“Intellectual rigor demands that we give these damned metaphors every chance, even if they are inimical to personal well-being and comfort.”
Donald Barthleme, “At the End of the Mechanical Age”
“So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.”
The lover is makeshift, a free-floating signifier unbound by formal fetters. The lover is one I desire to uncomplicate and unwind, unweave his warbled way of walking, his scattered irises looking left to right, his pupils that seek corners and broken skylines searching for the past and haunting.
Is the funhouse really fun? Barth says, perhaps, for lovers. Ambrose wanders alone, crashing into the flimsy structures. Will he remain reflected in others’ folded, linklocked palms?
I want him where the world won’t, in the embrace of sign, in the meeting of words caressing bodies, an in and out of mind.
William Gass writes in The World Within the Word that “creating and defending a connection between what William James called the buzzing, blooming confusion of normal consciousness—of daily life with its unstimulating bumps, its teaseless, enervating grinds—and the clear and orderly silences of mathematics, a connection which will give us meaning, security, and management, in one lump sum, is what our science—is what our art, law, love, and magic—is principally about” (263).
Gass also claims that “the burden of being is felt most fully by the self-determining self” (6).
I once asked you to explain pragmatism. I saw you and you shifted with your usual shudders and contradictions. You asked me why and told me it was boring. I wanted to examine the unstimulating bumps and enervating grinds of these lonely, tiresome hearts.
We locked hands, linked fingers, kissing palm to palm. This is almost near enough to touch. But there is no flesh beneath the scab and scrabble of syntactic figures, Eliot’s ragged, scuttling claws. You are everything meaning desires in disjointed prose.
Oh language, bring me the lover between these trusses, bonds!
“Ocean, how forgotten you are, sea muck and metal rust, at the bottom where those fish eyes bubble, brought to the top to burst, myopic and mal-aligned, at a loss when brought to light. Who’s to say the underwater life is less—the deep waves and water’s intimate caress down low and languorous, pushed against a breast? There is a heft, love through a world dense with stratification. Our depths, kept floating, air drawing towards clouds in wisps and fissions where the languid lie. Deaths fastened to the stratosphere and limped to the foot of the earth like a shackle. I’d rather be bled through the chest—plumped with water heaving out and pressed.”
I cannot say I love your loss, though I desire to fill those gaps and spaces, even if I’d burst like the lungs of a hooked through fish. I tell you, “when fish are pulled from the depths, their eyes bulge and the sacks of their lungs compress. This is a different kind of drowning.” You look at me as if I am out of mind, boring through depths where semantic structures lie.
William Gass writes: “it is a style so desperate to rise, it would burst its own lungs.”
You wheeze like the wounded.
You bought a birdfeeder. I thought, perhaps, you were tempting seeds to draw this hunger back. I thought I’d come and go because I pleased, feathers shining in a ceremony fit for lovers or thieves. I’d come, collect, and you’d free the fingers lately clasped around your neck. Fidgeting and fancy, I’d unfasten my beak behind your back and wish and whistle. I could love you like that.
“Let me sink into the sea, where there are no feathers, no lust, where the fishes are wishes, where there is no such thing as trust.”
In order for any force to remain static in space, the sums of all (horizontal and vertical) forces, as well as all moments acting about the node, equal zero.
I’m worried that I may somehow lean too close to the edge of my windows. Instead of looking out I may end up in the world where language escapes. I can’t contain it (bird, fish, bridge, scale, wing). There are waves of worry winding through my jostled throat. I can’t seem anymore and the world has nothing, something, everything, to do: everything, something, nothing, you.
I recently saw a rabbit hopping down a busy street while traffic blurted and burped. It’s eyes stymied fearful rivers and its thick legs pumped, aiming to move out of the blinding, violent lights. It did not belong there, misplaced, searching frantically for the absent hedgerows.
“I’m back from my trip to Chicago and was wondering if we could get together and talk about Heather Momyer’s Performing the Illusion of Love: the Autobiographical Literary Critic and the Striptease Artist, suburbs, ragas, waxwings, pragmatism, harlequins, and Walter Benjamin?”
There is no response.
I do not mask my sadness. I can’t clamor my face with light and smile toward the seeds clouding up the air in the suffocating springtime. I fear everyone is leaving. I see the trails of their coats and the wave of their hands and I can’t imagine them back, rabbits disappearing through the darkness of a hat.
“’That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: `it always makes one a little giddy at first –‘
`Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. `I never heard of such a thing!’
`– but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
`I’m sure mine only works one way,’ Alice remarked. `I can’t remember things before they happen.’
`It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.”
(Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
Occasionally a former lover cities into my life despite the unaffected landscapes. This was how it began. The waves spit on the shore with the sounds of leaving through the wind.
See also: the 28 ways to fill space that have identical joints, geodesic dome, girder, mechanics of structures, a form used for telescopes, space frame, comprehensive stress, tensile stress, structural steel, where no compression member touches any other compression member, bridge, rod, a guitar part.
This is how we meet:
-People rush where everyone blurs through buildings. Why someone stands out is beyond understanding. This is a hall of mirrors, a funhouse fun for certain sorts of lovers.
-In a book there is an elephant. The elephant told lion, monkey, and rabbit he could not hide. Instead he splashed in the river and did not worry about seeking. He did not care about being all alone. Soon lion, monkey, and rabbit joined him. They formed and fun filled. They all fell in love.
-I love the interstices of not so simple starts.
-I sewed circular birds into patterns, beaks opening, closing, speaking. I thought it would wear away the wheeze of your most recent ruin. It did not. No matter what I did or do it will not will your want.
-You watched me. I didn’t know one day I would lay in your arms while you looked back into the past where someone else’s eyes were what you wanted.
-A building, a farm, a roof, an airplane, a temple, a steeple, in a room full of people.
The lover and I seldom or occasionally never even oddly.
A truss rod is used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature (relief), of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension.
Recently I wake early and join others in a room where we circle and speak of that which I am only vaguely familiar. People stretch and bend. Why do I do this? I think it might improve the structure deep within my bones.
It brings me a certain kind of calm. Except when the conversation moves to unicorns, elephants, abduction and adduction, ribald monks and musk.
At moments, I think I am mad, hitching past to future, timidly trussed. What have I gotten into? Is it just my love?
“Every lover is mad, we are told. But can we imagine a madman in love? Never—I am entitled only to an impoverished, incomplete, metaphorical madness: love drives me nearly mad, but I do not communicate with the supernatural, there is nothing of the sacred within me; my madness, a mere irrationality, is dim, even invisible; besides, it is entirely recuperated by the culture: it frightens no one.”
(Roland Barthes, A Lovers Discourse, 120)
god is love is god is want is what is want is love is want is what i love is love i want is what i what is love or want
I imagine us under a roof cornered toward the sky where the worried wheezing goes. Here I bake cookies. Here I wear an apron and sprinkle flakes of food into a bowl of rabbits and fish. Here I talk about crossing through the mirror that subtends all speculation.
I say “coherence in contradiction expresses the force of a desire.”
I say “tensile strength indicates when necking will occur.”
You say, “yes, yes, yes.”
We link words and sentences, our bodies’ flesh and flesh.
I mimic, warble, at home where imagination is wrought, able to make in love-like simulations.
-be real with your self about looking for a man put up a real ad
-fun with movies, a lounge, traveling, amusement parks
-I don’t wear flashy clothes
-I imagine you wouldn’t want people knowing you like getting used
-I’ve noticed that posts and responses in my region tend to be best defined as “barely literate” and have seen that there’s actual thought put into the writing for posts in the New York section
-Ever since I can remember I always had a think
-I am rare, you are rare.
-if everything goes well then so on so forth
-I think I’m just awkward and tolerated
“After the shock of this disappointment her heart once more remained empty, and then the same series of identical days recommenced [. . .] ‘I have read everything,’ she said to herself.”
(Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary)
We walk down the tree-lined street and chill figures our backs. It is cloudy and cold although early May when the leaves burst through. I’ve studied the peak of bridges, rooftops, how things hold together despite stress. Even though people lean from the edge and teeter into the world beyond, we are strung together because of want that was. Now, I can only love like the rabbit in a world he did not devise, beautiful beyond belief, bursting from the fetters, lungs. Beyond the truss and trust, where you will always find the certainty of this you know, you, you who are just my kind of love.
Barthes, Roland. A Lover’s Discourse. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and
Wang, 1978. Print.
Barthleme, Donald. “At the End of the Mechanical Age”. Heath Anthology of American
Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Schocken Books, New York, 1968. Print.
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Philadelphia:
Henry Altemus Company, 1897. Print.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Brainy Quote. Brainy Media, 2001. Web. 18 May 2010.
Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. New York: Longman, 1988. Print.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Ed. De Man, Paul. New York: WW Norton, 1965.
Gass, William. The World Within the Word. New York: Basic Books, 1971. Print.
Irigaray, Luce. “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine.”
Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Boston:
Blackwell, 1998. Print.
“Men Seeking Women”. New York Craigslist. Craig Newmark. 1995. Web. 18 May
Momyer, Heather. Performing the Illusion of Love: the Autobiographical Literary Critic
and the Striptease Artist. Diss. U of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2007. Print.
“Truss”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004.
Web. 18 May 2010.
Rebbecca Brown lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Hunter College.