AE Reiff – prose


Soul Spinning

Large vats of raw viscose seasoning are pulled up to make the thread, nitrocellulous and saponified. It was as cool and dark in this underground as a word spoken in first grade. Nobody was ever there. Then, when the world set wrong could not be righted, and birds before a storm in an age that lost its history fell upon the masses, the only reality an individual could reclaim was himself, a last basis on which reality could appear.

I wandered all hours through these viscose plants like caves, on no particular assignment, would get caught up in the large warehouse-sized spinning rooms filled with rows and rows of spinners that went clack, clack-clack as they spun rayon out of sulphuric acid baths, the smell of acid mist in the air. The viscose forced through the spinnerets from these scaled-up versions of a butter churn turned them into strings of fibers. The acid coagulated and solidified the filaments, a regenerated cellulose jet spun, emitting zinc and hydrogen sulfide.The filaments wound on spools, passed through rollers,  washed, bleached, rinsed, dried, and rewound again, pretty far from dipping a needle in a viscous solution of mulberry pulp and gummy rubber, as it all began. The early product called Chardonnay would burn like gasoline.

When you get to the spinning rooms, as the correspondence goes, all kinds of formats and forms appear. Whether you should believe rayon goes up in flames or not, I take as a species of Christian atheism, that claims all the gods are frauds. Name a god and it is fraud, for there is therefore only one Eloah, Yah Yahweh, and all the rest are presumptive, admittedly much attractive since they could get hardy men to kill their children in front of them, or debase themselves in sheer materiality only. The Christian atheist talks like Abraham, Daniel, Job, Noah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Elijah who overthrow the imposters. I suppose that’s not a synthetic.

Viscose fiber is spun to create the illusion of the world. There is nothing beside the tanks but Dinglichkeit, thingness, materiality alone, a magnificent state, but without cognition. The vats are metaphors of the acetate that makes the world, the explosive gasoline world fiber made to burn. Of old they gave their jewels, gold and silver and made them into images of men, sacrificed oil and flour and honey, crowns, earrings and burned incense to it after the images were made and when that was not enough they gave their children in oblation. It is not what the man wears who leads into and sees these things dressed in linen.

I had been jacked out of a childhood of oil rigs and fires and train wrecks among strip mined hills, and all the social situations that might imply from the age of five, into an all new circumstance where this elegiac ground of being sank to the marrow. Came right down out the sky and settled on my shoulders. That was the first vision in the outer world. I did not open my eyes to others. I saved opening until the moment prepared the Blessed and only eternal man, Yeshuha Messiah. People shake heads at the idea of the only true man who have not felt it. They worry they will not be taken, but the fear of not being taken could not compete with the real horrors I knew before sixteen On the Way Out of Sheol. It’s a question of magnitude. What do I care about Rapture when carnivals, bordellos, bars, seductions, fights, appalling challenges, and huge literal giants wanted me?  It was said they didn’t like the way I walked. You don’t think children are going such places. You don’t think the underbelly is hid everywhere in the middle class fat that lurks in your neighborhood leaders, institutions.

Rayon from Cellulose means wood fiber of course, but altered, wood chips, spruce or pine, bleached with sodium hypochloride (NaOCl) to remove color, soaked in 18% caustic soda for 1 to 2 hours producing sheets of alkali cellulose broken up into crumbs aged for some days, changed into cellulose xanthate by addition of liquid carbon disulfide, then dissolved in a weak solution of caustic soda and made into honey-like viscose. This is what is pumped through spinnerets into a bath of sulfuric acid that “regenerates” the cellulose and makes fiber. It is called viscose to describe the liquid state of the spinning. As a regeneration of wood it is a perfect metaphor for soul spinning. In Pot Spinning, after the acid bath, the filaments are stretched on a series of offsetting rollers called godet wheels which reduce the diameter of the filaments and make them uniform in size, which gives filament strength. They then go into a rapidly spinning cylinder called a Topham Box, resulting in cake-like strings that stick to the sides. The strings are then washed, bleached, rinsed, dried, and wound in spools. In these trips to the plants we would stay at hotels in the area. I remember sitting in the bars of these places drinking coffee, writing whatever it is I wrote then, something of the alienation of life, the longing for intimacy, anything but sit cooped up in a room. So you don’t need to read the Tibetan Book of the Dead after all.

  This is the place before you go and after the escape. No need press faces against windows, on panes. Your reflection is in other faces that pass, carrying what they can into the beyond. He actually carries John Gower’s Voice of One Crying, as if description warms the difference between the smells and sounds of the crowds shuffling. Is he alone as the ear that hears, no passengers or refugees yet, before the fact, if you like to put it so? If you don’t know what this means it explains his pocket Gower, filled with apprehension I shall sing of true dreams whose import disturbs the depths of my heart. May he whom the Isle of Patmos received in Apocalypse, and whose name I bear, guide this work. So tell o muse, unstaunched in the solitude, unstaunched and luminous, what has been promised these thousands of years of world, without end, with end, not told from above but from a stand in the eyes and hands and a beating heart, entertainment for Father and Son, and the sons, that root in the home that melts in compassion for their state. Blessed is the man with four letters, aleph, lamed….

The vats were huge, thirty, forty feet tall remembrances of eternity in time. Attracted by the stillness, implicit being and power, they meant instruction and the compulsion of patterns mediated through time, held open by belief. Sheets of purified cellulose steeped in caustic soda, dried, shredded into crumbs, aged in metal containers. What’s going on in and around the vats in me as it is among the sons of God whose election was before, but unknown. Poetic repetition seeks the mediated vision of the fathers, the recovery of origins before, as though prior instruction. The closer he gets, the further he is away it seems, but then also, the further he has come.

Eliyahu had no desk except the count books, books and plants to grow monarchs from chrysalis, check the progress of the sycamore for carpenter bees, black buzzers that inhabit the cracks, where tortoise and Gambel quail take refuge. I am your sign, so that as I have done so shall it be done to all. But there are wheels within wheels. Kierkegaard asked for one favor from the gods, chose for himself laughter and they all began to laugh. That’s his telling. The essential thing posits an opposition between inner and outer that makes its representation impossible when the effect of every vision is evident, full of eyes round about. To have laughter on one’s side for this Elijah, native to the setting, was either all joke, humor of high and middle kinds, or elección. Yet shall he not see it. We won’t know until the vote is in. To laugh seems hard wired on the foreheads of men that sigh and cry, as if they looked through a hole in the wall. Never say truth without a caveat, not Orphic ambiguity, but tease truth a season. The spirit rats will have a hard time getting their tails out of that.  What rats? For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them. Call it humor because the first thing I read in Either/Or at the end of my own diaspora, when I picked it up again after 40 years, was Kierkegaard’s paragraph at end of the Diapsalmata about his audience with the gods in the seventh heaven. Never start at the beginning, just open at random and begin. Prepare stuff for removing. Dig through the wall. If you want in on it just laugh along. Existence  above all else is a personal reality in these trials, as if faith had no future, its past destroyed. Honesty remained as the only indispensable condition that the world might be true.



The Elizabethans were AE Reiff’s writing school, Kyd’s Geronimo, Marlowe, Donne, euphuisms, Spenser, intrigues, Raleigh, Sidney, Marston in ferment, grammars, propagandists, the Faerie Queene, the Testaments, Puritans in Prison, Donne against death, Milton’s Lost Paradise, Traherene’s Songs of Wheat. Read more at Encouragements For Planting History.


About gobbet

gobbet is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the very best experimental poetry and prose. Intellectual perversity and explorations of dark themes are positively encouraged. We are only interested in work that is progressively experimental. We want to see risks, and we want to see them pay. No previously published work. Prose should not be longer than 1000 words. There are always exceptions. Send 3-5 poems. Include a short bio. Send submissions to Work will be published every 5-10 days. We also intend to publish anthologies of selected work published in gobbet. We will do our best to reply promptly. Most submissions will receive a decision within a month.
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