Thursday December 7, 2017

Some would say we commit ourselves to metaphysics the moment we accept the existence of “minds.” But what else would it be but a mind that contemplates Ingrid Goes West, a new film that uses cash inheritance as the premise for its infiltration and critique of selfie culture? The master of that culture, the film notes, is some “emotional wound” that turns self-promotion into way of life. One imagines oneself floating above oneself with a camera, turning money into props for self-actualization through delivery of life narrative to followers. Such is the subjectivity at the heart of the film’s critique. Comedy, of course, requires that the film overstate this critique for laughs. Its stalker character acts on urges the rest of us repress. Speaking of urges: A pulse is touched and quickened. I reach out and connect as if by dial-up modem to Brett Naucke’s Multiple Hallucinations.

I feel like I’m living inside a montage sequence from Halt and Catch Fire, mulling over an idea beside a window on a rainy night, flashing back to visual and tactile memories bound to videogame sound-narratives from my childhood. Dots, squiggles, exploding fractal mandalas. Seeing multiples, reprocessing. A computer asks for permission to speak further. Glowing outlines perform expressive dance against a black background. The computer sucked us in and we never got out, I realize. It swallowed us like a sandworm or a whale. So teacheth the Gnostics, or rather, modern New Age derivations therefrom. This would be the “reality-as-simulation” theory. It was by repression of entry into the Matrix that the Matrix got us, goes the theory. Movement amidst abstract sign-systems. Neon re-imaginings of witch-burnings cut with similar blood sacrifices atop ancient Aztec temples. Knowledges are fed through the air in packets. Do I possess an ethics? Do one’s best? Stay formally attentive? Listen and learn, I tell myself, and you will know how to act. Trust intuition over reason. Seek the flows and go with them. Even when they lead to French onion soup and a cartoon scarecrow with corn growing out its chest. Go out on adventures, says an imaginary Australian life coach, gesturing with his hands as he speaks. Too bad my brain has been soldered to things, I shudder, as the hallucination comes to an end.

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.