A date with Thanatos

Through the night I walk,

empty shadows paving the way

like streetlights.

On a date with Thanatos,

his bony hands clasping mine.

A unison in life, sanctioned in death.

Promised a ring of poppy

one day (night).

He’s a mediocre magician,

getting stuck in his own escape tricks.

He lights my cigarette upside down,

happy to support a lethal habit

to see me sooner.

He lifts me up to peek over the fence.

The grass isn’t always greener,

but it is grass nonetheless.

Dipping our feet in the dark abyss, Lethe

flows by us, 

a never ending highway,

his brother skating down it.

No one can skate like him 

and yet

he only looks to skate like his brother,

forever the imitation of an Ollie.

Running past the suburban homes

housing the dead,

the dog on old man hades porch barking threefold.

For fun we smash mailboxes,

twelve times.

I run faster

but he always catches me,

cradling me in his cold embrace;

a reminder of this

once-in-a-lifetime-encounter.

Enveloped by his mother,

making love inside her womb,

this union can’t last more than

forever.

Sad to be a one-night stand,

but knowing an awkward run in IS inevitable.

I feel subaltern because I don’t have what I need, which is a lot of consciousness

The family keeps itself as a pet

[...]

The family is small like a fast food restaurant at the train station

– Elfriede Jelienek

She howls herself out from stillness. A sudden violent movement to get out of the chair. “I’m leaving and I’m never coming back,” she says. The hubris is a way out of lethargy.

But he says nothing. He gets down on his knees, into prayer. She gets homesick. They both suddenly want to comfort him. She’s the bad one, but it’s only her thinking that. He can’t see her guilt. She’s alone in it.

Shall we do something nice instead? He says. We can go and buy meat for your stew.

It’s sunny outside, they get pho on the way. The butcher’s hands are bloody and they get a heavy bag of meat. Now they are homesick.

She babbles: “I’ll tell you what I love. I love you, I love to sleep, I love wine, I love the day when I have slept ”. She wakes up in the night because it smells like bones, thinks of bones that crumble, how to strain the broth later, what to do with the leftovers. Strain and discard the fat. She thinks it’s good that he can help her with that.

She felt like an adult when he took her to a seminar where the lecturer said that nobody today is anybody’s first choice. That there’s always been someone before. She thought it could not hurt to think like that, about love. As part of a slightly larger pattern. A system where a relationship is liberation.

*

In Jon Fosses’ Dog Manuscripts, the dog Webster escapes from home. He is ashamed of his relationship with his owner, old Oline with her bubbling and gurgling stomach, hugging him in bed. When he returns, he’s cold, tired and hungry. Suddenly the big stomach has changed meaning: become a metonym for love, warmth and security. Love, love, love.

*

The hypothesis that sex draws nourishment from defilement. In order to be defiled, you must be clean to begin with. Have good posture perhaps. Is the family the right place to nurture that? They found each other resting, in that it was easy. That actions (posture, tone of voice, gaze) did not impose any implications.

To manifest my longing for the light, I say to the one I know best: I’m leaving and I’m never coming back. So that my actions can acquire implications. The assumption that you can change how you are towards the world but not how you are with the people at your kitchen table. Can’t you look at me creatively, like I were a movie or an acquaintance, he asks. Is that a loving look? I reply.

*

I cried a cry I had cried before, flowing through already torn up rivers. Sometimes you cry redemptively, when a new insight separates the old, but not today.

Stiff as a family. Sticky papier maché that has solidified. My grimacing face covers the memories.  

Outside, I got the feeling that there was something I have not understood about life. Life is not as I describe above. It is a worthy place for a soul.


Text: Fredrika Flinta
Image: Lisa Vanderpumps Rose by Fredrika Flinta

The Music

What do you mean by that? You said I was joking about your new shoes. Why does the person who knows you so well say you’re a cheater? I’m a man who cares about you. I think you’re my dear darling. Something surprised me today; you came to kiss me on the mouth. You put your dick in my hand and called me your little shepherd. What are you looking for? I’ve met the other men and they say you’re okay. Stop cheating. If so, maybe it’s time to divorce her and move on. You personally inform me that your wife will send me an email to educate me. Please, tell me that story again. The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple. You’re just like that. You treat me like your very naughty child. 

My God, what a mess it is to follow you all around Berlin. My poor legs always yield to your ways. I want to tell you about all the bad things you do. I tried to do it once, on the side, after work. I hold on to Jesus and flee. I see you’re an idiot. What can I say about you? What example can you set for married men? No example. Could love be more beautiful than people consent to make it? You ask what has happened to my attitude. I’m still the same man who dies for you. The other people see us. I’m not lying to anyone. Why are you sending me an email saying you’re just kidding? Not to mention that your wife is in the hospital. You’re doing a terrible thing. You’re doing something wrong. 

The matter is set before your eyes. The matter was with the roses. The fire broke out, and you almost had us killed. The matter was settled for you to follow. Why are you with your back to me? The politics of the world has no place here. The word, the word is used interchangeably with the word. You are a swindler. Peace be upon you. In the game of, in the face of promiscuity, your hands are pale, and the bells are ringing. Why aren’t you listening to me? Some of these musicians, they become our lovers even before we meet them. Now imagine sitting in a pub somewhere in downtown Nairobi, watching him dance. 

All childhood memories come up in these songs. I was 7 years old. I wanted to quit school because of these songs. I forgive you everything when the music starts to play. That is why you want me to visit your wife in the hospital, the one with the newly installed music system. Music heals the sick you explain to me. You say you are not well briefed, so telephone me. I’ll speak to you and brief you completely until you understand. My God, I don’t know what to do. Your name is Yatsko. Have you ever heard of a man called Yatsko? Your middle name is Fabrice, so that is what I call you. You tell me you are from Venice. You say you will take me there one day. I know you are from Granada. Stop lying to me, Fabrice.

You act as though you are fighting with Napoleon. Why did you deceive your wife? You started yelling at me. Who were you challenging? I decide to leave you and you turn ill. Your complexion is now similar to that of a banana. I don’t think I’ll ever see you again. The only sorcery I have known has been to pray. You search for my replacement in vain, my dear. I hear your wife is doing better. Thank you for the photos you left me. I have certainly come to live the experience. Always faithful to your hunger, you’re still hanging around town. The taxi drivers always know where to pick you up. Having once satisfied all of your desires, in the bars that you always like to visit, the walls still report to me what you do. Good luck, Fabrice. Find a way to forgive me. 

You were not easy to deal with, but I’m the photocopy, very much your boy. What use is beauty to me when there’s no one around to admire it? You used to film me and all the funny things that I normally would do. Someone told me you were making a movie. I anticipated the situation by calling the producer at 6am to ask him if he could burn the film. He did. You want to hang me for what I’ve done, but it doesn’t matter, I already have everything. It is useless to try and remember me. My mother calls me everyday to ask me how I am doing. She makes sure that I am home by that time to answer her calls. Have you quit smoking? Are you drinking less? Are you studying? My dear son. Will you be okay? Are you still hanging around with that man? Do you need some money? I start to laugh. Don’t worry about me. Rumors.

I turn myself into a ship captain and dock at every port, where my lovers are waiting for me. We almost started a riot in Porto because we were carrying guns inside our shopping bags at the Castelo Vermelho. Big mistake. The courts will close during the day. Many people thought they would die. They saw we were looking for violence. Their hearts were pounding for us to love them. They were not afraid to eat of their love. If I love them, and they love me, where will we go for all this love? The real thing is what wonderful people they are here. The men are drunk, their brown eyes shine with… I decide to find out. It would be a crime not to go dancing with them. There’s something about his nose. I look back to the past. He reminds me of Fabrice. I push forward. The music moves me. I reach out my hand. The music moves me to do stupid things. 


Text: Ian Memgard
Image:  Juliusz Lewandowski

Love Stories by Readers

Uh I just thought about something romantic yesterday: As you may know my ex boyfriend was a ballet dancer at the opera here in Leipzig. It was kind of in the beginning when we met that the opera ball was taking place, which is actually a horrible “high society”event with super pricey tickets, lame music and some desperate c-listers looking for attention on the red carpet. But Stefano (my ex) asked some of his colleagues to distract the security while he was leading me through the back entrance. We spent a lot of time in the backstage area drinking with the other dancers and stealing bottles of wine from the rich people’s tables. Then we went upstairs to some technician’s “bridge” that goes high above the main hall of the opera where some traditional pair dancing to classical music was going on, which was actually nice to watch. Also we made out there. End of the story.

– Jan

Snowy day, hot spring at the outside on the top of the mountain, beautiful site

hair was freezing but body in the hot water was super warm, with the thrill of feeling that someone could watch us, had really romantic moment

haha

– Jung Hong

I had this amazing tinder date once, it is the only tinder date I’ve ever been on because nothing will be able to top it!!! I was in New York to visit someone, but already before I went there I started writing with someone on tinder. I think we matched because he had just visited my city. The day I was flying out we started writing and realized we were going to New York at the exact same time. Coincidence?

We met up, we smoked a weed pen inside the Met, we talked about teaching children that the word for “water” was “fire” and vice versa, and how confusing it would be for them to encounter a fountain for the first time. They would be yelling “Fire! Fire!”. He took me to a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool where everyone was really hot. It was during the hottest day in history in New York City, there was literally a historical heat wave. I think I fell in love with him by the pool. We went to his friend’s house for a pre-party thing and kissed when we smoked a cigarette on the fire escape. Later we went to a party and the day after I was leaving the city. We decided to meet up to say farewell. We met in Starbucks, even though he thought it was unethical, but they had aircon.

My most romantic moment ever was when we went out on the street corner to say farewell. It was like a fusion of all romantic movies I have ever seen, a lovers face framed by Midtown skyscrapers, a heat wave, a separation, not knowing if we would ever see each other again. We exchanged instagram handles, embraced and walked in opposite directions. 10/10.

– anonymous_girl_94

February is my birthday month and I hate my birthday.
Every February I go on a travel for weeks by myself. February 2020, I was in Vienna, Austria. I could be anyone I wanted. 

One night, I had a date with a local boy that I matched with on a dating app.
He was beautiful. But strangely his beauty didn’t exclude me at all. There was something about this beauty that was welcoming and made my heart comfortable. We shared one pair of earphones. When he mentioned people in his life, his eyes glowed. I wished to be one of them.

After strolling for a while, we reached the Donau canal and sat on the shore. “Before I forget. Here, I made it for you. Today is 14th of February, Valentine’s Day”, he handed me a little handmade bouquet. Until then, I didn’t realize that it was Valentine’s Day. It had never been a big deal in my life and I told him so. “Same goes for me. But thanks to you, it’s become something memorable.”

Valentine’s Day is around the corner again and I still don’t know what to do on that day.

– Yuiko Osada

The best date is when you deep throat his little dick, you suck his swiss pension. Because giving it up to guys in Berlin with a similar age as yours is pointless. Artists, curators, sculptors, models… Absolute garbage. Don’t let yourself fall for the guys that you wanna date, that will make you cheap ass pasta at their dirty place. Swim in Russian champagne in French mountains. Looking for a cute handsome guy is a hell on earth. On Valentines Day please read Audre Lorde: Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power. And level up it’s 2023 girl.

– Oskar Pawelko

image: Pierre-Louise Herold

Catcheur Catch Me

I’m in a bad mood
My heart aches
I’ll take my first dose and pour it all down, into my stomach
After yesterday’s game
I see his hook approaching my mouth
Don’t ask me what I was thinking
When I dropped my defense
I just felt the mouth guard go into my gum
And passed out
I have no more strength
You do not understand
That it’s you I think of while spitting blood
You don’t care
I’m on the stretcher and you take my hand
You will do better in the next game
Manager from hell
I know you want my skin and my money
The city warping all around the traffic lights
The paramedics have faces of vultures
They tried to pick me up

But I’m more of a support than you
I can’t stand your sad reaction to my failures
In the morning when I wake up
You make coffee, very black, very strong
Like your straight ass

I’m not asking you to bear my failures
And you think about the game
Semi final
I’d rather you love me as dumb as I am
That we are taken care of in material life
Fuck glory
As long as my jaw lasts
I am not a machine
I will take neither gold nor iron to my grave
I’d rather be a secret bomb
And drink good bottles in secret
Training starts again
And I take so many hits
I take my protein
Make a sour face
You’re sexy you tell me while covered in sweat
And undermined by effort
I’m not Frankenstein babe
I’m not as kind
Listen boss, I won’ die for this
And it pisses you off that I’m not bleeding today
You convince me to save my anger for when I get to hell
So I dumped you, put a mini shirt on my muscular wrestler’s ass
And I hitchhiked in New Port, the airport

I ‘d rather find stable relationship where I’m not getting hurt
And to live by the beach or on another planet

text & image: Clément Szuszkin
translation: Ian Memgard


Incel Mind Tricks

If you hate yourself, you can fall in love with someone in the hope that they’ll recognize something in you which you don’t even dare to believe in. 

Seek out people who trigger your insecurity, so that their love for you will show and prove your value. But it never works out, because who wants to love someone who obviously sees themselves as inferior? Only psychopaths want to be with people who see themselves as less worthy than themselves.

And if they do love you – then you’ve got to ask yourself what’s wrong with them, if they’re willing to degrade themselves enough to love someone like you – a worthless person.

You put a trap for yourself – and that’s the whole trick. You put yourself in situations which cannot go well. You invent equations which, regardless of how you solve them, always come out to zero. 

Most of all and most desperately you love the ones who made you feel worthless, since the moment they crushed your ego, they gained immense value as the only ones who can restore it.

You see yourself as weak and you despise the weak. You take the side of the strong. You’re bullied and wish you were one of the bullies. You neither want to help or be helped by others who suffer. Their suffering makes them weak and ugly in your eyes; as weak and ugly as you, and no help to you whatsoever.

You don’t see the boundary between yourself and others. Think other people prove something about you. That a hot girlfriend proves something about you: that you’re the kind of guy who has a hot girlfriend. Or the kind of girl that the hot guy wants. Wants much more than he wants other girls, even if he can get other girls. 

If he can’t get other girls, what is he even worth?

What sort of guy would have to settle for you? Not a guy worth having. 

The ones worth having, they turn their faces away… towards other views which you cannot see but desperately want to catch; views that exclude you, untouched snow landscapes without dirty human footsteps.

And you don’t want the girl who’s nerdy and insecure like you, you want the girl that the guy you wish you were had, because then you’d be like him, chosen by the power that creates and shapes the world. 

You see guys or girls like yourself and you’re repulsed, like when you hear your own voice recorded for the first time – do I really sound like that? Do I look like that when I laugh? You don’t want to recognize yourself, you want to be exchanged. You seek what you don’t have in other people.

And what is it they have that you don’t? That elusive light. You, who always walk away from me, you who never comes.The shining thing, the power to revolutionize the world. The breath of god, beauty. Not just to feel it but to be it. To be it without knowing that you are it, living in eternal grace.

Isn’t it strange when you notice someone projecting onto you? That they look at you, and it’s like a lunar eclipse; something else, mysterious, moves across your face, in the space where the eyes of the observer meet that which shines. There and then, you know: I will disappoint you, because what you want from me can’t be given by a human being.

All I can give you is this: That I am who I am, and that I am that when you’re with me. 

If someone loved you, you’d think you must have fooled them. That you must have made them believe something about you which isn’t true, that you’re better than what you really are. And regardless of how much you wished that their love for you would prove this – that you actually ARE better than you think – suddenly the proof feels false and unreliable. And once again love must be tested by more and more difficult trials.

So you think you love me? That’s what you think? But would you still love me if I cheated on you? If I made fun of you in front of your friends? If I hurt your feelings and ignored you when you needed me? Would you love me then, still,would I be worth it? Would you love me if I shat myself, poured acid over my own face, became a nazi? No? You wouldn’t? Then I guess you never loved me. 

At first, you want to be so beautiful that everyone who sees you has to love you. Then you say, hurt and suspicious: but do you only love me because I am beautiful?

Unconditional love. Seeking a love which can’t be denied. You might call it divine if you believed in it. But —

That’s the thing – no matter how many times someone says “I love you”, people like that can’t believe it for more than three minutes. So they seek uncertainty in unanswered feelings and deadlocks, because being uncertain, awaiting salvation, keeps the hope of salvation alive; refuses to recognize anything so brittle and mundane as actual human love.

Not only our lovers and love objects get to suffer; everyone else close to us gets to suffer, because they’re close to us and we hate us. We think, if you hadn’t stood close enough to me to show me where I end, then I would be infinite: then I’d be what I want to be, but you, with your love for me and your lame interests and all your flaws – you’re the one who limits me. 

Admittedly it’s true that I, with deep desperation and despair, love a world that is lost every single day, that I love freedom when it slips out of my hands. But what can my friends do about that?

If you’re not the best, coolest, most desirable, then you’ve got to be a total nobody. It can’t just be that you’re normal, resistable to many, to some people appealing enough. That’d mean being like other people, and that’s impossible to live with; you’ve got to prove that you’re something more, irresistable,and if not that, loathsome, helplessly damned.

So you believe you take your seat in heaven, next to up-side-down saints, as the saint of eternal loss and losing. An idiot’s trick, really; to waste your only chance to experience, if only for a short moment, what’s most like paradise on earth. to never give yourself the power that creates worlds.

We think we’re not loved. That’s not the problem. The problem is that we don’t love other people. We aren’t willing to give them anything. Sure, you can think that “if they only did this and that, I would love them,” as if you need permission, but let us be honest – if they’d done what you wanted, the goalposts would be moved again, until they finally reach the deadlock you seek, where nothing can satisfy you. You’ve got to love them first. Whether you gain from it or not. As if gain or loss would mean anything. Who or what is even keeping the score? The only real loser is the one who won’t play.


Text and image: Zola Gorgon

How the sausage gets made

All my life I’d escaped, with a mix of effort and luck, from learning anything at all about what it was to work, but one day someone called me on my landline and told me my parents’ helicopter had had a critical error just at the border between Brazil and Argentina and crashed straight into the Iguazu falls. A final, extreme vacation experience, I thought, with a bittersweet melancholy. My parents had truly been crazy.

They held a closed-coffin wake. What actually had happened to my parents bodies was impossible for the human brain to imagine. Things like that you don’t even see in films. After the funeral, everyone mingled, eating bitter little biscuits and drinking coffe and speaking in quiet voices. My uncle, a pragmatic man who ran a little tourist buss operation, came over with a grim look on his face. He’d always had a kind of reserved distaste for me, since I didn’t work, but spent my time like this:

In the morning I woke up on my own, and left the curtains closed. Then I spent a good long time thinking about what I actually wanted to do with my day, because each day was like a jewel which someone had dropped into the palm of my hand without telling me anything about what they wanted from me in return.

Often I went onto the streets and walked without any particular goal until I found an old-fashioned, shitty bakery where you could buy a coffee and a croissant for less than two euros. I didn’t eat a lot, because I wasn’t missing anything, and I didn’t shop a lot either, so don’t think I was living in some sort of material luxury. I didn’t want anything I didn’t already have. I hadn’t developed the habit of craving.

My parents paid the rent for my little room like a gym membership they’d forgotten to cancel but never used. I really had no reason to complain, and every time a postcard from faraway countries turned up I felt wrapped up in a down duvet of their distracted, unconditional love. The closest I came to actually working was spending a few hours a week filling out and sending back the forms that various authorities sent to me, in exchange for them sending me money for croissants and coffee, besides which I was completely busy writing my dream memoirs.

I never looked at the clock.

I spent many, many years like this. If I wanted a vacation I just walked as far as I could without stopping in any direction. I had a lot of friends, and sometimes I ran into them on the street, drank beer with them and played pool with the neighbourhood. We found a lot of things on the street, furniture, books, porcelain, and sometimes we even found unlabeled VHS tapes, smoked weed and went home to the one who had a tape player and watched blurry figures move across the screen, guessing together what the film might be about. We helped each other with all sorts of things. Those who’d left the country sent me letters, and I wrote them letters back, long and descriptive, with illustrations, and sometimes they called me and told me about their lives through my white landline phone which had given me almost nothing but joy until the day it rang and ruined my life.

“I’m very sorry,” is what the person at the other end had said, “but I have to inform you that your parents passed away in an accident on the border between Brazil and Argentina, two weeks ago.”

“I forgive you,” I said. “I knew this day would come. Nothing’s for certain when your parents spend their time on extreme travel experiences, and besides they were both over 85.”

There I was – standing there at their funeral, when my uncle, the tour bus operator, came up to me with a little cup of black coffee in one hand and a bitter little almond biscuit in a napkin in the other one. “Terribly tragic, all of this,” he said, though his tone made it sound like it was my parents fault that they’d died, which in a way it was. “I can’t imagine they left much of an inheritance, either.”

“No,” I said.

“Then of course there’s the trouble between you and your half-brother, the lawyer costs…”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Sure seems like you’re all alone in the world now,” he said, and I sensed a certain hint of schadenfreude in his voice, which he’d had the opportunity to develop and perfect during his 40 years in the tour bus industry and which now had its chance to shine. “Oh well, I’m afraid you can’t have fun forever, not in this world. Party’s over! Time to learn how the sausage gets made, isn’t it? Nothing to do about it!”

How the sausage gets made… already as a child I’d suspected from the intimations of adults that sausage, something very tasty, on another level was very, very nasty.

It was something to do with the way they made it. Nobody wants to know how the sausage gets made. Later I heard it was made from the parts of the animal you wouldn’t have wanted to eat if you’d known what they were, assholes and things like that, ground down and pressed into intestine tubes. But there must be something more to it than that, something in the sausage’s very creation that people really shut their eyes to.

“Yes,” I said meekly. “Now it’s time for me to learn how the sausage gets made.”

I’d been orphaned, only 43 years old. My uncle was right – it was time for me to learn how the sausage gets made. But how? I didn’t have any work experience, and I didn’t have a real education either. Of course I had a close communication with the Job Center, but the Job Center felt pretty far away from everything to do with work, and besides I found that their letters to me had developed a sort of demanding, threatening tone lately which I didn’t appreciate in the least.

One day, during my anxious evening walk, I happened to come to a stop in front of the lit up window of a butcher shop. What had caught my attention was the cheerful and plump little porcelain piggies standing in the window and who, wearing chef hats and aprons, offered passers-by kassler and ham on silver plates. I contemplated them for a long time, raised my gaze and saw a piece of paper where someone had written:

THE SAUSAGE FACTORY IS RECRUITING
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY
CALL NOW

and a phone number, which I wrote down on my hand and called as soon as I got home. Even at night they picked up. Perhaps they took calls 24 hours.

“Good evening,” they said, “how may I help you?”

“I’m looking for a job,” I said. “Are you the ones who make the sausage?”

“That’s us! Actually, we’re famed for our sausages. We have some of the biggest factories in the country. We make everything from cocktail wieners to chorizo, sucuk to kielbasa, blood sausage and bratwurst, halal and haram, kosher and kashrut, pork sausage, chicken sausage, soy sausage, christmas sausage, breakfast sausage, wedding sausage… well, not all in the same facility, of course.”

“No, of course not,” said I, who didn’t know much about the sausage industry.

Even before you reached the factory, you could feel the smell of smoked meat in the air. In a little concrete building by the entrance a man in overalls smoked cigarettes and read a porn rag. He opened a squeaking gate for me, and I walked onto an enormous space where grim-faced workers loaded dozens of trucks with sausage deliveries. The factory was as wide and solid as a romanesque church, with high, narrow windows and three chimneys spewing smoke.

“We had a lot of applicants, of course, but when we heard about your education we felt you would have potential in the role of project consultant. Well, it’s a junior role, of course, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. You can get far in a career like that. Not a lot of people with a family background like yours look for a job at the sausage factory.”

“Oh, really,” I said. My education had only covered post-colonial South American literature. Would I have to prove that I knew something about sausage manufacture? I examined my memories for information. A pale childhood memory came back – how my parents maid, Marisol, ground meat in great grinder and used another machine where she put pale white intenstines over some sort of metallic mouth and filled them with meat slop. How could I demonstrate this knowledge, which was really only a picture in my mind?

“How did your parents make their money?”

“In oil.”

“Doing what to oil?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Of course background’s not the only thing that counts,” the interviewer said. “We’re looking for somebody who’s team-oriented but simultaneously explosive. Solution oriented. Good at thinking quickly under pressure. Creative. Passionate. Are you someone with a great passion who’s on fire for managing projects and solving communication problems?”

“Oh, yes,” I said, “I burn with a great passion.”

“That’s wonderful to hear,” the interviewer said. “It’s all about one thing – to take passion and turn it into sausage.”

He explained to me several times the function of my position, something about group-oriented problem-solving, but I was distracted by the heavy, grinding noises coming from the factory equipment, grinding away in in a room I hadn’t been allowed to see. As soon as I came home, the phone rang. Could I start the next day?

“The thing is…” I said, looking for an excuse and not finding it.

“Or have you got other plans?” said the voice on the other end of the line, through so much static that I couldn’t tell if they were male or female.

“I… no,” I said, and had a sad vision of croissants, wine glasses, and pool tables fading away in the distance.

“We’re pleased that you’re so flexible. Could you be there at eight in the morning?”

From that day on I had to get up early in the morning. I didn’t remember my dreams anymore, but turned into one of those people with dark rings under their eyes on the underground. It was like travelling between two fish bowls, office and bedroom, where I fell into a shallow sleep, dreamless besides the deep grinding pulsations of the factory and a vague sense that…

Those who actually made the sausage apparently tended towards laziness, because someone had developed a system to analyze how productively they worked, how many sausages were made in how much time, when so-and-so was sick or home with a sick child, who took toilets breaks the most often and how long the toilet breaks lasted.

I hadn’t seen the production yet. I sat alone in an office with frosted glass windows and saw the silhouettes of the big machines like dark ghosts on the other side and I heard them grinding. I looked at a screen with different numbers and tried to interpret the numbers and how they related to the people who worked on the other side. Some numbers meant something good and some meant something bad; I noted all of the ones which stood out.

I basically never met my colleagues, so I was surprised when my manager gave me a Lidl gift card and said, “Great work- we’ve managed to make this factory a lot more efficient, thanks to you. You’ve really picked up your education. Are you ready to take this to the next level?”

“The next level?”

The next level was for me to not only point out the people who would be fired but to actually fire them myself. Now I saw the sausage makers. They came into my office like nervous chickens. I’d have liked to crack open a beer with them, but that wasn’t my job. And I said, “According to our productivity data this would be a more efficient factory if we optimized away your job,” and so on; sometimes they looked hateful, sometimes they cried on the way out of my office.

“I don’t understand why you have to fire me,” one said. “I’m here on time every day and I work as hard as I can. The sausage does get made. Why does the work have to be optimized?”

“I don’t understand why I have to fire you either,” I said. Regardless of how many people got fired, work on the whole didn’t seem to go any faster. The longer people were there, the slower they began to work; sooner or later they made a mistake, fell ill or were late, except for when someone had just been fired and fear whipped everyone to work as hard as they could until they couldn’t anymore. Then a new person would be hired, and with time the new would become just like the old, and then they were replaced too.

“Then why are you firing me?”

“I’m not firing you, it’s the computer,” I said.

“What cowardice!”

I could only agree. The machine stood on my desk and sometimes bleeped angrily. What could a machine really do to me? I was a human and mightier than it.

Sometimes I took a wrong turn in the subway and ended up in filthy tunnels which smelled like human feces where rags littered the ground and where people lived in filth and garbage, people who were superfluous. How could I be happy about anything when people were just about the same as old clothes which were left on the street and pissed on by dogs until there were nothing left but rags? Croissants and wine all turned to dust in my mouth, it was hard to look people in the eyes, I kept the radio on while I was falling asleep.

I started ignoring the numbers on the screen and for a while my life was full of a sort of peace. I drank machine coffee “with white” and peered through the break room window, onto the parking lot covered with rime where an anxious sinking sun slipped beneath the houses. Perhaps nobody would have to be fired again. In which case it was lucky that they hired me, instead of someone more dedicated, who could have effectivized away dozens of people in the time it took me to go to the coffee machine, put in a coin, and press the button.

My manager called me to him.

“How come the effectivization process has fallen behind?” he said.

“People have become a lot more efficient,” I said, “everyone works as hard as they can.”

“I just can’t believe that,” he said. A thumping sound came from the great room behind him. “We haven’t raised our productivity at all in the last week.”

“But we’re already productive.”

I might as well not have said anything. He said, “We’ve looked into your numbers and unfortunately we can tell you haven’t been efficient enough in the effectivization process to justify your position.”

“I thought perhaps we were done effectivizing.”

“Of course we’re not done effectivizing,” he said testily. “Not only that, but your inefficiency has already slowed us down massively; now we’re a whole week behind. We do, of course, take that seriously. But don’t worry, we found a replacement for you already. I’m sorry, but we have to ask you to go.”

“You don’t at all have to ask me to go,” I said, “you’re the one who decides.”

“Don’t be naïve,” he said. “It’d look terrible for my own stats if I let you keep on like this. You think nobody’s got their eyes on me? No, it’s not an alternative.”

“So what’s the alternative? I do need a job.”

“There is no alternative,” he said. “Well, besides…”

“I have a wish,” I said. “Let me know how the sausage gets made.”

They let me into the thundering heart of the sausage factory. The smell of smoked meat made my eyes tear up and my cheeks itch; the smell of sewage and menstruation; rails in the ceiling where lumps were moved from one side to another; an inside with a ceiling as high as a train station, where metal beams disappeared in a rust red fog and yellow lamps blinked like malicious stars; no sky visible outside the window.

I thought I heard a woman singing, in Spanish as it’s spoken in El Salvador, nothing is more beautiful than the eyes of my true love, his arms are like… but then I couldn’t hear anymore, not over the noise.

“As the farmer slaughters his pigs, one must slaughter ones desires,” a voice said. Who? Who said that? Who whispered into my ear? Nobody led me anymore; the hand on my shoulder was gone, but I went forward anyway. Everything around me moved; the workers at their stations, with lowered heads and plastic covering their faces; they didn’t see me, and before I could recognize a single face they’d gone; in the other direction, high above, lumps of meat were jerked back and forth, pigs and cows and horses and other animals I didn’t recognize, meat juice dripping from the ceiling and rising again like steam, sticking to my hair. The grinder excreted an unrecognizable pink mass from its enormous holes.

Everything in my life had led to this, the rail and grinder and assembly line, behind the line another line, above the manager another manager, behind the grinder another grinder, and above the grinder a platform where a pig sat, larger than a human, with four legs and four arms, a bloody apron and a chef’s hat in gold. It sliced off its own legs with an electric knife, but immediately the spurting stumps grew back, and the severed limbs ended up in the grinder. The pig held plates with fat, swollen sausages in two of its other hands, and with the fourth arm it constantly stuffed its mouth, chewed and swallowed, crying and laughing on a throne of pigs and humans.

Now I knew all about the world.


Text: Zola Gorgon
Image: Pieter Aertsen, A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms

WROOM WROOM (YEAR IN REVIEW)

Maybe this is a bit too much information but I was fucking this extreme French twink-looking guy in the ass the other day, and as I was fucking him he kept doing this extremely faggy moaning, and I thought to myself: I’ve truly done it all now, including gay sex. The year is 2021 and nothing, I mean nothing, is impossible for women.

Apparently there was some sort of a pandemic and people wrote a lot of nonsense about These Unprecedented Times as if everything that happens isn’t, in its own way, happening for the first time, because a lot of people are lucky enough to have had no real extremely negative collective experience – war, pandemics – during our whole lives up until now. If anything’s unprecedented, it’s probably that, I mean to suffer only moderately and in private for almost your whole life. As if I suffered this year. Not much. A little bit, maybe. Moderately, and in private.

Despite These Unprecedented Times, I often found myself thinking: This exact moment is so extremely fun and I hope I’ll always remember itbut due to alcohol I can’t remember all the times I thought that – I just know it happened a lot, and I’ll have to be satisfied with that – let this year in review stand as a testament: There Once Was A Happy Time.

I always used to walk around like an idiot telling myself and others that life is long and full of time, then maybe spend a whole day lying in bed reading about different spices on wikipedia or watch people fight each other on the internet. The main thing separating youth from later times is that you really think time is limitless. How long is a year when you’re fourteen? An eternity, so filling it with shitty manga and anime is fine. 

The thing is, things have an inevitable beginning and end. There’s individual differences in the length of a life, but the limits are there, and it’s unlikely to last more than a hundred years, isn’t it? The oldest woman in the world was French and lived until she was 122 years old, but by then all her children and grandchildren were dead and she couldn’t see or even read bad manga, so what’s the use?

What is there to cheaply try to hold on to like you’re pinching pennies? Use – and spend – your life and your body, because you can’t keep anything anyway. Sometimes the world shows tempting little glimpses of sinful, funny possibilities and then there’s no time to be a coward – just go. Quoth the car, “Wroom wroom!”

Bladee

The market was chaotic and blurry. But even in such a place, there’s a certain definition to the people buying and selling things. Even though they clearly existed in the same space as I, they appeared to be too beautiful for it. The reality of the market was only provided to me by cornering people with second hand theories I had picked up from books like “A History of Markets” and movies like “Markus at the Market”. Markets are like self-contained, modern societies in miniature, I thought. And in today’s society, I was considered a somewhat boring person. I didn’t have the courage to smoke cigarettes in the restroom during breaks, nor to do tequila shots with the rest of my colleagues at our after work parties. I may have just turned 20, but I understood that the idea of meekness as a virtue was a bold-faced lie. What sort of future could await me if I was already unremarkable even in this miniature society? All around me were cool, young couples looking for retro furniture to fill their beautiful apartments with. What was I really doing here? Who was I? My premonition that I would lead a totally boring life filled me with a despair beyond words. I was just about to head back home, when I heard my name being called.

Life is said to be a coincidence, but I think that my encounter with Cameron that day was part of something much greater than the two of us. One could say it was like the long awaited answer to the mystery whispered by Julius Caesar as he bled out on the senate floor. Or was it more like the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx? I guess it doesn’t matter. You see, if I was boring, Cameron was exciting. The fun and the laughty stayed at his side wherever he went. As if he’d travelled the whole world, Cameron grew up to be the stronger, more tanned, and significantly more confident one of us. People thought he was hot and he was always seen smiling. It became our duty as best friends to investigate everything together, to draw every blade there was to be drawn. But was this really such a good idea?

The appearance of a certain “Bladee” had caught the attention of most of my friends that summer. He was all they would ever talk about and all they would ever listen to. “He’s just not that impressive,” I used to say, trying to convince both myself and my friends, but in reality I was more than impressed. I was.. 

I was.. 

I was simply interpreting Bladee independently, observing him from other, much stranger angles. Maybe it was silly of me, but I found him fascinating. I remember how one night at a house party my friend put on the song “be nice to me”, and a strange voice inside my head answered, “I will”.

Bladee was so free… free in a way I was not. Would I ever be as free as him? I had to try. He who is freed from existing morals and reason can accomplish anything. Just like the Marquis de Sade’s heroine Juliette, I had to free myself for Bladee.

The night before I met Cameron at the market I had the crazy idea to pray to God before bed. How does this go again? I asked myself. Then the words came to me. 

“Our Father,” I began, “hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”

Who can say what happened? All I remember is hearing the same terribly strange voice I heard at that house party. It seemed to come from inside me. 

“In the spirit! In the body! In the eyes! In both hands! In blood and breath! In the blade!” it echoed through the chambers of my soul. My mind went blank and I crashed onto my bedroom floor, fast asleep. I don’t remember what I dreamed that night. Only that voice – that strange, strange voice. I wondered innocently if those words were forming within me even after. Strange thoughts and mad thoughts and allegorical thoughts scattered themselves. If I only knew what was to come.

“Hey, Ilia!” 

I turned around and there was my best friend, as cheerful as ever.

“Hey, Cameron,” I said. “How’s it going? I was just about to leave.”

“So soon?” he said, disappointed. “I would have loved to hang out with you, bro. I’m looking for an ancient sword to hang on the wall of my new flat. You’re always so good at picking out things like that.” Then his face lit up. “Oh, you’ll never believe what I’m doing tonight!”

“What?” I asked. Cameron did many unbelievable things and it seemed likely that what he was about to tell me, whatever it was, would, indeed, be believable to me. But what he told me next was truly astonishing.

“I’ve got tickets to the Bladee concert,” he said.

“No way,“ I replied, and the rapture on my face must have impressed him, because he invited me to come along.

That night, after pre-drinks at Cameron’s, I realized that there was fate, more than coincidence, entangled with our encounters, the very same people I’d met a hundred times before at different house parties and hangouts. Everyone seemed oddly interested in making conversation with me, more than they ever had made known to me before. They even commented on my outfit, saying, “you look really good tonight, Ilia!”

If there was a God who had thrown me away, here was a God who had picked me up. A God who understood me and my deep need to be free. To be free for Bladee. Was it the same God who had answered my prayer last night? Whatever that voice had been, it was a voice I decided to believe in. “The Uber is here in 5 minutes!” said Cameron. Wroom wroom – and we were on our way.

I don’t remember much of the concert. Who could possibly recall such bliss after it’s gone? 

But afterwards, when the concert was over, Cameron put his arm around my shoulders and whispered into my ear, “There’s a surprise for you. Head upstairs and knock on the yellow door.” 

“What, why?” I said but Cameron just winked. 

Whatever the surprise was, I obliged. They were waiting for me in the middle of a huge room with a wonderful night view. A handsome guy in a red shirt offered me the absolute temptation. “Bladee is here. You must pay him tribute.” 

“You know what to do,” his companions urged me. 

“Please!” I answered them without hesitation. “I will do it.” 

“Bladee, du kan komma in nu,” said one of the young men. I stood frozen in anticipation. A minute later, Bladee entered the room.

People sometimes say that certain celebrities are “nice and down to earth”, but now I truly understood what that meant. For in his eyes I saw not the cold glint of the trendy young star, but the warmth reflecting from the eyes of the humble cows that his ancestors must once have reared, in their little homesteads in that small cold country far away.

“Det måste vara du som är min väpnare,” he said, and I nodded because I understood intuitively what he meant. “Men även den mest trogna väpnare förtjänar en dag att själv känna riddarens vansinniga beslutsamhet.” I kneeled before his folding chair and prepared myself to receive the touch of his sword, which would dub me into his world. In other words, I sucked his dick. And as he came into my mouth, with a groan that seemed to come from the very depth of his being, a blinding white light filled my brain; there it was, clarity, strength of spirit and intellect, as if every single skin cell – not just in my body but in my soul – had suddenly become perfectly moisturized. And I knew it then. That I would never be boring.

I looked up in gratitude and wiped my lips. But what had happened to Bladee, suddenly so drained of his power? He looked completely exhausted as he fell back against the chair, unable or unwilling to rise again. “Tack…. och varsågod,” he said, and as he spoke he seemed to crumble into himself, like a party balloon left out a few days too many. And just like a balloon he suddenly deflated and was propelled through the air, through the open window and into the starry night outside. My mouth dropped open for the second time; this time, it was with awe. Would he ever be seen again? Perhaps his journey would continue in another place, in another city; perhaps, on another planet. All I knew was that my journey had just begun. 

text: Ian Memgard & Zola Gorgon
image: Ian Memgard

cradle

to be born into the grave
not willing, nor able
the lilacs growing eventually in spring

lulled gently by the cradle
the rotting carcasses of unfulfilled wishes tipping over the edges,
growing like mold

it didn’t have to be that way but it was
and it became the march through the night all of us
like the dance macabre
became morbid figures
dancing the night away

it wasn’t like we had a chance to become
ourselves or anything
after all,

a birth rooted in death is, figuratively, an preemptive strike

living
like burning candles in the wind
not really understanding the meaning of heat

it is fragile

Text: Beate Björkengren
Image: Alexander Norton, “Was ist loss?”, 2015