The End of Inventory
Beginning January 1, 2013, and spanning 657 consecutive days, I’ve catalogued every individual object I own.
Today at the Imagine Science Film Festival, I performed the text in its entirety, which took over seven hours. In total, Inventory is 40,071 words. Photos and full video of the performance are forthcoming from the Marina Abramovic Institute, but the final four hours are currently viewable here.
Thank you for reading.
the sad teen goes to the apple store to buy a computer
the sad teen gets a macbook air for its 16th birthday
the sad teen goes to school and writes in a journal
the sad teen lies down in the middle of the hallway of its high school and screams and screams and screams
the sad teen leaves class to use the bathroom and washes its hands for ~6 minutes
the sad teen goes to a party and stays for ~20 minutes
the sad teen rode the bus for ~18 minutes to get to the party
the sad teen tells everyone at the party that it has a ride home
the sad teen stares at the space between the wall and the door while it puts on it’s shoes as if it means something
the sad teen walks home through a great big park and drinks its mickey of captain morgan through a straw
the sad teen stops in a mcdonalds and orders ~8 chicken mcnuggets with fries and asks for ~3 packets of mcchicken sauce
the sad teen wants to order ~200,000,000 more chicken mcnuggets
the sad teen makes eye contact with a crying kid and whispers ‘same’
the sad teen looks up at the moon and whispers ‘same’
the sad teen wishes it’s mouth was always filled with mcdonalds french fries
the sad teen leaves the mcdonalds and stumbles a little on it’s way through the parking lot
the sad teen crawls into the bushes behind the mall and never comes out
a million men with their dicks in their hands shiver with their fingers over their keyboards
a million men write a million thinkpieces about the sad teen
while the men sleep the thinkpieces crawl across their apartment and slip under the door
the thinkpieces catch a breeze and glide down a busy street
the thinkpieces feel like the female character in the song freefalling by tom petty
the thinkpieces feel like meryl streep at the oscars
the thinkpieces feel like a miranda mixed with a little bit of samantha
the thinkpieces sometimes wish they were a carrie
the wind blows the thinkpieces faster
the wind flutters the corners of the thinkpieces a little and the thinkpieces shiver and giggle
the wind was up all night google image searching ‘kim kardashian pregnant feet’ and ‘julia stiles married?’
the wind read an article that julia stiles wrote about feminism for the guardian
the wind didn’t think it was very well written
the wind thinks about quitting smoking sometimes but really only so it would have something else to complain about
the wind once told all it’s friends it was going to AA when really it just didn’t feel like going out for a couple of weeks
the wind gets pains in the lower left side of it’s stomach sometimes but they always go away eventually so the wind has decided not to worry about it
the wind blows the thinkpieces past a number 11 bus
the wind blows the thinkpieces into the bushes behind the mall
the thinkpieces wrap around and around the sad teen and the ink from the thinkpieces gets all over the sad teens grey joe fresh v neck tshirt and white lace shorts from forever 21 and there is mud all over the sad teen’s payless sneakers
the sad teen’s google search history is:
let him run wild katy perry
pinched nerve nipple
tricyclen lo depression
american apparel tennis skirt
pizza delivery late weekday winnipeg
can you catch a cold from having sex
xanax t3 safe amount
xanax t3 overdose
xanax t3 acohol
I reached into my pockets and pulled out the teeth I’d removed from the girl’s head shaped like my mother’s and showed them to everybody. These are Darrel’s teeth, I said. Darrel no longer requires food to make his flesh. We are his mouths; he is our house. I put the girl’s teeth shaped like my mother’s teeth into my own mouth and on her teeth I chewed until I heard my own teeth in my head breaking and I swallowed and I smiled.
Blake Butler interview
BLVR: Do you think language is a fundamentally human product? Or does it exist outside of people and somehow create them?
BB: I think language is a system that we have devised to negotiate a series of more amorphous entities. It’s a layer you can use to see where those things exist, but if you don’t have anyone speaking anymore, those things are still there. The things that language stands for do not require humans, and in fact are often trampled down by humans.
BLVR: Your language has a quality of invocation: rather than describing things, even fantastical things, it’s causing those things to be. I think that’s part of why it’s difficult and also really exciting.
BB: That’s always been my goal as a writer. It’s not that I’m an escapist, but the value of language is that it can create places that did not exist before. And so language for me doesn’t reflect the world, it extends the world, so that it becomes larger and more fantastic and less mired in this school shooting bullshit. It actually builds a future—that’s how evolution occurs.
‘Why fi’ by Ana Carrete
Review by Richard Brammer
- I had to wait a few days for Ana to email a PDF of her new zine/chapbook ‘Why fi’ to me because she was moving house and ironically had no wi-fi at the time.
- Whenever I’ve read Ana’s poetry I’ve always felt that if it was a Tumblr, it would have around 5 columns and be quite playful and colourful and definitely have a few animated gifs but then sometimes you’d look more closely at it and find this really nuanced poetry mixed in and you’d hope she has it set to endless scroll because you’d just want to keep scrolling up and down to see if you’ve missed anything and would keep finding things you want to read.
- This book reminds me of Belle and Sebastian and indie-culture of a certain type (The Pastels, C86 music, Postcard Records, Allo Darlin, Camera Obscura) but I can’t decide whether it reminds me most of the song ‘Photo Jenny’ or ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ or ‘String Bean Jean’.
- I’ve just thought about this alot more and played all three songs because I knew it was one of them and her poem ‘Ten Years Later my First Pair of Skinny Jeans Still Fit Me’ means that ‘String Bean Jean’ wins. So, if you have this book please follow this recipe: open it after reading this, I’ll post ‘String Bean Jean’ in the post above this, now listen and read the two of them together for an enhanced experience. If you don’t have this book then you should really go out and get it or go on the internet and buy it.
- My favourite poem in the whole collection is actually the first one which is called ‘But High School Was Good to Me’ which has some beautiful and intriguing imagery throughout and involves Disneyland and an argument with her Mum and finishes with the lines: ‘…so after doing the peace sign next to goofy/i ignored her for the rest of our lives’ which are just so poignant but also funny but then shocking and dramatic. Oh and it has the word ‘walkman’ in it which reminded me of the walkman and I like to remember the walkman.
- Until this book, I’ve never before actually read a poem about not getting an internet connection on my phone which I really should have done by now because it’s like one of the most common experiences of contemporary life. Now every single day at work, when I exit the elevator from an area that is devoid of mobile-phone coverage and flick on my airport mode and flick it off again to try and get a signal, I always think of Ana’s poem ‘404 not found’.
- A poem entitled ‘Video’ talks about how the vast amount of seemingly pointless videos (Facebook photos, selfies, etc) that your typical Millennial adult has to negotiate nowadays, of themselves eating a burger or drinking a drink, only take on relevance later, when contexts have shifted and you no longer go to the places where those videos were filmed or you’ve moved across the country or something or these place have been knocked down.
- The vastly crowded contemporary job market is also tackled in all of its banality in poems like ‘Requirements’: ‘pushing on the job is required/begging on the job is required/being on the job is required’.
- Ana plays with words well…very playfully (see - the title, obvs, but also poems like ‘Diminish my Skin’ (p.24) and ‘Yes we Cunt’ on the opposite page. Not enough poetry does this now. More poetry should do this.
- Do the Belle and Sebastian read ‘Why fi’ and ‘String Bean Jean’ thing, it works (see the post above this).
‘OHSO’ by Mike Bushnell
Published by Scrambler Books
Reviewed by Richard Brammer
- This entire book, this massive book, is set in Futura like a Wes Anderson movie but with even more detail than a Wes Anderson movie.
- For a man who, I read once, doesn’t like adjectives there are some amazing ones: ‘oh what an ignorable day it has been’ (p32), for instance. I think adjectives are a problem for the poet perhaps more so than for the novelist. The poet sees these really dull patterns of attributive adjectives doing nothing to help the word that they’re modifying, or conversely, doing too much. When a poet uses an adjective he/she has to be careful. They want language to enact itself rather than to only describe something. For a man who, I read once, doesn’t like an adjective Mike Bushnell is extremely adept at using them when he uses them.
- This book pulls off many paradoxical tricks. It looks simple on the surface but it requires work on the part of the reader. Something like how a Foxygen song requires work on the part of the listener. Don’t worry, it’s worth it, you’ll be richly rewarded. This is illustrated not least in how the reader has to try to parse the largely unpunctuated flow of language, a flow that does nothing if not open up the possibilities about what you’re seeing there on the page, when to keep on reading, when to mentally put back in the punctuation, all the syntactic ambiguities that occur as you skim across the text and then go back and read it again and again and again.
- This isn’t some academic ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ style exercise in academic, linguistic dryness though. The writing, despite how you have to parse it, is entertainingly readable and frequently amusing, playful and punning - see ‘roots grow where she’d dyed’ (p. 43).
- Sometimes the text just collapses (‘a collapstrophe’?) into pages of computer code (What is it? XML? It’s not HTML is it?). I haven’t done it yet but I sometimes wonder whether I could somehow paste this code into a XML viewer and it might reveal a whole new set of secret poems encrypted into these regular pages of code that I never would have seen otherwise. Someone try it.
- The computer code is interesting from a point of view of language too. Language itself, particularly in spoken registers, being no different really from a cut-up code that has to be parsed and which can become confused, which needs optimising sometimes, which can allow multiple readings. Like flipping a radio dial (God! I must be old) and picking up fragments of communication.
- Don’t be fooled by point 3 though, or by point 6. For all the language as computer code, language as seemingly random fragments, as noise on the page, look closer and this language is actually quite heavily patterned with frequent parallelism but this parallelism is hidden in the blocks of text. Clever stuff. I told you it was paradoxical.
- Poets/Poems from the 20th Century that this reminds me of No.1: e.e cummings (an obvious case for this one, on rare occasions the words even start to break into syllables across the lines).
- Single lines/phrases sometimes emerge from the text and you suddenly see what it is you haven’t been seeing. It’s like staring at a Mark Rothko or like people tripping on acid in the Sixties with The Magic Roundabout on in the background and staring at magic-eye posters when they first became popular.
- Poets/Poems from the 20th Century that this reminds me of No. 2: These phrases/lines that emerge are fantastically imagistic, take ‘pepsi throwback next to keys’ (p.63), for instance. This is like Ezra Pound’s ‘In a Station of the Metro’ but updated for the 21st century.
- At pretty much 500 pages long, this book should be exhausting but instead remains enduringly fascinating and readable. At the end, the author says: ‘Thank you for getting this far in OHSO during this age of digital distraction. If you read to this page from the beginning then you know more about me than I can tell you here’. Personally, I think this doesn’t go far enough and that if you’ve read to this page from the beginning then you will more likely no more about the universe than anyone can tell you (“everything is baby universes” p.467).
- For me, this book isn’t a linear read. It’s like Frank O’Hara’s vast, sprawling posthumously released ‘Collected Poems’ where the editors went and got everything he’d written or jotted down, even stuff he’d written and stuffed into drawers. Or like Bukowski’s vast collected poems. OHSO is a book that you could keep dipping back into and out of forever, pass it down to your freaking children and grandchildren even. Go back to it. Keep going back to it. Plus, it’s not even his collected poems. It’s just one book but this is the feeling I’m getting from it. I’m writing this review now but I’m not finished with this book yet. In fact, I think that me and this book have only just started. There’s enough in OHSO to inspire another thousand different reviews, another thousand different readings. This book is colossal, monstrous, illimitable, infinite, measureless so take steps to own a copy why don’t you. In fact, I think they should put a copy of this in every hotel room drawer.