Our Death / Abject 2 (after Baudelaire)
Great love, that will crush the human world, I wish we could do something to help each other. But today we are separated by so many tedious enemies. They smile at us all day long and ask us about our fever. What is there to say? That “fever”, in the way they pronounce it, isn’t much more than a weird reflection of their smile, which in itself is a symbol of their sense of rightness within the so-called world. But that we feel that the five characters that make up the word “fever” – or indeed the word “smile” – are actually indicative of the illusory nature of the ownership of their senses, or of their history, which from another angle simply means the deleted histories of the cities of the sun and the devastation that continues to be inflicted there. Great love, if only we could whisper to each other the language needed to describe that devastation, so we might fill their mouths with the thorns of our great loss. It seems that everything we once knew has been stolen from us, and now idiots are reciting it, idiots who don’t know how to close their mouths, and the sounds those mouths make are razors scratching words into our chests. Great love, we cannot read the language written there. I wish I could say to you just one soothing word. But today I am the filthiest of brides. Only the stains around my mouth make me less repellant than those whom I most despise.
Our Death / Abject (after Baudelaire)
Wine is a dull disk that encircles the law. It will check your passport, will make sure that your sense of rhythm never exceeds the accepted patriotic patterns. Opiates, meanwhile, will run subtle holes through the length of the calendar. The city’s windows, your systems of memory, both of them become an alien landscape, an inaudible language that speaks at times of human love, which apparently is all we are ever supposed to desire, a golden net about as plausible as the sounds made by cash, that fictitious mirror, that city of no language where every night you lock the door and scatter coins across the floor until they reflect the farcical stars: “oh you tedious razor’d meat, you pompous junky filth. When will the day come when you can die beneath some weird lovers’ fists”.
Our Death / (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 / (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 / Under Duress
Whatever with that fascist shit Bannon. He can have Darth Vader. He can have that whatever-its-called from Lord of the Rings. But he can keep his paws off Satan. Satan is one of ours. Always has been. But having said that, it is very boring to write a poem about Satan. Baudelaire did it, and it was great. Milton too. And Blake. It is very boring to write a poem about Bannon. Like, for example, I’m speeding like fuck right now, and earlier on I was in a bar, and I was hanging out with friends and they are all complicated and wonderful and I love them, and all of our worlds are falling apart, and I would like to talk about that, about what we were asking, about phone reception in the land of the dead, and etc and other things. But instead I feel that I should be talking about Bannon. Imagine doing drugs with him. I can keep going for five days at a stretch. Monsters appear and ghosts and that, and they are uglier than Bannon. Except they are not, because their conversation is interesting. Like there we’d be, chatting away for days and Bannon like he would just be dead on the floor. No-one would notice. You know, he’d just be dead. We’d have to dump his body somewhere. Like in one of the new developments or something. How annoying. How tedious this all is. I guess this has something to do with the sun, that solar bastard. I guess this poem is lame and I feel kind of lonely and blah but. Remember this. Our word for Satan is not their word for Satan. Our word for Evil is not their word for Evil. Our word for Death is not their word for Death. I hate the word ‘kill’. Will continue to use it.
Our Death / “Where Have They Been?”
And so you wake up in the morning and tell yourself that ‘psalm’ means ‘vitriol’. Otherwise known as the popular song, or as the work equation, or the noises you make as you put on clothes, drink coffee and stare through the window at the unbroken, partially objectivist sky. Songs are holes in that sky, in those noises, those you sing and those you don’t know how to sing. Some are monuments. Some are oubliettes. Some will likely be your accomplice, others should simply be shot. All of them are collisions, and your body is always inside every one of them at exactly the same time.
You wake up in the morning and say that to praise is the same as to curse. That the songs come to you in the dead of night and each one is a memory-net, and most of those memories entirely predictable. There are many songs are simply cops, have set up border patrols inside your memories, have confiscated your passport and replaced it with an endless scream that blocks out the words of the songs you have known since before you were born. Songs still unwritten. Songs that you conceal under your breath as you walk down the stairs and cross the street to the station. There is no longer any station. How insignificant, these scraps of symbolic devotion, these mumbling musical statistics. All you can hear is the ringing that remains when the notes fade away. All you can see is the stone in your hand. The lights of the town signalling through the cop-ridden fog.
Our Death / The Torture
They draw a red line across the neck. It is a map, of sorts. The beginnings of a map. The marks there, they are apartment blocks. But they are also alphabets. No, not alphabets, magnetic clouds. In each of those clouds there is a vowel, and those vowels are in the hands of the enemy. You are inside one of the apartment blocks. There are two of you in the room, but you are only aware of a third. It is the third that speaks to you now. The questions it asks are ridiculous. Are there ghosts on wasted planets. There are no planets. No vowels. Just a wet crack when they remove the head.
Here are three chords, three marks on the calendar: Occupy, whenever that was, Seattle 1999, and whatever it was happened in London in June 2005. They may be separated electric strings, or optional planets, or the thoughts of liberals, or basilica, or chromatic meat. Who cares what they are, play them loud. Think like a gun as much as you like, but whatever you do, don’t form a band.
Our Death / “We Are The Dead”
This is a different landscape. There is a desire to kill here. And this desire ties us together as sinister brothers of the sinister failure of an entire social system. – Pier Paolo Pasolini, November 1st, 1975.
“Defeat is among us, and war, and prophecy.” That’s a line from Muriel Rukeyser. I was thinking about it a couple of days ago, asking myself whether the words followed a sequence, or whether they could only be taken simultaneously. That is, were they like marks on a calendar, or were they a kind of cacophony, a form of sky, an enormous black sky at that, in which we are all basically like haloes or pinpoints or stars, and so to be destroyed. There are no simple answers to questions like that. To try and find one I walked up to Sebastianstraße, and I roamed up and down for around three hours, screaming Rukeyser’s line over and again until my voice began to fall apart. Luckily, there was no-one around, because in the third hour things began to go wrong. Rukeyser’s words had started to become weird shreds of impossible meaning that once spoken could never be repeated because once they had been spoken all else would disappear. The sky was a hoax. The stars were border guards. Etc. I held my hand in front of my face and could see nothing but a bland white light, like a murderer’s mirror, a vicious and impassible glass. Not glass, a gaze. Not a gaze, a glare. Not light, but “Prophecy”, a word that for the past few months I’ve only been able to associate with surveillance, with cameras and with judges. Why? Well, if you have to ask, etc. Put simply, “prophecy” implies a prediction of the future via excessive and possibly aberrant interpretation of all available elements of what we like to call the present. And who are the current powers that survey and interpret the present to such an aberrant and excessive extent? It isn’t poets, and it isn’t mystics either. Anyway, whatever. I kept screaming, past all voice, all body, all of my borders. By borders, of course, I mean senses. And I thought at this point of Marx, about what he said about the five senses, imaginary or otherwise. You know the passage I mean, I’m sure. And the cut that it implies in the sensory calendar. Because these days I very much doubt that I can say with any certainty that I have five senses. Certainly, as I screamed out Rukeyser’s line it seemed I had only three. That’s right, surveillance, cameras and judges. Actually that’s not three senses, that’s just one. One enormous black sky, one enormous pit of cancelled language, one enormous voice rasping out one final, incomprehensible sentence. And it was mid-day. It was very dark. There were no stars. I think the buildings were burning. There were a few of us there, standing outside them, inventing language. We were wondering if that bastard the sun was ever going to return, and what it was planning on doing when it got here. We were talking about prophecy, about defeat and war, about how nobody knows what those words really mean, and what they will come to mean.
Our Death / Georg Trakl’s Psalm
as I imagine it spoken by the ghost of Anita Berber
It is a light gone out forever.
It is a bar that’s never opened never closed.
It is a vineyard it is a black hole it is a mouth full of spiders.
It is an abandoned room, sprayed with burning milk.
The maniacs have died. It is an undiscovered island
It is the sun as it is in nightmares. They are smashing the drums
They are inventing war.
Here they are wriggling their hips here they are buying smack
Oh the screaming ocean. Paradise is catastrophe.
It is all porn especially the fairytale forests.
Here they are they have buried the refugees. Oh my its raining again.
Nasty old gods are digging the ditches
They are all asleep in the boring city squares and bombs are falling.
It is chemical rain it is little girls it is poverty and celebrity and crocodile tears.
It is rooms filled with impossible chords it is your tedious record collection.
It is shadows it is Air BnB it is mythological mirrors.
Here are the inmates they have burnt the hospital down.
Here is your favourite dealer, here are the latest plagues.
An invisible person has appeared in everyone’s simultaneous dream.
Oh look here I am. Fuck the police.
It is the surveillance laws. All ages are not contemporaneous.
We are outside this century. We are very glamorous. We are waiting in the hall.
Somewhere near Moritzplatz the adepts are getting sick.
It is the stupidity of gardens. I love the tiny sparrows.
The janitor’s kids are not playing they are digging up gold.
It is the last song you will ever hear. It is horrible blind children waiting in the alley
Their shadows are climbing the wall, it is poisons and fascists and fairytale roses.
It is a tourist boat on the Landwehrkanal.
It is the building where I live, it is valium and speed.
Here are the dead refugees, piled up inside the walls.
It is our smug little rooms it is our wings stained with shit.
It is the western border it is what you want it to be it is England controlled by maggots.
Here I am, in love with this city. It is peaceful like my childhood dreams.
Here we are choking our memories to death.
What if this year never ends.
Here are the experts being fed to the dogs.
In America a very boring lunatic opens his eyes.
Our Death / Carrion
It’s all visible now. Everything. Its just that all the meanings have changed, and the names no longer apply. We lean against walls, our hands over our faces, and watch the parade. We are naked and frightened. Everything that passes before us we name and the names mean nothing. We mention old publications, old musical forms, and our voices sound like shredded paper in the archive. I would like to gather that paper. I would like to write upon it a charm to the ghosts of the suicided. Those who walked into the oceans. Those who clambered out from their windows. I would like to write this so they might have some form of revenge, but I don’t know how. We pull our hands from our faces. We have no faces. The names we gave ourselves remade as a very ancient form of plague.
Our Death / Anywhere Out Of The World
“The hospitals are empty. We, the patients, are still inside them. It is nothing like they said it would be in the films: the shutters are drawn and we converse softly with our souls, that is to say, the shattered pieces of equipment our enemies have left behind. How dearly we would like to leave. We list cities. Ruined ones. Imaginary ones. The ones in which we think we might have been born. If we could draw them on the walls, they would look like a collection of demons, some kind of cosmos of trivial monsters. We think we are probably very far from home. We talk of suns and minerals, of monotony and fear. Of settler colonialism, of capital and slavery, and of the seventy-nine royal bastards that block out the lights of Heaven. But screw Heaven. All its lights ever amounted to were screams of contempt and pain, lodged in our trachea and in the centre of our names. It is so silent here, so gentle. Nothing left to do, but awake from our dreams of ourselves, and walk on the earth like reflections of the fireworks of Hell”.
(after Charles Baudelaire)
Our Death / “Trash Me!”
These days everyone is writing their final book. Whatever. I’ve lost everything as well. My body is made up of three needles, several coins, a system of nitrates and something wankers would call ‘a philosophy’. I see in the dark and like to smash mirrors. For many other people things are far worse. I roam around the town, reciting an old poem by Anita Berber: CORPSE. KNIFE. CORPSE. KNIFE. LIGHT. There are moments each evening when I think I can see that light. It shines inside all the rooms I have lived in, all those rooms and cities that we have always despised. COINS. MIRRORS. LIGHT.
Our Death / Note on the Hallucinations
“The false structure is collapsing. Move as far away as possible, into tradition, into strangeness, into the supernatural; then you will not get hit”. I read that somewhere in Hugo Ball’s diaries, guess from somewhere around 1915. I repeat the words to myself, “you will not get hit”, make a scornful face, turn out the lights and get into bed. Somehow I manage to sleep, and dream that I’m some kind of hunted, carnivorous animal running through a moonlit, abandoned city. I run past the illuminated, already ruined new developments. The rings, the spirals of lights around the towers. The scrub lands. I follow some kind of malign, illegible map. I gather stones and rags, stained with shit and gold. There are no people. There are no parades. I wake up and for a second I think I can see some kind of beast staring at me from the corner of the room, but when I hit the light I know that I’ve been dreaming, that everything is exactly the same as it was before. I walk over to the window, making an inventory as I go. Shit, gold, rags. Tradition, strangeness, supernatural. What is the meaning of any of those words, I ask myself, other than that of a chain being whirled round and round by a maniac, a maniac whose reserves of cash and blood mean the right to acquire all language, all meaning, every vacant spot in every city on the so-called earth. And that includes the one that I’d just been running through in my dream. Hugo Ball, of course, was a draft resistor, a refugee. I find that a lot more interesting than whatever happened with his “sound poetry”. It puts me in mind of a poem by Ingeborg Bachmann, where she speaks of exile, of feeling like a dead person, of languages that you can’t understand passing through you like ghosts. And I guess those ghosts exist at the point where “tradition” and “strangeness” meet, where all that is defined and foul and murdered and imprisoned becomes synonymous with all that is still uncharted and unexplained and wonderful. I stare out of the window. Everything is dark. Even the lights on the new developments have vanished. Its so quiet here. I think of my favourite passage in William Blake, where he writes of the moment in every hour that cannot be found, not by the devil nor by the cops. I think about those moments. I think about the summer, that already seems so far away, when the sun would spin round and round so fast that everything would glow to invisibility and I would rant to anyone who’d listen about the need to construct a huge chart of those moments, and that somewhere within the shapes those moments made we would find the place where the catastrophe was formed, and by god knows what mixture of alchemy and amphetamine we could thereby uncover the anti-castastrophe and, well, I think of a lot of things. I press my hands to the window and hang my head. I know that somewhere in the darkened city there is a silent place where a tiny, frightened animal is scratching at the dust and earth, and it won’t stop until it uncovers some kind of burning rock that will illuminate the entire structure, and in the midst of that illumination all of our languages will sparkle and burn and words we have never spoken will lacerate the air. In the meantime, let none of us wipe the blood from our faces. Let none of us claim a difference between day and night, between nightmare and daily routine.
Our Death / 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 / “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 / On Throwing Bricks
Our Death / 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 / 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 / Letter in Turmoil
In Fear of Memory
Of all people it is straights I hate the most. Especially the the old ones – they hold hands, they share their love like some kind of cowardly bond. Decades it lasts, like some kind of comet, some kind of prophecy of a horrific disaster. An illusion, a pact with a devil. Our love, of course, was nothing like that. No blessings, no stupid cryptic reasons. You would hold my heart in your fist. No blood, nothing there at all. No mythology, no sun, no maps of the stars.
I can’t tell what it means. I’m out with friends, I think, and also some kind of apparition, something I can’t quite remember. There is no smile, no frown either. And certainly no disdain. But something is bothering me, and I don’t know what. So hard to believe that once we said we were happy. It’s much later now. The night shows no light whatsoever. And no gods to tell such stupid lies.
It was around five in the morning. The wind was blowing through Kottbusser Tor, as if it was a kind of church. No garbage anywhere, which is usually the only thing about by that time. I was talking to a couple of guys. All they wanted was my cash, and though I knew they had no dicks, I was trying too hard to touch their hearts. Then it happened again, someone I vaguely remembered showed up in a car, with a guy holding some kind of knife. I don’t know why I got in, can’t remember, but I guess I must have. I was found in the morning. Recognised by my teeth, what was left of my fingerprints.
There was, deep inside this so-called world, something that had no price. No gold could buy it, no church could sing it, no-one could understand it. It appeared directly in the middle of life, and it meant nothing but itself. For a while I hated it, like everybody else, then all of a sudden it filled my entire reality. I still don’t understand it. What it was. Why it mattered so much, and what is the nature of the hole that is left now that it has gone. But most of all I can’t understand the rage with which we would tear it apart, such hatred against a love so impossible, and so beautifully broken.
In Fever: Notes on Les Chimères de Gerard de Nerval
for Eva Collé
Don’t wait up for me tonight, the sky will be black and white
Yeh I’m in a bad mood as well. Cops are everywhere. But we know that – we murdered them. Lets talk about black stars. Something stretched strings between them, and now they flutter like chords. Stars, a very bad mood. Pasolini wrote about singing, called it the “divine wind that doesn’t heal but rather makes everything sicker”. This is the fifth day of our fever. Cops make everything unreal. Songs get sung outside their cellular systems, from the centre of some kind of secretive world. Whisper those songs, then scream them. After that, kill all straight men. You know they want it.
Was thinking about that for a while this morning, then I thought about the human world. I’m sick of it as well. Was thinking that murder in the suburbs is the only real expression of the continued need for human love, where everything is turning to ice, yet everything is frozen in gold. When the sun hits the earth it shatters into all human data, calendars of the places music goes when its notes disappear. The same places the dead live, I guess. But this has little to do with what we say when we’re wasted, and everything is flooded with animal light. The human horizon covered in ashes.
A guy walks into the ocean. Kill him. The gesture is futile. He walks out of it again. Won’t shut his mouth, talks for several centuries about the devil and the hunger of screaming birds. Don’t waste your sympathy. The sky is packed with them, terminal birds that screech of all the terrible things that might happen. And behind them, timeless bells transforming all to the metal stains of what has already happened. And behind all of that are stars tracing out the fixed raptures of what ought never to have happened. There is no death anywhere. Our hatred of the rich is entirely justified.
Toward the end of his life Antonin Artaud wrote a poem complaining that no-one ever touched his body. But he seemed to think it was a good thing, that if anyone did then it would split to a million fragments and fill the known sky. Poor Artaud. Little did he know this goes on every night. There are bodies that fragment each dusk, that split into countless wild lenses that fall to earth at dawn and form a strange calendar of imaginary incidents, frozen cities, addictions, etc. What this implies is not utopian. The straight world never touches anything. It’s victims never do anything else.
Because I’m fearful the sky will shatter I would like to turn it to stone, to turn it to seven pebbles, each to mark a day of our fever. As in set fire to cars, put glue in locks, sugar in petrol. Also include bodies. Also include the shock and the curse of our loss. As in recite that curse, until the voice becomes a song, or the word becomes something outside its borders, the barricades we built across this life of great mourning in which the seeds of our hurt would bloom. The fascists who murdered Pasolini are now the owners of the world. Do not mourn or forgive. Shriek one time. Shatter glass.
The thirteenth returns, and everything we once thought inaudible. There is gunshot, there is fire in the suburbs, the fixed stars falling like cops or roses, the darkened rituals of the middle class. We replace them with pinpricks, with new forms of arson, and the dreams of a thousand archers haunting Trafalgar Square. Nothing returns. Our bodies, the names of stars. But nothing is forgotten, everything falls. Thirteen the only number, the sounds of thirteen fevers crackling inside our dreams. There are no dreams. We never sleep. An unknown light in the corner of our room.
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”.
Letter on Poetics (after Rimbaud)
So I see you’re a teacher again. November 10th was ridiculous, we were all caught unawares. And that “we” is the same as the “we” in these poems, as against “them”, and maybe against “you”, in that a rapid collectivising of subjectivity equally rapidly involves locked doors, barricades, self-definition through antagonism etc. If you weren’t there, you just won’t get it. But anyway, a few months later, or was it before, I can’t remember anymore, I sat down to write an essay on Rimbaud. I’d been to a talk at Marx House and was amazed that people could still only talk through all the myths: Verlaine etc nasty-assed punk bitch etc gun running, colonialism, etc. Slightly less about that last one. As if there was nothing to say about what it was in Rimbaud’s work – or in avant-garde poetry in general – that could be read as the subjective counterpart to the objective upheavals of any revolutionary moment. How could what we were experiencing, I asked myself, be delineated in such a way that we could recognise ourselves in it. The form would be monstrous. That kinda romanticism doesn’t help much either. I mean, obviously a rant against the government, even delivered via a brick through the window, is not nearly enough. I started thinking the reason the student movement failed was down to the fucking slogans. They were awful. As feeble as poems. Yeh, I turned up and did readings in the student occupations and, frankly, I’d have been better off just drinking. It felt stupid to stand up, after someone had been doing a talk on what to do if you got nicked, or whatever, to stand up and read poetry. I can’t kid myself otherwise. I can’t delude myself that my poetry had somehow been “tested” because they kinda liked it. Because, you know, after we achieved political understanding our hatred grew more intense, we began fighting, we were guided by a cold, homicidal repulsion, and very seldom did we find that sensation articulated in art, in literature. That last is from Peter Weiss. I wondered could we, somehow, could we write a poem that (1) could identify the precise moment in the present conjuncture, (2) name the task specific to that moment, ie a poem that would enable us to name that decisive moment and (3) exert force inasmuch as we would have condensed and embodied the concrete analysis of the concrete situation. I’m not talking about the poem as magical thinking, not at all, but as analysis and clarity. I haven’t seen anyone do that. But, still, it is impossible to fully grasp Rimbaud’s work, and especially Une Saison en Enfer, if you have not studied through and understood the whole of Marx’s Capital. And this is why no English speaking poet has ever understood Rimbaud. Poetry is stupid, but then again, stupidity is not the absence of intellectual ability but rather the scar of its mutilation. Rimbaud hammered out his poetic programme in May 1871, the week before the Paris Communards were slaughtered. He wanted to be there, he kept saying it. The “long systematic derangement of the senses”, the “I is an other”, he’s talking about the destruction of bourgeois subjectivity, yeh? That’s clear, yeh? That’s his claim for the poetic imagination, that’s his idea of what poetic labour is. Obviously you could read that as a simple recipe for personal excess, but only from the perspective of police reality. Like, I just took some speed, then smoked a joint and now I’m gonna have a pepsi, but that’s not why I writing this and its not what its about. The “systematic derangement of the senses” is the social senses, ok, and the “I” becomes an “other” as in the transformation of the individual into the collective when it all kicks off. Its only in the English speaking world, where none of us know anything except how to kill, that you have to point simple shit like that out. In the enemy language it is necessary to lie. & seeing as language is probably the chief of the social senses, we have to derange that. But how do we get to that without turning into lame-assed conceptualists trying to get jiggy with their students. You know what, and who, I mean. For the vast majority of people, including the working class, the politicised workers and students are simply incomprehensible. Think about that when you’re going on about rebarbative avant-garde language. Or this: simple anticommunication, borrowed today from Dadaism by the most reactionary champions of the established lies, is worthless in an era when the most urgent question is to create a new communication on all levels of practice, from the most simple to the most complex. Or this: in the liberation struggles, these people who were once relegated to the realm of the imagination, victims of unspeakable terrors, but content to lose themselves in hallucinatory dreams, are thrown into disarray, re-form, and amid blood and tears give birth to very real and urgent issues. Its simple, social being determines content, content deranges form etc. Read Rimbaud’s last poems. They’re so intensely hallucinatory, so fragile, the sound of a mind at the end of its tether and in the process of falling apart, the sound of the return to capitalist business-as-usual after the intensity of insurrection, the sound of the collective I being pushed back into its individuality, the sound of being frozen to fucking death. Polar ice, its all he talks about. OK, I know, that just drags us right back to the romanticism of failure, and the poete maudite, that kinda gross conformity. And in any case, its hardly our conjuncture. We’ve never seized control of a city. But, I dunno, we can still understand poetic thought, in the way I, and I hope you, work at it, as something that moves counter-clockwise to bourgeois anti-communication. Like all of it. Everything it says. We can engage with ideas that have been erased from the official account. If its incomprehensible, well, see above. Think of an era where not only is, say, revolution impossible, but even the thought of revolution. I’m thinking specifically of the west, of course. But remember, most poetry is mimetic of what some square thinks is incomprehensible, rather than an engagement with it. There the phrase went beyond the content, here the content goes beyond the phrase. I dunno, I’d like to write a poetry that could speed up a dialectical continuity in discontinuity & thus make visible whatever is forced into invisibility by police realism, where the lyric I – yeh, that thing – can be (1) an interrupter and (2) a collective, where direct speech and incomprehensibility are only possible as a synthesis that can bend ideas into and out of the limits of insurrectionism and illegalism. The obvious danger being that disappeared ideas will only turn up ‘dead’, or reanimated as zombies: the terrorist as a damaged utopian where all of the elements, including those eclipsed by bourgeois thought are still absolutely occupied by that same bourgeoisie. I know this doesn’t have much to do with ‘poetry’, as far as that word is understood, but then again, neither do I, not in that way. Listen, don’t think I’m shitting you. This is the situation. I ran out on ‘normal life’ around twenty years ago. Ever since then I’ve been shut up in this ridiculous city, keeping to myself, completely involved in my work. I’ve answered every enquiry with silence. I’ve kept my head down, as you have to do in a contra-legal position like mine. But now, surprise attack by a government of millionaires. Everything forced to the surface. I don’t feel I’m myself anymore. I’ve fallen to pieces, I can hardly breathe. My body has become something else, has fled into its smallest dimensions, has scattered into zero. And yet, as soon as it got to that, it took a deep breath, it could suddenly do it, it had passed across, it could see its indeterminable function within the whole. Yeh? That wasn’t Rimbaud, that was Brecht, but you get the idea. Like on the 24th November we were standing around, outside Charing Cross, just leaning against the wall etc, when out of nowhere around 300 teenagers ran past us, tearing up the Strand, all yelling “WHOSE STREETS OUR STREETS”. Well it cracked us up. You’d be a pig not to answer.