Our Death 32 / (after Miyó Vestrini)
I would wake up. I would hate. I would fuck. I would rarely think about Bakunin. I would walk around the town. I would think about the careful differences between anarchism, epilepsy, addiction, psychosis, the dialectic, various syndromes and panic. I would think about their rhythm. I would get slightly horny. I would refuse to leave the house. I would spend 20 euro on a bag that was barely worth 5 then consider murdering the dealer. My biggest fear is that one day I will murder someone. I like the rain. I won’t tell you why. Instead I will tell you how much I am fearful of food. I chew it thirty times. I spit it out onto the ground. It makes me sick. I am losing weight. I don’t care. When people tell me I am losing weight I say so what the sun, the sun too is losing weight. It is the law of the cosmos. I actually do say that. After I say it I start to cry. Someone puts their arms around me. I rarely care who. I think about the wind and the insects that live there and make a mental note of the number of my friends who are in analysis. I am not in analysis. I would rather be like the insects who live in the wind and do something remarkable with silk but instead I am crying in a strangers arms and they would really rather I would stop and this has fuck to do with the magnificent silk made by the laughter of insects. I remember meeting a hippy once who told me I was going to have a very long life. Shit in your mouth, I murmur, to the memory of the hippy. I run out into the middle of Kottbusser Tor. Its 3 in the morning and there is very little traffic. I go crazy again and start to recite poems. The ancient poems known to all of us. The ancient poems that could kill us if they wanted, each single syllable. I fall asleep in the bar. I don’t go home. I think a little about the moon, its relation to marxism, to the riots of five years ago and the predicament we find ourselves in now. Its a full moon. It hides very little. There is a great pain in my chest. Please don’t leave me.
When you were born, which you were told on several occasions was 1969, there were a group of Americans tramping about on the moon. You didn’t think about them. You were screaming your head off . Whatever. The furniture changes places every night. There is blood in your nose. You don’t know who your family are. That’s ok. Each morning they break your arms. They tell you it is fatal. They tell you it will help you breathe better. Alphabets come from your mouth and they tell you they are fake. Fake the words that come from your throat and fake the unpredictable furies. Fake your burnt skin. Fake your blue eyes. Last night you said to yourself I am so sick of being unable to sleep I will take 37 of these pills. They are like milk in my mouth. Like spittle and spectres. Like childhood. And all those other things. You don’t know what those things are. You drink some beer. You go out looking for smack. The men stomping around on the moon didn’t think about beer or smack, you’re sure of it. You lie down in some kind of stupor singing Beethoven to yourself. The men in the moon didn’t think about Beethoven. They said to each other, do you love me. Wankers. There are stains on all of your clothes. You don’t know what the stains are. You lie in bed and wonder about the men on the moon, and if they are still there. Dying, you decide, takes much time, much dedication.
Our Death 28 / (after Emmy Hennings)
I guess they’ve probably got me on their death-list somewhere. Probably quite far down. Not that I’m bothered – I’ve always been fairly careful inside my life, am quiet and am often frightened.
One day they smashed my heart. Since then I’ve been getting sicker. So what. The Angel of Death – if that’s what they call it – is on my side. I’m going to keep on dancing till they get me. They can nail me into whatever filthy little grave, I’ll never snitch on anyone.
All these banners and people and songs. Its like I’m flying through caverns, through grottoes and mythical tunes. I have bit-parts in other people’s dreams. I interpret their faces. The old, the sick, the beautiful, etc, none of them mesmerise me. A black cross in the centre of my room.
Our Death 13 / What If the Summer Never Ends
None of us have slept for a long time. How could we. There were fires up and down the Charing Cross Road. Mumbled conversations about Apartheid. England was damp, was possibly leaking. We followed tiny trails of liquid waste across the city. Called it aesthetics. Called it action. We all fell down. Some of us voted. Some of us put on balaclavas. There were several earthquakes. Endless strategies of tedious indifference. Some major buildings and some statues defaced. Declaration of endless war. Parties in the park. Criminalisation of drinking. Several dead friends. There was experimentation with make-up and electricity. Occupation of a number of universities. Fist-fights with cops and fascists. Talks on Russian Futurism in squatted pubs while central London burned. Distress. Hate speech. Consolidation of royalty. Running for our lives. It’s difficult now – all of that stuff is piled up like a heap of expressionist rubble in a semi-imaginary alley somewhere far away. We argue endlessly about whether it was us who died or them, but the one thing we all agree on is the barbed line that separates us. Sometimes we pluck that line. It makes a high and barely audible electric screech, like some useless old record. It puts immense pressure on the inside of our skulls, like boiling bleach, like the abolition of all memory. Its speaks of heartbreak, of denial, of new advances in somnambulism. Of revenge fantasies and drug addiction. It has nothing to say about where to go from here, about the day we crawl out from under our scattered rocks, and burn their border controls to the ground. One day our eyes will close. One day the sun will finally go down.
Our Death 8 / “It’s Hurt to be Murdered”
You know how sometimes the dream cycle comes to resemble the inner workings of a solar cop. That lucky old sun etc. Like for instance its night-time, no-one around, and you’re kicking in a door. No particular reason, just kicking. Then light. Everywhere. All of a sudden like completely out of nowhere you’re surrounded by cops and they’re smashing your head into it, over and over, the light, the door, dragging you off, smashing to pieces. And there you are are kind of screaming, yeh. Yeh I admit it you scream. I was probably doing whatever it was you said I was thinking. And as you scream that they just hit you harder, these, the cops of the living, banging your face into the astral sky and celestial dirt, until you’ve no longer got a face just a heliograph of recent incidents, a howl of anciency, a system of exchange. One segment broken glass equal to seven burnt souls. One mathematically transmitted disease. Its a city plan, this is. Its an angle of light its a map of the stars, the pigs of hell and the pigs of the ocean floor. You wake up in some kind of cellar. You wake up and you think its the shithole of the universe you’re in. You wake up surrounded by dead cops. They want nothing. They want you to talk and your skin is on backwards you put your hand wherever your mouth was and. All I’ve got is I know I’m a bone. All I’ve got is I know who you are, bastards, kids of bone. Nothing. One black hole equal to one crowbar. A million incidents. All of them. The screaming laughter of the dead. The border controls of the dead. You never sleep. You don’t complain. Most mornings you’ll settle for nothing less than the obliteration of the sun.
after Roger Gilbert-Lecomte’s “Le fils de l’os parle”.
title from Diane di Prima’s “Thirteen Nightmares”.
Our Death 6 / On Throwing Bricks
Our Death 3 / A Note on my Recent Poetics
I stopped smoking pot a few months ago because it was making me paranoid, but since then most days I’ve been taking potentially fatal doses of amphetamine. Its almost certainly making me psychotic, but it does at least have the advantage of saving me from the vast cataclysm that sleep has become. Most mornings I feel uneasy, visible and invisible at the same time, trapped between the proverbial two worlds, neither of which I’m prepared to accept or even tolerate. I can’t tell them apart anyway – everything’s functioning at some kind of stroboscopic level, where the invisible world is populated by a gaggle of flesh and blood insomniacs staggering around after a shipwreck, and the visible one by a weird star-map, a network of knots and tumours that up until now have been locked somewhere in the centre of the earth, a hell of alphabets and spectral injustices that we can summarise as a string of cysts arranged in strings along the chronology. Lets see. There was the poll tax revolt. There were punk houses. There was ecstasy and acid and free parties. The criminal justice bill. Britpop. The rise of the ironic wank. The phrase zero tolerance. The boredom of enforced hedonism. The skeleton of Tony Blair. The flames of humanitarian intervention. The inevitability of jihad. And thats just one more or less arbitrary little cluster, a hall of various mirrors that every morning I chop and snort increasingly gargantuan lines from until, in the words of Ernst Bloch, “years become minutes, as in legends where, in the apparent time span of a single night, a witch cheats her victim out of a long life”. And I don’t know whether I identify with that witch or not, but I do know that there are some mornings when I consider the possibility of powdering Blair’s bones, and then casting them at the feet of various monuments – say for example the statues that encircle Trafalgar Square – so as to transform them into real demons. The crisis, or whatever it is we’re supposed to call it. The ruins of the Ritz, for example. The broken glass of Millbank. The jail terms of the rioters. Ah shit. The smell of blood is overpowering. I have very serious doubts that my body will survive the current catastrophe but, what the hell, I know for a fact that my shadow will never be seen inside the Cities of the Dead. My skeleton, however, and those of my friends, may well one day be seen dancing on their embers. Their ashes. See you later. It is becoming increasingly clear that Thatcher faked her death.
Our Death 2 / From Deep Darkness
The violent disk in the centre of the sky and the coins in my pocket both radiate the same infernal energy. I know this because I have been awake for five days. I know I’ve been awake for five days because when I went out onto my balcony this morning all the buildings in the city collapsed. This seemed to me to be something of a cause for concern, so I sat down to write my will. Here goes. My coffee cups and typewriter I leave to, I dunno, whoever can scream the loudest. My collection of empty beer bottles I leave to my landlord. My library I leave to the homeless of Kottbusser Tor. My credit card likewise. My sexual uncertainty I keep to myself. My love I leave to the suicided. My drug habit I leave to cops, let them wither, mutate and die. My hatred I keep close to my heart. My heart I leave to the centre of the earth. My grief. Gah. My grief which is the size of the tiny racist island on which I was born, I compress it, I transmute it into something like the wild and collectively inhuman joy of the swifts that circle the city with a frenzy wilder than. Oh whatever. The heart is such a lame metaphor. And so pathetic, the idea of burying it in the earth, when I could just as easily fire it into the centre of the red spot of Jupiter. For example. My sensory system. For example. My five senses I leave to the invisible moons of Pluto, like a cluster of burst and eclipsed stars, like the city’s swifts, flickering in and out of calendrical time, where coffee cups and typewriters and habits and all the rest become a violent disk of knots and tumours trapped somewhere far outside of the known world, because obviously after five days without sleep your heart gets into some fairly interesting unknowable rhythms and your connections with the earth and its five senses become increasingly tenuous and I think at this point of Will Alexander’s essay “A Note on the Ghost Dimension”, I don’t know if you’ve read it, he writes in it somewhere about the missing five days of the Mayan calendar, which apparently is a time when monsters and poisons will appear, and I don’t know much about the Mayan calendar, but after five days without sleep I know a lot about ghosts and monsters and poisons, and a lot about how the missing five days could be taken to mean the fate of the five senses themselves, and how those missing five senses have been kidnapped and held for no ransom on some irrelevant island deep within the centre of some capitalist astrological system. My tiny racist island I leave to the monsters and poisons. The ghost dimension I leave to my dearest friends. My knots and tumours I leave to those who would form a new government, that they might learn just how tiny, how rabid and lost a hijacked sensory system can become. Ah fuck it. I leave the look on my face to my enemies. I leave the red spot of Jupiter to the unemployed, I’m sure they know what to do with it. Screw my heart. Resist death by water. By fire and rope also. I am fearful of nothing. I love you all so fucking much.
Our Death / 1 Letter in Turmoil
Letter Against the Language
God has chosen precisely what does not exist in order to reduce to nothing what does exist – St Paul
The criminals of the Vision are a totally different matter – Pasolini
So I moved to a new country, a new city, and I have to admit I like it very much. The effect is not dissimilar to tearing your name off your face, to finally stumbling onto the secrets of archaic techniques of invisibility. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’ve been awake for several days. Invisibility being, in its simplest meaning, visibility amplified to the max. Anyway, when I first arrived I walked everywhere, at absolute random, sometimes with eyes closed, sometimes open. When you feel that alive, meaning not alive at all in any sense that you’ve become used to, meaning absolutely and utterly lost, well, the distinctions between dreams and sight, between whatever it is that waking and vision are supposed to be, become pretty much meaningless. For a long time I was simply scrambling around in the more popular parts of town. Not really sure, to be honest – I mean, they’re popular for a reason and its not necessarily one I’m particularly sympathetic with. So I started venturing further out to the strange external circles with the weird unpronounceable names – and by that I don’t mean unpronounceable simply to a person who doesn’t speak the language, but even to the people who live there. There are some strange red doors out there. Some pretty strange landscapes. For some reason I started thinking about Pasolini. To be specific, the scene at the end of Theorem, where the father – having given his factory away to the workforce, and then having tried and failed to pick up a boy at a railway station, takes off his clothes and wanders off into some strange volcanic or desert landscape and, as he enters that landscape, he screams. I was ranting on to a friend a few days ago that I take that scream to contain all that is meaningful in the word ‘communism’ – or rather, what it is that people like us mean when we use that word which is, as we both know all too well, somewhat different to whatever it is the dictionary of the visible world likes to pretend it means. You know what I’m saying. A kind of high metallic screech. Unpronounceable. Inaudible. I’m obsessed with Pasolini. I stuck a naked picture of him on my office wall earlier on today – it helps, it helps when I’m trying to think about that scream, about toxicity and audibility, about the weird silence I live inside right in the middle of the deafening din of this city I’ve convinced myself I might have come to love. Some academic once wrote of Pasolini that we “should turn down the volume on his political sermons and listen to what he whispered in his work”, which is obviously pretty stupid because the politics are precisely within those whispers or, rather, those barely audible screeches. I guess you must be familiar with his unfinished St Paul screenplay – the bit where he quotes Corinthians on “hearing inexpressible things, things we are not able to tell”. I got really obsessed with that for a while. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to disappear into some kind of cut-rate Cloud of Unknowing, or worse, some comfortably opaque experimental poetry. I mean, fuck that shit. In the last essay he wrote, Pasolini made it pretty damn clear what might be implied by “inexpressible things”, things “we are not able to tell”. It is names. “I know the names”, he wrote, in that essay published in 1974. The names of those who sit on the various committees. The “names of those responsible for the massacres”. The names of power. The forbidden syllables. The names of those whose names it is impossible to pronounce in certain combinations and continue simply to live. And obviously, this has very little to do with what certain idiots still call “magic”, which means it has everything to do with it. But anyway, I was thinking about all of this and all the while I kept walking further and further out of town, in wider and wider circles, until my own interior dialogue, if I can even be accused of having such a thing, seemed to come at me in a language I could no longer commit to, or comprehend, or even hear. Perhaps I could smell it. The limitations of the olfactory spectrum don’t get nearly enough attention in all the chatter we endure about the “theoretical senses”, logically deranged or not. But anyway. Things we are not able to tell. Inexpressible things. Accountability. Transparancy. Blah blah blah. Hölderlin called it the nefas. You know? Mystery cults and so forth. Revealing the secrets etc. The saliva of judges. Chewing on gristle and bone. And we could, if we wanted, I thought to myself, spinning round and round in 920 degree circles, we could translate that whole thing into geography, so those spittle-flecked unpronouncable syllables would become the sheer disks of unliveable landscape. The death-cell. The plague-pit. The city of the sun. Utopia. All of the dreams of all of those dry fuckers who neither believe nor remember their dreams. “For that is the tragic with us”, wrote Hölderlin, sometime before he wandered off into the mountains and had his head split apart by god knows what infernal statistic, “to go away into the kingdom of the living in total silence packed up in some kind of container, not to pay for the flames we have been unable to control by being consumed in fire”. Quite a metaphor, yeh? And one whose implications go further than anything Hölderlin would have been able to recognise. I mean, right now. “The kingdom of the living”. “Packed up in some kind of container”. “In total silence”. As the borders are going up. As the teeth are being sharpened. And as I walked I wondered whose “the kingdom of the living” was, and whose was that “total silence”, and if the inexpressible names that Pasolini had almost uttered were of that silence or not, and if those who had, or possessed those names, were of the living, or not. Because sometimes in Pasolini’s work, in the late work, it seems as if utopia itself is the necropole, a ring of slums, a circle around the city, a “force from the past”, tearing up the present, a fever-desert, coming from the future, at inexpressible distance, inconsolable. And that screaming factory owner, in the last scene of Theroem, was he screaming because he was entering the “kingdom of the living”, or because he was leaving it. I don’t know. It isn’t even a scream, not really. More a dead thing, a powder-rasp. And as I was thinking this I suddenly realised I was no longer walking, because there was nothing to walk on, or through, or anything. Vague impression of a ring of houses or bones. Vague sense I could enter into any one of them. That no-one would stop me. That I would be as invisible as any living person, as any corpse. That’s right. Rimbaud. Anyway. Like the bourgeois I am I went looking for a bus-stop. But I couldn’t find one, so like the person I used to be I lay down in the filth of the road and did my best to ignore whatever conformist signals the stars were trying to throw my way. As in, none whatsoever. Like a rough and aged bedlam sheet. The wage relation. The pennies on my eyes. And the sun coming up. Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe someone had smashed it. Like the blinded eyesight of the living has been smashed. Like the ‘total silence’ of Hölderlin, ecstatic and packed with noises, has been smashed. But whatever. It seemed I was sitting on a bench somewhere, with some old guy, sharing a beer with him, all thin and vacant bone, and the language we were using wasn’t English or German or whatever the fuck language a person is supposed to use in this the kingdom of the living or this the kingdom of the dead and, well, I was ranting on to him about Pasolini, about how in the last interview Pasolini gave, just hours before he died, he did admit to a belief in magic and how that magic was not simply in knowing how to pronounce the so-called unpronounceable names but, more to the point, in knowing how to translate those names into sheer anger, which means the knowledge of how to inhabit the word “no”, its landscape and its geography. Not of course the pinched “no” of border-guards and the rest. But “no” as in the opposite of the sun. And I don’t know if I was even using words at all, or just some kind of structure of barely audible screeches, but I was still going on about Pasolini, about his poem “Victory”, where he has the bodies of the Partisans crawling out from their graves and marching, with all the silence of that simple word “no”, into the cities below. Horrified by what they find there, by the residue of what they thought they died for, they turn around, clamber back into their holes in the earth. And though its a poem of great bitterness and defeat it still carries within it a sense of how to continue, of how not to capitulate, in the face of whatever it is that is breaking our names apart, our names, shattering them, until their meanings change into something terminal and alien, alien as the pitiful groan I mumbled as I stood up and staggered back to my temporary flat in one of the more fashionable areas of this hopelessly gentrified and haunted city. I did a shit-load of speed, stared into space for a while, then wrote you this. Hope you don’t mind that I haven’t been in touch for so long. We are not completely defenceless. We have not yet been consumed in fire.
The Chorus is on Fire (improvisations on poems by Katerina Gogou / abandoned notes on Pasolini)
Pasolini’s utopia is the necropole, what Hölderlin called the nefas. It is a counter-sickness, a naked factory-owner screaming in the desert, a force from the past tearing up the present because it comes from the future. History is invisible, is exclusion and contagion.
A ring of slums encircles the city, as inexpressible distance, measurable only in light years. Memory etched in the boarded up windows, the promises that business will be resumed presently. ASAP becomes ACAB. Bitterness perfected.
Is loneliness is. Not family photos. Not memorials not. Distance is. Loneliness is. Queuing for food and. Crackling of bone and. Hanging of meat and. Calais is. The border is. Loneliness is. Yellow fire is. Glassing the present is. Not you not. Blood clots not. Bruises not. Prisons not. Hatred is. Hatred is. Without a passport is. Not melancholic is. Bought and sold and. Yes wakes up early and. Yes cleans your office is. Not your self-pity is. Nine to a room is. Not your cocaine is. Drowns in transit is. Counting of wounds is. Dances on tables is. Is loneliness is. Planets of glass is. Whirling is whirling is. Knives of glass is. Over your head is. Swirling is swirling is swirling
But the possible which steps into reality, as reality dissolves, this has a real effect, and it effects both the sensation of the dissolution and the memory of that which is dissolved. – Hölderlin
Open the door and give me money.
I haven’t moved. You can still find me
But years have passed and my nails are jagged and filthy
And I frighten my friends and my mind has
Vanished. I left it here. I can’t find it.
And when I hear my name I become afraid
They want me to betray you. They want me to lie.
And I’m frightened of the voices because the voices lie
They say they shot you in the legs
I know they never aim at legs
They shoot you in the mind.
Keep it together. Keep moving.
If, for Pasolini, fascism is the dream of death that, in emergency, becomes capital’s raw force and keeps it alive, then communism is that which scrapes and wheezes at its edges, is the death encoded in traces of historical memory. But this is a commonplace. Metaphor as fixed lie. Metaphor as catastrophe. Pasolini’s era is further from us than Hölderlin’s ever was. The shift in epochs is the nefas. We pass over without noticing. This is the meaning of the illness of St. Paul. The struggle is not, as both Walter Benjamin and Frank Wilderson have claimed, between the living and the dead, but between the dead and the dead. Dead history and dead future: a showdown between the desert and surveillance camera. In Mathew, the devotional is suffocating, is crazed with starvation, fear and atrocity. The disciples have flies crawling on their faces in every scene. Malediction is realism.
God has chosen precisely what does not exist in order to reduce to nothing what does exist – St Paul
Someone has taken our knives. We go down like the sun. Place of birth. Unknown. They have scratched away our slogans. Colour of eyes. Unknown. We go down like hail and rain. Year of birth. Fuck it. Next time they shoot us, we’ll refuse to die. Its raining again. Give me a cigarette.
Some academic once wrote of Pasolini that we should “turn down the volume on his political sermons and listen to what he whispered in his work”, which is obviously pretty stupid, as the politics are precisely within those whispers. In the St Paul screenplay he quotes Corinthians, on “hearing inexpressible things, things we are not able to tell”. And in his final essay he makes it clear what those “inexpressible things” are; they are names. The names of those responsible for massacres, the names of the owners of power as it exists behind known power. Names that it is impossible to recite and still live. This has very little to do with what is still called ‘magic’.
In this arena we’re pushed along like some strange and dark army in which some carry cannons and others carry crowbars – Pasolini
We are being followed. They are hunting us, are mostly silent. Lines of them, they are hunting us. Their sentences, relatively simple. Our hunters, our educators. It is very simple. We don’t mention the silence. What we keep inside our whispers. In our signals, in our silence. As each of their faces change. As each of their cells divide. In great procession, the faces. Their lessons are endless. Silence, in circles, our hunters. As if we were dogs. As if we barked at strangers. And now they will murder. There is safety in murder. Somewhere are angels. Angels have claws. Dogs are everywhere.
Here come the evictors
They’ve got us by the hair and throat
And bound us with it, bound us
To the floor and the bed, all of us
This is the way they put up the rent
The rent changes, the names change
Our names change, the street’s names
40 degrees in the shade
Next time they shoot us, fire back
Meanwhile, the Chorus, weirdly absent in Pasolini’s interpretations of Greek myth, but who for Hölderlin could speak “almost in the manner of the furies”, are, put simply, the un-named. Those who eat dogs on the surface of the planet of slums, and scream out their names from the centre of the desert. And “chorus”, when spoken from within certain archaic accents, is almost the same word as “curse”.