[A NEW FRAME OF NOTHING]

Season: WHEN THE PONIES SHED

[aesthetic, re: a new frame of nothing]

Issue 2:

Design by Janice Lee

Implementation by Jeff Uyeno / Heavyhand Design

A New Frame of Nothing

Today, in the writing of English fiction, or perhaps we should say non-factual prose, a shift is occurring: a shift of geological, or at least meteorological proportions. This transformation involves not intra-verbal structures, but the relations between words and the world. Moreover, it cannot simply be subsumed under the deconstructive event, which was in any case more philosophical than literary. Nor can it be seen as just a later variant of structuralism in which the signifier is radically decoupled from the signified: though both of these movements may have nurtured it.

More precisely, the current change could be described as the tending towards a state in which, while words are in some sense still tethered to the world—ordered, connected, repelled and attracted by its complex combinations of force and form—they are freer to roam than before. Further still, words no longer prowl in single-occupancy pens, but move about in herds like buffalo across the plains, or clouds across the sky, forming and reforming ever-changing clusters, each of which has its own unique qualities as long as it lasts, but none of which hold for long, as each drifts and dissolves into ever new complexes. These mobile clusters—not quite arbitrary, yet not quite meaningless—are the new state of non-factual prose, for while they do not iconically represent the world, (as in classical realist fiction) they are nevertheless related to it via its complex forces and forms, just as clouds are shaped by geography and wind and animal herds by the shape of the plains and the presence, or absence, of food and predators.

The sense delivered by such prose occupies an ambiguous zone between well-ordered meaning and absolute noise. However, it could not be called Non-sense in the technical manner employed by Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, for its purpose is not to make us think about the parts of speech and the structures of language. Here the ambiguities in sense arise not from a self-reflective use of words in which language examines itself, but from an uncertainty of reference.

Does Debra Di Blasi's "Twin: What the Word Delivers" articulate the beginning of the world or the beginning of the word, or the beginning of humanity? Or all three? Is the author of the letters in Jenn Hawe's "A Meal In Men of Letters, or A Meal Without Plates," Me, or not? Is a man a meal or a device for giving off heat? And in case, "what happens to someone who is never satisfied with anything she eats?" Meanwhile in Kristen Orser's "(Parentheses)," windows have become doors, and we cannot be sure whether a letter has been written or if it is never received. Likewise, in Analisa Raya-Flores's "Ellebow," a mother scrubs from her skin so many evolutionary years she could become "a jellyfish, without conscience or emotion." While in Davis Schneiderman's "An Item of Botanical Interest," a group known as the Rhizomatists dream of ruling distant genetic lines through mitochondrial manipulation with plant extracts that wind up invading their garments and replacing the cloth with the body of their vines.

As we see from these examples, the ambiguity derives not from a lack, but from a peculiar overabundance, one that these authors find neither fearful nor futile, but rich with potential and playfulness.

christine wertheim.

Christine Wertheim:

Christine's book +|'Me'S-pace was published by Les Figues Press in 2007. With Matias Viegener, she coorganizes an annual writing conference, and is the co-editor of Seance (Make Now) and The noulipian Analects (Les Figues). She teaches at CalArts.

From the fog, an augured basin.

Recall the nuptials shared between the new president and our nation of immigrants, suits, thinkers and dilettantes. I’d love to have negotiated the Beltway and that week’s surplus of two million people, elbowing my way through half-baked palisades to find a square foot of breathing room – to call my own – and take in this truly historical event, al fresco. The logistics to consider even from my house, only 15 miles away, seemed only maddening. That, and my 10 year old had an early volleyball practice that day – you can't miss those.

I’d decided in November to take in Barack Obama’s inauguration the old-fashioned way, sans the faces coupled to talking heads, news tickers, or botched HD refresh rates. Radio. Much love has been shared between me and my shortwave radio in the past year. It’s realigned me with a quirky fascination with noise-in-the-medium.

This noise is everywhere. Remember when we were kids, they’d worry over the subliminals purported to be stitched into feature films, in framerates at the micro level? A casual cruise of the internet or cable television now offers the inverse – information/entertainment secondary to commercial gluttony. For the millions of home viewers of an event as grand as the US presidential inauguration, such noise is scaled down as to be unnoticeable, in an effort to highlight the socially and culturally important, and, for a brief moment, squashing the primary role of communication networks: the practice of sales.

Yet during the inauguration, sales were well underway in the passive mode. Ratings rule in the communications industry, so hundreds upon thousands of competing transmission frequencies occupying the same airspace shot out of the greater DC area like so many streamers launched in honor of the occasion. This, I was interested in hearing.

Scientific advances in digital and wireless technology have been nothing less than accommodating to society’s ever-expanding requirement to soak up and register information by the microsecond. While the technology has come at the expense of equally dependable communicative gear, there are byproducts that make for wonderful fodder among practitioners and listeners of experimental music. But wait.

Since the days of the Green Hornet and "Harlem Nocturne," engineers have done what they can to reduce unwanted noise in radio reception. You’ve heard it before, the bleedover from adjacent radio stations, the garage door opener causing a split-second glitch, inhibiting your enjoyment of that Elvin Bishop tune. Over time, radios have only improved in their ability to filter, however, with the offending wave of 21st C. gadgetry, the challenge for engineers has grown exponentially, particularly over the last decade. It’s called "electro-magnetic interference," or, EMI.

The sources of EMI occur all over the sonic map, the strong majority well outside of our hearing range. But with the right tools in place, aural sound can be extracted (demodulated) out of EMI, often to the (dis)satisfaction of observers. Radios are one such tool.

My objective for the inauguration was to observe it by way of shortwave radio, conscious of and ready for the interference that would no doubt bastardize the reception. By positioning oneself atop a hill and away from electric lines, the radio has a better chance for success in this wave-heavy environment. The area between Crofton and Laurel, Maryland was scouted as ideal for success. While some interference was anticipated, the daylong events of January 20th, 2009, and its respective media coverage laid tracks for a virtual blitzkrieg of noise and static. Yet one’s racket is another’s euphony.

Throughout near-continuous scanning of the shortwave 16, 19 and 31 meter bands for various points of reception – captures from China, Greece and Cuba were easily heard – the hum and buzz of EMI took on a therapeutic tint. Interference has rhythm, a natural component to frequencies which must "pulse" in order to take on life through a given medium. Along with it was the color that comes from varied amplitudes and the pitch of the scattered noises.

With the telecast DVR’d at home, the deployed radio took bounty of all the sound it could deliver – the scattered clarity of the oath, the occasional roars of citizens, and the noise which claimed no jurisdiction. This noise, friends, is music.

Taking a cue from the early purveyors of musique concrète, we snatch back our liberties at the cusp of change, honoring the tendency to improvise on the obstacles, and transforming that which we cannot avoid into a means of expression.

The audio of the historic January 20th inauguration was thus sliced, layered, and rendered a ghost of itself, just as the orgy of expensive transmitters, wireless hubs and satellite uplinks obliterating the innocence of simple radio in its efforts to inform and disseminate. The noise curls about the structures, the tenements and our collective conscious, creating its own space with its own dimensions. To tame it, I recommend batteries and empathy.

Ultimately, opportunism nourishes the tendrils of creativity. And the noise is music.

All sound captured by way of Panasonic RF-2200 shortwave radio, January 20th, 2009.

alan jones.

Alan Jones ' abdominal cavity enjoys certain protective walls that will ward off the spread of gangrene and other infections should an undetected appendiceal rupture occur. These walls, like those in Heaven, are fashioned from gold bricks and grout cured from the finest cannoli cream. Alan's lungs spend most of their time at the mirror, cursing their hardened look and graying complexion. Their favorite days, "Game Days," are those that involve a three mile run with a hooka chaser.

twin: what the word delivers. debra di blasi. debra di blasi.
Creative Commons License
Twin: What the Word Delivers by Debra Di Blasi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.debradiblasi.com

Debra Di Blasi (www.debradiblasi.com) is the author of The Jirí Chronicles, Prayers of an Accidental Nature, Drought, and What the Body Requires. Awards include a James McCormick Fiction Fellowship, Thorpe Menn Book Award, Cinovation Screenwriting Award, and The Diagram Innovative Fiction Award. Her innovative writing has been anthologized and adapted to film, radio, theatre, and CD in the U.S. and abroad, with nonfiction appearing in a wide variety of magazines and journals. She is president of Jaded Ibis Productions, a transmedia corporationtm.

A Meal In Men of Letters, or A Meal Without Plates1

Dear Z.,
The difference between you and U. is that one of you has made your body my food and the other of you I only want to see and do not want to eat.
Dear Me,
The stomach calls out, "Fill me, fill me," so U. does it.
U. fills the stomach without thinking so that it becomes pink and distended.
Is someone going to die? What happens to a woman driven by appetite? Her lips may become rust. She may eat herself to death.
U. leaves me hungry. It is true and I am sorry for it but it is still true.
You also leave me hungry.
Which is the other man: you or U.?
What is in my mind drives through to my mouth so that I am continually putting in and spitting out.2
Dear Z.,
I find it impossible to start.
Dear Me,
I don't wish to impose moral consequences on her (the woman in the story), no.
Perhaps she will go on filling and filling herself forever, filling herself with whatever is there because she is afraid of stopping.
But I don't think that's a concern here.
The concern is with these two men.
Dear Z.,
The calendar runs backwards for years and forwards for years, so that I always know when I will change the sheets (when I get my period) and how often to sanitize the humidifier with vinegar (every Friday) and when I will shave my legs and armpits (Saturdays) and when I would like to have a baby (in ten years).
For me sleep is a meal I am always sitting down to and never able to finish.
For you it is red bags.
I've begun writing letters to Z.
He's not a better meal than you.3
Dear U.,
Yours is the face I see first every morning and last every night. I never want this to change. I bite your cheeks as a sign of affection, and you know this, and the more I bite your cheeks the more you smile, and the plumper your cheeks grow between my teeth.
Dear Z.,
Two days ago after I saw you for the first time I went home to U. We devoured each other there on the bed.
I admit I was thinking of you.
I asked U. to put on a blindfold, and after he did I felt better, and it was much easier to use my body.
I'm starving right now.
Nothing sounds good to eat.
It's hard to order my thoughts when I'm hungry.
My head aches. At first I thought it was the weather but now I believe it's because I haven't eaten today.4
Dear Z.,
I am not thinking of U. now.
Appetite is a male thing. Men are supposed to be eaters, consumers of red meat, gadgets, women. They order steaks and beers while their dates, sheathed in blue satin, skinny shouldered, order salads and red wine, pick at the salmon with their forks. 5
Dear Z.,
I must have forgotten you since you did not come into the tea shop.
It must be that since you didn't come to the tea shop that day, or step into my train car, or stand behind me in line at the post office, you were not thinking of me either.
Dear U.,
I went to bed cold and full and I woke up warm and hungry.
You lay on your back and folded your hands over the bedcovers. You turned down the corners of your mouth as you slept.
Your body powered the heat in the bed for us both.
I really do wish I could eat you piece by piece, starting with the smooth white flesh on your arms and neck. Starting with the skin which I would peel off with my teeth and which would slide down my throat almost without the need for chewing.
Your body is one great warm animal breathing and waiting for my mouth.
When the stomach stops growling the food stops going in – but that doesn't mean the stomach doesn't ask for more food.
Aside from the stomach there are many parts of the body U. can fill. U. can fill them himself, or others can fill them for U.
There is the mouth, the heart, the hands. There is the throat, vagina, asshole. The eyes may fill (with tears). One may become (a) stuffed (shirt). One does not like to arrive empty handed, but one does not enjoy having one's hands full.
We say, "Her head is empty. There's nothing between her ears." My friends, who are opera singers, joke that the best sopranos have resonance where the brains ought to be.6
One may have a full life; one may have an empty life.7
Dear Z.,
One of us is looking at the other.
One of us is a man.
One of us is a woman.
One of us turns away and does not look.
Dear U.,
I knew as soon as I opened the front gate that you were not home.
Dear U.,
Was I looking for someone else?
Dear Z.,
No.
Dear Z.,
I am afraid to look at you because I don't want U. to know that I want to look at you.
I want you to know that I want to look at you and at the same time know you cannot have me. U. has me.
I want to see that you understand this, and see how you still want me, and see you realize how I want you: only a little, only because U. has me, I want him more.
What is at stake is that I can never be satisfied with anything I eat.
But that is not the stake either. The stakes must be higher. What happens to someone who is never satisfied by anything she eats?8
jenn hawe.

Jen Hawe:

Whirl one package of grahams in the food processor until fine crumbs form. Continue to mix while slowly pouring in ½ to 1 stick melted butter. Press into buttered, parchment-lined springform pan. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Let cool. Combine 1 stick room-temperature butter, ½ cup water, and 1 cup brown sugar in small saucepan. Bring to 220 degrees. Pour over cooled graham cracker crust. Let cool. Scald ½ cup heavy cream. Pour over 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir until chips are melted. Pour over caramel and graham layers. Let cool. Devour.

(Parentheses)

by the time I stopped stuttering, here is what I said: I need you. here is what I didn't say: I kept your old shoelaces in a box

and the paramedic on the phone repeats, "you are fine, it isn't you who died." more and more, I think

only in instants—like some unwinding thread. in this way, I've become accustomed to everyone questioning what it is I am trying to say and how it is that the dead don't return letters or even make themselves appear to be thinking of returning letters. it is not too much

to say I miss you and this isn't small potatoes. I read a

theory that says, in theory, if two bodies separate and reunite, it is as if they didn't separate at all. and I feel this to be true most everyday, but cannot help but wonder if two bodies and one dies, what happens when one

body dies? if I give Albert a letter and Albert cannot receive the letter, have I written the letter? if I give a letter and tie my hands behind my back, the facts must still be faced: Albert

is dead. though I hear him, clearly, in my inner ear—which is where I once thought Whitman lived until it was chattered

that not everything I think is true. most things, in fact,

are the same since Albert died, except that all the windows are doors and I am somewhat sheepish. months come in rows and rows, grass is very green, the kitchen is littered with bits of old bread,

pieces of dead flowers. etcetera, it is all still

the same. sunday after Albert died—a thunderstorm—and I was sitting in the park full of shrubs against an ornamental wall. the prettiest view. like all days, women sort of laughed and men looked over their shoulders, like they do everyday. children

gaped too, but because they know something we have all forgotten since pinafores and loose collars. it is like when men fish, but there are no fish: this is what it is like now

that Albert is dead and I've these bundles of flowers thrown together. I refer incessantly to flowers because I don't care about losing time or missing trains, but cannot help hurrying myself to towards day break. trees in the distance

and I think of Albert talking Wordsworth, which wasn't quite yesterday, but may as well have been. O, that's his way—to resemble a hummingbird if hummingbirds talked. centuries before,

Albert carried a lantern and looked for a mouth in a flower. the flowers, this year, are neglected. sometimes it looks like the moon rises from Lake Erie. it isn't easy to make sense

of all things Albert said

or why, when we sometimes talked poetry, he called me mysterious. I only wanted to be clear or equivalent; nearing the strange sights I see each day: some days, the radiation made Albert look like a prolonged afterglow, like a house falling forward into the street. and he would say, "I must look terrible," but it wasn't quite that, not that

at all. there is a rail track behind Albert's house and if you look down it you can see Buffalo like a small dot moving, but nobody looks down it and they are building over it

and the vineyards. everywhere I go

they are building over and I wish they would not, but I am glad Albert is not alive to see it. sometimes I am glad he is not here to see it—sometimes I wish he was here—sometimes

I write him a letter about gardens and how I feel like I am going to have or have already had a fever. and I walk a mile, get plenty of air, remind myself

I cannot go back to when I shared little cakes with Albert, talked Dostoyevsky, and listened to him remembering what it was like to be himself

when he was a child. when it was fine weather, Albert talked about the weather

and I got a sore throat, went off to bed early, thought nothing of the trepidation Albert might have about not waking up in the morning. once, when I was in the Adirondacks, I wrote a letter to Albert about my sister's sock drawer—how it was

full of unpaired socks. Albert thought this great, thought it as beautiful as when a glimpse of the sea is spied from between high rocks. I cannot forget

how he read a book and thought it like a thing he'd never seen before; as if he picked it up and read it by chance. he wrote all his letters as if he was going to write more in another hour and he was sorry he had forgotten, the hour before, to write again. mysteriously, he once wrote

about being bitter and laughed loudly, but not so loud that I forgot how he said he was bitter; and I had to pass and repass that memory to notice how little I knew about Albert. like when he would say his thursday was fine but cold; I don't remember any elaboration unless the topic was Tolstoy and then he was talk talk talk. in the afternoon,

I'd stop by his office to hear him talk about the dog, Woolf, and how he longed to speak Greek. I'd tell him how, in Czech, there are strings of bladders hanging in shop windows

and he reminded me what he thought about my studies in philosophy; he'd send me away with some books to read. once, Austen. and he reminded me it was better to enjoy it than to think or overthink; plenty to enjoy

and Albert would rather talk about the leaves than the meaning. unless it was Proust and then he would talk Proust from day to night—how it is that I mustn't forget

some small scene in a garden, some small exchange; how it is that so much depends on the very smallness of the scene. and now and then he would get fiery

about it all: literature and also his first sight

of a Renoir or a field; nothing out of the ordinary, generally, but he shout each time—the very bell of Buffalo. and my portrait of him

is as incomplete as my memory of wild parsley in Switzerland—a thought I half remember and am much frightened to forget.

kristen orser.

Kristen Orser:

Kristen knows the rib collapsed and the ovaries are pastel, pathetic. There's a tumor the size of a golf ball and she named it after her ex boyfriend. Everything interior is at least neon. At most, sequined. And there are spaces filled with bentgrass. Later, the tumor named after her ex boyfriend will replace it with astroturf, even pull out flowers and throw in a hive of bees. There are insectual sounds in her esophagus. She heard someone say "ridiculous" and watched a group of girls, dressed in the same outfit, stomp around her clavicle.

ELLEBOW

I used to be ashamed of my desiccated, meaty elbows. A woman who doesn’t take care of her elbows doesn’t take care of you know where else. Or that’s what my mother had said. But then I heard the story of Elle. Elle was a unit of measurement, the length from shoulder to fingertip. Delicate and without axis, she was prone to tipping. One day, the wind blew too hard and she began to fall. But something unexpected happened: she bent at the middle, creating a waist. Her fingertips dug into the earth, and her shoulder bobbed safely in the air. The arm would have fallen flat and shattered had it not been for the bow at her center and the loose, roomy skin that allowed it to bend, stretching until was taut like a drum.

*

After my father died, my mother and I spent the better part of a year making ourselves feel better by making each other feel worse. We imposed friction upon each other, sloughing off the dead skin in hope of a fresh start. At first, we used words. But our throats quickly dried out and our vocal chords grew thick with nodules. I switched to pumice stones, she to brillo pads.

The winter came, and our skins had grown so thin that neither of us had a coat warm enough to fight the cold. Prisoners in our apartment, we sat on the couch, silent and featureless: two raw, peeled potatoes. But thinned and lightened skin was not enough, my mother wanted complete porosity.

We’ll be permeable like cell walls, she’d say, And we can leak into one another and share our genetic grief; two amorphous blobs, unable to butt heads or slam doors.

We won’t even be human, I said. And that was when I realized that was exactly what she wanted. The rejuvenation was a decoy. I’d helped her scrub away years of evolution so she could be a jellyfish, without conscience or emotion.

There was one part of me she was never able to exfoliate. My elbows. No matter how many hours she spent massaging steel wool against them, they remained dry and dirt-stained. That’s what’s holding you back, she’d say while she scraped. Your unhappiness lies in those purply, dry ridges.

I’m not sure who rebelled first; me or my skin. I stopped exfoliating. It grew thicker. I no longer soaked in Epsom salt and refused to scrub with orange rinds and sugar. It grew tougher. I ate milk and meat. It turned pinker. I shielded myself from her at all costs. Even when I slept, it was in a cocoon of blankets with a pinprick hole for breath. The spring came and I was vibrant and hearty. My mother was not. She’d relied on the alkaline of her bile to get her through the winter; hadn’t eaten, hadn’t slept. Her charge had depleted.

You look terrible, I said.

I’m tired.

I placed my hand on top of hers and interlaced our fingers. I’m leaving, I told her.

Oh really? Me too.

Where?

Just leaving. She took her hand out of mine, got up from the couch, walked to the window, and opened it. With her last bit of strength, she climbed onto the sill, pushed her bottom to the edge, and said she was sorry. Instead of jumping, she just leaned back. I rushed to catch her feet. I did. But she was surprisingly heavy and pulled me out with her.

The fall started slowly. It gave her time to grab at me; thin little fingers typing apologetic sentences along my arms. In pawing, she found my elbows; the thickened elephant skin. Her fingernails sank in, tearing at the flaps of tissue, spreading them outward like a parachute. With the earth coming faster toward us, the skin opened up and enveloped us both.

We became children in a kidnapper’s sack, safe in the folds and worried only about emerging. The sack grew deeper as we fell, until all of the wrinkles and psoriasitic sores of my skin had smoothed. We sat poised in the pendulum, until the skin bowed under our weight and reversed our course like a trampoline. Gravity inverted, and we cannoned upward. The sky became the cemented earth and the earth became the sky.

analisa raya-flores.

Analisa Raya-Flores:

Like a ferret, she is a sock full of smaller animals. Inside her skull are thousands of mice with typewriters. Her lungs are a couple of married blowfish. Deep in her chest cavity there’s a heart, but it is powered by steam; a tiny bird shovels coal by the hour.

The Single Carnivore in a Committed Relationship

We made our respective sets of parents proud and dumbfounded how we used technology. Until, because of technology, Martha stopped eating animals. Because of the technology involved. She could accept globs and swizzles as shorthand for nature, but she couldn’t stomach depositing money into WAMU only in order to debit her acount later for snack involving moo.

I supported her. I was taking part in the same machinations, just without my plastic in the slot, and with more of a teeth-on-the-fist attitude. I still don’t have a problem with hot dogs.

Martha, however, surrounded as she was by binding agents and tomato powder, was hackled by just the sight of another journalist with a microphone. Dalmation freed from city’s clichéd clutches or not. Mothers and fathers adjusted to the fulcrum and labcoat sensibility equally, and with apparent ease. It wasn’t until the next generation started replacing applesauced pork chops with key fob butt fobs that ‘the shift’ began cropping up at seasonal parties as conversational sighing fodder.

The vagaries of misaligned nutrional needs can’t be simply noted and effortlessly swept asunder. Sushi spinning on a conveyor belt derails into bubbling fondue cheese cauldron. And then you’ve got throat-ajar liability. At the tornado’s request, we learned to make good by forming our own palms. The future holds our parents shudder.

andrew choate.

Andrew Choate 's larynx is as pink as a long dog tongue. It is cleaned bi-weekly with a solution involving many decimals. His book Langquage Makes Plastic of the Body did just that to everything save his larynx. He is working on a book about the relationship between alimentary and aesthetic functioning. He has not won a Grammy. Just loves to give them rides home.

The Mafia Man In Two Voices

June 19, 1991

This is the reason you should never ask me for a cigarette if you sit at my table.

This is why, if you sit down at my table you should never ask for a cigarette.

I find that taking big chances

I have never taken

Whenever I’ve put my life at risk.

Sometimes when you’ve run out of things to write about, you’ve got to stop thinking and take some risks. For this reason, I decided to go with Jan, accept Jan’s terrifying offer to accompany him offer.

I’d run out of things to write about.

It was time to take a risk


It was time to stop thinking and take a risk for this reason. I accepted Jan’s terrifying offer and went with.

I’d met Jan while bar-tending at the Tavern Pineapple in Antwerp, Belgium.

I met Jan at the Tavern Pineapple where I was bar-tending. He was one of the men who sat near the sink and told me stories while I washed the glasses. He was suave-looking, mid-fifties, one glass eye. Of course he claimed to be involv

Jan was a member of the Yugoslavian Mafia. Jan had been a mercenary for the French in the revolution in Biafra. He’d woken up to In South America, he’d rolled off his hammock to find two that his two friends had been bitten by a poisonous snake in their sleep. He told me he learned not to become attached to people. Every day he would come into the Tavern Pineapple where I was barmaid, and sit by the sink, telling me stories as I washed out the glasses. He’d only loved once, he said to me, his voice trailing off. He needed a favor from me, involving the woman he loved, he would pay me, he said.

Without mentioning the details, he explained that the favor would involve a trip drive to Amsterdam the following morning. Of course I agreed.

I was terrified. I knew I was going to be sold in some sort of slavery ring. But I had no choice, adventures like this just didn’t happen to people like me and I not ever. He told me I should not be worried, there would be very little danger involved. Something about a drug ring.

The next morning I crept between Winnie and her lover, and handed her a dress. "Come with me, don’t ask questions." She followed me to the corner, terrified, where I explained to her what I knew of the mission over waffles and hot chocolates. She decided that if I was going to die, she’d have to die with me.

We wrote a letter with addresses We sealed instructions for contacting our family in an envelope and left it on the pillow with a note that they should open it ONLY if we die weren’t home by noon the next day.

We met him at the Pineapple and headed toward Amsterdam. On the freeway he drove with his knees while he explained the situat I held the wheel while he explained the situation and cut us lines of cocaine.

He was in love with this woman who was the daughter of a very powerful family in Holland whose father was drugging her drinks meals. So that she would not love the Mafia man. The family made money through sales of Ecstasy. They made and trafficked Ecstasy and also blackmailed rich families by sending and used it to blackmail the rich and influential. One of the The daughter or her friend (lover?), the nurse, would follow a wealthy schoolgirl as she walked home, invite her out for to share a drink, then dose her on XTC and seduce her in a motel room and then send the video to her family with a threat.

But Jan knew that his true love was being held in the drug ring by the family against her will and that she hadn’t really become a lesbian, it was all due to the drugs her father slipped her in her food.


Once upon a time I


Of course I agreed to go with the Yugoslavian Mafia man. It was a mission of love. I knew he’d been a mercenary in Biafra, and I knew all about the death snake bite deaths of his two friends in Brazil. I knew I would die.

Over hot chocolates and waffles, Winnie decided to die with me. We sealed the envelope with instructions to contact the addresses embassy if we hadn’t returned by noon the next day, and left it on the pillow for her lover to find.

On the road to Amsterdam, Jan fed us cocaine and explained. We were to warn the nurse that the end of their little game was near, that she should move get out ASAP.

Jan was in love with the youngest daughter of the drug ring, the nurse’s lover who was

She was in charge of luring


From my dealings with the Mafia, I have learned

If I learned nothing else from my experience with the Yugoslavian Mafia man, I did learn that a guest should never ask for a cigarette, or anything else the host has on the table. If it’s on the table, just take it.

He’d been a mercenary for the French in the revolution in Biafra, and seen two friends drop blue and stiff from their hammocks in Brazil, the snake already gone. His one One of his eyes wa One of his eyes let me know he wasn’t bullshitting me, while the other didn’t move much and the other one was glass.

anna joy springer.

Anna Joy Springer:

Common dream otherworld: under sand through a space wide enough to swim through, a place without water is home. There’s no sky, it’s maybe necessarily cave or womb like there, a good place there. Maybe jewels, maybe governments or ways of greeting that surprise.

Google Littleton - Jennifer Calkins jennifer calkins.

Jennifer Calkins is an evolutionary biologist who really likes quail; however, there are none in her book A Story of Witchery (Les Figues Press). There are quail in The Quail Diaries, the online exploration from whence the notebook was gathered (http://thequaildiaries.wordpress.com).

Jeremy Hight is a writer, artist, theorist and musician working in several fields. He created locative narrative back in 2002. He works in locative media, new media, text art, sound art and experimental narrative in various ways. He is curating a series online of pioneers in fields of art beginning with Vuk Cosic. He is editing a special issue of M.I.T's leonardo. He likes weather a whole heck of a lot.

Ant Heart

Exists here only due to a misspelling of the word "heat," though the topic of ant heat has already been discussed at length in other installments. The sad owner of the thus disparaged ant heart comes rushing forward, asking that it not be implicated in the writing of any tracts regarding sad ants. First of all, nobody said anything about sad ants, to be precise. And secondly, happy ants are so completely and totally out of fashion – the mere mention of the phrase "happy ants" has already and continues to devalue the value of this text, faster than it can write itself, faster than the accretion of more words more words more words that are added in a desperate attempt to dilute the effects of the phrase in question.

From the mouth of the ant, a scroll is unrolled. And if I was more able-visioned, I would be able to make out exactly what those words said – but instead, I am filled with the dreadful knowledge that indeed all the crimes, sacrifices, and inequities of these last few moments are nothing, nothing to speak of, in comparison.

sawako nakayasu.

Sawako Nakayasu:

My most recent books are Hurry Home Honey (Burning Deck, 2009), and a translation of Takashi Hiraide’s For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut (New Directions, 2008) which won the 2009 Best Translated Book Award. My innards are green with the kiwi I just ate.

An item of Botanical Interest

One tale concerns early rhizomatists, an ancient guild schooled in the use of herbals—illustrated codices of botanical magic.

Rome belchs forth Dioscurides and Apuleius, adept in the use of nightshade, of bile simmering from the inhabited corpse a fortnight after its bloody death. Wands of poison weed, wallflower with dodder, campanula and calla lily, crushed ayahuasca root and moon’s bane. Theophrastus then; to Craetuas the dung-monger; followed by the works of Cassiodorus, Chancellor of the German Emperor Theodoric the Goth. Alchemists all, rhizomatist witches, devils. The Moorish Opprobrium et Significum Logisticar of 1123 details a plot to overthrow the kings of Aragon and Gaul through elaborate topiary totems and tinctures of elecampane and cowslip planted in secret gardens set against the offending kingdoms.

Once these herbals had been ingested by the populace, the rhizomatists would rule distant genetic lines—introducing a mitochondrial destiny, skeletal in design, springing from rings of glowing mushroom cap rooted in skull of the magical adept who

—fades further and further into the distance of a displaced cell—

The Revolutionary Council of Learned Spirochetes round up 173 rhizomatists in the caves outside of Grenada and burn their bodies in a pit dug by specially incensed boars slaughtered immediately after, in the same pit, to prevent further infection of the region’s emaciated livestock. Melting into a mass of swine and flailing appendage, the conglomeration of immolating rhizomatists effects such a stench that a pathogen worse than the germ of the Bubonic plague consumes exactly three times their number—515—in a third as many days. Alarmed, Rome sends a contingent of priests trained in vegetable exorcism to the region—led by the dynamic Dominican Jean de Authorius. All three envoys disappear after leaving Papal territory.

Exactly one year later, on the evening of Februrary 22, 1125, three complete vestments return to the Vatican, entirely overgrown with a kudzu vine filling the cloth with the facsimile of their bodies, except in the case of de Authorius, whose clothing, also infected with various unidentifiable vegetal spores, weaves itself over a legion of decomposing swine.

—such is man rising from the world of plants—

davis schneiderman.
Creative Commons License
An Item of Botanical Interest by Davis Schneiderman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.davisschneiderman.com/

Davis Schneiderman’s next novel will be published by Northwestern/Triquarterly in 2010, and his other works include Memorials to Future Catastrophes (Jaded Ibis, 2008), Abecedarium (Chiasmus Press, 2007), DIS (BlazeVox, 2008), Multifesto: A Henri d’Mecan Reader (Pluto 2006), and the co-edited anthologies Retaking the Universe: Williams S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization (Pluto, 2004) and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game (Nebraska, forthcoming). He teaches at Lake Forest College, directs Lake Forest College Press/&NOW Books, and can be found, virtually, at davisschneiderman.com/.

A NECRO LETTER TO WALT DISNEY - 19 MARCH 2009

Dear Walt, I apologize for this oozing act of necromancy; it was never my idea. I was approached by a cheeky group of Cal Arts1 alumni; they are self-described participants of Sprawl, "the end causal result" of Dick Hebdige’s samizdat sensibility. The idea of an avant-bard invocation has been there since that first encounter, in the form of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto… But even with the continued success of the Disney brand (I hear that they are now even finalizing a Disneyland in Korea) – what has struck me, over the past nine years, is the presumed steady decline and continued marginalizing of Cal Arts. The corollary to this is of course, that you as an art student would be better off at UCLA or Goldsmiths. After all, don’t you want to work with the older and therefore wiser Baldessari? Don’t you want to be part of the YBA (Young British Artists) crowd? / Usually the first years of Disney’s art school is presented as its golden era, in which case members of the "Cal Arts Mafia" such as David Salle and Jack Goldstein are deemed the legendary students of the legendary artists such as John Baldessari, who taught there. The problems associated with the historification of Cal Arts are not dissimilar from the historification of groups such as the Situationists and the Neoists. Similar to the way that much of the published material on the SI continues to exhibit a bias against North and East European members of the group, books such as Jack Goldstein and the Cal Arts Mafia (Minneola Press, Ojai 2003) continue to romanticize a small minority of students who studied at CalArts (often presenting them as the only creative hub worth pursuing) between 1970 and 1974, while marginalizing student activities that had little or nothing to do with New York’s museum and gallery scene. / The implication is always that Cal Arts’ best days are somehow behind it; we’re now in a supposed post-Baldessari funk. Apart from the fact that this kind of perspective ignores Walt Disney’s utopian dream of having an art school based on Richard Wagner’s idea of Gesamtkunstwerk ("total artwork"), what troubles me the most about this kind of idealization of the past is the symptomatic aspect of what Slavoj Zizek might call the "effective theological dimension" of quasi-liberal art historians. To simplify: Through my time in academia, I’ve noticed a certain kind of reverse-xenophobia, especially in the realm of theory or critical studies. On the textural level of discourse, it is the French who are always considered the most substantial (the eternal reference point); Relational Aesthetics and French Theory via Baudrillard, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, etc are the most obvious contemporary examples. Of course, this is not at all to imply that the Cal Arts Mafia is a French invention; my point is simply that their chronological proximity to the French uprisings of May ’68, coupled with the smooth, convenient way that French Theory (for instance Baudrillard’s Simulation) supplements (and often perfectly dovetails with) the "art" of the Cal Arts Mafia (Goldstein’s paintings) – all of this, speaks volumes about the accuracy of the historical designation and representational validity of the Cal Arts Mafia. / In his book The assault on culture (AK Press, Stirling 1991), Stewart Home makes a similar point about a certain kind of Eurocentrism to account for why the Specto-Situationist International, led by Bernstein, Debord and Vaneigem, was far better known in the 80s in Britain, France and North America than the 2nd Situationist International of de Jong and Nash: "Not only has Europe traditionally seen itself as the centre of the world, but Britain, France and Germany, tend to view themselves as the hub of this centre. Thus, when the SI split in two, from a French or Anglo-American perspective, the specto-situationists based in Paris were seen as the real SI, while the 2nd International centred on Scandinavia could be dismissed as ‘foreign to the SI; much more sociable, certainly, but much less intelligent’". It is from this kind of false mindset that John Baldessari could be said to be the real CalArtian, as Dick Hebdige is considered foreign to Southern California; much more immersive, certainly, but much less aesthetic. / Those reading this text will better understand it if they bear in mind the audience for whom it was written. The primary audience was seen as those who were already engaged in activities relating to the activities sketched out in the text. The text is written so as to be clear to the secondary audience if it is understood that the author writes from a position of engagement. Any fanatic who is unfamiliar with the subject matter of this letter would be best advised to visit Cal Arts; starting with the school’s basement sublevel. Here one can not only verify the rumors about Disney’s cryogenically frozen head – but it is also here, within the institutional id, that one can begin to see the traces or clues or at any rate the signs of a secret art history, the underground art history of the short twenty first century. Yours, Maxi Kim.

  1. "Built with Disney money in the 1970s, the boxy, unfinished four-floor maze of playhouse laboratories had inspired a slew of writings. It was practically a cottage industry. The different literary approaches to Cal Arts were as eclectic as the students who attended. . . . The most approachable book on the subject was probably Mark Norris’ Art School. Three hundred pages of what it was like to be a depressed, down-and-out twenty-four-year-old student at ‘California Contemporary Arts’ in 1979. More entertaining than Chip Kidd’s Cheese Monkeys. More honest than Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential." See One Break, A Thousand Blows, Maxi Kim, London: Bookworks 2008, p. 29.

Maxi Kim is the author of One Break, A Thousand Blows. In The Spectre of Art School he offers a close reading of today's art school constellations. He critically confronts both predominant versions of today's aesthetic positions - French Theory driven relationalism and conservative post-postmodernism - and then tries to redeem the "utopian" kernel of the 1990s.

When I say I'm trying 'to redeem the "utopian" kernel of the 1990s' I am not talking about some subjective immaterial, spiritual experience, I am talking about quite concrete cultural phenomenons: Dick Hebdige & the CalArts Samizdat, Giant Robot & the New Japonisme, the growing influence of Slavoj Zizek, Philip K Dick, Kathy Acker, Stewart Home, and Chris Kraus; along with the re-return of painting and the post-punk punks. All of this happened in the 90s & the early XXI century - and I aim to simply explicate their cultural significance within a "utopian" framework.

SteamCake: Roartorio for Talking Teapot.

mIEKAL aND

mIEKAL aND is a longtime DIY cultural anarchist & the creator of an infoplex worth of visual-verbal lit, audio-art, performance ritual & hypermedia distributed by Xexoxial Editions (http://xexoxial.org). His hypermedia works reside at JOGLARS Crossmedia Broadcast (http://www.joglars.org). Since 1991, he has made his home at Dreamtime Village (http://www.dreamtimevillage.org).

[out of nothing] is an electronic publication featuring new works in image, sound, text and the digital arts, as well as works located at the intersections between these media. [out of nothing] is published in online installments, on an irregular but roughly quarterly seasonal basis that nevertheless remains chronically TBD. Each issue is theme-based, and is introduced by a special M.C.; or, emcee. Occasional print anthologies are forthcoming.

[out of nothing] is edited by Joe Milazzo, Eric Lindley, & Janice Lee.

Janice Lee began life as the inverse of ancestral hands cupped in prayer. Currently, she is not where her outline appears to be, ever, but is instead a continuous displacement that, with every hailing, makes accommodations for a mass that vexes all dimension. Her most recent shiftings have been retrograde, limbic, vesicular and as densely coded as a sodden souvenir t-shirt. Should you find ashes strewn between your pages, it only means that Janice has been using the sun as a microscope. Please do not panic; she will be blinking back daylight -- azimuth and meridian -- momentarily.


Eric Lindley , if induction is proceeding successfully, may produce in your eye a disrupting action, his edges wound together like that perplexing shadow behind your retina. He follows you as a current of departing water, an open notebook that flaunts brave moments, revealings, and a letter meant for someone else but for only you to read. Eric plays a gradual intellectual game that wakes those latent human potentials at occassional moments in the course of history. He needs activation to occur, but when it does, the littered myths and archetypes of humanity will find themselves dangling from a highly guarded glass case. He might be standing next to you, and you might not know it.


Joe Milazzo is a strangely compelling network of soft, wet tubing and chemical battlstations. He is the beginning and the end of consciousness, to some, while to others merely an earthly vessel for the intangible. Robot Joe, to believers of the former, simulates remote qualia with perfect knowlege and self-control; to believers of the latter, Robot Joe may never know red as we do.

Actual Joe knows red like an infant knows language acquisition.

Submission Guidelines.

This is a call for pre-existent matter. (Remember your theology: before there was measurable time, there were deep waters, the unformed, and a wind tousling chaos' already unruly hair.) [out of nothing] is interested in works that address, in some manner:

A Few Things You Might Care To Know Before Submitting
(née Guidelines)

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