From the Foothills of Oblivion

Fiction / Christopher Higgs

:: From the Foothills of Oblivion ::

I want to say I love you in the most unpre­dictable way, a way no one has ever said it before. When I do “tri­an­gle orange redux,” you know how and why. It’s our secret. I shouldn’t have brought it up in mixed com­pa­ny. Couldn’t help it. Could not help it. Sor­ry. Any­way, lis­ten, my son loves say­ing “recy­cling bin.” For a while he said, “psy­cho bean,” which sounds like recy­cling bin as spo­ken by a two year old if you say it out loud very care­ful­ly. Any­way, lis­ten, I wish we made our world of water­mel­on sug­ar. I real­ly do. I real­ly wish it. But we’ve nev­er had tigers here who spoke our lan­guage. No iDeath. No For­got­ten Works.

I want to say I love you but I am alone and no deeds have been done here as they were done in water­mel­on sug­ar. Let me let go of this, can I? Can we do that for me, please? For us. Okay? Okay. Thanks. I need to clear my throat and get some air and regroup and remem­ber that time I bust­ed that ring of sovi­et cock­tail hus­tler video game adja­cent bel­liger­ent fid­get­ing sur­ren­der of every per­son to the equal oppor­tu­ni­ty cen­ter near­est the cul­prit who turned out to be none oth­er than the mys­te­ri­ous injunc­tion against the infe­ri­or pos­te­ri­or amphib­ian barom­e­ter in the alpine recre­ation loca­tions of every sin­gle archi­tect on this side of the Rock­ies? Jesus Christ Carter get a fuck­ing clue, get a fuck­ing god­damn clue you blue faced quar­ter shaped apple with a rot­ten core. Cen­ter break neck speed toward the alpha­bet we least want spo­ken in these parts; trust me, you do not want to switch alpha­bets at this moment because the part of this sto­ry where present­ly we reside affords lit­tle but a not good place to switch; the ban­dits around here are more like­ly some­one try­ing to kill us or rob us or tell us a lie and catch us with our pants down than any­thing else; we could wind up back in prison if the lights snap on at the wrong injunc­tion if you know what I mean. Of course you know what I mean, you wrote the book on dubi­ous injunc­tions.

I want to say I love you but we work at the uni­ver­si­ty which trans­lates to: we could get shot at any moment. Let’s not think about it. If we think about it, we may get para­noid. No need to get para­noid. Para­noia results from the effect of too much of some­thing in your brain. To coun­ter­act it you need to bal­ance it with some­thing akin to its oppo­site, or you need to wait it out because what­ev­er trans­gres­sion you have made can resolve itself in time. Time equal­izes. I’m prob­a­bly the first per­son to ever say that phrase, so let me go ahead and make sure to copy­right it. Time equal­izes©. Now I own it, right? So if any­body wants to use that phrase they have to pay me. God I love this coun­try. Amer­i­ca! Fuck yeah!

I want to say I love you before the sun sets over the Pacif­ic. Before the sun and moon and stars snapped into exis­tence, pre­sum­ing they snapped into exis­tence at some point, at some point when life began we began, but we began before as star par­ti­cles but before the star par­ti­cles what? Our ances­try will nev­er get dis­cov­ered. Like­ly we will nev­er know from whence we came. Even now with our robot bod­ies and our immor­tal­i­ty, how­ev­er could we hope to dis­cov­er the ori­gin of the ori­gin of the uni­verse? But even if we could, then what? Say we some­how accom­plished it. What then? Do we go search­ing for the ori­gin of the ori­gin of the ori­gin of the uni­verse? And then on to the next iter­a­tion to infin­i­ty? Per­haps a cer­tain line of work involves crevices or whole holes into par­al­lel uni­vers­es where aer­o­bic, or should I say acer­bic, or should I say fel­low patrons of this sen­tence let me set the record straight, or dis­co, or blight, or fog­gy up the win­dows I’m prepar­ing to, we’re prepar­ing to, we want to for­go or for­age or for­feit or for­get. Miette said, “Go to The For­got­ten Works.” I know he said it, we know he said it. They all know who said the flames last touched by the least par­ti­san woman in the his­to­ry of police states and quan­tum mechan­ics deserves the medal most giv­en for hon­or, but hon­est­ly why ask ques­tions? Why ever ask ques­tions about any­thing?

I want to say I love you despite the pri­vate investigator’s find­ings. The least accept­able mode of trans­porta­tion these days seems bet­ter than nev­er leav­ing your couch. We get endorse­ments, you’d nev­er know it. You play the fid­dle in a brass band and won­der why no one wants to hang out with you. Play by the rules, fine. Play your gut-string harp or par­ent a pigeon or jerk off a jack o’ lantern or find a Fris­bee or give up more room while all gal­li­vant­i­ng around. Make excus­es. Make a loud sound. Buy beer. Drink beer. Buy more beer. Drink all the beer. Pass out. Wake up in jail cov­ered in vom­it. Chunks of vom­it in your beard. We can see it. We didn’t want to tell you about the sub­ject of the doc­u­men­tary. Didn’t want to spoil it. Wait and see for your­self. Love makes moun­tains out of how­ev­er many nails com­bined equals a quar­ter. Imag­ine a four­teen-hun­dred-year-old ghost slather­ing her­self on my sis­ter. Our sis­ter. We have a sis­ter. We see our sis­ter in pic­tures. We left gate yawn trig­ger fig­ure, sev­en, fig­ure eight, fig­ure a dif­fer­ent, or should I say alter­na­tive route. Take the side streets. Van Nuys suf­fers a bad rep­u­ta­tion but in this new world all the gang­sters line up on the side of the road to show off their hotrods. One tricked out wheel­ie all pumped full of hydraulics. Flash­back to Boyz n the Hood. We watched Boyz n the Hood con­stant­ly, enough to mem­o­rize the whole thing. Same as Goonies. Mem­o­rized it. Star Wars Ewok Adven­ture? Mem­o­rized it. Sav­age Steve Holland’s ’80s clas­sic One Crazy Sum­mer? Mem­o­rized it. Nev­er you mind how many movies I mem­o­rized as a kid because I watched them over and over. Also music. We’ve mem­o­rized a good deal of music. Late ’80s to late ’90s jams com­pose a good deal of our knowl­edge, my knowl­edge, we have shared knowl­edge, you know. Love means nev­er hav­ing to nev­er ever again. Did you know Erich Segal, the guy who wrote the book turned into the movie Love Sto­ry, “was denied tenure at Yale and Love Sto­ry was igno­min­ious­ly bounced from the nom­i­na­tion slate of the Nation­al Book Awards after the fic­tion jury threat­ened to resign. ‘It is a banal book which sim­ply doesn’t qual­i­fy as lit­er­a­ture,’ said Pulitzer Prize-win­ning nov­el­ist and fic­tion jurist William Sty­ron. The Nation­al Book Award for fic­tion that year went to Saul Bel­low for Mr. Sammler’s Plan­et,” accord­ing to the LA Times? Why care about any­thing any­more? Why lis­ten to any­one? Why allow any­thing inside? Why not build up a wall, learn how to write code and become a her­mit work­ing from home writ­ing code for some mega code com­pa­ny over­seas? Almost every­thing we have rests on the coast of Switzer­land. What coast? you might ask. Per­haps. Per­haps you’d ask. And we would say, “The coast of nev­er end­ing sui­cide.” We want to dis­pel the rumors of ecsta­sy or beyond. When you take your last gasp, you nev­er breathe again. Nev­er. You can’t imag­ine it so don’t even try. To under­stand death one must expe­ri­ence death. We don’t believe any­one can imag­ine death. The undead believe in death. We believe in ceas­ing. Los­ing cohe­sion. Becom­ing some­thing else. Dis­solv­ing. Dis­in­te­grat­ing. Becom­ing gaseous. Feed­ing bugs. Feed­ing plants. Feed­ing every lev­el from the sub­atom­ic on up through the humans eat­ing car­rots from the Hol­ly­wood Farm­ers’ Mar­ket. We see celebri­ties and fawn. We get auto­graphs in a lit­tle pow­der blue note­book car­ried around always. We always car­ry around the auto­graph book. Who knows what might could hap­pen? Who knows when we’ll ever get that close to them again? Don’t tell about the time at the 1998 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val when we approached indie princess Park­er Posey but instead of intro­duc­ing our­selves like nor­mal humans we approached her from the side, toward her back, and when we neared her enough to take in a whiff of her hair we took it. We stood a foot away and leaned in and smelled her hair deeply, deeply smelled her scent, inhaled her scent deeply, her hair. We told this anec­dote once in front of a crowd of peo­ple and record­ed it on a cas­sette tape, the lead­ing method at the time, and then after tran­scrib­ing the tape and lis­ten­ing to the tape, what it pro­duced star­tled me, star­tled us, star­tled every­body pre­sum­ably. Most glar­ing­ly we repeat­ed the issues fac­ing moth­er nature lat­er today after the masseuse and Paul and Gerbin and Joyste found pri­vate lives to assume and the Con­rad atten­tion bol­stered all sorts of aggres­sion, then and only then could we even con­sid­er elab­o­rat­ing on the ancient alpha­bet for Oren or Thatch or Chri­men. None of those fuck­ers get the gift if any one of them fails to trans­port delec­table treats afford­ably. Para­chute and foil. Draw a farewell scepter or grant a fugi­tive a par­ent for a day and ask the lord for for­give­ness. We can­not excuse the hand­ful of wrong­do­ings post­ed before the ele­vat­ed con­fer­ence of paper tow­els and dolls made of paper tow­els. All along we tell secrets. Do you catch secrets? How could you? Grand­ma needs to talk about a pony. Poet­ry? No, a pony. Ask anoth­er day.

I want to say I love you, don’t you remem­ber? Can’t you recall? Must I con­tin­ue to say it over and over? What pow­er do we har­ness from rep­e­ti­tion?

I want to say I love you but I’ve already said it twice today. Who am I now, Gertrude Stein? Are we Gertrude Stein? How many times can one say the phrase “I love you” and still hope to con­jure the same lev­el of sig­nif­i­cance?

I love the love of lov­ing you while in love with you I love you more than lov­ing you can be said to love. After every­thing every­one extolled. After all the pur­ple. After all the inch­worms. The poi­son­ing inci­dent. The flock of angry geese. Killer bees. The ser­i­al killer slash hit­man. We can­not tell a lie. We can­not tell a truth. We can­not tell any­thing with­out exhibit­ing both liar face and truth teller face. Go fig­ure. And ask your­self, what else is love but a knife with­out a tor­so to slip into? We for­get. I for­get. We hide. I hide.

We fre­quent and dri­ve and para­chute with­out for­give­ness. And I do, too. And like Frank Stan­ford said, “I am watch­ing you from the foothills of obliv­ion.”

 

From the writer

:: Account ::

Reread­ing Richard Brauti­gan, think­ing about love. Think­ing about think­ing. Think­ing about language’s inabil­i­ty to sig­ni­fy. Think­ing on the page. Show­ing my work. Want­i­ng des­per­ate­ly to say what can­not be said. Caught in the well, the void. Caught in space, a vac­u­um. Want­i­ng what can nev­er mate­ri­al­ize. Want­i­ng for the sake of want­i­ng. Find­ing con­nec­tions between cog­ni­tion and imag­i­na­tion, iden­ti­ty and per­for­mance, sto­ry and report, pri­vate lan­guage and pub­lic dis­course. Inhab­it­ing the present. Inhab­it­ing my body. Inhab­it­ing the stress of wak­ing and mov­ing and beg­ging with­out beg­ging. This doc­u­ment presents my own asso­cia­tive think­ing habits, a com­po­si­tion of my brain’s chem­i­cal neu­ro­log­i­cal synap­tic func­tion, unen­cum­bered by the dic­tates of the dom­i­nant dis­course sur­round­ing “good fic­tion” or “well-writ­ten fic­tion.” I’m inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing what only I can cre­ate, only I can com­pose, only I can assem­ble, in the rad­i­cal­ly per­son­al way I cre­ate, com­pose, assem­ble. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion doesn’t inter­est me in art. Instead I pre­fer provo­ca­tion. This stands as an exam­ple.

 

Christo­pher Hig­gs lives in Los Ange­les where he teach­es nar­ra­tive the­o­ry and tech­nique at Cal State North­ridge. His newest book, a con­straint-based mem­oir enti­tled As I Stand Liv­ing, came out this past Feb­ru­ary from the #RECURRENT imprint at Civ­il Cop­ing Mech­a­nisms. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he wrote The Com­plete Works of Mar­vin K. Mooney: a nov­el (Sator Press, 2010), and assem­bled the S.P.D. #1 Best­selling nov­el ONE, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Blake But­ler and Vanes­sa Place (Roof Books, 2012). In addi­tion, he’s pub­lished two chap­books and numer­ous short­er works for venues such as AGNI, Den­ver Quar­ter­ly, Glob­al Queer Cin­e­ma, and The Paris Review Dai­ly.