To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

David-Baptiste Chirot: Cinema of Catharsis (IV-VII)

[continued from an earlier posting]


As the patterns are emerging from the small battered lawn—the patterns which are for her continuously seeping in from those in the long-ago linoleums . . . they begin to form before her eyes the patterns of a parquet floor . . . the patterns, even, of a kind of design she has seen somewhere before . . . watching, waiting, with ever increasing urgency, an urgency she feels violently and vividly coursing through her tautening veins . . . as the memory begins to clear . . . revealing to her both the floors and the ceiling of a Cinema she had frequented as a child . . . in some outlaying area of the small battered city . . . an area which she associates more with dream than memory . . . though, now coming back to her as the patterns grow ever clearer before her eyes . . . she finds herself involuntarily witnessing scenes from her childhood and early adolescence . . . entering into this Cinema with her family—entering in there on weekends—Sundays even—she now recalls, as the parquet floor and ceiling become ever more vivid, all the while themselves images superimposed over those of her now streaming memories—of her entering the Cinema as a girl in neatly pressed skirt and blouse . . . freshly ironed that morning, before Church, by her mother . . . the scent of her mother’s faint perfume comes back to her—the slight smells of freshly laundered dresses, of crisply clutched handbags in which various “secrets” of her mother’s ‘Woman’s Life” are kept carefully at the ready for the ever awaited “special occasion” which might someday “you never know when” arise . . . those scents of an expectancy which made her mother and everything about her seem to her, even now, “romantic”---all this flooding back to her now, superimposed over those lozenges, those patterns of the parquet—and the expectancy of waiting in line, there, at the ticket taker’s small glass enclosed booth---before entering the inner area where the popcorn machine towered, immense and alive, spouting furiously its fountains of pop corn, while the soda fountain poured forth a continual bright and multi-colored syrupy mist in her memory—a mist made up of all the exotic tints of the promising sodas . . . and then, then, her own taut veins now pressing ever more tightly against the skin—she could feel this—the tautness, like a bow being stretched back, back, back—about to launch the well aimed arrow—then—with a slight release of the tension—she sees herself entering into the Cinema—


El Colonel smiles . . . there in the darkness, he sees a person enter stealthily from the door way at the other end of the Cinema—on the other side of the middle of the three rows of seats . . . at the same time—he is aware of some one moving with equal stealth in the area of the balcony just above where the first figure is moving----and, slightly behind this figure, for the very briefest of moments—there appears another figure—which swiftly withdraws—into a shadowy area in which hovers the red light sign for the restrooms . . . something is taking place, El Colonel murmurs to himself . . . something is taking place—and he is suddenly aware, at the sound of these words uttered by himself, to himself, with as much stealth as the two moving figures are possessed of—he is suddenly aware that at this moment in his consciousness, and “before his very eyes as an observing consciousness”—he notes mentally—as an aside, whispered to the audience which is comprised by his own various suddenly alert consciousnesses---he is suddenly aware that the events which are about to transpire are occurring simultaneously as memory, dream, imagination and that form of conscious thought which is known to himself as “writing”---and that these events are triggering also, somewhere else, events in the consciousness of someone else—not only a reader—the reader who is himself of the writings which emerge with –with, as in a distinct and intimately close collaboration--himself—writings at once his own and some Other’s—as well as some other reader—and some other being, somewhere else, also writing—in their own way—these same events . . . aware of all these simultaneous events occurring—and of all these simultaneous awarenesses converging, here, in this spot—in these events now going on—El Colonel finds himself being drawn to an area to his right, in the middle aisle—in which the figure who has stealthily emerged form the door on the ground floor—has seated itself unexpectedly next to another shadowy figure—there in the dark—of which he had not previously been aware—and that this shadowy figure is now engaged in some form of exchange of both sounds and gestures with the figure who has emerged from the doorway—and placed itself practically on top of the shadowy, seated figure—in an astounding act of imposition---

El Colonel smiles. Casting his gaze upwards—he perceives the figure in the balcony slowly grope its way towards the front of the balcony—where, standing just overhead—it is watching the scene below, in which the two figures are exchanging rapid gestures and indistinguishable sounds—before suddenly separating—with the figure who had entered into the Cinema from the ground floor door—moving off and finding a seat at some distance from the other—while the figure overhead—suddenly is casting glances sideways and back—back towards the area where the hovering red sign indicates the rest rooms----

El Colonel smiles. Something is going on—he is thinking—when of a sudden in the area on the ground floor to his right—there enter two shadowy policemen . . . creeping carefully along the dim rows of seats—while, above—where the standing figure has been directing its gaze—he sees beckoning another figure—gesturing—towards a door marked “EXIT” whose light has suddenly come on and which swings suddenly open—open—to a hurried, scrambling rush of bright air and light---


The scene in the small battered backyard is flickering as the lights from neighboring houses go on . . . and for the first time she feels a slight disturbance in the scenes in which she is simultaneously entering the Cinema proper . . . inside the movie theater itself . . . this flickering catches her eye immediately she is inside the theater---and, drawing her gaze towards the peripheries of her vision to her right—she sees entering there suddenly a swift, stealthy figure . . . the flickering increases, as though there is interference from some other transmission . . . and for the first time she has the sense—a sense “like ESP”—that some one else, also, is watching this same scene . . . though from somewhere else—some other pair of eyes is also making out in the dimness the shadowy figure moving along the rows of seats until it finds one where a figure she had not been aware of, a shadowy, lumpy figure, is slumped---and practically on top of which she observes the swift moving shadow place itself—so nearly are the two figures placed they seem for a moment to merge, then pull abruptly apart—and between the two a rapid fire series of gestures and indistinguishable sounds is being exchanged . . . while, above—“out of the blue”—for all the darkness around her, the phrase comes to her—she notices a figure beckoning from the area where a dimly glowing red light announces “rest rooms”—and—following the line of sight towards which this figure is beckoning, she makes out another figure—dim, standing at the edge of the balcony—and—while she watches—she sees a door begin to open behind the man gesturing from the rest room area—and, as the door opens—she sees a patch of sky—feels even the slight in-rushing of a cooler air . . .

Even as she is watching, she becomes aware that she is seeing the arrest of Oswald in the movie theater in Dallas on “That Day”—and into her awareness come rushing the snatches of varying accounts of those moments—accounts pieced together from among the stacks of books she has read . . . with a growing intensity her vision is taking in each detail, each remembered moment of the action—in a kind of slow motion . . . a slow motion however, growing increasingly troubled by interference---by a kind of flickering in which the images “go in and out”—and sounds suddenly are leaking in as though from some other consciousness—not voices so much as sensations of wires, synapses, being crossed . . . she feels herself recoiling in a kind of horror as her suddenly sensed awareness of witnessing the multiplicity of possibilities of what may have occurred during those fateful moments—is being disrupted—by a transmission-- which she senses is not meant to interrupt—but is that of an other consciousness, also registering these scenes—though this other consciousness she senses, is somehow not aware, as she is, of what the scene exactly is—that is, the other consciousness observing these events is not interested in them—not in the way that she is, but at the same time from some other interest of which she has no idea, no remote idea of herself--—a horror from which she recoils—that some one else’s awareness of the events—is interpreting in ways completely other than her own—not out of malevolent design, as she somehow most powerfully feels—but out of an intensity of awareness happening within it, this other consciousness, which is equal to her own—and even—perhaps—even—she feels the possibility all too acutely—painfully—even more powerful than her own—yet not with any ill intentions at all towards her own. . . a consciousness which she feels suddenly withdraw . . . leaving her to observe—the now empty theater . . . after the sensed fleeing of all those who but a few brief moments before had been there—all those who had been present on “That Day” according to all the accounts she had read . . .

Everything is happening so fast . . . has been happening so fast—and now, so abruptly she feels herself nearly swoon . . . is so abruptly over . . .

Slowly, slowly her eyes become aware of the small battered backyard in which the shadows among the flickering light look like so many burnt out remnants of an intense explosion . . . the singed and still smoking remains of her intensity of awareness . . .yet . . . as she gathers herself—she thinks—having come this close . . .this close to finding the Truth . . . perhaps . . . someday . . . and she finds her awareness trailing away . . . trailing away into an immense and most welcome sense of relief, of safety, of rest . . . of a calm assurance completely new to her . . . and, as she drifts into this peace . .. she has all the while a feeling through its own shadowy, slowly retreating substance, of the still flickering presence of that Other . . . while it, also, slowly recedes . . . she has still the consciousness of an emerging “welcome memory, however faint”-- of this awareness which has brushed presences so intensely with her own, there, on “That Day”—in the Cinema of Catharsis . . . . .


El Colonel is smiling . . . lighting another cigarette, he uses its bright glowing tip to write in the gathering twilight sky . . . to write of the sensations of coolness and blue he had found himself drawn to in ascending to the second floor of the Cinema and exiting by the door which he had seen open . . . while all the while there lingers in his consciousness the sensation of having passed through an immense, and intensely concentrated, electrical event of some kind on his way across the floor of the theater, to the stairs and then up them . . . as though the immensity of the blue he finds on exiting . . . is the calm following a storm, a storm in his consciousness, to which, someday he may return—as he sensed within it—the presence, distinct and powerful, of some Other there in the Cinema, some other pair of eyes also observing the same mysterious scene—some other consciousness, some where—which might hold the key for him—of all that had transpired during this afternoon—this afternoon in the Cinema of Catharsis, in which he finds the writing taking him . . . on so many occasions . . .

[NOTE. Concerning the whole El Colonel series, an evolving “major” work, Chirot has written elsewhere: “it should be noted that El Colonel is not a ‘static’ being—moves through & inbetween as ‘in-beat-we-in’—is rhizomatic—rhythmic—unfolding—in events among Time & ‘consciousnesses’—non-linear-and ‘occurs’ not so much as a ‘character’ ‘by an author’(including himself)---but exists in dimensions which begin to explore the zones which Stephane Mallarmé created as ‘poèmes critiques’—& an obsession with El Colonel is a Writing which exists without ‘materializing’—a Journey with the Writing of the No—

“there is thus no particular ‘order’ to the pieces, though the ‘first’ appearance as and in print of El Colonel is the Chapbook ‘El Colonel Smiles’—(also published as a prose poem text w/o images in Otoliths online & print Journal-)—the first presentation of El Colonel’s ‘thoughts, those improvised compositions’ which may serve as a kind of ‘Intro’ in re ‘composition’& re composition as an emergence out of ‘decomposition’--appears in ‘El Ojo de Dios Part the First: Insects & Letters,’ which can be linked to at the Sous Rature site.”

An extensive bibliography of Chirot’s published El Colonel pieces recently appeared on his blog at]


Ed Baker said...
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Murat Nemet-Nejat said...

I'm glad that this major writer, major work, is finally being recognized.