this, that, and the Other

identity, alterity, and everything in between

Category: Memory

an anecdotal review of a film i saw on a weekday once

It begins at a mall with my father and youngest brother. It is interesting where we begin, or rather where we find ourselves beginning to speak. And it’s a mall, across the street from yet another mall, and it’s my father who says it’s a fun movie which I doubt, and it’s my younger brother who tells me I probably won’t like it. We pay. We watch previews and advertisements respectively which, given their ordering, I am assured are discrete things. Welles was obsessed with the camera as an eye. As a view and an ordering of things. Cinema is an answer. Maybe the questions are always asked after the fact, but what you walk into a film asking seems salient at any rate. And when walking in, and yes, paying, paying to be let in, and see The Avengers, one asks questions or presumes them.

The ultimate feeling one gets before the giant vision of a screen of men is an comforting finitude.  There is a woman somewhere in the film who thrives on the insecurities of less heroic men. Some have made mention that this is a radical statement about the subjectivity of being a woman or maybe it’s a radical statement about the movie industry or maybe it’s an ironic critique of the sidelining of women or how sexuality is always a failure. Maybe we are all black widows to the corporate America we are led to believe S.H.I.E.L.D. fails to be. Tony Stark succeeds and we know this because he is an all American heterosexual white male hero—a category the slightly flaccid Rogers reminds Stark he fails at. Supposedly the ending of the film disproves Rogers because Captain America fails to have wings or a jetpack or anything really other than nationalistic virtue and a proclivity for sticking around. Tony Stark due to presumably not going public or by dipping into the company pocketbook bravely teaches us that only CEO’s can enter the void of the universe. This is what the film means by vengeance.

On more than one occasion the film whispered to me I was Banner who is perpetually avenging himself against himself which gives him definite contours of self-reflexivity. Banner is something of a William Burroughs without conviction. Perhaps the most relatable in his awkwardness, which is yet another failure, but also most complicit in his passivity, Ruffalo plays a sort of Kubrick Joker or Alex or whatever Tom Cruise’s titular male porn star character in Eyes Wide Shut was called. This is perhaps why Mark Ruffalo makes so many romantic comedies. In both his romantic comedies and The Avengers, Ruffalo’s nudity plays a prominent role.

Stark wants you to think the Hulk is the real Banner or that Banner is some alter not-Hulk, meaning the dissonance or resistance to capital is a sort of negative narcissism. To be angry is to succumb. Unless of course you smash which is something sadly Banner never quite does to Stark or S.H.I.E.L.D. but who knows what will happen in the next movie or two. For now he dares not destroy our big American submarine-boat-helicopter, but of course we do with our imaginations, if not for justice ,at least for the spectacle of justice. And this is why they chose Loki as the protagonist of the film—an honestly corrupt fellow with nude paradoxical limbs rendered seamlessly explicit.

And here we have these various men who bring with them worlds, both literal and metaphorically literal, and politics and ideologies and general mythos to bear on our protagonist’s oedipal problems. We are led to like this or that particular instantiation according to plot and whim.  These moments of dissonance, world scraping world, seem the most pleasant—who doesn’t love the frottage of a Captain America and Iron Man after all? Of course we know the phallus of corporate America will win out in the end, the flaccidity of post-WWII America having become an overstated albeit nostalgic fact.

I must tell you at some point in the center of the film I left to use the bathroom and I don’t think I missed too much or rather I experienced something other people in the theater probably didn’t get to. There is a fight near the end and some extra stuff if you stick around through the credits which, as an exercise, is meant to lead us to believe is not part of the film. When I saw Thor eating a sandwich it was the closest I came to sympathy with any character throughout the film. Oh and someone died near the beginning which was sad because he was being paid by the government to make guns.

We left shortly thereafter and argued about this and that about the film but really we were talking about each other and how afraid and guilty we all are. If we could truly love each other I bet I would’ve liked the movie a lot more. If I had to remake the movie I think I’d cast Jack Kerouac as Captain America, Esther Newton as Tony Stark, GWF Hegel as Thor, Teddy Roosevelt as Hawkeye, Bjork as Black Widow, Loki played alternately by Michel Foucault and VI Lenin, Leonard Cohen as Bruce Banner, and Nina Simone as the Hulk. Of course Samuel L. Jackson would reprise his role.

We would film on location at the edge of the universe and the earth respectively and I imagine we’d shoot on an iPhone. I’d then project it on my breast, film it with my webcam, and upload it in segments to youtube. Naturally, I’d sue any theater or distributor who dared play it for copyright infringement (and maybe something about distributing pornography as well). No one would die though and we’d open with everyone eating sandwiches and end with a shot of Charlie Chaplin as a marine alternatively crying and trying on outfits but sort of smiling in between. If you stuck around until the very end you’d get to see a special little scene where we show you the names of all the people who worked on the film.

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even the stars fall from the wall

even the stars fall from the wall

 

 

the first moon of the first year doesn’t have

a name anymore.

 

you leant me margaret mead made me gay

which i started last night

under a new moon. we call the moon

new because of how it relates to the

sun. anne

 

hutchinson was called new even

while being accused of all the old heresies.

they called her a witch just like

they called midwives witches. the most

common thing midwives

were accused of was the desire to steal

men’s penises, and

 

they were drowned,

burned at the stake, or crushed under rock.

then and only then could obstetrics emerge

as a science,

that is, a male-only medical profession, with

likewise

the instruments of the male medicinal

imagination, the forceps, which would scoop

the child out, piece by piece if necessary,

while the mother, tied or chained,

lay down, making for easier

 

reach and less strain on the doctor,

who assured the woman that pain was her

natural and allotted curse in life. i read

 

about that the other day and it made

me think of you and those

things you said about

motherhood. i thought

a lot about my

mother and the things

that happened to her when she was

young, how

 

they really happened to me too, at least

in a way. when you

finally met her it was sad

and i was guilty cause how typical,

i mean, me a man, and you, and my mother,

and i don’t

really know why but i cried

 

when i drove home.

after, i couldn’t forgive

anyone about anything for weeks

 

*                             *                             *

 

last year

i fell asleep at eleven while everyone

else welcomed the new year. and,

 

i thought to

myself, that this must mean

something i said and you said you

thought it

probably did too and even though you

didn’t really mean it did, i agreed. i told

you

 

about my uncle then and how i like

twin peaks and how scared i am of open

windows

and you brought up the female

eunuch and i said something about

transphobia and

 

we agreed but that was earlier

in the sun when we changed

our shirts to sit

in the shade. things were so

peaceful then in tank-tops underneath the

californian

sun which is really

the same sun everywhere for

everyone on this

planet. god. this planet. like that really

means anything anymore after

everything

 

*                             *                             *

 

you told me over the phone

you went to a conference where

they wore shirts

that said esther

newton made me gay. that’s

pretty funny.

esther

 

talks a lot about camp and in mother camp she

says something about

coping or transforming the

suffering of others’ fear into a state of irony

or something. i never was very good

 

at that. when i was 6 my dad said chicken

and i asked is that the kind

of chicken you eat or the kind that

flies. the tao

 

says something

about no place for the horn

to enter. no penetration. it would be pretty camp

to be candy

 

darling for halloween

i think, but seeing as i wear a lot of women’s

clothing these

days and what with my identity issues and

fucked

up sexuality,

going as warhol is probably pretty camp

too. i miss you too. i used

 

to be the cop who got shot

when my brothers played

cops and robbers. i hate

 

writing i miss you.

no risk

in the writing. no self staring back in

the

risk of writing. no

crisis of

language. no sainthood or eternality of the

soul or bullshit and

no risk of

bullshit. chickens

 

can’t even fly.

i hate

myself writing like this

 

*                             *                             *

 

i reallymiss how you sucked

my nipples. some

people say the

male nipple is useless. fuck

them and their

teleological bullshit. it was that sort of thinking

that led to clitoridectomies on “hysteric”

women with “erotic tendencies.” if

the 18th century

male bourgeoisie really took themselves

seriously

they’d never stop castrating

themselves. at least they’d

still have

 

nipples. i’d like

 

to think somewhere

there’s a picture of the little

christ child suckling away

at the tit of joseph. i’d like to think

 

it’d be easy to ask

someone to suck my nipples

 

*                             *                             *

 

later, you whispered something of a

new year (you must take this he once

said, and

 

maybe he too

will pass into night. forgotten

 

all implication and finally

be free) but

 

what could i say. for years he

visited me in the dead of night with

sad sad eyes like

 

the eyes of the american

night kerouac loved so much, and

 

i would dream about

those eyes and how they floated in

the bathroom

 

window, even though we lived on a

second-floor,

and how, even from an early age, i

 

wondered anyone got up so high, and

what it was about me and about

 

knowing, about fucking and all the

usual suspects

buried deep down inside. and,

 

here with you, and tonight, i just

really wish I knew

 

*                             *                             *

 

night emissions are what

they called it in

the glory days of 1970s freudian mumbo jumbo

america. this unconscious selffucking was

stranded somewhere on the

wire tight

between shitting and pissing oneself, not

quite as

 

juvenile as (or so they would

say) female clitoral

stimulation, but not quite the anti-social

pathology

of full conscious solo male fucking either. but

that’s what i want to do with this

night, in the heat of it, just fuck

it right out and fuck you

right out

and for once and finally be fucked in

two. of

 

course, we could take this to

mean that semen is like nighttime, emitted

from deep down inside

from some primordial sleeping granddaddy

erection, and every time dusk rolls

around it’s cause some

boy had a big wet one, bringing down both

the stars and moon on us all

 

*                             *                             *

 

in beginners, ewan

mcgregor

summarizes his fetish with spray

painting public property as historical

consciousness. mike mills

directed beginners

and also has a fetish with spray painting

 

public property. this says something

about the

artist and art and what it is to have an

audience and

shit like that. anyway i think

 

that’s what this is. historical

consciousness. you once told me

anthropology wasn’t creative and i

felt really sorry for you then, because

the truth is poetry is just like

ethnography but

with less research. when

 

you said you were

supposed to spend a year

doing research outside of

your own culture i missed you. i mean.

to take the lid

off the thing is beautiful

and liberation is all

we have left, but resonance is

enclosure. also

preservation, health. to uncover is to expose

or enculture, to invite bacteria

and all sort of life. to be

open to the possibility

of life. to bend your ass

bare to the sky. to risk

being fucked

in the fucking. sometimes

 

i admit i don’t know the difference but

 

it was sad when you

left and i got that line from the

poetics of space stuck in my head, how the world

would be a better place if pots

and lids

always stayed together

and i wanted you back

 

*                             *                             *

 

we’re supposed to be

making love. damn that patronizing

sexedup alvie singer.

 

there are some things you can’t

swallow without

gagging. i was

 

annie then, wanting to

be fucked into nothing. you were

nico or jack kerouac maybe,

always ahead of

some careening. we made love

 

the night you

left. it was beautiful in a way. the

semen pooled

onto my chest

in the night. the coolness

 

there. the discharge. the sense of

self

found in the rubbing and

in the loss. you can

never really lose everything

 

you said. when our

broad shoulders touched

and your hands

were on mine

and you

told me about the iliac

crest, it

was the world that

was guilty. when i

couldn’t, the towel

swallowed your cum

 

*                             *                             *

 

maybe

you had to have

something or someone to forgive

unconditionally.

maybe you forgive lovepoems

 

too even though

you have

such a hard time with

people who say the word love like

it has

definite contours.

some people can’t

imagine

 

love spilling out

of itself. that’s

why god killed

onan. such a god lacks the imagination

to love without shame. moses

could only see god’s ass

who was so

afraid that moses would catch

him in

the buff and laugh

at the shame of it. i was kicked

by a bunch of

boys in the balls once in p.e.

and the teacher laughed. i

was obese which

meant i was sick which meant

it was funny to kick me

in the balls. i never

 

really got

the logic but the point is i imagine that’s

how god felt surrounded by

moses and with his

ass sticking out like that i feel

bad for him but

then again

what with the whole creator of everything

bit i kinda expect a little more out

of god

 

*                             *                             *

 

sadeyed lady of the lowlands

came on the other day and i

thought of how we never

listened to blonde on blonde while we

fucked

 

and how germaine

greer said the sadeyed lady and

the girl from north country were

eunuchs but

what does she know about dylan and the

beauty of the soul. when

orson welles

says he’s not a magician but an actor playing

the part of a magician he means

artifice is the only

magic this side of heaven.

you said

 

you weren’t really liberated

until you tasted your own menstrual

blood. well,

germaine, i don’t have menstrual blood okay

the best i can do is taste my

semen which is hardly the same thing. but

 

it’s been getting

sweeter lately. god, even i’m a

 

man. a piece of shit playing

the part of a man. sometimes even

an actor playing shit playing  the part of a

man. i’m

trying to tell you i’m sorry. i’m

 

trying to put this somewhere

 

*                             *                             *

 

the planet’s going to finally die someday

and of course type-1 diabetics will

 

still have diabetes in heaven and

martyrs always wear their scars like

trophies in

icons at the getty so you didn’t

see why diabetics shouldn’t proudly display

 

insertionsite scars and pumps

alongside st bartholomew and his heap of

flayedflesh. and we thought

this was beautiful, and that maybe

somewhere

the world’s flesh might be hung up to dry on

 

some temple wall someday and the

people genuflect and wonder what a world

we must’ve been and what a

death we suffered and what a beauty it all was

before heaven

so wonderfully dispersed its grace like

 

so many tiny bombs and the world fell

asleep in angelic wonder

and never woke up until the following year

sometime past midnight, clear-eyed and

 

fresh and ready

to begin again

as if for the first time in forever

 

*                             *                             *

 

you held me tightly there.

you fucked me

like a man fucks. ground me

down to a pulp of myself.

i wore a

 

love conquers hate

shirt for days. loving

oneself is like being

blind but not like the flower girl

in city lights with her christ imagery

and madonna silence. there’s

something so canned when

chaplin’s mouth gapes open

as wide as his eyes

and those sounds pour out

in a

proper english. but

 

how can you not cry watching the great

dictator

and even laugh when

he fucks the world he blew. you

know anything really

can save this world

except killing it.

 

when you visited

i missed you

and when you left

i missed you. even in kyoto

i long for kyoto goes a hass

translation of basho.

i guess there

is always something lost. even the

 

nightmares

of my uncle and the shit

he did and the night and the fear

of it and all of everything

burns out after awhile. and you get

left with something

draft for a longer poem

it’s funny, last year I fell asleep at eleven

while everyone else welcomed the new year,

and—I thought to myself—that this must mean

something I said and you said you thought

this was funny and even though you didn’t

really mean it was funny I agreed; I told you about

my uncle then and how I like David Lynch and how

scared I am of open windows and you brought up

The Female Eunuch and I said something about

transphobia and we agreed but that was earlier

in the sun when we changed our shirts to sit in the

shade and things were so peaceful then in tank-

tops underneath the Californian sun which is

really the same sun everywhere for everyone

on this planet—god, I said, this planet, like that

really means anything anymore after everything

 

*                             *                             *

 

later,fog along the mirror ( and you whispered

something of a new year, twin peak dreamfuck

of him: you must take this he said, and maybe he

too will pass into night—forgotten all implication

and finally be free) but you know you can never

ever everever ever  forgive him no matter who

or what or how the pain, be it like stricture,like

painting by numbers of him on each and every

limb,like his love in spite of his love,like eyes

in the windows of your room,like father’s fist full

of him breathless to your chest,like yourself

remembering and forgetting and remembering

and so on and on until some touch or heat-of-breath

when you wake to see in so many ways unalike her

sadness deep inside this wakeless shithole of a night

 

*                             *                             *

 

“night emissions” are what they called it in the glory days

of 1970s Freudian mumbo jumbo America, this unconscious

selffucking was stranded somewhere on the wire tight

between shitting and pissing oneself, not quite as juvenile as

(or so they would say) female clitoral stimulation, but not quite

the anti-social pathology of full conscious solo male fucking

either—but that’s what I want to do with this night, in the heat

of it, just fuck it right out and fuck you right out and for once

and finally be fucked in two; of course, we could take this to mean

that semen is like nighttime, emitted from deep down inside

from some primordial sleeping granddaddy erection, and

every time dusk rolls around it’s cause some boy had a big

wet one, bringing down both the stars and moon on us all

 

*                             *                             *

 

of course the planet’s going to die someday you said

and of course type-1 diabetics will still have diabetes in

heaven and you said martyrs always wear their scars

like trophies in icons at the Getty so you didn’t see

why diabetics shouldn’t proudly display insertion site

scars and pumps alongside St. Bartholomew and his

heap of flayed flesh and we thought this was beautiful

and that maybe somewhere the world’s flesh might be

hung up to dry on some temple wall someday and the

people genuflect and wonder what a world we must’ve

been and what a death we suffered and what a beauty

it all was before heaven so wonderfully dispersed its grace

like so many tiny bombs and the world fell asleep in

angelic wonder and never woke up until the following

year sometime past midnight clear eyed and fresh and

ready to begin again as if for the first time in forever

Doubt

It starts first in subtler
ways, suspect of the arms
as they pull out from under
you, doubting from the
get-go these two wobbly
things called ‘legs’ can
really carry you at all,
wondering whose they are
even—next you doubt them,
of course, whether or not
their sense of security is
that at all or something
entirely else, you begin
dismissing the words they
use, words like ‘not yours’
or ‘bad, bad, bad,’ until
you outright don’t listen
altogether. Soon you’re
doubting people you’ve
heard of, the tooth-fairy
or Santa Clause for instance
until you move right on
to doubting the very structure
of things as you know them,
the so-called grander words
like ‘god’ or ‘saint,’ things
which can’t be ‘real’ you say,
until you find yourself
in more complicated
situations, whether or
not his portrayal of the
Kennedy’s or Oscar Wilde
is ‘real’ for instance, you
start doubting the poet
or poem—who wants to live
in a world where the poem
is ‘real’ after all, what with
the sort of responsibility
that entails, ‘who wants
that kind of world’ you say,
casting aside equally the capital-‘N’
novel alongside the night you
finally told her or him what
you did and how you cried
and cried and couldn’t speak
another word, no point in
remembering now all those
terrifyingly not so real things
you said and did to those
you loved or said you loved,
no point in saying that name
you nearly forgot too that felt
like so many strands of cotton
candy when perched on
your pursed lips, better to
let these things be unreal for
awhile, to close your eyes and
realize reality is something that
happens, that you have so little
to contribute, and begin to enjoy
something of these pleasures.

Ithaca

To come to rest again, if only
for a time, on such sands—left
behind the depths of insatiable
questioning, the vessels of
transport tossed aside to deeper
waters. Sure, I fucked it up,
you fucked it up, who hasn’t,
really, fucked it all up from
time to time? Isn’t that what
return means—to find yourself
facing that way, open, alone,
finally and totally fucked dry,
a mere by-product awoken
in a stream, unsure of this
haunted feeling of familiarity
as you drift among the stones,
downward, toward the sea?

eyes closed, bedside

Dreamt last night of the ghost of her going.

Howls at the touch of intricate fabric. The tearing down of corridors held tight like stitching across the brow where you touched marble, split upside to spill the hatred out of

younger days (your brother, chasing to catch such passing).

And older you rest on the cusp of these chances, scarred but wiser; and, grown cynical, quit the hold of the ghouls of intimacy, sounds of things unseen: father,

there were whispers of your faith, incantation to seraphic beasts, arm folded on breast—then, wishing your children a goodnight sleep, head downstairs to rest.

Of Lions and Giraffes: a few Thoughts on Mike Mills’ “Beginners”

If you haven’t gotten around to seeing Beginners yet, I would suggest you do before it leaves theaters. Begginers stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Melanie Laurent and is written and directed by Mike Mills. The movie is centered around these three actors and how they approach and deal with love, particularly in regards to de/constructing ideals.

The film deals a lot with personal history. The main character, Oliver, is obsessed with pictoral representation, he’s an artist, and obsesses over historical quips, graffiting property with such sayings as “1985 BUSH FINDS JESUS.” When asked by his friend, Elliot, why, Oliver responds that he’s promoting “historical consciousness.” And indeed throughout the film Oliver is obsessed with being historically conscious. Much of the film consists of a voice-over narration of Oliver reading off historical facts told through pictures (“this is the president in 2003” etc). When Oliver begins ruminating over past relationships we see him draw his past loves rather than see scenes between him and them (compare this to the montages of Oliver and his mother, Georgia). Oliver does not remember these people like he does his mother, as a radical part of who he is, but as mere historical content–things to be conscious or aware of. He is in love with signification, think of the various “point & drive” scenes, Oliver wants historical consciousness to be enough.

Oliver’s father, Hal, at one point tells a melancholic parable of a boy who really wants a lion. He waits years for the lion to show. Finally a giraffe comes along and loves the boy and wants to live with him. Now, you can be alone without a lion and keep waiting, or you can have the giraffe. Aside from the obvious parallel this has with Hal’s life who “settles” for both Georgia and Andy (his non-monogamously minded boyfriend), this also is telling of Oliver’s plight. Oliver is waiting for a lion that will never come, that can never come. If we think of Lacan’s petite objet a (the object of desire), that certain something that makes me desire someone, as the lion, we can see that Oliver in a Hegelian fashion has etched out a sort of ideal lion given the content of his own history, waiting for that perfect lion to come fit. The perfect representation–the image which perfectly represents this lion quality he’s looking for.

But the representation is never the thing–this is Hal’s point with the parable. It’s not just the giraffe is never a lion, but the lion is never a lion. Think of the scene where Hal gives Oliver a pride rainbow–Oliver thinks he knows what it represents–sure, it represents gay pride–but Hal asks him if he really knows. Oliver doesn’t get the distinction and Hal seems concerned for Oliver. In other words, the sign cannot be reduced to what it signifies, gay pride, nor to simple historical content. It is part of who Hal is. This scene is almost repeated with Hal and his pride buddies when watching the documentary on Harvey Milk. Once again, Oliver “knows” who Milk is, yet doesn’t really know who he is.

This is the same with his relationship with Anna. He “knows” her, but when she moves in and he has to face her in his space he feels like he doesn’t. For instance, Anna instantly begins crying when she enters Oliver’s bedroom and Oliver as well as the audience do not know why–this is an event with no historical content, no signification–it’s a trauma that can’t be reduced to content. Even when Oliver and Anna “talk” about this scene the dialogue is shut off–does it matter what they’re saying? Here is a place–grief, trauma shame–where there is no “historical consciousness,” no awareness, just raw pain and people being people (the Lacanian “Real”–beyond signification). Here is the lion who is not a lion. The lion who doesn’t signify a lion.

This is also obvious in Oliver’s relationship with his father’s dog, Arthur, who Oliver speaks for. He signifies for him. This relationship is paralleled when Oliver first meets Anna (at a costume party–Oliver humorously dressed as Freud–a place of carnivalesque “historical consciousness”) and Anna herself (dressed as Charlie Chaplin?) cannot talk due to laryngitis. Here is Oliver’s ideal relationship–like the one with his dog–one in which the person is raw significance, pure indication, dressed up,  silent. Of course Oliver loves her all the more when he finds out she’s an actress with no real home. Here is pure perfomance. Pure signification. Pure consciousness. But there are always moments that go beyond awareness or that we’d rather be unaware of (like the aforementioned “silent” discussion). Anna, in distinction to Oliver, loves this about relationships (what she calls “magic,” that which is unexplainable about people from our individual perspective). It reminds her she is free, and reminds her she can never “have” the other person (indeed Laurent’s performance is somewhat reminiscent of Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim).

The conclusion of the film seems to be that everyone is a giraffe. Giraffes are simultaneously too much like lions and yet not enough like lions at the same time. We are too much ourselves and yet never enough. Georgia’s attempts to try to “fix” Hal’s homosexuality is this sort of too much and too little–its a kind of love that is offensive in how far it goes and signifies yet not enough to satisfy him sexually. Georgia wants to make the giraffe a lion. While Hal loves the giraffe (Andy) in spite of it never being a lion (monogamous). Oliver and Anna on the other hand see things as more complicated (there is a line about how they never experienced the terrible historical events their parents did, but this means they have a whole different set of internal pains). Although, like Hal, they both want a lion and realize that no one ever really is, both love the excess, the too-much lion, how people can be more lion than you ever expected, magical. But they each likewise enter severe moments of depression given that people can never quite fit their ideal lion.

The whole film is, in a way, this move from Freud to Lacan–the move from a time when “abnormalities” were analyzed as symptoms and repressions (like Hal’s homosexuality, Georgia’s Jewish descent) that deserved “treatment” to a time when every relationship, even/especially the normative ones, became shot through with symptoms (like the very normal straight, white relationship of Oliver and Anna). Lacan says somewhere that the death of God does not signify that everything is permitted (like the common misquote of The Brothers Karamazov would have it), but rather nothing is permitted–suddenly everything is a symptom, a cause for guilt, a transgression. The film, in its own way, charts the realization of this transition through the juxtaposition of its characters’ relationships and their personal histories.

It ends with promise but without ultimately having made any real commitments. We are left wondering if Oliver has finally realized its him who needs to abandon his preconceptions and prejudices as regards the “ideal-mate” or whether he thinks he finally caught a lion. Or if, like his mother, he thinks he can make his giraffe into a lion. We get the feeling during a scene where he revisits Andy that he has moved beyond reducing people to historical content though, when Andy accuses him of homophobia (a crime of signification, reducing Andy to a movement and orientation he identifies with) Oliver admits that he was really jealous of the love his father gave Andy (a very particular, real, human crime). Here Oliver has moved into the realm of the Real. He feels jealousy, pain, trauma. He moves beyond his symptomatic sadness which pervades the film, a sort of lethargy brought about by historical consciousness (think of the drawings from the “history of sadness” scene), and feels true, traumatic pain. A pain that is his. Finally something that is part of who he is–not just historical content. We are left hoping he will do the same with Anna.


milk & honey flow there

I must apologize for the lack of posting, but I have been sick and working and writing some music and things and not really had much time. I also, though, began reading some new poets (for me) and thus am exploring some new themes and styles. I think I’m leaving more narrative elements which, oddly enough, end up becoming discontinuous and preachy I think, and am leaning more and more towards a very intuitive writing for myself–disjunctive,  reflective, amalgamated, and, for lack of a better term, voyeuristic. I hope you enjoy.

milk & honey flow there

 

It doesn’t take long to learn the difference between special and different, although, once noted, it can be difficult to account for.

Like that was really nice he said, it’s been awhile—you? No, she said, not really. Concerning himself with writing these days, on the health of the body, dieting, images of the self, it’s all consumption anyways, but how to start? where to begin?

These days. What does that mean I wonder: these days?

The rhythm of the line sometimes more important than the line, sometimes, even not necessary, an unbounded rhythm, a talking without end, at least, until done.

I asked her, “is this okay” and, I shit you not, she said, “you’re not supposed to ask,” I mean, what the hell, yes, yes I’m supposed to fucking ask.

In the night he often dreamt he was tied down and with long shanks of lamb, raw, still pulsing with the red blood of life, forced down his throat, milk too, right from the breast. He felt terrible and disgusting: but it was so moist and fresh.

That woman, the one with hair like copper, loves you. Trust me, I can tell—she’s madly in love.

You remember, you called her bitch—that hurt. I don’t care what you said afterward, I know you weren’t kidding—it fucking hurt.

You know, this poem was supposed to be about you. There are already too many poems about you. This poem is not yours, and I am not yours, and I am not your poem. This was never your poem.

 

Praise

I’ve been trying to edit this poem for some time now, but I sort of just seem stuck with it–voids are left where I trim and parts become weighty and clunky when added to. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t quite feel done. Oh well.

Sometimes I think all poetry is commentary upon other poems–this one in particular is a commentary on Ben Johnson’s 4th lyric piece in his celebration of Charis set: “Have you seen but the bright lily grow,/ before rude hands have touched it?/ Have you marked but the fall of the snow,/ before the soil hath smutched it? […] O so white! O so soft! O so sweet is she!” And, more obviously, a meditation on one of Issa’s haiku which presents itself in the poem itself. Hopefully this poem(-as-commentary) fits between the other two well, a liminal poem so to speak, which is, perhaps, what all poems are anyways.

 

Praise

 

To say I thought of your body this morning,

smirch of overcast, the faint cloud-glow of

Californian rainclouds, low, and full to the

very edge of themselves, thought of the moon

sheen along your belly and breast which, at

the time, was your belly and breast, was its

whiteness, representing purity or openness

or some such significance as used and hollowed

and filled in its day by Johnson, Marvell, Donne;

to say I thought of this body in the midst of

our mutual grievances, and the way our insides

slowly crept out in insidious and hurtful ways,

the way we dressed in them, half the shaman half

butcher, and wept for each other but mostly

for ourselves and how we called it empathy,

a shared space of condolences, a time for loss;

to say I thought of your body then, thought

of my body beside and our warmth and hair,

clothing crumpled away like used up packaging,

something discarded, is a way of saying there

was an impression, a sunken space in my body,

a mold where whatever lay there, whatever

came so close as to touch, I tried to melt down,

to melt and press and stamp, but never could;

and when the mold finally shattered and I

touched and could be touched, was opened

slowly and from top to bottom, I couldn’t help

but think this morning of that line from Issa,

the one about the lark caught midflight singing,

something about her groundlessness, her pure

detachment from all other things and therefore

her openness to all other things, and what to do

but sing, and the word praise came to mind, a

certain fullness, suspension, and the word praise.

doppelgangers

Thinking of people, memory, identity–what stories and things we tell ourselves to make-up ourselves. This poem is meant not to be didactic or moralizing but more of a space to inhabit and let these questions arise: not an answer, but a dwelling.

 

doppelgangers

 

I could swear from

behind it was you

 

or from the front

and from a distance,

 

you walked right

by and didn’t even

 

double-take as I

thought of all you

 

did and might have

done given the time

 

or whim and I decided

then and there to

 

forgive you, put it

all behind us, start

 

over, afresh, right

from the beginning,

 

and forgive myself

too, even for the things

 

undone and half

done, and, I must

 

admit, I felt a little

sorry as he reached

 

out and grabbed

your arm, slowly

 

and tightly pulling

inward, wrapping you

 

around himself,

kissing your lips.