I met this dude on SCRUFF and he promised he was a Totalpig, so we met up and fucked because that was what I was looking for, I thought. Post-fuck we talked about smart stuff and he turned out to be Aperson, too. This revelation interfered with how I would view him from then on, which is definitely my fault. Aperson came from London, visiting for a Performance Arts conference in Chicago, because what else would anyone able to see through me with such impressive velocity be teaching?
Of course, since my life is slowly becoming a series of mistakes infinitely recurring until the joke is no longer funny and I actually realize I am ruining myself, Aperson was staying at an apartment I had found myself in twice—or more (?)—before. It all felt very surreal, even if we are referring to an apartment featuring special bedsheets that are water sports friendly, among other special features with names I have yet to learn, as a somewhat recent member of the tarnished halo club. Clouds get you to some weird places sometimes, it is true.
Since Aperson was into smart stuff, we decided to go to questionably highbrow thing together! Double Take XII, a reading series organized by BOOKFORUM’s Albert Mobilio, was our target activity.
Featuring three distinct readings in pairs, the evening was filled with thoughts, laughs and the occasional discomfort necessary for any cultural ephemeron to be elevated to a meaningful experience. Double Take is best described is a “reading series that asks award winning and emerging poets, novelists, editors, and artists to trade takes on shared experiences.”
#1 Matthea Harvey + Mary-Ann Monforton: Clouds vs. Cubes
Upon entering the apexart space on Church Street, multiple audience members holding made-up paper clouds were moving them around, obviously a cutesy trick relating to this segment of the reading. Once Harvey and Monforton moved to the podium, they began making the case for either group: clouds were initially framed as indicative of our shared freedom to be dreaming, while cubes (and by extension, boxes) were framed as means of attaining practicality or attempting a grasp of realism.
It is easy to begin by considering how intertwined the notion of dreaming is to the emblematic presence of clouds. It is the first image that pops to the minds of the popular imagination, except perhaps for those who immediately begin singing a Blondie song. Moving on to the meteorological aspects attached to it, the shift toward a more scientific tangent seemed logical. With the made-up paper cloud props moving above all of us in the audience, the two readers made a cajoling case for the poetic pragmatism of the debacle between clouds and cubes. Underneath their seemingly antithetical functions (a loose paradigm of imagination versus logic ala Vernunft versus Gefuehl), arise essential similarities: both are defining our purpose, orientation and intention.
#2 Ellis Avery + Tayari Jones: Critically Approaching EMPIRE
Dynamically starting what was the best received piece of the night by the attendees with a Diane Sawyer/ Whitney Houston joke on needing to see those receipts, this duo emphasized on an analytical project trying to understand what the appeal of EMPIRE is.
While I remain personally uneducated in real terms, still having abstained from watching what everyone agrees is the most hilarious show on television, I totally get its appeal: it is an exaggerated show that features plot twists in the telenovela-archetype, deliciously trashy characters and bountiful shock value. My reaction is not even about the “I don’t even own a television” performance I give when I pretentiously omit bringing up how many seasons of Dance Moms I can watch on my sad little phone per day. Rather, it is about acknowledging that there is not that much to wonder about EMPIRE’s success. We have all been starving for less conventional characters, or at least less fucking white! We deserve something to balance the painful whiteness of today’s TV reality.
Because this piece was so well received by those present for its engaging parlance and the sassy performativity Jones added to it, I could not help thinking less about it. Plus, all the thoughts I had were not revelations, but observations served with some wit.
#3 McKenzie Wark + Jackie Wang: On Trauma & Deliverance
The closing reading was closer in format to a multimedia performance piece that is unapologetic in its messiness. Less of a theatrical presentation and more of an attempt to obdurate in an endeavor to craft an artistic representation of totality, even a performative one. Wark and Wang presented a peculiar piece that focused on the emotional choice we make between indulging in excess vs absence of pain. A rapid change from the preceding tone of the event, these performers immediately overstimulated us through multiple media going on simultaneously. Concepts like the “problem of being human” were dramatized as absolutes: existence versus non-existence, the desire to not exist.
In a narration of a memory of nothing, the battle of mortality against immortality arose. Wark performed his queerness, alternating the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend.’ But it was only the boyfriend(s) he asked: “Fuck me till I don’t exist!” Then there were eggs Wang forcefully threw on herself, accompanied by unpleasant noise. It was sad but people were laughing, so it must have been real: it invoked awkwardness and invited those watching to think about the emotional maturity they choose to demonstrate: do they risk opening up, even if they get hurt, or stay clear of the wounds of romance?
That is how Double Take XII, happened to me on a Tuesday in mid-April. Everything was happening to me during all of April. It almost reminded me of the years I have spent trying to recollect myself after the codepedent relationship that almost led to dramatic suicides of a Goethean tradition. When I look at the texts, the emails, the letters I always am amazed at the infinite cruelty we both indulged in, proof of what led us to the summer where I almost hang myself and she needed to have her stomach pumped for chugging a lethal amount of pills.
The problem was that we had been breaking up for a fucking year, and the hatefucks were so good. The lucidity of the adrenaline and our fucked up brains were completely convinced of our need to be together. To be apart was not an option, and if it seemed so I would choke her and she would slap me and it would all just be a fuckfest because it was all or nothing all the time, she was a druggie (generalist, of sorts) and I was a full-blown cokehead, snorting lines in corporate bathrooms all over downtown.
Eventually I went through her phone, and I saw her text to her closest girlfriend bragging about how she got fucked by my friend and how “he fucked like a rabbit!” Naturally, we fucked that one away, too! We were committed to ruining each other. (“I don’t think you should try becoming a writer” being my favorite challenge from the poisonous statements that today seem impossible scenarios to even imagine. And, yes, I definitely called her fat and cross-eyed—she was neither—because I was a monster, too.)
I have no idea what occurred that healed our addiction to each other and our toxic disaster, but time has passed, and she has moved on and I almost became a writer, but absolutely not to prove a point to anyone and especially not for her. I hope she never reads me, because the version of our story she had to tell herself must be radically different. First and foremost we needed to erase each others existence. I would pretend to be happy for her present, but I don’t know it and I no longer understand how we even were together for so long. I have no idea what happened to my person, but she is no longer it, she is just my ex’s body, but a complete stranger.
I asked Aperson how he understood what is going on in my head, because it is becoming increasingly too hard to figure out if my tone is serious or a joke, even for me. An outsider’s opinion can really help! I asked him: do you understand why i keep sabotaging romantic prosperity by choosing meaningless sex? Here is his email response that explains my problem:
Romantic prosperity threatens the desire to get fucked into non-existence. Romantic prosperity is n+1. Being fucked into non-existence is the opposite: striving for [zero] – which is not [void] or [absence], as the arabs have long taught us. [zero] as the (positive) state of pre-individuation, where form is yet to crystallise and everything is only still (yet?) flow and virtuality.
That’s why Totalpig -> Aperson becomes a problem.
At times, I also prefer to fuck with my eyes closed.
Last year I had an awkward dinner with a friend who asked me why—if I find her attractive and smart like I so frequently say sans hesitating—I was not attracted to her. I am not sure who came up with the response to her question, but I think we decided to go with “because I respect you, so I don’t see you like that.” She then told me that I should be careful of that—my dwindling attraction toward people I respect. It turns out she was probably right.
How will I become a person again, I have yet to figure out. Maybe I should start by closing my eyes less, but I like to fuck with my eyes open. Have you ever noticed how much darker gay sex when compared to straight sex? Where are the straight couples pnping and breeding and pigging out loads in each other?
Who will fix me, already. When will I stop joking my sadness away in a pathetic teenage fashion? Sorry, I am doing it again.
 [Clouds refer to the fumes that meth creates for users smoking it.]
 [Have no idea what the Arabs have taught us, but he is smarter than me, so this should be astute.]
 [ PNP stands for “party and play” which is yet another meth reference, but may also include G, the best drug ever, which is more broadly known as the date-rape drug. Us fags love to self-serve, to enhance the sexual experience(s)]
 [Obviously, they exist, too. But the numerical frequency must be too low in comparison to that of the gay community, if my understanding of my surroundings resembles an accurate depiction of a reality.]