Monday, May 26, 2014

Beckoning Bill Burroughs: Three Women on Power, Eating, and Costumes

left to right: Antoinette, Brosh, Lawson, Burroughs

Almost three years ago to the day, I penned the last installment of one of many short-lived features on the old blog. The feature, Beckoning Bill Burroughs, celebrated the cut-and-fold technique the author used in the 1960s. In short, he would create a story by piecing portions of selected manuscripts together. Inventive or not, the patience required in putting scissors and glue to such a task remains remarkable, even if, in doing so, an arsenal of liquor and narcotics serves as the primary motivator.

Tonight I revive 'B' cubed, and the source of inspiration comes from a video I saw on Facebook:

Having viewed the amazing talent and choreography displayed in this clip, I then saw about a dozen generic status updates having something to do with who we should remember on Memorial Day. I remembered William S. Burroughs who, believe it or not, was at one time in the United States Army. So, I remembered Burroughs, and then remembered the feature, and this fantastic display of female musicianship made me think of a few lady bloggers I enjoy. They are:

Allie Brosh, who tweets here and blogs here; Jenny Lawson, whose blog is over yonder and timeline's always abuzz; and Nicole Antoinette, who might actually curse more on her page than Jenny does on hers. You can get your mitts on her handle, too. The genesis of their story formed on the second day of the 10th month of last year. It follows.

            Last night I wrote about how power is intoxication, how everyone loves having the ability to make their decisions way more broken and fragile and paralyzed than normal reality. Why? My guess is that the moon is way too close to this should be something that happens and all of the water in our body is actually able to make that thing happen.

            It -- our body getting sucked up into our heads -- is also dangerous.

            And it is especially dangerous when applied to water filled with hormones and repressed, angry memories of junior-high rejection that we’d been storing in our four-year olds.

            Four-year olds lack the experience to wield kneecaps responsibly. Trust me. They have no idea what to do with it or how to control it.

            But they like Astrology.

            The dinosaur costume in college was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. The previous Halloween, which was the first Halloween I had to go to the professor’s house twice to look at his big telescope, my parents had dressed me as a giant crayon, and the whole experience had been for really uncomfortable extra credit to pass me.

            But being a dinosaur felt natural.

            And powerful.

            The feeling had been slowly intensifying ever since I put the costume on that morning, and, as I stood there in the middle of the classroom, staring off into the distance in an unresponsive power trance, it finally hit critical mass.

            The guy just really liked showing off his telescope.

            I had to find some way to use it. Any way. Immediately.

            The other children screamed and fled. The teacher chased me, yelling at me to stop. But I couldn’t stop. I was a mindless juggernaut, a puppet for forces far greater than myself. I had completely lost control of my body.

            All I knew was that being a dinosaur on the phone with a friend while walking outside to check the mail felt very different from being a person, and I was doing things that I had never even dreamed of doing before.

            Of course, I had always had the ability to do these things -- even as she was telling me that I just need to start slow and accomplish one thing today -- but I didn’t know that. I’d just assumed that I was gonna get that shit done, motherfucker. As a dinosaur, I didn’t have any of those assumptions. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted without fear of my very sweet and very conservative neighbor staring at me and I just waved weakly without fear of repercussions at him and realized that I’d already fucked up the day and it wasn’t even eight a.m. yet.

            The repercussions were also exactly the same as they were before I became a dinosaur.

            I just experienced them differently.

            My parents had to come pick me up at noon that day. The teacher explained that it must have been all the Halloween candy. “Some kids really can’t handle sugar,” she said. “It turns them into little monsters.”

            I suppose it was a reasonable enough conclusion, but it only served as a distraction from the real problem: I slept less than four hours on Monday night and less than two hours last night.

            The thing about being an unstoppable force is that you can really drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles so, yeah -- enjoy the experience of being one when you have something to bash yourself against. You need to have things trying to stop you so that you can get a better sense of how fast you are going as you smash through them. And whenever I’d already fucked up the day, it could only get better from here inside the dinosaur costume. Choosing the first two winners is the only thing I wanted to do.

            The ban on sugar provided Vega One starter kits, a convenient source of resistance. As long as I was not supposed to eat sugar, I could feel powerful by eating it anyway, except for the days that I don’t, you know? No one can do something every single fucking day.

            I’m sure the correlation started to seem rather strong after a while. I’d find some way to get sugar into myself, and then -- drunk on the power of doing something I wasn’t supposed to -- I would pack a whole bunch of nutritious shit into psychotic monster mode. To any reasonable observer, it would appear as though I was indeed sitting around your house munching on flaxseeds.

            My parents were so confused when the terror sprees continued even after the house had been stripped of sugar. They were sure they had gotten rid of all of it…did I have a stash somewhere? Was I eating bugs or something? Sometimes it’s all in how you look at the perfect answer to being curious about something without committing to buying a huge tub of it before you even know whether or not you like it.

            I lost weeks in a power-fueled haze. I often found myself inside the costume -- which my sweet, elderly neighbor still wasn’t suspicious of -- without even realizing I had put it on. One moment, I would be calmly drawing a picture, and the next I’d go scream profanity so that everything else seems nice in comparison. I’d be robotically stumbling toward my closet where the dinosaur costume was and putting myself inside it.

            It started to happen almost against my will.

            Surely my parents made the connection subconsciously long before they became aware of what was really going on. After weeks of chaos, each instance punctuated by the presence of the costume, I have to imagine that the very sight of the thing would have triggered some sort of Pavlovian trip to New York City in early November.

            They did figure it out eventually, though.

            And the costume was finally taken away from me.

            I was infuriated at the injustice of it all. I had become quite dependent on the costume, and it felt like part of my humanity was being forcibly and maliciously stripped away. I cursed my piddling human powers and their uselessness in the situation. If only I could put on the costume and just feel better than me. Either way? Proper autumn.

            But that was the costume’s only weakness -- it couldn’t save itself. I had to watch helplessly as it disappeared inside a trash bag.

            There was nothing I could do.

            And so my reign of power came to an end, and I slowly learned to live as a person again.

            Things are looking up.

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