to 5

    on the 5ives




It is not the television set this time; instead, it is the sound of his own mind-stuff, static-white noise droning on and on, interminable, not to be stopped by flights of fantasy, doctor’s orders, nor even by death itself: Not this time. But please do not assume that all is simply an exercise in self-indulgence, for the fate of the world does not rest in the hands of this single, troubled thinker, but rather writhes restlessly in the collective limbs and appendages of the people who have created this vacuous hellhole in which we all now have to endure life at approximately 109° F. Don’t ask him about Iraq, Darfur, Gaza, the West Bank, North Korea, Global Warming; don’t ask him about corporate greed, joblessness, depression, sloth, unrecycled trash; don’t tell him about God, Jesus, the Afterlife, or about how things will somehow just “work out”: He won’t listen, because his ears are plugged up with iPhones, his eyes covered with darkened lenses, his mouth full to overflowing with his own garbled gospel. He will not engage in self-abasement, self-denial, self-realization, or selfish pratter about the pointlessness of things, but he will agree to your binding him with rope and chain and pouring gasoline ($3.09 per gallon) upon his already-besotted head while you smoke a Chesterfield and share a hackneyed joke…Or perhaps you’d like to tell him the story about “that guy” who fell from the St. Petersburg Cathedral and survived with no more than a broken nose? These are all concessions he is willing to make as the sound of her laughter breaks the drone of his dulled brain waves, those stagnated corpuscles of telepathic thought, as lines of worry crease his brow and the sides of his mouth, as—a mere moment or two later—he chokes and vomits clipped bursts of CO2 all over himself, startling the guests (guests?), her laughter still echoing violently through the corridors of his skull like some filthy elusive zahir…But, do not assume that there is any way of reasoning with him; he is beyond help, beyond beyond help. One ribbon cracks like the next (hats off to N.S.E.) and so on down the line until, finally, the entire map is revealed to be a sycophantic mirror image of itself, except that now it doesn’t really exist in real terms. Nothing, in fact, really exists in “real terms,” whilst everything really exists in “real terms”: that is the catastrophic conundrum. Don’t ask him to explain anything; he does not have any answers, does not have the willpower to seek out mirages glistening lascivious in the desert of what was once a gigantic glacial inferno. Her laughter continues to reverberate; the music comes to an end; his eyes fall out, drop out the window, land upon the encrusted palm of a waddling vagrant humming a hopeful tune and carrying a bottle of bourbon wrapped in a swath of newspaper advertising prophylactics, life insurance, water crackers, bust enlargement, chiropractic, &c. &c. ad nauseam…



cracked ribbons


marc lowe