Down and Out in Madness and Hell

Erik Knutsen

I have seen the men in their big, stone buildings, black suits, and ties rushing upwards towards the skies; lamplight streaking, too many voices screaming, over ears and eyes; unrecording enregistration; completely disproven absolute facts; the evolving staticity of solidified tear tracts; permanent, dizzying churning darting lightly in the darkness of smiles, hostelling Europly by glasses of wine; wileless bearing of cavernous acid blocked eyes; bowls of fauns' foals smiling through words to the heart of the times; brothers committing fraternal crimes; sickening, silver Spanish mimes jarringly turning bloodshot eyes; commodious homelessness containing pariahs untenable tries (every job is just hoisting a sail, peeling potatoes into a pail, penny whistle tweedles pretentiously dancing for impoverishing gratification); nose, cheek, and jaw handheld horrifically demonstrating awe-- it's the skeletons revealed by scientific law; penniless people binding cigarettes and time over by canals filled with murky brine, thinking forever in Seussian rhyme; the Lorax who speaks for the trees and the swammy swans but not for the diseased victims chained by diseased victims being chained by diseased victims; hungerless devouring of rumbling tumblies burning hernias into high-function thinkings malfunctioning; the unctuous gumption of presumptuous consumption which bears no interruption; seals in oil, a delicacy for new gods charitably dancing near cameras with brushes, hiding saws by buying friendship of truth's seraphim-- self-proclaimed by every course in its name; humorous, crying, protective smoker's wooden kinderlings; bringings of generous fardels disposed disheartenedly through sacred everlasting moribund blues; the whirling of vortexes of quarters and eighths perishing mildly in querying thighs (the highway was over before the last sign); snap, crackle, popped knuckles fingering arthritis in gaping cunt sores; pretty ones ignoring every entreaty not holding beastliness in its inner beatings; grumbling rumblings of Dayton's vehicular choice drying the beauty of nature so moist-- the warmth of a body is unimaginably frail; the rose dies when caretakers fail.

If I awoke would it be that it hadn't happened to me, the stumbling tumbling of my descent through infinity? Would I only be lying at my ease, no cares or worries? Sitting calmly as I let the breeze wash over me, secure in the presence of familiarity, I would see all the things around, content that they are there for me. In enjoyment, I would feel blissfully the tender security of environment mould and shape my demeanour, that within found so weak when faced with the breakers of the external, assuaging the natural resistant tendencies. Would I cringe, even a little, as my perspective was shifted aside as simply as dirt? Am I only my own when left all alone in a never that cannot come? Yet, the anxiety that is consumed by the incoming force arises from and is fed by its own consumption, and when I look out, that which comes from me will billow and be moved unmoving by that which comes from everything else. The resolution I so desire will be left in between annulment and fulfillment, hovering somewhere beyond all reach. I feel queasy.

So if I awoke, what could I do to bring together all that I knew? I can't make it work, right here, in my brain. Is it that it's too complex for me to comprehend, or too simple for me to accept? What am I doing here? I want these visions to break open and reveal themselves. Show me the line that defines the various connections that taint me with a sense of imperfection. The relation of all I act and see, all I make and feel, to the blank that fits nowhere from everything, building and floating in no way as something that makes up the aggregate poppings of images that reduce the expansion of the expanding reduction coalescing to form a single, the only, set of recurring thought mannerisms, works only to unravel the structure of agglutinised footholds. If I open my eyes, there will be more than the sighs within my mind, and I will find myself moving in from limitless to limiting. Locked apart from space and time, my nails will tear at flesh to find where, within, is me.

What was I before, and who am I now? Did I know once and have forgotten somehow? Something must have changed between one moment and another, but which? When? As I placed the cup to my lips, or heard the horse whips, some subtle chemistry shift must have brought me to this. Perhaps, a gentle sound forsook my body and took to ground, leaving me as I am left now. Here I be, a thinking divorced from any skin-covered shell, and thinking on things I know not how I know, I find that I lack the simple explanation to the fact that I am. If it was lost, in some dreary moment I forgot, it may be that someday I will know it again; maybe find it forlorn on some rain-drenched street, or find it hidden in a long unused drawer. Yet, if I didn't know, could I have been someone, something? Without the knowledge of what I was, I could have been anything or nothing, left as a quotient of the eternal possibility of anything terminal. ...Are these the first thoughts, or the last?

I know, now, though, that I'm at least something asking whether it is something, but I don't know what these things are called. Without the name, there is no limit to the accumulation of designated properties I can have. How am I to sort through all the baggage with which I am left to determine exactly what it is that defines me? How am I to sort through all the guilt, grief, and rage, and organise it into a coherent whole? I have so many internal trappings and workings that fit only deleteriously; to make the mess aright would require the formation of a whole other system of shoddy mechanisms. It would be impossible to reconcile the various reactive and counterintuitive forces at work within my make-up, to bridge the gaps between my awareness and my knowing, to harmonise my reasoning and feeling. Only a fool could, should, would try to make less crazy the natural insanity of this chaotica. Yet, if I open my eyes what will I see? Is this the blessing of a new beginning?

Opening my eyes, I see avenues and lanes of burning fire, the twisting torrent of visual screams; broken meanderers strutting disheartenedly through their vicious viscuous minds; perfidious demesnes of caustic, cathartic chammerings; venomous, boiling, cantankerous plinths and pleens jawing over dismal dalliances; vertiginous grounds; pallid skies; everything up and on its side; cormorants flying through Escherial lives; pissantic gnats knit through flies popping in washes of colourless bursts; a million billion William Randolph Hearsts driving to trench wars in a merry wheel hearse; nameless words floating like cows through a mire of hot glowing stones; the opalescent guilts of all the citizen Cohns; marrow seeping from bones with the pounding of sexual tones; pedantic hookers grinding pelvically, rump to bunt; seppuku fetishists ripping and tearing each other's livers, intestines, and spleens, revealing the oozing bodily creams; placid freak-outs through each other's ribs; gnawing teeth down to the nerve and choking on lies; suffocation, penetration, denigration, defenestration, decapitation, contamination, degravitation.

How can I hold on in the face of all this that has nothing, not even madness, to hold on to? I can't face this kaleidoscope of horror, yet it has already seared itself into my retinas as it penetrates through me to rip out whatever it is that lies within and makes me. I only hope that this is but my imagination; I hope that I will still find myself freed from whatever is happening. If it is that I am mad, then I hope it is confirmed, for if it is so I will be able to stand rejoicing that my visions are not real but merely delusions. I will be cared for and dealt with. I'll have no worries. I can never, however, know if what I am seeing is not real, so there will be no comfort there. I think it unlikely that I could ever have simply imagined all this; I am not so creative-- but real? How could it be? No such existence can be. It isn't right! It doesn't fit! I Don't Want It!

I need an exterior motivation, something familiar to use as a landmark, to determine how to shape and focus my actions. My surroundings amount, essentially, to nothing in the framework of my vague understanding of the ballistics of everything; without anything with which to engage I cannot act. I'm stuck in a putrescent limbo where the words of the mind are completely alien to the world outside. The thought collectives that reinforce whatever it is that I am are irreconcilable with the vertiginous landscape that surrounds me in its effervescent embrace. My interconnective mode of greeting the world is indelibly incapable of formatting the influx of information even into something I could recognise as only in formation; there is no ground on which to meet. I am constricted by an endless void, but it is the wrong limitlessness. I don't think this is where I should be; I wish I could tell somebody.

I wish I could tell somebody what it is like to be here. I wish I could tell them the pain I feel from the sour reality that moves down a whirlpool into me. I would tell them that I want no more to interact with it all, but at the same time I cry out for some solid understandable something to come and take a piece of me. The blotches of raw sight that are everywhere are so all-pervasive, unshapen, and meaningless that I am as good as surrounded by nothing, all alone with only myself and my thoughts; I cannot stand it. People quake in fear at thoughts of the lake of fire, but Lucifer would be a welcome sight after this. Chaos is much worse than evil. Being left alone only with crude existence-- the stuff dreams are made of, but no dream weaver-- and my thoughts, which are unfettered by the manipulations of the morass of things that exist beside me, is chaos in its purest form. I suppose that means that I am chaos, and order is only achieved by the curbation of my natural tendencies through an other, but there is no other here. I wish I could die.

Yet, I am here, so this must be some place. I can start from myself, beginning my motions from a position of stillness. My thoughts are yet discernible; they will be the reference with which I use the force of my will to propel me from this unmoved state of rest. I know I can see, so I must have something with which to see. There must also be something to see, otherwise I would not have such things. I must discern, from all this, the variousness of what is out there. I must shape and define things for ease of intercourse. I cannot allow the intransigent nature of this ephemerality to balk me belligerently; I am the one in control, and I need only force this vacuity back to the intramundane. I am the thing that sees; I am the thing that thinks. I am I, and no mere mess of fickle haziness will transgress that. I am will. I will be.

A livable world doesn't simply appear from nowhere; it must be suppressed into form. What delineates the distinctions of the everyday presences that enravel our conceits and frailties, our tears and smiles, our rages and intimacies, toils and lethargy, violence and passivity? What walls and chairs, clocks and chesterfields, lamps and rugs bear witness to our horrors and lascivities, our conundrums and righteousnesses, our beliefs and dependencies, costumes and masks, theater and perfection? What moments of motion allow us our focus and havering, our grip and withdrawal, our visions and blindness, respite and savagery, yells and whispers? It is the colour, the texture, the shading, the depth, the motion and stillness, and the spaces in between that make up the variances that allow for the structure of care that passes unnoticed all around us. It is through the isolation, perception, and divination of these aspects of substance that I will bring myself back to the balance of concretion. The firmament will be split as I stare out and begin by separating that which moves from that which does not.

Staring intently I see voluptuous visceral vehemence with claustrophobic parochial filaments shifting beneath the red and the black; collations cremating in the decoupage of a collage to learn to scream so soft and serious their silly serenities; peaceful explosions devouring, in dirt, drying decays deserving to defer; Vichy verve for velvet drapes to help escapes from fury balls with monocles, follicles, and capes; melting foghorns tooting for apes pounding and looting awful grunts and shrieky hootings; Miles Davis trumpet mutings strolling severely surrounded by four-eyes of muscle making zips from portable ears with external soundage; infernal submersibles flying in back walls of walrusy kernels; neverending cul-de-sacs hitching with backpacks round very impregnable carton stacks; dancing shacks wearing foot claps around a pounding trap; a belly crab drinking flab from ab to gab for replenishment of lost snazz; gasm gas-happy hurrahs coming from inebriate illness juiced jazz fans; the last glass running a blast though the crass formless past of life in party hats; metal sheaves formed from green sleeves for the purpose of tearing out the eaves grown in velour seas; guests welcoming strangers in, from homes so cold, to periodontal folds; buildings of ideological restraints for the holding of saints giving sin many names to make fun of those they wish they could train; no fame or gain, just erratic blurring from swishing to stirring; leftward lilting lily lummocks right handedly granting slanting chanting; moving murders, geriatrics, fitzpatricks, cat licks, poker faces, civil cases, and tearing stases; stationary times, rhymes, market lines, pillow faces, windbreakers, LA Lakers, and movie makers.

The attenuation I am trying to achieve pinches at the sides of my eyes, trying to pull my face in twain. I am, holus bolus, becoming integrated with everything. I cannot imagine the terrible grimace I wear as I attempt tear the mesh with my face, ripping my way through gauze and lace to come to something that allows for grace. The effort it takes to rip the art from the heart, I never could have foreseen. I cannot cross my eyes just right to bring the magic picture to light. I am worried; I know when a hand is enthusiastically passed through glass it tends to emerge different from what it was before. What if now that will also be so? Is there danger lurking behind the blurring? Will I come out diseased and slurring? I feel this struggle against the unknown battering the tender shackles of my soul.

Am I to arrive at the end of all this still as I am? Will I remain myself? The energy that I exert seems to reinforce the strength that thwarts me. It pummels and tumbles all over my rind, peeling each layer with frenetic free time. If the gale persists I won't be able to resist; my clay faucet garb and rhinestone protect mask will shatter and leave my innermost to the blast. It's all my fault. I am the cause, the wheel, the gear. Yet, I cannot about face; I wouldn't last in this place. I feel such fear. I don't wish to remain, but neither do I wish to, as another, continue existing. The cost seems as if it may be that great. What's worse is that I may have what it takes. I am still barreling to my wit's end, and soon I may find where I can no longer stand as I am.

This is the strongest motion of self-abnegation I have ever endured. I am beating against the rain of my own constraints, to loose the gates of my barricades. I struggle against my instincts, and pray for the destruction of my preservation. The goal I hold is to invite the shadows that lurk beyond to invade and take root, eliminating my separation and bringing me back to the fold. Individuality is not worth being alone, staring all that is other down the throat, knowing it thinks it's better and bigger than me in my hole. In comparison to the dream that I bear, I am a groveling, groping, wheezing misdemeanour. I am a flake of dust trying to scream that it is big enough to think itself worth some love. I am a pitiful speck of nothing. I am a crinkle of irritation that cannot even assist the irrigation of temporal continuation. I am the poor man's low brow. It seems I am the loser now, I have kept no dignity within myself.

I yearn to return to mundane concerns. I will shout; I will beg; I will hop on one leg. I merely want the world to renege my condemnation to this parietal lag. I want my lungs back, with a flower to overwhelm my senses with its power. Give me a lake, a tree, a plain evening. I have the right to a red-curtained life, or a house and a wife. Hand me my claim, you odious, oleaginous ocean of prinkings! I can make no demands; I must bow and grovel before the man. What man? Any man. Please, dear God, take me back. Are you out here beyond the walls? Can you see through the cracks? I will do, or be, anything anyone wants, but I can't stand to bear very long these strange haunts. I would be a pirhana, or mad-cow diseased goat, rather then continue to swim this disturbed moat. I'll bray obsequiously, or howl in hunger from unfed jowls. The only thing I want is for me or the burning to stop.

I am finished, but I can't drop off or disappear in a puff from this here. I give up; I withdraw; it's too hard to obtrude into the nude of the real. I will sink and swallow, follow the curve, drown my own-ness in the herd. No more will I look with desire to explain; no longer will I think of anything. I will take whatever I am given without complaint, foster my person with restraint. I can't force my way into that which I inveigle. I will not stand the strain or the penalties. I will just do and accept what that entails. This is the end of all that fails, because I won't take the risk for success which derails the direction of inception towards the valley of death for the feelings that ache. I feel something beginning to break.

Suddenly, eyes awake, I see vomit-caked hair in my field of vision -- you will expiate; the jagged texture of concrete meeting granulated refraction -- you will appreciate; crumpled decrammed geometrics left about by green mouths of inaction -- you will accept; rolling black circumferences with pontiac rims smiling grimly -- you will valuate; the shining brightness of unknown sightliness -- you will idle; electric pink lines brought up for hairy minds -- you will desire; syringe crimes posting wanted signs for more to involve their wealthy-built finds -- you will heed; concoctions of potions to nauseate the faint who paint a face each every which way/day -- you will need; obnoxious unresponsive unconscious blooey hats in flashing mats shambhala-ing past -- you will rely; inadvertent, perhaps, understanding of the matter of facts revealing the only truth that lasts -- you will deny; fast sassafrass shoving itself up the rear with its pass -- you will enjoy; the law of updown left uptown to keep from enforcing the frown -- you will respect; brown noise music being the only similarity to fuchsia pound sounds -- you will listen; little voices everywhere asking the way to the brilliant, blustering, blithering, boombang excitements of the rotating real estate waste -- you will acquiesce; and it all now makes sense.

I expiate. I appreciate. I accept. I valuate. I idle. I desire. I heed. I need. I rely. I deny. I enjoy. I respect. I listen. I acquiesce. It all makes sense.

Erik Knutsen is a twenty-two year old born and raised Vancouverite. He just dropped out of Portland Community College due to lack of funds. His life consists of writing, eating, and sleeping. He has been published in static movement and will soon be published in tinfoil dresses and everyday poets.