by Louise Norlie
Concrete Explanation of Illusion
Inspired by Jean Baudrillard
Targets of phantasmagoric exhibition, enslaved to claimed nudity, reveal nothing but endless desire met by camera’s violence. No metaphoric dilemma can solve this epic. Naïve synthesis veils erotic filters of exclusion. Perfect power masks sensation yet reaches nothing in endless reference. Opposites are capable of no contradiction but unscrupulous demands. The unmarked veil cannot be lifted. Conviviality in impossible language and unreal locations cannot communicate but in trumpeted obscenities while victims dissect and bleed in synthetic contest. Laboratories, in raw experimentation, behind the texts, the cold mirrors, the collective conditions, expose a denied obscurity. Truth pulls away from truth. Hypothetical corruption has no power to alienate, only to disappear beyond the beyond, behind the absurd powerless screen. Listless breeding of corrupt originals confesses to shadowy doubles, helicopter whirs, tattered screams, and amusement in confinement.
The Threat of the Idle
Inspired by Henry James
It was, for Charlotte Nilbert, a sight that quite, as it were, took away her breath. Once more, his yearly gamble had not resulted in the feared outcome and he lowered the willful weapon from his temple unscathed. By now, she realized that he, when he neared holding the fatal object, had become more an imitation of himself than any assumed personification that she could put her finger, or any such pointing and expressive object, upon. Where imitations were concerned, the stern face which bristled with useless warning uttered enough, for her, to know the answer to more than one unasked question. She found herself gaping at a dilemma more ominous than any she had hitherto known.
“We’re not much,” he said, “unless we are what we make. So we must make of our lives what we will.” At this the weapon was dropped unprepossessingly into her outstretched palms.
“How can I begin to tell you what we are to make, if I am, right now, to be made no more?” He hung fire. She fairly blanched under the compulsion of any active making, present or future, when the trail widening into furtive existence before her led into paths decidedly untouched by any trace of obligatory construction.
“Oh, if you can make it once more, we will be as bold – as completely so – as you’d like!” She rose sharply to the point but for the moment said nothing to be construed as a yet bolder remonstrance. Charlotte could not deny that the annual ritual which had become almost sacred between them lent their days such an autumnal piquancy that she drank of their mutual cup to its bitterest draught.
“And what if I fail, or should I say, succeed? Do you feel prepared to pick up the pieces to the last?” The ache of their secret tradition gnawed with the ultimate severity of her potential demise.
“It’s impossible to –”
“To do otherwise?” When sounded at such moments his peremptory reply rang with a dissonant note. It struck her then, as it did each year, that continual success, or the lack thereof, seemed the product of more than fortuitous chance. She was conscious again of the absurdity of their joint arrangement. Mixed in her thoughts was the possibility that for him the tradition was a rite known to be harmless, and that the weapon was a stage prop to threaten their lives of decadent ease with its mockingly theatrical menace. To entertain that hypothesis was to contemplate the habitual ease of his dissimulation, and to wonder what apparent laxity between them admitted the need for such a perilous tableau.
Before her suspicions blossomed to lurid color she passed out of the reach of harm. She lowered the weapon from her brow for the tenth occasion in so many prosperous years. He retreated hastily and with briskness not inseparable from purely innocent relief.
When he returned almost penitent she believed he had read in the lengthy text of her hesitation far greater doubts than of the weapon’s assumed danger.
By day, Louise Norlie plows through miles of traffic to crunch numbers and shuffle papers in a windowless cubicle. By night, she dreams of better things. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in a various publications online and in print, including Sein und Werden, Right Hand Pointing, and elimae. Her work is upcoming in Mad Hatter's Review and an anthology published by Dead Letter Press. Updates on her publications can be found at http://louise-norlie.livejournal.com.
Monday, December 10, 2007