psychological horror is a redundancy. violence is intimacy inverted. the mind’s dark train whistles through the cratered fiction of this phantasmagoria. violence is its own completion; our viciousness will inaugurate another wolf for the moon. & then make the moon howl for a millennium. the first thing you learn here is that every room is a palindrome. all that you want to transcend never stops speaking back to you. every fear is ribboned in scrolls of synapse. it is not what you fear but how–you become the mimesis of hemorrhaged paint, the darkened orifices of doors aching with batik of blood; you become time ‘s spectral mobius strip. you are the room–you find eyes sharpened into buried beartraps. your limbs whittled by the invisible gaze. this beautiful room, this burning damask. you skin yourself within the unselfing. your pretty fails. you puff your cheeks to billow at the pause where air becomes light and flickers in a mimicry of snakes – this is a hierarchy of ghosts tied to each other in a perpetual rat king. you imagine jaws of anthracite teetering at a cave with its dry ribcage full of bleached butterflies : a riddle of wings, a skein you are slowly getting knotted into. if you listen closely you can hear your shoulder blades snap–you can feel the feathers rip through the flesh. the animal & the angel in ouroboros.
The skin is a variety of contingency: in it, through it, with it, the world and my body touch each other, the feeling and the felt, it defines their common edge. Contingency means common tangency: in it the world and the body intersect and caress each other. I do not wish to call the place in which I live a medium, I prefer to say that things mingle with each other and that I am no exception to that. I mix with the world which mixes with me. Skin intervenes between several things in the world and makes them mingle.
– Michel Serres, The Five Senses
skin is the largest organ – a sea of sensation, bridge & sleep. the ether numbing the distance between the boundaries of sagas & the boundaries of screens. to touch is a form of arson. here is a fire that kindles but does not consume. in this frame, i hallucinate the legend about a library in ancient india that swallowed its holocaust for fifteen years & inside it burned the alchemy of philosopher’s stones, unmapped glossology, an epoch of ciphers. each path of smoke curled into the mask of a sacrifice. something arises but inwardly : a mirror catches a wave & you begin to drown in thin air. every name could be a synonym for ash. every body evolves into a muted scream. every face turns into a lost key. the compound interest accrued on certain nouns – muscle memory, wisdom tooth. can this labyrinth of sinew hold the whole story? can the tooth root a knowledge only revealed through decay? the bicameral mind argues about the “illogic” of consciousness. if you took apart the weaving at the center of schizophrenia, you get “to split” & “heart and/or mind”. here the heart has turned into a hole for the fire to slip in and out as per convenience. when we speak of schizophrenia we speak of a dissociation between reality and the receptacle. hold a flame to the edge of paper. watch the contour run back to the center. watch how we participate in our own decline.
if you look for her, you most certainly will miss her. she is a shadow of sulfur dropping and rising through the elevator shaft. she is when darkness is more gray & inconsistent than black & complete. on the way you collect notes; a fading cornucopia of ephemera. you can mark a spot x and say – i am here except no you aren’t because x is not x just a memory of x. it is a thing that exists only within the resonance of absence. the painting is a tuning fork. the vibrations ricochet through the dancing floor of your nightmares. a loss of love is common & specific & eternal. we continue to hollow the viscera, we continue to penetrate the moan.
They were noble automatons who knew not what they did.
– Julian Jaynes referring to the Trojan War in The Bicameral Mind
in a conversation, someone reminds me how it is sometimes towards the end of love that we reach our lowest depths, become the most profane version of ourselves. i wonder if there is a kind of meanness that sleeps in certain people, tucked beneath all brawn & guts like an ancient organ. i wonder about what happens to children born in the pit of degradation. i wonder if every child is hoaxed into believing that that every child is lovable. are there those amongst us who were never meant to be loved? forensics psychiatry tells me that people grow into not away from their deviance. what if it is an undisclosed axiom for refraction, this sunflower trick of the bent self?
a babel of sound. / Each cries a secret. / I run among them, reach out vain hands, and drown.
– Conrad Aiken, The House of Dust
in the stopgap i wish this story had a different language. time to time, it hobbles uncomfortably as if an awkward teenager who has cut his hand in his friend’ house, worried about the tiny red roses splattered on the expensive bathroom tile.
when you have ruptured in finite ways, you begin to gather your slices in infinite ways. it is ironic that death induces such tremendous fear when it is the most explicit of life’s gesture. you knew this hand would strike you. it was put in place to strike you. there is not much to fear in the grasp of the absolute; what can and should turn us whiter than our eyeballs is the presence of all this reciprocal, regenerative altitudes and breakwater of what has not been revealed to us but waits for us with the patience of a painter’s muse.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.
– L. Mencken
if hope is a thing with feathers then doubt is a thing with claws. i shake myself into visibility by digging into the dirt of you. i must unbury myself by using the convenient shovel of your body. i see myself in you. i see myself through you. i can only satisfy the extent of my existence in context to how others receive me or how i receive others. without them, i am just a disembodied voice. an echo locked in a mason jar.
when you have lived your whole life like a child holding his breath underwater, you know that silence is not clean. never has been.
Note: this piece comes out of a co-play through first-person horror game Layers of Fear (Aspyr, 2016) between Scherezade Siobhan and Greg Bem. The textual response is by Ms. Siobhan. All in-game screenshots were taken and selected by Mr. Bem.