Wednesday August 30, 2017

There are self-haters among us who don’t yet believe themselves saved. All one need do is close one’s eyes and listen to Ant’lrd’s “Daydream Trace.”

A week into the semester, and I’ve already read responses where students describe growing up in a mansion (albeit one that may have been haunted by ghosts of Confederate soldiers) and vacationing at a “cozy little chateau” nuzzled into the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Charming, no? I wish there was a store in town devoted exclusively to the sale of cassettes and weird books. Instead, a Waste Management truck pulls out in front of me. Should I care about China’s accomplishments re: poverty alleviation when confronted with its inverse, the drowning of Houston? And what is this whole other neighborhood in my city, up by the quarry? “The kid’s mixed up ’bout his geography,” says the neighborhood tough guy, his one hand clenched into a fist punching as if to suggest menace into the palm of his other. My favorite trees are birch trees. But the quarry is beautiful. Kudzu-draped. Cavernous and deep. “QUARRY PARK RULES,” as is printed on one of the park’s signs. Why can’t I retire, effective immediately, and hang out there each day hence? Eyes toward the sky, I revisit consciousness. Crickets mark time as I wait for the uptick, the deluge, the crosshairs. News stories tip my head inward. Worms, defense — one needn’t worry. Nations sign to one another by launching missiles. Others among us begin their days dressing and praying before poorly-wrought shrines to money. Is the inner peace they achieve there authentic? Do others rehearse their thoughts while feeling around as in a labyrinth? What sense is there in using the free-write as a site of utopian prefiguration? That’s what I’m attempting here — or “I,” and whoever else wants to join us. I wish to unschool myself so as to improvise new forms of syntax. Go outside, sit on a rail, and trade time-passing speculations like Vladimir and Estragon. These are two of my “operator voices,” a concept I happen upon by happening upon a cassette of that name by Brett Naucke. Operator voices are characters of mine who wait around for their phones to pop off, their daily practice an ecstatic journey routed through chance operations and signs derived therefrom.

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