Hotel Palenque /10 — Louis Armand

I’m no longer conscious of possessing a body as such. It’s merely a form of prosthetic outer existence which I’m vaguely aware has taken my place in the world. I should say: “Against my will.” But it’s impossible to know if this isn’t simply an illusion. I think of different ways of testing myself. Of proving my existence by one means or another. Of course it’s impossible. My limbs have taken on a purpose of their own. An embodied intention that bears no relation to any conscious intention. I see the prosthetic body moving off ahead of me, witness to my own physical abduction. I realise I’m paralysed & expect at any moment to discover myself in the act of committing some hideous crime. Gaping at the lurid street-shadows alive on the ceiling. Mouths opening & stones falling out. A heart wrenched beating from a gaping chest cavity. Screams as arid as a desert. The heart becomes a snake w/ two heads. You raise the knife, but the motion never completes. Somewhere the sound of a bell clanging. At first far off. Gradually it approaches, born upon the shoulders of six headless men. It cracks open. A carrion bird hatched from an obsidian egg. A swarm. A beating of insect wings already inside my head, piercing it. The light shifts. A glint of silver. Curtains snapping in the wind. Bone-cracking. He’s running through the aftershock of the rainslicked streets. A flash of light from the blackness. Sheen of lizard-scale. He reaches his hand out to catch hold of it but it slips away. The street becomes a tide, a red & black tide dragging him towards the sea. Stones are tumbling into the water. Giant lintels pinning him to the riverbed. Mud & leaches. The moon draws the tide near as from afar. Seaweight. Turgid. Estuarine. Mangroves submerged up to their canopies. “There in his eyes temptation goes wandering. And a shipwrecked man sleeps on a hoary pillow of jade.” Shadows beneath the water. The river anchored to the world like a swollen slug. It speaks w/ a voice full of repugnance. WHAT’S KEPT MUST BE BETRAYED! The camera finds X hunched over in the darkness, notebook open across his thigh. Aware of being observed. Yet despite that the open pages are clearly visible, what he has written is inaccessible to us. Crossed-out. Erased. “A drama of false faces,” he says. “Each one of them must be expurgated & burned.” He looks up, eyes alight w/ fever. “D’you believe that?” The camera evinces neither belief nor disbelief. “One crime’s motive is another’s mitigation. Their masks dissolve, reform. Why not ours also? Here spills the blood of Man’s victim. We write this down. Catastrophe in its delirium. In sickness & bad faith.” He asks himself: How will he write the scene in which the outward actor takes the life of the actor within? In him I hide myself. In that smiling gulf between self-love & murder. In him I commit my acts of charity. Vivisector of light. Semiotician of viscera, conductor of insensible matter. Rehearsing the scene over & over till the actions resolve themselves & are absolved. (But of what, we’ll never know.) Camera panning across the Alameda. Body-chalk on the ground. Police tape. A wedding photographer w/ a pair of harassed models sweating in the heat. Woman by the fountain w/ suitcases wrapped in plastic. Shoe-shines. Secret cops in Santo masks on stakeout. They’re wheeling in the drop-out boards. CGI on acid-green. Someone shouts to clear the set. It’s 1968, Frida Kahlo’s monkey lights a cigarette. Cupping its hand automatically around the flame. Smoke spiralling in the lamplight. Are you surprised when it reaches out of the screen, like an interrogator offering you a drag? Suddenly there are dead students lying everywhere. Tanks in the street. The monkey’s grinning at you from inside the camera lens. Y’re standing there stupidly w/ one arm extended into empty space. TV-flicker through wire mesh. Blue. Revolving. Mirrored glass. Above it, a shopsign. ¡TRABAJOS URGENTES! Breathless through the teargas. Stairs. A familiar-looking corridor. There’s an unlocked door at the end w/ a metal grill fixed in the wall above. And behind the door a room. In the middle of it lies a pool of black liquid in which everything’s perfectly reflected. Things the eyes perceive or project into space. Memory traces. The intuition of past presences. Details accumulated from elsewhere & re-assembled. A twitch in the corner of the eye that gives the impression of something moving just beyond the frame. Behind a half-open door. At the edge of a window. The curtain forming a barrier between two bodies of darkness. The click of the gas metre. Broken glass underfoot. The flare of a cigarette: its orange glow illuminates the knuckles of two extraordinarily hairy fingers. Index finger & middle finger. Deducing the rest of the body as from the mitochondrial extremities. EL GRITO. But the man in the monkey suit is no longer paying any attention to himself. He’s staring at the blind point where the camera had been. Gradually it becomes light. Morning. There are noises. Perhaps a lamp has been switched on. The curtains drawn aside. Regardless, he’s staring through an open doorway at a point in the middle of the next room. The floor, he notices, is covered w/ what appears to be a fine carpet of leaves. A fine mist rises from it. It’s impossible to tell if this mist isn’t merely an effect of his seeing, or of his not seeing clearly. On the far side of the room there’s a narrow writing table. Behind it a photograph of a boy serves as a visual counterpoint. His body appears to be arched over backwards, arms & hair hanging. The posture seems to be in defiance of gravity. At once serene & unnatural. The expression of something inhuman. Mannered. Allegorical. An inner crucifixion. Whose? There was no date on the photograph. The model seemed ageless. A ghost. Anti-self of his anti-self. Darkness visible. Conceived in the shuttered blackness of an unfurnished room. The midwife handing over the wrinkled sack of mortality. A document, signed by the unknown witness. The one who has remained invisible throughout. Affirming his having come legally into this void. The written proof of being. Its weak sanction of a verbal accident. THIS IS TO CERTIFY. The false confession. The letter X beside a hand-written scrawl. The true algebra of identity. (Whose name on his papers? It no longer mattered. He couldn’t remember. From before. There’d be no need of it. From here on. Better no name.) The endless, negating repetition of masks & gestures. Comic. Tragic. A shaman w/ a cathode box for a head stands there waving at dead things commanding them to rise. Gibberish materialises out of the air into tangible meaning, as real as the flies hovering around whatever carcass the witchdoctor points his ceremonial bone at. Till the illusion falters, is nothing but a spray of spittle from cracked teeth. A flickering of fire from his breath. And now the rhythmic stomping of blackened feet upon the fallen gods, emissaries of the dream, thrust back into the unconscious like maize beaten down into charred earth. Breaking their effigies, strewn to the four winds. Repudiating all that contained & embodied their belief. That kept their madness within corruptible limits. Dispersed now among the ruins of ancient cities built w/ their own hands, cities they can no longer recognise or remember, foreign even to themselves. The solidity of a world eaten away like dead mastoid. Relentless molars grind the hours. “It is the unspeakable harassment of a reality which always escapes & which we can’t escape.” Rendering the spectators of this morality tale insensible to the strokes of fortune, owing to their own unfamiliarity w/ suffering. LAPSUS HUMANI GENERIS. That abject, nocturnal creature staring vacantly from yellow bulbous insect monitors, the ataxic vile body of the dying priest. Grey loose flesh hanging from bone. X placed his fingers in the old man’s open mouth, listening for the slightest murmur. The unnatural tilt of the body signalled the onset of rigor mortis. In the far corner of the room, a boy is standing there. He approaches. Points towards the corpse. His expression is strangely meaningful. The eyes, as though suddenly aged, seem to possess untold wisdom. Voices in the dark, joined & separated by a mysterious punctuation. The tapping of rain against the broken windows. Water has leaked through the roof & onto the bed, drenching it. The boy is squatting naked in the corner of the room, watching him w/ a curious expression. Nostrils dilated. Lips pursed in concentration. Outside it’s still raining. The sound of the rain fills the room. He looks at the boy & realises that he’s pissing on the floor. A sluggish body of yellow liquid spreading between bare feet. He’s staring back at him curiously, the way he always seems to look at him. “You don’t exist,” X other says. “I’m dreaming you. Y’re a ghost of my imagination.” His eyelids droop. The ironic expression in the eyes. A strange resemblance. The sense that y’ve been here before, in this same room. The roles are reversed. Squatting in the corner w/ the room projecting away from him. The corpse. The open window. The slight breeze stirring the branches of the trees. He sees his situation through different eyes. As though he had been blind to it. Everything seems defined by what was missing. The absence of memory. The failure of recognition. Abstracted from time & place. Self. Anti-self. Looking out through the window at the shadows in the courtyard. Shadows cast by the banana trees. Fan palms. Bougainvillaea. White criss-crossed trellises. Large ornamental bird cages. Cages in which he could hear the flapping of wings & the sharpening of beaks. Although the birds themselves remained invisible. “The wings & feet of birds, no less than the hands & feet of man. All arise from the same fundamental form.” An image of himself perched in one of those cages. The snout of a spider monkey projecting through the bars. “It’s only in the later stages of development that the human being presents marked differences from the ape. While the latter departs as much from the dog in its developments, as man does.” BIRD APE DOG. The evolution of what species of consciousness? To look within the self for the evidence of an ultimate purpose. Dividing the cell. Selecting the evolutionary pathway. Operating the switches. What force motivated his actions? What did the word MOTIVE even mean? A figure behind mirrored glass. A certain gravitas of intent. Forces. Masses. Objects. Organisms. One state exercising its envy upon another. The function of the apparatus was obscure. Buttons were pushed. Levers set in motion. Cranks turned. Invisible wires connected all of its parts not unlike the spliced nerves in some laboratory homunculus White man’s magic. Quantum voodoo of the infinitesimal bone-shard & feather. Ghost of ghosts. This phantasm stood over him. Its comically articulated form. Limbs & whole bodies contorted beneath the skin, engraved on a massive block hewn from some living stone. Psilocybin animatronics. Iguana. Lattice bird procession. EYE WING TAIL. Their stone weight bearing down, slowly crushing his mind, which can change nothing, which casts him into solitude. Atoning for the crimes of all fathers against their sons. Of sons against fathers. To dissolve history. Abolish it. X in the shape of the boy from a moment ago is sitting on the floor explaining his destiny to him. The too credulous voice. Eventually his mouth becomes still. Droops slightly at the edges. For a moment it takes on the appearance of that of a much older man. The gaunt body swaying like a medium’s. His words are far off, foreign. A caress or an enclosure, w/ spiked walls, broken glass, concertina wire. The result of an injury or a crime or an unpardonable sin. “How do I know that you exist? Why do you come here?” A vulture w/ the head of a mule was squatting on the toilet bowl. It, too, gazed at him meaningfully. “Man desires & venerates that which destroys him.” The mule’s teeth shone like mirrors in a desert. The razzle-dazzle in his head. Speak! A sign in the wilderness. A doorway of light among the prickly pears. Now he must venture upon the trail of the negative, sustained by what threatens & opposes life. “To arrive at oneself one must begin w/ oneself.” Again the fever-attack begins w/out warning. The face & hands turn cold. Blue. Waves of nausea, peristalsis. A shuddering, desperate evasion. As though pursued by masked figures. They’re striking blows unrelentingly at the back of his head & neck. Someone, but who? A debt, contracted w/ nature. “And for the cruel one, ripping out the heart to which I owe my life.” A dull light glowed in his eyes. A pounding of knife blades. The restless crowd cawing for death. A papier-mâché Judas figure swaying on a wooden pole. Beneath its painted skeleton a bound supplicant awaits reincarnation. The priest on the terrace like an actor on stage, performing the trance-like ritual embodiment. And does this actor exit the stage only to remain in our vision as a spectre or phantasm? To do away w/ the body. A pure consciousness. Is he not himself consigned to a void? No longer an enigma but a non-entity. Closed off from the very means of his existence by this partition that must forever bar his re-entry onto the stage. Unless to die. In the form & attitude of one whose role in the great drama is unmasked. Stripped of its reason for being. Before an audience which has already begun to leave. Has already left. The room’s empty. A figure of speech, since no room ever is. Through the window, white & then some blue appears. The fringe of a curtain. A man’s shirt. A shadow across the open doorway. Blue & white. After a brief interval, the curtain falls back into place. The undulant waving & rocking of plant shadows in the sun & the wind become the Dance of the Dead. “This was what the wind & the light were showing me on the screen. Now it led away from me into the centre of the picture, where a sucking mouth appeared. Now it transformed into a white peacock’s tail, spreading itself like a curtain billowing in an open window. And the curtain itself is the secret, the ultimate that it concealed. Because there, behind the curtain, is nothing.” In reality, the window was opened wide. The curtains were drawn. And now a light breeze from the outside played w/ these veils. And w/ the silhouettes of potted plants on the sill behind, which the sunlight delineated on the curtains. This shadow theatre suggested other forms populating the space beyond. The multiple architectures of the courtyard. The latticework railings. Stone columns. Staircases. Archways. Trellises w/ lush vines. Fan palms. Yucca. Banana trees. Bougainvillea. The convoluted ironwork of an enormous bird cage w/ fern-like arabesques. From between the interlaced bars an almost human figure turned & looked back at him. A curious white bird. A white peacock. Staring at him. Its pale moon-like headdress. The blinking of its lower eyelid. What was it there for? What did it symbolise? He watched the other approach it w/ a handful of crushed maize. Watched the bird bend its long neck towards him. It seemed then that its head had turned into an old man’s head. Wizened. Angular. The flesh of the face almost pierced by the skull beneath. A beak-like orifice extruded from a narrow craw. What is it meant to symbolise? The image wavers in the air. As if it were about to take flight. The awkward bird w/ a human head, flapping ineffectual wings. The long white plumage trailing behind it as it ascends from branch to branch. Disappearing amongst the foliage. A miraculous apparition. Its departure seems too ordinary to be explicable. The sound of its crude laughter ringing under the eaves. Unsure that he isn’t dreaming. He turns & crosses the courtyard to a doorway on its further side. His step is unsteady. Laboured. He pauses. Catches his breath. Set into the wall, a wooden door hanging on rusted hinges. Behind it, a corridor smelling of animal dung. After a time the nausea subsides. He follows the passageway to a second courtyard. It’s surrounded on all sides by dilapidated rooms. Windows w/ sagging, cracked or broken shutters. The paint peeling back from the chipped & splintered wood. Here & there, empty window frames lean against a wall w/ rusted, unattached hinges. Dead bolts. Latches. Protruding nails. The window ledges themselves covered w/ dirt. Feathers. Bird shit. A broken gate led onto a narrow pathway between two adobe huts. A number of dark alcoves further up suggested other window-ledges where pigeons had nested. Above, the shriek of a rusted weather cock turning in the wind. On the edge of the road, behind a short wire fence, a canopied ahuehuete tree. Beneath it, a pair of men working w/ a handsaw. A dilapidated tin shack leans in on itself fifty metres away. The landscape’s entirely flat. A greyblue haze in the distance suggests the cordillera. Scrub & cactus. Not a landmark but this one tree. They’re working at it in fits & starts. The weight of the tree pinching the blade. It jams & they begin again. Loosening it. Working the blade back in. Like a pantomime, everything’s focused on the intervals of repetition. Narrowing the drama to a single motif. A detail. In which the entire spectacle seems to be summed up in advance. All the suffering of man. His futilities. Reduced to this one thing. Even the least thing. A leaf twisting in the wind at the end of a thin branch. A leaf & nothing else. This thing available to the mind only in its contradictions. A leaf turning in the wind. At what point does it cease to be a leaf? At what point does the mind grasp only its substance? The sign of a leaf. A yellow nervured plaque. A carcass tied to the end of a wire, turning around & around in the wind. Already it’s a body of inscriptions. A résumé of exposed metonymies. And you begin again, resurrecting the epic mesmerism of the archaeologist who summons lost continents from a shard of broken pottery. Codices from a cracked hieroglyph that “do not correspond to the balance of power.” Splinters of revelation yielding up their secret. What I’ve come to tell you! Bone-rattle of midnight trinket gatherers from plundered unmarked graves. Temple thieves overturning the tables of the money-lenders, emerging from the mist, eyes heavy w/ untold dealings. Scent of illicit currencies. No sooner glimpsed than their features evaporate. Left alone w/ our fears unpurged. Sin andar, en el vasto sendero. We see our shadows ahead of us, flickering on the ground. Covering over the tracks. “The sign of his body which clung to me in the tepid moist air. Moving w/ me. A double. Doppelgänger. As I walked…” We’re returning again to a moment from which everything else has departed. Arriving at an outset of. Again the expression looses itself from the other’s face. Reduced to a pair of eyes. Daybreak’s mordant autocracy. Part of the sun is always black. X nodded slightly, making a low hissing sound between his teeth. A sound like something being siphoned off. Drawn out. He turned towards me. It seemed to take forever. A large vulture was crouched on the roadside, slowly picking at the eyes of a dead mule. “See how the vulture begins by pulling out the eyes from the carcass.” How many days has he instructed me as we’ve walked this road? It could go on forever. For as long as we seek a destination. The road. The plain. The distant hills. INCIDENTS OF TIME-TRAVEL IN THE YUCATAN. They seem to describe psychological characteristics. A line of trees that cuts across the middle distance. Appears to indicate the presence of water. A river. An elusive intention snaking across the flat wilderness. He draws his tongue back from the dry roof of his mouth. Begins to imagine arriving at the shore of cool redemptive waters. “Redemption.” The word itself carried the sound of water. Water rushing over glistening rock. Polished through millennia. In his mind’s eye he’s already there. Beneath the mangoes. Caimitos. Guanábanas. The tide of half-degraded plastic. A fallen palm tree lies across the river, still held to earth by its mass of roots. The river which is called the Father & Consumer of Man. A battered hoarding rises like a pyramid’s comb above the overgrown riverbank. PEÑAFIEL. Flowing from the same polluted source. The pollution of uncreated being. That we arrive as in returning. Turned aside from the true path. Waste to waste. The dung & detergent of extinction. “The world is not only as you see it.” Washed mercilessly of the sin of his being. WE ARE LIQUIDATING! Amen. The dreamer himself is floating in a river of very special characteristics, watching the fireflies weaving signs in the night. A hand pushes him below the surface. Further & further down. He sees the reeds, the mangrove roots, the ropes of algae drift & recede. The fireflies dissolve into points of light into amber nothingness into black. The mud of the riverbed sucks him into it. Dilating & contracting. As always, on such occasions, the priest is never far. “Man exists only for the gods,” he says, turning his back. “But the gods don’t exist. And yet man exists.” The words echo underwater, down into the slime. Is it possible that he’s still breathing? That even so low he has purchased a kind of redemption? A hand once more reaching through the clay & sediment, the aqueous dark. Suddenly it spills away in a halo of green murky light & he sees himself, resurrected above the river. The sluggish waters at his feet. Naked bodies writhe in the river’s effluvium, conducted in their orgy by the hieratic figure of the priest. That éminence grise of his apotheosis. That voice from inside the delirium. Nausea flows via the tympanum to the gut-nerves. From ear to contracted knot of pulsing intestine. Perhaps after all he is dead & these visions are his punishment. For the revolution requires that it should attain its ends by all means possible. If necessary, by force. If required, by terror. Prescribing these ordeals of confusion, these speaking-parts of madness, spewed forth only to solidify in the jelly of the brain. Sisyphus hauling slime-smothered stones up from the river bed. The unrelenting suck of it. Leeches clinging to the undersides of the stones. IT’S I, I WHO AM NO LONGER PART OF THIS WORLD! Lying there in his dispossessed body. A leech sucking on a stone as upon the bones of existence. Blood, slow & viscous. And those flashes of “seeing,” in that ancient sense, as depthless & lucid as a ritual cenote. That totality of moment which involves all history yet is exempt from life. The sky beneath the sky. The watcher within the watcher. Arranging the celestial crossword, formulating the cosmic phraseology. What alien force could produce such an effort of the will, of the resistant intellect? At such times it’s necessary to lash & leash it & lead the obstinate beast. Grasping first one horn, then the other. Till there’s no other way for it to go. And you mount the beast & ride it. – , 13 February. In the garden, the pigeons in their cage. I hear them cooing & imagine the sound of their necks snapping. After feeding them, the old man takes one of the birds from its cage. Whispering to it. Smoothing its feathers. Keeping it in ignorance of the moment when those same hands will act swiftly to end its life. Nothing stirs. Nothing seems to have noticed the murder take place. (But I’ve noticed it.) A thing alone impinges upon us by virtue of its existence. I don’t believe in the “guilty conscience.” It’s not I. There’s nothing of myself in this world. Or I alone am the purgatory in which I walk. Murdering time. Begin again w/ a description of events: the date & so on. I’m standing at that window, the same one, in X. “The hour between wolf & dog, blah blah.” Outside everything appears unnaturally illuminated. The moon rising. The false dawn. Would it be possible to raise my hand & blot it out? How to go on enduring its unconscionable light? I raise my right hand. It’s impossible to know when I began. It’s only the consequences that matter. And what comes after. The processes of forgetting. The full light, eclipse of day. “That shadow like a living thing strode after me w/ its own purpose.” The persistent aura of the after-image. His eyes closed. He could still see the stark, internally lit square of the window frame. The principle of a deranged geometry impressed upon his inner eye. Framing all his thoughts. Rigidifying them. “Vigilance is sleep when night falls.” An hallucinatory darkness in which the unknown world takes on the forms of this world. Perhaps there’s a more secret explanation. Night, when the world is attenuated & grows. Light falling through the broken window & the strangely illuminated space outside. Wind furling & unfurling the curtains. The ahuehuete trees whispering in occident. But at first, when it seemed the substance wouldn’t take effect, what then? The disbelief of the ordinary. It’s not what we expected. Waiting it out. The sound of the traffic signals. An agitated tempo. Counting it down. Waiting for the come on. The come down. Lines coiling up the façades of the buildings like tangled vines. An open window. Someone leaning out of it, resting on their elbows. It’s after midnight. Taxis pass on the street intermittently. A couple in the darkness. Only their voices are distinct. The air’s full. It multiplies itself. Breathing through the mouth. Through the eye. Somewhere a hand. A curtain. Clothing. Y’re losing track of things. A caress or an enclosure. An ache which begins to grip the jaw. Pulses at the back of the throat. A pain which is then neutralised. The body laid out, face up, covered by a mosquito net. He imagines himself breathing now w/ difficulty. Semi-conscious. Anaesthetised. A young boy is beside him, holding his hand. The air in the room thick w/ the pungent stench of decay. Beside him on the floor a bowl containing a bilious mass thickly covered w/ flies. The mute pleading face. The pathetic contortions of the mouth. The smell of fear rising off flesh like palpable humidity. Fear & trembling before god. “I’m not him.” Hunhau. Uacmitun Ahau. The other on his knees. W/ eyes closed he flays himself across the stomach. Holding his bunched up tunic in his left hand. He grazes his face on the floor. Tearing at his hair. He beats himself violently. Genitals & face. He lies flat & licks the ground, sobbing childishly. The face is convulsed. The body cramps, twitches. For a moment, the priest leans to one side & tenses. The violence of his words carries over into the movements of the child’s body, which jerks in ever shorter intervals. The old man’s voice becomes shrill. APOCALYPSIS CUM FIGURIS. He stares fixedly above the back of the boy’s head. Both bodies are rigid. A vaguely revolting expression in those eyes. To erase them. From memory. Their nature. The whole of what exists. Nature as it precedes & presides over everything born. Its signature. The first name. The first history. First to be erased. I don’t know why I write. But I do know that the alternative does not bear thinking about. “Actors have no destiny & they know it.” Senseless plots & wheels within wheels. I don’t know how I’ve stopped vomiting since I’ve been involved in all this. To write it down, to be rid of it. An exorcism. To cast out the demon. Strange hymns. Prayers. Arcane symbols. Silence it, once & for all. To “consecrate” its murder. Now conscience turns a blind eye. The ego takes up its knife & prepares to kill or be killed. In a room somewhere. In another place entirely. Perhaps. Where he sits before a blank page & writes. Hunched over against the light of a gas lamp. “All was vague. Silence.” Drawing a line under each word before proceeding to the next. Adding this page to a pile of other pages lying on the desk. Beside them a notebook. A diary. A batch of laboratory reports. The nature of the words he has just written seem to contradict the purpose of his being there. As he stands up & turns towards the doorway his features come briefly into focus. A tanned receding forehead above sunken eyes. Dark & expressionless. The lips are pressed hard. The jaws clenched. He walks quickly across the room. Black leather boots rubbing against the turn-up of the khaki trousers. A canvas satchel clutched in one hand. Outside he pauses to look around. There’s no-one. He crosses the street. A pale form threading the shadows. Within half an hour he has reached his destination. A narrow anonymous façade on the Plaza de la República. A closed courtyard leads onto a series of airless corridors. Smoke-stained lightshades casting a faint brownish glow against peeling walls. At the top of the stairway, a darkened landing littered w/ refuse. Something moves in the shadows. A groan. The faint snap of a cigarette lighter. He walks towards the door at the far end. Opens it. The room’s shabby. Windowless. A stained mattress. A washbasin. A heavy metallic odour lingers in the air. It’s the same odour he always recognises. A naked lightbulb hangs from the low ceiling, circled by mosquitoes. On the other side of the room, watching him, is a young boy. Naked. His eyes contract into a grimace of hatred or fear. The lips widen. Tongue bitten between teeth. Rigid w/ expressive torsion. In a fraction of a second the expression transforms itself into its opposite. A mirroring passivity. “As if I were staring into my own face.” The body’s dumb incongruity like the vacant, available orifice of some ideal. Submitting to all the violent, incompetent caresses. (And it’s for this that you bear such resentment. Too cowardly to lie. Enumerating all the self-inflicted humiliations. All the way back to the first time. Immaculately conceived. The paternal spectre meting outs its punishment. Revenge. Justice. You who have come sideways into the world, bearing yr cross like a shell in place of a crucifixion. “To search for beginnings turns you into a crab.”) 

Louis Armand is the author of THE COMBINATIONS (Equus, 2016), THE GARDEN (11:11, 2020) & VAMPYR: A CHRONICLE OF REVENGE (Alienist, 2020). He lives in Prague.