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Exquisite Corpse
Issue 8A Journal of Letters and Life

ISSUE 8 HOME || BROKEN NEWS || CRITIQUES || CYBER BAG || EC CHAIR || FICCIONES || THE FOREIGN DESK
GALLERY || LETTERS || POESY || REVIEWS || SERIALS || STAGE & SCREEN
Skeuromorph Detective #6
by Julian Semilian (Continued from Cyber Corpse #7)
Author's Links

From the Assistant Editor:

No Skeuromorph Detective this issue. We tried to get Julian to turn in his regular contribution but he didn't bother to return any of our e-mails or phone calls. Instead, here's one of Julian's personal letters, to an ex-girlfriend, we assume. I stole it from his computer while the Webmistress seduced him, and we're publishing it as punishment. I spent three weeks' salary at the House of Lounge to prepare the Webmistress for Julian (the Corpse doesn't provide us with an expense account) but I don't regret it. I hope it's a lesson for anyone writing serials for us.

Mark Spitz

      
My Emerald,

      I was told there is an item about me in yesterday's Amnesia. Though he who told me couldn't remember the nature of the information it contained. And shaking him up as I did, I rattled him really good to get him to recall, I slapped him a couple of times, he crumpled in the corner, whether it was a panegyric, or an attack, a spoof, an honorable, or merely a passing mention, the Amnesia Spectator, that is, the listing of my name in relationship to something I was observed doing that someone connected to the paper, or someone else connected to someone connected to the paper and who observed me, thought merited mention. I left him in a green pile on the floor and nearly urinated on him; though neatly urinated on him could work as well. Or, the urgency of the craving to obtain the paper prevented me from spurting out my right shoe, an Italian gray suede loafer, much admired, my gondolas as I sometimes say to myself, into a seminal area of his somatic formulation, so to speak, this sort of magna cum laude treason is not tolerable to the assemblage of my symptoms, I mean you know me well I think, and headed for the little concrete island at the corner of Amnesia and Brood to track the young woman who sells Amnesia there. Brood Creek Road, that is. But everyone here, I find it, just calls it Brood. Once, before it became a thoroughfare, abandoned lovers reflected themselves in the creek and watched their visage shapeshifting in azure by the mini-ripples of intoning spring peepers. Hades concrete conceals it now but the entrancement still rises to the surface and the hazy driver fractures a phone pole in two. At night men in bright orange with the Amnesia Bell logo printed on the back in chalky large letters spill out of vans and replace the pole and no one speaks about it any longer. It's quiet in Amnesia. Agglomerations of obese people at the counter of the all-you-can-eat Country Buffet. Don't think I didn't think of writing to my Congressman. But each time I promise myself to do it I forget the next moment and I don't think about it till one morning I pick up some left-over Amnesia in the dentist's office and there they are again, the men in orange. And I promise myself again, and again, I forget.
     The young woman selling Amnesia broke her congress with the sun while her neck swiveled as though on rusty hinges when my Maxima screeched to a stop. This time she clashed her combat boots with a pair of black fishnets, with seams! as though to turn the battlefield into a boudoir; the ballerina chisel of her well-cambered haunches strutted the concrete like an arresting officer's; and I was curiously stabbed by the likeness of those haunches to haunches I was bewitched by in another recently. I had spied them a few days before adorning Candida, the modern dance student for whom I wrote a paper on Hamlet for Wayne Rudder's "Shakespeare and Bi-Sexuality" class in General Studies. They were the exact identical haunches! You want to know what I wrote? You'll love it. I had her falling for Hamlet!
     "Someone should coin a word for it", 'she' said, "this entrancing state of indecision that Hamlet flounders in; if no one named it before, I would name it Hamletism. I know there are those wrist-shaking closet cross-dressers, who, with feigned fury, called Hamlet to the floor to chide him for his prolonged dance with ambivalence; I do not join their frantic chorus; I find the shaking of the counterfeit lace on their colonial wrists a turn-off. It is nothing but an ass-shaking couvade; as for me, I too call Hamlet's ass to the floor: we would make a lovely couple, waltzing to the hesitation blues, doing the shilly-shally hully-gully, leaping a faltering pas de deux as I would slap him and he would whisper the sweet 'coinages of his brain' in my ear. I'm no ditz-head Ophelia withholding my feminalia. Come to me, my Hamlet, my lexical prince, come, come to me. Yes, it's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs. This maid. Come to mama."

     Then I quoted Cioran, actually I seamlessly weaved Cioran and Shakespeare into the text, confident that for Wayne the cross-dressing was a personal attack, I knew something about him and he didn't know I knew, wouldn't spot the ruse:
     "Once a man loses his faculty for ambivalence, for Hamletism if you will, he becomes a potential murderer. Scaffolds, dungeons, jails, bombs flourish only in the shadow of action. No wavering mind, contaminated with Hamletism, was ever pernicious; the principle of evil lies only in the incapacity for indecision. More matter with less art? When Hamlet, forced by circumstance, finally decides, everyone dies. The history of mankind abounds in certitudes: suppress them, suppress their consequences, and you recover paradise; murder is the result of having forsaken doubt and sloth, vices nobler than all virtues."
     Next day. Just had my yogurt.
     And then, two days ago, I'm supposed to meet her to hand her the paper and she doesn't show up. I'm sort of freaking because what if she told the dean I'm writing a paper for her, what if she suspects she turns me on and she saw through my ruse, went to the vice-chancellor with it, or even if she just spit it out in spite to June, the whole campus suddenly fixates on it the moment June in Student Affairs knows something. Or to paint me in the unprincipled hues of a velvet pre-nuptial ejaculator before the whole school! And now combat boot intruded upon the haze of fishnets. Yet the only way I saw out was to begin a conversation in the epistemological mode and inquired whether the clash of shank versus foot wear was a conscious choice, that is, was she making an ironic statement, clashing combat with boudoir; yet one combat boot closer, fishnetted shank gliding leisurely in tandem with its elongated shadow against dawn's radiance, and I clearly grasped the extent of my miscalculation and chided myself for not instantly appraising the penury of her training in irony. And then, are you with me on this? She was identical to Thea! I mean she could have been Thea! Maybe I didn't mention Thea yet, I didn't want to talk to you about her, for reasons you'll figure, she's been my lover these last few months. She is wistfully beautiful which bewitches me. Her eyes are amber mountain lakes, if you refer to the essay I sent you, "In Praise of Absence", which by the way, was published in Syllogism and I forgot to send you a copy, she is the willing lover I surmised was arriving from Europe in section x. Actually I didn't forget, and I want to admit this to you now because I never ever want to lie to you about anything and if you wanted me right now you could have me, I mean Emerald, my Imaginatrix, you could if you wanted to take me away from any woman any time you wish no matter how entranced I was. I didn't forget, I just didn't want you to see it because I didn't use your translation of "Ode to Joy". Instead I used my own. And applauded myself for my resourceful fabrication. Remember how emphatic I was for you to translate it for me? You were cloudy at the time, you were turbulent, you presented an aura of quicksand, but I was light with a beryl haze you had promised me.
     The translation you finally delivered was thwarted with the chemistry of pre-established clouds; but I love you and didn't want to send you off into the well-beaten quicksand; and it hounded me that I did it and couldn't send you the magazine because I think you would have loved it. It's some of my best work. Actually I did send it you, what am I saying, I just remembered, why did I think I didn't send it to you? 'I don't buy that sort of Oedipal acrobatics. For me the breasts are orchards', I wrote, 'and a willing lover is arriving form Europe." I still adore it. And yes, that was Thea.
     Only I don't know how willing she is! Oh Emerald, she breaks our dates, she mocks me. I fell on my knees before her and kissed her feet and asked her to marry me! Of course I wanted to lick her feet but I didn't. And she just giggled. And then I told her I wanted to be her slave and she was overcome with glee and said, you are my slave! And repeated it. You are my slave. And I begged her to say it again. And she said: you are my slave. You must do whatever I tell you. And I agreed. Two months of these games!
     She straddled me on the couch and promised we'll make love the next time she comes over.
     Then she called to say she's not coming over because she has to practice, she plays the viola de gamba for the Amnesia Symphony, a graduate student here at the school, yes, she is from Germany, but East, she's from Dresden, we share a communist past she and I. Then why the hell did she promise she'd be over, didn't she know beforehand she had to practice? The next night she calls, Are you still mad of me? she asks. Can I come over? You noticed I wrote "mad of me". It is how she talks, her English suffers. Then she's one hour late, If you're going to be late why don't you just not come at all, I'm too old for that shit, and then the doorbell, and I'm on my knees again! She pushes me on the bed, takes off her blouse, we're agitated, she shivers out of her jeans, she spurts black lace at me like an exquisite Don Juan, then she hops on the bed, she straddles me, she doesn't demure a murmur when I unbelt her bra and she is flaunting grace's echoing indulgency! And then she rises and her panties dissolve. But I was snatched from meditating on that. Emerald, as I live and breathe this woman has a penis! A miniature one, but it's a real penis, and suddenly rises like a tiny tower!
     Dear Emerald, my Imaginatrix, I stared at times into the stab of a hideous face, one you can easily tolerate on a casual acquaintance, suddenly reflected in the aspect of a lover I had just moments before before been entranced by and presently was waving fields with. It was daunting, I admit, and I had to resort to the unforeseen factories of the Imaginal. But this, how can I put it, I almost expected it, I admit I had once phantasized about it with her on the stage, perhaps it was not phantasy but prophecy and when she said turn around I obeyed automatically. It was a little excruciating at first but craved to abandon myself to her completely and went along. Like I said she was tiny, no more than a suppository, (by the way did you hear the one about "loving your enema as yourself?"), it was an Elysian purgatory as I pretended to myself to struggle in vain. And what a pleasant cool rush like a river when she spurted. A little too quick I might add. Oh but to be thus vanquished by her, what am I complaining? And I was suddenly scented with the swift impudence of iguanas, and swiftly switched. Yes, don't worry my darling, in case you're wondering, she is equipped the other way too. All I could think of was the Frank O'Hara poem:

      its soft banks unfolded me,
     and upon my lengthening neck its kiss
     was murmuring like a wound. My very life
     became the inhalation of its weedy ponderings
     and sometimes in the sunlight my eyes,
     walled in water, would glimpse the pathway
     to the great sea.

     Next day.
     Her father was the mayor of Dresden! A conservative ticket, which I choose to ignore in her, along with her Catholicism! Or maybe not, as they are permeated with the plasma of the phantastic, they are woven into the wedding of Ares and Eros, if you get my disturbing meaning. But while I rub a little Ares on my Eros, they season, no, marinate their Ares with Eros. Thus the empire. Her tiny tool soft now and out of the way and I thought about the time she told me how as a child at Christmas she would walk to mass through marxist Dresden on a blanket of fresh snow, how it crunched under chilhood's heels and they were singing Mozart's Requiem. And I was on top now, and told her you're my slave, you must do everything I tell you and she said yes my king, I am your slave and will do anything you tell me, I mean she was still on top, but I was saying all this to her. And when she came she keeled over me, soft, and said you killed me, I am dead now. And then again, I am dead now. O but I forget myself, back to this other Thea I'm facing now, Thea's limbs are delicate, entrancing in their lace-like delicacy but non-muscular, strong, from tightening about the viola de gamba, but not muscular, certainly her calves are not ballerina calves. I even once absentmindedly wished for the two to be spliced together, Thea's wistful eyes, that was before the incident, and Candida'a haunches. When I say absentmindedly I realize I am condemning myself. Who am I kidding? Absent-mindedly, with a pink sky at twilight behind you, while mermaids laugh and fishermen hold flowers! Murderer! Dr. Frankenstein! And now I hadn't heard from her since Tuesday. The same I hadn't heard from Candida. I had assumed it was another one of her moods, these moods she tortures me with. And then with an explosion I realize it was I that had wished her limbs were more like Candida-like! Had I caused this? This transmutation? Could they now read my mind and spliced together this amorous monstrosity for my sake to freak me? My left hand was suddenly in hers, how did it get there, when did this occur? The interior of my mouth had dried like in a movie I once saw with John Wayne and Sophia Loren when they were crossing the desert and I wondered what the hell she ever saw in him. I could have revved up to through the red light as she shanked up to the window. I question here the nature of my forebearance, of forbearance in general: why did I not rev up and hazard across the random traffic on Brood and risk the drab yellow stab of the Texxon marquee and leave this demon babe behind. She made me forget all about the listing of my name in Amnesia, but she reminded me too: "Looking for yesterday's paper, California?" It was a double stab: she knew what I was looking for and she knew I had come from California. Or maybe she spotted the license plate, but I didn't think so. She wasn't the reading type. Her index's left fingernail was sketching incessantly delicate circleloids on my palm. Yes, she had been spliced for my purpose; Thea and Candida, amber pupils and cambered shanks, inductors so propitious to my entrancement! And the religious terminology was not lost on me either: Thea, from Theodora, meaning love of God, and Candida, Truth.

(to be continued)


I am breaking off the text here; we cannot be certain that Julian will send us another episode; and this letter is long enough to last at least three issues. Then we'll see. If it means another trip to the House of Lounge, so be it. Till next time.

Mark Spitz


ISSUE 8 HOME || BROKEN NEWS || CRITIQUES || CYBER BAG || EC CHAIR || FICCIONES || THE FOREIGN DESK
GALLERY || LETTERS || POESY || REVIEWS || SERIALS || STAGE & SCREEN
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