Saturday 11 April 2020

Rilke In Neon

Or, A Plague Thinkpiece In Forking Paths

From The Pavillion of The Limpid Solitude: Eight Permutations

Givenchy poster by Tigran Manukyan

The Plague Thinkpiece is the iteration of the old form, the thinkpiece, which is an iterative itself of the essay, which is anew the essai in Anglophonic drag. Irony is dead. Only sincerity lives. Sincerity is the new irony. Thus, sincerity is dead. Only irony lives. Irony is dead.

The voice of your leader reminds you of bluebells/rasping gateposts/the whir of server cooling fans. It calms/enrages/dispirits/enlivens you. You leader is alive/dead/dying. You write Rilke, or maybe Hölderlin, or maybe even Goethe, in neon on the wall of your increasingly adolescent bedroom. In every universe the German Romantics make a new and errant/precise sense.

This is your 4th/0th/576th week of lockdown. Toast has become a sacrament. Windows have become an altar. You are the priest. You are the altar boy. The Hierophant Elizear, who was once a servant in Damascus, predicts that you too, will become a servant in Damascus. What is Damascus? Damascene (as adjective) applies to geographers, inlays, dancers, and steel variously. Damascene moment, re: Paul, is a conversion. You convert to fear/facemasks/demerara sugar cubes/vacuuming enthusiastically. The stroke here is and/or but is not always and/or. The age of quarantine is, after all, the age of uncertainty. We need the Plague Thinkpiece to give us certainty from the Writer-Intellect. Certainty is, of course, also dead. Uncertainty is the new certainty. &c &infinitum

Rilke is in neon because Rilke is 'FEELINGS' all pink, fluro-cast, flashing in repeat iterations. Orpheus is Dreamin' of You in Fraktur/Blackletter/Schubert Lieder. I am Dreamin' of You in the ruins of Rome etched by Hieronymus Cock in the 16th/23rd/-4thBCE century. I know you are laughing. Go forth: change his name to Hieronymous Dildo/Cucumber/Penile Object, if that brings you pleasure. The Plague Thinkpiece relishes small joys. Relish your joys. Relish them or I will come and kill you in the night with a Damascene blade as sharp as a comma and it will be a revelation.


I listen to Electronica Without Feelings, but in the Plague Thinkpiece, this is Bach. Bach listens to Electronica Without Feelings, but in the Plague Thinkpiece this is a cassette from 1985. The way the cassette slips into its clear plastic case; this is a metaphor for our future archive/grave/memory. Now consider the Writer-Intellect's experience of archives/graves/memories. Invoke Derrida/Lacan/Barthes. Smile with very white teeth. Lie alone in your dark room with the cast of your dark city on your face like the face of a cliff in black obsidian. Toujours a waltz.

You are exquisite in your sadness/elation/position of abjection/authority. Maybe maybe maybe maybe. Hesitate. Turn right. Turn left. Trade in commodities, by which I mean the crystalline facets of yourself in the Atlantic/LRB/New Yorker/LARB. Everyone wants/loves your wisdom/inevitable public failure. This is definitely about You/A Series Of Unfulfilled Prophecies/A Slip Of A Single Quantum Gate. Sell low buy high, sell high buy low, sell everything and buy Jenny Holzer phrases, buy Tracey Emin truths all lit up. They are/not your truths/platitudes/revelations anyhow.


RILKE in NEON. YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Du mußt dein Leben ändern. YOU MUST OTHERWISE YOUR LIFE. This I know/translate/lie. If you capitalise anything, it becomes more true. If you put it on the close walls of your sleeping chamber it becomes more true. If you write it in the exquisite grass calligraphy. Grass script is 草書; cǎoshū. I cannot translate this, but I too have google/wikipedia/an unearned sense of epistolary and lexical authority. This is how I will Thinkpiece/essay/essai/ swagger. Nothing anymore is earned. There is no economy. The economy is the trade of a piece of Damascene inlay for a dancing girl with a ribbon in a large looping bow. I am the girl/I look at a gif of the girl alone in a dark room/I am the dark room. Hermes takes messages in my living room, swifter than transmission/contraction/inhalation/revelation.

Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen?
Who, when I cry out, hears me amongst the Orders of Angels?

Glitch out. Glitch back. Apocalypse. Rapture. These are all the Pantone colours of the year for the years 2020/2059/2164/005.086 successively.


Put on your lipstick/razzle dazzle. This what is required of a Thinkpiece/prophecy/revelation. You are a Hierophant in Glitter. Act like one. Drive your car alone on the highway/run to the top of a hill in your inside-out leggings/consider the futility of your sweatpants. If you are always/never alone and always/never triumphant you will succeed at katabasis/anabasis. Down Down Up Up A B switch. 

Look back always. Look back never. Nostalgia is dead. The future is now. The future is dead. Nostalgia is now. Loop on repeat. The lights never stop coming.


Be a body/abjure the body. This is what they tell us, the Thinkpieces/the Orders of Angels. When you cry, out I can only hear you if you are ironic, because if you are sincere you are dead. When you cry out, I can only her you if you are sincere, because if you are ironic you are dead. Death And The ???. Death In Venice. We escape to a sanatorium on a mountain to fight the insidious disease in bourgeois comfort, from which this Essay/Thinkpiece/DJ Set is composed in a goodly/orderly number of pages.

This is a simulation and the bodies of the angels in the perfect symmetrical streets of heavenly Jerusalem are all cyborgs. This is a simulation and you are the cyborg, a robot. This is not, and never was a simulation, but illness is a war/metaphor/precept/mode of insight, and it requires, therefore, a plethora of robots. Suit up in the mecha of your sentences. Now is the time to tell everyone your thoughts on bodies/grasping/angels. Write as if you are an insoluble diamond gear in a cyborg's left arm. Write as if you are a fingertip. Keyboard it. Let your fingertips be hierophants, be servants, do the waltz, be the striated wires of a board which is a circuit and/or a maze.

Get in the fucking robot, Shinji.
Get out from under the fucking horse, Saul, and haul ass to Damascus.
You are no one's/everyone's prophet. You are always/never responsible.


Une rose seule, c’est toutes les rose
et celle-ci: l’irremplaçable,
le parfait, le souple vocable
encadré par le texte des choses.

Comment jamais dire sans elle
ce que furent nos espérances,
et les tendres intermittences
dans la partance continuelle.

A single rose, it’s every rose
and this one—the irreplaceable one,
the perfect one—a supple spoken word
framed by the text of things.

How could we ever speak without her
of what our hopes were,
and of the tender moments
in the continual departure.

(Rilke, translated by David Need)


This is [not] a Plague Thinkpiece. This is but one of the paths of the world. Draw a Feynman diagram. Consider/heedlessly ignore/fret over the possible. Dip your feet into the chlorinated tendres intermittences. What is neither sincere nor ironic? Can one turn neither right nor left? If the script is currens, running, is it merely sloppy, or somehow more true? You too are grass/hay/flesh/script. When I die make the swimming pool a sacrament and turn my essays into a robot. If the essai turns wrong somewhere, the truth it arrives at is a dead end, facing a hedge, and not a rose. Labyrinths are also exercises in ᾰ̓πορῐ́ᾱ/dead ending it/sending it/bending it until it isn't an end again. If a piece is good it slices through this like a well-tempered blade. It if fails/thuds/circles back something else happens. Bathe your face in neon. Make predictions/contingencies/auguries as if every departure is continual. When the path forks, choose one, light it up in pink-red-blue spectra, look to Hermes/Hierophants/the Implacable Mecha Suit Of Your Body, and turn. 

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