Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight the Vancouver Philharmonic Poetic Orchestra presents Mr. Rowan Lipkovits in a monovocal performance of the Fugue for two voices.

{tune up}

1. A list of what was on my mind in the café.

microphones, trash, corrosion, animating forces, invocation - channeling, urine in store stoops, Christmas lights, finding a new use for an old tool, rape of Persephone, nocturnal, smoke smoke smoke, significance assigned to random experience by nature of it being shared, cracked vinyl cellophane, debauch! culture as a social tool, society as a cultural tool, insomnia, succubi, solace, commemoration, ramifications; an aftermath, causal relations, reflection, attention, the performance persona + paradigm, all the difference realized by a 6 inch elevation + spotlight, rising to the occasion, motivations, entropy.

2. Text developed from what was on my mind and what was on his mind.

{-_-_-_-_-_-_y-_-_-_-_-_-_a-_-_-_-_-_-_ w-_-_-_-_-_-_ n-_-_-_-_-_-_}

Too, too tired for everything. Everything! No fatigue this, but sandbag ballast strapped to the brain, slowing you down, {ritardando} slowing you down, s l o w i n g ... insomnia in excess, sleep not-so-much deprivation as abstinence, a field (along with food, "the most sincere love," and sex, Ibid.) in which disorder is almost textbook symptomatic of depression - and now that I'm on the Internet, why exactly _am_ I so lonely? - but I speak not here of totality (though I did write of it) but rather the ever-expanding boundaries attempting to keep Everything out of the real world, the database of sum life felt to be important enough to share, random experience felt to bear significance by nature of its becoming shared, but unlike this {gesture out to indicate room,} a vampire only of lazy Sunday nights, assuredly a mere extension of lazy Sunday afternoons, good for nothing but tea and kitchen appliances and ponderings of social failings and misplaced priorities - this goes away at 11 'o clock at night or so, to haunt the dreams perhaps as a phantasm for four weeks or so but Everything is rather a succubus sitting on your chest, preventing you from attaining sleep or even desiring it, only stirring up near the witching hour when it is apparent that there is nothing more to be done beyond a dive into the realms of the insulting and inane in your television or chatroom or that penultimate little death, a loveless sleep, to be shared only with socks and fuses; a demon stirring up from misbegotten dreams invoking in its stead the net catch of the insulting and the inane washed up on the shores of my subconscious, compelling me to channel the flotsam through a species of automatic writing, fingers click click flapping, playing up and down the body of my keyboard lover in nigh infinite permutations, lingering lovingly on a [hard bracket] perhaps...

A reading will suck the most eminently sharable experiences from my bloody mouth like a Hoover lover, but Everything does not discriminate so - an insistent succubus satisfied with nothing less than a canonical account of nocturnal emissions, milking every last ounce of meaning from a life assumed to bear none. Like a cock's crow, the demon is driven from the first rays of the sun (for which troglodytes are thankful that the lightless caves possess the solace of low bandwidth) and dispelled, revoked, thrown back to the racial unconscious shared in the reptilian cortex of every geek who ever has or ever will know the caress of qwerty's multifaceted surfaces.

When you are too tired for Everything, you become too tired for life; no longer possessing of experiences considered worthy, considered compensation for the infinite inconveniences and intolerable interactions of existence, my suicide - which me is of course never addressed, the boy I love- me on stage (the Orpheaic mouth of the attention-freak-cum-performer continuing communication ex rumination after being torn limb from limb after a drunken debauch! in which he - of course - plays no role) or the default person, the product of only sum experience and not socially defined, formed from hair and teeth and regrettably not mass hysteria or collective imagination, whim and fancy free.

When I am being talked about
and I am not present

I exist in a pure form
Undiluted by the complications of my body
my presence
gritty, base reality

I am a social construct;
only what people want me to be

and when I am not present
their wishes have no physical limitations.

I have forgotten how to be a man
knowing only how to be
a myth.

- all the difference realized by rising to the occasion (to a six inch elevation perhaps) and a spotlight and maybe, just maybe, one last spin of the mirror ball, one last moment of infinite reflection

plunge back into mental masturbation, fiddling and diddling frantic rumination on the self and the state of the self and I am shocked! scandalized and insulted when people ask how I am doing without pausing to consider that placing truth above all, such a casual greeting cannot be amply countered with less than twenty minutes of painful introspection, and if only people would start saying what they mean...

        when they say, that is,
well-pondered omission being the only dirty trick I left in my bag of trick,

and digging through the fallow field, pondering the untimely disposal of the me who is here before you, the me who lives, the boy I love (or at least envy) and worms wriggle in anticipation of invertebrate appetite courtesy of a most literary death - manuscripts don't burn but authors are not extended that immunity (a life spent in the foreign service of language, to the envoys of virii from outer space thus an ill-compensated span) and upon the silencing of that voice - (powering down noise) "this party has been _shut down_", (the three deaths the following day irrelevant); the amps crackle like the death toll of a scarab's crawls / and clicks; its soft but pressing chant. {clicks, snaps, pops}

ramifications / an aftermath;

{claps loudly}: It's no good to have people asleep at a wake...

Distributing the possessions of the dearly departed - a favorite turn of phrase ("Oh baby"...) finding some purpose perhaps but the vast majority of what held dear seemingly without form or function, as defunct as a clump of old hair or a withered cherry blossom, stripped of all meaning when removed from an inexorably private context which can never again be shared. But we are cunning apes, possessive of opposing thumbs and lateral thinking; once we manage to get upright (don't get up wrong, you might hurt your back) and out of bed we have little difficulty finding a new use for an old tool- the poet's words, manure, spread around to fertilize all fields unseen (but within earshot); poppies in Flanders fields after all, the mustard-saturated corpses providing life beyond their life, row after row, the words better known now than the thousands of lives not lost but misplaced. And while a paltry 20 words may seem poor recompense for a life tragically cut short it's more than the other guy got and isn't that all that really matters? (at least, an upbringing in the '80s would lead me to believe such) and though Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living when the life is no longer lived, the records (verbal, textual) of the life are the only artifacts left to examine, each word tasting vaguely of hemlock tea and warning us not to sin against philosophy yet again.

Immortality on this world thus assured (or at least arranged) and appropriate hauntings handed out the spirit may progress to the boggling ramifications - of a literary afterlife, one (as many cynics have suspected) very much like this one; a Tartarus of tantalizing tasks - trying to pour pour pour my quintessence through the murder-holes in a microphone like water in a sieve, hoping to recover enough of myself after the words run out to form an actual personality at long last, or perhaps a puddle in which I reflect fragments of Narcissus, but what puddle reflects sound? only the ripples the breath makes across the surface, and isn't the impact the only measurable factor of speech's importance? At least to get one sweet sip of self-actualization from the last few remaining droplets before they sublimate, condensed on the wire mesh before me, gunk caught in the filter, the dregs of a narcotic brew stirring up hallucination from mud between my ears, causing wild and insane sights and paradigms to parade promenade through my identity, imagining being a woman, being a dog, being a man. Being. The words the animating force behind this supermarionette, the meaning the motivation, and when the sounds run out, the last clap flaps like a shot in the dark, the performer crumples in a heap offstage, empty of what gave him shape and definition and I can only bring myself to take on a passive role, aiming my eyes at the stage and hoping they can stay there by themselves, hoping to see the angels in the smoke smoke smoke haze around the Christmas light stepladder kicked back in the cellophanecracked vinyl chairs candy-coated words wrapping around us and clothing us in saccharine gauze, all ultimately clad in this sugary finery

the cotton candy shroud not to be mistaken for strands of fibreglass, as worn while crossing a mountainous gap in Peru

told me the secret of existence, that "Shared pain is diminished, shared joy increased. Thus we refute entropy."

as for shared angst?

      thus we reaffirm our essentially flawed nature...

and that it is not only acceptable
but that it is what makes us human.

3. Text developed from the texts developed from what was on my mind and what was on his mind.

Understanding is rhythm, and once you have it, really, who can ask for anything more? Would that be gratitude? or perhaps only looking out for number one? Is comprehension selflessness? Was Ira Gershwin a Buddhist? I I I... I'm just concerned that self-preservation is a slippery slope, that it's hungry like fire, endless and destructive until it runs out of fuel to consume, dying in the process. I like to think of the institutions of my life in less combustible terms, no replacing school with cinder mounds, work with charcoal briquettes and thus I feed my flame only in a hermetically-sealed vacuum chamber, piping in oxygen at varying rates, starting quite small and controlled, the quantity of vigour as perhaps only contained in a "sss..." and someday maybe if I'm lucky working up to the amount of air in a Shakespearean couplet, the flickering orange serpent unwinding taller and brighter with every "doth" that slips my lips, and in my dotage perhaps, perhaps, I will have worked myself up to the point where I can fearlessly feed my ego the amount of energy as is contained in an entire poem, like one hep welder having to install sunglasses as protection (Remember that behind the darkened glasses is inspiration and prophecy beyond the most tantalizing of sights, and that the tinted glass is there to protect you, and your naked mind from being destroyed by the great forces which operate beneath them.)

Operating beneath the level, on another level, post-modern is hardly modern at all, Plato would say, forms and images, external appearances reflecting but not revealing true nature, the soul or inner contents on the other side of the noosphere. And what is to be found there? That we are lumps of clay, soulful apes, ugly bags of mostly water, perhaps, some of us featuring imperfections of precipitate, slugs, snails, puppy-dog tails...

I'd like to pound my problems into a woman-shaped sack / …filled with serpents, my serpent and smack. {pitch goes up} But is it the case that there is so much of me that I have to find someone else to take care of the excess overflow spillover? I like to believe the opposite, that I am a handless glove, a bodiless box, a puppy-less bag thrown into my waterless river; do I want to find someone else to be a vessel to pour into (well, no doubt) or rather a girdle to shape what there is of me from the formless lump that my Hugo Plum, our hero with one wing? I'm a large fellow, this is not entirely sensical; it is only common sense of conservation of mass and volume that I could contain two or three of them within me, but what indeed _of_ being contained within another person? {Hand-puppets addressing each other:} "I feel no sorrow in the observation that two humans cannot become one human." {Other hand.} "I think I could absorb someone, I really do. Glorp blorp. Just an arm sticking out of my navel, perhaps."

(Because the following phrase can be conceived as appearing on a small strip of paper found within a chancy piece of backed goodness, it an entirely valid amendment to add the brief coda.){Groucho Marx voice:} Let us not forget that in speaking of containment in such a strictly allegorical sense we exclude its literal meaning, applied with a dash of synecdoche perhaps but all in all still entirely valid... IN BED!

And what of my bed, covered in cilia like the bottom of a starfish, a source of nothing but oblivion to me, not quite in storage but only grudgingly used by myself, cleaned off and offered when the occasion allows for special purposes, the comfort of guests in pairs who prefer not to lie insensate in solitude. At such times I explore the alternatives (and what alternatives they are!) enjoying the support or lack thereof from chairs, sofas, windowframes, rocks in meadows, hollows in old oaks left behind by woodpeckers, depressions in hills, hooks on walls, suspending harnesses, gyroscope exercise machines, sensory deprivation chambers (no wait, that's online time) + of course my all-time personal favorite: the non-alternative - DON'T SLEEP. I have a contradictory love/hate relationship with my bed - perhaps as it stands for a weakness, it stands for spending one third of life dead (to say nothing of the other two thirds in unconsciousness) and even in more mundane terms; it's not big enough to contain even me, feet sticking out like some Dr. Seuss character, "the bearded poet of Da-la-ma-doe-bit"
but constantly I am heard to remark that it is too empty, that there is too much of it for merely me to fill - and does this perceived inadequacy reflect itself in my relationship to sleep, an aversion to beds and all their trappings, my declaration of war on dreams and bold pronouncement that when I do manage to snatch a wink or two of sleep I want it to be terrible heat-flight, blanket-wrangling and jiggle hypersensitivity? I am a nocturnal creature; perhaps I would better fit on a perch where I could dangle upside-down.

We awaken when our machines sleep, and this can even be said to be a true statement given the additional text that machines never sleep, stumbling through a haze of cursors and icons from dawn to crash, looking for e-mail every six and a half minutes and only really being impressed when it exceeds our capacity to deal with it. Our online boxes, communication and connectivity machines are nothing more than elaborate coping mechanisms realized in physical form by the electronics industry - promoting of ritual behavior as responses in modern society; gross bureaucracy investing in thousand-dollar machines which enable them to read Dilbert a bit faster and play eighteen games of cards simultaneously. (If every person in a lab plays Solitaire at the same time, does its name become ironic?) Sisyphus + his twin "Siffysis" on the opposite side of the percent symbol pushing equal and obsolete ideologies in suit & tie (except on casual Friday) and forgetting the inanity of their tasks, cubicle walls preventing them from seeing their clones and realizing that paired up on their rocks maybe they'd get a few of them over the hill (but then what?) like the performer, the person who creates for all the wrong reasons running the mantra that "only other people can affirm us, not our minds" up the flagpole and saluting with a tear in their eye.

We are not immaculate conceptions; the act requires assistance like any other birth; "Come towards the light!" - the spotlight - audience waiting with phantom forceps protruding from their ears, ready to -yank- if the poet appears to be suffering from complications, and when the audience claps, each smack is as on the baby's bottom, and every breath the performer takes at the conclusion of a performance is as the baby's first gasp of air, amniotic fluid still dripping from its finest of hairs, unparalleled in nature save in the event of anorexia and starvation, the human breathing again now that the possessing poet has released the hold on them and fled into the far-off land of alter-ego.Ooh... that's bad. {Crossing out three times} (spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch) (spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch) (spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch) - not mere marking, but utter obliteration. Such a display of belief (were it sincere, were it belief backed by faith rather than knowledge backed by cynicism,) such a display of belief would surely turn any unholy intruder, vampires alike, who, like myself, can only permit themselves entrance if they are first invited in. Like the most impolite of houseguest and lovers, however, he steps down and retreats in flight into the night upon sucking the very last taste of the marrow of life + livelihood out of any given situation, whether it be one acknowledged to possess significance or merely clunking on as though under the delusion that it has such shared meaning.

The man holding his breath exhales. The tension is released. The balloon crumples, face deforming grotesquely. The spent lover shrinks and hides and does his best to defer responsibility for this mess to any other party.

The myth

(C) Rowan Lipkovits and Peter Douglas, May 1999.

CST Approved

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