Saturday, December 29, 2007

Final Instructions

Lesson Forty-Eight

If desire is so phenomenologically volatile then why do you keep finding yourself in the same predicament? This is one of those questions for which there are many answers, most of which are difficult to swallow. Twice you have begun casually, only to find yourself attached somehow to the idea of attachment, the sheer physicality of it. The third time you are better able to separate the sensation of flesh from your emotive capacity. But you didn’t anticipate the slippages of music. When he plays, each note opens until you are the air in which it sounds. If you had any sense you would have deafened yourself, quieted the call of his horn. If you had any sense you would have kept your damaged heart trapped in that mason jar. Instead you put your cupped palm in the glass and drew out the azure fly, an iridescent dragon shorn of its wings.

Lesson Forty-Nine

Only the most irresponsible among you would have recommend anything other than medication, several weeks of bed rest. But you have spent a lifetime attracting negligence. Gathering all the useless prescriptions and admonitions, you place them in an enormous bowl in the center of the room. They are like fish swimming around an empty glass. Such unhealthy things really. You wait for them to die one by one. It is not so bad to be alone in an apartment with a jar of dead ideas. It is the people, the ghosts that espoused them, who cause you the greatest concern. When they become too rowdy you slip out to the fire escape and watch the almost city draw to a close. It is not so different from all those nights you spent in the woods telling the stars off. Who are they really to look down on you with such bright indifference? The almost city lights obscure them. With your hands pressed against the metal railing, you search out another cosmology, some imploding luminosity to call your own.

Terminal Lesson

If space itself is expanding then you too should be less dense with every passing day. Your bones understand this principle; by now, they are nothing but air. But the rest of you is weighted, a muddied sediment caught in the swaddling of.

The last lesson is the most difficult one to learn. It is cumulative, prophetic. There is timing and phrasing to contend with. When he fingers the notes as if drawing sinew from flesh you can almost feel the wind slipping muscle free of bone. To sound oneself in the hollows of. To call the future another self and claim she left you first. This too is instructive.

When you weary of the lesson plan, you can always count on the propensity of others to be drawn to your destructive sense of purpose. As if you are some sick parent of. Tell them that their heart is in fact the enemy. Everything sentient really. You are perhaps the worst. Your capacity is entirely truncated. Trunk like. As if ship wrecked, only without ship, horizon, sea. There is no shelter, no water from which to drink, only the forever buried treasure of you. Go ahead, unearth it. You have nothing left to lose.

More Lessons in

Lesson Forty-Two

Everything is perfect. Your hairdresser taught you this. He had the help of a medium who channeled the voice of angels. You rely instead on the occasional panic attack. Anxiety can be an excellent guide. Just last night you had a dream in which you were both the aggressor and the object of. Both of you were equally monstrous. When you, the you who was passive, resistant even, finally acquiesced, the aggressor, who was also you, a messy blond and theatrical you, turned her face to kiss you, she scared you, the you who was asleep, awake. How many years have you spent accepting whoever claims you? This should alarm you more than those brief subconscious moments in which you were hitting on your overly accommodating self.

Lesson Forty-Five

One day everything will feel less than. This is what they tell you and they are rarely wrong. Or they are often wrong but they are gone before you notice, before you can mention it. In the absence of articulation there is amnesia. The loss of experience is difficult to capture and so it too is forgotten. What was it, you wonder, that I was trying to say.

There are many different kinds of forgetting. There is the child left for hours in a basket, unremembered until hunger cracks her lungs in two. There is the life spent unconscious, a lumbering shape skating the edges of a room. In the periphery, there is always some percussive movement, a thudding thought of. You should know. You have once again forgotten everything. To call it amnesia would be too forgiving. You have selectively erased yourself, blurred your most basic features until you are unrecognizable, another half-truth, another half self, another amputee caught in between.


Lesson Thirty-Seven

It has become necessary to understand the nature of desire. Not because you are desirable, but because you are so incredible desirous. Some days you can barely make it down the stairs without wetting your jeans. A hundred years ago you would have been institutionalized. Now you are just another single woman on the make. You mother would be horrified. But your grandmother, the one who shocked everyone in that small town in Illinois, would be proud. She was pretty enough to have any man she wanted and she chose the doctor, the married one. He was old enough to know better, but that didn’t stop him. Her parents knew enough to get her out of the state before the morality of the time got hold of her. She would have ended up in the same hospital as the doctor’s wife. Frigidity and promiscuity required medical correctives. The result was usually the same. All those women in white gowns, their hair combed and their sex parched. Desire is not bound by the order of language, but it can be constrained. Call it sin, punish the subject and the object. That ought to do it.

Lesson Forty-One

If chimpanzees resolve sexual issues with power and bonobos resolve power issues with sex, then you are evolutionarily closer to the bonobo, or so you would like to think. You are not alone. Many idealize the bonobo, a fruit eating chimp inhabiting a range south of the Congo River. It is a region at war. During the past decade nearly three million people have died and apes have been hunted to near extinction. In San Francisco, the children of hippies and the children of the children of hippies wear bonobo t-shirts, the black faced ape with pink lips smiling flirtatiously at the inhabitants of a pacific rim.

Two million years ago, the chipanzees and the bonobos split from the family tree. On separate sides of an enormous river that neither could traverse, they thrived. The chimpanzee, omnivorous and patriarchal, drew extensive scientific attention. Then Jane Goodall, who once said “on the whole, chimps are rather nicer than humans,” witnessed something shocking. In Gombe a chimpanzee population split in two, one group decimating the other and eating their murdered remains. This newest revelation, chimpanzees engaged in war, mirrored a rather ugly image of human kind. The bonobos provided a welcome relief. They are matrilineal and cooperative. They engaged in oral sex despite its failure to effect procreation. The Bonobos skull is smaller, generally thought to signify a reduced mental capacity, but their faces shows more individuated characteristics. Or so the primatologists tell us. The Bonobos could care less. They suck sugar cane from the researchers field, stretch, engage in tongue kissing, and rub their genitals against other female members of the group.

Bonobos pass the mirror-recognition test for self-awareness. Psychologist place particular importance on this capacity. The distinction between self and other and the ability to convey the cognizance of that distinction have long been held as central to the formulation of the ego, that mostly conscious trouble maker we call ourselves. The bonobos have their own vocabulary, although humans have yet to make sense of it. But their facial expressions, their hand gestures are intelligible to most. Come, they instruct, let’s play. Humans, in their incomprehension of the pleasure principle, all too often fail this test.

Time as measured by

Lesson Twenty-Four

Do not romanticize the lives of others. They may have a house, a dog, 1.7 children to love and feed. Sometimes in the evenings they dance together while making dinner. Through their kitchen window, you watch them circle the table, arms sloppy with the ease of it. You have only this page to fill, this life to pour words into. Take tonight for instance. You mistook him for something better than he was. You are often doing this. If only you could see yourself through the same sweet skin of possibility. It wasn’t until he asked you to lift your skirt, just a few more inches to reveal the plump shaft of your inner thigh, that you understood the inaccuracy of your translation. When he said that he wanted to meet the lady writer, he meant he wanted to fuck her. You had confused your adjectives and nouns. You were still working out the grammar when he adjusted his pant leg making room for his hard-on, his little prize. Already the story of it was more interesting than the event. Here she is, you thought, the lady writer. You had wanted to meet her too.

Lesson Thirty-Five

Somehow, without any warning, your desiccated heart has rehydrated, a bloated corpse in the center of your chest. People can smell it. Rather than being repulsed, they are drawn as if by a pheromone, the way boars detect estrus in sows. You had thought you’d be more desirable heartless, but animals survived by avoiding those among them who could not feel. Newly resuscitated, your emotions are black and iridescent, strange insects pricking the surface of your skin. You wonder if this is what people mean by wearing one’s heart on their sleeve. You had always pictured something red and bloody, like newly butchered meat. But the sensation is more brittle, as if you are sheathed in fractured glass. When the light hits you, you are kaleidoscopic. A million fragments of.