More words from Rob:
Images Are Dangerous
Images Are Dangerous
DEFINITION: THE FEAR
The fear narrows and sings and burns through. The fear is the belly music from a white sky awakening him too fast for the ten thousandth time, daring him to lie unprotected in the morning dirt. The fear is a camera watching him without photos, without pleasure.
An iron shoe reminds him of the fear, an iron useless shoe or a dream of a groaning sun or an ancient soothing Europe he can't escape. The fear is almost like love. It forces him to dance even when there's no one to impress. It convinces him that all confusions are equally desirable and worthy of devotion. It remembers back before he was born, when the old grey skin of his future hands was first promised.
He's considerate of the fear. The fear gives him sneaky, comfortable schemes he's not cunning enough to deserve. It's rich with glowing, primordial lies he's not evil enough to compose himself. It comes from far away. It works his imagination twice as hard as necessary.
Because the fear refuses to teach him all uses of accident, his own body doesn't love him perfectly yet. The fear aborts dreams about his best tormentor, cheering him up artificially, exciting him to buy the words of doctors who cure him for the wrong reason. The fear runs him runs him runs him, bragging about love and then disintegrating it so fast that he becomes a sleep-talking scientist of eclipses, a shattered wheel, a red meat flying low and fatherless through painfully bright skies.
Humming in his left ear like a telepathic signal from the land of dead, meddlesome grandfathers, the fear reveals prophecies he could sell to newspapers that try to stunt the imaginations of millions. But the fear loves the wish, and the wish will not let those newspapers do what they do best.
On his birthday, he hears the fear outside his broken window, voices of old men cracking "Abolish all girls you don't deserve them . . . freak all songs you can't say them simple."
But on the Holiday of the Fear, he becomes the man behind the woman who overthrows the world.
BIG ACCIDENT WORDS
You're brilliant. I want to find you in the middle of a road, blocking my way. I want to hear you singing goat-songs in a pink Cadillac half-buried in the woods. I want to know you on Halloween, when you smell like childbirth and the big sins are easy to remember. I'll ride on your body for power, I'll be that strange strong and weak being who loves the burned-down houses. A bell will be ringing behind us, there will be a chanting crowd we cannot find.
If all of me is still smart when I reach you, I'll build a hundred houses, I'll burn down a hundred houses. I'll store up a tremendous voice of storks and cranes, a voice of migration riding in cars with broken windows. You'll be wearing red shoes and looking down on me from a great height, you'll be doing everything by accident. Are there breads and fishes there? Am I lame again or is this one of the times I speak magic words?
DEFINITION: THE WISH
The wish is a lazy desire helping you to remember what you're supposed to be afraid of. The wish is a superstition that comes true accidentally, making you smarter whether you deserve it or not. Try to summon a primal memory of being utterly welcome. You can't, of course: The wish prevents it. The wish is the opposite of what you know, a foolproof technique for imitating pleasure.
Like a personality eating itself alive, like a cloudy disintegrating fuck in a bed soaked with milk, like a cool furnace incinerating the props of a nightmare too slowly, the wish conceals its ignorance brilliantly. The wish is impossible to master or love, though it generously excuses you for practicing black magic on yourself.
Pretend the wish is harmless if you want, but don't give it your fascination or repulsion. As a miracle, the wish can kill. It can cheat you out of your precious obsessions and lie to you about what good you do for people. It may never remind you how inferior it is to believe that some opinions are truer than others. With enough of its training, you would begin to imagine that the wish is more mysterious than you. You would dream that you live on the planet of vampires where everyone loves you for the wrong reason.
The wish allows these things: The mediocre perfection of a revolution waged without jokes; the popular theory that all touch is war; the salability of stories about people who sympathize with death in a banal way. With the wish, you have no say in what is true or false, you have no power to pray. Living with the wish is like sleeping standing up in a house where childhood keeps repeating itself. The wish incites dangerous images to boil your night body full of the only kind of sex that doesn't cure.
The wish will never lead you to famous free men or to holy women making bones into symbols. The wish is a morning of choking birds, a summer of burning money, a cold year of bad actors throwing little children into the sea. If you think this is too extreme, you're wrong. The wish is violence robbed of its primordial name. It's a hole in the hole that holes fall out of.
Don't try to root out the wish. The wish uses you for its own luck whether you believe in it or resist it. Be immune. Quietly and without excitement excuse your body's light from inhabiting the wish, and then work hard and fast in the name of a more thorough shadow, a brighter, more nourishing confusion.
During the Holiday of the Wish, strong, wishless people will come and offer to love you without the desire to have power over you. Make yourself worthy of their passion.
LOVE LIKE AN ENEMY
I dreamed I fell in love with my teacher. She was left-handed, like all the geniuses I've known. I loved to sit in her office with nine dark windows and pretend we were the same person.
She trained me to baby-talk in a once-dead language that made me see her face was very beautiful. I'd watch her soft lips as I disclosed myself in a trance, trying to remember the big sin of childhood she said had not yet completely decayed in me. Her eyes were sometimes grey and sometimes invisible. Her sweat made me nervous. I wanted to believe she was smarter than me, that she'd find virginal songs in me that I wasn't allowed to discover myself.
For once in my life, thanks to her dangerous listening, I felt I could tell the truth. I told her about mopping the floors of scummy nightclubs in North Carolina with my old right-handed wife, back before I knew how much my body was really worth. I joked about my career as the wrong-way healer. I confessed my sarcastic visions about the "democracy of proud voyeurs," and bragged about how much pain I'd learned from my chaotic father figures.
She believed my fantasies were real; I didn't have to pretend they were symbols or disguises. I told her how I'd practiced alchemy as a lesbian sufi baseball player for the Detroit Sphinxes in the Middle Ages. I showed her how to play Naked in Hell, a game I learned in childhood from two loving medusas who taught me not to be afraid of strong women.
And then one morning she smelled like a thousand lotuses; one afternoon she had sharp fingers on her hands and looked at me from high above; one night she told me that I was too beautiful and loud and that I didn't laugh right.
That night I dreamed she was a delicious young priestess singing to me from a kitchen below the equator. Somewhere in Samoa, maybe, or a lagoon called Soma. No man is an island, but many are atolls, her voice fermented as it tunneled to me under the nightsea like a black river. I listened hard, trying to feel her menstruation in my body for the first time.
Fantastically Tame Criminal Performing The Grimace was the first title she gave me, then Imagination Fat, and then Modern Singing Indian Addicted To Electricity Generated From Trivial Wastes. Her mermaid's sound ripped like a lawyer's. I felt I was her experiment alone, her story, and she was giving me the long-lost names of my ridiculous powers.
This was my total collapse into her life of constant medicine. The agony was perfect--a gift that was stronger than love. It required me to believe that I was not myself, but the dream of a magical animal in the advanced stages of putrefaction, very close to being born again in an immortal body. I felt I'd lost all my debts, had no more need to learn, had been initiated into a sanctuary of deathless longing--longing with no need for satisfaction or frustration.
A fish light from my eyes came alive, and I felt myself slipping out into her black river. I drink you black river, I sang without drowning. This was before sun or moon, before white furnaces called stars pulsed at all, before personalities or climaxes. The bestial stinging water hissed in my broken mouth, tasting of drowned worms and rotting pearl. I was a red string of muscle swelling all the way to that kitchen where she spread out a million humming bloody muds for my arrival, soaked me up and then exploded me into her autumn tornado full of menses and shattered doors and burning furniture.
In the last memory before I died, I saw the book she wrote about my life. It said that I laughed wrong and wasted my imagination until the end of time--but that I was a better lover than even the very slippery, very smart white wolf she had allowed to worship her once.
After that I tried to fascinate her with suffering I imagined she'd never seen before. I became a famous singer with claustrophobic eyes, smashing myself against the cruel plates of food she wanted to watch me eat. I cut my left arm with a knife every time I used the words "be" or "am" in her presence. I torched all letters I'd ever received from my admirers, planted the ashes like a seed, then hid in her closet and watched her all night without hatred. I decided to desire her as strongly as if she were the exactly wrong woman for me to love.
One night she danced the spiral slam dance for me. I laid down and adored her as if I would never know again whether I was really a good person or a bad person. Then there was indigo again, indigo the killer, indigo the rejuvenator, and I pulsed until I thought I was food myself and would be eaten like a god. The way we moved was like one fish digesting itself. I'd never been so forgotten, so unmystifying, so unhealable.
When I woke up for the second time there were no lights, no eyes, only her stories about me. She said then that this was the scariest night of my life because she was turning my body into my soul and when she was finished I would no longer be famous with anyone but God.
WE DON'T WRITE POEMS
There was no naked Jungian dreamworker breaking our piano with her high-heeled shoe when we got home, friends; there was never a naked Jungian dreamworker.
There were no bums in dirty yellow pants crawling over us when we made love to Magda the doll-maker on the moldy clothes beneath the Goodwill trailer.
We made it all up. We were just kidding. We were just faking. We were just trying to get attention.
There was no son of an Irish diplomat coming after us when we stole his neglected girlfriend, and he did not pound us with pots from our own kitchen as he cursed us with Dylan Thomas poems in the middle of the winter night.
We were not famous. We did not encourage our admirers to have sex in public. There were no gorgeous Catholic crones humping the home-made crucifix when we woke in the bright August afternoon.
We never went home with the Russian translator of Gogol and finger-painted her white wall to match the maps of the solar system that we used to love to draw as children. We never put her underpants on our heads and sang Rimbaud songs in her mouth until she cried a thousand years of joy.
She wanted us to but we didn't.
There were never any magic housewives our own age trying to convince us that we would someday be mayors and shamans and environmentalists. They did not tell us to wise up and control our cocks better, and they did not make fun of our poems.
The truth is, we were already mayors and shamans and environmentalists in our dreams, we controlled our cocks better because we were tired of fucking too many different women who were too good for us, and we did not write poems.
But the main thing is, we did not let Liz Beth piss down on us through her red lamé pants from the top of the oak tree in the parking lot behind the Catalyst bar. There was no gentle hot stream falling down through the mist on our hands and faces.
We did not get turned on; we did not crawl around the tree yapping and barking. There was no beautiful young nursing mother who was crazier than us.
HERE'S HOW YOU GET TO KNOW ME BETTER:
First you always pretend you mean
the opposite of what you're saying.
Then study the people who hate you,
brag about what you can't do and don't have,
and make fun of people who make fun of people.
Plagiarize only the most life-like automatic gestures
from the sleepiest walkers
Be compassionate in the cruelest way.
Imitate the janitors who know about beetles in shit with
I hate myself for loving everything so much--
no matter how stupid or worn or sick it is--
and you should too.
Be my friend and confuse me with your help.
Be generous to the Ugly Watcher of My Wounds,
and be kind to his son The Cult of Broken Noses.
Feed my next ten breakfasts to the joking women
I can never answer.
Personality is a performance. Never act like yourself.
Never act the opposite of your parents
Invent memories. Improve yourself with lies.
Give presents to people who refuse to admit you're special.
Lust for the poor. Break laws no one remembers.
Use your problems to trick people into doing things your way,
exaggerate your faults until they're virtues,
and heal yourself by catching more of the same germs
that made you sick.
If you like this religion,
then you should find omens every night
in the steam from a bucket of hot ammonia water
and sleep with the freshest breath of any slave who ever lived.
If you find the most beautiful crucifixes in the world
and clean them so hard they dissolve in your hands,
then you are beginning to belong to the same Christmas
when I met the woman
who paid me not to be a human being.
If you scratch an emerald light from faces in the sink
and beg me to sleep and dream of the dirt you need,
then you are almost my blood.
If you live in a closet with fathers
who love how you're jealous of every girl,
then you can be happy and survive just to make me mad.
If you tell dyke punk witches to make me nervous
just when I'm trying to argue
with the lewdest Christ in the world,
you must be my helper,
the one who tells lies into empty rooms.
Do you really believe that everyone should be like you?
Then I'll let you love me.
The words you use to get here
must crawl five bodies deep
into my sleep without police
and wipe away my faces
one at a time.
I feel much closer to all of you when we pretend we're all fighting real dangers together in order to stay alive. The telepathic links among us heat up when our bodies register the information that we may really die horribly together all at once.
The nuclear bomb is our group totem. It's the ultimately powerful and sacred taboo, the most terrible and the most valuable thing, the superhuman profanity on which all life depends and against which all values must be tested. Shadowing every one of our personal actions, the bomb is the god that won't listen, the fascinating blasphemy that won't shut up unless we're all very, very good.
We fall down before it, believing in it more fiercely than any other secret. We agree to be possessed by it, to be haunted by its image above all other images. Nothing else has more life.
We love this bomb because it's the most spiritual, most supernatural material object in the world, the only material object that's ever had the power to literally change all life on earth instantly and forever. It's the one most precious fetish, the obvious and hidden revelation that can by itself redefine the meaning of all history.
And yet how few of us have ever stood next to the magic body of the bomb, breathed in its smell, touched it, communed with its actual life. Its presence among us is rumour and mystery, like Christ and flying saucers. We hear stories.
At night our dreams turn the bomb into the philosopher's stone, the ark of the covenant, the alchemical gold, the magic body of the messiah, the potent drug from the beginning of the world, the ecstatic and shocking moment of religious conversion. In our deepest darkest juices we are alive to its divinity, as we are alive to any god that offers the brilliant and blinding flash of irreversible illumination. We believe in the bomb because it reveals what it is to become the dangerous light that's as pure as the sun.
Let's call the bomb a love that's too big for us to understand yet. Let's say it's the raging creative life of a cleansing disease that wants to cure us so it doesn't have to kill us. Let's say it's the last judgment that promises not to come true if we can figure out what it means.
It's our bomb. We've made it. We've loved this bomb so much we've imagined it to exist. We've created this bomb so hard that it's come alive and possessed us. We've turned the bomb into our bodies; we've given messages to chemicals in our brains to make dangerous images of the bomb, messages to nurture and worship and flash those images through our nerves.
Remember. The bomb is the most beloved thing to us because as we all together imagine it now our brains are burned with the true hallucination that we are all one body. Whe I fantasize the bomb vaporizing me into its own pure primeval heat and radiation, I remember that you and I are made of the same stuff. The bomb frees us to imagine that we all live and die together, that we are all born out of Adam, the indivisible hermaphrodite god of our species--and we can return now because we've never left.
We need the bomb.
We need the bomb because only the tease of the biggest, most original sin can heal us. The bomb is a blind, a fake, a trick of memory we're sending ourselves from the future that shocks us better than all the Christs and cancers and UFO's. It makes us. It makes us remember. The bomb has been with us since the beginning of time because it's the imagination of the end of time.
We have supernatural powers and genetic potentials so undreamed of that they will feel like magic when they come. But they remain dormant in us until we're scared shitless not just of our individual deaths but also the the extinction of the human archetype.
Bless this fear. Praise the bomb. O God of Good and Evil Light, let the great ugly power fascinate us all now, hypnotize us and fix our terror so precisely that we become one potently concentrated demonic imagination, a single guerrilla mediator casting an irreversible spell to bind the great satan bomb. There will be no nuclear war.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is your favorite music?
Barbie dolls being hit against empty cans of condensed milk by 13-year-old refugees from Haiti who've just played their first video game. Huge choirs of communist girls from Bulgaria singing the theme song from an American television show in an extremely disciplined way.
What's you definition of success?
Having a picnic lunch of Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken on the steps of a sacred Mayan temple in Guatemala with a Brazilian woman psychiatrist whose IQ is 10 points higher than mine, and then fucking our brains out while macho left-wing army soldiers fight it out with macho right-wing guerrilla soldiers in the jungle next door.
What's your favorite way of making yoursef sick?
I watch a lot of TV and I read 25 newspapers and magazines cover-to-cover every week. That's my favorite way of making myself sick. Information-disease. Getting nauseously high on useless facts, half-assed opinions, and dangerous images. I'm the ultimate American consumer consuming the ultimate American commondities: information and images.
When do you feel lonely?
Every time I read a paperback book about psychic phenomena I get lonely for spiritual snobs. Because you know psychic phenomena is largely a lower class phenomenon, whereas spiritual growth is a middle class deviation. You've probably noticed that neither poor people nor Third World types have third eyes or very well-developed auras. They can't afford them. They don't have the leisure time to work on them. Have you ever heard of an assembly line worker interested in Gurdjieff and Sufism, or a machinist using the I Ching? Hell no.
I used to be a full-fledged spiritual snob. I looked down on people who got excited by UFO's and demonic possessions and newspaper astrology columns and psychics who perform useless exhibitionistic tricks like bending IUD's with the power of their minds alone. And I'll probably never completely shake my leisure class biases. I'll probably always feel that getting rolfed or biofeedbacked or rebirthed is somehow superior to seeing a UFO, or that having a hashish vision of Jesus as King Penis is a more evolved experience than the little girl in Tennessee who was successively possessed by and then exorcised of 13 different demons, all with ridiculous comic book names like "Mr. Peepers" and "Howdy Gumbo."
I'll probably always feel deep down that my problems are more holy and ironic, more karmic and Jungian, than, say, some steelworker's wife in Pittsburgh who sends away for good luck talismans in the National Enquirer.
The only time I feel different about this is every so often when I'm watching TV. After three or four hours of non-stop tube I sometimes begin to feel like I'm getting down to the root of the ultimate American spiritual revelation, the true proletarian brand of Zen Buddhism.
I sit real close to the screen and let the flow of nonsensical images drain directly down into my subconscious like an unrelenting barrage of teasers and fractured riddles from a Tantric Garbage Master. The linear, rational thought processes start to trash out and break down. I'm momentarily freed from the responsibility of believing that there is such a thing as my "self."
I become aware that what I call "I" is just a mass of conditoned responses, borrowed thoughts, instinctual behavior, and fragmented tape loops endlessly repeating, endlessly attempting to please or rebel against an authority figure, relive or resolve the birth trauma and the oedipal mix-up, or escape the sex war.
When I look away from the TV, "I" can see the vibrating molecular structure of the curtains and the rugs and the couch. A vision of pure energy fields. Brilliant, infinitesimal explosions of subatomic particles, as if in slow motion, better even than on a shamanic journey. My body is a rippling and pleasurable disturbance barely distinguishable from the buzzing whirl of concentrated cosmic light all around it. "I" am a funnel for divine electricity.
As I bask in this state of utter clarity, I recall and re-experience a profound, grotesque fact: That most spiritual teachings are the ravings of elitists, cleverly-disguised egotists, and--yes--men. Of the hundreds of self-described and self-appointed ascended masters, realized being, enlightened mystics, gurus, swamis, and yogis, less than 10 are women.
And then it occurs to me in a nauseating flash of recognition that most spiritual systems are particularly insidious purveyors of the most ancient and virulent form of oppression, sexism, and that many of them are in fact excuses for the men who run them to pick up on "girls."
I'm crushed, yet I'm freed. I grab my latest copy of the National Enquirer from the top of the television. It's now clear to me that I have before me the essential weapons of the peculiarly American politico-spiritual revolution. Of course: As the alchemists say, the most valuable substance is to be found in the despised and lowly place. Here in the institutions of the television and the archetypal gossip rag (the latter being the extreme parody and thus also the quintessence of reductive, sensationalized, image-engorging American journalism)--here in the institutions of the Enquirer and the TV, both so rich in dangerous images, I have the myth-making machinery of the dying age. The last gift of the patriarchy, the clue to the escape into the coming matriarchal age, the technique to break down the stagnant, fossilized institution of consciousness which is the holy fetish at the core of the civilization perpetrated by the male of the species.
I flip through the pages of the Enquirer: "Man Suffering from Terrible Headaches Discovers He's Lived All His Life with the Foetus of Dead Twin Sister Stuck in His Brain."
I look at the TV. An animated image of The Fonz has returned to cave man days to look for Fred Flinstone, who's escaped with the Beverly Hillbillies into the future, where they've taken refuge with Barnaby Jones in the first born-again Christian domed football stadium on the moon.
Back the the Enquirer: "Seven-Foot-Tall Man and His Dwarf Wife Both Have Sex Change Operations, Renew Their Marriage Vows."
Back to TV. Wonder Woman is cutting off Larry Hagman's balls and burying them in a hermetically-sealed container on an island in the Bermuda Triangle, burying them until that time when J.R. Ewing, oil magnate and multi-national corporate criminal on the TV show Dallas, agrees to wait on Barbara Eden hand and foot and regard her as the true and living incarnation of the White Goddess.
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved