Construct #18 - Third Anniversary Issue

Years passed by and our words end in us.

This oral city, full of crowns and empty houses.

Don’t waste your sympathy on us. The sky is already packed with it, birds that screech of all the terrible things that might happen. And behind them, timeless bells transforming to the metal stains of what has already happened. And behind all of that is the image of our children, tracing out the fixed raptures of what ought never to have happened.

Should we even bother with optimism, at all? We don’t have a choice. We can’t afford to give up the dream, but we will also be woefully unprepared if we don’t face and examine the nightmare, even acknowledge the ways in which the threat of oblivion spurs us forth to create something better. Our fear and hatred are still justified.

Can words ever be physical? Perhaps.

Can our poetry ever be our only important gesture? Sure.

The matter of writing is ultimately capable of bringing abstraction, and even the integral repetition of language itself, to its end, to its silencing. But we could expel abstraction from the contemporary world, and focus instead on the immediately gestural and physical.

But how physical can poetry be?

Where Rimbaud wishes to liberate himself from the “laws, moralities and customs” of the bourgeois civil order, Nechayev refuses the ecstasy of that liberation and bolts himself to the cruel center of that same order. In seeking to express the absolute negation of everyday physical reality, Nechayev becomes the personification of its basic banality and brutality.

It is an understanding of the possibilities of poetry beyond words that sounds almost hopelessly utopian now.

The writings of Jean Genet and the Situationists, for example, even given the pitches of rage and icy violence each of them reached, are soaked in revolutionary optimism. Victory, as far as all of these writers were concerned, was inevitable.

So here’s a little bit of advice:

1. Don’t take your children to rallies, art fairs, museums, or the countryside, to see the beautiful nature and whatnot.

2. Don’t teach them any local hymns, or tell them stuff about clean water. 3. No. No. No. 4. Make them stand in the rain. 5. Talk to them about torture, talk to them in cries and groans.

6. Walk with them for days across the starkest of plains. Let them see the working conditions of people in their darkest hours. Then they will know how pointless it is to listen to those who would praise the color of the sky.

7. They will want to go to dirty places around the suburbs of Jakarta. There, they will stare at you and you will fall to the ground, as horrified as anyone who has ever really listened to a bird’s song.

8. Do not befriend them. Stop wasting your time. They will not talk like your Instagram buddies, and they will not laugh at your memes. They will build many barricades, and will not walk around carrying hashtags. Instead, they will bring one stratagem after another.

9. They will make huge additions to your memory.

10. Then they will again tell words—small stories—about the knowledge of those who know they have nothing.

1. Today's Skin For Yesterday's Ceremony
2. To Victory
3. New Meat
4. Reflections of Delayed Hope
5. A Plantation in the Sky
6. On Being A Woman
7. Desolate
8. Linen and Coat
9. Half Woke Kids Trying to Correct the World

Click here to download Construct #18.