This was the first major fire at a foreign-backed entity and it brought the issue of worker safety into the public eye. According to Chinese government statistics, the average number or workers killed in work-related accidents (a statistic that ignores all those killed by working conditions) in any given year is around 100,000. Maybe that’s why, on the fourth day of my sickness, I lay in bed getting more and more freaked out by the status of a memory I couldn’t shake: a village at twilight, uninhabited houses, several animals burning. I had never been to this village. Remember that? The foot and mouth thing? When they burnt all the animals? I remember watching that on TV, back in 2001. And all that other stuff? Bang bang. All of it compressed and spun, baked and loaded, until it was transformed in its sleep into incinerated invisible villages. You would recognise nothing. Like that part of the land that is also part of the sea. Like in The Time of the Wolf, when they’re all standing there, outside the station, waiting. All of them saying to each other “I have, of course, been sick for a very long time”. So what. Who hasn’t. To dream that one day you will go out into the streets of this quite possibly non-existent village, and it will be very quiet, and there will be new constellations in the sky, and you will know they are new because they will already have names.
it’s a famous
a place with
it’s a warm
So I arrive at the asylum centre and a set of small obstacles defeat me. I want to meet someone to discuss an interview, but he isn't around. I need a table and chairs for making artwork with the kids, at my post in the corridor, by the security man. But Klaus the technical man is not around. Mohammed the security guy would normally help, but he also isn't around. He’s translating a conversation for somebody who has a job centre interview. All of these small hiccups are made clumsier and bigger by my lack of language. I have no Arabic and am learning German, which refuses to stick in my head. So I go upstairs to see The Old Man, Karim. He's a frequent port of call and welcomes me into his room cheerily as he always does. He speaks good English and humours me by teaching me a few words in Arabic. We have talked about his journey from Iraq, paying human traffickers for the privilege of a grim boat journey. But we haven't talked about why he left. Once I've been settled into a chair and Karim has made sure I'm comfortable, he stares directly into my eyes and says, There is another question you should ask about why I leave my country. This is a very important question. When anybody leaves their country there is a reason. Why? For me, I was arrested there in Iraq for more than 35 days. We have been kidnapped by militia which worked with government because we is Sunni person and you know the militia is Shia. I was officer in the Saddam regime. For this reason they take us to the prison, to the prison. In such vehicles as civilians use. They come near my place where I lived and open door by very bad manner. They hit me in my head and said: “Don’t move, don’t rise your head.” They take us to the places where they work, near the government, The Ministry of Internal Affairs. I very frighten when I remember the bad situation. They have ability to kill and maybe throw body garbage. Nothing do, just obey them. 35 days in a prison, in a room. Without ventilation, without cooler, electricity cutting more than 10 hours [...] One person in room with me, a young man. What was he accused, I don’t know. He was hitten. Them hitting his leg and his head. His leg had bleeding, I don’t know why they did this. I don’t why, but you cannot speak them. Cannot whisper them. “Don’t speak, don’t whisper,” the guard said. That is right, silence. They don’t give medicine to me, I was afraid for my son bringing it. After I go out the bad jail. After stay in prison they make report, total information, where we live where we work. In my opinion the informations don’t reach for anything. Nobody speak about me, no guilty. In my opinion I am arrested because I was officer in Saddam regime and I am Sunni. In the last days, they spoke to me. They said, “Mister you will go to your family. You have done nothing and we are sorry.” But what did they do? They have many cars there for police, civilian cars. They said, “OK, we shall arrive you to your home.” I said I don’t believe they let me go. Me and four guards go in the civilian car. They laugh. They say: “We shall not arrive in your house.” They left me in the different place. They know my eyes not good. I cannot cross street, cannot see. I try to catch taxi, but they do not stop. No one stop for me, they are too scared. But at last, God’s wish it was, somebody picked me up and returned me to my family. If you stay in such country, maybe another time they not arrest you, they kill you.
a nice place
a place with
it’s a warm
And so it came to pass that I discerned eels in my spine. And so, their ascetic mouths must have fractured me. Speaking of horrible places, all the folks I see here seem out of breath. I am sitting on a stain on a chair wondering what the stain is knowing that I’ll never ever know. But the weeds out front are beautiful. There are no gift certificates for this place says a sign on the glass. That glass has murky brown stains. But if that’s how much the tow yard is charging then that’s how much you have to pay. Are you guys all set? You can just give me the money now it’s fine. Lots of lights are flashing but the flashes aren’t bright. The ceiling is made of mirrors. An OJ Simpson documentary plays at the bar. Scrunched up wet paper towels are next to the other two sinks. The preacher keeps saying everything in threes. His speech has palpitations. My reaction was swift. I typed into the Google doc at 4 am, ‘menopause turns females into dandies. Some of our organs become purely self-referential. They have no further potential for family or spectacle or state: they’re outside every economy. So now their meaning is confected in relation to convivial and autonomous pleasure only. Now they can be in the present fully. I’m assuming the mind is an organ or a kind of wandering gland in this description. The hormones the ovaries used to make are now made by all the parts of the body, so that every tissue, every limb and fold continuously invents its own mode of transformation. The entire body becomes a fungible thinking whose purpose it is only to express its own communicability, for the pleasure, the intensity, the integrity of it ...’ So I lay in the bath all morning, reading excerpts from ‘The Painter of Modern Life’. From time to time as I read I added more hot water to the already deep bath, swirling it in with my left hand, while my right hand held the brittle paperback out of danger. Which makes me wonder: what ever happened to my copy of Flowers of Bad?
Below the embers, below the ventilators,
Medications, backgrounds, naiads, medications,
Beyond the salamander, beyond the embers,
Beyond the checkrooms of existential salamanders,
My ember, you mirror with accomplishment ...
In my fondness the most the tiniest broken cup ...
Why does she come into a room skipping, calling me a broken cup?
The cups exit ...
To that extent the myth of Prometheus in the Theogony and that of the ages of the world in the Works and Days are closely related. It had evidently been a different generation of gods with whom humans in the golden age were able to do what in the meantime had come to be prohibited: to break bread. The methodology was the same as that leveraged by Google. For example: if you have a stomachache take ruddy metallic medicine on Tuesday because the gut is related to Taurus. Which is why
I can cook anything; I can cook flour, or dirt
I can cook locusts. I can eat grubs raw. I
can chew leaves, but the trees are dried up.
I hate my dress. I had some money for awhile,
but I spent it on my kids.
I painted my face white to mourn for them.
I was once young and beautiful,
but that’s of no interest to me. I was a handsome
man with glowing skin.
I ran across the room to my
mother; I was bleeding from my forehead in a
thin stream. I love that color of green, as dark
as you can get. I want to be in a dark green place.
I caught tadpoles out there at that oasis and put
them in a jar, they have flat little heads.
Speaking of Easter Sunday,
the Essential Cause of the Itch appears
to be a Vast Number of Minute Animals.
This Other rises up “behind the said.” Given this, Husserl, in Derrida’s view, can be seen as “demonstrating the irreducibility of intentional incompleteness, and therefore of alterity.” Because of this, “Husserl gives himself the right to speak of the infinitely other as such, accounting for the origin and the legitimacy of his language. He describes the phenomenal system of nonphenomenality.” Such a system shows through phenomenality what escapes phenomenality. The infinitely other exhibits itself in the incompleteness of the attempts to fix its presence. Infinity, here, means being unending; it does not mean being absolutely other. It has buttons, one of which is a blue hare pelted with rain; suggesting the speed with which a rabbit, seeking shelter, might clean dishes. There are four hundred rabbits in the Aztec myth known as the Centzon Totochtin and they are led by Two-Rabbit, Ometochtli. Collectively they represent inebriation, not the dregs. They wash drunkenly, slurred between the ears. I think it’s a combo of full moon and mercury in retrograde and depression and running out of pudding and crazy drama bullshit and it sort of seems like everyone is nuts right now. And then Hailey came downstairs crying because her lizard (Lizard Borden – aka Lil’ Pumpkin) was dead and so I checked on her she wasn’t breathing and I was like, “Honey, lizards don’t live forever” but then when I reached in Lizard Borden took a sudden breath and looked at me like, “WHAT THE FUCK, LADY? I WAS SLEEPING.” And then she ate and ran around and was fine so I went on a lizard chat group and I was like, “What does it mean when your lizard stops breathing?” and they were like, “It means your lizard is dead” but then I explained further and they were like, “Oh yeah, sometimes that kind of lizard goes into a deep, non-breathing sleep. If it stops breathing for a couple of days though then your lizard is dead.”
a nice place
a place with
it’s a warm
Take “Ometeol” (2016), for example, which is on the wall of the alcove spanning the front of the gallery and facing into it. It is easy to see that the artist has transformed Styrofoam packaging into a squat faux-Aztec-y figure. There was no Aztec Ometeol, by the way, I googled the name. I did turn up an Ometeotl, though. According to Iztli Ehekatl, “Ometeotl is perhaps the most widely embraced concept within the Mexicayotl community and throughout the years, its original meaning has morphed into such ideas as monotheistic god, energy, and duality. What most people don’t know is that the word Ometeotl first appeared in secondary sources written by Miguel Leon-Portilla, and appears nowhere in any primary source. He either intentionally or unintentionally invented the word. There is nothing wrong ordinarily with creating words. People create words all the time. We see examples of this with words like tepoztototl (airplane). However, Ometeotl is problematic in numerous ways.” Which is why I used a pseudo-scientific method to organize the collection. The Beanie Babies were displayed on an oversized knick-knack shelf with a mirrored back of my own design. They were arranged vertically in a hierarchy of intelligence. The bottom tier contained invertebrates, the next fish and reptiles, then birds, then small mammals, etc. The top tier was reserved not for the most intelligent animals though, but for the most sought-after Beanie Babies. These were the Bears. Each sculpture had another component: a handmade placeholder, which was a reference to the practice by collectors and museums of creating a replica to fill a gap in an otherwise complete collection. Thus, the Beanie Baby shelf was accompanied by a lumpy ceramic imitation of the Princess Di Bear, the apex of Beany Babies. Not far away was a replica of the famous Charles Manson vest. I will argue here, then, that the creation of a place and the goings to and comings from this place are the same strategies employed in the practice of curing a malady such as “susto” [Spanish “fright,” or nemouhtiliztli in Nahuatl] also known as “soul-loss.” Indeed, one of the distinguishing features of the practice of curing “soul-loss” is the journey of the healer to the place were the soul-loss occurred, a journey which may be undertaken by walking there or in dreams. Portrayed thus, Schoenberg found himself in the role of the modern precisely in the sense of what is inimical to the new. It is not surprising, then, that he in fact insisted that readers could just as well put the book aside with these, its first words, since ab ovo it was completely discredited by its title: Through the formulation of the title, his book has lost the claim to be taken seriously. Grammar would have to ask: “whose philosophy?” — answer: “that of the new music,” or: “what does the new music do?” — answer: “it philosophizes.” Only a nonsensical formulation of a question can provoke such a nonsensical answer. But here Schoenberg is certainly mistaken: the title is not nonsensical question and answer. It names a manifesto of the primacy of the object. In this form alone Philosophy of New Music struggles to sink heel into turf against the massive slide of history. It is the comportment of a subjectivity that, instead of establishing itself as a sacrificial temple to itself, achieves, in refusing to renounce itself, its object. Philosophy of New Music conceives this comportment in both musical composition and philosophy by showing that they have an affinity predicated on their distinction, not by subverting music as a thinker in disguise. Only because music is nonconceptual in its structure is the dialectic of construction and expression, which transpires within it, able to bring the dialectic to a halt in shaping the thing-itself as the unconscious transcription of historical suffering. Which, obliquely, brings me back to Ingeborg B. In her poem, posthumously published, ‘That it was worse yesterday than today,’ she writes:
In the crack in the wall
I saw in a moment of panic
a black beetle
who was playing dead.
I’d like to speak to him,
to show him a way out of this lovely house,
to show him an exit,
or stomp on him right away.
Which, in a roundabout way, might relate to her lines:
And so I don’t move, I drink my tea and sleep
That’s how I got splinters in my butt-cheeks. And then the splinters got infected. I was worried I’d have to amputate flesh gobbets. But then the Valium kicked in, with its little-studied antibiotic properties. Like a good old-fashioned hit of poppers. As for Jewballs: we’re still looking for funding. I’m feeling it, too-though the peonies. I wonder if a little bit of scorpion venom might recalibrate our moods? I see from an article in the paper that Rufus Wainwright will be, um, redoing Judy’s famous (infamous?) Carnegie Hall performance this week. “When I work,” she says, “I get very warm.” She pronounces “warm” like the first syllable of “wombat.” So yes, I’m glad you understand that Hotel Theory is not a theory of hotels, but a hotel named Theory. Poems, by John Keats. Hence my admiration for Hold Me While I’m Naked. I couldn’t think of the minor hunk’s name, although I knew it started with “G-.” The only G- name that would spring to mind was Gayatri Spivak. So I saw Gayatri Spivak and her girlfriend waiting for sandwiches. When I got home I remembered: Giovanni Ribisi. In Hollywood, he translated Of Grammatology. Yet even the most monolithic of histories contain moments of potential dissonance. William of Newburgh's History of English Affairs, for example, contains a strange tale of two green children, a brother and sister of mysterious origin found one day in a ditch in East Anglia. The hue of their skin, their sounds that do not carry English meaning, and their blank incomprehension at indigenous dining customs mark them as members of an alien race. The villagers who discover them decide to baptize them. They instruct their adopted wards in their tongue and teach them native ways. The little girl proves a rapid learner, so that in time she differs nec in modico a nostri generis feminis discrepante, “not even in the slightest way from the women of our own race.” Although she carries with her the memory of a life once enjoyed in a dim and distant land, the terra sancti Martini [“land of St Martin”], after her transformation into quiet domesticity she never expresses sorrow at her loss. As an adult she eventually marries, settling in the decidedly non-magical city of Lynn. Her young brother, on the other hand, perishes shortly after his baptism. His green skin fading due to the influence of English food, his tongue just learning to wrap itself around English words, he nonetheless carries an otherness within him that seems incapable of transformation. A foreigner who retains his strangeness, the little boy dies prematurely (brevi vivens tempore immatura morte decessit).
Needs sixteen pounds of lightness to ever budge. Such compliance
Demands levitation ...
Each application coats with some sheen ...
Is all removal archaeology, then?
[In the far recesses of the yard a dog glitters, frozen
to the trees.]
Under cover of night
the Platonic Ideas
have let down their rope ladder
and stolen back
one of their children
I lie in bed
trying to reclaim it,
thinking I shall have to put signs
in my kitchen
jolifanto bambla o falli bambla
großiga m’pfa habla horem
higo bloiko russula huju
blago bung blago bung
ü üü ü
“In Chinese, too, there are no definite articles.” I’m not sure if there is an explanation for my mother’s misuse or lack of on. Sometimes I have no idea which is better to use: on or in. Place your hope on. Place your hope in. When I search online, most of the sites that appear in the results have to do with passages from the Bible. Place your hope in God. On God. I imagine God, sitting in heaven, weighed down by all the shit people have and continue to place on him. Her. Him. Her. Tell me what you know about dismemberment. What would you say if you could? On my first trip, I loaded up on meatballs, mashed potatoes, ham, rice pudding, chocolate cake, cookies, more potatoes, and salmon, cooked all the ways. I plopped on various sauces, careful not to spill any on my clothing because my friend Matt (also a lapsed Catholic) and I had decided to wear our Sunday's best. I put on a green blazer. He wore a yellow jacket with a purple tie. In addition to all the food, there were more drinks to choose from than ways to fuck up your Billy Bookcase — a variety of sparkling waters like “lingonberry” and “elderflower.” The three course, all-you-can-eat meal was $16.99, or just $12.99 as a member of IKEA Family. Easter’s just one of four of IKEA’s annual festivals; it has one for each season, including a similar smorgasbord for the longest day of the year in the middle of the summer, a crayfish barbecue in the fall, and of course, a Christmas-themed feast in the winter. These dinners are a way “to introduce Swedish culture to the American public,” Peter Ho told me over the phone. As IKEA’s food product developer in the US, Ho said he eats in an IKEA cafeteria every day: “For the spring, we're going to have the veggie balls paired with a Thai coconut curry sauce!we're going to
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tatta gorem
wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu
So what would animals say if we asked the right questions? I always knew the house was on fire. I’m injecting you with sadness, the deadliest syringe. Or, rather, I’m being swallowed by an avalanche of undercooked hamburger meat. I am in the pinkest part of it and try the spitting method to find out which way is up. I think I see a light in the distance. Tho it might very easily be a lump of fat. O saint ranglehold. O saint reat. O saint agnes.
For lack of a better way to describe the situation — and I am quoting some long-lost love poem, and so I am.
[Note: Sources: Qin Xiaoyu, “Introduction: remembering the Anonymous”, in Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry (ed. Qin Xiaouyu, tr. Eleanor Goodman); JBR; Qin Xiaoyu, “Introduction: remembering the Anonymous”, in Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry (ed. Qin Xiaouyu, tr. Eleanor Goodman); JBR; Sean Bonney, “Our Death 30 / On The Refusal of Spite”, at Abandoned Buildings, 14 Apr 017 (“extensive rewrite of” 23 Feb 017 version); Jennifer Karmin, “Handful”, in aaaaaaaaalice; JBR; Phil Davenport, “A very important question”, at Arthur + Martha, 14 Apr 017; JBR; Jennifer Karmin, “Handful”, in aaaaaaaaalice; George Kalamaras, “The Hands of Drawn Space”, in Your Own Ox-Head Mask as Proof; JBR; Zack Haber, “from HORRIBLE PLACES”, at Armed Cell 12; Lisa Robertson, “‘Proverbs of a She-Dandy’, 2017”, at Buenos Tiempos, Int., 13 Apr 017; JBR; David Cameron, Flowers of Bad, quoted in Alexander Dickow’s review of same at Galatea Resurrects 6; David Cameron, “Le chat”, at Flowers of Bad; Hans Blumenberg, Work on Myth; Katy Bohinc, “The Twelfth House: Art and the Unconscious”, at Tender Buttons, 25 Sept 016; JBR; Alice Notley, “I Went Down There”, at Trickhouse 12; JBR; Michael D Snediker, “26| Pick Up the Nearest Book to You, Turn to Page 45. The Second Sentence Explains Your Love Life”, at Upstart; James Mensch, review of Raoul Moati, Levinas and the Night of Being: A Guide to Totality and Infinity (tr. Daniel Wyche), at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 9 Apr 017; Michael D Snediker, “The Apartment of Tragic Appliances”, in The Apartment of Tragic Appliances; Jenny Lawson, “Please force me to be less terrible”, at The Bloggess, 12 Apr 017; JBR; Jennifer Karmin, “Handful”, in aaaaaaaaalice; JBR; John Yau, “Steve Keister’s Cargo Cult of One”, at Hyperallergic, 16 Apr 017; JBR; Iztli Ehekatl, “Ometeotl, the God that Didn’t Exist”, at Mexika, 10 Aug 014; JBR; Justin Lieberman, “Corrected Proof”, in The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House; Richard Haly, “The Pilgrim’s Poetics: from Economics to Epistemology and Back, Recounting the Making of a Place”, at Academia.edu; Robert Hullot-Kenter, “Thngs Beyond Resemblance”, in Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno; Wayne Koestenbaum, quoted in “Wayne Koestenbaum with Bruce Hainley”, at Bidoun 8; JBR; Ingeborg Bachmann, “[That it was worse yesterday than today]”, in Darkness Spoken: The Collected Poems (tr. Peter Filkins); JBR; Ingeborg Bachmann, “For C.E.”, in Darkness Spoken: The Collected Poems (tr. Peter Filkins); JBR; Wayne Koestenbaum, and Bruce Hainley, quoted in “Wayne Koestenbaum with Bruce Hainley”, at Bidoun 8; JJ Cohen, “Stories of Blood 1: Real and Recent Blood”, at In the Middle, 16 Apr 017; Stacy Doris, “Under Fire”, in Knot; Arkadii Dragomoschenko, Xenia (trs. Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova); Judy Kronenfeld, “Middle-Aged Memory”, in Disappeared Down Dark Wells and Still Falling; Jared Schickling, The Pink; JBR; Hugo Ball, “Karawane”, at Poets.org; Chen Chen, “Selections From a Small Book of Questions”, at Nat. Brut 8; Alex Norcia, “No One Celebrates the Resurrection of Christ Like IKEA”, at Vice, 16 Apr 017; JBR; Hugo Ball, “Karawane”, at Poets.org; JBR; Vinciane Despret, What Would Animals Say if We Asked the Right Questions?; Alice Notley, “In the Pines”, “The Black Trailor”, in In the Pines; Sawako Nakayasu, “(.2.2003”, in Texture Notes; JBR; bpNichol, “Scraptures: 16th Sequence”, in gifts: The Martyrology Book[s] 7&; Sawako Nakayasu, “(.2.2003”, in Texture Notes]