Monday, August 20, 2007

new manuscript

As when death infects life, when poetry infects fiction, identity, system, order is disturbed. The text stretches out before us, spasming and bleeding.

—Dodie Bellamy, Academonia

It appears that there is a certain point in the mind wherefrom life and death, reality and imaginary, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable cease to be perceived in the contradictory way.

—Andre Breton, The Second Manifesto


Simon was launched in 1978 at Studio 54 in New York City, becoming a pop culture phenomenon in the 1980’s. An electronic game distributed by Milton Bradley, its slogan was: Simon’s a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else you go down the drain. The game consists of four large buttons divided into colors red, blue, green and yellow, each designed with a harmonic tone: A (red, upper right); A (green, upper left, an octave higher than the upper right); D (blue, lower right, a perfect fourth higher than the upper right); G (yellow, lower left, a perfect fourth higher than the lower right). The buttons are lighted in sequence, playing a tone for each; the player must press the buttons in the same sequence. It begins with a single button chosen randomly, and adds another randomly-chosen button to the end of the sequence each time the player follows it successfully. Gameplay ends when the player makes a mistake or when the player wins (by matching the pattern for a predetermined number of tones).

The game has three variations, set by a switch on the front of the case, with a second switch setting one of four difficulty levels. Simon Says (Game 1): The player simply follows along as described above (with four difficulty levels requiring the player to match a sequence of 8, 14, 20, or 31 tones). Player Says (Game 2): The player makes his own sequence at any of the four difficulty levels. Simon chooses the first tone, and then the player can make any sequence he wants. Choose Your Color (Game 3): A multi-player game in which each player takes one or more colors. When Simon presents a pattern, the player must only push his own color in sequence. Hitting your color out of sequence causes it to be eliminated. Simon then starts over with the three remaining colors, then two, and the last player left is the winner.

Simon Says


When I was a child I traced my left hand on beige construction paper with a red colored pencil. The sharpened grains delightfully feathered my pensive skin. I began at my palm, just below pinky and drew upward. I imagined my grandfather’s hand shaking my own, a steel crane clamping a soft-shelled snail.

Impediment: Mrs. Kehoe. The name alone makes me imagine locking small children in damp sheds while digging backyard graves. In grade one she made an example of an American flag coloring project of mine illustrating to the class the importance of always staying inside the lines.

The red stain against my skin remembered me, my flesh pinked from winter games. Chicken soup bowl burning prints. Appetite’s swollen pulse. Blood pains when rushing back into veins. But there is intimacy in this touch. Snow pelted stricken visage. It is a penetrating sentiment. Pretending your hand is another’s. Metaphysical transmutation; the body encased inside itself, a fragile container on the border of collapse. Brain claims liaison. Even as a child I was familiar. Thumb wars slip with sweat. Fingernails anticipate they’re tepid feast. Apprehensively tremble remembering a film. An Asian man dressed in black, fingers spread widely, severed his index finger as a demonstration of allegiance and honor. A human brain is digital floating signifiers of natural language. Upon reaching my wrist I became momentarily bewildered questioning how to trace it without losing position. I imagined you prosthetic and guided red across my arm. Slight prickles snipped then slipped.


I had seen the picture repeatedly. A small boy fascinated with hats stacked a cowboy hat, atop a fireman helmet, teetered a baseball cap. His face bunted a smothering sun. His Mama, training his wheels from a curved disposition, smiled beneath wind-blown blond hair. A dream testifies a different perception when engaging in ellipses. Streamers gleam a frizzled rainbow, as spokes clanked xylophone jewels.

Hotdogs anchored the humid bellies of summer. Picnic tables became pirate ships squirt-gunned under cover of Captain Black Beard, Blue and Red. Dixie-cupped lager made masks of adults. The horrors of maternal bowels are subjected to paternal function. Yellow Polo shirts and Slip-N-Slide painted the horizon line the spine of abjection. 1983 reaped the musically discreet. A block party hatched captive in flash.

Impediment: My father later informed me that he and the neighbors were often stoned during these block parties which explains why for the longest time I thought my father was secretly a Transformer.


In the dream, I am the age of my mother then, standing before a deserted Golden Gate Bridge. Lights raided the moonlight. Water sloshed hemorrhaging information. Beside me a three-legged Doberman named Duchess ambled a mocked ferocity from behind her studded collar. Her owner, a former babysitter of mine, used to parade us through KFC to order mini chicken sandwiches then home to play with her husbands WWII rifles.

Carrying a hobo pack, stick wrapped slung over shoulder I gambled my dissention along the broad boardwalk. It was then that thirty faces, friends and strangers, claimed the stage and bade me forward, wavering the lanes. Forward rarely touching, rarely tonguing declaration, names.

A mansion in the distance, windows lit with vagrant images swayed in diabolic haze. Phobia as abortive memory of want antagonizes subject. Eyes peeking through peripheral glaze stripped miles from our feet. Memory has mistaken place forsaking language. We stood before high doors changing panels unnamable in the framework of rhetoric. Brief jokes miscarried introjections of open sesame and magic wands in a strongly barricaded discourse.

With flush of incision patrons came from an impossible nothingness, lock breached by callous force. Duchess startled by insertion crooked and fled. Attendance driven they blushed our tattered vision fleeting blind discourse. Dissolved by freakish gossip at the lip of these kaleidoscopic faces we pressed the crypt. My thirty stranger friends and I dispersed in perfect symmetry the course. Distraught by stop-watched language counted forward lore.

A coliseum blighted design as silence struck the bleachers. An iconoclast crowned, cloak enfolded crutched a colossal staff. Crippling slowly toward the center he reached a cold throne, beside an altar. He tapped his staff three times against the floor. The standing audience sat as he positioned himself in his throne. The coliseum walls shifted an inconsolable puzzle.

The iconoclast then placed his hands to his temples and began twisting. His head gave like a reluctant screw as he turned it clockwise covering his mouth with each revolution concealing the anguish of original want. Lifting slowly, disconnecting from his spine he placed the petrified head upon the altar. He reached behind the throne and raised the head of a writhing gray gorilla[1]. Inserting the gorilla head to his neck he covered its eyes and turned until it locked in place. Metamorphoses rose from his throne and unsheathed a mighty blade with which he drove into his human head. Eyes crossed and closed. He raised his arms in triumph and the crowd, save my stranger friends and I, divided quiet with aggressive cries.

At their leader’s cue they began revolving their human heads replacing them with animals, various and depraved. They turned to us and began tearing us apart, feasting our living flesh. Each one claiming gravely the thirty-one delayed. More strangely was the silence in the crowd. Not one prisoner resisted. Console a hopeless defeat.

It was then I realized a young boy in red shorts and rainbow patterned polo shirt holding a red balloon in one hand, and my half eaten calf in the other, blood gleaming his cub gums. His mother, blond and wolverine, teethed my heart, as a faint sigh played me silent and disclosed.

The dream that I am provokes horror, the last inescapable witness to the imaginary machine. The hideous unfolding nightmare guffaws the last evidence of the frightful redeemer.

[1] “But such a position implies that, in order to bring fear to the surface, the confrontation with the impossible object (the maternal phallus, which is not) will be transformed into a fantasy of desire”

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror.

1 comment:

timarmentrout said...

strong work as always. was reading on whiskey the coinciding elements among this and work current from koshkin, kilroy and celeste. and i add myself there too...and reading here is leading towards the foundation of a bridge i have been writing around for some time. my dilemma has been the record of memory and the impossibly mute present...or how to articulate something still very much in process of understanding/ interpretation. i suppose that would be my "impediment."
another related tangent...i started a new teaching job this week at a school preparing for its first year. I'm doing the ground work in implementing an expeditionary curriculum...using exactly these experiential bridges that connect our personal memories and foster a sense of understanding between the individual and memory/society as core parts of the pedagogical approach. This afternoon during training we focused on listening as a tool for perceptual expansion...teachers paired off and shared memories of overcoming obstacles, then returned to the group and were required to tell back the opposite person's story in first a sense, allowing memory and experience to be shared on a level not normally possible. As in your work, where the sensation of color and sound, of coordination, the playing of Simon, will register deeply stored memories within the reader, memories perhaps incapable of being remembered, being processed until exactly the moment of synergy.