A new essay, “The Pathos of Proximity: Violent Writing Part One,” has been published in Trigger Warning, Issue #5: The Dystopia Issue. Before anyone sends me more hate mail for continuing to associate with Rachel Haywire, please note that any collective radical enough for James LaFond is worthy of my time.
While a quick perusal of the other pieces in the issue reveal a united malaise with what “dystopia” can even mean to people living at the end of a tyrannical regime that has demanded that each of us act as his or her own despot, my essay might bring the issue a little closer to home.
As many know, I’ve been a writer with a deep interest in the physiology of violence and its potential to transform the human body and its relationship with its milieu: particularly in making the body incompatible with the contemporary world. “Kill the Last Man inside of you!” … “Become ungovernable!” … that kind of thing. Well, in the process of making myself incompatible, I began to realize that writing might be part of the Last Man I am always in the process of murdering.
The verbish and daring viking or the priestly monk tasked with codifying viking exploits for a sedentary and literary theologized audience? The guerrilla in Anywhere America or the guy who visits the guerrilla’s camp in order to get a scoop? The athlete or the journalist? The hero or the storyteller – Achilles or Homer?
“Some fight with bullets, others with words.” Funny that the bullet fighters never say that. They can’t say it because they know that the instincts being expressed by pipe hitting and writing are not the same. I always knew that, but never let it become an issue in my daily life – writing is the only craft I’ve ever had, unless you count reading – until I made friends with a Serbian variant of Kalashnikov’s gift to humanity.
A mag in, and I smiled: “I want to write a book with you!” Another mag in, and I scoffed, “Only a slave would think about writing while blasting holes in the fabric of time and space with one of these things.” Thus, a conundrum was born, but it didn’t die there in the glare of a destroyed milquetoast face seeking re-election. Instead it followed me home and has been a specter haunting my every move for two months. Something broke loose – whatever it was that allowed me to think that sitting quietly in an air-conditioned library with a computer was a threat to this world.
Either I have to find a way to write the same violence created by the AK, or somehow, a dream is to be deferred.
“Mark, meet Marinetti.”
“Yeah, I’ve known and loved him for years.”
“You did, sure, but you didn’t really know him, did you. You knew the grammar and the words, but you didn’t understand just how hard this whole thing is gonna be. You got the word part down, there’s no doubt. You understand quite well how they operate – their power. Hell you even understand their force – I mean, how many years has it been since you read that obscure note in one of Nietzsche’s notebooks about language being a servant of herd instincts – yet you still seek to use them! Did you ever think about what they were doing to YOU? And for whom?”
All the rat-a-tat-tat and sounds of war – to say nothing of what a real life firefight must do to the body of the victor – all the words about violence: Who are they for? The man who just survived the bombs and bullets or the man who only wants to know about that man from the comfort of his favorite reading chair? If the words associated with my name are to have any value then they must be knowable and transformational to the fighter.
But, the conundrum deepens: would such a man have any use for them?
I slid down the smile of a word, drilled.
That is my origin …
But I don’t remember if I was expelled
Or if I took my things and slid down
Thinking … it was words that created us.
They shaped us, and spread their lines
To control us.
But I know that a few men gather
– Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos