He is a type of worm. Not just a bookworm, but a multilayered, multimedia little annelid, perhaps the same one Machado dedicated his works to, but maybe not. Always talking of wormholes, and when doing so one is always tempted to think of them as his holes, not necessarily through a continuum space-time in the physical sense, but as something purer, much more fundamental and general, but also much more particular and local, much more Personal than Einsteinian sheets and bridges and all those monstrosities. He talks a lot about teleportation, but one is really tempted to translate the term as worming out. As a worm, the thing he dreaded to become was imprisoned, like those apple munchers, but he also dreaded, perhaps even more, of becoming too free, without the earth enveloping his body all around. And he tried to do something, sometimes anything, as people tended to tell him to, incapable of understanding why such a universal talent wasted away doing nothing at all, nothing useful, never thinking of the future. But he mostly felt no urge to do anything, when he did, he just stopped himself and rejoiced in the fantasy instead – doing something inside his mind was enough, and he was transported somewhere else, and, as he stopped going out, his mind started to wander more, and adventure. When he wrote, or drew, or composed, or even calculated something, he would just throw it away as soon as it was finished, or the thing stopped its enjoyment of the process. This was how he survived his Day, his long, droll, hot days of school – or the first laborious phase of them; before the Lightning Snake coiled its thundering way out of him by the mouth.
One such worming-out, on the problem of not will, nor intention, but of wanting something, anything at all, as the pink and white garças crossed the pink and white sky: Sometimes indifference is the key, the key to a future, to a healing, time to think and change. Many people, especially teens, just stop feeling things, they become numb, mild. That is ok. You need time. Sometimes the changes are too much or all at once. You need time to figure yourself out, to grow, to restore some capacity and relearn things. If you cannot watch your mother cry anymore, if you come to hate her voice and her sobbing, just know that it will pass. It is because you love her that you lie to yourself about hating her. She knows that, she understands, so take your time. More importantly, how alike stars we are! So infinitely different, yet exactly alike. How vastly distant from one another, but as close as grains of sand in a beach, or drops in an ocean. How many colors, and no color at all, or each all the colors, or all black, or all white, or all gray or grey or each a different shade of gay. We group in firm constellations, but how arbitrary they are! Constantly pulsing differently, how enduring are we! And, as soon as the thought closed, it was time to throw it away without a farewell or much care; it was, after all, just another colorful cliché slowly losing its color in the background, and he was, after all, just naturally moving from sky to stars to something unimaginable beyond; that was done before, an uncountable number of times, entropying empty trope by now. He cringed. The sky darkened, incoming rain.
Where there is an exceptional journey full of passion crystallized as apprenticeship, the formation years of a young prospect, there is a lurking ghost, and this ghost is many in one, or appears as many to one; it is Legion, a secret society guiding the bright, tasty testee from infinitely far and impossibly close, smelling his aura as he walks through a desolated land, nurturing it by feeding off of the excess; it all the same is a business, an operation, and the apprentice no more than a bimbo towards his initiation. These forces, these cosmic rulers, want to select their ephebi, their hecatomb, bottleneck the ones to mature to manhood like a child experiments with maturing axolotls, forcefully pushing them to metamorphosis by gradually reducing the water level of the tank; needless to say how this hurts the animal. And you think it unnatural? Nature is invented by these guys. In Ulysses, there is an implicit giant, one that just grew out of proportions by a miracle. It travelled crossing the gnomic sea by bare feet and laughter, like Gulliver, only to be fought against and ultimately killed, rising upon shore and dismembered. Like Osiris, his body, still individually alive, his pieces functional, would be dispersed through the land, carelessly buried or lazily abandoned at the surface to rot. Unrotting, but changing, each part would assimilate the land, changing it and being changed by it in turn. By some applied deductions, it is believe it had a name, or has one, but technology is still too young to know for certain. His name was buried alongside many organs, and the giant remains unnamed, but not nameless. At least until he would wake up again. Is it coincidence that last-week work’s new words were jumbled together to form a cohesive soup? That wasn’t any good.
“Sing all the trees and musks. Lichen, algii and fungi alike…” he lies there, echoing in drunken swirls of semi-conscious agony… “Be alive or no more. Sing now, no more whispers. I am here. I am yours.” On a soccer field, half-abandoned, almost-dead with already receding hairlines of dry grass, weak and pale, but all the more beautiful for it, blowing in the wind that almost plucks everything violently. He stares at the sky, half-blankly, half-ecstatic, basking under the sun his overabundant gift for perception. The place is deserted, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else besides himself and the occasional passing person that, upon noticing him being there, has a minor spooky-scare followed by an embarrassed chuckle when realizing someone was there to see how they act when there is no one to see. The world is too big. “I can’t hold it inside.” I think I’m going to explode if I keep thinking. “Or would I implode?”He cannot even distinguish the voice inside his head from his actual voice sometimes, like this one. Seizure and a summary of a theme. Since I can’t hold it inside, this surely has to be a “theme of my life”. And when I can hold it inside, maybe I will enjoy more of it all. All these young, daring people he related to, in books, ambitious people who most of the time petrified in the face of their own deformed aspirations, all of them were “assholes”. He hated himself for it, but not really, while he loved them for daring not to see themselves, bunch of waterless, mirrorless Narcissuses. He longed to be an underdog, the underfed, low IQ, savant of so many shounen manga, he wanted to be worthy and not even know it. He had the effortless disposition, yet he wanted the survival-like transgression, the sense of urgency, the stuff of movement, of something new happening under the sun. He couldn’t even sweat anymore under the sun.
“Used it all at once, again.”
Eyes closed, just feeling what is there. What is there? A line of cows bells-tolling in the distance, a lady carrying her recycled plastic bags that notices him lying there when she tries to pick her nose while singing a random last-week’s novela’s tune, and a new definition as to how tackle the notion of an answer to the question of humanity: what separates humans from animals? Well, each human is an animal, and that is it, the surplus is just quanta of… evil – of the undefinable… or that which is beyond that, also. So the humanity of someone is measured by the amount of– when she almost stepped on his face, quickly apologizing in sweaty feats of hand gestures. For a moment there seeing his future, instead of his past. “There is no need”. He thinks about offering help, to carry her bags for her – but ultimately loses his chance. A 3-footed 1-eyed dog follows the woman. It’s probably not hers. She seems to pay no mind. He nods, the dog nods back. She looked at him like some tragedy; a beautiful ghost, a broken robot, an artifact lost between dimensions of time, he got looks like that, of an empathetic melancholy – you could see her forming smile, the heart racing, the sense of a story-to-come about the weirdly handsome boy who lies on random patches and speaks English to himself. One single bee buzzing about, threatening a sting to a face, and, talking of venom, there are probably snakes around. What can you do… “Shōganai”.
Flowers bloom on the Ipês, and it smells “phantastique”. An exhausted post-civilization looking more like disbanded fish-schools of dogs grouping about try to put a chase on him, but he is ultimately saved by his companion, a small but muscular creature in constant hypnotic state, blacker than coffee, and loyal as they come. He bolts running out of nowhere, with his black eyes and black nails, with the black fur make him all the more visible in daylight, so fast that his tongue sticks over one of his eyes, faster than his little legs can take, almost stumbling countless times, having to jump not to fall. Mid-air, he reveals a beautiful set of white teeth, the only other color besides his pink gums, bigger than normal, whatever that means, which makes him look like some sort of quirky pre-historic mammal frozen in frame like a good-quality splash-art. He looks almost-smiling, and the tail-wag could accompany as choreography to a fast-paced 8-bit classic video-game theme song. And, after the successful landing, he continues there wagging his chopped-off tail, rolling on the earth and dried-up sand, intently staring to some hallucination or superhuman, or subhuman, presence, a mirage in the scorching heat, as usual, orbiting the master like a personal satellite, smelling like burnt bacon and aftershave, trash and expired beer, the whiff of home.
Planes pass overhead. The cloud-turning smoke trails of jets and rockets in the sky, all forming above. Spasms flow from his center, his soul being yanked from his body to the abode, while it grows heavier and penetrates the ground simultaneously. The moss covering over the old buildings all around, generously sparsed, broken pillars, missing ceilings, new ruins in the making, an almost-jungle with 2-meter tall capim blades forming over his childhood playgrounds; hidden places. And everything is illuminated, if only inside his head. He smokes a long blade, imagining it a cigar, or a vape-pen, scorching humidity that slipstreams by the nostrils, fire-breathing in the dying drought.
Yes, the woman did look at him strange, as if he was an odd boy. It was “ok”. Maybe he was an odd guy, and that was “ok” too. That would, maybe, illuminate that woman’s hard day, even if only a little and for fast time, subconscious laughter. Even great poetry begins by a subtle slow coiling all the way through our minds, it can use from the smallest amount of words, a napkin, a twitter post, a catatonic orgasm, a strange human-like cat meowing in the distance. Lying prostrate there in his demented tiredness, hollowed to a pulp on the ground, he is only grateful. Grateful for his life up until now, even if that would be all of it. Grateful for his generation being the toughest there ever was, the most just, or at least earnestly trying to, most warrior, of the right kind, that knows what it wants and is not afraid nor sluggish to not only say it but to actually go and get it. Already running out of ideas, his little fast-illuminated head continued: Grateful for Walt Whitman. How puerile and empty would that moment be without the Celtic unruly fortress, built stone-by-stone by that electric sage, just for him, a boy questioning his boyhood, living at the other side of the Americas, but not really only for him. It impregnated his wild senses, stimulated his awareness. Indeed, his body felt electric in more ways than one, and it was marvelous since he began educating his imagination. Since then, each time his head lit up with the scorching light of – it felt good, so good, in fact, he sometimes orgasmed. It was the best orgasm since his first one, which hurt a “good kind of pain”. This one was the same, and it did not involve anyone else. The mental “issues” a lot of people suffer from, a lot of times are not painful in a bad way, something like a seizure can be a sensual experience, even a spiritual one. That is how he liked to think.
He was grateful for his natural learning dispositions, good sense of drive and intelligence that effortlessness attuned him, as in geodesic route, to the right course. For his luck, that succeeded in feats, from making him learn some other languages such as English, that opened a whole new world to him, full of possibilities, to saving him from certain death multiple times. And, of course, for the Internet, that saved his life in a different way, and was the reason he could learn those things and recently find work to get out of dire holes. Grateful for the best, smelliest, ugliest, foul, delicious weed, and other drugs. That he could find that doggo before the worst came to happen. For anime, and, most of all, for the pain that made him latch-on so desperately to these things, that hollow middleclass pain that is not empty in the slightest.
Trash and dejects from the festival everywhere. People made a fuss. Dogs kick bottles around and fight over used condoms. The sun begins to quite literally boil some unfortunate spots of the park. But still, he had more jobs to do, and a loaded 60 hours of tasks, without counting the time looking for more work, that all waited ahead this week.
Lying there, focusing on getting up, he could feel his aura flowing through his body. He focused on the extremities, from the tip of his nose to his toe and asshole going through his body and out by the pee-hole. It flowed serene as does everything when you are most tired, functioning on borrowed strength. He desbraves the wilderness, trailblazing for the rest of us. He explores and fails and succeeds on new grounds, the virtual ones. Too-noo-nooom… “He is a freelancer”… as the dark rings under the eyes notice themselves as the brain blanks, each day more automatized – coffee-enhanced to a cybernetic level, and of coffee there would be no shortage. That tree as old as me, but so much taller. The American Dream is the World’s Nightmare, don’t you know, Walt…
I do not want to remain here; it is becoming too clogged in here. I want to bring my here elsewhere – everywhere, ideally. It goes like this: Wilhelm’s son is Werther, who killed Mariane, his budding romance with a couple that renounced his romanticized version of them. Had Goethe only one play in him? And all the rest was just he trying to get there; hardly a just anything, even the thousand-word prologue for Faust is still Faustian. Like Joyce had one novel in him, which he wrote three times as maturation, infancy, then adulthood, journey, and old age, death. The second one is more of a manifesto than anything else, an experiment, the setting of a protagonist as the Dubliners were the setting of a land. Better, the transfixation of a land into a fictional axis, and the transfiguration of a person into a character of said land. Solve et coagula, then dissolve back; from dust to dust; fieldwork, groundwork, then unification, production, and the heaping, back to dust as if in a dream. There has to be something else, that couldn’t be all. Lying on a flat ground, dreaming of mountains – of surfaces, aural heats in dark-green shaping things like the rugged Indica, the apple of the eye, or the corner of it, that burns quietly: Pay no mind, no attention to the girl across the street. She doesn’t deserve you. She doesn’t even want you. Right now you travel above the stars; you make friends of that which is beyond shapes and forms. And yet, your internal voice sounds too much like the ad I just made. Wake up, again, time to go. So much to do . . . and nothing to do. . . . But where to go? One can be anywhere and have nowhere to go. . . . Inkless tattoos moving on the back, never getting a real one. 1, 2… 2.5… 3… Up-up!
Big Olinda dolls all around, intently staring nowhere, half-formed sneering smile. They stare and sneer like ashy dolphins can be heard laughing of their favorite tragicomedy in the distance – too remote to relate to. In their goliath size the black of the eye disappears in the white, and vice-versa, looping in revolving directions like old cartoon visual tips for lunacy and looney-antics-on-the-way gags. They would make one uncomfortable had only anyone room for internal note-making. Maybe I have too much of it, too much milk – a brain too fat to stop thinking when it is unneeded. I would rather have–the bee died. It is almost as if the world is trying to teach me the secrets of unthought, what one can do to stop—fuck! It’s alive.
Once again, and I become too poetic for my own taste of myself, not to mention the sodden smell; who am I now? A cracked egg gushing forth, cackling. A resonating string that tears the horizon, a chaotic reverberation that wounds the recirculating environs – a line of cows? But rain in-comes to drench even the crevices of the abyssal land. A too-entropic a note to come from paws striking the ground: people – post-diluvian thorn-full feet restless from holiday hunger. Caretas. Bells tolling, hoes moaning – the incoming fight goes in turns like golden-era RPGs; a desolated MMO PK-area, and I must work – now with a sting swelling-up. I should’ve known, it’s already that time. More like a line of ataxia – that’s a good word – pandemonium – ruckus – brouhaha… hubbub? Where do I know this one from?!
Knowing of the potential for trouble, he monologues in slow-motion: should I or should I not get up and off of here – or should he downright just stand his ground? Not much patience for man-upping in this one. He did not even know if he wanted to be a man, after all. It is not as easy a choice as with the dogs, or maybe it was easier – or much the same. The fact of comparing the two proves so confusing that the clear answer must be in-between the two, not in either of the choices. It must be much simpler for dogs; I wonder what this one thinks – as dirt is pawed to his mouth. “Não vai!” Doesn’t even need a command, he goes like an untamed monster, a pokeball-defying pokémon. As if teleporting, first he yanks a bite off one, then the scream, and the bells stop – if one were to get off of the place quickly, that was the chance – then the bells tolling again, louder and faster, closer and closer, and closer; the materializing shapes in the distance, deformed by the irregular heat haze, as fast turn back and the bells toll harder when the army of dogs, like anarchically organized sardines, put a chase on them, not accepting the front assaulter as their leader, but nevertheless following him for probably unrelated reasons.
And they are gone, just like that, leaving a barking trail that slowly fades back into the earth. I guess it is really time to go now.
Then the old playground, all mossy and abandoned now; how many hours spent expanding one’s world along these bars, later escaping this same world that became too big, and forgetting it, turning it manageable again, taking time to digest it into smaller worlds. How many dilated seconds-turned-minutes, sometimes entering the realm of hours, descending from this stone slide. They are all so small today. I wonder if my butt could fit in he—“ah.” But one remained, hidden. When the dogs unleashed, he played dead in the upper part of the slide.
A potato sack for a mask, two holes for eyes, none for air, and no mouth – one of the eyes hidden by a misshaped hole; grains of raw rice crumpled, falling one by one by the sides. It stares without looking – there is no one behind to animate it, it exists despite a face. Out of time, is it really here? –, not here, but now? When I feel it, the warm thing slipping into my pants’ side pocket. So much for trying to impressionism the way out of life. It always ends in violence. When – out of nowhere – the unarmored knight, devouring all semblance of light with a growing open mouth as the bare black body, unshining as a moving and cursed dark-moon not even alive, screaming with the mute realization of perfect entrapping diversion performed by pure instinct, jumped as if materializing through space, from one point to another, not respecting known physical laws of displacement, and teared the mask of the apparition, revealing half of its face to be nothing but human, unmistifying what before had some potency.
I was too courteous to even land a punch. He was three quarters of my age and disappeared in the distance when I blinked.
He tried to steal me; my pockets… and my face. The face used the fact of the mask as diversion, he understood that by instinct. The face is always ugly – the mask is what is beautiful. That potato sack, though… humanizing by showing the inhumanity. Moments before getting up again, he could once more look at those bitter sweet-amber eyes, always smiling with blood-covered teeth, full-noon loyalty’s flag-colors. To be bare, or to hide – where I am, when I am there, what I do and when and where I do it you will always just assume. Rough coughing and shallow breathing, doesn’t even try to reciprocate my looking-at-him, he knows, he has the smelling, and the hearing, he just knows it, placing himself in the world is effortless – to human eyes, at least. Wagging the semi-tail, relentless, even though reddened over the black fur, he finally looks at me with so innocent a face as to shame even that most precious of Christian babes. I would much rather have your smile, no one can see your eyes or nose, only the teeth and ears are to show.
“Por que não deixou ele roubar meu rosto?”
“…” He only barks once.
“Why didn’t you let he steal my face?”
“…” He only barks once, again.
“You look the coolest right now, dog.”
Moments before teleporting to the car. At least it felt that way. Because…what happened next was too puerile to be remembered, so was what happened prior – and what happens now. He is, after all, a worm. And he forgets he has no car.
Emanuel Magno lives in the region of Cariri, a liminal space and natural reserve in Brazil. He works as a nomad-like type of linguist and does metaphysical research at the Federal University of Cariri. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.