Exception of (not) being takes into consideration several emerging perspectives, for a type of research that involves a social vision but also individual experience, with a specific focus on the transition phase that distinguishes the period we are currently living. The hopes, fears, the obsessions we are creating in a moment of complete unawareness and of economic, social, political and religious uncertainty.
Science / medicine as new religion
Perhaps as never before, this statement demonstrates its greatest strength. Individuals today are confronting the concept of existence and resilience in a rather disruptive way. It is quite clear that we are transforming our entire existence into a health obligation and in the name of these new rules, we are building a new exception. Throughout history, the body has been regulated and held as a property, either within the realm of the law or capital. Furthermore, the relationship or gap between our bodies and our minds, has increasingly been augmented or prevented through the multifaceted machine of capitalism or the end of capitalism, and the new layer of domination, such as the vectoralist dream of social media.
Purification as a ritual
As a consequence of the first reflection, hygiene or the purifying act generates new ritualistic forms that can in turn produce obsessive attitudes also deriving from the anxiety of not being able to recognize or have the tools to defend themselves. This attitude has as its horizon an indeterminate object that generates irrational dynamics; puts us in an indefinite situation in which there is no possibility of assuming rational behavior. The ritualization of disinfecting and its role within religion of science, can be seen much like the way the catholic church sold condolences. The large population of the poor and some working class due to not having access or the means to indulge in the rituals of disinfection, such as running water. Lack of economic safety nets forces people into the open air, into the contagion circles of those they have to serve, while the better off and the ruling class, remain cloistered within their own homes. For those living in mega cities without proper infrastructure, the pandemic is almost a death sentence, or equates in essence to the sentiment behind the cast in which capitalist society brought about and that persists into the slippage after the fall. It should come as no surprise the vectoralist entities such as Amazon remains profitable if not more so during this epidemic. The proliferation of information prevails, and with it the control of dissemination.
Redesign: Urban / architectural
New possibilities of transforming spaces are taking shape, cities could take on new profiles, public spaces are likely to undergo permanent alterations in anticipation of "eternal returns" of pandemics. Consequently, the new social dynamics can be completely reinvented, the role of the network and software in general undergo an incredible rise, both in social but also in working terms. The siloization of the subject will soon be reflected in everyday architecture, restaurant booths segmented in glass, each patron contained in their own private, hygienic space. The architecture of erasure.
Finally, counter-insurgency is the war form most suited to the vector class, as it is a war of information. All moments can be transformed by the counter-insurgent agent into moments of war, all information is essential to the mission. The perfect "enemy" for the counter-insurgent agent is the invisible enemy, as it is inherently pathological. Covid being a viral infection it remains invisible. The media as an entity of the vectoralist will have no choice but to adopt the language, and therefore they will speak of the virus as an enemy. Impregnating the other with suspicion. The invisible enemy can possess the body of the other. This suspicion is in turn mobilized in a series of rituals and internalization. The other is simultaneously to be under suspicion, to be longed for in their realized absence (though perhaps this is just the desire to see one self-reflected in the canvas of the other) and yet at the same time the other is contendable, negotiable, one’s own desires unfulfilled lead to a regressive animosity for the other, they become the obstacle.
Extinction and exception of (not) being
The capital cannot hold, and as it is built upon like the corpse of a nation, or segmented further into new iterations of information-centric forms of power, the possibility of humanity further erodes into extinction. Perhaps we are now in the penumbra of extinctions shadow, caught in the transitional phase from capital into whatever it has become. This epidemic has acted only as hermeneutics, bringing to the surface submerged (though only partially, as for the bearers of the lack nothing is hidden) deficiencies and lapses, engineered voids. The state of the exception* always reveals the essence of the typical. The poor get poorer and the marginalized are forced into even thinner holdings of the cast. Though perhaps in this unveiling, we can for a moment see the other, the other that is often only but a canvas for a projection. The path held before us towards pure extinction can be a horizon of which one remains in constant retreat, or it can be a force paralyzing enough to give one a brief pause, to inherit the meaning of nothingness, to embrace the leaving. To leave and for it to mean nothing. This lack or negativity can perhaps be a foot hold, to help push up and out of the trench of our dismal reality edging inwards like the approaching night, the twilight of the Anthropocene?
* On the “state of exception” and other analyses deriving from it, consider the reflections of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben
Bread and Land
Knotted in a pose of tethered mutuality, each weaved too deeply for any possible escape. I knew the ivy and the junction box spitting cords could not live, not as each grew like that, as they were. In a way it was impossible to distinguish parts of colored cords, blue, purple, green and pink, between the twisting lengths of desperate city ivy all tendriled. A pastiche of healthy arboreous roots or ventricle blood tracks. Diagrams of nervous, cybernetic and economic systems as depicted in Herbert L Mumford’s detailed book “the wrapped earth a discourse on international and sub-oceanic communication system network cables and the emergent constellations of par-governmental and governmental corporate satellites.
”The envelope needed to be delivered, its texture began to soften with palm sweat. I stand at a precipice, staring down at the rails and cords, a confounding system, a mangled nest resembling exposed nerves or exhumed roots. A deep resonant sound emanates from everywhere yet nowhere all at once, a sound that fills the space with a palpable trembling. I look at my watch to find the batteries have died, the delicate hands stopped at 4:52.
The dialogue of station birds, sunset colored finches and ash colored doves, gripping wires or the steel vectors, the industrial framework of the ceiling, a matrix. The birds confused or rather in admonishment, stunned paralyzed coos, whistle out tones of clustered doom, lamenting the absurdity of this crude and pornographic environment, trees and vines that lack fruit or dew and the mindless dust. My watch had stopped at 4:52. It was not 4:52, though it was some other time, exactly what time it was, I was not sure, but knew instinctively it was not 4:52.
“I have a fever.” Speaking muffled one hand over the receiver, like a kidnapper demanding ransom.
“Yes. I won’t be making it in today. Will you please let….”
“A Fever?” The voice said on the other line an unfamiliar voice that sounded distant and tinny. Distained laughter or the recorded wailing of a studio audience clouding the sound coming through the speaker.
“Are you near a television?”
“A Television?” covering one ear, the sound of the recorded laughter growing more intense in volume. “Never mind just let Jerry know I won’t be in today due to a fever.”
“A fever?” The women said, before the line cut to a roaring sea of static. Burst of light spilled into the caboose, sun flashing between the passing buildings. For a moment, the domed roof of the sky seems to arch forever, craning above the melting city line, vanishing into the milky infinite distance.
A red-faced man in a leather jacket clumsily eats a mango with two hands, forcing the fruit into his mouth, seemingly pressing it into his teeth. I was going into the decimated part of the city, or that is the part of the city that no longer existed or existed but as a forced imprint, representation in its lack, like the shadows sealed. The red-faced man kept looking at me as he smashed the fruit into his closed teeth. He wanted to tell me about the topology of redress and white scorn, he had years’ worth of pickled bruises and internalized bait, fermented into defensive immunological appetitive mannerisms, half whispers and self-caresses fogging up the space between him and the blank mass of it all pressing greatly against him. An officer crept up like a blemish anointed with rage and malignancies. Reaching for his gun, he asked to see everyone’s tickets. The officer with a thick neck and furrowed brows approaches a black woman in an yellow sweatshirt and eyes to kind to be the eyes of an American, she asks for a moment while she searchers through her purse and the officer wraps her wrist with a zip tie and throws her face into the front back of the seat opposing her, the officer does this with such speed that, the woman had always been zip tied.
The officer moved his hands with such speed that history's seams fell open. He reached like a surgeon's gloved hand into the medically induced gash, inserting trauma deep into the caverns. A surgeon in reverse. Deftly and with perfect grammar placing the tumor onto the glistening lymph nodes, attaching with festudious care, his fingers slim and precise a piano player in another life. Before the train stops, they are gone. An adjunct professor with round glasses, two bearded men in rain slickers, a group of five or seven men in white pressed shirts and pleated slacks, and a red haired child all see but don’t see the woman in the yellow sweater be pulled from the train, they don’t see this mostly and in the span of time it takes them to accept they don’t see it they have moved on, looking down into screens or at the ribbed rubber floor abacused with bits and crumbs of buttered cookies, chemically red corn chips, foam crusted pebbles of bread, nearly petrified raisins, scatterings of lose change, pennies and dimes not yet found by the wandering fingers of those without homes, fingers propelled by inherent motion like blind insects stumbling in the dirt and moss. Others looked out windows into the smearing of all that was left. I got off at the last station and walked for a few blocks.
A leak of government documents, or that is several maps and charts had been given to the media by an unknown, though actually perhaps every well-known source. Known though only in the way in which the operative codes can be known to the suited men, held in air-conditioned bunkers whose aged hands continually shift documents, bits of their skin cells caressing the sheets of paper, halfway dreaming of beds dressed by young sex workers, hushed in tones of sound proof walls. These maps detail the sacrificial zones, areas of major cities and some less significant. Areas partitioned off and exported to the war front.
Blocks of inner cities marked off in red ink. I thought about how the city might look from above. A patchwork of zones and non-zones. Surgical elimination. Though perhaps, the elimination or sacrificial zones and their former inhabitants and current inhabitants, had indeed always been here or not here that is, left half way, one foot in the door (leaving the other half of course in void, or lack, not in).
Pale glaring on the polished black marble lying in sand a few feet from the elevator. Cloudless projected screen (temporary horizon), she used to count all day, placing each note with its useless face, looking towards the space in which light used to come. The wrinkle in her face expressed the great lack of things that really had never been nor possessed, a wrinkle that of an animal plucked up and transported to a new and sinister environment or that is the way it seemed, in the view briefly given, as I walked past what had been a bank, or was still a bank. There were no windows. mindless dust.
Walls were merely suggestive. Relics of things that once were walls, but had been transformed into the remnants of buildings. Flattened out and deconstructed into the mode of their efforts, absorbed into its structure, ashen gray sameness. Through the skeleton of the bank lobby, I could see the elderly Cuban woman selling guava and cheese rolls, and half warm coffee, her hair netted. A line of shoppers pretending to see walls. Beyond that there was the laundromat its machines appearing ten thousand years old, and beyond that makeshift shelves being stocked with dented cans of peas, and tuna fish by a group of school children.
I felt from the heat and what still hung in the air, a vague nausea, a light nausea just at the edge of becoming. I had not delivered a single letter since it happened. Now as I walk not on duty, I am ironically in route once again to deliver an envelope. Perhaps the postman like the writer is even at work on vacation, though of course I was not on vacation either, nor did I deliver mail any longer, at least not for now. The dumb hands on my watch face had not moved, still showing 4:52. It was a letter to my landlord. I did not know my landlord as they worked for a large conglomerate of landlords and we had never met in person. The building lay past a stretch of the city that had been selected for a sacrificial zone.
A streetcar vendor, roast peanuts in sugar and honey, its sweet scent filling me with ennui. The old man selling confections has rotten teeth and a gaunt frame, he swims in the thin material of his aged jacket, the outline of his skeleton nakedly visible both on his hands and in his face. Clumsily in a perverted English he declares the name of his product repeatedly. The sound rising and lowering in volume with each affirmation. I wondered how many times a day he has bellowed the same few words? I imagined it fell from him now, its movement lost to involuntary memory, his tattered mouth would hinge open and the sound would escape. After a few blocks I find a nearly vacant bistro and order a cappuccino with sweet cream and a chocolate éclair. The waiters move rigidly between tables and speak very little. To pass the time I read from a local newspaper. The pastries sugar burns in the crevasses between my teeth. I haven't seen a dentist in a year and now my dentist is dead, his shadow scolded in the pavement, or his body evaporated in a swift exodus. The image of the reservoir I had seen the previous night appears once again in its sensational print.
Plumes of black smoke fill the room. Some moments seemed to lack time. Moments that would leave only the trace of some illusory time like a film or resin, of sorts, that would collect like dirt on the skin. Sirens echo off the city’s endless system of walls and half walls and hills of grey rubble, projecting sound in every direction. Particles of incinerated objects listlessly succumb to gravity. The thick scent of smoke proliferates with each gust of wind. Soon the burn has weaved into the fabric of my clothes, clinging to my skin. The waiter noticing me sniffing my coat, “I apologize for the smell; the buildings have been on fire since it all happened.” I told him it was fine.
There was only one wall, that was really only 2/3rds of a wall, three tables propped on grey bricks and covered in gray cloth or ash (the forearms of my shirt now stained, the skin on my back and thighs covered in sot,), and six or seven steel pillars. I could see the chef cooking chunks of meat on a primitive stove consisting of a shopping cart and stones, heated by a strange green flame. The same green flame that would not dissipate, lingering like apparitions thought the city. The letter to my landlord rests on the table two inches from the cup saucer, it is too now ash ridden, I still hoped they would accept it.
The waiter tripped on an unknowable lump of gray hardness, hitting his head on the ground, a fog of ash billowing around him. Helping him up I noticed a half his face was covered in a purple welt, the skin taught and alien, as were patches of his right arm.
“The wings pointed past trick waters minutes, police silhouettes, cedar hedge, stone tags and the in- pan belts of trees and bushes, richly foliaged polished oil derrick, vector lines, would permeance hide me and any light I might make.” A siren somewhere in the distance rang, though it was not nearing. The smell of the meat burning on the shopping cart, began to make me sick, or that is the waft of burnt meat, or, no maybe, it was smoke of the green flames burning the building, aggravating my mild or nearing nausea. I did not understand what the man had meant. Perhaps he had really hit his head hard. It was unsteady footing anywhere, as most of what was, now lay inert, and gray, and hard, and unknown. Each step a bricolage of loss. My teeth had not stopped aching. The waiter had perfect teeth, despite having a burnt face. I wanted to ask if he knew of a dentist, but the waiter did not seem coherent enough to elaborate on his hygiene or its maintenance. Trading place in a cosmic sense, I sat the waiter down at the table. He had a little blood running down his chin.
Leaving I found that it was nearing curfew, the sun readying to set. Time had prolapsed or gently eroded at its edges. I needed a dentist. Checking my pockets, I found, the letter missing. I was three blocks away from the bistro. Running back, I stumble twice on the gray masses of things that remain unknowable, scraping my knees and palms. The waiter was still at the table. My letter was open and slowly the waiter was reading what I had written for my landlord. His swollen face turned down. I wonder why he would open a letter not addressed to him? Hearing my footsteps, he looks up and our eyes meet perhaps for the first time, they are milked over and he is far older than I had first thought. “I think I can help you.
”The waiter's voice took on the pulse and meandering rust of a man near a final edge. His chin was still bleeding. “It's nearing curfew and I have to deliver that to my landlord, or that is his conglomerate, or perhaps him or her, their self, or their secretary, I have not worked that out quite yet.” “I understand your situation; I think I can help.” Placing the letter into the envelope, the old waiter placed it into his inner coat pocket, which was an alarming site. Why had he taken my letter? The envelope paper had darkened, now almost a grayish tone, a humorless gray like the amorphic shape of a synthetic cloud, or the dead eye of a river fish. I had no choice. Leading me into a labyrinth of alleys or half alleys hieroglyphed in graffiti. We were at the edge of two zones. On the right the sacrificial zone and the left the glass towers, that now as the sun was setting, reflected a soft honey color.
“My wife, late-wife, now, wrote a book about the illusory nature of stasis and its somewhat dismal, at least overwhelmingly incongruent nature with how the human soul wants to make itself out, it was a short novel about the inventor of a new detergent, I read it once. She is dead now, the book gone to, pehpars a modicum of what now covers the ground. She never learned English. She hated English. I learned by weighting tables. I once waited for the CEO of Pepsi, well he served as CEO for three years in the mid something, 80s or 90s or I'm not sure, he was a black-haired bastard with rotted teeth. He ate a Sea Bass with orange glaze and spit each bone onto the hexagonal patterned carpet.... I had rituals even then, before all this we used to have rituals, me and my wife. I used to fill a saucer with milk and watch a cat come crawling from under the rotted boards, or watch as midges of gnats swarmed near a street post’s global shed of light, untangle the knots of her plump back…
” The old waiter was speaking, not necessarily talking to me, he probably did not speak to many people, he would ask if they wanted a refill, apologize, count out change; but the litany and minutiae crept only inwards. The letter the waiter held ransom, began emanating a sound, or psychologically my mind forced this into reality, or some pastiche of reality, which perhaps is the only type of reality. The letter humming like a cicada. “I have spent the last few months wiping away ash from table tops, and the flat square of wooden chairs, sweeping up hills of grey, later after a surface has been baptized, the ashes will gather again. No one comes to eat; they pass by covered in grey. I'll wipe ash 5-6 hours a day. Reveal down trick waters minutes, mesmerized sardines, the articles refugees, loan to Songs, bearing apparent visible ceremonials. I read my wife's book once and at times lines will come back to me…”
Walking down into a darkened hole. The subway stairs falling deep into the space beneath the city. Suddenly the old waiter stops and we open a door that did not appear to be there at first. In the abandoned hull of a subway cart, someone had set up a white room smelling of disinfectant. A woman behind a black desk sits in an all-white suit, only her eyes showing. “They turn blood into medicine. It pays well.” Lifting up his sleeve he showed me his arm. Though it was hard to tell what was radiation poisoning and what might be scars from needle entry, or from the age of the skin itself with its translucent and speckled canvas. “You can still sell it, even with radiation poisoning and burns like that?” Though the old man did not answer. Taking off his suit jacket and resting it on the waiting chair, he walked up to the desk, and was greeted like an old friend. My watch showed 4:52. In this sunken place I had no access to time. Shaking the jacket my letter falls to the white floor. Disappearing behind a medical partition the woman in white and the old waiter, embrace in transfusion. The envelope leaves a small tracing of its shape in ash on the white floor. Getting lost twice, I find my way to the surface. A failed light cools in the edges of the horizon. Unsure of the time I run, breathing in deep lungfuls of rotted air.
Coming up to it, the edge of one world and another. Passing a line of separation, into the cool simulated environment of a tall glass building off the street. The foyer’s design is circular and constructed in a way that one is forced to look up into the looming orbital chandelier suspended taut from a thin cord. Points of light vibrate on every surface in formless patterns. A reflection of the luminous fixture, glaring on the polished black marble floor, appears in such great likeness to that of the sun's refraction on the pale green sea of my youth, that I feel I might weep. I had not seen a body of water in years. Actually, I could not recall the last time I had seen a shore line or even a rocky lake edge, or brook, or tributary, or creek.
The room was equipped with the light fixture, a white marble desk, and a bay of elevator doors made of hammered tin, three large dragon trees spiraling and arching with lengths of sharp leaves. No one was at the desk. A blackened letter wrinkled in sweat. The building seemed to be completely carved from veined stone. A beetle moved across the marble. Crouching down, I found the insect was rimmed in gold, its black shell or its body segmented in two angular shapes, six small wire-like legs. What would the thing eat? How did it find its way in? This was not a garden bed lumped with cool dark soil or a forest floor shaded and fermented in the compost of leaf. Though there would be no predator waiting to crack into the beetles warm innards. I had never seen a gold rimmed beetle. Longing but not having the taxological knowledge or systems in relation to the practice and nomenclature of an entomologist, I could only call the thing a gold rimmed beetle, and this felt immature and small minded. Never having studied biology, I was at a complete loss. Suddenly a shadow loomed above me.
“I hope you're not shitting on the floor” looking up, a large man dressed in a hazmat suit cocked his head down, only his eyes showing through a sheen of protective plastic, his voice distorted through a ventilator. “Did you really think I was defecating?” “Are you an immigrant? This is not an embassy. How did you get in?” “The door was open,” The man had a strange and abrasive practiced way of human interaction. Standing I came up to the man’s shoulders. From a hidden door in the wall two more men appeared though in sharkskin suits and wearing surgical masks and gloves. I wondered if either one happened to be a dentist, the shorter one walked with a posture of a man who spends several hours a day in an intimate proximity to teeth, but further I hoped one might be my landlord, or their proxy. “This is Killgore and Killgore and Killgore, the landlord conglomerate?” “They are one of the conglomerates here, there are several firms and corporations. Level 34, right Todd.”
Todd was one of the men in the sharkskin suits, he was shorter than the man in the hazmat suit but still taller than the other man and myself, and had thick yellow eyebrows that appeared to be living creatures. Todd confirmed with a nasal exhale and nod. “My kids and wife, they won't leave the house, I don't think they have seen the sky in weeks. You're covered in ash and it's on your shirt and face and dusted in your hair. This is what my wife and kids fear, the poison air, the ash, the green flames. “ Todd listened to the man in the hazmat suit and nodded in approval and sympathy, the shortest man said nothing, nor nod in approval, he looked off in some speculative and unknowable space. “I’m actually going to have to leave a little early, Todd. I have to bring my family dinner. Like I said they won't leave the damn house.” I thought about the old waiter, his wife’s book sounded interesting. I needed to give this letter to my landlord. The envelope was ash blackened and wet from sweat. Soon I knew they would ask me to leave. I was contaminated. My things, my bed, clothing, books, plants, television, all would remain on the street until each article had been picked clean.
“The other day Helen, my wife, read me a few pages from a book on medieval leaching and the market economy of early bacteriophage. She reads with surgical gloves and disinfects each page, and she reads to me aloud. On a crawling day I reached lamps heavily amid thickets, salivary nocturnal flash. white voice speech swamps. Wipe the body with a damp cloth. Without touching the lips, place a tablet under the tongue. snake fluids. Nested with darkly indication. The swollen limpid digest, the augmented neurological benefiting, mass callus. To lay fevered in a swaying field of wheat, a scythe near the edge of path. In the castle wrap the body in fine muslin, sinless and white.
I like to watch as she disinfects each page. She has a great reading voice. “The man in the hazmat suit finished and began spraying out a fog from the mechanical wand he was holding, I had not noticed it before. Todd had been watching my face closely as the man in the hazmat suit repeated the words his wife had read. The shortest man had closed his eyes and though I could not see his mouth I knew he was following along with each word, speaking silently behind his mask. I pull the ash blackened envelope from my inner coat pocket. “I need to give this to my landlord” The three man stop and stare at me for a moment. Looking down, I found the beetle had been killed. A light yellow almost colorless mush of the beetle’s guts now a blemish on the surface of the marble floor. With a sharp leather toe, the shortest man kicked at the lifeless shell. “There are no landlords here, the conglomerates are only partially here, in the form of facilitators and advisors, a few actuaries. The landlords work from an unlisted building in some other sea facing city. That letter would take a few weeks to reach them, and even then it must be precisely addressed, with the sector, locus constant, member identification number, copy of member card both front and back, two other forms of identification not limited to driver’s license, birth certificate, doctors note, library card, and so on, then the letter must be first sent to a processing center in a small town in Idaho. It would probably be best to get a few stamps and an express envelope. There will be not much you can do here. Do you work? You appear sick, and have a protuberance on your left hand, discolored in the reactionary hues of radiation burns. There is, I believe a post office a few blocks away. Though I guess they are not running and perhaps that one is no longer there?” At having said this the shortest man went back to toeing the body of the beetle.
November and that algebraic wind. Half speeches of feckless leach bearers, early not to void, to push into the air, each day they wipe clean the streets, tear down the tarpaulin stretched roofs, and the huddles of cardboard beds, the concrete sprayed with high pressure hoses, sunsetless cells, a dream to die a janitor or leathered and droughted on the asphalt roof of an aging county commissioner, to want to be dragged in the foxhole, what forces push them there, slick greased tongue of facsimile hexes, gorgonized caste. I finger my last five-dollar bill. It's paper softly manipulative and shapeless in the linted pocket of my jeans.
The cashier looks at me blankly, there are other things on her mind. I wonder if they are hiring, but see no signs or flyers indicating help is needed. It's not hard to tell the cashier wishes she was not here, she is wishing she was anywhere but here, there is a scale playing in her mind the weights of options, or directions that seem like options but are only the structural lines of the closed loop, the futility of this scale and practice she dually understands. This process of thought is a tool to separate oneself from the whole of it all in which we are so repressively tethered to, and that with each tremor or hint of movement the cord is pulled and the other end is justled, manipulated in jagged capricious lengths. Her dark skin had been made lighter by the ash covering it. The color under her nails a deep wet soil, pressed in soot. She had been searching for something before. Shifters. They come to the sites or more so the non-sites and drag the mindless dust and ash, running handfuls through screen or mesh , or lifting edges of hard gray lumps of things unknown as if looking for insects or hidden keys, or pile the things in structures that at first glance appear spiritual, some bring bags and fill them with gray objects hulling them home--sisyphean figures. I once saw a woman bring a broom and sweep for hours though nothing changed, ash grey sameness. Nothing is ever found.
I take my time to read the menu. Like the cashier I play a game of weights and scales, as if there is an option. Where will I sleep? The cashier takes my order and my last five dollars and returns to me a few dimes. We don't speak. As she places the coins into my cupped palm the tips of her fingers contact that wrinkled concave spot in my hand. I stand near a space in which a wall had once been and look out at the horizon, past the grey swarths of ruins into the lights of the portions of the city that still stand and the buildings in their erectness emanate light. In those pins of light, others sit dumbly thinking they are inhabiting a permanent environment, that the void is not subsuming them even as they sleep or rest inertly without thought before some glaring screen.
I wonder if the old waiter is still being drained of his blood, and if he has fallen again into some pit of grey. The cashier places my food on the counter and calls my number.
Taking the letter out I read its contents, reading as if I had not written it, attempting to assume the position of the landlord. Closing my eyes, I could see the yawing horizon fading, as I stood at the window of a skyrise office, a view that in its pedestrian familiarity takes on a homogenized and feckless shape, it could be anywhere, any number of cities, everything nearly drawing dismantled, frozen inverted childhood turrets baring commercial acids, repeatedly bronzed fluids, entropy and heat death, the billboard advertising intravenously administered birth control, a low flying plane. An alcove hides me. Perhaps, an alcove is the wrong word, as it is more what remains of a dilapidated room, an office or small studio. I am surrounded by the ash gray sameness. Three walls and the hill of unknown debris obscuring my position. I can see across the street (looking from one zone into the next), the orbital chandelier or a segment of its glare held in the glass of the entry door. A collection of stones (grey objects of unknown origin, bricks, crumbled foundation, torsos, things hardened in death,) large enough to break a skull, I have held them each and can feel the weight.
At some point they must leave through this door. There is only one way out. With the blunt end of a half-burnt stick or stone I have begun writing in ash trails. I have written on the free space of the letter to my landlord and on the deconstructed envelope, but I ran out of room. I am writing a book. The non-room has a store of somehow unburnt magazines found under a large slab of greyness. There is a television in the corner, the image is blurred and the screen is cracked. A celebrity spiritual medium is telling a story about a leper colony to a talk show host. I write in small ash letters onto the glossy pages. When the shortest man, or Todd, or the man in the hazmat suit exits through the glass door, I will stealthily follow behind them. I have held each stone of grey and each has a weight.