John Bloomberg-Rissman: From 'In The House of the Hangman,' with a commentary on the process
At that moment, an explosion occurs. At that moment the sumo wrestler dives; he enters the water and makes no splash. The prisoner’s strike is on. Often I wonder whether my teeth are rotting. On Tuesday I had my hair cut. In the bathroom I kill a cockroach as it tries to run past me. My breasts hurt I am pregnant perhaps. This prepares the manifold, earlier, immaterial representations, the mounting system centralized, happily groomed as yoga for planets. The earlier bonobos touched it and squirrels did their math to empower the mergers and exchange.That’s part of what I believe. Remember how I was stressing out about my essay on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus for ages and then about my essay on the role of sympathy in Kantian and Humean forms of Metaethical Constructivism? I got firsts for both of them :} Just call me fun bags. I know what amateur porn is. The best dinosaur was a flower. The dawn of something, following a night of else. You know Mies Van Der Rohe’s monument to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (built of bricks because “many of these people were shot in front of bricks ...”) (destroyed 1933 by the Nazis)? My friend Aindriu plans to rebuild it. In my waking dream a vessel similar in appearance and age to the one in X-Files: Fight the Future filled with enough empty containers (like the ones in the movie) to hold several hundred thousand people — with similar intentions for them as in the movie — was approaching Earth’s outer atmosphere. In a few seconds, another massive vessel became visible and fired some kind of weapon that destroyed this ship instantly. A flash of light illuminated the northern hemisphere over Russia for a brief moment. The vessel that fired on this ship (don’t ask me how I know this) was a military vessel from an extraterrestrial civilization that considers our species as an emerging life form that is very rare and endangered. Perhaps I’m guilty of an overactive imagination and so be it, but “It’s so weird out. What do you think is happening with the air?” A good example is “Laundry Lists and Manifestoes” which takes us from Noah through the Odyssey to Robinson Crusoe to opera, to Tristan Tzara and Malevich and Khlebnikov to the present day and ends with: The screensaver image of a broken SE10 / Madame C’s nine cognates gather around boxes dropped / By Ever Afterlife Balloonists working on the script / of cargo cults. They argue (the cognates) that a manifest / Attached to shipment listing all collaterals and cogs, / Codes and codices for Mme’s Nothing Else Cockaigne Machine / In fact are elegiac poems, that David sings for Jonathan, / Gilgamesh for Enkidu. They inscribe themselves as / Manifestoes which proclaim their faith in algorithms of an / Unknown field of force. They're cognizant and they can glow. / They're coeternal, and they rise to an occasion. / Although they tell no stories of their lives, their little trumpets blow. Some grubby pants & death in the chest (Right on man!) I’ll see you there by the wall / just past the loading zone / : Mezcalito casting posies : Earth & its opposite : deer silent as the noises at their weddings You shouldn’t go / but you should go We transformed caressing the ayayay of every wound ... Gray is the Theory ... Red the fuzz of Cannabis / The Wireless / / The fight? — How much for the singing rabbit? — Happy Un-Birthday / The piranhas of the day before yesterday are iguanas of the Waves : waves : waves of — Would that be 1 Sirian haiku? 1 water poet in the sierras? dickfaces & fucktrarians? “What was friendship in the plague days?” I cut his hair while he slept to prevent vines from stretching around his throat. Things happened then they changed into squirrels. They got squirrelly with lab coats filled with dollar bills. Let my phone vibrate out: the notorious files have ceased to elongate posterity. I came all this way for a single glass of water. Only people like you who will not talk with their wives when they get home about what they do all day are able to … [garbled] … protecting us from the ‘terrorist threat’, but let’s let everyone here hear more information about karaoke. Anyone that wants to can go. What if one day they find Shakespeare’s codpiece? In other words, ‘Life is good,’ says the T-shirt with a smiling cartoon stick figure that is waving crudely. The fly lives for a day. An elderly man falls. A bus with hissing brakes. ‘Are you okay?’ I ask. The most stupidest question on Earth. Pulling his veined hand to help him up. Sticky fingers. An apple cider bottle on the ground. “Avoiding everyone's pupils” is oddly more precise than avoiding their eyes. Listening to the sound of decomposition, however, is curiously affecting. As the lettuce’s cell structure and water content changes, so, too, does its voltage, and thus its sonic output, from the bright, tinny, and surprisingly speedy pulse of a crisp, green leaf to the mournful, fog-horn honks of a five-day-old composting candidate. I guess this is where I quote John Olson saying, “You can change a circumference but you can’t change pi.” “Canty soon faced an alternating cycle of unpaid work and job-search placements, his benefits constantly threatened by petty infractions — alleged ‘failures to comply’ (FTC) beyond his control and often lacking a basis in fact. ‘I stopped believing there’d be a job. I said to myself that they gonna keep FTC’ing. Everybody was getting FTC’d.’” “So I used a sharper, more ‘confrontationally clean,’ I guess, font, and made the coloring inside the letters this beautiful little photo of raw meat.” It was only a two-hour drive across Central Florida from Disney World to Weeki Wachee Springs, but the distance traveled was much further, from sleek theme parks, hotels with room service and package vacation deals to a rundown motel with broken Wi-Fi situated across the highway from a thrift store and a Hooters. To get there, I took State Road 50 through mile after mile of swamp and farmland, which was dotted with pawn shops looking to buy guns and gold, and billboards with photographs of babies and reminders that “my heart beat 18 days from conception.” Strip malls were broken up by new town-home complexes, old trailer parks and churches. When I reached the intersection of 50 and Route 19, a faded blue-and-white sign welcomed me to Weeki Wachee Springs, which is both a very small “city” (population: 4) and a 538-acre state park. It is also “the world’s only city of live mermaids.” Yesterday, 30,000 California prisoners refused to eat. The people on the lawn are nice They are adaptable The people on the lawn are pretty cool when you don’t get on their bad side You are so funny and adaptable Can I adopt you It’s like you’re singing all the time in the woods The forest is long It is long gone like a stick. Once, I let a doctor stick a tube down my throat, I was so broke, and take pictures of my esophagus and stomach for $200, the same year I wore an Easter Bunny suit in Quincy Market, my furry rabbit arms around tourists (I’m probably in more of their photo albums than my own family’s.) Is this an example of Rachel’s Hyperaesthesia-wha-wha (web.2-in-1??? It is not that we cannot talk Tiqqun talk. Look: The Man-Child has two moods: indecision, and entitlement to this indecisiveness. The Man-Child tells a racist joke. It is not funny. It is the fact that the Man-Child said something racist that is. The Man-Child thinks the meaning of his statement inheres in his intentions, not in the effects of his language. He knows that speech-act theory is passé. Why are you crying? The Man-Child is just trying to be reasonable. This is his calm voice. UPDATED: A Phillips 66 pipeline with a record of prior accidents spilled an estimated 25,000 gallons of gasoline in a remote area outside a small town on Montana’s Crow Indian Reservation, but no public health problems were anticipated, federal officials said. This is not like when training a dog you must look it in the eye or other aphorisms of good sense. What’s the word for an undiscovered word? Julia Lesage came to the U of Chicago in 1985 and said that: Citations are world-building, acts not only of admission but of promotion of ways of thought, and so not only feminist but fundamentally what induces others to read what’s inconvenient, not already canonical, and on behalf of capacious *solidarity*. It completely changed my life and practice to hear that. Since I have begun to quote, it is difficult for me to stop doing it (it has already been the next day for a long time, and it is almost seven o’clock in the evening already, and thus questionable whether I can at least finish these notes today); specifically, I want to note down a few more sentences about the meaning of openness to the idea of transcendence – to which, I believe, the idea of utopia would also belong. I wanna know what it’s like to be Scarlett Johannson or what it would be like if I became (I mean actually became) Linux OS gazing tenderly through animal eyes at you from a billboard when you walk by deep in thought over a Mark Rothko painting from 1959. Free Mumia Cheesesteaks. In 4th grade I endured a field trip to Prachovské skály and the Rwanda genocide. After transferring to a language school the Yugoslav Wars took place. People don’t know what they’re thinking about for half a minute. Polarity. Grillwork. A blue flame. Audible. Quick, thin digital, hot, seizing right to acute. I’ll be expecting you. Repeating the tune to a song on the window. The power is out. Exclamation point, question mark, three dots. In this situation, it seems natural to ask: How does the space-time known to all of us emerge from the primary states of quantum gravity? And since normal space-time would be born as a result of the interaction between matter and quantum gravity, can we be certain that each type of matter definitely interacts with a space-time that has the same properties? I mean, he says problems in Israel will be solved by extraterrestrials, and I admit he can overplay the artist thing, but I like his paint-dripped pants and raggedy parka. He has no need to make extraterrestrials concrete. “It’s moment to moment with them, it’s local.” Illicit carcinogens — contrail scars on the Blu-ray — only more better ye butter the saline skyline, yo. I know the Lockheed Martin logo bastardizes stars. But soft, But Lo: a light from a bushel. It is the east and Juliet is the sun. Are there desires running through an impulse, deeper than its source? In 79 AD, Pompeii was buried. Though the fleeing bodies deteriorated, hollow casts of ash formed around them. Most endearing are the mangled dogs. Rock on London. Rock on Chicago.
[NOTE. The allure in Bloomberg-Rissman’s work, which has drawn me to it from the start, is his use of appropriative & conceptual techniques toward the exploration of real if unanticipated meaning – the saying, in other words, of that which is crying to be said. Of this he writes the following in a necessary act of self-depiction:
In the House of the Hangman, which takes its title from Theodor Adorno’s Guilt and Defense: On the Legacies of National Socialism in Postwar Germany (“In the house of the hangman one should not speak of the noose, otherwise one might seem to harbor resentment”), is the third part of my Zeitgeist Spam. Zeitgeist Spam, while sharing some features with, say, the work of Tony Lopez and with Ron Silliman’s new sentences, has as its guiding motif’s John Cage’s “no sounds of my own making”, and is mashup/collage, virtually every word of which coming from someone other than me (thus bringing to mind, and hopefully more than mind, one of the fantasies of Walter Benjamin). Each section of Zeitgeist Spam has its own constraints; Hangman’s primarily that it be written / composed /constructed in real time, daily, out of the materials presented by that day (whether via RSS feed, Facebook, books received in the mail, emails, tv, conversation, or anything else the day brings) over a period of 2012 days (yes, the “Mayan apocalypse” inspired that). It is intended to be “adequate to the world in which we live”, and has two epigraphs:
Laura Moriarty, A Tonalist (my original epigraph, from the very beginning)
The witch’s proposition doesn’t ask for the conversion of those to whom it is addressed. When witches address others, they do nothing other, all told, than relay, echo the question that transformed them themselves – existential catalysis. They tell us their recipes and ask us: “And you, where do you draw your capacity to hold up and to act from? How do you succeed in creating the protection that the poisoned milieu in which we all live necessitates? What protects you from the vulnerability that our common enemy hasn’t stopped profiting from? What do you do? What have you learned?”
Isabelle Stengers and Philippe Pignarre, Capitalist Sorcery: Breaking the Spell (my second epigraph, added three years in)
[Bloomberg-Rissman is currently working with me on Barbaric Vast & Wild, a large assemblage of outside & subterranean poetry in the mode of Poems for the Millennium and Technicians of the Saced. (J.R.)]