exponentiation ezine
exponentiation en ezine

exponentiation ezine: issue [4.0:literature]


The writer paused in front of his - no, make that her - keyboard. She knew that literary fame was fleeting, a series of indelible marks and superlative praise fading like the 1950s signs in the town part of what's now a city, soon to be consigned to the giant landfill outside of town, along with the writer's computer, her typewriter, her CD collection. It's only a matter of time, and your frame of reference matters. To a cancer patient, the landfill is closer than to a child, but to the mountains that are - were, before the strip-mine - above the city, it's always there and always has been. The little creatures running around trying to make themselves more colorful than the last are like tadpoles in the ponds that form by the curbs, soon to be dried up when the oil - I mean the water - goes away.

The writer paused in front of her keyboard. The goal: to make a supercalifragilistic modern story that would ring all the bells in the literary quarterlies, burn up the pages of the culture magazines, and eventually get her onto a talk show or in some other aspect of fame (talk shows are archived on DVDs, which have approximately ten years' greater lifespan than paper, assuming of course that when the oil runs out everything will collapse right away, which probably isn't right - paper, for example, is invaluable for starting fires in a postnuclear landscape). The host, who will be whatever mixture of heritages that catches the eye of the media barons at that moment, can almost be felt, now, leaning closer in the future, breath smells nonexistent in the bright colors of camera. "Where did it all start for you?" The writer knows, in the sage wisdom of her 25 - probably better off at 27, that's when they all suicide - 27 years that the where-did-it-start question is only slightly less feared than the "How does it feel..." question, but she's prepped herself for years to be able to handle the tough ones.

It's not much different than a physics assignment. Find what type of answer is desired, and work backward through what you've been told to find the tools to get there. And they say modern humanity is "The Trousered Ape"! Ridiculous. She'll toss her hair - curly, kinky, straight or wavy, depending on what the latest girlpop stars are doing - and look right into the eye of that interlocutor and say, "You know, it sounds very funny, but for me it all began when I realized that I could do anything I wanted. I'm the captain of my ship, the sculptor of my soul, and my world is me. In my world, I saw myself as the kind of girl who could come back from ten thousand failed relationships, embarrassing moments in bedrooms of men I met once and would never acknowledge in public again, credit reports that make my high school performance seem exemplary, and most of all that terrible moment when I staggered into my parent's bedroom and found they were doing something so biological it shocked my youngest of minds. I'm the kind of girl with pluck, with moxie, with savoir faire, maybe stretch that even to self-possession. I can do it; I can write a world-beating story; I can turn all my doubts and fears into triumphs and inevitably, bank account numbers reaching in a ladder to the heavens. Then I paused over my typewriter, and I did it, and you can too."

The talk show host will pause with frozen smile and then laughing launch into the next question. As they say in prep school, you don't answer the question, but answer the audience. Tell them what they'd like to hear to get past the next car payment, the next chemo treatment, the next move at midnight while the rental office is closed tight and its employees elsewhere, drinking to numb the pain of taking applications and showing people empty boxes stale with unmoving air and feeble lights. They don't care at all - no; really; we can use profanity here, and we should utilize it, like a bank loan from the future to burn up all the sacreds now - they don't give a goddamn bloody fuck about you. They fucking only care about how it applies to them, to their mes and Is, what's left for the self? Insert trendy reference to drunken anal sex, or experimental lesbianism, or even drug culture, what's a good one, maybe methamphetamine. God, look at that word. It's like a trip down a mountain. Fucking methamphetamine. Probably the word "amp" in the middle is what does it. Profanity is trendy, so is sex, but we can't have any violence, unless it involves sex, preferrably rape, preferrably anal. Most of that audience have been anally raped in some form or another, so they'll sympathize. If you do it right, the talk show ends with them chanting VIOLENT ANAL RAPE NOW and using profanity, which the network's computers bleep out but still you're on the front page of the daily distraction of the newspapers the next morning. Put in lots of swearing.

Since the author is female, she can also make trendy references to her own cunt, and to her sexual appetite. "Well, I was fucking these guys like I eat malt balls, in big clusters, and suddenly I realized, I didn't even own my own ass anymore. So I started to write, because suffering makes the best story." You've suffered too, dear audience, and you'll lap it up. Hardbacks are ten bucks extra. The cover's important too. If you can't explicitly reference anal sex, methamphetamine or lesbianism, try something symbolic, like Georgia O'Keefe meets KMFDM. Hah! That's the ticket. Write something like that, get a few hundred thou in the bank, and then find yourself a broker. Brokers live on cocaine and take-out sandwiches and love a trendy client, so when they're at that breakpoint between passing out from alcohol and snapping into coherence from the cocaine, they can slur about how refreshing it is to find someone who still wants to, you know, LIVE. God, independence is so goddamn trendy now, but it will always be trendy. Like a smart woman popstar once asked, "What have you done for me lately?" Gimme the power, and give it to me now. Really, give them the power, because then they'll buy my book, and then I don't need power. I've got the crushing armies of accountants and lawyers, psychologists and public relations consultants, security guards and lawn men at my side. A house in the Hollywood Hills, or maybe someplace slightly less trendy, like Silverlake, which makes it even more trendy, for those who know their trends.

And really, you've got to work up more of the childhood trauma. "My parents never stopped hitting me, except when they were having sex, which to me was a shock back then, but more of a shock now since" (roll eyes) "their technique was strictly boardroom." Nothing conveys boredom like the idea of people in suits in a boardroom, unless of course it's your money they're doubling, at which point each of them is Indiana Jones or Catwoman, Jesus Christ or Genghis Khan. Make sure your female character breaks all the rules for women, including having lots of sex, swearing, smoking and drinking, probably tapping out cocaine with a delicate and slightly feminine motion, only to follow it up with a quick roundhouse punch to the meaty ballcap head of the nearest conservative-looking dork. "It's people like you who voted for George Bush!" Oh, the delightful slice of taboo shattered. The audience is cheering. She's with us, man, she's standing up for the little guy. Everyone can have insight into her condition because actually, it's OURS. We like cocaine. We like cigarettes. We like swearing. We like to think about orgies and lesbianism and violent anal rape, especially if it shows up in our DVD players. Come on baby, give 'em hell! Everywoman is a hero to everyperson, and everyperson inside of them has everygod, the personal savior and sword of Justice and Freedom. It's not that we live in our past mistakes, no, nor that we're whores. We're like her. She's got a purpose, a quest, a cause, a vision and clarity of thought in an aimless world. You won't find her in the dictionary under "neurotic housewife," or in a home for the homeless. She's on the path to success, walking right up that ladder to heaven.

But still she pauses over her typewriter. Maybe a wistful moment, thinking this whole thing is the last bad deal gone down bad, or that it might be easier to get that job writing grant proposals for that save-the-toads-and-lizards foundation, or put together one of those bestseller also-rans about global warming, with its own unique title: "Climate Change: Illusion, or Obliteration?" Truth, or fantasy? Sex, or celibacy? Swearing, or sodomy? All the decisions are up to you, dear reader, as I wouldn't presume to state. Not that I really care what you decide, as long as you get over the most important decision of all, namely to buy my book. Each latte I drink is the royalties from one copy, and my rent takes a few thousand sales a month, but that's before the magnifying power of my attorneys and brokers turns this seed of wealth into a forest of luxury. No more hunching over typewriters, or computers, flicking out phrases about trendy people in trendy reality-defying situations. We all love wealthy people with problems, or scrappy fighters rising from the lowest to the highest, or career good guys who never falter from the path of the true and demand no reward in the end except a cold beer and a warm smile. These things make our lives seem friendly and take us away, past the oxygen tanks and IVs, past the rent notices and collection agency cold calls, past the divorces and firings and interest rates... the writer grasps cigarettes out of a hidden shelf, behind that old copy of Moby Dick, sending bills fluttering to the grainy surface of the desk. There's no way out but ahead. Light up and be done with it. And remember, put in lots of swearing. - vijay prozak


"Observing nature"

As I walked the lush path through the frail undergrowth; as the first drop of dew plunged through my pants on the bare skin, I was shocked by that sudden feel of cold. I had stepped into the forest invigorated by the noon. Sun did throw its last beams on the horizon, painting the scarce dreaming clouds with its golden-yellow light, against which the verdant trees stood ready for yet another night, who knows how many they've seen in their lifetime. Birds were conversing with a language unknown to me, presumably about their daily matters, and fluttered on through the damp air from a branch to another. I felt I was an outsider in some way, separate from all this when I could observe things like this. There, at the end of a small trip, lied my home as well, a warm bed waiting, in which I could then dream and gather some strength for the next daybreak, as that is when I'm at my most active. Although, this time I had chosen to make a visit to this another, colder, but perhaps a more honest kingdom which felt like a deserted home, which's residents no longer recognize the prodigal son returning to home.

The chill fell upon me as I walked into the middle of a tiny opening, from where the path which I just used split in two directions, both heading into the forest. Without any larger thoughts, I headed on another of these two almost overgrown paths. And there I was greeted as well. Mosquitoes smelled a human in their barren kingdom and the instincts of the insect directed them towards my skin, from which they could suck my blood for nutrition. Well, I had to flail them away and slap them into formless lumps as they were feeding for enough, and this did perfectly disrupt my concentration. As I was walking on the path through dense thickets of plant life, there wasn't much more in my mind than slapping the mosquitoes and keeping them off my skin. You couldn't observe particularly anything then. The same did go on, albeit more ferociously, in a spruce forest where grand trees shadowed almost everything of that soft moss, which covered the ground and the roots of the trees. At some other moment when you wouldn't have had to run away from these mosquitoes and their whining and stings, this green palace would have offered something to see for onlookers, but now this spectator had just the thought of leaving from there, from under the shadows, from over the moist earth, from midst of hungry dwellers of the woods, as experiences stacked into the depths of mind.

Blueberry leaves. Originally I set out to fetch them from the forest for tea along with some observation, which has failed by now. This time however I didn't use the same path to go back, but instead I decided to look around a bit in other areas as well. Next to the more sunny forest of pine trees which floor the blueberry twigs covered in great numbers, there was a both darker and danker area where the tiny guardians of the forest surely had been lurking for their prey, and who knows what else was there? Home and it's wonderfully warm bed started to return to my thoughts as I briskly made journey through the woods trying to have a look or two around me, mosquitoes shattering the thin glass of concentration. Finally I arrived to the another one of those two paths which headed to the forests from the opening at the start of the trip. This one was as overgrown as the other one was so again, pace slowed and the hopes of the mosquitoes rose up simultaneously. This trip to the woods didn't bear fruit exactly the way I expected. There really weren't many peaceful moments as insects charged on, trying to get a filling meal for themselves. Too bad that they didn't quite succeed in their attempts because I had given up on just observing and focused on my next goal, which was to go home. As this opening, which I had been waiting for, spread out before me leaving only the sky above me, an another goal dashed to my mind: those leaves of blueberry.

Well, blueberry leaves do not fly all alone to my little hands so more lively than before, I walked straight back to the woods where mosquitoes, presumably very delighted, came to greet me and to feast me a little as well in all their whining hordes. Hasting, I snatched a few twigs from the ground, because now there was nothing left of my desire to look around, only the will to do what I had to do. As I returned to the opening, again amidst the singing of the birds and away from being centered by mosquitoes, I even could make glances lasting more than just one small moment at trees and at birds gliding in the air. Sun had gone down too, so a little later these forests would have been quite populated with all kinds of bugs who I wasn't very keen on meeting. So from there on, it wasn't a long trip to the warmth of my own home, and I said goodbyes to this other home, which didn't always feel like one but was honest in all it's coldness. It was an experience to visit it.

In the light of realizing this my original thought about observing the forest as behind some glass, from safety and protected from all evil, felt quite naive. When the chilling dew splashed on my skin making me shiver, when mosquitoes chased me, their prey, I lived the life that the forest dwellers live each and every moment. There really isn't much time to think grand thoughts, because nature knows no mercy. Hunger, the cold and the beasts do exist. We can observe from our shelters the woods just like we want to and see them in a larger scale, as we do not have to run there in the middle of trees searching for food or shiver, covered by the cold. So we do have time for other things as well. This principle can also be applied so that we would run to safety away from this modern society, and examined it with the eyes of an owl, from the branch of some distant tree, fully unreachable by the target, in protection. The forest dwellers run after food just like we do, it's just that we have only money, which is analogous to that running. So, if we stop and stand away from money and at the same time, society, we can concentrate and observe without the useless needs, social expectations and other temptations attacking us with their ear-agonizing whine and efforts to suck our blood, unless we turn our attention to them and simultaneously be pulled away from the safety of observation.

In the past, we lived according to the forest. It was our home. Experiences determined our way of life, and we lived and didn't observe as outsiders since we had no other home to run to safety to. Nevertheless, as time passed on we developed on the fields of technology and the forests didn't scare us so greatly anymore, so we forgot the language of the trees and animals and started to live in our own world. From this isolation we grew to think that we have nothing in common with the forest, that we are humans, the highest of all. We had built our own home from where we could examine the woods as from above so that we saw a larger whole, but we couldn't see beneath the leaves where the experiences wait.

I shall do the same now in an opposite manner and move under the tree boughs in search for experiences. Bugs will bite me, cold winds will shiver me and branches cut my skin, but that is the way of the forest of which I have sought to become part of once again, stepping out from our little windowless cottage built on the tallest of all trees, deep in the woodlands. - frostwood

copyright © 2006 mock Him productions