They have begun to move. They pass in line, out of the main station, out of downtown, and begin pushing into older and more desolate parts of the city. Is this the way out? Faces turn to the windows, but no one dares ask, not out loud. Rain comes down. No, this is not a disentanglement from, but a progressive knotting into -- they go in under archways, secret entrances of rotted concrete that only looked like loops of an underpass … certain trestles of blackened wood have moved slowly by overhead, and the smells begun of coal from days far to the past, smells of naphtha winters, of Sundays when no traffic came through, of the coral-like and mysteriously vital growth, around the blind curves and out the lonely spurs, a sour smell of rolling-stock absence, of maturing rust, developing through those emptying days brilliant and deep, especially at dawn, with blue shadows to seal its passage, to try to bring events to Absolute Zero … and it is poorer the deeper they go … ruinous secret cities of poor, places whose names he has never heard … the walls break down, the roofs get fewer and so do the chances for light. The road, which ought to be opening out into a broader highway, instead has been getting narrower, more broken, cornering tighter and tighter until all at once, much too soon, they are under the final arch brakes grab and spring terribly. Here in Gormenghast, it’s Inauguration Day. Please lie down. Please bring to mind your text -- the physical fact of it -- then let it go. Imagine the core of light at the center of your body, and let it start to move -- spinal. But also lit up. Subtle flows. A pre. The cells before they differentiate. The stem. A pre-biology, which is a part of us, so that all times mix in our bodies. All eras or capacities. Perhaps connecting to this time in our bodies will open us to the work of time -- of an “impresent presence” (Akilah Oliver). Page i: SHAKE. Page ii: STOP SHAKING. Page iii: Feathers replace the mowers’ long blades. I watch Divine Horsemen. My turkey is torn. My gorge is still gaping. My tangle is blown. Under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds and beneath these clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body. Hidden doors trap doors costumes. Red lips and desire. Clowns and knives that left no trace. Another land. Elaborate patterns. Centuries entwined. Where was this other land what was it made of. Of what languages or of what non languages. At what place did desire meet erasure. Is this where the knife? Derrick Quintero wrote this haiku in response to our discussion of the Panopticon: Stand up prisoner / Now sit down you prisoner / Stand up prisoner. Derrick describes his artistic practice as a form of political expression and a never-ending process of self-transformation: “I have never considered myself an artist … [But] Similar to the statement of the women’s movement of the 1960’s, I consider everything that is personal as political. I hope that my art is understood as an evolution of my political relationship with my imminent world. Some things – within my sense of right and wrong (justice) – have matured and some have remained stagnate. I hope that I am now a much evolved and spiritually enlightened being.” Derrick writes from a position where self-transformation is both demanded of him and refused to him, where no matter how spiritually enlightened he becomes, he is still condemned to be executed. He and the other 3,169 prisoners on death row in the US have been framed as icons of the unreformable, irredeemable, and unforgivable. They may “work like a dog” to transform themselves, but. They have been assigned to another post, to provide a different set of aesthetic and anaesthetic services.
[Note: My inauguration poem. Sources: Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow; JBR; Bhanu Kapil, “Somatic Experiment for the Hybrid (via the Animal):”, at Monster, 21 Jan 013; Angela Ball, “Traditional Societies”, at Connotation Press; JBR; Johannes Göransson, Dear Ra, at Typo 4; Walter Benjamin, and Melissa Buzzeo, as quoted in Buzzeo’s “An Elegy for Passage: For Want and Sound”, at Les Figues; Lisa N Guenther, “Reading Plato on Death Row”, at New Apps, 21 Jan 013]