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Whatnots by Benjamin Buchholz
Recital by Donia Carey

Art by Alice EgoyanOedipus Simplex

Mothers of invention, mothers of chaos, trembling in the world of cannot be inert, how have you exploded out in being from the bigbang ringing, from the ineffable into which we each return, dust and mote and DNA ours no longer? Mothers, where is the maternal philosophy, which Ideal Republic has been built around you, which Electra simpers in your shadow for man, the puerile/penile-half cannot fathom mass existence and the annihilation of bliss beyond the Buddha’s second step, where? Mothers monastic, at that point, select, the few threshing barefoot on reed-woven mats, beating the grapes, retreating from the world you can point past, can occasionally return with starry eyes unable to speak, unable to finger the frightful that is there.

Ring those words around. Let them chain you to your walls, to the electric caves of the internet, the iPOD, the moaning, to watch man speak of the nature of shadows and know only that the names he calls them may resound no more deeply than the limit of dust.

There is suffering.

I came back into the world in the second day of war, like fine ladies powdered and thirsty beneath their parasols at Bull Run, to my butternut scratch, my mangled arm, the truth, the bullet hole in a triptych of horned angels. She, a girl, same age as my own child, flat as dust already and graying on the road where the big truck rolled her I reached up to her hand where the water bottle spun on the roadway, thrown to her in kindness, in mothering, in look-at-her-lime-green-dress-how-beautiful against the stark wolves of the sand! Chalk around sandals. Wailing on the berm. A father bargaining already for reparations while blood wets the road. And me a man in uniform folding his parasol so that he might better store baked beans and Spam in a cellar for the longhaul home, home where each capillary leaf and childhard stare shall say suffering, thus, always, and be more beautiful, more fleeting for it.

Suffering results from desire.

The boy calls me Abu Nafud, Father Oil, and another, Achmed or Adnan, I cannot remember exactly which, calls me Abu Saheeh, Father Truth: I cannot tell who speaks in jest and who in fear, not in this instance, not in even simple matters nowadays here along the wiretaps in my ether, hearing them boys of mine in the messhall praising Maxim and FHM, the virtues of heavy caliber sidearms, the balance between wiping dust from the barrel of their weapons and wiping dust from the mouths of newsmen dusting on our controlled radios, fingering the red buttons beneath their desk that blink for the next bomb, the next holocaust, the blip, storybreak, reformat, tickle me in my sleep so that I am rock hard when I wake: I desire you. I desire to possess you, to press myself on you, to become enslaved to you in my mastery of you, you my captive captor. I will Catullus your Lesbia, static your singing and tell you that, when we create -- of blood, matchstick, or paint -- we lift matter closer
to chaos, further from inertia, into a state requiring constant preening, crazy glue, until the ego lifts and the eyes arch out into orgasm. Until in that moment of breathlessness we shine.

Desire can be eliminated.

In the ashram, yes. But say this to the goatherd, Inshallah, say this to the alderman, Inshallah, say this to the crackwhore, to the night watchman, to the thief, the lover. Desirelessness is saintliness more than cleanliness. It is sitting on the burnt bodies in the gentle Vedanta of suffering, laying in the river Narmada while pilgrims float past like browning petals. It is watching age accumulate in American youth, those brown petals on the river of war, cleansed in the dirt, in the dementia, and stepping into holy rivers purposefully, fully vital, so that they might snag and eddy, be worn away walking upstream rather than down, rather that sitting in the smokelong quarters of the funeral pyres only, humming to themselves, perhaps going with me to the Polo Ground in the evening, drinking Martinis and stiff apertifs, eating olives, whilst the wise men sleep and dream in church porticos and hair shanties, suckling hurricane dervishes, waiting for me to blow my brains out in
the back seat of a Bentley tomorrow, the British way, that being the first and most obvious arc of Schopenhauer’s noumenon: we, in that moment of the third realization of suffering, eliminate desire and lose the will to live.

But, there is a fourth beyond that.

She walks past you, once in that same ballroom, that same night after the lavender girl and the olives, walks by you once in your stuffy suitcoat, billiard brilliance, the long black dress she wore for the Cosmopolitan interview slick as catskin, and instead of seeing futility in bearing her children for the world you are touched with pity at the sight of a dead girl and chalk-mark sandals on the roadway looming in the aegis behind her, pulled by her, dust of forethought, dust of future glimmering imperfect, mother of chaos, mother of invention, holding back the tide of ordinary, numbered, perfect, bland, with sweet strands of dipsydoozle and swizzlestick, with random joy, unexpected, vertiginous chaos, kin to war, creation, the essential nature of life in the world.

It is a thing called love, sacred, this reason for being here beyond.

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last update: November 19, 2008