David-Baptiste Chirot

Cinema of Catharsis

          For Rex Chirot & Jerome Rothenberg—


El Colonel is smiling, writing with his cigarette’s smoke in that great page, the sky . . . that great page, ever open to all, in which all eyes may read---and there, their readings being writings . . . find also the writings of others . . . moving, living, in skies of their own among these sometimes shared skies, these skies sometimes encountering each other . . . these writings, readings readers & writers . . . meeting among these skies . . . so that—

So that—El Colonel has often wondered, often written his own “versions”—of his readings which are writings—of these phrases he found underlined in red among the black letterings of a fire-singed Bible in the basement of a bombed-out bookstore in a small provincial town high in the mountains . . . and which are: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”—for, had not El Colonel wondered—what, if, indeed, come face to face, that ‘I’ which became known as also it was known—what if indeed, that ’I’—were an Other . . . for had not he also read, among other books found elsewhere, among other demolished sites . . . had he not read that ‘I is an other’ . . . in which case, El Colonel writes with his cigarette in the sky’s pages . . . in which case might not the “I” be also known as an other . . . an other found continuously in this other that is his writing in the sky . . . a writing read by others . . . who in reading in their turn write . . .


El Colonel is smoking. Writing in the skies, on the varying hues of blue that shift with their proximities to the horizon . . . writing on the clouds scattered carelessly about . . . his eyes like fingers move, inscribing texts often in no known languages, at times in ones he barely knows from tattered texts come across—languages foreign to him—and, at times, even in the two languages he knows well . . . writing in the skies essaying to convey the dream states that float among memories---involuntary memories called out by the random touching of a shadow at the foot of a tree on the ground next to him—events long forgotten vividly alive—

El Colonel is smoking. These memories & dreams he is inscribing in the sky are not of large events at all. Thank God! No!—No, these are all the small events, happenings, that one is unaware for the most part that one is even noticing as they are passing—


In a room, in some other place, a city—somewhere—she is sitting, smoking, writing in her journal . . . some time ago she had begun to interpret her life in terms of events, of writings, of images, documents—come across in her continual perusal and construction of her own “Kennedy Collection”—comprised primarily of books and old magazines, but including also stacks of Xeroxes of fotos of the JFK Assassination, which she keeps for cutting up and rearranging—into collages—and these slowly through time finding their ways into various scrapbooks she keeps—

This “Kennedy Collection” she periodically pours through, finding each time a differing sequence, a differing set of clues as to the “meanings” she is to interpret from them regarding her own existence.

Increasingly, her own days are intercut, shot through, with those “Days in Dallas”—especially as Autumn advances, inexorably—to the annual return of That Day—among “Those Days”----—yet not only “those Days”—but all the Days surrounding them through time—the entire lifetime especially of Lee Harvey Oswald dominates certain areas of her consciousness, including the continually growing storehouse of memories which she associates directly with the Life of Oswald.

Thus, one October, during visits to her sister’s, she became aware that certain patterns in the linoleum were directly related with constellations which must have been embedded in the kitchen, say, of the houses where Marina Oswald had been living with, say, Ruth Paine—and others, perhaps also—where the Oswalds had lived after their New Life in America had begun--and these intersecting patterns and constellations found in linoleums were in fact reconstructions of some other events in consciousness, a consciousness greater than her own—indeed, one comprising, as it were, chunks of the Twentieth Century itself . . . even though now well into the Twenty-first century, she felt that these secrets exuded from expiring linoleums scattered through time and across the “interior landscapes of the late 20th Century” . . . yes—she distinctly, most definitely felt!—that these secrets being exuded had traversed the “line between Centuries,” as though transgressing a forbidden, or, at least—forbidding-- border—not unlike, say the border that Oswald crossed from Finland into the Soviet Union during his “defection”---yes!-- she felt, she distinctly felt-- these “secrets” had been, were continually—seeping, invading surreptitiously, as though entering in as soldiers do in moving through ground brush, on their bellies . . . that these secrets were arriving, day by day, night by night, at the very entrance to the battered small house she lived in on a battered small side street in a battered small section of the battered small city which she envisioned always as the one sacred place where these rites could take place, observed and participated in only by herself, their one initiate . . .

One October Sunday . . . as the late afternoon golden glow began to fade from the hallucinatory reds, oranges, dark greens and near-blacks of the heavy leaves—as the first shadows of the suddenly much cooler twilight began to etch their ways across the small battered lawn . . . one October Sunday, she indeed felt more strongly than ever the presence of the seeping secrets exuded by the linoleums of those kitchens Lee Harvey Oswald had entered in, in visiting with his estranged wife and children . . . she felt that these secrets were unfolding before her very eyes there on the shadow etched small battered lawn . . . sounds were reaching her from a neighbor’s TV—set to the NFL football games . . . Oswald she remembered had watched football during his last visits with his family . . . (more likely college football, on Saturdays? . . . some part of her mind registered the question—hanging there in the air—have to look it up, some part of her mind muttered, making a mental note of it—almost certain of it—were after all the pro games on then, before there was more than just the one then much smaller pro league . . . ? an important detail to come back to--)—yes—Oswald had watched football games . . . her eyes moved among the patterns etched by the twilight shadows on the small battered lawn, seeing in them the slow emergence of patterns seeping in from those long ago linoleums . . . as though the “action” of the plans gathering in Oswald’s mind—whether his own or those being planned and planted there by others---as though the action now was moving outdoors . . . from out of those rooms in the cheaply furnished homes, those flimsily constructed rooming houses he moved among . . . was moving outdoors and there, in the gathering twilight, taking form, gathering its thoughts as it were, in the patterns emerging—the very same patterns that had been observed in the linoleum—she now saw quite distinctly etched there, there in the backyard, on the small battered lawn . . .


El Colonel is smoking . . . from the stream of involuntary memories which he is writing in the sky with his eyes . . . begin to emerge, at first in clusters, closely clumped, tightly gathered—begin to emerge small constellations of images, images each so sharp, so clearly distinct, that its facets, diamond-like, begin to etch into, cut open, the adjacent images in the constellation---releasing sudden erupting streams—like those lone spraying spumes suddenly sliced open and squirting forth from the sun---those long trails of raging, burning, appallingly beautiful reds and oranges . . . blasting into space---pure Heraclitean fires . . . of being---Being released into the infinite of Space---traveling with such incredible storm-powered speeds that they seem to scream into the eyes . . . and out of these searing images . . . as though they are cooling in an acceleration of “the evolution of Time” –out of these released images emerge suddenly, in single file, as though a slide show being shown in the skies—images, images long forgotten—no longer singular images, but ones which open up—as the mouths of caves are said to open—and reveal within them depths . . .

El Colonel is smoking . . . leaning, leaning into the slight breezes which are now coming up over the edges of the hill . . . leaning the better to see—to see within this opening now so vividly before him—

It is a cinema, its entrance like a cave mouth—embedded in a seeming cliff, which is in actuality as its image becomes more distinct to the hard-peering eyes of El Colonel—which is in actuality the tightly spaced wall of a series of buildings on a street he had once found in a bombed out small city . . . it came to him now in a howling rush of clarity—the entrance to this Cinema of Catharsis as he had thought of it, even before entering into it and finding himself, first, in a lobby entrance, a very long, extended hallway—at the end of which was the glass enclosed small booth where a ticket taker would be standing when a show was in progress—at the start of shows, also—and at all times in between—time now heaving and buckling, in time with the heaving and buckling of the parquet floor of the long hallway leading to the interior entrance where the ticket taker’s booth was standing . . .a heaving and buckling which, nonetheless, did nothing to disturb the immense lobby card images hanging on the roughly painted walls of the long hall of the lobby . . . these images, each one of them belonging apparently to completely different films—gave evidence of the long history of this particular Cinema—as some of them dated back to the era of Silent Films—while others showed more recent productions—most of them cheap B jobs . . . El Colonel finds himself, via the intensity of his gaze, “entering into” the area beyond the ticket taker’s booth—

El Colonel’s figure, leaning into the breezes, leaning into the sky—looks for all the world to those eyes outside himself which he often finds looking at himself—from himself—his own eyes, detached, as it were—and located at some distance—find his leaning figure for all the world to look like some shadow figure, a silhouetted shadow puppet on a wall of infinite space---a wall of pale depths . . .

El Colonel is smiling to himself, smiling as he enters into the area beyond the ticket taker’s booth—an area where the once red plush rug is now worn thread bare—literally thread bare, El Colonel finds himself smiling to himself, smiling to find the time worn phrase, itself not a bit “threadbare”—to be in actuality, there before him, the most vivid illustration he has ever found of that thread bare phrase—and, on this thread bare surface, are scattered the kernels of long ago pop corn, the ashes of ancient cigarettes, the air still redolent with the scents of both—the heavy clinging haze of the popcorn smells intermingled with the ashy tastes, acrid and acrimonious, of the cigarette ashes held in suspension among the interstices of the threadbare rug . . .

El Colonel smiles, and, pushing on, as he smilingly puts it to himself: “as his actions, reversing Aristotelian Poetics, imitate the words—push on”—pushing through the heavily covered door that opens somewhat unwillingly into the Cinema itself . . . before entering, El Colonel’s eyes take in this dim lit arena—picking out the shadowy tops of the lines of the seats—here and there, like rows of broken teeth—betraying the presence of seats which, due to the excited or angry gestures of some patron, dim, jerky, faraway—some patron’s having pounded on them, beaten them, into a kind of slouching submission—so that the rows of seats are broken up by these gaps, these craggy monuments of remaining teeth-like chairs—jagged and raw—their blank spaces staring at the Cinema screen—gaping from their gaps into the as yet dim presence looming there in the shadows at some distance from El Colonel, who remains for some moments standing at the entrance . . .


As the patterns are emerging from the small battered lawn—the patterns which are for her continuously seeping in from those in the long-ago linoleums . . . they begin to form before her eyes the patterns of a parquet floor . . . the patterns, even, of a kind of design she has seen somewhere before . . . watching, waiting, with ever increasing urgency, an urgency she feels violently and vividly coursing through her tautening veins . . . as the memory begins to clear . . . revealing to her both the floors and the ceiling of a Cinema she had frequented as a child . . . in some outlaying area of the small battered city . . . an area which she associates more with dream than memory . . . though, now coming back to her as the patterns grow ever clearer before her eyes . . . she finds herself involuntarily witnessing scenes from her childhood and early adolescence . . . entering into this Cinema with her family—entering in there on weekends—Sundays even—she now recalls, as the parquet floor and ceiling become ever more vivid, all the while themselves images superimposed over those of her now streaming memories—of her entering the Cinema as a girl in neatly pressed skirt and blouse . . . freshly ironed that morning, before Church, by her mother . . . the scent of her mother’s faint perfume comes back to her—the slight smells of freshly laundered dresses, of crisply clutched handbags in which various “secrets” of her mother’s “Woman’s Life” are kept carefully at the ready for the ever awaited “special occasion” which might someday “you never know when” arise . . . those scents of an expectancy which made her mother and everything about her seem to her, even now, “romantic”---all this flooding back to her now, superimposed over those lozenges, those patterns of the parquet—and the expectancy of waiting in line, there, at the ticket taker’s small glass enclosed booth---before entering the inner area where the popcorn machine towered, immense and alive, spouting furiously its fountains of pop corn, while the soda fountain poured forth a continual bright and multi-colored syrupy mist in her memory—a mist made up of all the exotic tints of the promising sodas . . . and then, then, her own taut veins now pressing ever more tightly against the skin—she could feel this—the tautness, like a bow being stretched back, back, back—about to launch the well aimed arrow—then—with a slight release of the tension—she sees herself entering into the Cinema—


El Colonel smiles . . . there in the darkness, he sees a person enter stealthily from the door way at the other end of the Cinema—on the other side of the middle of the three rows of seats . . . at the same time—he is aware of some one moving with equal stealth in the area of the balcony just above where the first figure is moving----and, slightly behind this figure, for the very briefest of moments—there appears another figure—which swiftly withdraws—into a shadowy area in which hovers the red light sign for the restrooms . . . something is taken place, El Colonel murmurs to himself . . . something is taking place—and he is suddenly aware, at the sound of these words uttered by himself, to himself, with as much stealth as the two moving figures are possessed of—he is suddenly aware that at this moment in his consciousness, and “before his very eyes as an observing consciousness”—he notes mentally—as an aside, whispered to the audience which is comprised by his own various suddenly alert consciousnesses---he is suddenly aware that the events which are about to transpire are occurring simultaneously as memory, dream, imagination and that form of conscious thought which is known to himself as “writing”---and that these events are triggering also, somewhere else, events in the consciousness of someone else—not only a reader—the reader who is himself of the writings which emerge with –with, as in a distinct and intimately close collaboration----himself—writings at once his own and some Other’s—as well as some other reader—and some other being, somewhere else, also writing—in their own way—these same events . . . aware of all these simultaneous events occurring—and of all these simultaneous awarenesses converging, here, in this spot—in these events now going on—El Colonel finds himself being drawn to an area to his right, in the middle aisle—in which the figure who has stealthily emerged form the door on the ground floor—has seated itself unexpectedly next to another shadowy figure—there in the dark—of which he had not previously been aware—and that this shadowy figure is now engaged in some form of exchange of both sounds and gestures with the figure who has emerged from the doorway—and placed itself practically on top of the shadowy, seated figure—in an astounding act of imposition---

El Colonel smiles. Casting his gaze upwards—he perceives the figure in the balcony slowly grope its way towards the front of the balcony—where, standing just overhead—it is watching the scene below, in which the two figures are exchanging rapid gestures and indistinguishable sounds—before suddenly separating—with the figure who had entered into the Cinema from the ground floor door—moving off and finding a seat at some distance from the other—while the figure overhead—suddenly is casting glances sideways and back—back towards the area where the hovering red sign indicates the rest rooms----

El Colonel smiles. Something is going on—he is thinking—when of a sudden in the area on the ground floor to his right—there enter two shadowy policemen . . . creeping carefully along the dim rows of seats—while, above—where the standing figure has been directing its gaze—he sees beckoning another figure—gesturing—towards a door marked “EXIT” whose light has suddenly come on and which swings suddenly open—open—to a hurried, scrambling rush of bright air and light---


The scene in the small battered backyard is flickering as the lights from neighboring houses go on . . . and for the first time she feels a slight disturbance in the scenes in which she is simultaneously entering the Cinema proper . . . inside the movie theater itself . . . this flickering catches her eye immediately she is inside the theater---and, drawing her gaze towards the peripheries of her vision to her right—she sees entering there suddenly a swift, stealthy figure . . . the flickering increases, as though there is interference from some other transmission . . . and for the first time she has the sense—a sense “like ESP”—that some one else, also, is watching this same scene . . . though from somewhere else—some other pair of eyes is also making out in the dimness the shadowy figure moving along the rows of seats until it finds one where a figure she had not been aware of, a shadowy, lumpy figure, is slumped---and practically on top of which she observes the swift moving shadow place itself—so nearly are the two figures placed they seem for a moment to merge, then pull abruptly apart—and between the two a rapid fire series of gestures and indistinguishable sounds is being exchanged . . . while, above—“out of the blue”—for all the darkness around her, the phrase comes to her—she notices a figure beckoning from the area where a dimly glowing red light announces “rest rooms”—and—following the line of sight towards which this figure is beckoning, she makes out another figure—dim, standing at the edge of the balcony—and—while she watches—she sees a door begin to open behind the man gesturing from the rest room area—and, as the door opens—she sees a patch of sky—feels even the slight in-rushing of a cooler air . . .

Even as she is watching, she becomes aware that she is seeing the arrest of Oswald in the movie theater in Dallas on “That Day”—and into her awareness come rushing the snatches of varying accounts of those moments—accounts pieced together from among the stacks of books she has read . . . with a growing intensity her vision is taking in each detail, each remembered moment of the action—in a kind of slow motion . . . a slow motion however, growing increasingly troubled by interference---by a kind of flickering in which the images “go in and out”—and sounds suddenly are leaking in as though from some other consciousness—not voices so much as sensations of wires, synapses, being crossed . . . she feels herself recoiling in a kind of horror as her suddenly sensed awareness of witnessing the multiplicity of possibilities of what may have occurred during those fateful moments—is being disrupted—by a transmission-- which she senses is not meant to interrupt—but is that of an other consciousness, also registering these scenes—though this other consciousness she senses, is somehow not aware, as she is, of what the scene exactly is—that is, the other consciousness observing these events is not interested in them—not in the way that she is, but at the same time from some other interst of which she has no idea, no remote idea of herself--—a horror from which she recoils—that some one else’s awareness of the events—is interpreting in ways completely other than her own—not out of malevolent design, as she somehow most powerfully feels—but out of an intensity of awareness happening within it, this other consciousness, which is equal to her own—and even—perhaps—even—she feels the possibility all too acutely—painfully—even more powerful than her own—yet not with any ill intentions at all towards her own. . . a consciousness which she feels suddenly withdraw . . .leaving her to observe—the now empty theater . . . after the sensed fleeing of all those who but a few brief moments before had been there—all those who had been present on “That Day” according to all the accounts she had read . . .

Everything is happening so fast . . . has been happening so fast—and now, so abruptly she feels herself nearly swoon . . . is so abruptly over . . .

Slowly, slowly her eyes become aware of the small battered backyard in which the shadows among the flickering light look like so many burnt out remnants of an intense explosion . . . the singed and still smoking remains of her intensity of awareness . . .yet . . . as she gathers herself—she thinks—having come this close . . .this close to finding the Truth . . . perhaps . . . someday . . . and she finds her awareness trailing away . . . trailing away into an immense and most welcome sense of relief, of safety, of rest . . . of a calm assurance completely new to her . . . and, as she drifts into this peace . .. she has all the while a feeling through its own shadowy, slowly retreating substance, of the still flickering presence of that Other . . . while it, also, slowly recedes . . . she has still the consciousness of an emerging “welcome memory, however faint”-- of this awareness which has brushed presences so intensely with her own, there, on “That Day”—in the Cinema of Catharsis . . . . .


El Colonel is smiling . . . lighting another cigarette, he uses its bright glowing tip to write in the gathering twilight sky . . . to write of the sensations of coolness and blue he had found himself drawn to in ascending to the second floor of the Cinema and exiting by the door which he had seen open . . . while all the while there lingers in his consciousness the sensation of having passed through an immense, and intensely concentrated, electrical event of some kind on his way across the floor of the theater, to the stairs and then up them . . . as though the immensity of the blue he finds on exiting . . . is the calm following a storm, a storm in his consciousness, to which, someday he may return—as he sensed within it—the presence, distinct and powerful, of some Other there in the Cinema, some other pair of eyes also observing the same mysterious scene—some other consciousness, some where—which might hold the key for him—of all that had transpired during this afternoon—this afternoon in the Cinema of Catharsis, in which he finds the writing taking him . . . on so many occasions . . .

David Baptiste Chirot "Essays, reviews, prose poetry, sound and visual poetry, performance scores, Mail Art have appeared in print and web 60+ different journals in over a dozen countries. Participated in 350+ Visual Poetry and Mail Art exhibitions, Calls. 3 books, 3 chapbooks and in many print and e-anthologies. My work is with the found, everywhere to be found, hidden in plain site/sight/cite. http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com". Also: Cronaca Sovversiva Feneon—Faits Divers & Fate's Divers.
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