Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week 18 - Charles' Story

The Living Head - ca. 1920
Courtesy of the Christian Fechner Collection

| "Just connect the wires and flick this switch and..."

The face twitched, the eyes opened and the corners of the mouth turned up. Barely.

"Do you see it?" he asked. I stared.

"See what?"

"The smile!" He turned it off, then on again. I flinched at the electric hum of the machine, at the way the muscles of the face quivered, never still.

"Why is it a woman?" There was a smell like something burning and I wanted to gag but kept my face even.

"Just imagine what it will mean," he said. "To science! To everything. First a head. Next, imagine! A whole body, alive and happy, but able to be shut off. And never a word spoken. Imagine!"

I looked into its face. Her face? Was there something behind her eyes, an electric rage that burned, yearning for a voice?

"But what is it for?" I asked, though of course he had already answered that.

He hesitated, gripped one hand in the other. "Well, look at her. Isn't she...perfect?"

Here I was supposed to nod, agree, sign the patent paper. I looked into those eyes, then switched off the machine.

"I'm sorry," I said, and left quickly. The eyes, still open, seemed to follow me as I fled. |

Not sure what's sadder here--that the inventor wanted to make the "perfect woman" or that the patent person could see the invention was already sentient and still disconnected her. Obviously the inventor is a disturbing individual. But perhaps more interesting is the patent person, who seems to be shutting off the invention in part so that they can feel they did the right thing, even if it destroys someone. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 17 - Charles' Recipe

Ionia, l'enchantresse - 1911
Courtesy of Christian Fechner Collection

| How to Join the Cloud Orgy in Three Easy Steps:

1.) Summon a host of doves. Not for peace. Not for beauty, though there is certainly something enchanting about the flame rising up from their white bodies charred black.

2.) Charm a serpent. Tell it there is a sweetness to your love that will sustain it through any journey. Let it retrieve the key to the sky from the Lord of Death. Give it a kiss as its reward. Unhinge your jaw. Swallow it whole.

3.) Throw the key into the volcano. Stand, arms outstretched, as the world runs as orange-red as the sky. Lift. Embrace. Join in. Never look down on what your flight has wrought. Live forever and never know sadness. |

I think this is the most depressing orgy I've ever seen. If the only way to reach it is kill yourself, destroy the world, and for fuck's sake don't look at what you've done, what happens when you look at what you've done anyway? Are you ripped from the emotionless cloud orgy back down to the hell that you've created? Nice blending of old mythos feel and cloud sex.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week 17 - Jes' Poem

Ionia, l'enchantresse - 1911
Courtesy of Christian Fechner Collection

| On Finding the Last Book of the Trilogy While Packing to Leave

you didn't then, but now you know, now you know. how she was able to part mind from body when her enemies appeared, knowing she was alone on that plain.

Ionia
you were betrayed

how she sent her spirit into her serpent while those men took her form apart, strip by strip. how they won their cowardly victory. how

Ionia
this can't end here

how she slithered miles to that peak, to possess the mountain that would end three books of war, would kill them all. a hot blast of fury and

Ionia
we read what we want to | - Jes Rausch

Okay super apologies I have been shit about keeping up recently and it is all my fault. This is a very interesting piece and I'm going to call it poetry though it's also prose, too, and it captures a great sense of finding some distraction at a stressful time but also being reminded that the stress is not over. That maybe it's just beginning. I love the title which implies a leave-taking but doesn't elaborate. Why is the person leaving, and from what? There's a strong violence here but also a stubborn hope and power and I quite like it. Indeed! - Charles Payseur

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Week 16 - Charles' Poem

Stock poster - 19th century
Courtesy of Christian Fechner Collection

| The Devil's Question

More than sin, the Devil values questions,
his fingers tracing curves on flesh,
humanity an open book
but something deeper lurks, buried,
a core of light,
a touch of the divine
that the Devil has been denied.

He remembers the void and the darkness
and a time before lies,
when he and his brothers served God
with deft touches and soft kisses
and sighs and moans
and always Lucifer, first among equals,
the favorite.

Now he feels flesh that parts for him,
that sighs and moans
and he asks his question
in a language that cannot be twisted.
How long is eternity?
How many years before flesh and substance
fade?

In the beginning there was light
and touch
and it was good,
so good, so right, why
did it end, why did it
slip away, and how
can the Devil hurry it past
all moral barriers?

In the end there shall only be
darkness,
hurried breathing,
a presence,
and a building pleasure.
The Devil gasps, asks his question,
and waits for an answer. |

The Devil sounds depressed here, wanting to get back to what was before. His wondering about his own mortality and longing for youth are something very in common with the humans he's with. Can't help but think the question is "why?" but interesting to leave it out.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 16 - Jes' Story

Stock Poster - 19th Century
Courtesy of Christian Fechner Collection

| In some versions of the story, the World Magician goes willingly. His eyes roll back with the promise of power, his body goes slack and malleable with expectation. In some versions of the story, the World Magician struggles body, mind, and soul, until he is crushed beneath the weight of power.

Always the Devil claims him, eases into him with the whispers of a million unfulfilled promises. The World Magician wakes over-flowing.

There is an untold version of the story, if you listen hard enough between the cracks of every truth you've ever heard. In this the Devil was once Human. Not true Human, not full Human, but the gristly bits and curls every Human carves off after a cruel thought, an impure deed, a well-marinated plot. The Devil is muscle, rotting on God-given destiny and his own superiority. No one is comforted by this version.

The World Magician steps into this. They are their own person and are neither willingly nor unwillingly corrupted. They are made up of so many scraps even they have lost their point of origin. The Devil decays at them as they step forward. They stand in the path of the Devil, and they raise their hands to the world. | - Jes Rausch

Whoa. I like the way that you weave the ambiguity of the piece, the giant question mark, into a confluence of possible stories. I like the way that the World Magician is so many different things, and that what they are doing between the Devil and the world is up in the air, never really answered. And I like how the Devil, too, is a question mark, is secret somehow. It all works to create this moment of wonder, of what is going on, and the answer is something and nothing, a question and a story. Nice! - Charles Payseur

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week 15 - Charles' Story

Vivisection - ca. 1932
Courtesy of Mike Caveney's Egyptian Hall Museum

| She does not sleep. Cannot, in truth, so full is she of magic and secrets. But when her body grows weary she leaves it behind and goes out, just a head and pair of feet, to stalk the night.

See her smile, teeth flashing brilliant white in the darkened alleyways. Hear the dull slap of bare feet on pavement.

What is left is always the same--two hands, stumps cut clean as if by razor wire; a heart, slightly gnawed; and a small doll made of hair. All belong to the victims. There is never a drop of blood to be found on scene, except what they can squeeze from the hands and heart.

There will come a day when she figures out how to prevent her body growing tired. When she won't have to steal into the gloom of the city to feed. There will come a day when she is so full of magic that there will be no more secrets.

She does not sleep. But she dreams... |

I'm guessing these aren't the good kind of magic and secrets. This was a fun horror piece, thanks 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Week 15 - Jes' Story

Vivisection - ca. 1932
Courtesy of Mike Caveney's Egyptian Hall Museum

| Vivian is wheeled out, next act, applause. Vivian's smile is weak enough to lose her pay again tonight. That's how it is in the business, that's what you get when the crowd loves you. An angry manager and a shot of vodka for nerves.

Vivian's eyes do not meet any eyes in the crowd. In her dressing room there are flowers, and a note:

My Sweet, Sweet Vivian, 
I can do nothing but think of you, every day, every hour, every second. When I shut my eyes you are there, twisting and writhing, a beautiful performance. I never miss such a stunning show. You are bliss itself! Ah, each bunch of roses I send are one less, I must touch what you may touch. I peel back the petals, one by one, draw them across my lips, soft as your skin must be. You will allow me this pleasure, I trust? This one flower of yours, to caress and destroy, shred at the altar of our unsatisfied love. Sweet, Sweet Vivian, for you I would bring out the silk cord, bind you down, draw my knife breasts to bush though it pains me, pains me, love. To peel back your layers like petals, to--I have said too much. Forgive me, Vivian, I will be at your performance. 
All my love 
All my love | - Jes Rausch

Well fuck. This is rather...disturbing. And rather meta, it being a note within a postcard story. Otherwise, I'm...just going to leave this one alone... Well done... - Charles Payseur