At times I feel utterly ravenous online, with this belief that today I can defeat it all, beat back the internet’s power over me if I can find the perfect content each day to soothe my soul. But there’s so much out there and so little of what I really desire, in between all we’re forced to view, that stays with me.
Feeling overwhelmed and frantic about the internet is also a bit like prayer, or how I used to imagine prayer might work. Neurons firing within my gray matter produce a signal? Out there some kind of interstellar transit occurs. Riding the ripple of a gravitational wave toward the God-system with other prayers. Sort of waved through the gates by the angels after dodging demons and asteroids to reach another dimension that’s not a dimension, sideways across time into time outside of time, like the “Other” category of my phone’s daily report of my screen time.
I have a new essay in 3:AM Magazine called “The President’s Bucket.” It’s a hybrid piece that includes a dark fable. I wrote it at the invitation of Andrew Gallix for the journal’s ongoing “3:AM in Lockdown” series.
My contribution was the forty-fifth in the series, among artworks, writing, videos and more by a fantastic group that includes Joanna Walsh, Joseph Schreiber, Rachael de Moravia, Anna Vaught, and Steven J. Fowler. I’m finding it to be essential reading for two main reasons. First is that it shows of course the current state of the world during the coronavirus shutdown. But it also reveals how creative people are getting by, while taking care of themselves and their loved ones, while somehow generating new work.
The next morning my Dad is back at his camp to start his great hunt again. The heat keeps him awake. He rarely sleeps. Cicadas buzz like little machines in the trees. He has no bullets, but he wields his knife. He eats cicadas when he gets hungry, or kills a lizard. Sometimes I ride my kangaroo to bring him pork chops and apple sauce. The part of the woods that Ronald Reagan burned down are all grown back.
My grandfather is at the top of the mountain looking for my grandmother. She’s been missing for years and each summer she’s been gone her earthquakes destroy more of the town. Soon, everyone has left. My grandfather stays and promises to find his wife and learn why she’s done this for so long.
Me and my mom and my sisters move back to the house. My father stays in the woods. He keeps hunting Jesus. He walks with a knife and studies the blood from when he shot Jesus once and gave him five wounds. He follows the trail of big red drops through the woods and into the corn field where the Berlin Wall has reappeared. He cannot cross. He has not seen Jesus for years. The weather gets hot. The heat makes my Mom fight with my sisters who skip school to fish all day and night in the canal. They dive in with sharp sticks and spear fish. One night my Mom sneaks over and locks them in their room. When she finally unlocks their door she says, “No more fish!” and breaks their wooden spears. My sisters walk past me and yell, “Don’t you follow us!”
My father is in the woods far from our house. He is hunting Jesus. Jesus stalks the woods in his antlers. He is chasing Ronald Reagan. That’s when my Dad shoots Jesus. Jesus runs off, bleeding in five places from one bullet. Nice shot! My Dad waits. He lets Jesus go away to see if he’ll bleed out. When my Dad gets down from his tree he follows the blood. He follows it into the corn field and stops. He cannot go any further. There is a Berlin Wall. The blood trail goes over the Wall. My Dad will not. He can smell the blood and the scent of burnt matches on the other side.
Or, A Reckoning With Sentimental Habits by Way of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet
There once was a man who wrote about the things that other people wrote. Oh, how he loved to celebrate his writers. He wanted them to succeed. He wanted them to be heroic in their work and in life. Something about their success made him feel hopeful about the world and himself.