by Jerimee Bloemeke
Slim Princess Holdings, 2013
36 pages / Book page
scramble all the codes
and transmit the decoded flows of desire
starts the poem that starts the book, a quote I recognize from Deleuze & Guattari talking schizophrenia & capitalism in Capitalism & Schizophrenia. So we have an initiating coded imperative in sleek italics that distances the writer from himself & from the rest of the text, establishing a poetry as somewhat schizoid. That state where – perhaps because of the self’s dissociation from it-self – all interaction is associative, a total empathy with everything.We don’t have a hierarchical root system so much as an omnidirectional rhizome system where every word’s a bud, or a bud-world that only grows Possibles. In Wisconsin I had a schizophrenic friend-acquaintance named Cosmo who often visited me at work & called me Honey Bear. I don’t believe in romanticizing schizophrenia because Cosmo died early. But I do remember Cosmo was funny, a brilliant presence, a musician & a painter, & he owned a sort of honesty & clarity that only a very heightened state affords, when one is able (when one is solely conditioned) to live in a world of code dripped off, to speak in what is not so much a code as it is the very scramble that we as writers often seek to perform, to – by way of breaking down the known code – transmit a very resonating, viscerally familiar one, a primal blood code. It is this distance that allows a return to something closer, something primary:
where they are hiding / with a rubber gloved hand
This is strange to me because each poem, usually, is a line-broken, fairly uniform block of text, so what are these slashes doing? They occur often in this poem & throughout the book. I think they must be a realization of this self-directed (& perhaps reader-directing) injunction to scramble the codes or the straightforwardness (which is funny to make synonymous, code = straightforwardness) in order to let out our outward flows of desire. It is as if what we think of as whole, is actually a mosaic of fragments & dissections based on our minds’ subconscious reconfigurations; here, instead, the whole cohesive discovers its part. If I could see every shard of my desire I would go crazy, I know this, with the same whole love I carve into every face I see every day, I call everyone unique to myself, serially. “where are they hiding” is funny, as if a hiding place isn’t a sort of code itself, “with a rubber gloved hand” sounds beautiful to me because it’s as if these codes wear surgeon’s gloves, deeply impersonal sterilized coverings in order to more profoundly enter & probe around. On the one hand it is like fucking a condom. On the other hand, without that distancing interface, it is hard to otherwise love & meet.
chauffering and he wouldn’t tell us and rolled up
his window (and we saw who we were ourselves)
I think this part is kind of amazing because, for one thing, the language seems so effortless. But also it is that asking of a person “Who are you” which results in a verbal covering & defensive maneuver, an immediate ostensible refusal of traditional self-identification; but then it effects a physical approach, a rolling up that is both as of blinds rolling up & as of wheels circulating in order to move forward. It’s a strange thing about cars that’s explored here in this book often.
But also a limo chauffeur who just chauffeurs – he does what he is – is no one. He is his occupational role. “Who he was” is enjambed to reveal that his own identity is cut off from himself, & hinges (not just grammatically) on whom he “was / chauffering.“ His role is as reflective, transporting vessel. & so limo, a code cracked that means Lot Of Cash (LOC), & when looking at the tinted & reflective-in-the-city-streetlight windows, you see yourself. Fantasy: you see yourself inside the glamour, inside the money you imagine yourself in often, in late capitalism, where you are encouraged to schizoid-split your actual socioeconomic self from your ideal one. It’s not who’s inside the limo that matters, it’s that there could be anyone inside, & the thrill of that anyone being you, looking out at who you aren’t. (and we saw who we were ourselves) as if the parentheses are the limousine, & the who we were is the past self separating the “and we” from seeing “ourselves” now. Unique identity in our society being cheaply bought, like 25 cents cash”
blindfold cowboy bandanna, the counter-
top interlude of artificial sapphire powder dawn’s
sky mimicked when the lamp was turned off
you could see thru the slivers of the blinds and
again hear the fucking birds as you fell asleep
Most moments in the book are actually like this, a sort of listing of curated experiences & objects that read ecstatically, & I love these moments because of that same effortlessness that I talked about earlier that seems sensual, bodily almost, it rushes me, as a sort of lubricant, but it contrasts well against the slower more cut-up parts, the slashes & the italics. As if, in distrust of its own reveling, the poem will turn its eyebrow up at its own eye. Even such ekphrastic-ish moments deal mostly in issues of light (sky mimicking), or in subtle phenomenological moments (from “the sex on Ambien” to “hear the fucking birds”) where the mind invades the whole world. I say ekphrastic too because:
actors getting shot to death while being filmed.
IRL they survive. But we don’t. The gunman yawns.
& its this cavernous yawn at the end that swallows “us” but offers a sort of Hollywood ennui backdrop amberizing the actors in immortality. As if the gunman is fingering instead a camera, & it is the violent act that lives forever, & it is the violent act that is the art. & if we live in a world where violence is highly aestheticized, then simply paying attention to the world & describing it is an ekphrastic act, a description of a painting, or of a photo, or some sort of publication like:
periodicals. Newsprint ink wiped off of our face.
I have nothing to say to that besides it being lovely & disconcerting. One more thing I want to reference:
try to find the one good thing about this person
but so many of the bad things get in the way
it ruins his work. For me, it is a thrill to admit this.
And if you are reading this work isn’t it thrilling
This part reminds me of Chris Kraus’ wonderful book I Love Dick where the narrator at one point says “Nick was just one thing, a straight clear line – Whoregasm, East Village gore ‘n porn – and I was several. And-and-and. And isn’t sincerity just a denial of complexity?” A thing that 25 Cents CASH does that I really appreciate is disclose & express without pretending that it’s easy or that simple. When I read a disclosure in this book, I feel like the entirety of society is implicated, associated. & it does a thing that, perhaps, it again learned from Chris Kraus, ibid.: “(The psychiatrist H.F. Searles lists six ways to drive another person crazy in The Etiology of Schizophrenia. Method Number Four: Control the conversation, then abruptly shift its modes.)”
25 Cents CASH consists of poems of apparent similar shape where different modes are all touched, crowding the room all together in a way that is appealing, beautiful & attracting, but shows stitchings. Its sewing needle’s jabbing marks all must jam together as a resonant whole that, nevertheless, is oddly never jarring. In some ways I feel schizoid & pulled but in the end this very state feels completely natural. I would call this a convincing argument but I believe that that would be a denial of the book’s small complexity. Rather, many mouths which re-move & re-place in a totally accessible way. Like all access.
Jared Joseph lives in Iowa City. Writings & links to other writings at jaredjosephharvey.tumblr.com