Beautiful monsterchild of the equinoctial super-bloodmoon eclipse, the fourth issue of Plinth, published by Unwin-Dunraven Literary Ecclesia, features work by Tarpaulin Sky Press author Claire Donato along with Purdey Lord Kreiden (whose new collection, Scolopendrum, is forthcoming from Action Books in April 2016), Nick Greer, Matthew Johnstone, A.A. Walker, Jayme Russell, C.C. Parker, Alina Popa, and Lital Khaikin.
As with the last three issues of Plinth, not a word is wasted, and although we could go on at length regarding not only this issue but the unrelenting awesomeness of the entire UDLE publishing enterprise, instead we’ll just reprint a handful of excerpts from Vol.4., perhaps with a few willfully obscure comments, that those with eyes may see.
From “Imitation of a Dream,” by Alina Popa, a sort of (non-) fictive essay / meditation / psychonautical travelogue (says us), exploring among other things the No-Thing:
We were on a narrow corridor, when a staircase stretched into space, pushing the lateral to the margin, the margins of the indefinite. The stairs started climbing themselves under our feet, an abstract ascent, incomplete, and we skipped a few steps on the way. We were going to fetch something from the last floor of a block, a social house devoid of humans and drowned in the darkness. I said to her something very familiar, the usual tone of our conversation was filling the echoless room. She was leading the way, I, just like it always happens, was too immersed in the spacetime of my thoughts to maintain any sense of orientation, any coordinates of the map under my feet.
“We have trained thoroughly to understand the abstract pattern of the relation between a thing and the world it is in.”
The time of the ascent expanded, the duration of a step accommodated the length of the spoken sentence. A sentence that lurked there ghostly in the obscurity of the situation.
“But if we have two things, in two separate worlds, then we should be able to decipher the relation of the relation: between a thing and the world it is in, and another thing and the other world it is in.”
She was still leading the way to the last floor of a social house devoid of humans and drowned in the darkness.
On the last floor, near the door closest to our blurred sight, a man was standing, obliquely, dark on dark. We still wanted to reach the peak of the staircase convinced that a bit of philosophy guarded us from evil.
The man suddenly said in a firm voice, with a slight Eastern European accent: “You’d better not.”
The descent was so fast that the room disintegrated, we ceased to feel our body moving, our feet devouring the stairs, our leaps towards the escape, an escape that was itself on the run.
I was just a vague presence suspended at the margins of spacetime, waking up.
When dreaming is treated as a praxis, and the dream as just another medium, like the actual world, then to pass from waking life to the dreamworld is to switch between equally existent worlds, to travel from one medium to another. The transversal navigation between these worlds-as-medium is made possible by the disruptive moments of waking up and falling asleep. Through falling asleep or falling awake, worlds leak into each other, deviate each other, acting through a reciprocal corruption of their respective modes of (dis)organization.
A medium is a full behavioural space with its own affective and logical syntax. A world is a language spoken in habits. To lose the world is to speak a language massively indifferent to meaning, in that world. To become world loser. A world loser crosses the limit not by going forward but by falling through.
A world loser travels with the guidance of equivocation towards her own deception. A world loser, or a pessimist shaman, is an ontological translator of the equivocation of habits and names that refer to things alien to each other, alien to herself. The referents bifurcate into separate worlds, lost worlds. To lose the world in translation, to lose the translation in the rift between worlds. To translate a fall into another fall.
Through holes one falls. Through falling one loses. Through losing one loses again.
Dovetailing nicely with Popa’s work is Claire Donato’s “The Thought Has a Mind of Its Own,” also a sort of trans-genre Yesodic travelogue:
To begin, there is no tunnel illuminated by a candle. There is no lamp with a switch. My skirt does not serve as an umbrella against the wind, nor do I have time to select a red bound book from a nearby table. I do not skim its pages; I do not let go the book to rest awhile in a rocking chair. I do not pause to study a map, nor does my body invert—or it does, and I land on the crown my head, the body’s reset button, in sirsasana II, a yogic inversion in which the body, upside-down and supported by the palms (placed flat on the ground), is held upright. Here, the world is capsized, the size of a cap, a replica of something much smaller than normal. What a curious feeling! Am I too a small thing? All things considered, I begin to chew on the inside of cheek.
I chew and chew and chew, and I shrink and shrink and shrink. And so it is indeed I am now only ten inches high—reduced to miniature dimensions, so to speak. Instead of panicking or bursting into a pool of tears, I begin to reminisce, to sort through memory’s files and folders, whose names are too long for their destinations—e.g., c:\memory\individual\explicit\episodic; c:\memory\individual\explicit\semantic; c:\memory\individual\explicit\autobiographical; c:\memory\individual\implicit\procedural; c:\memory\individual\implicit\priming; c:\memory\individual\implicit\perceptual; c:\memory\collective\communicative;c:\memory\collective\cultural\storage m.; c:\memory\collective\cultural\functional m.—and whose strings of letters nonetheless settle my reactive tendencies and comfort my mind, bright pink like the moon.
By invoking multiple perspectives, memory acts as a choose-your-own-adventure story. So state the story’s rules: The navigatress—the reader, or in this case, one’s ‘I’—chooses to proceed from one event to the next, or she does not. Depending whereupon her eye (I) wanders, her ear may hear a voice. Then another. Then the next. ‘I am sure,’ one voice says. ‘Not at all,’ another says. ‘I said it,’ says another, and as in a general assembly, each voice is given an equal chance to participate, although one voice may never participate. Regardless, one’s voice is embodied in the text, even if the reader opts to redirect her path. Memory’s corrupt file’s folders, thus, make up the composite I shall hereby refer to as my limn, one fully immersive, illuminated, recollective text.
“Until the mystery of my life between my death and birth, my limn, is solved,” we read earlier in the piece, “this text will be abridged.”
By text, I am referring to the part of my mind the color of burnt bones, lampblack soot. By limn, I am referring to the inscrutable space between my death and birth where my mind’s fish swims well beyond my consciousness, far more aware of the text in its belly than I.
Qabalistically inclined readers will note an interesting interchange / morphing in Donato’s particular Yesodic playground, wherein the Tzaddi / fish-hook begets the Nun / fish and vice versa (more evident upon reading the entire piece); and upon closer inspection, we discover more than one fish, in fact, swimming through the black Mem / sea of the new Plinth, often in transformation. In excerpts from “As the World Falls Down,” for example, a long poem by Jayme Russell — whether read as a conscious meditation on Qabalistic notions of involution or the scientific understanding of evolution, or neither/both — we find:
singing behind the curtain of plumage whip-bird bell-
bird golden whistler a flock inside one body tiny birds
faintest notes inside your shadow blurred by
movement descending scale elusive passing glimpses
snared alive voices of the forest appear at fixed points
with clockwork regularity
down through the clearing through the water
no other road the realm of the sea
plumes emerge from the spell a company of small
birds rises and spreads in one sweeping motion
ripples in a liquefied pattern until assuming a static
forward and downward partially screening head from
sight among the decaying roots tinged with purple
space to flourish sloping private kingdom invaded by
each bird swimming in the atmosphere
fish were little birds never seen
Lital Khaikin, by contrast, pulls her fish-hook out of the Mem and then angles it straight into the face of the Source, in “Three Variations”:
Each thing has its own centre so that the infinite, or something close to it,
is written into every part / a pattern
So of the one guilty of these repetitions, I must ask for an impossible reply,
how many variations of you are written into a minor amount of matter?
I know not whether to tear the ground or teach my body to fly so as not to leave too brute an impression with a misdirected pace,
that veers too often and may press too strongly into the lightness of every recurring “here, I am”.
Out of you, I must make a place / now become direction
And must unlearn the code by which gravity toys with desire
the way it deceives with a natural law
that all things arrive to a point decided before the fall
Of course we have no bloody idea what the authors are up to, in any of these pieces, so don’t hold them accountable for our errant scrying. The authors are more than capable of elucidating further. Check out an Alina Popa (not the body-builder) here, a Lital Khaikin website here, and a Claire Donato site here. Although Plinth by its nature invites discussion of the occult (see our shoutout to Plinth #2)– given that the journal seems dedicated to publishing work which explores the technology of language itself, as well as mapping the multiple planes in which language operates — we are confident that even tedious atheists and their ilk will find much to appreciate, while avant-occultists will not sour on Qabalahblahblahblah and will instead find new territory to explore, much like the “Apollo 13” of Purdey Lord Kreiden, wherein
… You are sitting at the diner table
And pretending to go for a piss you excuse yourself
And lock yourself in the bathroom to impale your anus
On the toilet stick.
My heart penetrates black oranges
Here you were undressed and beaten up
And buried along with seven different kind of animals
After your skin was detached from my bones
Your bones rinsed with a solution of several metals
And brown plum leaves and crushed and diluted altogether
With the dried-up remains of the animals into a paste
Which my People rubbed on their lobes and napes
To experience their amnesia with great forgetfulness
And compassion. I’m in the other room,
Masturbating with your little cousin’s hand
While he’s asleep. These are the queen’s chambers,
With the walls coated in dry salt vibrating from hydrogen.
Your heart penetrates black oranges
You notice many objects in the room can be used
To mimic the Gods….
GO. NOW. READ THE REST OF PLINTH #4: