Oppressing unity. These brilliant, well-read, educated people around me are always talking about the divisions: labor, right and wrong, class, earth and sky, earth and water, body and soul, the sexes, race, powers of the state. Some seem to be good, so they tell me, some oppress, some are divine – the origin of things was the split, they told me, we only know ourselves as opposed to the Other, but actually we only know the division, the not-I, chopping away backwards to find the not-not-I that we are. Splitting headaches.
I haven’t been to these flat places they talk about, where the crud eventually fades away and the harsh blue of the sky begins. I can never find the moment the mouth of a river turns to the sea, never find when the river begins, where water turns to mud then to dirt. Seems these days everyone does everything, in bed and out, and someone is always there to tell me I did the right thing, even when I’ve already been heartily reprimanded not two minutes earlier.
No, there doesn’t seem to this array of sharp lines here and there, everywhere really, dominating everything, in fact, I think everyone is quite confused. All of these lines would be extremely convenient, if you think about it. The right and wrong thing – the knowledge of right and wrong being what divides us from animals, incidentally, they tell me – consider how convenient that would be wouldn’t it, all these confusing things out there, too many decisions, and it’s always so hard to tell which will lead where, to what, and whether the what’s and where’s we are supposedly going to get to are really all that different. With a quick little right/wrong, I feel I could start to get something done, something definitive, and for that matter I am actually working on something quite important at the moment and have started to think I may not have the necessary time if I continue working at this pace, being hindered as I am by all the confusion involved with it.
You see, as I said just a moment ago, I think there are entirely too many wholes around. These divisions, well the would-be divisions, would make the world sensible. But instead we have a great glob of confusion, and the headache I mentioned early is getting worse. So I have decided to start dividing things, but it’s really quite difficult work. For one, things are often sneaky, and don’t tell you where you can hit them to break them. Carve up nature at the natural seams, they said: a dead Greek defied his mentor to find the lines while exiled to examine the souls of fish, a man named after a jalapeño-based cheese-filled alcohol absorbent praised our endeavors to do so. You can too! No, there aren’t these lines; as I’ve said, it all eludes.
I spent a long time suffering, trying to find the promised crevices. A colleague, sensing my growing distress, offered to send me once to the one place he thought even I could find the natural order of things, divisive, absolute, bare: the brothel. I sat confused as we rode the trolley along abandoned, straight streets, the only sounds his explanations of the great symbolic meanings of the brothel and the shuffling of the handful of other passengers, clearly displeased at having their secretive journey made so public. It’s all quiet straightforward, he explained with mirth, there is a natural order of things, and in adherence with this natural order there exist certain places where the naturally over-ordered can relieve themselves of the pangs that the attempts of the lower orders make to destabilize this relationship. You see, you haven’t sensed this perhaps, as estranged from yourself as you have become, but I will make it simple: there are receptacles, and depositors. That is I mean, objects that bring to the world, and objects that take from the world. If understood properly, the bringers are able to dispose of the unwanted urges to bring-about in the designated receptacles. Where I’m taking you, they have understood this order. The workers, they understand their purpose in the cosmically determined, they know they won’t create new things, and if then only things that might not fit into the ways-and-means we have worked so hard to build, they know that their attempts would simply create chaos. The Madame, she understands that there will be thrusts to undo this perfect complacency, and she strives to keep things as they ought to be. Mixing the creative with… with the vulgar is simply self-destructive, you see, and since the dawn of man there have been attempts to relegate all things to their place, the Ur-man understood that chaos didn’t benefit the world, yes and early attempts at organizing the species defied the natural laws, the natural divisions, so they were instituted in such a way that the community could understand them. Maybe your problem, my friend, is that you were born in a time where certain parties have attempted to obfuscate these laws, these natural borders, and with a certain degree of understanding I need to acknowledge their attempts, as of course it is also inscribed into this matrix of truths the drive for more, and I can of course also understand how these parties don’t see their place in the great churning of the wheel to the betterment of the entire species, and how their place was the most apt for them. It is not their fault that they became confused, as you are in fact, and perhaps it is also good that sometimes these lines be blurred, but this only to the end of reinforcing the way things ought to be…
I stared blankly, and he smiled as he stood to step out of the screeching metal block. We turned one corner, another, then another, arrived finally at a house so properly furnished and lit that it stood out as a ghastly void in its richly crumbling post-industrial surroundings. Walking towards the front door, I thought maybe I had found my bearings, maybe my colleague was correct, and the greeter, clothed only in the necessities, brought forth such a sense of purpose in me that I felt a growing confidence that my trials would soon be over.
He strode ahead and called a name, and before long we were standing with a woman in a shabby room, and as picked at the wallpaper from a adorned wooden chair he explained to her that I was not doing so well, and to be kind yet forceful with me, that I would understand, that I was looking for the natural ways and that it was now her purpose to help me find this way, all the while she heard him disinterestedly, but agreed, and as he left he promised to come back to reward her for the good work as soon as she was finished with me.
She smiled at me and offered me something to drink, took my hand and led me to the bed when I refused. I explained the need for patience with me, as I was just learning and it was my first time, not a problem, she said, she was here to help and I would feel better soon. She began to disrobe, and I felt muscles engorging themselves with blood as I stared, mouth dry, agape at her movements. She simply kept smiling, eyeing my reactions with satisfaction, feeling perhaps that the precautions weren’t necessary and I would be more easily calmed than my colleague had represented.
She helped me with my shirt, my pants, my socks shoes and briefs, and soon we sat there alone and together, naked, truthful, and I became very aware of the differentiation that had been promised. The differences in our bodies were so clear, there could no longer be doubt. I asked, what comes now? Without a word she took me with one hand while with the other she steadied herself, her hips directly above mine and lowered herself.
She recoiled, fell off the bed, and my colleague barged in, slamming the door against the beaten wall, faces poked out of other doors, concerned. I sprung out of bed and grabbed him by his jacket, furious. You bastard, you tricked me, I yelled. You promised me order, you promised me sense! But you brought me here, and made me become whole, with her, you broke the one boundary, the one that was there that I didn’t realize was there, the one I could have held on to, you, you…
I barely recall leaving, getting dressed I suppose before leaving. The ride back was completely silent. It wasn’t particularly late when I parted ways, to wander the familiar ways around my apartment. I was more confused than ever, couldn’t stop moving, terrified of the looming one’s and mixed one’s all around, I went to the river snaking through the city, stared at the other side, connected by a bridge. I placed my hand against the cold stone, felt the warmth from my shaking body gradually transfer away from me. Now the bridge too, I thought in alarm. The two halves of one city, united, had taken me too, my life was part of them, it always had been. I wrenched my hand back, but the damage was done, but not, there had been no change whatsoever, I was part of this monstrous thing, had been since my birth. I quaked, and picked up a steel rode that been lying on the ground to my left, and began to swing it at the bridge. At first nothing, then the first chunk broke off, leaving a gap where it had been, and I looked to the ground, there it lay, a new whole. I couldn’t stand it and began beating the rock, shrapnel of its insolence biting my face as it indifferently took my violence to make new and more wholes, everywhere, spiting me with their being. I took to them, swinging my inextricable kinetic energy flowing from me to them to the ground to everything, each pebble, and soon I had only succeeded in creating so many wholes everywhere, that they made yet another whole and I couldn’t believe my eyes: dust, I had made so many tiny wholes that they had created a new entity, the dust, which had always been in the rock, was always there.
I paused, realized, the futility of it, understood what had happened in the brothel. Nothing had changed, but another looming confusion, dormant, had been awakened. I stared at the bridge. Dust and then some. It had lied, the city had lied, but I finally understood, its oneness that others had failed to see, that I had felt and now understood, was in the dust inherent in all the things, all the things around me, me as well.
I turned to the bridge, the liberator of this truth, and thought, it must be punished, in the name of my suffering, and rewarded for bearing the secret to me. I began to swing again, chipping away at the foundation, digging deeper into the rock, until it had shed itself to reveal the iron snaking its way through the middle, up to the cars oblivious to my efforts, as I had been to the dust, to the iron, to everything. I kept swinging, working around the beam, until it was completely exposed from all sides and beginning to bend, I swung and swung and swung with every moment knowing I playing into the great game, that I had lost myself that there was no coming back, that there was nowhere to go back to nor had there ever been, I swung and swung, the beam gave way, and began to sink under its own lie, its own truth, and a great tremor when through the bridge as the other pillars strove to maintain their illusions. A scream sparked from the metal, and I thought of the trolley trying to stop itself, the resistance it gave to its purpose, and I fell on the ground, all of my energy and vitality part of the the convulsions before me, bereft of anything more as I watched the bridge tip and crack the in the center, coming towards me, to punish me for daring to break the silence, the cacophony so great I nearly drowned. With grit teeth as the stone furied towards me, to force all my energy back to me, to thank me for helping it come clean, to thrust me back to the most honest of ones.