Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: symbolism

Anathema, Apotheosis

[Trigger warning: suicidal ideation]

You didn’t quite learn the right definition. The dictionary lacks the venom of it, the way it rises in your throat like the coming tide. But as you know, we take words and we make them our own. There is no such thing as language but there are a thousand tongues. And you swore at a young age that you would never become a god, not like this, not ever. Still the thought burned like a slow fuse in your periphery, leaving black lines along the perimeter of your eyes. There is nothing good about being a god: it is not like you sat around and fantasized about temples in your honour and the exquisite pain of four extra arms growing out from your torso. Although you do know how the sockets of such a skeleton would work with the ribs and when you were anxious you drew thin pink lines on your skin. You don’t bruise easily and that makes you a favourite. The fuse keeps burning. Every morning after you’ve not slept, you wipe the soot out of your eyes. There is so much soot in you still, you told yourself. This is good: when you stop having candles to burn you’re out of luck and out of time. So you picked it up from a broadcast half between two radio stations and in your childish mind you heard it as two words: “this is an athema to them.” You picture it as a kind of antithesis for someone’s character, a kryptonite, something not just forbidden but centrally taboo. Ontologically speaking, if I do this, I cease to be me. The dictionary does not corroborate your story but that’s how you feel about the word, and your usage is consistent with how everybody says it. That’s what your apotheosis would be, something you defined yourself against. And then there were the mandalas painted on the pavement on your way to school or work or tennis club. You took careful steps around them, but tried to make it seem like you just switched directions twice in rapid succession in a V. That’s how you cross the street, you look away and wait until the street is empty. You cannot live in a city anymore. There are too many places accidentally made sacred and you know that the people need faith. You cannot become their god. It is a process that involves cutting off your head and replacing it with the head of a statue of you. That is why all the statues of you left out in the countryside have no head anymore, so that any one of them could carry your real head. But you say: this is not me. And you define yourself around this concept until you have enveloped it entirely. Now this is you, some form of bent knife in hand, a basket in your lap, burning ember at your heels. Come on then, do something with your symbolism. Make it all alright. Ascend but let your bare feet full of light stay grounded and walk around headless in the fisherman’s village, won’t you? Let, as ever, those parts die. Let the fancy quotes from the diaries of men who were buried ten years after they died rest. Let the burning ropes of red sun from between your toes slither up and around your ankles.

(starK lightS underfooT)

Two and a half years ago in the chamber with the skylight underneath you and the sun warming the soles of your feet you fell apart as if sliced with a delicate instrument, something made of sharp strings. You reason it is important to have glass floors so as to not send visitors drifting off into the sky. At night the heads on the hanging uneven palissades all around glow like jack-o-lanterns because they have been fitted with five-hundred-watt lights which force their way out of their heads like epiphanies, and there are always stark lights underfoot. And you fell apart. And you told the man in the hazmat suit with the visor that wrapped all around his head like he had three-hundred-and-sixty-degree vision that you did not expect to live the year out. You’re still alive. He blinked inside his suit and told you where to go and you went, bare feet burning. You paused at a glass staircase with the middle bit missing and you had a conversation with a woman there, both your feet dangling in the air. She had taken your necktie and your kitchen-knife words to disarm you but she said if you jumped that she would tighten the noose because she was still holding onto it and you realized that she was not your friend. Your legs went still, you even stopped wiggling your toes. You have a wandering twitch that never goes away: at night you grind your teeth, in the day observers from far away can see your muscles tense like ghosts are always crawling through you and it never stops. At some point you heard a drum-beat as a kid when your heart was not even bones away from open air and got afraid that if you ever stopped hearing the music maybe your internal organs would turn to stone too. You walked across the courtyard where your shadow followed you like a kite you dragged behind your body and your palms bled when you got to the glass door because you had held on to the string too hard. They told you they would give you back your tie when you left the place, but that would be tomorrow. On a fundamental level they do not realize how easy it is to die. They wrap your swords in silver-tape so you won’t cut yourself but you don’t need the kitchen-knife words or any noose. You can whisper your millilitres into the machine it will kill you for it. You need no strong voice, just a whisper at most. But the best advice you ever gave was: every day write “kill yourself” on the bottom of your to-do list, never finish your to-do list. So you lay there in a suicide bed with your hands interlaced and told them you had to speak to one of the suits. The question in your mind was: how do I convince them I’m not here when they have three-hundred-and-sixty-degree vision? You were there of course, but you were not what they expected. It was all camera angles. If I am really here then why am I finishing my homework? Ergo, you have made a mistake. And you were not really there at all, they agreed, and they let you go. The woman threaded your head through the tie again and she put the knives back into your pocket. You told her nothing of how these were not your knives and she said nothing about how you were really there. You never really left. The empire never

and your body is falling aparT. you take the duct tape off your woundS. a month ago your friend taught you how to wrap a bandage properly and this is not iT. you need to make a V right herE. you don’t know how to repair broken glass at alL. it is not like thiS. you recently had strings of light installed in the bathroom floor and sometimes you lie there naked in wrinkles with your soles pointing upwards to the ceiling, your toes curled, arms outstretched, neck twisted like a TV murder victiM. you have whispered a number far below the LD50 but it will still hurT.

Unanswered Business Emails: Teledreams

Here’s an email I sent, which was never answered. It’s from a business idea that me and Jenny H are running.

Dear Steven,

Greetings from AlterDream. As you can guess from us not having our own domain email yet, we are a small start-up. Unlike most start-ups though, we have a big and nearly untapped market of potential customers just waiting for us, and we would like to work with you on this. As our name implies, we represent an alternative to the current industry, which we feel has grown insular and detached from its customer base, even though no competitor has (yet) risen to challenge their authority. We believe, as you do, the customer has a right to choose who they dream with, just like they have a right to choose their phone operator.

Let me give you the pitch we give our potential customers, almost all of them still subscribed to the network in an agreement they believe is binding. Are you tired of the network? Did you have bad dreams last night, again? But are you somehow still worried about signing up for some garage-run indie lucid that will curse you to low-resolution dreams with even less coherence and structure? Are you worried about their cost-cutting, that they would save money by regurgitating old träuma? We know your pain. We’ve been there. At AlterDream, we seek to provide high-quality dreams to our customers, available at the tips of their ears when they hit the pillow. You can see us as the Neflix of dreams, if you like.

So you might be wondering, what could a brood dreamscultptor want with you? Well, here is our business secret, something our customers do not (yet) know: to save money on production cost, casting, and symbolism, we are letting several people have the same dream simultaneously. We have the tech for most of the senses, but what we don’t have is good solutions for voices in your head. In short, we want you, as the best telephone company in the UK, to run the telecom side of our venture. Imagine offering new customers the dream deal.

There are many details to be smoothed out, of course, and many numbers to be run, but I hope I have enticed you. Do call back soon — the offer is not indefinite.

Johannes Punkt, head of Recurring Motifs