Monday, February 15, 2021

First Amendment Rites

Have it both ways. He is guilty and he is not. No pendulum there, swinging between states, but a beam-me-up-Scottie that cancels the middle space. We are a kind and a violent people. This is a statement of historical fact.

If Parkland was fake, are we more kind? Can delusion be empathy in reverse? I did not see it, therefore it did not happen, and I’m in the clear. Clear mind, open sinuses, post-yoga. Burn-out is a cultural phenomenon, which no baskets or altars mitigate. Always look for the percentages. So many teens consider suicide. So many adults feel oppressed in the workplace. What kind of yoga works on neo-liberalism?

Two goats on a stone wall, both wearing horns. One puts its head on the other’s hindquarters; they look at me. They face off, jump in the air, touch horns, and then fall back. The field contains six kids. A man smokes a cigarette on the wall; he lives with the older woman in the house whose stairs have nearly fallen in. Can’t get her to give up anything. She needed it all 15 years ago. Says she names the male goats after rock stars, the female goats after songs. Black Betty has one white hoof; she’s otherwise the color of her name. The man's younger, so he’s more into Van Halen. I ask if it’s ok for me to bring carrots next time, and he says yes.

Is it not useful to be useless?

As we left the airport in Cambodia the first time, I looked back to see two men fighting each other with their fists. Historical memory switched on, its horrible affect. (Too much affect renders logic a red herring, my friend says in other words.) A bodycam writhes on the ground; above its open maw are men with poles flailing at the body with the cam. The man in the body pleaded that he had children. The men with poles didn’t stop, though someone tried to push them away. Mob is mind, as fungus is brain; there’s no central operator, just burst synapses along the lines. One fungus takes over ants, drugs them into acts of daring, then eats them from inside. Out of ant body sprouts pole and cap. A kind of graduation.

The task is to separate memory from its chronic pain. The first thing I remember losing was a stuffed animal, left in a motel in Little Rock, Arkansas, the “Switzerland of the US,” as my parents were told. Fake news, they decided in advance of the term. An abiding hurt, that absence of animal. A donkey runs to the fence, clothed in brown grasses and mud. It sticks its nose through the fence. On its own, the nose is a constellation of whiskers, a funny smile, and black nostrils. Donkey runs back to horse and they kiss through the fence. It’s Valentine’s Day.

We’re asked what discipline it takes to remain close to person, animal, self. The question doesn't move us, so we pose others. There was the haircut question: too short and you resemble a Nazi, too long and you’re Antifa. There was the matter of the blue lives matter flag on a bumpersticker, removed after George Floyd was killed. Was it George Floyd?

A memory of violence is not loss; it is the memory of loss, in the most difficult way possible. Time torn away, the never-ending process of scabbing and ripping open. Do not pay bail for those who protest, because they do it too. It is what it is. One side represents the death of rhetoric. The other got A’s in composition and now wonders why their audience cannot see their logic, so beautifully built. We will talk about what we cannot talk about. That is at once coded speech and ceded ground. If we can talk about what we cannot talk about, what then?

This, my reader tells me, is a long form project. I must justify my tax rates, my deductions, my dependents, and my earnings out of air. I became fond of the IRS worker in Kentucky who called me on the phone to remind me our non-profit paperwork was due. If there’s usefulness in uselessness, what is the profit in non-? It’s all figurative, though the side that shot spitballs at the back of class does not recognize figure. To fight is to fight is to fight. All violence is actual, said the chaser of ambulances.

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