Cyber Corpse 2
Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
issue 2 home || ec chair || critical urgencies || burning bush || ficciones
stage and screen
secret agents || letters || portfolio

by Lidia Yuknavitch

A dictionary begins when it no longer gives the meaning of words, but their tasks. Thus formless is not only an adjective having a given meaning, but a term that serves to bring things down in the world, generally requiring that each thing have its form. What it designates has no rights in any sense and gets itself squashed everywhere, like a spider or an earthworm. In fact, for academic men to be happy, the universe would have to take shape. All of philosophy has no other goal; it is a matter of giving a frock coat to what is, a mathematical frock coat. On the other hand, affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit.

--Georges Bataille

1. The grain swells. Since 1902. The oak fills the room, and the objects fill his vision, and his vision nearly pours out of the sockets of his eyes. Spit fills his mouth. He has purchased two chairs. He has put them in this room, his work room. They sit before him, asking.

A rope thick-bristled and raw as an arm half in his hand, half coiled on the floor. His own arm twitching in the faintest pulse imaginable before he moves.

Their backs face one another. Two arcs doubling. The wood curving in that impossible way that wood does. The velvet of the red seats sanguine beyond dried blood. Personless familiars. They sit dead in the way that chairs move us.

With the slowness of breath he laces the rope through the back arc of one, then the other. With the carefulness of a carpenter he swings his arm forward, back, forward, looking skyward; faith. With the skill of a man in the middle of his life he pitches the rope up and up and of course around a metal pipe jutting like pipes do from the ceiling. He has calculated the action in his mind. He has seen each second laying itself bare as if in an architectural diagram. He has considered every moment in excruciating detail. His hands are dirty. His fingernails lined with black. Splinters sting each palm without his notice. The rope hovers like an idea suspended like ideas do for a long second, then over the pipe, then drops back down to him as if he perfectly asked.

To lift the chairs. To watch them kiss themselves and knock wood against wood in a sound he has never heard before in his entire life, nor will. To witness their rising. Together. Forever like that. Tilted in against one another like some strange new species. Leaning taught like muscles or clenched teeth. The one against the other. Nearly unbearable.

Hand over hand and the biceps pulling like biceps do. His eyes lifted. Blue. His mouth open slightly. His lips wetted. His tongue against his front teeth barely like that. The chords in his neck straining but with ease. His jaw present. Their weight is not heavy. Simply weighted in the most remarkable way.

He has taken such care. Against the white wall, after the first day he saw them, before he spoke to the shop-keeper, moments after speaking to his wife (had he forgotten? Had he lost himself into a longing unnamable, some ache reaching for light? Her voice so familiar he no longer recognizes it, her thoughts dull as wood, her responses known to him like the back of his hand, repeating endlessly?) he has mounted a metal prong. When the chairs reach the ceiling (no, not the ceiling. Just under it. Like a word sent out to a listener doesn't meet them but comes as near as is possible to their own mouth), he pulls the rope toward the metal prong and laces it once, twice, three times, then drops the length of it to the floor. The rope thuds like a heart.

There will be no knot, no certain stability. Their will be only this rope holding. He will work directly beneath them time and again. There will always remain the chance that they will fall, together like that, back to back, palm to palm, psalmed, there will always remain his not knowing, his longing, his wonder lifting.


2. A relative silence settles. All the stupified glances are arrested. The image siezes its onlookers. Look. Seated as they are static and in the dark, a dark which would so easily overtake them that it is laughable, they convulse. Is it agony, well no. But they mistake it for agony. Look. A woman as common as a sentence stretches herself out naked before them. Her back that of eastern European women; longer and without the curves one expects. Her ass white rising screened. Her cleft black and the wiry hairs magnified to monstrous proportions. Her head severed--not part of the picture, is it. The heads of the viewers repugnant as a thousand worms butting their way through dirt, emerge in the dark, pulse toward the screen. One feels compelled to spray gasoline on the lot of them. Are they holding back pathetic cries? One can only imagine the overaught pathos of this moment. My god. Teeth bite into lips. Mouths so agitated they are comic. Contracted by strangulation. The eyes have it. Roaring laughter that no one hears. Contracted by death; after all, don't they want to watch this woman's body in time and space? Who among us will yell "FIRE!"

3. A little girl coming out of a theater. Her brother has taken her to the movies so that he can feel up his girlfriend there in the dark. She has been terrified. Terrified by a family, terrified by speech, by speaking in public, by that thick mucous forming at her mouth when people are watching her attempt to talk, terrified by the eyes and the watching and the voyeuristic cannibalism that seems to never end, terrified by her brother's knowing, his hands, terrified by her own want, her crotch throbbing in ways she cannot name, her body making her cry, terrified by images big as buildings overwhelming her to the point of disembodiment, terrified of her own hands finding her pre-pubescent cunt, terrified by her mouth filling with spit, terrified of the theatre chairs cupping her like a hot palm, terrified of her own courage. Her brother's girlfriend is red and sweaty and her hair is messed up. Her lipstick is all over her face. There was a moment in the film where she saw her ass, glowing in the dark, and she thought of apes, and she thought she might pass out or vomit. When it is over the murderous crowd comes spilling out of the theatre into daylight. Every one's eyes hurt. She rushes to a woman her mother thank you god and wraps her little arms around her waist and buttocks. She begins to cry while her face is buried in the woman's crotch. She hears, "Hello little girl, are you lost?" She thinks and thinks and thinks and then looks up to see a woman she has never seen before in her life. She thinks and thinks and the only sentence that happens in her brain like some ticker tape is "are you my mother? are you my mother?" Little bird gone crazy.

4. In this room the skin bulges of an ankle thick-push between twine and the wooden leg of a chair making a question: how long.

5. A small red wooden stool. That of a child. A dead one.

She squats, her ass comes down onto it. She is naked. She is drunk. The stool wobbles underneath her weight, underneath years, underneath a body thudding and swollen. In front of her a mute television set, exactly the height of a child. She reaches through the space between them and turns it on. She pushes another button on a VCR and an image appears before her there on the screen. It is as if the television has given her the image.

She pisses. Slowly. Just sitting there. The piss running down her leg. Down the leg of the stool. She is lost in her watching.

She does not cry.

A little girl in near sepia tones (wasn't her husband there? she cannot remember. wasn't there a video camera? who captured this image?) twirling and twirling in circles. Running sideways. Berserk in her girlhood. Little grass hula skirt. Little topless doll. Little tits. Little mouth almost gagging from laughing. The girl stops dead in her tracks, does an almost obscene little wriggling of her hips, some idea of a hula dance, from movies, from pictures, from god knows what, then speeds out of the frame like thought killed.

The drunk woman stops the image's flow. Rewinds. Does it again.



A small red stool.

A small red stool.

A small red stool.

Push play.

6. In the film Death and the Maiden, there is a point during which Sigourney Weaver has duct-taped Ben Kingsley to a chair in her living room. The characters are re-enacting a reverse torture scene. To move the plot of a woman tortured toward its desire: to torture the torturer. To extract a confession.

The chair is a prop.

A prop is a stage object that supports the drama.

If the audience suspends their disbelief the chair transforms itself in time and space. If the audience is left unconvinced the chair is silly and imaginable in anyone's living room.

In the film Romeo is Bleeding Lena Olin sits in a chair and spreads her legs so that her cunt can be seen/scene. Her nationality keeps slipping; she is what we want her to be in a million ways. Her severed arm our severed arms. Her mouth opening like a country.

In the film Exotica Atom Egoyan has the male lead (primary actor, financial draw) sit in a chair immobile while a child-stripper dances excruciatingly close to his body. His hands on his thighs. His mouth open. His mind seated. Torture.

In the film Barbarella Jane Fonda is trapped inside of a science fiction sexual orgasm chair. This is before her politics come.

In the film Breaker Morant two men mutated soldiers lost are executed--shot through the chest--while seated in chairs.

In my kitchen I jack my father off while he sits in a chair, my hand smally domestic, the back of the chair holding his back, the legs of the chair forgiving his weight, the wood of the chair blonde, the hair of the girl blonde, the room magnified to cinematic proportions.

Exquisite Corpse Mailing List Subscribe Unsubscribe
issue 2 home || ec chair || critical urgencies || burning bush || ficciones
stage and screen
secret agents || letters || portfolio
home || search || submit || archives || mall || cafe || our gang || hot sites

©1999-2002 Exquisite Corpse - If you experience difficulties with this site, please contact the webmistress.