M E E T
J O E
b o o k s t r e e t . n e t
An Olympia Press book
Any persons or situations represented in this book are imaginary, any reference to
persons living or dead is accidental
The right of Francisco Réage
to be identified as the author of this work has
been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78
of the Copyright Designs
and Patents Act, 1988
© Olympia Publishing
& bookstreet.net MMXII
M e e t J o e B
‘It’s hard to be free when you’re being bought and sold’
There are some moments that never fail in memory. Moments of total fear, complete alienation.
Moments like those directly after the explosion, I fly like a ragged shattered bird, then hit the ground, knowing suddenly but blankly that these could be the last moments of my conscious life, shrapnel snapping perilously close to my ears against any vertical structure and the explosion that I never heard throwing up clouds of dust, invisible in the darkness; lead and razors flying by and away from me, a dangerous buzzing in the savage airstream as torrents of fragments and rubble glance along the stone and sand into sudden silence.
Then, the lights of life fail to flash before me, I’m totally blank, the only thing that I do know for sure is that I am dead.
I can’t see anything much, just a blur and a fractured, textured, grey, flashing darkness. I’m blind.
That’s how being dead is. Isn’t it?
But the fact that you’re thinking must mean that you don’t know if you’re dead - not for sure, because there must be some redundant elements of existence, corrupted, hanging there by slender tags of stuff, elements which tick, prickle in your mind.
You find now that you’re motionless, all systems corrupted, unmoving and still, aware only that you must be right and that this must be death come for you.
But things are never so simple-if I’m not dead, then I must be right on the knife edge of life, balancing between awareness and that other state that I’ll not return to report. Not in this world, anyway. Blank, dark. Just the sound of a whisper of air, the slightest breath.
Then follows a long, long, time; maybe a minute, or a month, a week.
How long does it take to die?
Silence, darkness, stillness.
You’re absolutely alone now, feeling the blood trickling away from you, in a cold clammy sweat; or is it all blood? Completely isolated, no form of defence or power.
There follows a distant, flickering sensation.
‘Maybe - just perhaps I’m alive? - if I’m dead now, they’ll just find my corpse stiff and frozen - if they ever find it.’
Blank, dark. Just the sound of a whisper of air, the slightest breath.
‘Maybe my crazy obsessive game of life-roulette has by-passed me this time, maybe I’ve not got away with it this time! What is it that makes me want to play this vertiginous game? Maybe there is no way back, I’m hurting, distantly, all broken.’
There was a time before this day/night dream when I was clear of all this, at a time when fear did not motivate me.
That’s the trick of it, you may just have got away with it and, like any terror that you survive, the steel embrace of fear becomes like honey to a bee, a hugely instinctive, addictive magnet, forever attracting you to return; an embrace which everyone knows; which often kills. But no-one ever comes back to tell you that.
Now I move a finger and feel the dust on my mouth.
Its three o’clock in the morning and the shooting has stopped. Shrapnel and stones lie thick, peppered against the wall like yesterdays razor-edged house-dust.
I am alive. Can that be so? It’s almost a surprise.
I pull my body slowly through the dust, to the wall, then rest against it, checking my limbs to detect breaks or injuries. Mercifully, my eyes are undamaged.
Now the silence is palpable, stereo, perfect, as I move. I hear the crunch of sand, and feel rivulets of cool wind meandering over me. Actually such sounds could be here - or way over there; I’ve dislocated the equipment that can make distinctions as fine as that.
I move one hand, one elbow.
Yes, I can move my arm, but there’s also a sudden sharp cacophony of sensations, pain.
And there’s another pain among the chorus of pains - from somewhere in my body, somewhere I can’t isolate from the bruises along my side. My back is wrecked, my side is painful and my face, grimed with sand feels scratched and sticky with oil, or blood.
It’s so dark, black dark, no moon: and now that I know that I’m going to die, now I know for sure - I don’t care - for this must be the darkest moment of them all, the most velvet and the most forgiving and followed by the most bizarre of soft bright dawns...
The day dawned blue, with an icy edge to it which belied the warmth of the upcoming sun, edging the lower wisps with yellow and orange as the backdrop of rich greens turned to the characteristic sandy khaki beige of savannah, the distance dropping away like a precious stone falling into lucid, crystalline water, limpid and as sensitive to the touch as silk and nearly as invisible, untouchable, unreachable.
He was falling, falling, without falling, like an ice-drop, without remorse, or hope or emotion, at first just falling, dangled on a skein of pure physics like the Challenger: followed by a moment of superheated panic and remorse.
And then he awoke amidst the harsh calls of the pelicans, the jet swoop of the cockatoos and the distant rumble of timber moving in the burgeoning tropical air.
The things he’d seen, the sights, the gorgeous sunsets and the marvellous dawns, the tropical forest, their treetops like broccoli gently steaming in the early kitchen heat as the Sun comes up, the Valley of the Zambezi early in the day, everyday, beyond that the generous threatened savannahs and the endless rivers, and in the truck-stop towns the sordid side streets between plywood and cardboard houses attended by gaily lighted circuses bars and cat houses, meantime, on the wide horizon, isolated villages, hamlets, partnered with nameless, un-mapped densely-packed conglomerations.
Sights only living on in his memory, living still at that time when he would be dead; real things become ancient like old photographs, discoloured, precious.
Through diaphanous silk, sights to die for...
I remember you once. It was a warm late summer afternoon and we sat in the grass, you duck-like, despite your slim athleticism.
All part of it.
You opened your legs and held me between them, and despite your dress and the layers of textile, it was like making love, actually, having sex.
We’d met the night before, at an unruly party where we’d suddenly caught each other’s eye and fuelled our unspoken lusts here. Now in the cool grass your lust was becoming palpable, and I was part of it. How good that seemed.
Later we would dance together naked in your apartment and then complete our tryst in our own invisible, unknowable, time.
It would be good, it would be great; something to remember, even if that was with a hint of sadness.
It was real, honest, simply lost to life and to time. Really imaginary.
‘I’m called Viz, and I’m walking through an empty but very verdant area. There’s nobody there, it’s quiet, and then I find myself walking towards a large house which stands by itself.
After a while I’m inside the house.
The room where I’m standing is one of a large suite of rooms, each one leading to another like an architectural puzzle. There’s a corridor connected to them in some way which involves itself in this structure, which means that they are all set in a circle.
It’s Saturday, I need to switch the computer on because I need to use the internet. For some reason I also find the need to check the kitchen, which is empty and clear and clean (unusual) and then suddenly I leave the house and there’s the Sea, nearby, just over the hill, which could turn out to be a golf-links.
Now suddenly as I walk towards the beach, in the surf I see a woman, someone who looks familiar, even from this distance. The two people who I now see frolicking in the Sea are still hardly more than dots, but yet I can see - now clearly, that one of them is you.
You are frolicking in the Sea, and you are flirting, and being
hugged, embraced, by this waitress that we once met in a restaurant in
Meanwhile I’m walking diagonally across this wide area of beach, which is just assorted scrub and sand as most beaches are - now I see a gaggle of people: Hey, Presto! One of them is your father, of all people: I say to him
“Oh, don’t worry, somewhere hereabouts!” and then returns to his involved conversation with the gaggle of people standing in a loose group on the beach half facing the surf (which is very low, perhaps we’re in the Mediterranean), all of whom I recognize, though quite how, I don’t know.
None of them seems in the least bit surprised or put out, they are all perfectly relaxed and hardly give me a thought, just continuing talking about something which is at the seem time mysterious, involving, frivolous and interesting.
Now, I’m back in the house and as I’m beginning to turn the computer on once again, I find that it’s obstructed by some sort of wooden structures. It takes a while because I have to clear stuff away, but just as I’m getting it to work, suddenly you arrive and are standing next to me. So I say:
“Did you enjoy yourself?” And you say to me-
“Yes, of course!”
You’re normally dressed, and you’re angry.
I say something, then, without waiting, you say to me:
“What are you doing with the computer?” It’s your love and your possessiveness talking: but I have yet to know how much you love me, so I don’t understand a word.
Playing the Numbers
“How do you do.”
“Thank you for inviting me.”
“It’s a pleasure!”
“I was a little ill”
“I’ve come to see Äitize”
“I’ve no idea where she is”
“Haven’t seen either of them.”
You haunt me. Somewhere, in a cloud of exotic essences, sensuous and melancholy, there’s you, in an upper room (which makes the house here sound much larger than it is)
Later. I’ve been searching, covertly.
“Such a nice day!”
“Well, it’s too bad. By the way, I don’t know where they’ve got to, either of them”
“Neither of them?”
“What can I say to you?”
“Her coat - is that it?”
“Sometimes she plays the piano.”
I sit there transfixed – I’ve always loved the piano. Damn. You see I had a new mistress then, Odette, but I still couldn’t let her, you, Zaza out of my sight, out of my mind.
Life with Odette was a series of speeches: almost a theatrical moment.
“Be nice to me!”
“Don’t say that!”
“Can we get one thing straight?”
“It’s you who aren’t being nice!”
“I said, can we get one thing straight?”
“No, I want that the way it was!”
“I’ll do anything you want then.”
“No, that’s no good!”
“What do you mean?”
“What can I do then?”
“Because you said...”
“I can’t explain!”
Beg her too much and she’ll leave you, beg her too little and
she’ll say; ‘I’ll leave you, if you do
... that.’ It’s all in the degree of begging (as
“She’s just gone out.”
I’m having another bad afternoon.
“She’s with someone else?”
“I saw her”
“You saw her too?”
“I saw her with a fat man”
“You’re imagining the whole darn thing!”
“What lovely flowers - I’ll put them in water.”
“This thing is still unexplained!”
“What, the fat man?”
“All of it!”
I’m walking, looking for either of them: there’s one, there’s a target!
It’s my neurotic imagination, the jeans are tight and he has small shoulders - it isn’t a woman, it’s a man, and he’s not fat like she said - no it can only be a woman’s rump, round, with that small hollow over the cleft which always appears to be about to float off, thus leaving a ripple effect.
Perception is like that, like Gothic carvings high over a cathedral, clerestories or water channels, detailed within themselves but inaccessible and without meaning when you have no intimacy with them, unless one has the knowledge to see to know and to seek.
You’d need permission to walk up there on the heights, walk about in the bluster of wind, with nothing between you and the earth.
“We live in the health
“The government need your taxes, they need your spending, your fuel surcharges and your parking fines and your debts to run their scams - they just can’t let you die that easily.”
“You have a life without me, you are happy to live without me - that’s the first time I saw that!”
Now there’s a woman I don’t recognize at all, she wears a beret;
she wears skin-tight
‘How beautiful that body of yours is!’
‘Your smile spreads
over your face like
a butterfly, your
laugh is like
a rose, a spear
“Lovely weather! This stuff about perpetual Summer or global warming or something is pure bull!”
“Yes. It’s either boiling hot or else freezing nowadays!”
“You’re not like me then - don’t you ever go dancing?”
“Will you buy me a hot chocolate, I’m broke?”
“Sure.” God, I lust after this pair of legs. Perhaps after a couple of chocolates I’ll...
(Who knows, maybe I’ve scored!)
I order the hot chocolate from a rude waitress, who takes an instant dislike to her. Or maybe it’s me.
We sit at a café table and suddenly she finds that she needs to fix her cowboy boot. Her rump looks unsullied and unlined from beneath as she bends forward, giving me time to run my eyes over it without her noticing, the delicate delicious masses moving towards and away from my ever confused eyes - but maybe this is just another way of turning the screw on me. I mean I can’t just figger out how you get all that stuff into...
“How philosophical, turning the screw, eh!”
I think to myself; ‘I could write a book about your flesh, its tenderness, how you look in those jeans - and how we’d explore the world together, just you, me and that iPod.’
Oh, and I like the boots, too.
“You know that lot, they’re perfectly charming on the surface-“
“But they’re a pain in the arse most of the time, they’ll spread nasty rumours about you and witter away behind your back as soon as you turn the corner – blacken your name and all!”
“This is a pain!”
How many times has this sequence occurred in the history of other people’s sunny Summer’s afternoons?
There’s something in her jeans pocket.
Something protruding, suggesting-
“Am I being nosy?”
She squeezes the jeans and I imagine her vulva protesting, it’s that close to the lump. I love my imagination, sometimes.
“It’s only my iPod”
“Oh!” I’m relieved.
She’s not dreadfully deformed, then.
“I’m going now”
“What about the hot chocolate?”
“No, not now, some other time.”
Fuck it all, I thought that I’d scored! Still, now I’ve got a picture of your unused vulva in my mind, superimposed with that friggin’ iPod.
Orgasm, death. Well, you could say they were related after all: who cooks up all these dreams?
I like it when
for now I can
hear you breath.’
Sometime later. Yeah, I reckon I’ve almost wangled it.
“Man, that took me some time.”
“I’ve got a cold.”
God! She looks frustrated, all red and swollen and discoloured; okay, maybe it’s the cold - only I don’t think so.
“That’s only trivial!”
I long for her touch.
My heart is noisy in
my ears, this could be the moment, the great moment, like those two running at
each other to finally kiss, like me arriving in the middle of a cold winter’s
night to the hot arms of my lover after a vicarious, dangerous, awful journey
through hell and storms and huge waves, hurricanes, deserted motorways, high
snowed-up ice-swept wildernesses, streaming sky, sodden streets, black tarmac
before dawn on arctic nights, numberless hazards - to her home, to her arms,
and the delicacy and warmth of her thighs and her breasts. ‘
But – Oh, God... you’ve forsaken me one more damn time – I fling away the symbols, burn the friggin’ Holy Books make a pyre of my jalabah – because:
“Take your hands off me!”
“Stop it! Stop it!”
“What is this?”
“Maybe I’ll forgive you - in time.”
“Listen you’re a friend, let’s do it as friends – you’ll like it“
“I’m not that sort of friend”
“Oh fuck it, fuck it then!”
“Listen we’ll talk about it later”
“Don’t scream like that”
“Pack your kit and just fuckin’ leave, fuck-buddy! To think I’ve (ouch) spent all this time here and now you want...”
“How’d I get into this, organized religion?”
‘After all, it was only I
who knew that her vulva
was a swollen brown
question mark between her
legs, prepared only for me.’
Some time, very much later.
A different pair of would-be lovers:
“Right now I hear the Sea.”
“The Sea encapsulates many of my dreams.”
“It does mine, too.”
“I have the illusion of the waves. Then it’s all gone.”
It’s a pack of lies of course, he’s a fake - once he’s been into her pants he’ll start to dream other dreams; and she’s worse, dreaming of power and security without question, even if, as she knows, she’ll have to pay the first few instalments on her knees.
Life is a game played long, over time.
Once she’s had him inside her she can start to make him small in her mind, once she’s swallowed his sperm or digested it through which ever place he left it she’ll feel perfectly justified in objectifying him, reducing him simply to another prospect in her private secret thoughts; even if it never actually gets said. She’ll have that public, secret smile to show possession, a badge of doubt, not hope.
She needs the money, you see, however she gets it.
One day they’ll part
and she’ll dream that she can sleep with his best friend,
Who knows what happens after all that? Whatever it gets to be it’ll be nasty and crooked and... forgettable, tarnished with knowledge and doubt and someone else’s sadness. Maybe that’s why she’s so halting; the weight of all that guilt can crush you, make you twisted.
It took a while, having renounced God and Holy Books and that, but as I entered the room, more a sort of cabin really, where her voice seemed to ring, damp, round the walls even when she wasn’t there, the phone was ringing, I lunged for it.
I could swear I’ve been here before, you know.
I got to the phone just before whoever it was had decided to put the receiver down, then it rang again finding my hand still upon it:
“When’ll you be here?”
It was Luc at the other end, in a foul temper, after all in business time is money.
“After I’ve found her, the bitch!”
“When the fuckin’ sea freezes over!”
Sniff, sniff. It was the coke talking, I could hear his brain grinding the white powder finer and finer. A pregnant moment:
“They’re searching the forest with dogs this very minute”
“She ran off?”
“She’s a wild (sniff) thing!”
“Into the bush, the cañada the jungle?”
“It’s all jungle round here, round her too, wherever she goes,(sniff) chop chop!”
“It’s those beautiful thighs... get her into trouble”
“She’s fucking money to me, she cost me money!”
“Don’t be crazy”
“I’m only being logical!”
“She fucks like a bunny, she likes it!”
“That’s we’re in business for, fuck it!” Sniff, sniff.
“People go crazy for tight jeans and beautiful thighs, I’ve seen it. Not a detail left to the imagination... why, I could tell that...”
“Okay, Okay. Enough! Listen, is it my imagination, or have I been here before?”
“What - where, this green slightly mouldy room?”
They don’t call it
No, not at all.
It’s all jungle, concrete, wood and unclean flesh, now serviced by East European whores like Vizma, standing out on the road getting some air until the mobiles in their hands buzz to indicate that another prospect needs servicing, or another blue movie is in the offing.
Well, it’s one more way of making a fast buck, and then a message...
Z E N
I am not at home
but I Am on my
Z A Z A
Comes in on the wires and makes me hurt, and so I turn away.
After all I’m a lonely male, a hunter with red thick blood in my veins and to forget you is - just painful. I re-orientate myself, tell myself that I haven’t scored for... hours... and it’s Euston road and the British Library’s full of young shapely female rumps who are more into books than bangs, and then there’s this ‘phone box: history?
History’s all around us, only not written down, yet –
‘Madame Whip’ intriguing, it’s a start, anyway.
‘Young Model: Will Try Anything.’ Might be promising too.
I took a quick glance outside the call‑box to see if
anyone was waiting. Wouldn't do for me to be seen reading
these cards after reading
Fuck! Oops! Back to the cards ‘Beautiful Teenager - Sixth Form Maitresse.’ There was an indistinct picture of a young maiden almost dressed in leather, beckoning me on. It struck me that it was astonishing how these women had the nerve to claim they were schoolgirls when most of them were probably double or treble divorcees. It’s just a kind of weird convention: phone-up a whore advertising herself as a schoolgirl and you'll get her grandmother: could they be in cahoots? Maybe it’s that female thing about being powerless, then powerful, empowered, then powerless again. Floods of tears..
However, one little detail thing was that the card promising ‘Sixth Form Maitresse’ wasn't crudely, professionally printed like the rest, but was produced in just the over‑elaborated, flowery and downright bondage-pink DTP style a teenage girl might favour.
Who knew? Fuck
I dialled the number on the card. (After all, you never knew, it might be that I would be able to work out who this creature was (life state and all that) from her voice.)
I thought of a woman I’d lusted after at the bus stop.
"Yes," said a breathless voice in the receiver, cutting in on my rhapsody. Oops.
"Is that the Sixth Form Maitresse?"
"Yes, it is."
"And you're panting because you've just rushed back from school?"
"That's right. How'd you guess?"
The voice was light, female in a sort of girlish way, yet responded seriously and literally. Altogether that sounded about right. A frisson down my spine.
"Anyway, I've seen your card, and I was wondering...?"
"Certainly. What did you have in mind? I offer a range of services” she drew breath, then: ”simple discipline is twenty‑five, and I've a graduated scale of charges from there upwards. The words unaccountably sped up. No credit cards, and I’ll take any currency and play any old tricksy thing you’re into, actually. Oh, penetration's extra, of course." (Gosh!)
“Eight o'clock tonight? She seemed in something of a hurry, business must be good.
"Eh.” This was coming-on all apace.
"What about eight o'clock tonight then?"
“Well…” I dropped my precious antique Biro and it broke into several pieces, spring, button, top bit, barrel, insert. From a valuable antique directly to a few shattered fragments, in just a mo. Worthless. Rags to Riches. You know.
"Let me consult my Filofax” – a long, theatrical moment... “Ah! Yes, eight would be convenient.”
“Shall I put you down for forty minutes or should I keep the nine o'clock slot open for you too?"
I covered the handset and breath
Hack, hack! Fuck!
I found a chewed, scholarly pencil to scratch down the address.
"...As you wish," said the young, slim voice quickly, wickedly prim, reading my mind, "In fact, your wish is my command ‑ though I expect you’d prefer it the other way round." The voice laughed without excessive conviction.
"Okay, at eight, then."
It arrives as a picture:
‘There’s me coming into focus, ashen faced, staggering along a forgotten, icy, slimy walkway, I feel the coldness of frozen tarmac rimed with old cooking-oil beneath my feet, the slimy redundancy of the earth.
Why? Because now the end of all worlds beckons me on and wants to consume me. I can hardly raise an ounce of energy any more, in order to sustain this dying for one more stupid moment.
Anyway, who cares, who seriously is going to be diverted from their Danish pastry and watery cappuccino long enough to place my death on the Ouija board of their unknowing?
Words, like time, flick in and out of my desiccated cognition, for at this portal words and time and all the pointless minutiae of the middle classes’ dross, their obsession with paper articles, panty liners, Teddy Bears, Sainsbury’s pretend French Cuisine, manners and pointless masturbatory breeding, become a blur, for no one can hold me prisoner now, no one can manipulate me any longer because...’
Because I’ve got lead poisoning, that’s it! Moreso, a .38 slug in my guts, and I’m dying!
Yes really, I’m dying and what’s more I’m leaving you all behind to rot, fuck you, and I can’t speak because my brain has suddenly lost its lead umbilical, and soon all its other umbilicals will fail, be cut, cancelled like unpaid-for phone lines, with no chance of ever being reinstated.
Yes, this then is...
This grey visage, this faded eminence, striving to move, to express…
But what? Because now I’m...
An angel might have a skin
But would she have such
Blank, blank, blank,
blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank,
Or is it the cocaine?
twin tweezered tits
thin depilated thighs
Luxurious inflated lips-
Each day I would have left sonnets
By your pillow
But I knew you preferred cinquanta-euro notes.
What surprises will I bring you? What surprises excite me but leave you cold? What is all this about excitement?
Zaza, you wrote in your scattered French misreported by me:
‘...et dans la lumiere de tes yeux
moirés j’ai commencé à voyager
la réalité ensemble.
…et tu ni enumieneras caballo moreno
et je t’ enumerai zebra blanca
et mois vious danser galloper sauvageonnet
dans des fôrets imaginaries profondes
Now, Zaza, here I am, wrapped only in my dreams... of you and of all those thoughts, those reserved places which we so nearly shared.
And now I’m flying. I can’t help it, you see. I’m escaping the thought of escape.
The wind on the tough hide of the aircraft keeps up a manifold rough, ragged, thrum which peels me away from any real longing about you, because I’m crazy again, I’m doing what comes unnaturally and I haven’t told anyone, especially my mother - I’m flying into another war zone, maybe I’ll never come back this time. I must be fucking mad!
If, in the next few moments this military transport explodes, showering us over some picturesque settlement as a falling trail of savage red rain, then all these desires will be banished in a voracious moment, dissolve into the airstreams as if they had never happened. Perhaps this is another counterfeit moment of stolen angst, mourning, loss, lies, sadness and cold-hearted self-interest.
Fuck, what a fake I am!
Another normal disintegration, then. What’s that? Post-Modern? Who’s that hero when he’s at home?
There are questions there. For example, did what we have ever actually happen? Such cold nights, rent by hunger and desire, so much so that I imagined myself a dog driven by the scent of a bitch - not seeing her, wanting, requiring only the briefest moments of joining in order to slake my thirst.
The painful trick is that the most important moments in one’s life are those that are most likely to be lost. Time holds no hostages and the most special, most private moments of life go almost of their natures unrecorded.
Which means that all we have is our memories. Lose those and you lose everything, because no one else will record them for you...
Lust and passion are close cousins, which is what makes them so similar in their outcomes, rigorous in their requirements, destructive in the end.
Oh, and they forget, those tender glories and those powerful moments are soon as forgotten as that last frosty night in December.
Are our longing, our pain and loss, ever capable of explanation?
The pains that we experience, those pains that we usually forget rather than live through and discard, are the product of a sense of loss more than they are a celebration of achievement.
So, intuitively we canalise our struggles, characterising these phenomena as various types of achievements, making from the inescapable forgetfulness of time something which could be described as a library of closely won engagements (pointlessly) encapsulating something about those already forgotten moments which rapidly fail us.
The essence of this? An old hero? Such realities are beyond our brief capacities to understand, they can only be experienced from afar and at length, which makes the original experience pointless in any but an impersonal sense. We don’t live long. It’s over often before it’s decently begun.
Well then, as a
product of this record of despair, modern urban marketing strategists have created
the concept of fame; something/somebody which will stay young and alive just a
little longer – forever is good, and forever in an electronic universe is just
the merest glimmer of a spark – and when you’re dead you won’t remember anyway
- for example, who was the sixth man to fly? I’ll bet that at the time he was
almost as famous as Orville and
The cult of the ‘celeb’ is the latest development in the early throes of the corrupt end of a dying society; vacuous individuals, who have almost nothing to offer anyone (except their none-too-rare bodies) seek some sort of instant immortality by being unusual in an (almost) acceptable way.
If they push the envelope more than is acceptable they become unmentionable, invisible: though these shows proliferate in every society nowadays, the people who take part in them actually disappear as persons or individuals, thus achieving nothing even by the standards of their own vacuous milieu: but what could they otherwise achieve; nothing happens instantly (apart from death), all societies demand at the very least a high level of attainment before an individual becomes remarkable, memorable.
Celebrity has never been enough in itself for memory to be cemented, people get forgotten every day, and that’s another fact.
This is just about how far modern icons will fly, metaphorically or literally. Not very far at all, not far enough to be remembered.
That brief availability, the capacity to vanquish time, is what motivates more people in more ways than ever to become immortal, though (mortal) immortality today will always be followed by personal mortality itself, as night follows day.
That’s the imponderable theorem, the fate of all my moments of glory with you Zaza, those unremembered struggles in private darkness, that brief real forever in the tall grass on Hampstead hill, our nights at the Hotel du Grand Citroen at metro Stalingrad, where the heating pipes ticked away our love on crisp, hostile nights with the cold, halting, mechanical forgetfulness of an out-of-time clock.
Which time? You could say, whose time, certainly not for you, that time, perhaps more for me. Which time then?
And now I know that that clock was wrong, for you and I are about to be written down and become just memories right now, and all those myriad clocks will be forever wrong, chasing the futility of a perfection that will never be recognized as anything but a forgotten dropped participle in the timed histories of countless other performers, all competing for their lost yesterdays, the forgotten tomorrows of their dreams.
Black, delicious capacious darkness, welcoming me to rest. Or even,
“Hey it’s you, fuck you –
"But tell me... Why were you there … No… How were you there?" Suspicion throbbed in her temples.
"Oh, just waiting for... you."
"You're much too delicate for this."
They look at one another for a moment.
"I know." She
has that twang in her voice - perhaps
She’s tired of the subject and now she’s thinking about something else.
‘Why, up to now my life had been little more than a long trudge, the occasional special day coming at me in an unexpected way, and then proving less than special; then I fucked-up properly: one lusty night I met this creep, I thought it was romance, but it ended up a one night stand, I guess I did too much ‘E’ and ended up in this, getting caned. He was gone, leaving me fucked-up about it, oh, and pregnant.’
She opened some door in her brain, and suddenly life came at her in that old, unexpected way, a melange of things - there was the voice of Madeline Peyroux, (or had she mistaken Billie Holliday for her?); there was the background noise of traffic on a turnpike somewhere; nearby there were planes landing and deep voices talking: activity going on, and she failed to understand then as well, because at the same time the sky was busy with things she couldn’t control. That’s how it goes: buses never arrive singly, and confusion is either total, or else not at all.
One thing seemed clear: she had lost control of the things which she could control - which were all part of her life - somewhere her life was snowballing out of proportion, corkscrewing, both losing height and gaining speed at a rate difficult to calculate.
‘Now, from out of some sort of order, I was finding that like the ticking of a clock ‘tick tock, tick tock’, moment-by-moment a crazy pastiche, a porridge of situations, all simultaneous all real, all ‘At This Moment’, were happening to me.
That moment was this because I was in my slumber, in a state beyond control, I was both deeply shocked and frightened.
I found myself gasping as if drowning, at a depth of existence greater than my height that came in suffocating waves.
I was offshore now, alternately drifting and then coursing on the sandbanks, a temporary respite, because between me and the yawning sandwich of deep ocean and safety lay a small strip of insecure substance, rocks, sand, the remains of the coastal strip. And there, to my right was the now increasingly distant beach, opposed by on my left, deep water.’
She was looking out to sea; she’d left
“Have you ever
noticed how the ocean here lies in layers? From a dark, dark, blue, fringed by
a light, almost white, neon stripe decorated subtly with a stain in the sky, a
smear of brown, which suggests the reflected sands of
I saw, but I couldn’t be there. Why? Just think.
On this precise day then, the shore was a brilliant light blue, like a silken ribbon, a beautiful range of colour, and I was sitting in it all with the trains and the planes and the people and all these things going on around me like a multi-track video recording, all of it jumbled, but real: chaotic, but in the mathematical scheme of things, ordered.
Despite everything, when you close your eyes, you discover that there really are people living as intensely as you could in fact live - at this exact moment, but somewhere completely different (that is to say, on the other side of the street, somewhere across the world, for example).
But life of it’s nature being continuous, until it suddenly stops one day by reason of something larger than life cutting the umbilical which catches and strangles it; well, it’s scheduled to be indefinite.
Yet I still have
Imagine, all my
Because now, like a
crazy fiddler - or for that matter a PT boat, I’m caught in the vacuum, the
centre of it all. The Japanese fleet’s thataway, the
I’m getting wilder, all askew, hair flying, bow thrumming while the world gets on with it all around me, and everything else is following some subtly concealed sylvan track.
Track? Things track around me, because now I’m beginning to realise that you can never get off once you’ve managed to struggle on to this tram to nowhere while all those other simple, blind, ghostly, unknowing people on auto pilot just go home to their unremarkably serried graves.
Life, I mean. And you’d say simple?
But anyway, you’re too far away from me now for me to find some response in you: you’ve never reacted - maybe it’s that you don’t understand what you haven’t yet done.
It’s all a crazy conglomeration, and can it be true? You’d say, in that macho way you have of looking questioning, leaning forward to steal one sweet glimpse of my breasts rimmed by the tight lycra décolletage, not meaning it for a moment.
“You think, my Sweet?”
Parisian, that’s you
Of course it can be. And I am Me too, struggling, perishing, maybe disappearing in the swell, alternately waving, not yet drowning.
We’re civilised after all, beneath our skins, aren’t we.
Why, then we sit and think and then - I tell me I don’t like players (again) and I realise that women’s motives are always more concealed than men’s are.
What do I do? Maybe the stupid end of something is near – perhaps now we’re all doomed.
And yet, now I’m waiting for the Sun to arrive. Stupid, isn’t it? I can hear the sea in the background, very distant, the sky remains black.
It’s later of course.
The little village where I’m living at the moment, with its cockleshell roofs and its dull blank walls is quite still, apart from the shadows of flitting cats and geckos cast by the low power lights set into those walls. In this part of the world there are no streetlights.
It’s mad, we walk together for hours, and then once our hands knock together and you discover by chance that I’ve changed the side my bag’s on to the other side away from you; psychically we’re linked up again; now our fingers intertwine with practice born of what once upon a time was love and regard and is now merely ancient habit and experience; and there’s pain amidst the pleasure, like salt grains amongst the sugar, which lead my heart to beat a little faster.
Next is later still. Next we’re sat on a hill. At the top of the hill, about a kilometre away, are what you could call the ‘mountains’, the sierra, low mountains which rise to about three thousand feet.
At the bottom of the long series of hills lies the ocean. It’s always possible to access it in just twenty minutes, you walk down the hill and suddenly – there it is, a blue cravat between some structure or another, two enfolding shoulders.
And the sky, the sky is blue – most times; and the Sun – always there, a button of varying intensity.
One thing: when the moon comes out I find it on its back: something you just don’t seem to find, further north.
Once upon a day this was our dream, which has died with little bits of you and I now integrated, sharp as hot shrapnel, tasting of metal and smeared with our bloods, but as all things, forgotten, regretted. Only the sour, bitter taste remains.
That time had it’s time, and now all we’ll have anymore is the regret, the memory, the un-located sadness of loss like a lost city; only the traces of something once much grander remaining, like a lost horizon, Ozymandias: the iron in the throat, the need to forget, remembered.
Yes, this is a different world today, as it was not yesterday, a different way of getting old, you could say, a different way of realising one’s mortality.
Mortality: our mortality will fail us unexpectedly darling, in a rush, and you’ll know in those falling seconds that you could never have hung on, why, it was just a conceit that one day you’d be bound to loose: first your balance, then more - bound to find yourself in a living nightmare, sliding on a tilted, unfair, iced surface called real.
Forget about equity or fairness.
Because in real life there is no balance; not a balance that physics and chemistry has not created for itself as part of a reaction which has been interrupted somewhere else.
Get it? Any balance that you think you’ve got is just a fatal fantasy; any balance that you think you’ve got just makes things more indefensible until something unlikely or unexpected or even more bizarre occurs.
That’s about the sense of it.
So tonight, thank God that it’s simply, that after all, my jeans are too tight and I can’t sit down right (just as well it’s Ladies night!)....