Steven Fraccaro

Night Language

                The destruction of the word, the destruction of the world. This is the dream—if in order to destroy the past, we must dream, then we shall not dream.
                The corridor, the dark shapes without specific meaning, structured concepts of memory, self-reflection. The black, the white, the left, the right.
                To dream a world that cannot work, the shutting off of any exterior. Through the corridors of reason, a certain dexterity, which leads to thought, the dreams of pedants who were once called philosophers, oracles perhaps. The dream, which is to order the universe, is related to light, the eclipse of day through night. Symbols, signs, clues found scratched on papers left in the street—these are read at night. In daylight, the same crumpled papers remain mute.
                Destruction is never simple—resuscitation, reverberation, attempts at reasoning, calculation, the taking of readings, fragile skin and death.
                This is in some way sublime, to appreciate this madness, the debris of the soul. To accommodate the walking through corridors, the night with its reverberation, repetition, residual attempts at reason, this is not possible.
                The sound which changes yet remains the same, an increment of difference. Nothing is here, the streets that reason for themselves, insubstantial.
                This is the nature of symbolism, the sinister quality, words and digressions that leave the subject to his or her own devices, the refinement of symbolism which is the subject.
                Where are the others? This question has no meaning in the corridor, with its lifeless faces, cold, lifeless faces and figures. To search, you must walk until you are lost.
                The rules are entirely unwritten, and you can never know them. To dream another into flesh, to allow another to dream you into flesh, to define each other in terms of language, this is the challenge. Chance is the increment of association through which the lines are drawn. This is the supernatural approach to desire, to the woman’s flesh. Passion is the excuse to violate the symbolism.
                To retrieve coded messages, the crushed written signs, to follow her across space and time—the discovery of coordinate points is a difficult matter, for they (in)constantly shift, hers and mine.
                To start in the Renaissance with a classical sense of beauty and travel in a perfectly linear fashion to the present—this requires five or more centuries and several lifetimes. The attempt to maintain linearity is the main difficulty.
                It is not so much that one walks as that one senses oneself walking through the corridor. This is a source of clarity as well as confusion, for while it is necessary to remain outside oneself, it is imperative not to stare at oneself, unless as at a shadow on the wall. After several centuries one may begin to see the fragments of red and black coalesce further along in the dark. When one finally realizes what one is watching, the thing observed disappears. Whether this is a result of the coalescence itself or is the consequence of the act of watching has not been determined.
                The initial tendency is to deny the reality of the shadows, the walls on which the shadows flicker, the corridor itself. Similarly, one might inquire whether the table, the lamp, and the desk are not also illusory. Which is to say, the table, the dresser drawer, the shadows, and the corridor exist as conventions. There is no other definition.
                The cognitive faculties may be intentionally deranged. In an infinitely decaying universe, in a universe decaying by increment, there is an attempt at disappearance. The woman has learned the technique of withdrawal—she scatters her fragments across the room in order to dissolve when no one is watching. The true nature of this technique is problematic. There exist substances in nature, crystals for instance, that are pure form. These substances exist as the structure of themselves, nothing more. They are dead. The woman feels pain.
                The mind is a machine, a program that cannot stop its function of synthesizing words and images. This is painfully apparent at cocktail receptions, weddings, and funerals. Certain acquaintances may view one as drifting off—and in a very real sense, one is drifting. For the initial step in the process of withdrawal is the removal of the mind elsewhere. This may only be accomplished when the flesh itself shatters into the red and black glowing particles that one occasionally views at the end of the corridor. Unfortunately, one learns too late that once one has started upon the road to dissolution, it is impossible to retrace one’s steps.
                None of this is clear as long as one remains on the level of the entirely personal. Such dissolution may appear to the casual observer simply to be a form of rudeness, an unwillingness to engage with one’s surroundings. The rarefaction of symbolism and the difficulties which ensue from such rarefaction will not resolve until dissolution is given a modicum of social respect. This will only be accomplished when the nonparticipating observer is himself driven to dissolve. Passion is a way, surely, but it is a short cut, a way of cheating, a refusal to cooperate with the forces of the mundane.
                This leads to a discussion of the distinction between the sublime and the mundane.
                The discourse of love has been of interest since at least the twelfth century, if not since the time of Sappho. Passion in our time is surrounded by the mundane. Cohabitation is an attempt to remove debris from the house. This is not merely difficult, but dangerous. Is it possible or even desirable to sleep next to someone and remain the same person? If drinking to excess or taking drugs were the solution, life would be far simpler.
                Similarly, art functions as an intoxicant that must be approached with care. Certain works of art are of a sufficiently mundane nature as to pose a distinct danger to the viewer. If indeed one cannot step into the same stream twice, then there are certain works one must approach with caution. The simpler and clearer the focus of one’s attention, the more misleading the result. The mundane itself is thus a labyrinth. Not all labyrinths announce themselves as such.
                To transcend the mundane, to eliminate sleep, not to eat or to rest. If life functions could be minimized, the situation would change immeasurably. In fact, we have very few nutritional requirements—we eat, sleep, and work merely to fill the space outside ourselves, merely to maintain the sense that these things are in some sense “real.”
                The woman was fascinated by laundry, shopping lists, the dinner table. She was capable of taking simple terms such as umbrella, family, and street and turning them into monsters of complexity. This is her art, and it is an art I respect, even as it is turned against me.
                Let us walk then through the corridor of our dreams, through the night, even as we have not slept. The flesh does not remember these things unless it has been trained in the techniques of the physical world, and has learned how to travel along the interstices of existence.
                This is not clear like chess—it is the mind. There is no reality other than what we create in our dreams. The refusal of the mundane reverses itself when exposed to light. This is science fiction.
                Life then is replaced by sound. If you stand still, listen—things are there.

               *                                                              *                                                             *

               The woman is not convinced, for she travels through the corridors without effort. Life is reflected endlessly, thought is infinite. She does not understand the theory behind the corridor or the night. Nor does she need to, for she is well skilled in their usage.
                Existence is nothing other than a self-referential reticence, an autobiographical opaqueness that is viewed too readily as a form of discretion. The reflected light conceals itself. Her walk, her stare is what remains.
                In such cases it may be necessary to regenerate the cells. This is what renders the work difficult. Such regeneration is not a replication, as one never returns as the same person.
                The woman is self-serving. This should not pose a problem, as it is by definition necessary to serve oneself. Narcissism is only a problem when the self is so absorbed as to shut out the light. The shutting out of the light, and thus the world, is a dangerous ploy, fraught with risk. To survive in society, desensitization is necessary. This process is occasionally labeled as reprehensible.
                The woman possesses style, subtlety, taste. She employs these attributes instinctively, which is to say, she forgets them on occasion.

               *                                                              *                                                             *

                The cylinder, the square, the phallus, the vulva—all are necessary for even the most elementary attempts at abstraction. The elegant cybernetic revenge, self-referential desire, the diagrammatic of the epicene circus is itself a form of reductionism. Life, which is in inverse ratio to decay, which is in inverse ratio to the summation of all points beyond the perimeter.
                To speak is not appropriate. There is no dependence here, nor linkage, nor submission. The difficulty resides in the matter of definition.
                The dissolute, dissolution, dis-illusioned sit motionless, to allow the world to come in through the window. The windows have needed cleaning for some time.

               *                                                              *                                                             *

                Symbolic significance is the entry to life, to death, to the inappropriate refusal to remove refuse that has plagued the corridor for some time. The calling into question of the assumptions of classical civilization is the first step, the answers to the requisite questions not precisely verifiable but nevertheless logical. There are those who are disoriented by intransigence, derision, depression, and similar difficulties, all of which may accompany travel through the corridor.
                Science is in some ways ridiculous, with its self-referential surfaces, a site-specific reflection of the surface of the mind. To refuse to subscribe to these facts is self-defeating. An intense study of the mundane is infinitely more profitable.
                The cup of coffee, the English muffin, the literal is sometimes necessary. The subject/object dichotomy is problematic—semiconductor boards, the ruins of a civilization, a universe degenerating by increment, deleted software, the central nervous system.
                The object on the table is an object, as is the table, the reserve of sleep, through which runs the danger of repetition.
                Language, truth, logic, and truth. The square root of death, complexity, shifting mirrors. To destroy the morning and the night, to elide the mundane, to erase the self.
                If one had a small black box along the lines of a cube, within which there was a labyrinth of mirrors, to live inside this box would present a problem. A figure dropped into this box would see himself as infinitely reflected.
                Life, flesh, the poetics of decay with continuous existence and specific termination. The romance of poetry, internalize this desperation, this intertwining, the sweat and perfume on her skin. How is it possible, this abandonment of character?
                The emotions provide little in the way of support—on the contrary, they present the problem in all its acuity. There is the matter of swaying. This is unfortunate, for the issue will not be resolved. If one’s true love is oneself, there is no other. If one’s love is the other, there is no self.
                To slash into her flesh to determine what the clockwork is like inside her. These foolish thoughts descend towards dawn, in a cold sweat. The ultimate desire is to transform the mundane into light, mere lust into love.
                Everyday life consistently triumphs through the vulgar, the grotesque. Passion is poisoned by something, by life perhaps. That is why we speak of dissolution here. The dissolute's dream is not a fraud, though it is a delusion.
                La Morbidezza was the name I had given her, this woman from the darkest hours of the night. This before I had attempted to claim her lips, her flesh against which I wrack myself. This before I had ever seen her.
                Perhaps the name would be more appropriate for someone else.

               *                                                              *                                                             *

                When there exists a correlation between the self and the things that surround one, one is either a lunatic or one has reached the light. Then again, there really isn’t any light.
                The woman could not tolerate the light. Neither could I. Thus the extended search through the corridors of space and time. The woman is no fool, and yet her judgment is often faulty. This is what enables her to disappear so easily. I have followed her for a long time now. Her appearance shifts—sometimes she is fair, other times dark, yet her eyes do not change. When I walk into the restaurant, office, travel agency, massage parlor where she works, we recognize each other immediately. Then commence the false moves, the shadow play. This is customary.
                Dark hair with white bones, blonde hair with black bones, which take shape in the light. The flesh is present. This is not a matter of intoxication but of clarity. The human will is a strange device.
                Desire is an embarrassment to her. The most important thing is that they watch her, provide her with a pretext to disappear through the corridor.
                Perhaps we pretend to understand the divine. To plot her coordinate points, my own coordinate points. This has little to do with theater, the scraping of chairs across stages.
                The corridor is a dust-filled hallway. The illusion is complete, to see her again for the first time. The objects reside in the light—they do not constitute the light, nor do they constitute the night.
                The destruction of the word, the destruction of the world, the corridor, the shapes without specific meaning. The woman escapes from surface to surface.
                The classical concept of beauty, destruction, ruin. Language is hell. . .

               *                                                              *                                                             *

                The woman stands in the darkened room, delivers her monologue:
                Life, death, this is nonsense. He thinks that to say “we die a little every night” is to say something profound. He doesn’t realize that there are certain emotional situations that evade the intellect.
                Emotion cannot survive here, this is the other side. The corridor, which he rather loosely and incorrectly speaks of, is difficult to find. He understands neither its function nor its operation. The corridor speaks for itself, the shadows, the lengths, the function of the line. At a certain point, common sense causes the mind to snap.
                It is fortunate that I am reborn every century, for time erodes both beauty and power.
                His is not a strong character—and I am beginning to suspect this is a medieval morality play in which his name is Tedium and mine is Vice. The space that stands between tedium and vice shrinks when light is shot upon it. What he does not realize is that I am almost completely self-satisfying. When I observe these men and women who dare to speak to me, I destroy them.
                The words are a mirror, language a hindrance. This he knows, yet he is compelled to repeat himself, to follow me across space and time. When he walks into the restaurant, office, travel agency, massage parlor where I work, I do not acknowledge him.
                The kitchen, the table, the chair, the money—these are clear. His talk of the sublime, life, death—these are not clear. He speaks of the sublime, yet it is he who is distinctly mundane, for he repeats himself with his “life, death, love, fiction.”
                The corridor is not a fiction, nor has it ever been completely traversed and mapped. It can only be traveled by following the rules. The following of rules, rules out the understanding.
                The travelers of the corridor are the carriers of death.
                Listen—I hate the dream, I hate the night and his ridiculous delusion that I am in some sense spiritual. This makes me laugh.
                This is not my voice speaking. These words are false.

               *                                                              *                                                             *

                She really does walk a fine line between sanity and something else. He is much more the master of certain situations than he is willing to admit.
                The function of the corridor is to provide us with a place in which to devour each other.
                This is not my voice that you hear. This represents nothing. You may notice that he never reaches the point. The words are repeated, again and again, weariness involves each mind, which operates slowly. This is frigidity which listens. To destroy is difficult, it is a tiresome task. The destruction of the word, the destruction of the world, itself the carrier of nothingness.
                The shadow game is serious, not manipulative but contemplative. The purpose is to remove oneself from the realm of desire. Through the night the diagrams possess a certain interest, defined by the night itself.
                He follows the woman through the darkness, through the corridor, towards a room. You may enter this room, but you must leave everything you are outside. Shapes without specific meaning, the dissolution of light. This is not his voice, nor is it hers. The corridor is indeed real. No one is there. . .

Steven Fraccaro lives and works in New York. He is the writer behind the literary blog The Recalcitrant Scrivener and has recently finished writing a novel.
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