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Antiphony #11.

Kenneth commissioned me to write Antiphony #11 in the late summer of 1990, as a text that he intended to set for alto-flute, guitar, and tape. The title refers to this last Antiphony that remained unfinished at the time of his death. In a period of considerable psychic pain, this work precipitated deep structural strengthening and vital force in myself. Kenneth gave me a sentence or two of guidelines for writing the piece. First of all, he asked me to write on my personal agony (what agony? I pondered ... semi-anaesthetized). While there is not much that is overt in Kenneth's work about art being a subset of medicine, as a teacher, he perceived linguistic flaws in his students that signalled the source of pain. That is where he often began his teaching: tracing the flaw in order to render it a thing of aesthetic value, and therefore subject to transmutation.

The medical evidence that I am indeed vanishing came as a great relief to my family who had secretly wondered what it was about me that was so odd. I am not obviously vacant or disorganized. I have become adept at aping normalcy. But there exist no artifacts, no traces or life patterns to indicate that I have ever been engaged by anything or anyone, nor that I have ever landed here at all. I have lived in boundariless limbo for most of my adult life. There has been no sustained effort or involvement in any humanly recognizable pastime. My years have been spent in an endless and timeless drift. The only signs of my existence are hundreds of notebooks filled with illegible scratch. I pass my days this way, circling aimlessly, sometimes with ease verging on catalepsy, other times in a heightened state of panic from the battering of broken thought fragments that chronically punishes, freaking my nerves and my attention. And I could easily spend years more this way if I could survive the impending famine. I have managed to scrape the money together that I need so that I can withdraw into dreaming. But even the dreaming is not sustained by effort or will and so these phantoms too are loosely spun and open-ended. The memory field is porous.

Every sentence is pocked and pendulous with the loss and lack of words for things. And then the contents of entire years have been lost. I have lost recall of my circumstances and surroundings of recent years and I am only thirty. I used to be afraid that my brain was organically harmed by substance abuse, though I don't quite remember if I was or was not excessive as a teenager. There are certain very bad substances, however, and I have forgotten, no, I don't really want to think about how many times. There has been minimal time spent on maintenance. My hands are like birds after bangshot. I do nothing with them. I never cook or clean or make anything. I have no interest in making tactile things, am repelled by the thought, though when I have done it, as when in a fit of despair I bandaged everything, or made compostable gifts for Mother, or naked on a New York rooftop stripped twenty-two goatheads of tongues, brains and eyes, I have found myself lost in the pleasure of it, always coming up with very curious and potent little objects that thrill the solar plexus. But the thought of doing this is repugnant and painful to me. I used to feel the same way about food and eating. I feel the same way about looking back at the notebooks or the things that I have made. In fact, I delight in the destruction of the things I have made. There is an aversion or painful repulsion from touching the work that is a day old or a year old, as if it was a refrigerator or storage bin of decaying matter or rotting food. This morbidity is like a dead thing biting on my motor nerve that it blocks me from the prospect of returning to the work that I have begun. I chronically begin again. With this writing, for instance, I have spent many months on it now, setting up broken networks of nests and traps, setting snares as if I am an elusive poison with bad intentions, never telling the truth, each time beginning again with a new strategy. The previous takes are left unfinished as if there had never been a strategy at all. And though I have the discipline to sit for many hours engaged in the process, each strategy lasts for only ten minutes before being abandoned for a new one. The memory of where I am or where I am going is highly porous. So in the process, I keep remembering Lysetsky as my totem or guardian, the man with a shrapnel-riddled brain who had no memory at all, was confounded by the object of a pencil, who was convinced that the surrounding alphabet had been replaced by an alien one, and yet in this condition painfully reconstructed in writing a description of his state for the doctors. I imagine that Lysetsky was drawing on the vanishing field, the substratum which his continuum of birth until death was pinned. And perhaps I too am organically damaged and must access this continuum as well. Maybe this is why I am disappearing. I have spent too many of my waking hours searching for the losses and the source of the loss. And the very reflexive habit of self-scrutiny inherited early from elsewhere could not be wholesome to me, could in itself be the phase cancellation of my nullity. Very damaging to me, the lengths I have gone with it, like a hairy pestilent eyeball perpetually turning in on itself, examining its host without rest or pleasure, the talons operating, picking open old wounds, the scattering alarm at the touch of the wounds and the tracing to the source of the wound across space and time, canalizing, making deeper attractor basins of perpetual return. I believed the oversoul would no longer permit it. When you asked me to assign language to my personal agony, I understood it as an opportunity to make of myself an operating field and so accepted the task. I believed that I could play the monstrosities against one another like chess pieces rearranging them in my psyche in such a configuration to attract angelic influences. The chess pieces cross-fertilize as they travel creating patterns of opening and closing and the flow of traits between, and then the geometrix of their movement patterns are phone numbers to peculiar events, like the bald child that appeared in the attic. I believe that the battling of imaginary numbers might trigger the coagulation, thickening my sketch of tissue, joining and toughening the flapping membranes of my identity. When I have searched the source of the losses I have come up with many causes. There was smoke in the womb. I know this played havoc with the hypothalamus. The ruptured imprints of the stranded gosling passed through the disinterested hands of a gaggle of nursemaids may have been the insertion site, the stinging and sucking out of juices of this disengaging devil. Disengaging devil: noun, a description of an infestation. Verb, an operation, prying its grip from my ransacked heap. I remember, as a child, my every sentence was interrupted by my elders. The tender and fragile vocalizations of an exposed and vulnerable thing alarmed by the vulgarians that spawned it. And my impulses, my forward movement was incessantly corrected or criticized. This was over the course of my first seventeen years. Every self-motivated action was disturbed by the insults or judgements of my superiors. The ontogeny of a scatterling. No movement toward growth is permitted without interference. The atmosfrenzy of my electrically violent brain. I am being interfered with. I am bothered by the atmospherics. The soul's starvation by those self-certain vulgarians who re-make the world in their image, whose power comes from beyond the shadow of a doubt, who being dull-witted and blind, believe that what they are making is useful or amusing to us, and have never stopped to consider that what they are making in grand scale is useless and bothersome to themselves as well as to the rest of us. I am addressing the makers of all cultural products. I have watched them increase in numbers, remaking and remodelling the terrain in their image, their by-products violating all ventilation systems, their sickening music, the cute little shops filled with stupid objects, the streets I am forced to walk on, enforced slavery, crucifixion to a monstrous network of banalized systems of sustenance gathering that starves its sucklings. That we are forced to cling to an existence medium spun from a parasite host. Like the science experiment in which the labmen rupture the bonding of an infant monkey in order to watch it attempt to bond with the only mother in its environment, a robot that freaks it with electric shocks evey time it attempts an embrace. Science as the perverted and evil poetics of blind men fucked with since infancy, funded by the National Science Foundation to avenge their ugliness, their disfigurement inflicted by previous generations, the processional dwarving of a race whose advancement is poised on the narrowing of its racial function to a single purpose, the increasing sophistication of their methods in interfering with the integrity of others as they have been interfered with. For instance, I was not relieved to know that my brainwaves show physical evidence of disappearances, I did not believe that this information redeemed me of the deadliest of sins because of course the disorder is spiritual as well as physical, the continuum of mind and body being instantaneous, and if the disorder is mental I am charged with the ugly burden of dismantling it and I will be condemned for my failure to do so. Though my brainwaves show physical evidence of disappearances, I attribute this habit to the shattering interference of my organism in its natural movement toward becoming itself. The last seizure I had came after many nights of being startled awake by the telephone, compounded by the atmospheric interference in the poisoned gases that I was breathing in L.A. which caused me to double over in pain by the side of the car, and then the self-inflicted interference upon my return from L.A., the niacin flushing the shocks through my system convulsing it. Th e irony is that the technologies used to photo-examine my brain tissue have reached a maximum interference on the subtlest level of organic integrity, the atom. To take a picture of my brain the labmen use magnetic resonance scanners introducing into every atom of my flesh and blood heteronuclear and homonuclear shifted spins inducing transitions between two energy levels, the process resulting in a saturation, the spins reaching a thermal equillibrium with their surroundings, opening the organism photo-electrically to its clinical surroundings populated by who knows what kind of incubii, succubii, sanitary-induced viruses.

So the reason I have lived disengaged from this world may in part come from my distaste for it. The raptor circles the Earth searching for prey, sees nothing it relishes, no tasty morsels and so the earth recedes and the raptor's vision diminishes, forgetting names for things, making game difficult to comprehend, the circling continues inward toward the belly of the raptor, an increasingly hungry and volatile thing, losing its tether to memory, to the field that formed it as an animal, to the field of its self-reference, till it vanishes altogether from the electroencephalograph.

The shadow has been my sole companion.

I am delirious in the contemplation of its myriad forms.

There is delight in the elusive and versatile thing that changes form. The hermaphrodite Mercurius who is my bridegroom, that l have confounded in my mind with my own identity. That I am stunned and aroused by the sight of living hermaphrodites. I am stricken with love on seeing their silvery movement. That this experience is so strong as to stop me in my tracks, to whisper the first one's name and to flush red in the face. My dreams of them are strong and romantic in nature, with mumblings about marriage, and they leave a strong mark of Mercurius each time like scarves through the heart. That my life is bent on the task of making this disembodied force the face of my creations. There is comic pathos in the way I am rivetted to the task of revealing the ways of a non-living force which has been mythically known for not allowing itself to be revealed. That I coupled with it the day I was born and from that day on believed I was the shape-shifting hermaphrodite. So you ask me to reveal myself and I confound myself with It so that over months and years of captivation my efforts are rendered futile and I am wasted to nothing. How I would love to expose Its beauty but It traps and ensnares my every attempt. And I despise all those who are ignorant of It, who have always ignored Its movement through their conscience in the form of doubt and hesitation. Who from prudishness and fear fetter its free movement disfiguring themselves. The ways in which exfoliated structures are ruined because of ignorance or neglect of It. The races and empires that have worked to eradicate all signs of It have made of their faces the most hideous monstrosities. And I have always believed the pestilence is the anamorphic reflection of its returning face, this he-she spirit who lives in the bottle.

Because you recognized me before I was born...

Ever since I was a sketch of ravelling tissue...

Because you recognized my danger to you before I was born...

Perinatal foul play Interruption of the coalescence of tissue Smoke in the womb Heteronuclear and homonuclear shifted spins Inducing transitions between two energy levels The process resulting in a saturation The spins reaching a thermal equillibrium

I was interfered with, tampered with, ransacked membranes, formulations of language ruptured, the forward movement alarmed so that the tissue never joined completely...

The last of my race The last vile, delicious thing Made into a she-nard by the overlords She-nard: a conscious, membraneous mass kept alive in a vase, a retort, a vessel with a twisted neck, trapped for display, or experimental purposes, numbers sparsely scattered across the empire in penitentiary, hospital or government yards.

Like, across the terrain for many miles, the empire is very vast and spans oceans now and spans mountain ranges, outbacks, hill stations and the detritus of burnt forests. Many languages have been broken down into a hybrid language, a pidgin of corporate double speak and junkie slang. And the overlords have flattened the hilly terrain. The gridwork whines with their sonics keeping the civilians from the stray. And every several miles there are large glass vessels with twisted necks that contain membraneons cretins like myself. These are the nards, and our growth algorithms were scotched from the earliest beginnings, tested and proved as dangerous to the empire before we were born. The vessels are rigged for different purposes, visited by different labmen or wayfarers, infested by different kinds of life. The nards are without motive but their gelatinous substance is grown from a forgotten purpose, their skins arising from substratum thick with memory configured over time. Each of us unhinged and loosely stitched to the existence medium of birth until death. This one was shining. Like this one was craning and stretching toward the morning light. And the mouth was gapped open for glistening dew. The eyes orbs of reflection, letting drift the subtle movements of leaves and the examiners circumambulating the vessel. And this one's head was a cubby hole, a carmine red incubator of slippery things, its womb splayed open as a nest or home for reptilians and insectival angels. The oozing and buzzing of infestation lived on my tissue. The breathing hum of the rises and falls, slow poking investigations of other openings, entering, exiting again. These tunnelings continuous during the day. Raspy at night. The unctious swarming of amphibians and insects, picking, poking, copulating, lightly swaddling, burrowing insertions, stinging, sucking out of juices. Snake-like children were hereby born, shedding their skins, sprawling flattened bodies, jumping ones that evolved without wings. I don't remember if I spawned them from my shallows or if they found their way to me. Others found the way to me since. But the symbiotics were a fine puzzle fit. As if my gases were the only feed for extinct species, my temperature right for the cracking forth from eggshells and flipping and slithering forward from newly shed skins came dwarf darters, flightless rails, leering bagpipers, magpie of the gallows, humming a hypogastric at home in my hive.

Timeless infestations within. Just outside, many decades of phenomena passing with the chirr of locusts and the rapid vibration of the fly's lace wings. A different swarming thrills the translucent, reflective surface of the retort. A spherical, transparent swarming. The rising and falling of heightened events and their disappearance into phosphenes and particles of dark. On the surface of the vase, reflections of generations, families born, growing taller, around the bend, advancing decay, their powdered skins and vibrato antenna so delicate until sloughing to a lowing drone, falling to knees and the dust, the violent colors of race wars, curious children daring each other to use the microprobes, taunting sex boys, penitente roadmen, mass migrations through the knives of seasons, blizzard snows, marsh bellows, crashing rains, twigs snapping and cracking over my loosely hinged head.

Then, the brainless raptures of the early years changed when the microprobe experiments began. Their interference violated the membrane of the retort, my only enclosure, and my motor nerves became their play things. This atmosfrenzy bothered me, lordotic arching of my sketch of spine, my vents were riddled by their sickening music. This discomfort signalled a coalescence, my eyes on turretlike protruberances turned inward and outward becoming aware of myself. Then a strange visitation. Two physicians came, disguised as emissaries from the land of the vile and delicious posed as physicians against the tree near my glass. Though I couldn't hear their words and didn't know their language, I read their messages by the asymptotic batterings of their openings and closings and by their awkward gestures of approach and withdrawal. Bothered by the pirate news show, the commentarian speaking from a haunted ship off the Adriatic, I heard, "the only reformulation of the ransacked cretin is the probe-stim of a battle thereby thickening the membrane, churning its skins."

I am the convulsive rag wonder. I am the radio freeway. Travelled by roadkill, mirror-headed bandits and the long grainy knife. Mirror heads reflect white noise, reflect white feast, white horseless carriage battered and shattered by a stick. The surly white girlies and their long violent gait, bobbing toward the white feast for the insects to be born, to hunker over, to ingest the noise, the mixing and reaction of the scavenger species must be rapid and long against my unravelling on display, the flapping of my skins, my head a cubby hole, the womb splayed and welcome for the burrowing of the wierds. And though I am trapped in a vase by your penitente overlords, I once believed I was safe from the noxious air you programmed and tinctured with your probes. Sanitarians who have rendered the range rampant with the buzzing of their hive, who have become the slather of all matter, the existence medium pokered, probed and tuned by the isomorphic relay of your logoi, tuned and tinctured by logoi deadly to me. Deadly to my people all restless for bloodgrudge. And because my words were tortured and my impulses disturbed and fettered, because my luminous borders were corrupted at the command of the virgin empress (her intact hymen kept alive in a vase) I became scatterling, motionless though restless, and the heave and hurl of my unfurling skins is amusement to you. The empirics of my conduction the sport of your scientists. For trapped in this retort I have conducted everything. The ancestry you think you've forgotten, the offspring you will never birth, turns of phrase that have altered your minds, false information fed to suspected sources of leaks. Yes, I am radio freeway, short wave conductor of the physics of fire, fires elsewhere at a given instant, thunderstorms, miraculous brushes with death, the simultaneous births of monstrosities as signs, algorithms of wave weaponry, hieroglyphics of extinct species, Vandalic game shows, confessions of dwarves, sideshow religions, matricide funerals. I have conducted everything. Electrostatically charged bodies discharged by brushing them with flame. And my ruptured logoi and fettered impulses now deranged come alive and seek to subdue and subvert you causing you harm. I am a stranger here. My parasite hosts are alive in the noxiousness of air, sonically confounding the existence medium. Each function decomposed into a polynomial. Each noise decomposable into elemental sounds. Maybe I become specimen for you. Maybe I become bait for you. Maybe I become feast for you. Tourists come, lost souls come, horny bandits come. After rumours of what I have conducted through my limp, unravelling form. I have conducted everything. Have ingested everything through the 27 senses. I remember nothing, existing nowhere, motionless, restless. And for this reason I have them feast on me. It is my dark desire. The womb is splayed open. The last home for the burrowing of the strange. Aswarm in my gut, icthyillogicals, the confounding of birds, reptiles and men. Other small mammals hairless and without skins folded sweetly. And the surplus hoardes take a shine to me. Oily roadmen whose tracks were straightened by the sanitarians, hunted showgirls, skinny Deans from Playland, scary shemongrels from the arctic yards, scuttling heads on stubby limbs looking for a final hive to honey up their lonely libidinals. Long live the beggars! Let them feast on me. My ancestral sonics will sing in their loins, signalling alarm and seedling others. They keep me in a vase on the penitente grounds. The old homeyard of the solitary prison. Because I refused their tincture. What they use to subdue the very air. My vengeance can be traced to the rupturing of my words, the shattering of my impulses. From the moment I was a sketch of ravelling tissue my every impulse was shattered. Small formulations of language alarmed, the forward movement brokered so that the membranes never closed completely. The disfiguration has rendered me monstrous, the parasite host inhospitable to me. Now the retort has me trapped but I magnetize the battleground. I magnetize the cartography of deformities with the race warping of a switch. If the flow is turbulent, the reaction zone is thickened, the apparent propagation rate is increased. The appearance of the luminous zone looks like a fiat disk suspended near the screen. And I am the white crow, standing out in the crowd to be avoided. The white crow surveys the borderless zone blanded by your banalizers. The battling of imaginary numbers will thicken my skins. If the flow is turbulent, the reaction zone is thickened, the propagation rate is increased. The battling of imaginary numbers will signal a coalescence. Come closer to my vase, mongrels, you'll see the first tracings of a face. You'll see the beginnings of ganglia that are finally mine. I beg you, set me free and I will show you the hidden veins of gold and silver. Please let me see the light of day, and your wish is my command. Clear my path, and I will certainly serve you. Give me salve for my cankers and I will speak birds for words. My heroes, my monstermen, I curtsy and smile at you slow-witted and ponderous. (For whosoever releases me, he I must strangle.)

The battle itself:

The eye fires, it's radial shooting fires and misfires tempered by, churned to meat by blood raging, thick battling, and quickened in velocity to probe-stim a valance. To probe-stim an electro-magnetic flange, a surrounding rim for strength. Making of the limitless space a selvedge, a skirting, a threshold, a trimming. The opening of a welt in space. The interval of space, a cleft, a dike, a fissure, a flaw, a frith, a furrow, a gap, a gash, a deep and long cut, a ha-ha, a ditch not visible until one is close upon it, a gap greatly to be deplored, a long opening in a body made by cutting. Propagation of imaginary numbers, an electro-magnetic umbilicus of light with frenzied shocks it torments from one the existence of many. The battlefield is thick with the chirr of locusts. Populated by the appearance and disappearance of numbers. A tormented field of operation. A noisy field. Corrosive smells. A vanishing cosmorama. The landscape is tubulous, riddled with alarm. Hydra-headed wind snakes swallowing captives. The scattering and downhearted soldiers alerted. None of your enemies hold faces you can recognize. Just as often crop up in your widow's skins, your comrade jaws, behind the eye's of the brother, the animal no longer recognizes your smell. Patterns assign different attractive and repulsive potentials, representing unidentifiable boundary conditions as well as internal configurations. Noises attack and transform the network. The source of these mutations in the structuring of codes. Using infinite regression to deny movement and number. Because nothing can be proved. Because every proof requires a previous proof. We escape through your fingers by sloughing off large pieces of our skin. We intimidate by striking colors, rapid color change, expanding our skins to display dazzling patterns. We open our jaws wide in the presence of an enemy. Our carmine red mucous membrane forms an effective contrast to the cobalt blue tongue. We show you, the greatest possible surface area. We raise up on our hind legs. We inflate our bodies. We flatten ourselves downward or from side to side. You are alarmed by our curious nodding. The warning protrusion of our tongues. The stabbing movements of our heads, simulating biting. Shrill cries stop you. Keening. Rapid lateral vibrations at 17 cycles per second. Scratching at once and drawing blood. The orifice of the channel at the tip of the fang. Aimed upward and forward toward your eyes. A very fine filament or threat. Very fine and slender. A little band to encircle your bead. Restricting the radiation to above the ground plane doubles the gain. Voltage across the slot determines the field strength. We insert our eggs singly into a slit cut in the neck of the submerged enemy. We dig tube-like burrows in the ground which we seal with a hinged lid. We construct wafer thin lids of silk. I hold the trap door shut with my fangs until I sense the vibrations made by passing prey. Then I rush out, seize the victim and drag it into the burrow. I am shamming dead. I fall to the ground when danger threatens and remain motionless as a slender branch. I roll myself into a motionless compact ball in the middle of which the head is concealed. I am dead. You believe I am dead. Then suddenly, lordotic arching of the back and simultaneous raising of the limbs so that lower surfaces are turned upwards. When a body part is seized I break it off. This twitches convulsively and while the pursuer is dealing with it I escape in flight.

Symmetry breaking. Fast foliations on the slow manifold. After years of battling we find you hypnotized by our rhythmic trapmaking on the skirts of your homeground. Our staggering motion fascinates. And then without your knowing we have already entered you. Anamorphic warping to tele your secrets between the dimensions you use as your armoring thrilled the hundred spines of your soldiers. Offers re-visited after the shuddering close.

You would like to know us better.

In curious danger your best resistors surround us.

Their curiosity eclipses the sense of danger they are in.

Like shuffling a sticky pack of cards into longer and longer runs through the thousand snares we have found the link between us.

It is our ability to attract your attention and your inability to resist a stare.

We saw in your dumb eyes our final feasting on your skins. But then our numbers are likewise aroused.

The range girls and the rotary heads clap with delight and when ordered to advance fold to sinkholes of remorse.

In being circled we are also arrested by your hollow calls across time.

You have called us by another name.

A name we recognize. We have been scanning villages and broken forests to locate what we are trying to kill. The early ones retracted from their mangey holes. The brave ones continued to search.

What we have tried to derange is the vault of our treasure. The elixir is stored in the contaminant factory.

We are the silver of your movements in a state of alarm. All swift movement, all escapes.

The switching of stolen goods between hands.

The light passing across your eyes.

We are the wandering widow's song.

The flaring of your night fires destroying what is useless to you.

Many odd generations have been born between us.

The best of us has sprung from our confounded swarms. The final interference is the final confounding. When the turbulence stops and honors the recognition of the long-warring twins, the fiery black twigs on a raggedy vine.
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Author:Rymland, Lizbeth
Publication:Perspectives of New Music
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:4931
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