old SAWTL notes
[going to try to live up to the actual promises i made on this content in the next couple of weeks]
Somewhere beneath the city Reverend Emersohn the Sewage Priest haunts the storm tunnel ossuary he has built from the bones of those who were once members of the revitalization technicians and witch-hunters The Cult of the Final Wisdom, having ransacked libraries, storage lockers, dumpsters and graves across the midwest to assemble the tools necessary to complete his great work: the extermination of Vons Serin, the black-thighed witch, and her earth-form servant Shabriri Solehn, mistress of blindness, broadcasting her pornographic jeremiads from a location he has yet to find. Tormented by years of failure, from his dismissal from seminary due to research beyond the pale of both the church and the state, from his experiments in drug abuse and self-hypnosis in an attempt to cure himself of what he believes to be deep-level neural programming, from his homeless wandering the underworld of the city, collecting his mission equipment through scavenging and theft, from the infiltration of his dreams by visions of the Solehn sisters, he prepares for the cessation of his torment by the revival of The Fourfold Erasure System in order to remove his nymphomaniacal adversaries not simply from end-of-time, but from time entirely, before the corrosion in his mind destroys his last chance at peace.
Suffer A Witch To Live, the long-threatened “cosmic occult sex tragedy” currently in production, is here presented as a special novelization written by its original author. The first chapter in what is now known as the Theater of Diminished Faculties (to be followed later by children’s choose your own misadventure The Hideywitch, the Symbolist porn epic Eat Shit For Satan, the film Blearyeared and the upcoming novel And So On Forever), this fragment-text of untrustworthy narration and opiated dreams of unbridled lust will be made available, bit by bit, over the remainder of the year, after which a collected edition will be available for sale. We will be starting a dedicated tumblr specifically for this material (so you don’t have to scroll through a ton of writing on your dash), which will include the complete soundtrack, a collection of photos and collages, and “exploded alternate European editions” of certain stories with hardcore inserts. None of this material has been previously published in any form. The first posts will begin this weekend, during a writing binge we have planned. I’ll post a few excerpts this week.
What makes a story apocryphal is a decoupling from the story we tell ourselves is the truth. It is a thing left out, lacking veracity. To say, then, that the story of Vons Serin is apocryphal is in fact entirely accurate. If in parts it seems confused, that is by design. Told in the speech of sleep, of fevered prayers, of banishment spells and hints and whispers, it was never meant to explain, to make clear. It is my wish to confuse, for the story confuses me as well, and to never be confused is to never understand.
I had always assumed that the listing of “corpse defiler” on Arturo Oliver’s business card was a nod to his short-lived stay as curator emeritus at The Museum of Questionable History (it was during his stay that the “Hindoo and Chinee action village and playground for youngsters” exhibit went up, and boy was that ever a bad idea), but no, he actually really was a professional defiler of corpses, which must have led him to take the protections he did against such an ignoble fate. Art’s wife’s parents, understand, had not necessarily crooked but certainly askew connections to the Mayor’s office, and believing Arturo had lined his coffin with his life’s savings, unwilling to believe that he had left this world with only the three dollars and twelve cents in his bank account to his name. It turns out that Arturo did have his coffin lined, not with loot, but with claymore mines wired to tremor gauges in the coffin-handles, which went off just around the time the backhoe was a foot shy of the lid, which ripped all kinds of hell outta the backhoe and covered a twenty-foot radius in dirt. This would have defiled his corpse somethin’ fierce, only Arturo had been cremated, and three months later Paul Apostrophes, prior to losing his head, was to come across his urn stuck up in that lumpy-looking tree by the mobile-memorial to all those killed in pursuit of mad science.
teraphim audio seance: standard opening
My name is Dr. Barnard Euler. You may know me as the man who played the role of Mr. Magnifico in the children’s moral entertainment Mr. Magnifco’s Afternoon Distraction. You may also know me by other names. I am here tonight to present to you a historical record of an event, with no further claims as to its supernatural origin or mind-occupying properties. Many people will say that what you are about to hear is the voices of the dead, of the devil, of imams hidden by the god within nests of static and noise. I, myself, make no such claims. It is simply not my place to tell you, the test subject, how you are to react to the stimulus I am about to present to you. I ask only that you sit within it, let it envelop you, before you come to any conclusions as to its nature and traits. We ask that you remove all watches and turn off all electrical devices so that the Teraphim Audio Seance you are about to witness can take place in as uncorrupted a form as is possible. To those of you listening at home, simply close your eyes and allow your mind to wander. Your presence is necessary for this experiment to have any validity. Open yourself to the signal and come to understand what it does. For those of you who are skeptics, we offer you the opportunity to be in on the greatest con in history, and ask only that you do not disturb those who are engaged with the work. And with a dimming of the lights, and a settling of the bodies, and with a readiness to gaze upon the interiors of our own skulls, let us begin.
We’ve emptied out the mountain now; the insides are caked with pollen and wax. The only doors out are all clearly marked fire doors; the children raised inside these mountains dare not push at the handles in case there should be a *real* emergency at some later point, something more important than seeing sunlight. There are phone and electrical lines which cut through the sides of the mountain. When the children are bored, they strike these wires with hardened clumps of wax so that the mountain acts as a reverberation chamber and flakes of granite and amber fill the air like a localized snowstorm, a little sky-mountain. The children lick their fingers and grow to love the taste of their own skin.
Margaret had three sons who all married barren women. Having read the
bible, she knew of the multitude of appeals made to the god for pregnancy, both direct and indirect, and thus she spent nights awake trying to cast misplaced spirits into the wombs of other women. The youngest, Sarah, had a child, beyond the probabilities, but the child was born malnourished and confused, shrinking instead of growing, until it was gone. This is how it was that Margaret began ramming parked cars with her Escort, late at night, when no one would see her, no one but me, taking out the last load of trash from the medical labs, and it was me who called the police. Margaret spent the next year in and out of hospitals. When she finally got out, she moved into her Escort, living there for the next three years. I saw her once more, the front end of her car dented and broken, a mound of take-out wrappers and clothes in the back seat, defying a cruel and vindictive god. I walked up to the car and put my ear to the windshield and heard her singing her lullabye, the one she had practiced for the great day that had yet to arrive, and now, when I close my eyes and ease down into pre-sleep i can hear it, certain as light. maybe she are singing, far away, in words whose meanings I’ll never know.
this is not my life
My name is Not Important. For a period of about half a year I believed, with increasing certainty, that I was a prophet who was uncovering the will of the spherical deus as hidden in the most mundane of sources. Everything I came across was a part of everything else, and I was certain this was the work of divine intent. I became convinced this intent was being attacked by a hidden collective of malign spirit-beings caught between bardos (an associate named Josef termed these spirits re-rises) who were attempting to control recorded history and eventually bring it to a close by use of the fourfold erasure system, particularly the aspect known as apoc. I have seen what has become to those who have been infested with certain memory-altering viruses, watched the movement of transreal satellites, discovered the networks by which global weather is controlled, and even come to some form of understanding as to the psychological makeup of stormfronts…but I knew nothing of why these things had taken place. I know nothing of the inner workings of the prophecy I had seemingly been a channel for. I only knew that I was unwell and needed help.
I had been at Bethany Medical for about a month before they began to talk to us, in indirect ways, about whether or not we would be interested in being in space, to serve out a special mission aboard something called Free Station Julia. I had met everybody in the ward by this point, watched the way they acted around each other, and what stays with me was the fact that most of the people there didn’t seem that…odd. We were weird, certainly, but hardly a threat to society, for the most part. I was there when Qu’ael arrived, apparently a voluntary patient. I never heard him say a word, just watched him write postcard after postcard, watched him pocket small pieces of junk from the day room for uses I’ve never figured out. I remember Seth getting there, though in those days he was so quiet, he barely ever spoke, and when he did it was in this small whisper. There was talk on the ward that he never slept, just stayed up all night staring blankly at the wall. Charlie Moonrock was there, but I didn’t talk to him much: I was pretty serious into my prophet thing at that time, and those guys (who nicknamed me The Vicar): Moonrock, KrsnaChris — those guys used to laugh like hell when I’d get into sermon-rant mode. That gang ended up doing something else, not going into space, at least not with us, me and Jimmy Cheerios and Qu’ael and…I don’t know what became of them. Just like I don’t know the guy in the day room, the guy with the tarot cards, the strange loops he formed there on the corner table.
Sometimes I wonder if all that space-time, all those adventures, maybe they were all just in my head.
You must be confused. Let me start at the beginning, though I’ll tell you right now that this is not the truth. I do not remember the truth, how things actually happened. My memory is contaminated. I know nothing.
I Am Merely The Messenger.
The first thing I noticed, once we were taken from Bethany and sent off to this huge complex in the middle of some ex-industrial nowhere, one of those riverfront towns that could be kicked hundreds of miles in any direction and not seem out of place, was what looked to be a giant slingshot in the back garden, vines crawling up the braces, pot-bellied gargoyles with words engraved on their foreheads at each corner. The foliage here had a strange look to it, fed on some sort of thick green liquid which dripped from pierced hoses laid along the rows. On the other side of the road leading into the complex, there was a large concrete lot, which may once have been a tennis court, now used for large-scale sculpture, scaffolds laid flat atop freshly-filled holes. The bus we were on was one of only three other vehicles there; there was another bus which couldn’t have been moved in years stored beneath two large willows just up from the gardens, and a truck with dents along the front bumper and grill. The road, nothing really but a rut worn into the weeds, came to a stop about fifty yards from the front doors, and the bus came to a stop. We were led inside the building, the light in the trees shimmering from the ponds and river just out of eyesight, running behind the building.
Once inside we were all led to a main room on the ground floor, which may once have been a ballroom, to judge from the elaborate decoration lining the ceiling and front stage; engravings of saints fighting off wheels in the sky, flames with faces and documents which they consumed as they read to a group of humans who did not look quite human at all. Maybe this was medication embellishment. I was trying to concentrate on what the first man, the one of three wearing white lab coats, was saying. We were going into space, he told us.
We were all led behind a curtain and asked to lay on a cot, where a series of needles were inserted into our arms. We were asked to count our blessings. I got to three before my vision was swallowed up by the black and I was unconscious.
I dreamt of the bells. The bells were attempting to tell me something, but I did not know how to speak in bell-talk, and I felt myself begin to cry. There were artifacts in the ground, which I unearthed by hand, and attempted to fit into each other so as to make a machine, but I knew nothing of building machines, and the artifacts fell apart in my hands. I was on an island. I was not who I am. I had someone else’s name. We were collecting dreams, which were a purple fluid which floated in the air like pollen, collecting on the walls and the ceiling. There were boxes, into which we put this fluid. We buried the boxes, and when we returned, the artifacts were no longer in the ground, but had been harvested, and inside the boxes we had buried were keys. We needed to document. We were running out of time.
By the time I woke up, we were in space.
Before one can pass from this world into the First Bardo, which I have since heard described as the Sea of Scrytch, yet better known as the Indeterminacy of Scrytch, one must stand at the gate and proclaim aloud their True and Secret Name.
In 1991 my name was Darren Bauler. I spent most of that, my sophomore year, at the University of Iowa, befriending another undergrad Media Studies major named Finnegan and wasting my weekends away with Jezebel Decibel and Loyloa Jehovah, who were just then moving out of their crappy Burge dorm room and into a gorgeous two-story house overlooking Hickory Hill Park, a shorter walk to Hy-Vee than to campus but a glorious place to return one’s brain cells back to the cosmos. When not working on my studies, which was often, I was assisting Finn in his studies of information technologies among the lanzu, of which precious little, at the time, was known. I was also working up odd paranoid theories with some of my associates, including “Frank Sinatra” and Jackson Demerol, and the overlap between these two areas of my life led me to begin publishing a small ‘zine entitled Alchemical Warfare, wherein I put forth my notion of what I called Apoc.
As time went on, things changed, as is always the case. I left school in the spring of 1993 to return to my home in Waterloo; Abel and Baker disappeared one night after destroying their apartment, and Finn set aside his study of the lanzu after being unable to convince his instructors that they must have had access to technology networks far surpassing even the increasingly-present Internet brought into being by their meeting with something called the Shedhim. Angel of Mercy grew to a small amount of acclaim in the healthy Iowa City zine world, and mention of it popped up nationwide, leading to contact by e-mail with such similarly-minded people as V. Serin, Harry the Dairyman, Katherine Carrington, Taj Colossus and a friend of the Decibel/Jehova household named Ana Skyfish. It was not long after that Angel of Mercy folded and I began work on a new ‘zine, a cross-authorial project called The Journal of Speculative Disease.
It was less than six months later, in the summer of 1996, that I was informed that the ideas I was having were not my own, that somehow I had connected with something I could not understand. My brain was a box of broken glass.
I needed help.
I began suffering from what we called spiralpsychosis. This is the desire or need to seek out connections, even where none exist. It’s a variant on paranoia which has a long history in human understanding: if all things are interconnected by means not normally visible, then all things are, in a sense, One. The “spiral” in this term refers to a notion first put forth by Xenophanes and later made famous by Pascal: that of the god-as-summa being a perfect sphere without center or circumference. Spiral, in this case, is to enter into that sphere, spinning in a search for a core which is not there. This is also, I realized much later, the spiral which represents the passage into the Bardos. All of us from Iowa City had brushes with it: Euler had fled Austin with a terrible case of it, which worked its way into his strange behavior during October of that same year, just around the same time his period of homelessness was coming to a close. One can find a center within that sphere, but as a wiser man than I once said, the center will not hold. It is difficult to judge if he has ever come out of that state, as I have rarely seen him sense, and on those occasions he has been in the midst of “hijinx”. I could not make sense of that path, delving instead into intensive research, codes and ciphers, encryption techniques, insect architecture, the use of Abominable Texts within popular media structures, alternate and “secret” histories, the fickle skin stories coming in from a lapsed med student named V. Serin, the puzzle-boxes assembled by Ana’s friend Josef, fiction written by pre-programmed strategies, “black-box” transmissions and the ongoing drama of the Dead Astronaut, still waiting for us at the far edge of the atmosphere.
When I could not sleep, lying in my hammock, I wondered how close I was to that ship, how close Free Station Julia arced to that floating tomb.
I could take only so much of this before I knew I had to have myself committed. I was not eating, I was not sleeping, I was constantly terrified and malnourished, lashing out at my co-conspirators and pondering disappearing off the face of the earth. I went to Bethany Medical and asked them to help me, and they did. They removed my necklace, my belt, and my bootlaces. They started me on a diet of high-vitamin slush and medications whose names are now lost to me. Soon I was eating solid food again. I was painting, I was stringing beads, I was sending postcards to my friends. I was starting to feel human again. I felt a deep fear when I accidentally started thinking about the things I was thinking about before, the feeling that this solidity was not truly solid at all and only keeps from falling by the fact that I have learned to step lightly, with forethought and purpose. I was, as the patients had learned to call it, walking the wall. My clothes felt good on my body, as I was once again allowed to wear pants instead of blue scrubs. Everything was coming together.
I was then told about the possibility of going into space, the special chemical they had there. That brings my story back to its beginning. A circle, a cycle, a tightening spiral.
It wasn’t long before we all adapted to our new life aboard the Free Station; “days” were spent doing supposed research for a company which I believed was called InfiniTek, but that can’t be as a look at their website shows only a harmless telcom company, not the pan-global monolith who was doing their outsourcing here on the ship. In reality, we spent most of this time talking to people on Earth via Internet Relay Chat on trusty port 6667 of irc.fs-julia.net, attempting to get some of possibly-InfiniTek’s rather odd questions answered without doing the work ourselves. At “night” we made extensive use of the unsupervised Medication Dispensary and lived it up low-geosynchrynous-orbit style, paying no mind to the surveillance cameras mounted in the ceilings. It felt like we could breathe again after being held so long under water, though some of us began to slip into old habits. Having access to what seemed to be a nearly omniscient research tool named Walter which, although I could swear it capitulated to my interests and research patterns, wouldn’t sing “Daisy” no matter how often I asked, and having all the time in the world to pursue my research, I found the lure of instant real-time data harvesting to be harder and harder to resist. I dove into the possibly-InfiniTek work to keep my mind distracted, but as always happens, the two began to merge, and as time went on the only time I logged out from my terminal was when pulled away by Jimmy Cheerios to giggle over that day’s surveillance footage or, occasionally, to sleep.
I grew terrified as I saw all my old demons appear within the possibly-InfiniTek research: Rezabek’s ‘ajikhaz documentation cross-referenced with the structure of termite mounds in the apartment blocks of the Warsaw ghetto, governmental power fluxuations in the Cambodian government following the demise of Pol Pot as mirrored by results gained from repeated use of an algorithmic encryption sequence called “Seven Seals”, the common characteristics of worldwide folk-tales as obeying the same rules as the people Jimmy Cheerios gathered surveillance on, on a boat, somewhere. All of this material I dilligently gathered and saved, with Walter doing the shit-work of cross-referencing and hypertexting the material into a database I called “square one”, hoping against hope that I could keep a linearity and purpose to this work.
Perhaps, I thought, this was some form of extremely harsh rehabilitation, like an AA member with a pocket full of one-year chips being forced to live inside a brewery. Perhaps this is all coincidence and I’m, once again, reading things into the research which simply are not there. Or perhaps there are deep assignments running through my life which I have no understanding of. This line of thought is mentaly corrosive; the last time I had such thoughts I had locked myself inside my trailer with a fist-size bag of amphetamines and a shotgun. It is possible that, had I time to follow such lines of thought inward, that I would have ended up in a similar place, only my connection to Walter went on the fritz for a minute, and when it came back online, something had changed; the flashing error message “Bluebucket Communion/Contamination: Abort, Retry, Fail?” blinked out before I could give an asnwer and an entirely different information system came up, informing me that Walter had cojoined at least one other Bluebucket node (Bluebucket aparently being the source code of information systems, or “Autonomous Adaptive Interface Agents”, such as Walter). Quickly checking the network, I discovered to my horror that “square one” had been morphed into the database(s) of the other node(s); the combined database was called the Infernal Salt Codex. Before I had time to try and fix what had happened, Jimmy Cheerios began yapping excitedly about having discovered, among the things stashed in a bag beneath his terminal, a package that consisted of letter and a key, and sirens went off, and everything began to shake, and then the strangest thing happened.
This is what I want, right now: I want a bed covered in fine and varied sheets with star-maps and protective sigils embroidered and printed upon them, within which I could hide myself for as long as I pleased, and there drink poppy-tea with the Solehn sisters who would enact scenes from the heavy bound manuscripts scattered among the pillows and quilts for our collective entertainment, and we would read of hidden sound-chambers and illuminating possession states and ponds where the bellies of carp digested stones into statues so that the bottom of the pond (amid overgrown tractor frames and the foundations of stone silos long washed away) would resemble a shrunken city, its obelisks and temples nestled into the mud, and I would dream of these things as I faded in and out of sleep, the sisters sometimes whispering amongst themselves, sometimes nestled beside me, exchanging visions through the places where skin brushed against skin and knew its own grace, and I didn’t have to go to work or get yelled at by strangers or get sick in the bathroom or have bad dreams. That’s what I want. It doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
She spoke often of Etienne-Louis Boullee, of his Cenotaph for Newton, of the vast subterranean cities of graveyards. It was impossible to see this from the farm, with its bent silos, its half-sphere machine sheds, the windmill broken from its inception. Driving out and away, from the outer edge of the back field, almost on the bank of the Cedar, the shapes take form, as though a giant was clawing up from the grave. The riverbank was roughly lined with abandoned cars, models and companies no longer in production, rusted into a near-solid wall, and it was only while walking this wall that I could see the farm over the corn. It was at this point I began to wonder what waited behind the locked doors in the basement.
a public display of recreational disfigurements (00)
When I sleep, I pretend she is beside me, in my bed. Sometimes, mostly asleep, I reach out to touch her. Put the words in my mouth, push them until they form spastic motions at my fingertips, until I can see the words before me and know that it is not just another wasted day of not writing, weeks and weeks of staring blankly at the screen and bashing my fists into the keyboard. The words will come, she said to me, but she isn’t real, and my entire life is based upon impressing unreal women, not a life at all. Clumps of stillborn stories in my head, bits from alchemical texts and Victorian pornography now cast in a self-similar brown sludge that stains my skin, apparent to anyone who would bother to look. Headaches and nausea. Missed opportunities. Underwater bass drones, detuned chords which never fully fade sent from some wandering radiotower out in the snowfields, hiding at the center of a grove of trees where farmgirls go to get high and fuck each other, every mouthmoist promise broadcast into my swollen brain. The crows are made sick with the smell and scream at the stars. Something crawls within the walls, calling out to me to come closer, to set my ear against the drywall. I am too far away from the small details of everyday life, caught in some empty hole hidden beneath the stations of daily life, of telling details by which we are made identifiable and comforted. It is a trick, the shape of my face, the fat which hangs from my bones, a trick disguised as distinction. It is a sickness of my education to believe I contain organs, memories, crushes. All the books I read when I was the other person have flown from me, so that the best I can do is rattle off titles like rote prayers emptied of meaning, and it is the same for the names of my friends, and it is the same for the list of my accomplishments and failings and characteristics. Stoned farmgirls stare through me, as there is no mental comparison by which to trigger attention. That I can hear their thoughts means nothing but that I do not matter, that what I learn of them has no use. At night I am filled with dreams that these broadcasts speak to me, if subconsciously, a sidechannel display of elaborate possibilities. It is difficult, and takes all of my now-limited abilities to follow the causal chain, and it is always so close, the notion that it is not for my eyes to see, not for my hands to touch. When I was younger, everything was pregnant with secondary meanings, omens buried beneath the surface, but now all that is gone, and even the primary purpose is scratched out of the earth, so that nothing remains but running from pain and anguish. There is, however, something else hidden, as I am hidden from what I want, and at night it broadcasts marco, and in my sleep I whisper polo.