Why I Opt for a Postmodern Ethic; a Specifically Grotesque, Uncanny, and/or Sublime Strategy; Physical Pain; a Speaker Who Wears Human Drag; Childbirth; a Planet that is not Necessarily in Outer Space:
by Danielle Pafunda
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This is my middle face speaking to you.
It does not matter whether or not I believe in a real self, or how that real self might be composed. The ever-elusive real, and the suspicion of a real something are interchangeable. In either case, there is at once a creature unapprehended and an apprehension sans form. A shiver, a fear, a suspicion, a suspect, a small amount, a demure quantity, a whiff of trouble, apriori, bleeding through the strata of culture and biology lodging in the nexus. Here, too, memories of abject, lost or discarded oddments (old habits, old samples, old quickening) mingle with these selves, and produce neither mask nor true colors. This is the middle face, neither interior nor exterior. Illusion of the boundary itself and the ample territory wherein elopement, immigration, emigration, banishment, and dissolution may occur. The middle face performs and is that platform on which its performance occurs.
Cyborg and alien, thoroughly metaphysical, biologically or theoretically embodied, with the laughable, critical silver thread—the string—rather, braided and fraying strings that connect “I” to its informants. I have and do not have access to my own middle face, and to yours.
Many elements speak via the middle face. Choose one: The Ideal Self of 01/17/07—unreliable narrator, subject to temporal shifts she has not caught up with, greedy in ways she herself cannot recognize because, despite the popular wisdom, she is not empty. No secret hollow chamber in either the corporeal or psychic weaponry. She is full to bursting, overfull. Bullet-rich, gluey with pearlescent fluids. She has little room to maneuver, and the worst seat in the house. Much of her day is spent shoving aside, tamping down, and hogtying the cultural and biological information that crowd her environs. She warmly embraces a discursive pipe dream. Rather, the discursive pipe. Her head against the basin, her arms around the pipe.
Into this pipe, I can empty the sacks of information carried to the middle face, but I can never empty out the middle face itself. In the morning, I will find the information has regenerated. I am seedy with intent.
Any aura found on or in the discreet object (scab, poem, circuitry) is a trace of the aura inherent in its manifestation. I am lit only by the aura discharged from that experience in which I appear as an agent. That is, situations are revealed via the diffuse light generated by the collision, collusion, and/or repulsion of the agents within them. Agents expose themselves thusly. And just as infrared light reveals human stains on the bed sheets, certain qualities of aura reveal the middle face’s clocking work. We call them physical pain.
When pain lights the middle face, its fissures are revealed. What once appeared to be interior matter, pressurized, leaks across the barrier. In extreme pain, matter may gush, cracking the middle face. Here, the discourse I enact, am inscribed by, and in turn produce becomes vulnerable. Here, breakage should be exacerbated. Should be. The pain event engenders a peculiar dissolution, wherein the subject at once attains maximum fluidity and suffers extreme paralysis. In the aftermath of a pain encounter, the reconstruction of the event, defying articulation, is further stymied by the subject’s vertigo. Overdose threatens. Either I have too high a tolerance for the horrifying materializations I encounter, or I find myself trapped in a pain cluster. In the former, I may shield my middle face with contempt and fashion. In the latter, I must replace middle face to the best of my ability with absent face, or else will find myself a permanent target.
In light of pain I note—that is notice and sonically compose—the middle face, a congested scrim. Here I may count the tombs and tentacles as they multiply behind it. Here I register tubular skins, burgeoning limbs, and calcified fetuses garbled on its surface. When a pain event unmakes my middle face the observers wish to know, with what will I replace it? Whether a pardon or a gutting, I crossroad. In the brief insubstantiality of a pained middle face, I seize the interior bail and the ropey beyond. Slitting my writ, I film into antechambers and, if I am so occupied, the presence of a bleat. Biologically speaking, I may be birthing, expelling a kidney stone, or amassing a new extremity. The experience is not inverted should I absorb a passenger, receive shrapnel, or shear a digit. In any case, it is the human rather than I who meets pain on the bridge with a wad of impotent cash, and it is I who am lit to evaporation, though I crouch behind the body skirts. When pain passes, my middle face will reassemble, converted and grafted, untended, cooling rapidly. At times, cooling unto death.
The Bid for Pain
Crack an egg, drain the white into a boiled jar, suck the white into a plastic syringe just out of its sterile wrapper, a medicine syringe. Insert the syringe into my vagina. Plunge the eggwhite into, that is spurt, that is up. A muscular tunnel replete with mucoid protein. Direct my vagina to the cock. The tip, pulsed, the furnishing’s. I admit the cock and encourage its performance. I dismiss the cock and tip upward. I manufacture my clitoris, I seize and spasm. My uterus, crane. Hip cranked, and thus, motherhood. By no other means, I assure.
How does this procedure become my face? Fetal cells cross the blood-brain barrier. The uterus need not travel for its vast field meets me there. But how does this procedure become my face?
I present a meat oven, cracked wide by the uncanny photographer X. Rotting, I wear this organic coffin awkwardly. I am a convivial herpes, by which 96% are infected, but most have yet to manifest lesions. I am a greater percentage bacteria, I am a series of plagiarized infestations. How dare we call ourselves and sign my name to these documents. How dare we gather on my face in a parade formation.
Still, I rate pain. I rate my own operation, and a room in which to distend my anus. My contraction machine, my flared labia, my regret that I cannot attend this event, am rushed out in the surge of field. Fielding. My middle face banished, homo sacer, neither sacrifice nor dead meat. A mother mask was stitched to my raw zone. It was a mistake, but it was not wholly successful.
The Manner in Which Pain Becomes Me
A fistula wrote a pamphlet. He claimed that the males of the species were stalking him. He claimed to be ignorant of their whereabouts at the time of the writing. He found a pair of their shoes clutched in the arms of a sodden homo erectus. He compared the soles of the shoes to the prints outside his window. He found their tissues in his garden. “What they want,” said the fistula, “is a repeat performance.” He claimed that the male of the species was doing it for his own good. He claimed that the theater was musty, its curtains vulgar, and he emptied its costume loft into a bin marked rubbish.
A calcified fetus wrote a pamphlet. It claimed to have been present at the hour the siren began deafening the village. It claimed to be a black woman’s problem. It claimed to be a Ukranian grandmother’s snuff box. In its humble opinion, it couldn’t imagine a more spacious turf. It refused to give up its box seats at the opera. To be jolly, it said, one must never cede.
A fashion victim wrote a pamphlet. He claimed to have inadvertently stitched his heart to a bat wing sweater sleeve. He claimed that the sweater’s waist wasn’t cinched tightly enough. He claimed that the heart on its sleeve was the human heart, meaning that it came from a human and it produced human-leaked AB blood whenever an emotion walked by. He drew a flow-chart to illustrate from which races the various blood types could be drained. At the end of the chart, he drew a multi-colored figure with two breasts and a codpiece. He labeled it good persons.Halfway through the pamphlet, he claimed it had just occurred to him that he meant what he was saying. He claimed that there was a valuable wetness filming his eye, and that his locks were renegade. Rummaging through his neighbor’s garbage, he found a dead puppy. He claimed that his neighbors were not amusing, that the only ones laughing were the garbage men.
A ml. of Botox wrote an entry in a pink diary that locked with a pink plastic key. The diary contained twenty-eight blisters. Only one blister was marked. The ml. of Botox claimed an advantage over other compositions. It claimed that it alone could produce that endless series of inexpressions, each of which would correspond to an inarticulable synaptic disaster.
Pain Beak-Pecks a Figurine
Daily, I bleach and refigure my middle face. I know that this is WRONG, but I do it anyway. I frame it with poison sumac and dare it to swell. On either side of my middle face, I know that I should not send my professor an anatomically correct doll wrapped in my F*CK GLACÉ world tour t-shirt, or commission a hand-wrought copper flight recorder in which to store my cream manes. Late nights, when I hear my father come to bed, I pray for a migraine so that I might sever before my parents ape each other’s genitals. If I were a good girl, says the sky pilot, I would pray in the morning as well as at bedtime. But even my porcelain merry-go-round, lame and legless, knows how the fist will shoot. I relic pain, I treat my skull cap, and fan out my beard.
I left that world a’weeping sings the fuckwad. I left that world my lone dog howling, I left that world my bed surrounded by sugar lumps and glassy knobs. I left that world to meet my maker, I left that world my sin skinned and fat run in the basin. Which is how we know the fuck remains. His teat slammed in the door will give him away. His brow pimpled with exposure. He hangs on the world with all twenty brittle nails, yellow, fungal, earthy. He hisses a carbon sack that damps the room. His files are on display in the Natural History Rape Museum. Alongside his death mask, cast in plaster, his cat in plaster, his mate pumped full of plaster. His sweetmeat detailed on the program, a chorus of. That is no way to break the sound barrier.
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