Stronger Loving World

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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Canaanite Gospel

It's hard not to think of the city as a medium, the city as a text , the city as a book. The rate of communication flow between the brain and the environment exceeds our intentional ingestion of information in the forms of textual narrative. Eventually, all of those graphitti stained walls, diapers left in garbage cans, every bulbous and adjacent piece of architecture, eyes staring at you from bedlam, the lights and shadows of rats crawling between your legs, disruptions in the concrete, billboard advertisements, street signs, rails, brick patterns, names carved on stone, compose a spatial text; graphemes organized in temporal simultaneity and differentiated into an environment. A text we live inside of. Literature shapes our thinking by expanding context, by referring to an external environment, by developing a rhizome, a viral relationship engaged organically with an environment. But that environment speaks to us, too. This is what the rhizome is, it's every end of the text, no corner left unchallenged. The rhizome grows within itself. Breathe deep. Brooklyn. Fuck.

I don't want to live in New York anymore. I want to leave. I want to leave this city very badly, and I am trying to figure out why. I fell in love with Brooklyn a few months ago, and it changed the way I look at this entire city. But now, even moving into the outer burroughs, even the promise of a genuine community with all of its interpersonal codes, with its cultural strength, with its sense of warmth and humanity, can not keep me in this city. I have lived here for a few years now. I also happen to have grown up an hour away from this city, and as a 13 year old would take the train in with my 16mm camera to shoot short movies about the skateboarders and rollerbladers at the Brooklyn Banks. The dozens of tapes and lord knows how many hours of mostly unedited footage remain in the possession of someone I haven't spoken to in years. Through the few videos I've kept, I see a view that is scrappy, shakey, taken from the perspective of eyes that still haven't fixed themselves with their environment. I've been looking at this city for a very long time.

I think that living in one place for three years is like reading the same book for three years. And who wants to do that? To be fair, New York is Finnegan's Wake; its filiations, its corners, its gradations, its course and polyphonic memory, its speech-as-meta-language. Nevertheless, how long can one realistically read Finnegan's Wake, for fuck's sake? Even The Wake is meaningless without the context of other texts to rub against, to spark a difference. I really need to leave this city, and I probably will before the year is out. Which is why, suddenly, every piece of graphitti jumps out at me, and I'm now frightened by writing that was already on the wall. I have no nervous system, only the relations between your words and my spine. I have no city,only the blood-red paint dripping from your spraycan and onto my adidas. I really have no city, no text. I want to take my books with me when I leave, clutching a copy of Augustine's City of God, I want to build a new jerusalem from the scraps of metal I find on the highway. And then I want to curl up by the fire and clip coupons, from magazines.


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