I’ve thought of a centerpiece to make it stick together.
The book you mean?
Yeah…. I’ve thought: communicating with the dead. But that would be too creepy.
Why? Framing is always a way of killing. So no matter what it’ll be creepy.
Okay. But this is also corny.
So is a lot of this book. So is my death. Hanging in a museum.
So? Art should always be folly.
I quit analysis because it can’t handle the whole sibling thing. Daddy this, daddy that. But you were more important than him.
I was him.
Right I get it. Your last Facebook status: Emma is Charles.
That’s why I didn’t need analysis.
But I do since allegedly I have a melancholic fixation on you. I think you were the greatest and cannot be replaced instead of realizing it’s my desire that cannot be replaced, that something in her caused desire, something in the male butt caused desire, and I cannot have that thing again. So I fixate on you as “object,” a substitute that is never the cause of my desire but resembles it.
Yeah whatever but also you are dealing with my melancholic fixation on you, i.e., being haunted. But I’m not an object. Or a lack of object. I’m a ghost. And the ghost is in the machine/ego: we share the same machine.
This hurts me so much that I need tranquilizers.
But you’re tranquilizing yourself good enough by fixating more…. You’re distracting from larger and more unconscious feelings. Which is fine. But like I said you’ll fall asleep either way. Fixate or not doesn’t really make a difference. I fixate and send endless texts all the time. But what is singular about the person and what is lost in them is not related to your own attempts to handle your anxiety and panic over being alone which is what you’re mostly feeling right now.
Is this book just a compulsively produced distraction?
What is striking about this book is that it so un-heterosexual. I’m your muse and Eva’s your muse or Justin’s your muse or Gabe or whatever but you never fuck us. You finger us a little but never fuck us. What’s the deal? Chicken?
No. I’d fuck you.
But you can’t because we are simply two sides of the same brain. Right. That’s the pact?
That was your pact.
And I win. Your writing and consciousness will always be an uneven mess. Because you aren’t just you. You’re me.
The way you’re Charles.
Maybe. But it’s deeper. I’m C as a masquerade. You’re not playing me. Or playing with me: you’re me-ing me.
That’s not fun.
No. It’s not. That’s why drag isn’t fun for you. Cuz my scalp and hair fit too well as a wig.
From above all this conflict, especially the poetry wars, seems kind of dull.
I only see it as a game. Don’t worry.
“I’m not worried.” Like when you control a doll’s voice so it says what you want. Until you can get it to speak for itself. There is that awkward moment. Where you’re just hearing yourself think. In precisely that moment you want the angelic gap to refuse your own voice. What don’t you want to hear?
I don’t want to hear anything that would get in the way of my hazy discontent with life.
So what? Worried I’ll make it all too blisteringly painful, a hailstorm of rage at the very fabric of your experience, so you’re asphyxiated by it?
Right. I’m not in the mood to be brought to your level.
But if I don’t bring you there, what will be the point of this? A further exercise in our two intellectual halves making conversation instead of intercourse—who cares?
I’ve never wanted to consciously have anything more than that.
But you’re not off the hook. Precisely because you are still here, in the rain, even, talking to a ghost. Waiting for the ghost to press up against you.
I know that you won’t. That I won’t.
Right. Now shame…
This game sucks. The game of affinity that you are playing. When did you become so dull?
Be in my tummy again, please?
How about you just listen to me cry in the other room?
While I get goosebumps and depersonalize…. Okay.
Peep oh, peach blow, peach blow, jump over the door.
Not every ghost arises the way you want it to, Felix.
Shame and agony aren’t choices.
Nope. Nobody would choose each other.
That’s where you fucked up.
I never pretended like you do. I couldn’t. When did you start?
There is no amount of bad feeling that hits a good chord and then stops reality from bleeding.
You’re ill equipped to handle the situations of nature, spirit, the infinite, etc. Do you not even miss me? Just want to join the ranks of the living, one group after another. One hook-up after another… One deconstruction after another…
The core is damaged.
The core is emptied. Not because you are compromising your integrity. But because you have no integrity. That’s why there are no soft dragons flying you around, no mermaids for you to pet or squish, no furry fawns to lead you, no tender friends to fondle you, no skinny dipping, no hill top vistas, no grandchildren to goof around with, no jogging in the park, no pillow fights, no black eyes, no sore feelings, no waves of grief that shake your bed, no magic carpets, no lush surprises, no books to tear up, no handmade circuses, no fireflies, no overwhelming convictions, no water fights, no bowties, no special charms, no murderous impulses, no cloudy days, no clinging to one boy, no fits of laughter, no slit wrists, no decorations in your new apartment, no fluffy fantasias, no golden heart necklaces, no relapses, no pocket-sized dolls, no koala bears, no ice cold baths, no seasonal mood swings, no esoteric alphabets, no delight.
*EBB is an Excerpt from Burn Book (Nightboat, 2016) http://www.nightboat.org/
Felix Bernstein is the author of Burn Book (Nightboat) and Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry (Insert Blanc Press). He will debut a performance, Bieber Bathos Elegy, at the Whitney Museum on January 15th and 16th.