“My Eyes, My Eyes, My Eyes” by Donald Zagardo

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Image by Caterina Giglio

A trend is a law that has yet to hatch, to become, turned to steel. Lucky children with hormonal madness incline toward trend, but I am an adult. I worry as an adult would, about silly things, like trends becoming laws. How handy it will be, how much fun, how rude to have tiny cameras in one’s head instead of eyes. For the world to see right through and record for posterity, every sight and sound, one would assume. Michel Foucault one hundred years ago would have adored the idea, but not really adored. Each man a prisoner, a jailer, a spy, each a Hollywood actor. But I have always liked my eyes, my normal sized, medium brown eyes and never really liked Foucault. How did we come to this, I must inquire? Surveillance, Michel’s Panopticon, the final surveillance, once upon a time. But who then would have dreamed of such a bloody, audacious move? It is not yet the law: to have one’s eye balls replaced. Not yet: it’s just what all the “right people” do, celebrities and such, for all the right reasons, whatever they may be. It’s all for us you see.

Will you watch my own world through my own eyes, with your eyes? Will I watch your world fall apart and be rebuilt? I will watch you live and die. Will my new eyes expire when I die, or will they be donated to a less fortunate man or woman, when I no longer have use for them? To those in need of surveillance eyes, the interior Panopticon? Who the hell needs such a thing? But it’s just a trend for now, my friend, not a law. Worry not dear world, dear universe. But I worry, I do worry so much.

A life to share: love and passion, friends and loneliness, eating, drinking, pissing and shitting, smoking and not smoking, moments of embarrassment, anger, violence, peace. Were you watching through Thomas’ eyes last night? Wasn’t that something to see? Can’t wait to do it again tonight. He’s so juvenile and Thomas really does love that little girl next door, doesn’t he?

Cutting edge surgery: no doubt, the best in the world, no pain, no bleeding. Twenty minutes in and out, and you have yourself new eyes, in any color you choose. Price is insignificant, the hardware flawless, you’re online in a jiffy, but the idea? That’s what significantly concerns me, and I normally say yes to anything.  

Foucault would rollover in his grave. Does Michel Foucault have a grave, somewhere? Surveillance as entertainment (Oh God!). Sharing is caring! Who said that?

My eyes, my eyes, my eyes have seen so many wonderful and terrible things, that I do not care to give up to the shameless world. East and West coast Sunrises and Sunsets that live in a secret part of my heart and mind, the sight of my naked lover whose remarkable beauty is only for me. Tears and fears, oceans of piss, snow and tropical sunshine, but how can I say no? Hollywood, New York, London and Milan, everyone who’s anyone! Come and get ‘em: your new blue or green, grey or brown eyes. Super eyes! Join the Here and Now, the everyone that’s anyone! It takes but a few moments, and there’s virtually no pain. You’re online in seconds, like magic. And everyone is doing it, has done it in fact.

Dear Michel Foucault: Sorry to forsake your ancient, worn-out, well-meaning thesis. Total surveillance has begun in my land, in my head, in its own time. The world is watching itself today. We are prisoners, we are jailers, but we are truly free. The call to commonality, to oneness, the New Humanity was formidable, maddening, irresistible. It then brought liberation, fearlessness and concord. It was a fashionable choice at first, then a law, as we suspected it would be, you and me. My eyes belong to the blessed populace and their eyes to me. We are becoming on being, one soul, liberated, valiant, eternal. Of course we are, Michel Foucault. Of course we are.

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Zagardo is a former Professor of Modern History at St. John’ University, NY. He has a life-long passion for literature, both reading and writing. In the past few years he has directed his writing efforts toward short stories and flash-fiction. He is presently assembling a collection of his own work. Donald lives and writes in New York City. He enjoys international travel, foreign languages and photography.

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“Screwed: A Politically Charged Party Anthem” by Vanessa Maki

System Log

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The word “screwed” is commonly used as a sexual term, or to describe a difficult situation. Think of the amount of times you’ve heard the term used interchangeably. With the fifth track on “Dirty Computer” Janelle and Zoe utilize both meanings.

In the world we live in there’s always been a looming of disgust towards sexual expression. Not to mention sexual freedom (especially when it pertains to marginalized bodies). And the government doesn’t make it all that easy either. Nor does Trump being in office. People like him want to set the world back and make people scared that it’ll go that way. They want us to feel “screwed”.

With the lines:

“And I, I, I hear the sirens calling

And the bombs are falling in the streets

We’re all screwed”

it’s referencing Trump’s prior tweeting about going to war with North Korea. And it presents us with the other meaning of screwed.

“You fucked the world up now, we’ll fuck it all back down”

A tour bus incident is what birthed this line but Janelle also went onto to say this:

“It also is a conversation to be had about how women, how women of color in particular are out on the front lines. When you think about certain wars … when you think about the war between south and the north when we were fighting to end slavery. It was black folks and it was women in particular on the front lines, we were the first people out there. And i think that continues to happen, you continue to see us … clean up a lot of shit.”

This song is supposed to make you bop and dance but also think about the state of the world. What’s happening, what continues to happen and what should no longer be happening. Being screwed by the world doesn’t feel good and it never has. Though another question comes to mind and it’s – what do you want to do about it?  Janelle’s ability to make you deep think is an absolute gift. She’s a true artist and “Dirty Computer” is a true masterpiece.

The outro is Janelle calling out so many aspects of society that make various people feel screwed. Expressing your valid anger as a black woman is more often frowned upon. Though Janelle is explicitly unapologetic about addressing  Free the Nipple, equal pay, corruption, beauty standards, Trump’s scam of an election, protesting and last but not least– black men who claim to be apart of black empowerment but keep spewing harmful rhetoric.

Vanessa Maki is a queer writer,artist & other things. She’s full of black girl magic & has no apologizes for that. Her work has appeared in various places like Really System & others. She is also forthcoming in a variety of places. She’s founder/EIC of rose quartz magazine & is involved in other spaces as well.  Follow her twitter & visit her site

Found: A Letter for the Art of Love and Colors by Paul Michael Whitfield

Outlying the Avenues

Dear,

In Safe and Sound,

 

I write as the crow flies—ashore, on the hard. Something’s happened, my friend. I’m aground, at liberty, and I think you must know. You’re on a run, of course, and a leg from the vanishing angle. There’s nothing so much to say, after all. A sliding pond across the pond, to think of it! And so, I write to you, the manifest all theirs.

I was leadsman and three sheets to the wind after a jump. The shifting tides felt like wild gleams, and yelling, “La mal du siècle est le fin de siècle!”

The quiet quite still and, the ocean conceiving itself a pond, so said staid:

“At times, there arrives a silence of such definitive conviction, only breathlessness awaits in reply. Before a heavy void, abrupt in infinitesimal place, broad-bosomed earth spawns light, deities, and creatures. And yet void stands, eerily genial in a forbidding concealedness it abides, exact—heavy-handed with the awesome settling of null. There are, of course, those remnants of Iapetus’ progeny: a thoughtful, doomed unconcealedness of the world.”

There were dripping sounds at this, I remember, and the wet of tell-tale and the atmosphere. Some of us had silently smoked, like xylological fumes. We were trees, my friend, and the pond was… always water and wet. The drink. Something was happening.

“The world is everything that is the case.”

And, said so, that pond in the middle of the forest talked with the batch of banked reeds about how little our Sol’s rays were involved in its ecosystem. The whole forest listened quietly, and over the following seasons many limbs slowly spread above the pond, until it sighed its happy content of a cool summer to the reeds. As autumn set, the brisk air began ossifying all these ponderous bodies, crisping icy plates on its blooming surface which melted each morning, inviting fauna and flora to sink themselves with stark refreshment.

Appreciating such communal spirit, the pond rippled a quiet return to the forest and limbs.

Later, in a womb of the icing winter, the pond lazily sludged along its floor shipping nutrient muds and clays below its breeding, frozen husk. Snuggled with the earth beneath, it glowed its reverent anticipation of the coming spring thaw. Then, it glimmered, it would banter its banks and banked reeds with freshwater biota and loudly call in laughter to the limbs just above, swinging:

“A no-sided, 4-sided figure is unfathomable—even confusingly so—to our so natural bodies, but what about that rule entails that there, in fact, is or is not a round square object, somewhere? All objects are possible objects?”

Like at some Jack a Jonah rippling the state, we’d listened poised—frozen by such cold.

“In such a proposition—and eo ipso statement, etc., etc.—is it not that its subject noun’s adjective is epistemically dissimilar, categorically, from the predicate noun’s adjective, such that render the proposition’s truth ambiguous without some formality of warrant?”

The arc of visibility the dead wake of a question. It was a wonder indeed, my friend. You would’ve imagined it admirable, as it were.

“Indeed, O Limbs, when contemplating this, prodigious, I think to remember ‘All’ as adjective, and the phrase ‘objects are possible objects’ metaphysical triviality—for, as we all well know, the convention of beginning such cosmic inferences with ‘All’ is merely convention only, useful in determining the universal from the particular formally, carrying no ontological information to the semantic table that isn’t there with the noun—and, in point of fact, serving, in this most serious of cases, that of our sea trial, to build common cloud over the way of inference. An ox-eye, O Limbs. Removing the adjective—using, instead, ‘Objects are possible objects’—might help the clear: to suggest the proposition ‘true’ is to want of warrant for why possibility is universality here. Would not there only then be unity?”

The doldrums becalmed, my friend! The forest spelled. I was forgotten, for the moment, I think.

“That we can’t conceive the experience of a round, square object has, at best, obscure bearing on the existence of such objects in such sense as said.”

Silence, some thought, hearing—already ready to stove in. Scud and iron wind. Sailors, you know.

“Though, such talk is, yes, suspect. As it should be, experience being what it is as the origin of this digression.”

The pond let lit by losing the forest among these trees, and the scat of conversants. All the talk of those aboard, that time, I remember, that cat and the devil to pay.

I won’t ask about the weather of being still at sea, my friend. There’s enough play to run with such paws.

“The map is make-able but never at all necessarily made,” rustled the limbs, “there’s just the effort of trying, ever unable to deduce whether what’s got is right, all, or some. Knowledge doesn’t exist outside knowing minds but its content is everything.”

I think here the pilot coughed, if memory serves. I mean, I’m not sure if any else of us heard, it is.

“It’s that, we understand or misunderstand the world, and the world is. For us, what the world is, what it will be, what it was, and what it can and can’t be, are common features of metaphysics, sought-for but unreached in the concepts of minds trying—some nihilism perhaps excluded. For the world, what it is, what it will be, what it was, and what it can and can’t be are logical categories which denote everything, from the geology of obsidian to this.”

It became a glacial wood soon to be warmed by the heat of summer, and all the many rays of bright shine that’s growth and substance. The master at arms with no room to swing a cat, I guess.

Taiga.

And so, at this, like some carpenter the pond replied in allegory, “The clear of an annulled sky.”

“‘I’ll participate in what you believe if you give me the attention’, came tumbling over the pearls and the bloodied beaver, Limbs.”

The limbs listened as a brush is swept, the forest petrified—fossilized fuels bearing the point, as it were. I remember it said it looked like a mirror. Something about… some hellenic and theophanic rope and yarn, I think. The pond had begun to speak of being a body of water.

“Jackal surveys the land,” the pond had sounded, “edifying Paintings’ touched and embalming the ideal. ‘Say that again?’ With concussion, Lettuce extrapolates. Those binary cartographers imbibe hilarity—albeit, Jackal’s cross and preempts her own ostensible fury by way of a barking cough.”

“Lettuce in chagrin—perplexed.”

Groves, it was by then. I could’ve heard such story, myself—stories like storied buildings.

I think of the fact that, it’s here I find myself found writing letters to you, my friend. Nothing short for lamplight, however much I should have to say, in the end. I’ve even written poems, but that of late and dire.

The pond kept up swinging the lamp like lead.

“All her pink, translucent schemata want of reality—of ossification. Painting mediates: what better than to supplant a foe by fouling foliage? The land fallow, Jackal honors the entreatment—one’s employer reigns this solar day. ‘Painting,’ Jackal claims, ‘we’re apt to mark off the upper ridge for agriculture, the mountain for The Captain’s roost, and the shoals for a defense buttress, leaving the basin for folks.’ Parched, the ink dries and the anxiety of the panorama sets with the star entombing the now elucidated police in time.”

At this, some of the limbs laughed and, in the way, taunted: “Jackal sighs at Lettuce’s prone attack, and revives facility?”

The pond waved isomorphic.

“Jackal spoke: ‘Lettuce… my beliefs are of liquid. I attend objects only, and them with a definite distance.’ Lettuce would gasp. ‘And, Lettuce, I’m a cartographer. Too narrow for your width.’ A fountain, Lettuce pontificates medium, naturalizing chaos. That the Jackal stares, cessation swiftly returning to Painting’s palette the bounty of a nearly aerial view of what—if for Painting only—is ideally incommensurable with identity. So much tranquil settling, as obviating Lettuce’s receding futility and path traversing below.”

“To Painting Jackal inscribes, ‘I am bulimic.’ A laugh, then jest in rebuke, ‘You are?’ They leave the sight.”

The limbs were silent still, having chanted the reflection that: “The beginning of the end is the end of the beginning. To begin the reason is the reason to begin the reason to have begun. The end of the beginning is the beginning of the end. The reason to begin is to begin the reason to have begun.”

I would’ve said something, then, my friend. I write you now, because that wasn’t what happened. The pond took what was a spell to mull and sludge, and was soon quite on, again, about it all.

“It’s that there’s a difference between. An oil portrait by Villers comes to mind.”


OTA-Villers-Young-1801

Marie-Denise Villers
Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes
, 1801


“An artist is painted by the painter drawing the painter—looking out at us, studying studying while they work. They paint the artist as drawing within a room, face away from a large window to their left. Through that window, we see the view out into painted open air, and, in the near distance, a painted couple walks close together alongside a painted building separated from that within which we see the artists sit, each working at their craft.”

At this submerged and aesthetic mise en abyme, even I was knocked down, my friend. It was as if liminality were sublimity.

“Villers depicts the artist as turned away from the couple without, from that life-style and choice to be one in a relationship, one outside, there walking and heavily clothed, as having chosen to remain within, at methodic vocation and a sole focus on us—the viewer, the painted. The subject.”

The pond pondered paint in prodigious profundity—paying, by and large by the board. Pelagic, at last it remarked:

“Kierkegaard was polite as ever to the King when at court, yet his journals characterize Christian VIII in language beneath a private subject of an enlightened sovereign! Logic leads, and I heckle and foray riotous! Nobody ever understands him, anyway, you know! The works!”

The limbs, like the Dormouse at tea and, perhaps, Aristotle, were quite asleep. As slumbering arms, indeed, there among the wood and water—the brightwork and deadwood of boatwrights. I’d said nothing—snagged and foul.

I write this all, my friend, because Heraclitus once said aloud that, that war and strife are the facts of life—that to think even of something like a Pax Romana is still yet that lit lamp of the sea state.

We’re at war, my friend. Extremis. This world of war. Sailing wind-over-tide, line astern without letter of marque. A rogue wave.

Be vigilant. Sail.

 

Your prize, In all regard,
And for the art of love and colors,

Fair winds and following seas,
Anon, Anon,

Away