living among the sugar maples
Home technology has not changed wildly since the olden days. I accidentally melted, literally melted, a metal tamper of espresso today, and had to evacuate the premises briefly as the pungent twang of charred espresso grounds puffed out into the air, permeating the atmosphere like the irradiance of Chernobyl. Outdoors I fare only moderately better; black insectazoids (I would say insects, but this kind seem too insidious for pre-existing language), buzz through the air like war machines. They are innumerable- especially the moths, whose lunacy drives them, wings-a-flappin’, toward the Edison lightbulb, without tire in their appetite for light.
I’ve been impressed recently with the rarity and specialness of the mammalian, in any given biome. We’re like a complex piece of material syntax, whose manifestation takes the Earth much greater effort than the effort it takes to turn out a mosquito or a chipmunk. The mind of the universe had to dream of the heart, the circulatory system, the lymphatic nodes, now axons, neurotransmitters and hormones- then the womb of the Earth had to gestate this complex society and imbue it with the electricity of consciousness, so that we can do these things like dancing. A deer seen from afar is mysterious as a Celtic myth and more complex than your standard Volkswagen.
What’s the point, we ask. I feel like the ratio of beautiful to hilarious is important. I would say gothic carnivorous horror should be included in that ratio, but sometimes I face that gothic carnivorous horror as something to be laughed at, so it gets sort of converted, through me like a catalyst, into something wrly amusing, emblematic of the ultimate fragility my subjectivity, the matrix of temporally situated conditions to which I am ultimately bound. Today as I was walking, I thought, if I die in a bear attack, my last thought would probably be well that sucks. Though lovely, I am not a lot more than a bug.
Texted Josh about a dream I’d had, he was wearing a big key around his neck, a theatrical key with a heart on it. The key opened a locked drawer lined in red velvet. I liked living and sleeping in the drawer because it was very serene. The drawer was like an aspect of my being. He wore the key around his neck like the Flava Flav clock.
I think part of the point of the universe is that the key is like the Flava Flav clock. It creates a dynamic ratio of consciousness that balances the axis of deep emotion and comedy. Then there’s the axis of reality and symbolism, which the dream, by existing, assists in managing the balance of. Then there’s the axis of isolation and unity of consciousness, which the dream, by existing, manages the balance of in one life, and thus all lives. Then there’s the complicated aspect of camp in the appearance of the stylized and kitschy key and box. The element of kitsch in the dream uses the language of self-awareness to articulate an awareness of how this experience, though meaningful to me, is one of numerous similar psychosexual experiences, had by humans everywhere, all the time. My mind drawing on the kitschy metaphor is symptomatic of how ingrained I am in Western media culture and the literary imagination, and perhaps, how on some level I realize that dating Josh creates a chemical, oxytocin, in my brain, which I like and need. So yes, with his key he was unlocking my box of pleasing neurotransmitters. I also really like him.
The vibe out here is fetid, teeming, permeated, and alien.
There are lots of big spiders that live in, on, around, and above my bed. There used to be tons and tons of moths. Now it’s spiders. I smack all the visible bugs to pieces before I go to sleep, by whacking them with my Catholic Youth Bible, which is now crusted in spiders. There’s a pile of moths by the bed. I like Psalms and Proverbs. I also like this great index that lists topics by keyword. So if you need help on “uncertainty”, “grace”, or “service”, or whatever, you can turn to it, after wiping off all the spider legs. The sound of the nightly Beating of the Bugs is percussive and loud. I used to find the experience traumatic and horrific, but now it bothers me less. I’m very careful not to smash ants. I love ants and have always loved ants. They are team players, they’re creative, and they’re very cute. I like the way they make highways.
A big part of living in the mountains is Avoiding Poisons, crisis management, existentialism, and longing, for the men of your non-forest past.
emo stuff post-breaking up via text with Josh due to his continued interest in dating other women
You let me live in a rare and beautiful drawer inside myself, where rich fabrics absorbed sound, and everything was soft, encompassing, and bathed in quiet light. No part of my skin was cold in the wind. No one else knows how to open the possibility of me, and I’m sorry I was there alone, without you. You brought me there.
Wordlessly a tulip apprehends sunlight and becomes alive- articulating a unique beauty in becoming itself and allowing others to experience it through being- without bowing, or engaging in the ordered rituals of a debutante. The music of living is present without an instrument being played, present without virtuosic training. The act of feeling interlaces the chord with the symphony of all feeling that makes living mean something. The pianist cannot wear the wrong shoes, because a forest clearing is no different than a concert hall.
The constellation turns in the wheel, and disappears below the horizon. The drawer is not there to find solace in. It is lost again in me, if it was ever real. I’ll wake up again, under a new sky. Mapless, new, and cold again.
pull yaself togetha kid
Control the apparition of symbology by drawing. You have partial involvement in the creation of your destiny.
Be like the mammals- elegant strong and free.
Control your fears and desires.
I love it so much. The trees stroking the wind like soft, curious fingers. This is what I’ll miss when I die. The way that the leaves curve between each other. Seeing them move.
Creating a logical order for perception makes perception possible.
Truth isn’t really concrete until it’s agreed upon, and virtually all agreements can be undone. The uncertainty of those shared truths can be really unsettling. I don't know that my whole reality won't be shattered on a whim like the ol' crystal piñata.
driving with Dakota
Dakota walks outside wearing black spandex biker shorts and a men’s button down with boxy short sleeves. She wears it buttoned to the neck. Driving down Highway 90 in her Chevy Malibu, she has an oldies station on that plays kind of gentle blues. CCR, “but also the Supremes”, she says. Her small nose stud glints in the late afternoon sunlight. I lean my face out the passenger window like a golden retriever and try not to start shedding tears, because her beauty is making me emotional. When I get emotionally involved with someone it wretches open this wellspring, and when the feelings are unrequited I feel it gets kind of redirected into this emotional openness and appreciation of other new people who are proximal to your life, like Dakota, once the person you need isn’t there for you. I would say like tapping into an aquifer, but honestly maybe more like a broken fire hydrant. I blink into the wind and half-listen to the conversation. I blink into the wind and half-listen to the conversation. ("Taco bread. Like what if you baked the tacos into the bread.")
Dakota never smiles hugely, just gently, light shining from the center of her light green eyes. Her dark hair is boy-short and swooped across her face. Her cheekbones are round and wide, giving her a soft joviality. As she reaches for the handle of a grocery cart, her sturdy black bra shows through her boy-shirt, gripping across her wide shoulders like the girders of a bridge.
I’ve noticed I’m kind of dusty, spastic, anxious, and kind of acute in my affect, compared to other women. I think most men admire women who have a sort of gentle, lunar luminosity and sort of solidity to their composure. Like you could hold them without them dissipating into a puff of neon gas. Like you would never know completely what they’re thinking. Dakota is this, but without the liquid, catlike wiles that I associate with that type of feminity. She has more of a geological density of feeling that’s expressed by the composed absence of gesture.
Something smooth and doo-woppy comes on, lulling me back into the slipstream.
A red-headed girl whose name I should know walks onto the porch with a sort of fixed grin. She adopts the affection of a Daisy Duke type character, despite having all the cultural exposure of an urban college graduate. She has a kind of muscularity but not athleticism, and wears a large and elaborate neon backpack with very tight, curve-hugging jeans that dig into her hips, cuffed above the ankle, and big square glasses, topped off with shock of red curls.
oh h-e-e-E-yyy, she drawls, like a symphony conductor who knows that she’s fully in control of her players, drawing out a long, tremulous note with her wand thing.
She’s already bugging me, so I lean over the rail and pretend to text while staring at the ‘bleeding heart’ flowers that are falling onto the wooden deck. So goth. It’s like they get me.
Now she’s convincing a boy to buy her an onion. Just like, one onion, says coyly, waving the $5 bill in a sensuous manner before depositing it into the man’s breast pocket. Like, whatever’s cheapest. I’m making some curry. And sh-A-a-A-ring it. If her tone is any indication, I imagine that this curry-sharing event will be a very sensual, onion-y prelude to something else.
I continue to pretend to text as the conversation moves to other types of onions, the onions continuing to be used as a substrate, a blank score, upon which the girl plays out her need for attention. Like, not those otherrrr kinds of onions. [strokes the air].
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In another mood, I would have really enjoyed joining in this little scene. She’s actually a very lovely woman.
I’ve just been such a bleeding heart lately, it’s like being a reanimated corpse who’s just sort of wanly carried around by other people, experiencing multiple atmospheres without verbal response, silently observing humanity play out its various games from the other side of a wall of fog. Wraithkat.
I start actually getting texts from London, business stuff, and photos from Goldsmith’s and other shows. Oscar Murillo is showing at Zwirner London, beautiful raw colored slashes over gritty screenprints. It’s actually pretty goth. Operatic goth. But human, fleshy, borderline scatalogical howls.
I consider smacking the .jpeg with a “thumbs up”, but settle on the word, “rad”, which I’ve already used 5+ times in the same text thread. It has slightly more affective power than “word”, which is basically a substitute for the verbalization of anything at all. Great way to express absolutely nothing. Turned 27 today.
Something flipped in the last two days, and my mind, which was strung out across the nation like webs of anxiety, caught on the hands of other people, other places, swirling around the eddies of money, love, and the future, stretching thin, just snapped back into my center. I’m noticing immediate phenomena and have found a new type of energy. I am content within the space of myself. I am capable of new feeling.
I don’t know if weapons of war were engineered after insects, or if insects (especially spiders), just happen to look like weapons. They also have all the trappings of Literary Evil- solitary, needle-like, composed of viscious appetites, highly self-serving, and hideous to boot. Likewise, flying insects look like military helicopters. Snakes are so profoundly base- to gaze upon a limbless creature is to feel revulsed by its lack of dignity, and to have a psychological twang of empathy, or “phantom limblessness”, where you imagine the momentary loss of appendages. Which is not to say they’re not part of the biome. This is nature. It is all of these things. They give the world the beauty it has, which is gothic, not cute. It’s oozing it’s guts all over hot asphalt, and having its blood sucked out. It’s breathing and flying and digesting exoskeletons. It’s fucking and sweating, and breathing, and generating sugar and exhaling pure clean air, and feeling ecstasy and rapture all at the same time, while I’m in here beating spiders and clacking away on my little silicon tablet and the ice caps melt away.
The loneliness has been a struggle. I end up mentally projecting the body of someone I’ve been talking to into my personal space. My mind 3D maps his pecs and his kind of hard-looking belly, some combination of strong rectus abdominis muscles and maybe the hardness of beer-tightness. His big arms that are getting older, tighter in the tendons and ligaments, but warm. I imagine him to be kind of thickly permeated with the vigor of living.
This need to render him into being with my waking dreams makes my mind sharp like a carving knife, drawing him into being from nothing. The easy, soft edge of sleep has no place here. I’d like to be in that cloud, but when I get there, the projection dissipates from my lack of concentration, and the loneliness becomes too much to bear.
Sleep is an apocalyptic, cataclysmic loss of consciousness, and no-one wants to enter the void alone.
Maybe I should check my Instagram, my texts, all of my email addresses, and my Facebook messages 17 more times.
Looking through some old work, I find it relaxing to be in the photo of San Francisco, like Bert and Mary Poppins entering the picture into another, nicer place. Peter wrote some about the Minimalists, who split their psyche into the minimalist work, and then the other part of themselves that went to B-horror slasher movies at the matinee. As a way to kind of purge the viscerality of existence in order to keep making the ‘pure’ sculptures.
I was thinking just now that it seems like there is a heavy filtration process for what constitutes things that are lovely and transcendent enough to be included in my aesthetic world. The stuff that exists in my life that’s more complex or painful generally gets channeled into the writing. Like I wouldn’t really make a painting of suffering, but I would maybe consider writing about it. Nobody cares if the actor is happy, says D.
A+HRRA award summer 2023
The Summer 2023 Arts + Human Rights Research Award will be open to submissions this summer (approx. 14:51 UTC June 21 2023 - 06:50 UTC September 23rd 2023). The topic of the Summer 2023 A+HRRA is AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights.
th_Eroses, an arts publication www.theroses.xyz, is awarding $100 for a work of artistic / literary research that addresses or concerns human rights in conjunction with this season's topic, AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights. The term 'research' here is intended to indicate the process of creation, exploration, and discovery, rather than the compiling of archival facts and/or materials, although the compiling of archival facts and/or materials may be a part of the process of exploration and discovery, or a part of the process of shaping the path or direction of discovery. This is intended to be an open-ended premise, to support the range of work that may occur in artists' and writers' unique processes.
From the UN:
"What Are Human Rights? Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination."
Successful submissions may, but are not required to, focus on investigative, process-based exploration and material discovery. Successful submissions may couple rigorous (or subjective) analysis with documentation of investigative, process-based exploration and discovery. Submissions do not need to be factual; forms of literary fiction, subjective expression, abstraction, choreography, and/or non-narrative presentations will be considered as well. Submissions in all languages and media are welcomed.
The goal of this award is to amplify artistic voices that inquisitively and critically approach the pressing issues of our time, to create a habitat where a unique form of creative journalism can thrive, and to provide th_Eroses readers with artistic / literary insights into key issues.
Please note: If your work is submitted and selected for the award, you consent to the publication of your submitted work by th_Eroses now and in the future. Not all submissions will win the award; there may be one submission chosen, or multiple submissions, or none of the submissions. Selected submissions will receive an email of acceptance and next steps.
Please submit work to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Entry: Arts + Human Rights Research Award" in the subject line.