This desiccation begins with a brief anecdote. It always will. There was once an unusual meeting between two literary men. It has since been forgotten, as are most moments; it is the kind of historical tidbit useless to most except the right obsessive scholar for whom it could potentially provide lifetimes of sweet, lonely rapture. This sort of person is to be envied for his purpose and passion. The unlikely event occurred when the journeys of Edward Morgan Forster and Emil Mihai Cioran intersected at an obscure Parisian café. Its name was not recorded but it was observed that the establishment leaned out from the row of buildings on the street to be ignored like a beggar who stands in a crowd obstructing pedestrian flow. It may have been the crusted curtains that drew both men inside; the cesious blue fabric reminding one of the poster for Atbara Porpoise Laces which he often saw pasted up on a board during routine perambulations with his mother, while recalling to the other man the shutters of an old haunt, several streets away, that he frequented when he first arrived in this city as a young man and regularly attended because the coffee was decent for the price but mostly because there was a young woman there about whom he often imagined the most tender, aching trysts that left him pale and exhausted.
Regardless, the two writers came together. They did not recognize each other, or if one did he did not intimate it. Cioran was brooding, quietly carving letters in his mind. Forster asked to sit at his table and, receiving the smallest movement in response, he pulled out the chair. They sat still with cigarette smoke, straining jazz, clinking glasses, murmuring voices, and stale body odor all listing languidly in the air. Time shuddered by.
Then intercourse. Forster asked Cioran if he cared for a cup of tea from his pot. Silence. Repetition. Silence. Abruptly Forster pinched / the other’s nostrils and poured the lukewarm tea down his throat / splash of cream to follow / laughing all the while. He planted a kiss on his forehead / the degrading smack of the Humanist / It was too bad for him that during all of this the Francophone Romanian so focused inwardly that he hardly noticed. Not the spout jammed between his teeth with a crack / nor the cream that dribbled off his jaw and soaked his collar / nor the hot residue glistening on his forehead.
Forster finished gobbling a pastry between words / chirping / and wished farewell with a lopsided smile / ear to ear. / Cioran’s mind was burrowed deep / elsewhere his body barely produced a bead of sweat / rendering it all forgettable / forgotten.
Not all labor is history / but all history / – / x / – / As one would say / As one might say who is not living in fear / of Adam’s curse / that poor self-diagnosis / that old wives’ tale / Someone like this might remember that / bursts of noontide sun with its softest wafts of radiation could be born from the mere silhouette of syphilis and anxiety-laced solitude. Still so much labor is wasted / and its record is mangled /Trapped in the unpredictability of memory / change is stifled / and Progress / with capital pee / remains fictive. Sweat the stubborn historiographer
Crumbworshipers / Suffering the symptoms of epigonism / Language is devoid of marrow / Sagging with fat / And now after so many years of the repetitive act / Our words are heavy, dull, and awkward, they flail like damaged limbs unable to stretch and slip the clumsy yoke of metaphor. / Leaden with hypostasis / Too few can cut through and amputate / Too risky / There might not be enough left to go on / Afterwards.
Overripe people / with bodies so stimulated that they twitch with inactivity / and skin that secretes toxins / chemicals / and a vapid ennui / a boredom that stains under the arms /and around the collar / marks of history / Time licking up that perspiration
Patrick Scheid is a writer, performance-based artist, and historiographer. He currently lives and works in New York.