I Stood Facing the Sea by Harvey BarrettJanuary 10, 2021
Disrupted Rhythms: The Dance of the Rhythmanalysts. #1 Preliminary DemarcationsJanuary 10, 2021
by Wazid Abdul
At a desk and sucking – any fly-on-wall would note: with a startling lack of gaum – at a Poundland biro that further painted now inkéd lips, a man thought of clowns’ propensity for depression. Was one born a clown? Perhaps one might be born a clown; others require a college course. Was one born depressed? If one was born a clown, certainly. He pondered, scratching a mosquito bite with intent, suggesting a psycho–pathological study of Circus Professionals. There they were lined up, all morbidly depressed: Regional Pie Managers; Flower Lapel Inspectors; Undersized Vehicle Operators… and my father before me, and his father before him, ad infintum – till fathers who were very small indeed, for the average height has continued to increa-.
No – no more distractions! He shall do what his gut tells him: call in sick this month with a “gout’s back again”. Or, better yet, sneak a commission from his institution for… a corker on the ontological implications of The New Flesh concept: the body terra-formed by date rate propaganda. It all slips right in through the Tube! Simply cite someone trendy and have done with it. End with a snide self-flagellating remark; self-aware, cassocked – behold me, fellow academy members! Our man smirking now. But, phantom fly, witness the face dropping fast. For here the inevitable replies are conjured:
“[…] you have written four papers on this subject already, and David Cronenberg won’t return your calls – a friend of his told us he thinks you’re bad PR. It’s not a good look for us. We pay your bills, Professor! If you want a pay cheque for re-watching movies you should apply for a role in the media department […]
Perhaps it shall have to wait.
Adjusting the crotch of his slacks, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, the pen exits the mouth… But no, I must not freewheel, he thinks – they want the might of my mind laser-focused upon… he checks his notes: manifestos. Of course, of course: now wiping spittle from his matted moustache, which late at night, with wife asleep in her bedroom, he’d fiddle with in the bathroom, thinking it looked awful like Leon Trotsky’s. You fox! It’s a wonder your students don’t fall down, fawning. Like food colouring in milk, thoughts enter the head, and he watches them diffuse. The poor pen, already witness to unspeakable sights now labours, channels the fragments:
What powers does the manifesto hold over and above the traditional essay? And, conversely, what are its limitations – where its muscular, bourgeois cousin finds its own unique strength?
Who, indeed, is the royal We behind our favourite episodes? Is it an ideology made concrete, or merely its authors’, in imperfect chorus, voices rendered unassailable through abstraction? Who, more importantly, does the Manifesto-writer address? A reified social body of limited dimensions?
A break now… musing: Industrial Workers of the World – isn’t life tough! Mind drifting now to the S.C.U.M manifesto, and the segment describing men as walking dildos. An asthmatic chuckle; horny now. Thinking of the upright and turgid Milton Friedman… the feeling passes. Poor pen now threatens a cavernous entrance to nasal passage with intrusion; o, the humanity!
We’re no longer there, but here and now – our man has evacuated his study, and now paces the downstairs corridor, albeit with some difficulty. Out of the corner of wandering eye the letterbox gapes and discharges form and colour unto the carpet. Marla, who is old and stupid, and, it seems, a dog, is vaguely interested – more so than she’s been in years – and sets to growling at it. Glasses are placed on the bridge of an as yet unbroken nose, and the scene is assessed. A raucous Technicolor nightmare of a pamphlet, addressed to HE, our proto-protagonist (for fleshéd he may be, fleshed out he is not).
TOWARD AN INTERVENTION
WE ASSERT THAT JUST AS PEOPLE HAVE FORMED MANIFESTOS, MANIFESTOS HAVE FORMED PEOPLE.
THE MANIFESTO ADDRESSES THE IDEA-AS-SURPLUS; THE IDEA SPILLING OUT OF DISCOURSE AND INTO A CONCRETE FORM.
PEOPLE WRITE MANIFESTOS IN CAPITAL LETTERS, SOMETIMES.
THIS CREATES A SENSE OF URGENCY; ALTHOUGH SOMETIMES IT JUST FEELS LIKE THE PAPER IS SHOUTING.
A “LACK OF” DOES NOT PRODUCE MANIFESTOS, EXCEPT, OF COURSE, WHEN IT DOES.
THE MANIFESTO CAN BE FORMED OF IDEA-AS-SURPLUS RUNNING PARALLEL TO A “LACK OF”, WHEN IT POSITS A POSITIVE CONTENT OR NEGATES THE ESTABLISHED ORDER FOR WANT OF SOMETHING.
A MANIFESTO CAN BE VAGUE AND COIN TERMINOLOGY WHICH CONFUSES AGENTS OF PRAXIS.
A MANIFESTO CAN BE QUITE CLEAR AND CALL FOR IMMEDIATE INSURRECTION.
A MANIFESTO CAN CALL FOR SOME KIND OF INSURRECTION, ANY KIND YOU’D LIKE, UM… SOMETIME – WHEN? OH… WELL, PERHAPS AFTER TEA – OR WHENEVER’S GOOD FOR YOU REALLY, I’M FLEXIBLE.
A MANIFETO CAN QUITE CLEARLY COIN PRAXIS WHICH MUDDIES TERMINOLOGY AND CONFUSES LINGUIST BLOWHARDS.
YOUR HYGEINE AND HEALTH HAVE SUFFERED CRIPPLING BLOWS AND QUITE FRANKLY WE FIND IT DISGUSTING.
LIKEWISE, YOUR THOUGHT HAS SUFFERED – YOU HAVE BECOME SELF-AGRANDIZING AND LAZY. YOU NO LONGER TAKE RISKS, OR FEEL THE NEED TO EMBODY YOUR INTRINSIC FALIBILITY THROUGH RUTHLESS SEARCHING FOR TRUTH.
WE DEMAND YOU TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY AGAIN!
YOUR DOG IS QUITE ILL, WE DEMAND YOU TAKE IT TO THE VET.
YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE INTEREST IN YOUR WIFE AND HER DAY-TO-DAY EXPERIENCE. BUT YOU DO, IT SEEMS, STILL LOVE HER. THIS IS MORE OF A PASSING COMMENT THAN A DEMAND.
Finishing the pamphlet, our man raises both eyebrows and tucks chins inward, supressing a scoff. Screwing it up, he makes the bin from downtown. Marla, entering the room with a graceful air, vomits in the square centre of the carpet. [beat] – Exits through the same door.
Back in his study, pen to paper again:
The manifesto addresses the idea-as-surplus; discourse spilling into a concrete form…
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