Thursday, November 19, 2015

Talk Jargony to Me.

For some reason this morning I have been thinking about that time General David Petraeus got caught having an affair with his biographer and how that is one of the most narcissistic things I have ever heard of.

And that has gotten me wondering what that pillow talk was like, in the middle of a war zone, conceivably in a big field tent, with that desert wind howling on through the night outside. And that is when I realized that there are no good asymetrical warfare sexual innuendos! How can that be?! Our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan provided us with a plethora of fantastic new jargon (Green Zone, IED, Oh-dark-30, red-on-red) but try as I might (and I have been trying mightily), none of it is funny! I mean, “cockpit” and “foxhole” are barely even innuendo, but how do you find the humor in the term “non-sectarian violence”? I guess “the Surge” has some potential, as does “the Sunni Awakening”, but I think using that last one as some kind of sexual innuendo might be racist (???), most certainly it would be culturally insensitive, so maybe let’s nix that one, I guess.

“Bunker Buster” is funny, but that term has been around since the at least the 1990s. Probably there is some crude potential in “KC-10” (the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 aerial refuelling plane that has a long phallic refuelling “flying boom” sticking out its back end) but that is (figuratively) a bit of a stretch.

“GWOT” (Global War on Terrorism) is fun to say (try it right now! “G-WOT”!), and although it sounds a lot like “g-spot”, I can’t conceive of any situation in which “GWOT” would be an appropriate thing to say. And not for nothing, can I just say that it is the collective opinion of the editors here at Standardkink that we should all take g-spots very seriously and not be flippant at all on the topic.

“Axis of Evil” seems like it should be funny, right? But what would be its practical application? Maybe some sort of very specific group-sex activity? As in, “I was in an Axis of Evil last weekend”, but I just don’t think that is going to catch on.

Do you see what I am saying here? None of this is funny. That is very depressing to me because I so deeply love the potential of language. I guess it is true what they say, there is nothing funny about war.



As part of a failed November Nanowrimo project, I have been writing this weird series of kind of ekphrastic vignettes about pictures a person (who lives my fantasy life) might have in their phone. The post below is what that person might recall about Mark Rothko. Sort of. This is very first-drafty, cut me some slack.



This is a picture of Mark Rothko’s “Light Red Over Black” from 1957.
A red canvas and a light red rectangular smear hovering above a squarish black smudge floating over a more shadowy black brick.
This is one of my favorite things.
What can not be visually or abstractly or virtually understood - what thus far defies the digital reinterpretation of our physical reality - is the experience of being in the presence of a Rothko.
His canvases are huge.
18 feet tall, I think. 11 feet wide.
Each one painted on canvas made from the bleached hide of the last living specimen of an all but extinct species. A singular animal hunted across nocturne steppes in the dead of winter, stalked, killed, skinned just to this end. The blood still pumping warm through the heart, collected for pigments.
In every museum in front of every Rothko there is a bench because to be in the looming presence of a Rothko is to be cowered and the bench allows one the option to sit rather than kneel.
At the Tate Modern in London there is an entire room of them.
Ordinarily this is not permitted. Just as suspects are separated by police before questioning; just as the most irrepressible of prisoners are kept in a solitary confinement; just as the most powerful versions of gods are segregated into separate monotheisms; just as competing densities of gravity are stored on entirely separate planets; so too are Rothkos usually kept far apart.
It is for this reason that he never delivered on his 1958 contract to produce an entire series of his dark totems to the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in Midtown Manhattan.  
He painted them, but then distributed them far and wide, to the Kawamura Memorial Museum in Sakura Japan, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the nation-state of LA, to the underground Houston Texas bunker of the Rothko Chapel, and to the Tate Modern in London.
The thing which is most important for a witch doctor to know, is how much black magic is too much.
But the Tate Modern, in its enthusiasm to collect as many of the monoliths as possible, installed an active noise control system in its Rothko Room, using anti-noise wavelengths licensed from the city of Taos New Mexico to cancel the ultra low-frequency hum emitted by the paintings, which had been correlatively linked to mass hysteria and also - conversely - to a debilitatingly deep, unremitting existential solemnity.
The room is quite large, or perhaps not. In a Danielewskian happenstance, no two people have ever measured the dimensions of the room similarly. Most agree that the room is vaguely rectangular in shape. That it has a slatted wood floor of burnished yellow pine cut from trees so young that the cutting itself was considered very nearly obscene. Most agree that the room is dim, held in perpetual shadow, an unending dusk, but for the slim dry glow around the paintings themselves, which are not artificially illuminated.
Most agree that despite the fact the ceilings appear rather low, they must actually be quite high, as all Rothkos are 27 feet tall, 13 feet across, and 2 feet thick.
The room is what a Bronte would describe as glum.
Given the sound canceling capabilities of the room, it is completely silent. Should two patrons find themselves in the room at the same time - which has never happened - they would hear nothing, least of all the accelerated beating of their own hearts, as the vibrations up through their bones would instantly be countermanded by the negative silence of the motion activated sound transceivers embedded in the ceilings, the floors, the walls.
This is the room I will go to when I die.
I have no spiritual reason to believe this, but I believe that when we die we go - alone - to a quiet and lonely and empty and eerily beautiful place.
For someone else I imagine this may be a golden midwest field of grain bending preternaturally in the not-quite-silent but unhearable breeze. For someone, I imagine, this might be an oak panelled room decorated with the stuffed heads of dead animal's; antlers and those obsidian black plastic eyes taxidermists use because light glints off of them in just the right ways. For someone, I imagine, it will be the observation deck of the Empire State Building looking down into a completely motionless Manhattan. This is what all of those shots of sun-dappled blades of grass are about in The Thin Red Line.

This is the room I will go to when I die.