I am not Zig. I am beyond Zig. I am the radioactive pile of Zig. Fermenting. Becoming something else. A new element. Periodic table, beware! Erasure. Disturbances in the electromagnetic field. What do I do? What do I do, pal? I am sitting in a chair. Supposed to fix screws in a doorframe. Cannot do it. I am machinist. Need to be here. At the machine. Banging away. Not at the hardware store. The hardware store that puts gazillions of dollars into the regime. Gasoline (gazoline? guzzoline? guzzling?) makes the world turn & turn. The Persian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz. The Gulf of Oman. I pump gas into the Beetle. I slap a right buttock. This is madness. Existence. Civilization. Credit card debt. Student loans. I remember smoking a cigarette with Giselle. We are naked. We just fucked. A window is open. A black plastic ashtray. No idea what is out there. What is coming. We should stay in bed. Amerikans are everywhere. Fighting. Fucking. I study the law. I study the human body. I study the imagination. I study memory. No story. My life is shaped by absence. Pools of time. Riding a bicycle on dirt trails in the pine barrens. Yellow diggers moving the earth. Sheetrock infrastructure. Blacktop driveways. Chainlink fences. Razorwire protecting a forbidden zone of the sumphole. A UFO. An asteroid. Nobody really knows what made the crater. What is certain: the Sump Monster emerges. I keep a German shepherd in the yard. Sleeps in the garage. Barks at danger. He is always barking. The machines hulk. Lathes and Bridgeport milling machines. It is a nightmare of piecework. Burrs of metal. Stainless-steel. Aluminum. Teflon plastics. No future. Earth is not a Super-earth. Earth is simply Earth. There are Super-earths out there. Waiting. We need a fast enough spaceship. A VW Super Beetle. Elon Musk can kiss my ass with his Tesla. Floating out there. Space debris. Space junk. The Tesla Cybertruck I like. I might want to drive it on a rocky planet. A desert wasteland like Tatooine. So long as the windows hold up against projectiles fired by the Sand People. The Druids might salvage my Cybertruck. Put it in that amazing giant machine with caterpillar treads. Sell it to the Skywalkers. I digress. Where am I? Precisely here. Nowhere. Terrifying and beautiful places. If we can stand it. I am getting closer to the end of the beginning. We all are. Are you letting things happen? Is this a liquid document? Is this your life? Are you a computer file? The city is hissing. A steampipe metropolis. It is morning. I am cold. The coldest cold. Interstellar space. Believe in this. Believe! I push a bicycle over a hill. I see the landscape. I am exploring the planet. Everything looks so far away. There are no people. Just a village of red-tiled roofs. Houses made of ancient brick. I am an American. I am made of ideas. I am a Hollywood movie. An episode of a sci-fi TV show. Behold my blaster. Tunic. I am a Sandman. Everywhere somebody is building something. Construction cranes. Never ceases. Never stops. The jackhammer is the music of our time. People call it progress. I guess. Cannot hear a bird sing. Sip coffee in the morning. The apartment is warm. Winter light spills in through a window. No snow. Not anymore. A good idea for a post-apocalyptic novel: The Last Snowboarder. The ice is upon us. Behind us. In front of us. The coldness of interstellar space. Are you happy with this Solar System? It is pretty good, right? Lots of interesting planets. Rocky planets. Gas giants. The rings of Saturn. I need to go food shopping. Trader Joe’s. 

Or someplace like that.

by Pseudo-Heraclitus

Kazimierz wasn’t seventeen by the time he was made to leave his beloved Poland, and wasn’t yet a man before he found himself in a land too young to be called Mother or Father. He moves about lithe drunk through his alien reckonings blind and hardhearted, but resentment can only carry a man as far as his will can take him and when it came time the Lord found him in a place whose name he would one day struggle to remember with no reprieve. He soon found a place of worship where the people spoke his tongue but the ceremony was foreign and tasted sour and he could not help but accuse them of cowards, reformists who sung their songs of Babylon in Babylonian. He did not know why he spoke these words. It wasn’t until he sat down to pen a sermon in his own hand that he realized he had never so much as prayed in Poland, let alone worshiped.                                                  

The day he raised his tent (which he would refer to only as his parish and would not recognize it otherwise) was the day that the rain started, and the rain continued through the winter without let but he would not take his parish down for what the Lord wills he may test to his measure as is his want. Each and every week the man would pen his sermons in his own crude hand and on each and every Sunday he would light the votive candles with care and stand afront his pulpit and preach with all the vigor and clarity that he had been blessed and let those words roll hermetic over the rows of empty chairs. Come Spring a couple had poked their heads into the weathered canvas to find the man in the midst of his lonesome sermon, so involved with his words and gestures it was as if he could not see them, a sight which affected them to such an extent one can only assume it was then and there that the rumors of the solitary preacher took root and began to spread.

It wasn’t long after that the man had his audience, and although none seemed to speak his tongue, the audience continued to grow. It was a man named Wojciech who for the first time understood his words and fell to his knees and wept. When the preacher tried to lift him from the floor, Wojciech recoiled. He looked into the preacher’s eyes and begged for his ear in confession for he had an awful guilt upon him which he had determined to take to his grave until this very moment whereupon he was stricken by some power of which he had never felt the likes, but the preacher had no confessional, and so asked him to return that night when the congregation had retired and he would gladly hear whatever sins he had in his heart. When the man returned to the canvas chapel the sun was already setting and the preacher could smell whiskey riding the man’s breath.

            “I had once thought that my life was over. Tell me, Father, is there hope for even an irredeemable man like me?”

            “Although no man can divine of life’s beginnings nor its ends, it is through this very covenant by which all men are made redeemable.”

The man called Wojciech thought on this for a moment before he spoke. His words were labored and he shook as if his confession were an exorcism, pulling some awful ghost up out through his shuddering throat. He told the preacher all of this. He told the preacher all of this and wept for a long time, and then for a long time more he spoke again. He told the preacher of King Kazimierz the Great, friend of peasant and Jew alike, and his Solomonic wisdom and a voice that became law, and of Saint Kazimierz the three-handed who appeared before the Lithuanian army in waiting, who was said to have sung as beautifully as to bring the seraphs themselves to weep. He told him that the name Kazimierz was one of ambiguous meanings: When read as kaziti mir, it means to destroy the world, but when read as kazati mir, it means the one who reveals the world. The preacher told him Jesus brought a sword for a reason and that revelation comes to be through blood and blood alone and they drank wine and watched the lamp flicker and die, waking late into the morning to continue their reconciliations.

The preacher takes a portion of his treasury and buys a half dozen ells of white cotton and spends the rest of the day fashioning a suitable robe for his initiate. By mid-summer, the tent is stifled and sweltering every Sunday without fail as the preacher cries out the glory of salvation and the mute horrors of judgment in all their incarnations to a congregation enraptured without fail. Only a few spoke the old tongue and understood the true words of his sermon, but many more than that were brought to sobbing by his conviction alone, and by the time the rains started once again the parish seats were full each and every Sunday and those who could not take a seat stood where they may, and all of them silent as mice to bear witness to those words they could feel in a way to which understanding can only point.

Lina wasn’t twelve by the time she learned to wear a lily behind her ear as was the style of the time, and wasn’t yet a woman before she met the preacher they called Kazimierz. Although all spoke of him as a quiet and mannered Christian, she felt a terrible heat in his gaze whenever he came to look upon her with dark and steady eyes which seemed to reach forth and pinch her cheeks red. When she came to see him in the night she could smell the wine on his breath and she held hers in her chest as he took her hand and confessed to her of his infatuation. The words were broken and raspy and smelled of sour grapes. Still, it wasn’t a month before he had her courtship, and she wasn’t yet sixteen by the time they were married in that little canvas tent which by now had begun to rot.

They moved to a real town and bought a real church and there he made his place once again only this time more so, and for a time all was as it was planned and the world seemed a paradise, but as any good Christian knows, all paradise is only defined as such by the fall. She would never quite come to hear the music in the rhythm of his mother tongue, which remained to her abrasive and ponderous, and there came a day one Sunday without ceremony where she did not appear to hear the words of her husband. Although she waited for his condemnation he did not speak a word, for it was that both had come to suppose she would never step foot in that congregation again.                                                   

It was a cool gray morning when Kazimierz found what remained of Wojciech at the foot of the steeple, and it would be that he wasn’t twenty-eight before he had buried the only man he had ever considered a friend. When the people asked some an answer in the face of such a terrible and unforeseen tragedy the preacher would say that a man the likes of him is only set to go in violence, no matter his panderings to His Lord, and nothing more of it.

Lina did not appear at Wojciech’s funeral, and, most surprising to all, the preacher did not preside over the happenings, and when it came time for those who were to speak their peace the preacher had no eulogy. He simply stood mute in the gathering and looked to the ground without a trace of impatience and did not look up even to see the coffin lower into the earth. He threw no dirt upon its lid.

As the years pass, Lina blossoms into a woman but her love for the preacher only wilts. His sermons have lost a certain vigor these days, and, in private conversation, you will often hear him say that he is tired.

Lina comes of child, once, but God takes it before they even have time to build the crib. Lina says it was a blessing it didn’t happen any later than it did. Kazimierz says nothing at all. One summer a terrible storm rolls into town and, like a feral cat, she disappears into the rain and does not return for six days. When she does return and the preacher asks where she’s been she only weeps and offers no attempt at explanation nor apology and instead walks into her study and locks the door behind her.

A new year comes, and with a helping of gentle reassurance Lina will leave the room to take her meals sitting at the table rather than take them at the study door like she had wanted to. Neither of them try much to speak at all. One day the preacher whispers that he still loves her and she looks him in the eyes but her glass smile is all too fragile to give comfort to either.

Eventually, the rains come for Lina one last time. She does not weep any more. Instead, she puts on a record quite dear to her heart, one she hasn’t heard in a long time, and spends the morning straightening the study into perfect order in such a way so that anyone to happen upon it might never guess there was ever a Lina who once resided there. At the desk, she pens a note in her gentle hand wishing no one regrets and dictating what few requests she had left. With reverence, she dons her finest silk dress, and puts a lily in her hair, as was the style of her time.   

There was a man in a land too young to be called Mother or Father, whose name was Kazimierz; a preacher who lived as the crooked timber he was wrought from, fearful of his God and the evils He created; a husband whose wife asked to be burned and scattered with no funeral nor marker; a son whose father’s father was a saber-rattling Cossack whose ownership over a land he called his own was as imminent as the stamping of his horse’s hooves. It was he who puts his church to the flame and from the ashes at heart of the ruins blackens his face like Job. There is not enough drink in the world for a man the likes of him; the saints wrote not near enough prayers for a man made irredeemable. He won’t be thirty before succumbing to his lament, mouth agape and fever-eyed, asking nurses and orderlies questions they could never answer regardless which tongue he spoke them in. He tries hard to remember his pain, a pain which was once so vibrant it coloured his eyes and bled his stomach, but this too has begun to fade into the temporal mists, as is the fate of any corporeal thing in the Lord’s kingdom. The pain fades, as do the memories, and they leave nothing in their place. It won’t be long now before he goes, and when he does they will scatter his ashes like his people of old scattered the seeds of the poppy upon the breast of Poland.

Our next issue of the journal will focus on Carlos Castaneda, his works, life, and anything in-between. As always, we will be accepting scholarship, essays, fiction, poetry, ephemera, sacrificial channeling put to paper, and whatever else you want to send to us that is able to pass the vibe check. From the most prudish to the extremely experimental, just try us out. Castaneda the man never felt constrained by the set boundaries of his time, so if you’re thinking about developing a project that is not quite too focused on his work itself but is tangentially relevant, follow his example and just do it. If it can stand on its own we are more than likely to love it. No deadline on sight, as we are still working on issue 5: Zones, but take note that we are now setting a hard submissions deadline for the Zones issue (September 30th).

Enquiries should be sent to ceo47@outlook.com

 

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New morning. New day. Are you awake? Clarify the moment. Breathe in. Exhale. Molecules of air. There is no breeze indoors. Only human thoughts. Swirling. Spiraling. Chaos & Disorder.

Anger.

What is it?

Inventions of the mind. Distortions of reality. Turbulence. Entropy. Machine-made mind. Progress. Progress of a novel. Progress towards Nirvana. I am a bodhisattva. I am aroused by the thought of Enlightenment. I pursue the ox. I embark on the Way.

Sukha.

Leave the home behind.

Brisk walker. Keep walking. What do you see? Is it time to shave the head? Yes. It is always time. Are you afraid? Do not be afraid. Ten thousand Buddhas walk with you. 

Infinity of Buddhas.

Sit under the bodhi tree. Are you a dharma seeker? Here in Astoria, Queens is such a thing possible? Of course it is. Of course. How could it be otherwise? You have lain with many lovers. Forget their names. Can you forget? A test for you. I renounce my name. I am nameless. A bowl for rice. A flannel robe. Gnarled stick. I walk. I am the grunge Buddha. Pearl Jam. Nirvana.

Forget these sounds. Listen to Zappa. Captain Beefheart. Forget them, too. Karlheinz Stockhausen. Helmut Lachenmann. Forget! Surrender to the vast emptiness, nothing holy. The number 2222 is a special number. Ask no questions. Words. Numbers are beyond words.

Philip K. Dick has his Exegesis. This is mine. I am exploding. I am a Supernova. I am a Quasar. The brightest luminosity in the Universe. The brightest phenomena in the Cosmos.

I am a dragonfly.

Ephemeral as aether.

K. unsnapped Zig’s fly. She gave him the blowjob of the century. Zig lay there in disbelief & awe. I must forget the person I was. Cannot linger. Sukha. Leave the home. I get a haircut. A buzzcut. I feel aerodynamic. I might hit a first serve at 263 kilometers per hour. I hear water gushing through pipes. I hear cars humming over a motorbridge. A plane prepares to land at LaGuardia airport. Everybody is going somewhere. I am sitting. Mind is electronic fire.

If you scroll through this novel, it reads faster. Tips of our thumbs are fingertips. Easy on the eyeballs. Not too fast! Might start the storytelling pretty soon. Prepare yourself. Are you ready? Something is clearly happening here. Nobody knows what it is. The dog is being wagged.

Control knobs. Oscillations. What does it mean to be a human being? Carbon. Hydrogen. Nitrogen. Oxygen. Phosphorus. Sulfur. CHNOPS. A mnemonic device. A memory machine. In search of a rocky planet. Giant blue hypervelocity stars are defecting from the galaxy. Mind & body drops away. Well yes I am thinking… not thinking.

Protoplanetary discs are forming around young stars. Stardust accretes. Planets are born. I am thinking about this on Earth. The only planet with self-conscious life. As far as we know. What are the odds? What is the probability? What do you think of Fermi’s paradox? Hogwash, right? I mean, it is an intelligent observation. I just prefer to believe otherwise. Call it an instinct.

What if your brain is the greatest Space Telescope ever created?

Can you see?

Can you feel the stars?

Drifting. Drifting through the Cosmos. I am made of stardust. I am made of atoms. What keeps us together? Gravity? A few loose thoughts? This novel?

Earth pulls me back in. Stay here. Fix the leaking pipes under the sink. Read the newspapers about Baghdad Airport in Iraq. The extrajudicial killing of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. The MQ-9 Reaper drone. Flying machines of death built by General Atomics. We could explore the stars. We could save the planet. 

Even Tucker Carlson is aghast.

What next.

How now.

Another Grateful Dead show?

Ignite a blunt. Eat a cupcake. Sip a coffee. Are you a veteran of the Atari Wars? Joystick in hand. Thumbing a red button.

Amerika is everywhere. Spreading its likeness. Absorbing. Repurposing. Propaganda factories manufacturing a reality. We are hungry ghosts. Eating. Consuming. Desiring. Wanting. Hurts to be a person. Particles colliding. Scattering. Into deep space. Into a void.

The gravity of a novel loosens its grip. We seek pleasure elsewhere. Netflix. A fuck. Roll & get rolled. Gasp. Spit. Palms under a buttock. 

You read Deleuze & Guatarri. 

A Thousand Plateaus.

Anti-Oedipus.

Now, I am alert. Everything is an assemblage. You. Me. The cosmic machine. We are pinball wizards. Spiraling in a tilt-a-whirl. The flappers are flapping. The Roaring 2020s. 

On the edge of what?

It will be clear later.

When things settle. What things? I have no idea. I am the novelist. I know. I know. Uncertainty is my game. Who is on my team? I do not care about the Giants. The Jets. I sort of like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because of a woman. I know. Not the greatest reason. Or is it? 

Love.

Love is a battlefield.

The winner takes it all.

I am a loser, baby.

So.

The protoplanetary gas disc of this novel is starting to impress me. We are getting bigger. Absorbing the planetesimals. Creating a planet embryo. Giving birth to something new.

We expect.

We are expecting.

Unpredictable.

She is wearing her Steelers jersey. She is on her knees and hands. Looking at me over her right shoulder. Hut-one. Hut-two. Hike! We are making love. We are going at it. Looping and oscillating. Glimpse.

Really. Machine_a novel in progress. Who came up with that title? I did. Pilot of a Volkswagen Beetle. Zigzagging from one exploding star to the next. Planet formation is fascinating. The variability in solar systems is incredible. Hot Jupiters practically kissing the sun. Super Earths in improbable locations. Just like people. Just like you. Just like me. Here we are!

I lope through the day. Dragging my left foot behind me. My cock used to swell to ridiculous proportions. Now it looks like a shriveled worm. I need pills to get a hard-on. 

So it goes, says Mr. Vonnegut.

Are we on the edge of World War III?

Sure feels like it.

Every day.

Every nanosecond.

Does Amerika need a President? Does the planet need an Amerikan President? Feels too dangerous. The Cosmos is a dangerous place. Nightmares are electronic. What is real? What is reality? More or less is left behind. We build our lives out of cosmic dust. We orbit the Sun.

The wobble of a Sun can be observed from great distances. If there is a looker… a Seer. Someone must look. Someone must give a damn. Possess a curiosity. 

Peepholes into Space.

The city is a giant horseshoe crab next to the sea. Its metal retractable shell protects inhabitants from typhoons and sea surges. I operate the machine. I decide when to deploy the shell. It is a great responsibility. I cannot be wrong. Not with 88,888 human lives at stake. Yes. We are a small city. All has become so after the Event.

This could be its own novel.

A novel within a novel.

If I had the temerity. Do I? Hard to say at the moment. Joaquin Phoenix just won a Golden Globe for his performance in The Joker. Is this a performance? Of course it is. Am I tickled from eating oysters? Possibly.

My hand lotion feels & smells like Elmer’s glue.

I love you.

Why are you so distant?

So far away?

Orgasm as prolonged as possible. We lay on our sides. Breathing. Your thigh slung over my hip.

Memory gets in the way of progress. She salts it and gives me a suck. I am nineteen. Blowing sperm into her mouth. I feel her palm spread on my right buttock. I am standing. My jeans bunched up at my ankles. Pretty soon it is her turn. Skirt hiked up. Panty crotch pushed aside. She makes the low guttural groans of orgasm.

A plotted narrative is required.

Let’s move on.

I am here, in the night, under a sky. Everything is out there. Comets and asteroids. Intercontinental ballistic missiles. We are a mistake away from Armageddon. Perhaps closer than that. Everybody just says things. Punching nonsense into pocket machines. Posting as impostors. Pretenders. No human beings left. Ask Norbert Weiner. He wrote a book called The Human Use of Human Beings. Thomas Pynchon alerted me to this little masterpiece. Required reading for all automatons. Robot is a Czech word.

My back hurts. Bulging discs & herniated discs in my thoracic spine. I hope I can fuck again. Everything feels like the Beatles song “Yesterday.” I am here. Right now. Meditating my ass off. My hair is on fire. My nostrils inhale the Cosmos.

Easy tiger. A novel is a marathon. Long-distance love affair. You cannot have an American girlfriend and a European girlfriend. Yes you can. You just have to make sure you do not write about it in a notebook journal. Girlfriends read everything. Especially when you are at the tavern. 

Lightning strikes twice.

Sometimes thrice.

I am an idiot machine. A perfect storm. 

I make noise. A novel is a silent scream. Bursts of laughter. Awkward silences. I see through space and time. Pools of hydrogen gas. Gravity begins its work.

Where is everybody?

Hahaha. 

Fermi. You funny man.

The recent post by Pseudo Heraclitus strongly reminded me of this (see below) fragment from the Seranoga collection ‘Hidden Cities’. It is unknown if the it is supposed to be part of larger work or not, though much of the contents of ‘Hidden Cities’ seems to unfinished works of one kind or another. The striking features about the fragment are of course the similarity of Irus to Yrus and the mention of walls of great thickness.

Seranoga also seems to intimate a sense of a hidden clergy, or dare we say it, a kind of rhizomatic clergy dispersed through the population in ways he could not understand in his visit. What the nature of this visit actually was of course, we can only speculate -hallucinatory, imagined, spiritual or physical.