Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

You may be required to show proof of id.

HOW TO SIGN A CONTRACT

after Uel Aramchek

You didn’t kill Kharon for the loot. You killed him because you could, because he let his guard down, and because you had a smuggled-in Herculean dagger. But his silver-dollar-laden pouch was right there. You wanted Napoleonic victory music, found a Corsican jukebox bar, tried to get a party started.

The jukebox does not accept your coins. After you’ve stabbed it in the heart, you become aware of two figures clad in togaedos waiting outside. They hand you your new name and title. One of them chuckles: “Did you think ferrymen lived forever? That this has never happened before?”

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This has been fanfiction, or at least fiction in the style of Uel Aramchek. You can find his work on Twitter: @ThePatanoiac, and on his site North of Reality: northofreality.com. Also there is a Kickstarter campaign right now with some gorgeous Tarot cards based on his work and you’ll probably not be able to get these cards another way: kickstarter.com/projects/775608568/uel-aramcheks-tarot-arcana.

FakeReview: Bedouin Some by Georgia Atlanta

The first thing you see when you walk into a bookstore these days, for the coming few weeks at least, is the garish cover of Georgia Atlanta’s first and last book, its title chosen by some arcane process by controversial Penguin editor and publisher Mars Gauchèlle. Bedouin Some is a perfect example of outsider art becoming mainstream while still keeping the outsider on the outside. I won’t go into details about the publishing history – you can find those accounts everywhere on the Internet yourself – but suffice to say it is one thing when a real person writes under a pseudonym and another thing entirely when a pseudonym starts writing under a real person. That is all I will say about that.

I bought a used copy of the book, since I do not want to support the industry that exploits authors so, but I do want to support Bethy, the woman who owns my local used bookstore “The Man Cave.” She is a lovely lady. She is also crepuscular and coiled with age, which means she cannot reach up to change the sign from what the store was called before it was a bookstore. Therefore I might have a slightly different first impression of the book than those who buy it crispy clean and bright yellow from Waterstones, not to mention those who get it streamed into their brain through the nostrils or whatever it is the hyperkindles do. This discrepancy between editions of such a recently published book only serves to underline for me the very ununiversal nature of reading a book: you can never read the same book as your friends. You can never even read the same book twice.

Bethy also sold me the book on the cheap, saying it would soon be “unprinted.” I asked her if books that go out of print aren’t worth more, eventually, and whether or not she should be hoarding these, but she did not think so. This is all to say, my copy of this book looks like a train ran over it, which is fitting.

Georgia Atlanta introduces us to a Ginko-like protagonist, Fievrish Qualm, who partakes in what the narrator – understood to be him at an advanced age – charmingly calls “adventures.” His task, which is either the task given to him by the penumbral figure called the Unauthor or the exact opposite of that task, is to collect literature that belongs to a nebulous but flourishing genre, a movement of literature, that he calls hole fiction, HoleFi for short. Most of them exist only as original manuscripts, things publishers wouldn’t touch, although Mr. Qualm can sense them, somehow.

You are sensing a pattern here, I hope. This outsider art comments on the outside nature of outsider art, but in the world above the adventures of Mr. Qualm, publishing houses have grown legs and opened their maws to throw themselves over the identity of Mrs. Atlanta. Something obscure in a world below becomes hallowed in the world above. The unbearable jerk that is Holden Cauliflower is revered as an American hero in the world that read his book. Hole fiction, stories set in worlds of legends and heroes, is buried in plain dirt in the world inhabited by Mr. Qualm, but dug up like treasure in the world inhabited by Mars Gauchèlle, if that is his real name.

It’s all rather perverse, really. Mr. Qualm purports to start a doomed publishing venture and bankrupt himself, or maybe the bankrupcy orchestrated is that of the Unauthor. A few throwaway lines (like the Unauthor’s vague rant about “the reproducibility of glitches,” and Mr. Qualm’s own living cancer) suggest that they plan on breaking out of their little world and joining the “beings akin to them,” as Nabokov would have called them. All to make money from this literary sensation. As if to add to the perversity, most of the time the literature he tries to find has been destroyed by well-meaning relatives who think that Max Brod is a villain. Here the pattern is again: the literature that does no longer exist in Qualm’s world is something of a sensation in the world above, where it does not exist yet, but rest assured there will be fanfiction.

Which brings me to my last realization upon reading this frivolously titled Arabian noctography, something you’ve perhaps already pieced together: this book does not actually exist. I have been treating it as a book that is real, but it will soon be unprinted. When I am not actively reading it, I do not really see that collection of paper as a book. It is rather something concrete and thus somehow less real than a story. When I quote it, I am making things up. When Fievrish Qualm reads his forgotten manuscripts, they exist and I’m right there with him, but when he stops they fade out of existence. He never quotes a whole fiction, only bits and pieces. You’re not even getting that, are you? To put it another way: HoleFi is a genre. Meanwhile, in the world above, outsider art is no genre, it is a medium. In this world, the world above, stories written by loners all might share some common characteristics in themes of pariahdom and the longing for legendary status. In the world below, there are well-developed tropes, stock characters, common plot twists, and intertextual references, all developed by authors who never spoke to one another or even knew that they were not alone. If you read those scenes closely, you will see the implied author is saying that they did communicate even though they did not know it, while the implied implied author is adamant that they are all referencing events which the implied author is purposefully keeping from us in order to tell her story. What I am telling you is that there are worlds between the worlds here, and the book has folded in on itself in a way that will soon make it stop existing. As soon as you stop reading this,

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Last week, my review The Cult of Numbers was published by Pamphlets for the Apocalypse! It is a review of a book that doesn’t exist, just like this one, and tells the tale of what happens when a cult forms around a one-of-a-kind textbook on economy. Please buy it, and tell your easily influenced friends to buy it, too. They rely on you for guidance. Don’t let them down:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/237006205/the-cult-of-numbers-johannes-punkt-with

THREE ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD

Dear readers! Joyous news. In addition to The Cult of Numbers being being published yesterday, you can also read my short story Three Encounters with God over at Minor Literature[s]:

minorliteratures.com/2015/06/15/three-encounters-with-god/

It is a true story, in that the things described therein have all happened to me, more or less.

THE CULT OF NUMBERS

KVLT2

Faithful readers, you remember the fake book reviews (unfaithful readers, see: /fake-review). You have been missing these, but worry no longer. Pamphlets for the Apocalypse is publishing my review of Salandra Duchov’s Numberology, and you can pick it up at the Etsy link below:

etsy.com/shop/4THEAPOCALYPSE

Like the image has already told you, the zine contains words by me and illustrations by Ethan Fowler (see ethancf.tumblr.com/). Ultimately, this is the zine to buy for those of you who want to read a very flawed critical examination of one of the most potent economy textbooks never published, and that’s all of you. Trust me.

KVLT

OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS in Pictures

A few pictures of OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS in situ:

By Lena Bohman:

YOU WAKE UP WITH THUNDER IN YOUR SKULL. THERE IS A DREAM AT THE EDGE OF YOUR COGNITION. IT FEELS JUST OUT OF REACH, LIKE IF YOU TRY TO REMEMBER MORE IT MIGHT ALL FADE. THERE WAS SOMETHING IMPORTANT IN THE DREAM. HOW DO YOU TRY TO REMEMBER IT? RETELL THE DREAM? LET IT COME BACK ON ITS OWN?

YOU WAKE UP WITH THUNDER IN YOUR SKULL. THERE IS A DREAM AT THE EDGE OF YOUR COGNITION. IT FEELS JUST OUT OF REACH, LIKE IF YOU TRY TO REMEMBER MORE IT MIGHT ALL FADE. THERE WAS SOMETHING IMPORTANT IN THE DREAM. HOW DO YOU TRY TO REMEMBER IT?
RETELL THE DREAM?
LET IT COME BACK ON ITS OWN?

RETELL THE DREAM YOU HOLD THE STRUCTURE OF THE DREAM IN YOUR SKULL, BLUEPRINTS OF A MASSIVE BUILDING. YOU TRY TO REMEMBER IT ALL, BUT THE CHALK MARKS DISSOLVE, YOUR DREAM GIVES WAY TO REAL WALLS, CEILINGS, FLOORS. YOU'RE IN YOUR BED. GO BACK TO SLEEP? OPEN DREAM JOURNAL?

RETELL THE DREAM
YOU HOLD THE STRUCTURE OF THE DREAM IN YOUR SKULL, BLUEPRINTS OF A MASSIVE BUILDING. YOU TRY TO REMEMBER IT ALL, BUT THE CHALK MARKS DISSOLVE, YOUR DREAM GIVES WAY TO REAL WALLS, CEILINGS, FLOORS. YOU’RE IN YOUR BED.
GO BACK TO SLEEP?
OPEN DREAM JOURNAL?

By @jakespecialk:

TAKE A PHOTO BEFORE IT FADES THE FIRST POLAROID COMES OUT WITH ALL THE TEXT ON IT, BUT IT BLEACHES TOO QUICK TO READ. THEY ALL DO THAT. MAYBE YOU PUT THE FILM IN BACKWARDS. BREAK SOMETHING? TRY TO HOLD ON?

TAKE A PHOTO BEFORE IT FADES
THE FIRST POLAROID COMES OUT WITH ALL THE TEXT ON IT, BUT IT BLEACHES TOO QUICK TO READ. THEY ALL DO THAT. MAYBE YOU PUT THE FILM IN BACKWARDS.
BREAK SOMETHING?
TRY TO HOLD ON?

TRY TO HOLD ON WAS IT A DREAM YOU HAD? IT WAS MORE LIKE A LONG MOVIE OF A MEMORY YOU HAD, BUT IT WAS NOT YOUR MEMORY. YOU REMEMBER: THE WORDS YOU COULD USE TO DESCRIBE THE WORDS YOU WOULD USE FOR THE DREAM. WORDS LIKE ELDRITCH, HOLLOW, FLUID. NO, IT WAS A MEMORY THAT HAD YOU.

TRY TO HOLD ON
WAS IT A DREAM YOU HAD?
IT WAS MORE LIKE
A LONG MOVIE OF A MEMORY YOU HAD, BUT IT WAS NOT YOUR MEMORY. YOU REMEMBER: THE WORDS YOU COULD USE TO DESCRIBE THE WORDS YOU WOULD USE FOR THE DREAM. WORDS LIKE ELDRITCH, HOLLOW, FLUID.
NO, IT WAS A MEMORY THAT HAD YOU.

OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS are Manifest

The signs are ripe like fresh fruit. If you’re in St. Louis or somewhere within a four-hour radius of it with time to kill, find Tower Grove Park, the corner of Grand and Arsenal, and begin your journey with OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS.

Pictures to come.

Make Room for OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS

OTHERPLACESINDREAMS

I bet you’re all wondering why I gathered you here. It’s simple: you’re in the St. Louis area and I have something that will interest you. Within the next week or so, a contract of textboxes will appear in the South Grand neighbourhood. Or rather, the artist will make the textboxes appear. They will become appeared.

OTHER PLACES IN DREAMS is a project by Lena Bohman. Text: Johannes Punkt. Artist: Lena Bohman. Technical Assistance: Rachael Telleman.

It is a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure, where the story is something to do with a dream you just had, and you want to remember it. You have to make choices and then read what those choices lead to.

THIS IS THE PLACE IN DREAMS THAT IS INSIDE, DREAMED BY SOMEONE LIKE YOU

I am very excited about this. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in.

THIS IS THE PLACE IN DREAMS THAT IS OUTSIDE, WHERE IT DREAMS, LIKE IT MIGHT RAIN OR SNOW OR HAIL

I will make another update when the thing kicks off for real. When I do, you should find yourself in Tower Grove Park, at the corner of Grand and Arsenal, and you shall read

PREHENSILE NONSENSE, BRIGHT BLUE WORDS WRITTEN ON THE SIDEWALK WHICH YOU CANNOT READ OF COURSE

If you go on this adventure, please take pictures and send them to me. Please let me know what consequences your actions have, and what emotions are wrought from this paint.

Good talk, friends.

Three Trees that Fall from the Sky

Three trees that fall from the sky: confetti, propaganda, burning paper wings.

Triad written by me and Rob Mitchelmore (@kerastion).

To a Pervert

Art by Andreas Porss, photo by Cecilia Hellström.

Art by Andreas Porss, photo by Cecilia Hellström.

My good friend Mr. Porss, of andreasporss.wordpress.com, gave me a painting and in return I have written him a poem. Decades from now, art historians and literary historians will uncover this post, printed out and tattered, and they will wonder about the past. Did we really wrestle octopodes together in Cyprus, in an underground and very sexy establishment? Is it true that we invented the pizza salad? What is it with swordfish? None of these questions are answered, or even brought up, in the following poem.

To a Pervert
I know your heart is not some cunt heart
To sheathe a sword in; your young blunt heart

Still sizzling the teflon wok pan:
I cannot eat out your undone heart.

So eat! Eat your own damn heart out, man,
At least feast your eyes. My unwrung heart

Plays Prisoner’s Dilemma, cut-throat,
No Nash equilibrium, some heart.

So shove a microphone down your throat
And learn to speak from your unstrung heart,

But hearts make poor cufflinks, rough red sand
On those you greet, mess, with but one heart

You’d say, today I wanked with this hand.
Today I’m ribs and spine, lung, lung, heart.

Be softer yet, wrap silk round your unspun heart;
And give away your well-hung punk heart.

Chiasmic Apposition

by your secret accomplice, Johannes Punkt

You too can have a tweet analyzed for five bucks, just contact me. It’s like I’m your therapist, but cheap.

This is a tweet that we read, which traps us in a room. The first thing that strikes us upon reading it is that it starts out full of hope, which soon diminishes until nothing is left but despair. The appositives, a certain grammatical stucture, are stretched almost to the limit. We read the tweet again, for we are trapped in this room and the key is elsewhere, if existent at all.

The second reading lets us understand that the things which at first sound hopeful aren’t intrinsically imbued with hope, but the memory of the first reading overwrites their naïveté. This underlying shadow-meaning is even more clearly pronounced upon reading the Lockean “blank slate” again – we know that the tabula rasa is a palimpsest. This idea, traced out by the palimpsest, of retaining dead patterns from old lives, in turn brings us to the Groundhog Day nature in which we read the tweet:

We read the tweet again, the third time. In the movie Groundhog Day, as you know, Bill Murray can’t escape a time loop until he does it all just right (after a long hard look at his life). So too it is for us as we read Amos’ tweet again & again, or when we just live in general. To our great frustration, every day we live our life the “tomorrow” moves apace with us and displaces itself when we arduously climb the midnight threshold. Reincarnation, of course, is the same thing but on a grander scale. At the same time, we know that all life ends –

When upon another reading and another reading and another reading the meaning dies down to a dull hum, the shrill sound of form is heard. We can now see that the appositives from earlier are not the only form in need of analysis. The strucutre of Amos’ appositions is, chiasmic. Chiasmatic. Some such thing. (A chiasmus is, essentially, an X structure, that goes AB then BA, or ABC then CBA, &c.) The first 4 elements of the sentence are hopeful, the latter 4 are hopeless. Observe: [A|Tomorrow] is [B|another day], [C|full of possibilities], [D|a blank slate], [D|completely empty], [C|a void], [B|a deep abyss], [A|a cold and unforgiving waste]. (With four on each side, if you draw lines between the same letters, you will see the multiple X-shape.)

The “blank slate” and “completely empty” are two ways of saying the same thing, though their connotations are the opposite. (A “blank slate” has to be hopeful, for it is contrasted with original sin.) The same is true for the next, a void full of possibilities. Trickier to figure out are the next 2: how is “another day” opposite “a deep abyss”? The answer, as with many things, lies in Shakespeare. In The Tempest, one can hear Prospero ask: “What seest thou else / In the dark backward and abysm of time?” The abysm of time is present. I’ve explained why “tomorrow” represents the lies of time – a cold and unforgiving waste, by contrast, is the only thing time can promise:

When we read the tweet one last time we realize how we can make everything right again and stop reading the tweet: we step out of the microcosmos built up by his tweet, walk away from the internet into the larger chiasmos surrounding it, trusting that when our semantic structures are gravestones in the universe’s zero-k night we can step out of even this reality.

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