Nintendo :oR: Multiply the Screaming by Millions

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(for 2100)

 Benny gave birth to Nintendo because she hated everything, but Charlie hated everything too, so they could hate everything together.

 Charlie made or modified all those Easter dresses  because she never wanted anyone to wear them (all the unworthy and jealous legions) (and Benny was the only one who knew this about her intent) only to sit on dummies in museums made just for Charlie’s legacy so Benny could be there hosting tours and say, “Ha ha, you dumbass. This is not for you. You’d make a dress like that stink too bad to wear.” Benny would be there with her every afterschool in the little shop Charlie made out back of her house, and Benny would be fiddling with a little needle and string like anything she did did anything to the dresses, but at least she’d get to say, “These are the dresses we made,” and feel a little less like she lied it. When the other kids called her weirdo, she always had the future worship of Easter dresses from God’s own patterns to laugh at those fools in secret.

 Her greatest addition to the birth of Nintendo came from a mask given to her by providence. In her honest history she’d only confess to biographers on her deathbed, she stole the Nintendo mask from a girl in shop class everyone hated, Greta, the girl who tinkered with all the rejected machines like she cared and believed in something (idiot), and everyone on the planet made fun of her for it (everybody may’ve made fun of Benny and Charlie likewise, but at least they weren’t as low down as Greta).

 Benny: “What’s this dumb machine you’re making, Greta?” This machine was a mask Benny put on (because why not?) that covered her face from forehead to chin with a flat mirrored surface like Cobra Commander.

 Greta: “It’s a mask” (because maybe she thought obvious statements weren’t a total waste of time).

 Benny: “Why would you waste time making machine masks?” As she spoke, she saw (the mirror was one sided) a pixilated face like old fashioned videogame faces appeared on the mask and spoke with an autotune voice.

 Thus, Nintendo had a forgotten third mother (but once Benny made the mask hers alone, Greta was so gone forever from this business she’s hardly even worth mentioning) and the mask now was only something she found by chance in the middle of nothing. The magic of Jesus delivered the mask via thunderbolts of heaven to facilitate their destiny to go hardcore apocalypse on all of existence (or whatever). That’s around the time Jesus magic let her find the rainbowcolored Tasselactor wig in an old abandoned grown over park below an arch of chipped off gold like Jesus, in his cultural closemindedness, got the whole leprechaun gold and rainbow set up backward.

 Then Benny saw the Easter dresses Charlie turned into drag dresses in her free time. The Easter drag dress Benny put on first to model was blue like Easter egg dye and patterns, like Paas made dresses, so it became the Paas Dress in their personal legends. It hung fine at the top but pooled below her like the whole thing melted into puddles (like fitting ever mattered for anything).

 Charlie: “You’re too small to be a drag queen. Maybe I can corner the market on a line of short-and-small drag dresses.”

 Benny: “Close your eyes.” Benny reached into her bag to pull out the Cobra Commander mask and rainbow wig. “Open your eyes.” But this greatness got no response at first. “What’s the matter?” The face came up the happy pixilated face on the blank mask, the electronic voice. “Don’t you think I’m pretty?” She stroked the long straight rainbowcolored hair. “My name is Nintendo. I always wished to be a real girl, and here I am.”

 Charlie laughed.

 In this manner, Benny became famous.

 Because Nintendo in this personal legend embodied all the most awful qualities of popularity and popular music (compounded with Benny’s conviction to delight the only one who knew the joke) she became the most famous pop star on the planet.

 When Nintendo was a brand new creation, she played drag clubs where Charlie sold dresses. Soon she was in local papers and on talk shows as a musical oddity where she had to relate her origins anew to each interviewer.

 Nintendo: “I was born a Nintendo. I wanted to be a real girl. If you dream hard enough…” And so on. It was that easy.

 It was pop music created by people who hated pop music and hearts and love (Benny, at least, hated all music and made music only to show people they should hate themselves). To Benny, Nintendo’s music and the amount of people who loved it, nothing but hilarious. The songs weren’t hard to make, mostly beat presets in the too complicated computer system what’s-her-name put in the mask for no good reason. Add this to repeated uplifting pithy aphorisms in her computer voice like, “If you dream hard and your heart is big, you can have anything you love come true, true to you, true to you,” that sort of thing, random blather (like hearts and truth ever mattered for anyone but idiots and dumbasses).

 Charlie plugged away at all the Nintendo dresses for every show she got booked in which seemed like every show that existed. She was there for Benny all that summer (like they’d always been there for each other’s summers).

 Until she wasn’t.

 Charlie: “I got this offer to go to Paris.”

 Benny: “Why would you want to go to Paris? It’s awful.”

 Charlie: “I kind of want to study design. Some people say my designs are good.”

 Benny: “Who’s ever said that but me?”

Charlie: “A lot of people. Teachers. Then there’s also the people who offered to pay to send me to Paris. They kind of think my stuff is good.”

Benny: “They’re just having a joke on you, right?”

Charlie: “But you told me my dresses would be in museums one day.”

Benny: “When people stop sucking and we make them better.”

Charlie: “By doing what? Making fun of them?”

Benny: “By making them want to be like us. You and me represent the only non-sucking portion of the population.”

They had the whole summer before Charlie decided Paris was stupid (because of course she would, right?) (because anything like that had to be stupid, right?) but Charlie disappeared a lot (like a crazy person who just goes off and leaves loved ones for days) (it could only possibly be insanity). It started with the off and on no shows like Benny might expect her to be at a fitting for a pop festival Benny planned to destroy or a press junket or whatever where idiots would write her lies, but soon Charlie was only a void. She stopped being a real girl and became Benny’s eternal waiting.

Nintendo then went on stage in the same battered Easter dresses as always, including some nights the overworn Paas Dress from Nintendo’s birth, torn in secret absences never to be known in the mystery of Nintendo’s origin, but all the songs became about the awful inevitable failure of loving anyone, and her fans loved it because they’d had their heart broken like this, in the simpler but more incredible ripping away that leaves an unhideable hole, a heartbreak more intense and acute than any other possible pain, and Nintendo, as the hate monster she’d become, embodied all they needed. Nintendo didn’t hide her feelings, and her fans were people who couldn’t hide their feelings, who wanted to hurt along with others in the intensity of their openness, especially with the most open sentient computer who even had clothes disheveled by her misery.

But then Charlie came back.

Benny: “Where did you go?”

Charlie: “I don’t know. I go places sometimes.” She had a girl tagging along like some stray she picked up, face obscured by black hair, toes turned inward like eternally curled into shadow. “This is O. She’s going to be my assistant.”

Benny: “Your little orphan can go away. No one will be offended, and everyone will forget it happened.”

Charlie: “You’re having me make a lot of dresses. I need a hand.”

Benny: “When’d you find time for charity cases? You encounter a lot of crystal babies in whatever magical world you got kidnapped to?”

Charlie: “Okay, to be honest, as long as you promise to drop it, I’ll tell you where I go. I go to motels sometimes. I just find a motel and check in and stay there alone for days. I don’t tell you because I just want to go to motels, and I don’t tell anybody. But I go because, I don’t know, it’s quiet, and I meet people who don’t know me. I met O there and taught her a little bit about sewing. She seemed like she wanted to learn.”

Benny: “I can learn to sew.” (Why hadn’t she thought of that before?)

Charlie: “Don’t worry about it. You’ve got your thing. You’re the pop star. Go be the pop star.”

Benny: “I’m only that because you thought it was funny.”

Charlie: “Yes, you’re hilarious.” (There was no mirth, only tones of some new girl who sneaks off to motels and teaches random little bitches to sew.)

Benny wanted to walk away, but it would be so far and weird. They were on the stage for that night’s show, and the stage was covered in giant rainbow-colored stuffed animals, so big even the feet were taller than Benny. The rest of the theater was empty but Benny and Charlie and that new girl (who seemed to suck away any presence anyway like black holes). The empty sound of some machine click echoed. That girl remained (despite stares supposed to make her have multiple heart attacks) (she was only some lump of black hair, silence, and nothing but still refusing to be anything but solid).

Charlie: “We’ve got to go work on your outfits for tonight. You’ve got to practice.”

Benny: “I never practice. Because I hate it. We both hate it.”

Charlie: “You can’t hate all of it. I think the Easter drag dresses are great.”

Machine click echo.

Benny: “Me too.”

Charlie walked away with that girl. Off to sew. Or whatever.

But Benny had nowhere to go (alone and made microscopic by gratuitous animals) so she went to the sewing room and made her silence as offensive as possible.

Charlie (like everything was suddenly okay again): “O and I bonded because we both had dreams of being crucified in bloody and terrible ways. There must have been a thousand screaming voices in those dreams.”

Benny doodled O’s burning corpse on the fake set list for tech as she babbled vague lyrics for the nonsense she’d sing tonight (something about burning love and burning hate and crucifixion) (she hoped/wondered/didn’t care if crucifixion lyrics offended delicate ears) (something like, “hope you enjoy your crucifixion” (or whatever, didn’t matter)).

Benny: “Dream as in ambition or night vision?”

Charlie: “Why would we have ambition to be murdered?”

Benny fiddled with a flat pincushion pushing the pins through until they made a nail bed on the other side (she could make things as good as anybody made them) (they always called her the creative type) (creativity is a good name for things like nailbeds for torture).

Benny: “How’d you know she dreamed that if she’s a mute?”

Charlie: “What makes you think she’s mute?”

Benny: “I guess it’s only that she seems so, I don’t know, lacking in something.”

Charlie stepped out a moment to get whatever sewing stuff people like her needed, and Benny put her miniature nailbed down in front of O.

Benny: “Charlie said to put your hand on this hard until blood comes out. For sewing.” Benny grabbed her hand when she failed to respond, but O resisted. “Come on. She said it’s to fulfill a dream.” But Charlie came back before she could bring this creativity to completion. “We’re just bonding.”

Then later over the radio she heard about the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest, created by the Electric Youth, an organization that does some stupid nonsense for pop music and some dumb charity for kids (like at this point in history anybody but Benny needed charity). She would win the contest, and Charlie and O would see her glory and bow down in supplication begging forgiveness for the great crime, whatever that great crime was.

So Benny ordered Charlie to make the dress the world’s greatest human would wear, and Charlie complied without complaining and brought her little grunt worker along.

Charlie: “O had a great idea for a dress for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest.”

Benny: “Sounds terrible.”

Charlie: “You haven’t even…never mind.”

Charlie turned away, and Benny was sick of that sort of turning away, how dare she? Like she’s the one to be offended. She couldn’t let her get away with it.

Benny: “What is it then?”

Her real voice was always more innocent and desperate than she wanted it to be these days (like that fake Nintendo vulnerability had become a virus corrupting her real vocal chords).

Charlie: “Refurbish the old Paas Dress from back when we started.”

Neither one said a thing then or made a move to leave (though every muscle of everybody seemed ready to flee like prey animals). Charlie sat down to sew because all the shows gave her too much work to do to just up and leave like that (like lazy cowards). Then she started chitchatting (like that was something they still did).

Charlie: “Supposedly your big competition is this girl out of Korea called Met Gala, haven’t had time to look her up.”

Benny: “Why would you? This music is terrible. If I win this contest, I’m only winning at being terrible.”

Charlie: “There was a time when you liked some things. Remember that?”

Benny: “Yes. I remember that.” And Benny let her sew in peace (and left the room because she was the only one who had the power and right to leave).

For the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest, the whole stage was set up like a mini-Hoover Dam made of woven funhouse mirrors making all performers big and weird behind themselves.

Coquettish Korean teen pop star Met Gala was the first night headliner. She was a flaming black wall, six feet by six feet. When she approached the mic, the overwhelming sound, nearly blowing out the speakers, was a dozen screaming voices. The background music was still the regular pop beat. Here and there the mechanical beat would break and dulcet background refrains would counterpoint a “yeah yeah” but mostly the screaming.

The audience went nuts like this was the greatest thing, and Benny measured it against her own dumb audience (like screaming people can be anything but stupid).

Benny: “Oh God, not this crap again.”

She made sure Charlie could hear her jaded and highly intelligent dismissal for some reason.

Nintendo called her Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest song as the second night headliner “The Single Sustained Note of Resurrection to Mend All Broken Hearts,” and in the elaborate costume Charlie and O designed to win the whole contest based on the refurbished Paas Dress from their beginning, Nintendo entered, played one note on the piano, let it reverberate for a good three seconds, and she left. There was no way to compare the audience reaction to Met Gala’s (because Benny wouldn’t give them that power).

Charlie: “What the hell was that?”

Benny: “Exactly what I said I was going to do in the title.” Benny gave a smirk Charlie couldn’t possibly see (but she should know it was there anyway) (because she was her and they were them). “Sorry if they didn’t stare at your dress for forever. I know how long you and what’s her name worked on it.”

Benny and O gave each other death eyes (at least Benny assumed O was giving them back under that black hair) (Benny could hardly tolerate weak people who hid their faces that way).

The final headlining act of the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest was the river. The concert organizers gave no indication of what this meant, but everyone presumed they meant the nearest river, the Nagsissy.

On the night the river was supposed to perform, the cameras were trained on the Nagsissy River, waiting for anything. After hours of waiting (audience silent and tense like any great moment in music where silence leads to some even greater ecstasy) part of the river lurched from its banks like a worm lifting and wiggling its head out of a hole (the crowd gasped). Half a mile of the river jerked out of its banks and onto a nearby city street, jerking forward like a worm, knocking cars aside. Its head was a thousand writhing tendrils of water. It arrived at the stage for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest and took up the whole stage, tail trailing out the door. Its music was a thousand screaming voices, deep bass rumble screaming, the sort of voices that get right inside of you and vibrate all your matter away to replace with its own being, far more intense than the flaming wall or anything else possible in music. The audience degenerated into spasms of ecstasy, frothing at the mouth, eyes rolled back, orgasming simultaneously.

It was clear who won the contest.

Benny: “Please. Give me a break.”

Benny, wearing her Nintendo mask, watched from atop a sheer silvery mirrored Hoover Dam wall behind the screaming river. Charlie came up behind her.

Charlie: “You don’t have to do this.” She had come to apologize for what she did. “I don’t know why you’re acting like this, but killing yourself is stupid.”

Benny: “I am not Benny. I am only Nintendo.”

Charlie didn’t laugh like she was (maybe) supposed to.

O was with her, and she approached like she was going to save her from suicide and everything would be better, and everybody would be great heroes forever, but they were all too dumb to realize maybe Benny wanted to be alone and watch her own embarrassing uselessness play out on stage below. O reached out a hand to lift Benny up, but Benny jerked too hard and pulled O off the side of the wall, and down she fell (to death if Benny remained lucky) but Benny tried to stand up, lost her footing likewise and fell.

The damndest thing was Charlie didn’t reach out a hand for either one. Not even an arm jerk of a deep need to save her friend like her lifelong friendship wasn’t even worth instinctive responses.

Benny and O fell together through nothing. Maybe they were going to die together, break into a thousand bloody pieces indistinguishable in the final mess of carnage. An amazing final pop star act that might be the only way to equal the river.

But, no, they fell safe into the river water that covered the stage now. (Maybe Benny knew that would happen. Maybe Charlie did too.) (If that made anything okay, who knows?)

The audience in spasms of ecstasy followed the plummeting Nintendo into the river to take their ecstasy to the only possible place, inside the body of their new god.

Hundreds of people drowned.

It was the greatest pop concert ever.

Despite everything, Charlie went to Paris. O disappeared and nobody cared that the whole world forgot about her.

Benny only had herself now and nobody ever knew she was Nintendo. The Nintendo mask, once it hit the water, became no longer usable forever, and Benny didn’t even try to fix it.

She prayed every night for the sun to fall into the ocean and for all the world to die precisely the way they wanted to and deserved.

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The Importance of William Carlos Williams to Fiction Writers: Letting Go the Need to Mean Something

Diego Max

As a fiction writer, I consider William Carlos Williams the most important twentieth century American writer. This is a statement likely to meet with much disagreement, and perhaps isolating the statement to the second half of the twentieth century might turn the competition into a no contest, but there is no reason to isolate a poet’s influence to poetry. He’s just as important to fiction and theater. His importance is best summed up in the statement “No ideas but in things,” the letting go of ideas as the central value of literature and with them all those persistent Greek infinities indelibly inserted as central literary values for centuries: the supposed ideals by which literature and all beautiful things were to be judged; the structural goldenness that tied literature to nature’s order; the timelessness and universality literature was meant to achieve as if relating to another human regardless of different setting were some secondary function to all humans conforming to generalizable features; components like imagery subordinated by mechanisms like metaphor and representation to concepts outside of the text itself. Williams’ “No ideas but in things” and all its connected implications represented a sea change, letting go of all those old, worn out, unnecessary notions. Letting go of ideas meant literature didn’t have to be subordinated to concepts; images didn’t have to be subordinated within metaphors to abstractions. Images could then be images for their own sake, for the stimulation of their beauty or ugliness. What they mean could then be secondary. A red wheelbarrow doesn’t have to mean anything other than itself. Letting go ideals meant questioning how these ideals were created. Beauty, the good, perfection – these weren’t manifest by some eternal force outside of the perspective of humans (and Christian European males most often accessing supposed objectivity to justify their subjective ideas of the universe’s functionality, subordinating anyone outside of their group as outsiders, servants, fools, or savages). “No ideas but in things” localized ideals subjectively within humans and their varied concepts of perfection opening up multiplicity of possibilities. This, as significantly, meant letting go of the need to be perfect, closer to the Japanese concept of beauty, wabi sabi (hence why I’m qualifying Williams’ influence to twentieth century America – he was more an adamant propagator of this concept than an originator). Letting go of the old structural ideals so important to the Greeks led to the innovation for which modernists are most commonly given credit, and this might close-mindedly limit the perception of Williams’ influence on fiction since the collapse of poetic meter might seem irrelevant to fiction, but the dissolution the ideals at the source of this development marks Williams as iconoclast regardless of genre. Letting go of timelessness meant literature could be about the present moment; letting go of universality meant both letting go the notion that universality is possible and narrowing focus on interaction between writer and reader. Instead of writing something for all people at all times, an impossibility only the arrogant can believe is achievable, the writer now needs only to write for one person at one time. This is one of the major points Charles Olson focuses on in “Projective Verse” and credits Williams and Ezra Pound for their developments in this direction. Olson is credited with being first to use “postmodern” to refer to literature, and “Projective Verse” in 1950 essentially inaugurated postmodern literature (though postmodern literature is most often discussed in a very limited way based on some concepts by a handful of French philosophers catching up to Olson about twenty years too late and making claims that only ever worked well with a small portion of postmodern fiction—no wonder Williams gets lost in that). Frank O’Hara’s “Personism: A Manifesto” is another important essay in postmodern poetry which gives significant credit to Williams – O’Hara says only Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, and Williams are “better than the movies” – though O’Hara’s importance is too often limited to promoting spontaneous composition, something O’Hara identifies at the beginning of that essay as an irrelevant distinction compared his apocalyptic, if smart ass, attack on universality.

Williams, the avuncular family doctor with his quiet and simple poems, seems like an odd figure to place at the top of this revolution, hardly ever as aggressive in his promotion of it many other revolutionaries, but it’s there in his poetry. “The Red Wheelbarrow” perhaps receives too great a place as masterpiece since its importance is too easily isolated to its structural innovation and its strong use of concrete imagery – its “red wheelbarrow,” “rain water,” “white chickens,” and so on – but as important as adapting the structure and imagery of haiku (and more important when considering fiction) is the concept of how imagery works adapted from haiku, taking the essential content of poetry from metaphor to parataxis. Metaphor traditionally requires imagery to be subordinated to something outside of itself, concrete or abstract; it either represents or means something and has much less importance than the thing it represents or means (in I.A. Richards’ terms, the vehicle must stand in for the tenor). This is also how we frequently understand fiction: a realistic piece must either represent something “real” accurately or some convenient generalization/false universalism called “the human condition”; something imaginative must function as metaphor for some abstract concept or some real human experience other than what the imaginative piece directly depicts (Alice’s experience represent childhood experience, for example). With parataxis, the value of the imagery is the imagery itself. Williams said he wrote “The Red Wheelbarrow” because he saw a wheelbarrow and thought it was beautiful. The readers can certainly feel in what “depends” on the red wheelbarrow, as the first line certainly invites them to do, but for Williams, it was the wheelbarrow itself, and for other readers, that’s all it has to be. It can be as many things as there are readers, and this approach breaks from the classical concept that ideals are set outside of the reader. A better place to see the way parataxis works is in “Spring and All” which starts with “By the road to the contagious hospital” and then presents images of a winter landscape where new plants are preparing to grow. This might easily be read as a metaphor for the abstract concept of regeneration, but Williams presents only the images. Whether or not the abstraction is necessary is up to each individual reader. The value is in the beauty of the juxtaposition, sickness next to rebirth and no philosophizing to guide the reader’s reaction. Likewise, fixating only on timeless and impersonal poems like this may make his influence unclear on later postmodern poetry in which confession and tying poems to the present moment are mechanisms by which poets reject the old ideals, but one need only look at Williams’ great epic Patterson, a palimpsest of fragments that are very personal and bound to a particular time and place. Patterson is essentially most of the seemingly contradictory strands of postmodernism in one book.

Isolating this influence to just Williams is, of course, a convenient over-simplification since so many other American and non-American writers have been integral in promoting this concept. It’s a centuries-old taken for granted truth of art in Asian cultures. There are plenty of European writers who might take this same position of importance. I would nominate Tristan Tzara for his vigorous attacks on reason and tradition (identifying Williams and Tzara as the American and European figureheads of this revolution, promoting similar concepts in very different ways, might more clearly unify the development of the so-called “postmodern” fiction, poetry, and theater, for the sake of simplification). Other American writers who are candidates for this position include Ezra Pound, for example, helped adapt Ernest Fenollosa’s ideas of how Chinese language – as an interplay between images instead of a subordination to abstractions – in a highly influential (if somewhat inaccurate) way, but Pound was too thoroughly married to ideas in much of his work to function as a consistent anti-idea iconoclast. Wallace Stevens, likewise, made similar statements about the relationship between ideas and things, but struggled to accurately understand Surrealism. However, the factor that might alone make Williams’ the most important American poet of the 20th century is biographical: Stevens can’t claim the same legacy of mentorship. From the Beats to the Black Mountain Poets to the New York School to the San Francisco Renaissance to countless other poets beyond, Williams directly mentored and inspired younger poets who went on to mentor and inspire many generations after them. The spiritual children of Williams are so numerous that it’s hard to name a single significant American poet who started publishing in the 50s and after who was not connected back to Williams by at most two degrees.

The poet who more often gets the credit as most important twentieth century American poet is T. S. Eliot, and isolating focus to the first fifty years might make the contest somewhat even. Ask anyone in the poetic establishment in the 1940s, it might seem ridiculous to claim some obscure provincial poet like Williams could have the same impact as the great champion of High Culture and indirect founder of New Criticism, but starting in the mid-50s, when Williams’ spiritual children came of age and started publishing in overwhelming masses, it might seem equally ridiculous to think that High Culture and New Criticism were ever considered the eternal standards of great literature. True, Eliot is important in challenging traditional form in his poetry and criticism, but Williams’ impact is equal in this realm through his direct mentorship of young poets, giving his flavor of anti-traditional form a longer impact. The problem with Eliot’s legacy as significant influence is he’s too thoroughly married to the subordination of old. His mission was to save high culture from destruction by finding some way to represent the fragmentation. In this way, Eliot would always be tied to the past, always retrogressive, making him less and less important for the forward progress of poetry. One way in which Williams is most significant is shifting poetry from metaphor to parataxis, but here’s a metaphor describing Eliot’s place: it’s like an armada of Greek ships got shattered to pieces, and Eliot’s plan is to keep patching the ships together. This may seem inspirational to other survivors who wish to retain the integrity of Greek structures and seem to have few other options, and they might start patching boats together too, but a survival plan like that has diminishing returns; soon the fragments will cease to function as proper sailing vessels. Meanwhile, Williams, who was perhaps part of that armada’s original disintegration as well, has found an island where he’s growing crops and raising children. Eliot’s line is bound to die out, and Williams’ line is bound to thrive.

This whole claim is based on a concept I have taken for granted, that moving away from ideas is the natural development of literature, but the arts seem to leap forward starting with the visual arts, then poetry, then fiction. Any visual artist who places ideas, high culture, or representation as a central value would seem old fashioned today, but that has been true for 150 years. For poetry, that has been true for about one hundred years. For fiction, that has only been true for about fifty years. William S. Burroughs most aggressively promoted this concept in fiction (see, for example, his piece “Apocalypse” which summarizes this concept most effectively: “everything is permitted because nothing is true,” etc.). Whether or not Naked Lunch was the beginning of postmodern fiction is up for an unnecessarily complicated debate since “postmodern” as a term is so poorly defined, inaccurate at its core, and overly fixated on relatively recent developments in fiction and criticism; regardless, Naked Lunch marked a major break in the old concept of what fiction could be and opened up countless worlds of possibilities. “No ideas but in things” has been slower to catch on in fiction as so much of it seems fixed forever in the nineteenth century. Likewise, much of what followed Naked Lunch relied heavily on gimmickery. I would never bemoan the fun of gimmickery, but it’s not built for the long haul and collapses easily under its own weight since its bones are so brittle, but the alternative has offered little to replace it but rehashing Flaubert. Somewhere beyond the same old Victorian novel and the weak gimmickery is the gloriously irrational future of fiction.

Summary of #TwitterFiction stories: #ForeignPlanets, #PopulatedWound, & #FertileCrescent

Planets (collage)

Presently, I have three #TwitterFiction pieces cycling as an #EchoChamber (in which pieces are posted daily at a certain time which echo one another verbally, visually, and/or thematically): #ForeignPlanets (daily at 5:30 a.m.), #PopulatedWound (daily at 4:30 p.m.), and #FertileCrescent (daily 11:00 p.m.). They have been ongoing for several months, so here is a brief summary to catch you up:

#ForeignPlanets (5:30 a.m.) is the story of Far Clooney, a matter transmuter and  inadvertent destroyer of planets, and her adventures in an unexpected version of outer space with gravity, breathable air, and an abundance of animal life.  As Far’s powers and awkwardness lead inevitably to planetary destruction again and again, she is given a task by Teddy Roosevelt (or one version of Teddy Roosevelt, a bitter and cantankerous old space pirate called King Antiphon) with stopping the Red Rage Moss from turning outer space thoroughly unpleasant and chock full of murder. Teddy Roosevelt suspects the responsible party is the Great Grambell and his Alchemy Robots who live in the Gravity Planet, a Jupiter-sized mechanical planet responsible for the unexpected gravity effects in this particular outer space. After several diversions in which Far Clooney has a compressed long term relationship with a nightmare named Cosby Rose (whose Bleeding Ghost powers allow him to possess inanimate objects and become a giant), kills an evil creature called Michel the Mountain of Screaming Mako Sharks, and meets her sister Greta who likewise has the ability to transmute matter (even more clumsily) and bend time, Far and Teddy Roosevelt (along with Teddy Roosevelt’s companion, a giant composed of putti angels called Clarke) arrive at the Cancer Planets, a series of eight planets connected by bridges orbiting the Gravity Planet (the Monster Planet, the Birth Bridge, the Planet of Mercuries, the Planet of Crystal Music Boxes and Sleeping Lion, the Marriage Bridge, the Planet of Falcons and Shadows, the Supplication to God Bridge, the Planet of Blue Marsupial Pockets, and the Planet of Captain America Shields). The planets are tumors, and the person who has grown these tumors (who lives at the center of each planet) may be able to give Teddy Roosevelt info about his old friend/rival Taft. Teddy Roosevelt claims Taft can help them invade the Gravity Planet though each Cancer Planet is inhabited by creatures created by Taft himself because Taft may have powers similar to Far’s. Far’s exboyfriend Cosby Rose also happens to be on the first Cancer Planet, making things as awkward as they always are with Far.

#PopulatedWound (4:30 p.m.) is the story of the Birth Monsters of Hell and one particular nightmare named Boodlepax. Hell is a tangible place where customers pay to be tortured. The system is maintained by connemara stars which heal any injury, and the whole place is run by Hell Corporate who employs as grunt workers Birth Monsters, humans with complex and absurdly grotesque birth defects. Boodlepax, a nightmare (which is a type of Birth Monster born concurrently with humans in Nightmare Land) looks like a barn owl with more human mouth and arms, and his poor communication skills and timidity make him ineffective in his job as Hell’s Devil’s Advocate, convincing customers they don’t need to be tortured. When two torturers named Judson and Europa inadvertently kill a customer, Boodlepax feels indirectly responsible, so he goes on a quest through Nightmare Land for the Resurrection Star, a type of connemara star that brings back the dead. When he comes back to Hell with the Resurrection Star, he finds an apocalyptic messiah named Sophie Echo has already destroyed it, so he tries to find Judson and Europa. Meanwhile, another messiah named Joy Metzkey (with her best friend Hope Lesko who has no power and only seems present for the sake of snarky quips and requests for Joy to kick somebody’s ass as she seems most adept at doing) is digging up a buried wolf named Fenrir who was presumed dead though a connemara star has kept him alive underground. Joy is a member of the Communion of Saints, agents of angels who protect birth monsters. They are also allies of the Salvation Wolves, an organization of benign and hyper-intelligent wolves (and secretly all the world’s wolves are part of this same organization) who have vowed to protect all that is good while committing no violent acts. Fenrir had infiltrated a group of Promusaurifex (the same group responsible for creating Hell) to investigate the theft of Tiny Hotels, a mechanism by which the Promusaurifex enslave shrunken humans to ride inside of their bodies (in some extreme cases creating whole cities inside their bodies) and the mechanism by which Salvation Wolves send those they eat to a paradise inside their stomachs. He has discovered that a mysterious entity called Father Hospital is trying to steal the secrets to creating Tiny Hotels in a plan to murder the sun (the sun is secretly a Birth Monster named Twelvedoe). Now Joy, Hope, Fenrir, and Boodlepax are on a mission to find Father Hospital, stop him from murdering the sun, resurrect her with the resurrection star if need be, and perhaps in the meantime find out the fate of Judson and Europa. They are inspecting all the groups that use a Tiny Hotel to see if Father Hospital has attempted to steal their secrets (and each of these groups parallels a Cancer Planet in #ForeignPlanets), starting with Ken Champion, a Father Hospital devotee who has used Tiny Hotels (given to him by Father Hospital in a an act of kindness, he claims) to turn tiny sentient puppets into a sort of anabolic steroid to strengthen athletes for the coming apocalypse.  One of Ken Champion’s clients, Holt Hefter, has told them that the next best group to investigate is the Forgiveness of Sins (long time enemies of the Communion of Saints who allow people to work off sins by externalizing them as monstrous deformities, giving them access to great power, and doing grunt work for an entity called the Blackhole Rainbow) because they may have enslaved his crush, Lisa Porpentine. Strategically, Joy is spreading the word that Boodlepax has destroyed Hell singlehandedly and is likewise aiming to destroy all of Hell’s allies and enemies.

#FertileCrescent (11:00 p.m.) is a murder mystery featuring eccentric detective Burdeneye Parnassus who has rented a house in a neighborhood called Fertile Crescent to spy on brother and sister Tom and Amanda Wood who live side by side only three streets down from Burdeneye’s new house. Their estranged father wants to find out if the Wood siblings are happy (and advances only as far as hiring the flaky and frustrating Hope, Tom’s wife, as a babysitter). Burdeneye uses trips with his one and a half year old son, Cole, around the neighborhood in his wagon as pretense for spying, and he uses his son’s geniality and curiosity to overcome his own intense social anxiety (for which taking on the detective role was meant to be a remedy). Burdeneye gets sidetracked, however, when Cole finds a piece of broken ceramic dentures with the word “Oloi” stamped on the side. This coincides with observation that the woman who lives on the dirt road behind him has ceased her regular 4:30 a.m. appearances, and the hefty, often-scarred man who lives with her, her son perhaps, seems to bury something big around the time she goes missing. Burdeneye decides he must pursue this murderer to keep his young son safe because protecting his son is the only happiness this broken man has ever managed. A conversation with the burly son, Holt Hefter, sheds little light on the situation but gives him the names of two residents of Fertile Crescent as clues: Murdergod and the Bird Man. After finding a manuscript called “The Birth of Murdergod” in which the author describes an attempt to create a mountain of corpses, Burdeneye discovers a mass grave hidden in a communal garden behind the Woods’ homes. He then meets the “Bird Man,” Goose Faberbacher, a former kids’ show host who tells Burdeneye that Murdergod, who lives in this neighborhood, once came to him for advice on performance but was too arrogant and short tempered to take advice. Burdeneye concocts a plan to host a talent show for the neighborhood’s children which the egotistical Murdergod couldn’t resist, and then Goose Faberbacher could point him out. Suspecting Holt Hefter is secretly Murdergod, Burdeneye invites him, but Holt in turn invites Burdeneye to “The Train,” which he claims is a literal train out in the woods surrounding the neighborhood, woods too thick to even walk through. Later, Burdeneye discovers men carrying coffins down the street late at night and dressed as weird creatures are part of a group called the Opopanax Conies living in the thick woods near The Train, so Burdeneye agrees to go with Holt Hefter, assuming all of this is connected somehow. It turns out, however, that The Train is a very popular performance space, and entrances through the thick woods are disguised by optical illusions.  The performance space is used for wrestling matches, and Holt Hefter seems to be the most beloved hero, Doctor Axehandle, fighting villains like the masked Father Dragon and Big Baby.