?
Well, he probably just dreams about brains.
The other day I was a bit of lint under my dresser.
I lay motionless in the shade, time not existing for me, as centuries passed by me and days accumulated like little bits of paper. I watched a thousand people build false-fronted saloons with swing doors. Volcanoes developed on my now unused loafers.
It’s too cold.
“It’s too cold!”
One year I saw an ant; he sniffed, felt me with his feelers, then dragged me away. There was only darkness.
Rick the Ant argued unsuccessfully with the other ants that perhaps they should leave apartment no. 7. There were only a handful of them left; maybe they should start over somewhere else.
But they wouldn’t listen. They could smell something yummy in the kitchen, and they all went running toward it.
When the inevitable happened, when they were all coated in cleaning fluid, slowly suffocating on the fumes or drowning in puddles, Rick really couldn’t complain: it was really yummy.
He needs them to imagine it as echoes, the audience. Uh, that is, he needs them to hear what he’s about to say as echoes; they’ll uh, hear the echoes, that is. Oh yeah. Money.
So he turns on the mic all cool like and says, “You imagine this is echoes…it echoes”. Now for some serious fucking spiritual exploration on a grand scale. Good lord, he was just visualizing electrical wiring where his nerves should be; or that his nerves ARE like, bio-genetic material! But so he’s like excited, this dude, Wesley, Wes, who is excited. Oh yeah, he’s higher than he’s ever been since last he had thought that, he’s primed, engine pumped, gas full, pistons of perrrception getting ready to burst and emit noxious fumes of wild imagery. Oh yeah, oh yeah, and ohhhh yeah.
“The body may not be kind, may not be kind
The body may not be kind, may not be kind
But let’s go further, let’s go further,
No flesh, no bone, to brain tissue”
Oh yeah, oh yea. There it is hey! Oh, he’s no longer speaking on the radio; he did repeat himself, not for the purpose of echo but because for its aesthetics it needed to be repeated. But damn, that needs some actual echo. He’s aware; it’s true. Jesus.
Oh god, there is for fuck’s sake; there’s a fucking pad- magic pad! Control panel of the Brain Plane. He finds it and says it again, the phrase.
Oh god his words, his thoughts, the electricity and chemical synapse are erupting into his microphone; synthesis of art and cognition for him, right? Maybe not, but like so he read somewhere that when you try to be creative your engaging in a light form, or at least an ‘acceptable’ form, of madness- like what, schizophrenia or something? But like, so then everyone is just as fucking crazy as you because they accept this wild thing as something admirable. What a thought for him. He likes it.
“Like, so then we don’t like bad art things because we know they’re not honest to the utter madness that art is? Or something like that? Or what, just me? I’m the only one who feels like having a song in your head means you’re hearing something that isn’t really there- you FUCKING LUNATICS!”
Oh God, he said that on air. Well, they should hear it anyway. Music is freaking him out, so disjointive: its wild Sun Ra and it sounds so sad and remorseful, but Sun Ra said his music was “joyous noise” like adulatory bits, songs of praise. But he’s not feeling that way.
“Say something wild? Uh, how about flesh made out of that synthesized rubber or whatever thing. So it would cling to your bones and musculature and all that; but if you added enough air, like, your flesh would expand and your organs would be, like, I guess floating? I’m not sure, actually, what the organs would do.”
“Man, this is a hell of a broadcast,” he thinks. Says…..good Lord.
Is there a better way to do what he’s doing? He’s not sure. However, he now begins to execute a glorious maneuver: fucking psychic projection: his brain into mp3, transmitter synapses, brain is a broadcast apperatus….and shit
“Jeeeeeeeezus,” he huffs. That’s a mildly threatening tone of voice his brain has taken on…or tone of thought. He’s starting to feel slightly overwhelmed, reflexive accusatory shit making him awful uneasy….
The Greatest King ever to sit upon the throne of Navereaux
Many years ago, there lived a great and noble king. He was wise, strong, fair, and all his subjects were happy to be thus. He was: KING LEOPOLD, Protector of Nevareaux, leader of her armies, greatest King to ever sit upon the Throne!
The Greatest King ever to sit upon the throne of Navereaux
Many years ago, there lived a great and noble King. He was wise, strong, fair, and all his subjects were happy to be thus. He was: KING LEOPOLD, protector of Nevareaux, leader of her armies, greatest King to ever sit upon the throne!
His court was a citadel of good government, equitable and just rulings dispensed with alacrity and aplomb. Yet, though a King be the supreme mind and the corporality embodied, truly it is the validation of these traits that he seek to enlarge his eminence further: thus we laud our young but fiercely intellectual sovereign who when encountering a conundrum does not simply bash it all into tiny pieces but instead seeks its considered and staid solution: we of course defer to his kingly wisdom when he does bash conundrums into tiny bits, for he above all is knowledgeable of the appropriate times to do so.
However, here, the beginning of our telling of the legendary exploits of this titan of cognition and logic, here is but a sterling example: when first our King realized that his intellect may touch the clouds but not the stars and thus sought to ride to the heavens.
I had a dream last night, wondrously strange: I was a butterfly! My wings were large, dynamic and beautiful.
Vibrancy shone off of me, red that more than red, puce beyond puce, azure more pronounced than the sea in the morning. I was a fluttering orb of splendor dancing from flower to flower, a majestic beacon of purity and bliss to all other living things.
The flowers bent to me; the birds sang to me; the sun tried to shine just slightly stronger so that its beams might touch my wings and create a prism of splendid color spectrum.
I didn’t know of Jesse Marks, his body, his mind, the tensions between them: for I was a butterfly, and so long as I’d been perceiving this it’d seemed real to me, and more importantly, it seemed eternal: time began and terminated within each breath I took.
Then I awoke.
I was solidly and unmistakably “myself”. What a lovely dream, I thought to myself. But, if I can be honest, I don’t truly know if I was Jesse Marks dreaming about butterflies, or if I’m actually a butterfly who is dreaming about Jesse Marks; or further still, perhaps I’m somewhere in between…