David Roden – prose

 

IN THE COUNTRY OF THE BROKEN 

U Mod

The soul can be held or trapped in a tree. This is because it was never in your mouth. You were always defined by results. Perhaps this joke can be appreciated after your death.

Take the bell once known known as Obertura. Deprive it of onset and decay. Now a knife keens between the ears. Its period of modulation will be determined by the frequency of the modulus. Now input vox to matrix. Worry its forgotten slivers into speech and inharmonic migraines.

We will wait. There is an afterword no longer bounded by our concerns. For you, sounds were always faithful intermediaries. A footfall, a siren. We heard clearly or indistinctly.

The already-dead Professor swivels in his baronial office during Max’s trite apology for erotic entertainment.[1]

So much bait for McLuhan’s claim that the medium does not substitute means for means. It intensifies and transforms end without finality. Hyperplasic xenoforms overlooked by those who saw just another Master.

Catastrophe

When considering the obscure origin of the Broken, it is too soon to look ahead. Zone of Advanced Noncompliance implies war or insurgency. This reflects the politics of our redoubtable City. The thing resembles nothing but itself.

I know she is alive to the promise or threat. It is unthinkable without the yellow-masked stranger.

We are dolly parts on an assembly line. Until those cities bloom into cloud, there must be someone else. You expect commitments to be undertaken, for example. There will be someone left to read this who is to be depended on.

Instead we find not an occurrence in time but – as Ballard, later, Brassier and Meillassoux imagine – a summary alteration in the projects that repeat the dead, with their carnival shrouds and injuries; ignoring the immense traffic, its crawling luminescence ridiculing familiar constellations. Time scabs over the tarmac. Tentative constructs flutter there at evening. Radiation scarred souls drift the causeways and basins near ground zero. 

O’Blivion wets his pencil moustache. A screen puckers with a kiss. This is how imagination wraps and supplants us. We hope this might be nearing the end. But it blinks back from the waves. We are struck cold and unable to speak.

In the Broken Obertura meant a chord presaging the aria, a prologue to a solar spectacle, dull laminate under mirrors, a chthonic emissary, feint. It concerns the disposition of visible marks: “such would be the essence or truth of the frame. If it had any.”[2]

Cabal

It is important to enjoy, to find time to be positive and curious about death. The fragility that had terrified the adult was to be celebrated. There is another time-cyst beneath his upper arm. He dabs this furrowed emblem with a fresh handkerchief, hypnotised by a song. He is never more enthused with overriding “reigns and laws.”

The night might lead nowhere. He finds himself standing on a bridge looking upriver to the hastily assembled barrages, dimly aware of the reasons behind their construction; not minding either way.

He was somberly informed of his involvement with one of the Cabal who passed for rulers here, a woman of no reputation. He sometimes recalls the passions she indulges: a double door at the top of milk white steps. A slit of artificial light divides it from the warm blush of candles. A tinny machine sound. A low voice repeats some verbal formula or prayer. He was being inducted into something.

The self or private capacity is not sufficient. It is a legal fiction she was bitterly dedicated to emptying. Plato might take her for an ideal had she extracted other than venom. Maybe it was coming for them, as it had already for the Broken.

For his own part, he collated the medical indices. Most cancers were inarticulate, or at least asocial: he was told these talked to one another. There was evidence of a circuit, a parallel nervous system for which distortion and aberrance were preferred stimuli. It wasn’t hard to persuade the Specialist to loan him the scanning microscope. A simple matter to make its data available to the processes he had set in train.

He ought to be tired. At night, the cysts chitter time series and can’t stop coming. The staff monitor furtively, responding to what they hoped it could do – grow wings or radio antenna. Some return fierce intimacies in corridors during his rare visits to The Clinic. I can see you there too, stood tentatively before the central atrium, a lapsed skeptic.

Abstract Cruelty

Orange jump-suits daub Rosa with an invitation camouflage of fish paste. The python’s tail undulates to Bukkake rhythms as does the jungle girl/vore legend. Her soused head soon dangles from the eyeless abomination.

He watches all this in a séance glad to conform finally. We never watched ghost-porn at home, even after links were disseminated by worm.

She sat in an area designated for the Cabal. This iconoclast bathes with us, interminably bored. Everything is operational and broken. With each transition, it became harder to acknowledge whatever we shared.

He leaves the theatre in an orderly ripple of souls. Her driver is assessing the threat weather. He hangs back. Gulls remonstrate above the esplanade.

Narcissus hires surgeons to make him art patisserie. He is filleted for the injection of crème anglaise, sugar glazed into a post-operative triumph!

You look rested she whispers from behind.

He sees Rosa among his tasters, cream-filled mouth buzzing with knives. I too like to think that I am delicious. But then we heighten the sensation with the usual brand of magic (which I never claimed to understand.)

Cut me. The scars waver in a thousand modal windows. She lifts the hair from her neck. Cut me there, just a little.

My parents became ludicrous meat products. I dab procreative ulcers while they honk and roll together. Later I stuck lighted matches in my side. You can picture my relief.

Nicki is concerned by the poor quality of the pirated tape but she’s “turned on” by its representation of a women being flogged in a bare room with wet clay walls. Early blocks of code self-embed and later, self-assemble. I love you to see me like this. Rosa lifts her hair above her neck.  Max wants only what she wants (This is how he paralyses his victims.)

Nicki lifts her hair. We never left that room? Yes, there is only one sexed, wet room. I only want to touch you.

Nobody uses organs anymore.

I Mod

Survivors of the pro-signal described a void flexing with self-luminous graphisms. A low band modulus roaring mountain. An incommensurate tower of faces, made of faces, made of faces… Their origins are interminable moraines. It is why there is no voice really. Nothing but more pattern. It’s all the way down, now.

The future could not be this. Some disconnections could be mitigated by a collective idea. He wonders to himself whether her public acts are dedicated to extinction, or if this is too pure, too equivocal to be owned. Did he ever kill for her? Would she ask him to kill her? She was, in his fitful recollection, rarely direct.

She was accused of all manner of deviations in this period – of clinging to charms and gimcracks, and you know she watches the glitch from the Broken reason Obertura into a graphic of some hyperplastized body. The Spike from a future our every movement pre-empts. This was all she feared and secretly hoped for.

I Claudia

The Adventure begins among half constructed hotels and apartments. Gardeners fill space with listless prototypes while their water-table recedes. A domed asteroid beds on the horizon. Sandro’s father built on a whim in Dog Country, permanent hostage to taxation. He is petulant about our expedition and cracks sarcastic nautical jokes.

You heard how he almost graduated from toilet to ape. This need is a vacuum, pathetic and merciless. I want to say it courses his son’s most delicate parts; remove his pressed black suit, show the contusions I marbled there.

I wanted to say if he is forced to conform, it is provisional. One can murder souls for their betterment – yours specifically. That hydrocephalus O’Blivion kissed by two flattened rounds – another fat gratuity from the Cabal.

You are worthy of this desolation: Ciao papa!

South with the Hazmat team. Lights of sparse habitations swish by. Sandro mumbles, his teeth gluey with cranial matter. He tells me he dreams Rosa among wet pillars and clay walls. Is he answered or rebuffed by her? I need to know.

New Meat

The object passes and blood opens the sky. By this he sees what moves in the water. Wells writes: “It was a round thing, the size of a football perhaps, or, it may be, bigger, and tentacles trailed down from it. It seemed black against the weltering blood-red water, and it was hopping fitfully about.”[3]

He edges around what cannot be carried from the shore. There is no heroic saga of cosmic exploration, no reflection on time and finitude. Thought might survive, snuffed with purpose by the zero-promise or sex-death – relentless “purposelessness which compels all purpose”.[4] It is what Ligotti might describe as the churning latrine of the Absolute -“a hyper-Chaos, for which nothing is or would seem to be impossible, not even the unthinkable.”[5]

Call this It follows. Eviscerated blind, it flops on a sandbar; clings to the last mat of polyp; suckered into new meat, until even your death hardens into priapism. Rosa wavers in rotoscope anime. Her distended face lost among duplicates: By killing myself I felt that I would also be killing all of you, killing every bad body on this Earth.[6]

The Prometheans forgot this. Appallingly, it transpires, since nature consistently sucks. Their Clinic is rewarded with a neat line in operable bodies. With these they could fuck the desert, which was all anyone had by this point. The wind moans out of utter darkness and cold. He sings: Go with me somewhere. Bold as love, into Café/Club Silencio.

Obertura crashes in screams.

Wired crowds on the bridge circulate between the old naval yards. He wonders if this too is over. He recalls the prophetic language shared between the Cabal and its revisionist opponents. “Interaction with the rational system of commitments follows a navigational paradigm in which the ramifications of an initial commitment must be compulsively elaborated”. [7]

Faith in the unmanifest and innocent – “mirror of the star-sown sky”.[8] We expect commitments to be acknowledged. Everyone wants a piece of death. There will be something for you out there. And some weather naturally. There would be no more Sunday outings on the bridge. Yet here we are.

Contact

One of the hazmats returned to the mainland today. She chartered the fishing vessel we saw on the first evening, hastening between the wake of two ungainly Buckies. Perhaps she considered further exploration fruitless, or was too discomforted by the moment at the Grain Temple.

Echoes of Anna riding in the back seats in cars, talking to foreigners on the docks, one sighting at a pharmacy, an object of venal curiosity growing multiple appendages.

The rest continue dredging samples beneath the cliffs. I ceaselessly deride his father in the shepherd’s hut. Sandro is impatient to join Rosa killing planets with a chamber pot and a few modest devices.

The Bucky Form remembers we must climb and affords us waxy grips. Faces and less obvious things push back; part water, part mind. The passengers were accommodating. No one on board could offer a name as S forced their spongy bodies into the assayer. On every barge, we see the same faces baked for return.

Rosa told S she can leave the Videodrome anytime. “It’s only a matter of framing now” she reproves. As if to emphasise this, O’Blivion’s grainy image blanks and cracks a smile.

Leave where?

In the City, the Cabal exemplifies Machiavelli’s nostrums. The Broken requires no subterfuge. It is what the Cabal only pretends to be.

He passes this and other intelligence in the dailies, certain of the role I invented for him. Feeling in ways that constantly surprise me, whether listening to a fridge or beaten.

Inversion

On his first visit, he saw them trail IV opiates and monitors growing engorged with their new organs. Some had basal tumors pierced through with constructs of bamboo or metal. Aside beatific suffering, their faces radiate commitment to Inversion: We prefer to think of them as collaborators. Each supplants a former life with its own conatus the Specialist told him.

On the horizon, the Spike interrogates land and sky. Nihilism is no longer our best option. Consider the alternative: that something truly cares or hunts for your pain. Things like floating stains, and as his eyes were drawn closer, he saw wet body parts around a temple frontage. 

Hotel

As we drove along the coast, I heard behemoths whelping monsters in the darkening bay. S was mumbling something from his eclectic dialogue with Rosa – how many independent channels of communication can she manage, I wonder? 

Traffic fitful, discouraged as much by Promethean activity as weather out of The Spike. Perhaps, like the rest of us, they feel the impasse. For this reason, we must be both tentative and opportunistic.

S couldn’t or refused to understand why I pleaded with him to go. But it didn’t matter. The heart hath its reasons! At the hotel, I gently removed his garments, folding them for the cupboard and bound him to the four corners of the bed. I affected resentment at him handing me the whip, an artefact from a prehistoric gender war. I leave him semen soaked and bloody, post snaps for the Executrix and wait for the negotiations. To be the author of another in this way is crueler than parenthood.

Come evening S is light headed from the anti-biotic salve. His conversation has become inane and I can smell drink on him. Perhaps it is a stigma of Rosa’s ventriloquism. She made his eyes flutter while she drawled and danced in his meat. 

She said that sounds are detaching from bodies, along with their other sensory qualities… The Prometheans used not to believe in gods but now they carry the one they made along the nomadic trails at the margins of the Broken. 

We walk under slowly cooling stars to a baroque ornament pillared in honey stone. Sandro is ingratiatingly still. I forward Grain Temple footage. Rosa promises the channel: “From the air the Titan’s body resembles a broken egg or a cuttlefish, sometimes a contained storm. The faithful pull it through the desert, which miraculously bleeds.”

Anna became enchained by the engineers in the South: “a sense of relentless, barely time …  hangs and hollows out the subject from within”[9]

Perhaps I will find her functional variants in their motels recording the forgotten syntax of our people.

 

[1] Cronenberg, David. Videodrome. Canada. 1983.

[2] Derrida, Jacques. “Parergon”, in The Truth in Painting, Geoff Bennington and Ian
McLeod (trans.), (1978; London: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 73.

[3] Wells, H. G. The Time Machine (Wise House Classics edition), 2016: 108.

[4] Brassier, Ray. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 236.

[5] Meillassoux, Quentin. After finitude: An essay on the necessity of contingency. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010: 64

[6] Ligotti, Thomas. My Work is Not Yet Done. Virgin Books, 2009: 136.

[7] Negarestani, Reza. “The Labour of the Inhuman.” Mackay and Avanessian,# Accelerate (2014): 425-466.

[8] Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things. London: Tavistock: 22.

[9] Ford, H. “Antonioni’s L’avventura and Deleuze’s time-image”. Sense of Cinema 2003.

 

David Roden teaches Philosophy at the Open University His published work has addressed the relationship between deconstruction and analytic philosophy, philosophical naturalism, the metaphysics of sound and posthumanism. His book Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (Routledge 2014) considers the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical implications of the existence of posthumans: powerful nonhuman agents produced by human-instigated technological processes. 

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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 gobbetmag@hotmail.co.uk 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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