It is your tenth month in this place. You have moved apartments, thrown away old clothes, replaced them — and yet still you are here. In this endless moment that is also a beginning. The slow eschaton.
Your friends have left you. Scattered across the country, hiding in place. You Zoom them sometimes and it makes your heart light to see their faces through the digital fog. You crave an intimacy you cannot name, the dim warmth of sitting besides, facing another person. You are always cold, even when the heat is blasting in your apartment. Your cat (or a friend’s cat) sits on your lap, but you do not feel her warmth.
You are still fat. You did not lose your quarantine weight, and slowly your resolve suffocates under your new girth. At least you are not as self-conscious and as self-loathing as you used to be. You think back to your cursed teenager years and how you could barely stomach the sight of that other you — your body — staring back at you in the mirror. Now you watch yourself, notice how you have grown, how you have aged. Are you fatphobic? Of course not with other people, but perhaps you are with yourself.
Winter beckons. You thought — hoped — that this crisis would be over by now. Fall is your favorite season. You like the crisp air on your wrists and ankles. You like watching the leaves burn. You watch from your little world from the windowsill. You take it in on your walk to the supermarket. Soon it will be too cold. For some reason, watching the snow fall this year will seem foreboding, rather than beautiful. Another thing to keep you indoors, away from others.
You still go to the store for things you do not need — snacks and junk with which you “treat” yourself, inventing reasons for why you deserve things that only do pleasurable damage. This is passion, after all — the sweet ache, the pleasant sting. There is a small thrill is teasing death. You try to remember something pithy from The Pleasure Principle, but your intellectualism stores are low. Thinking hurts. You trip over your tongue. The moment is soured and your mouth is bitter.
You have experienced a loss. Maybe your grandparents. Maybe a friend. The nature of a loss, you learn, does not matter. All losses are deaths. The friend you lost is now dead to you, even if they are still alive. You try not to think about them, because what use does that do? You did all your thinking when you decided you were no longer friends. So why do you still return to the scene of the crime? Why fondle this jagged seam?
Some Thursdays you don’t know what to say to your therapist. The two of you chat about nothing. You ramble, hoping that your therapist can make sense of whatever feeling you’ve yet to acknowledge. Psychology is really just narrative theory — the therapist is a literary critic who believes her art is a science. Sometimes your train of thought ends and you sit in silence for too long. You want her to ask you a follow-up question, but she simply waits. You will yourself to speak, wondering what you actually gain from talking to your therapist. You wonder if she has a therapist, and if she talks about you.
You have seen your parents a few times. It’s always nice to get away from [______]. But you fear, every time, that you will carry death into their lives. Like everyone else, your paranoia has caved in a bit. You don’t wash your hands every time you come back from the store — sometimes you get in, rip off your mask and immediately begin eating whatever you just bought. You remember, only half-way through your meal, that you did not wash your hands. Or maybe you did and do not remember.
You have avoided writing. Why? You don’t know. You have ideas, but cannot will yourself to write. “I need to read more,” you lie. You are always reading, even when it feels like you have been avoiding reading. “To be a good writer, you must be a good reader,” you think in the shower. Dev Hynes narrates as your mind races in the fog. I am not your saviour. I am not your saviour, baby girl.You really should write, if only to get these ideas out of you. It’s no use. You realize that they still stick to your sides after the post is written and the likes fade.
You watch the debates with your friends and laugh at the spectacle of our democracy. America and its Great Society. How is it possible that you could live in such a country, that you could keep on going knowing that you are an antagonist in your country’s grand narrative? Something in the way, the Negro problem. You stitch your raggedy politics together from your place of disenchantment. An antipolitics, you name it. You smile.
Winter is now here and you are still cold. Your hands are raw, your lips are chapped, your sinuses dry. Chronically dehydrated, as always, and the air gives no assistance. Gently, you thumb the shower dial to the right in small increments. A sigh as the water temperature rises in a soft cascade on your back and shoulders. You thumb it again, and it gets hotter — this time too hot, blisteringly hot, and you thumb it all the way back to cold. The world outside the bathroom is too cold, you can’t leave just yet. Five more minutes. Please.
“What constitutes the end of the world?” You ask yourself. You are reading Lyotard but nothing seems to stick. Your mind is shorn, for sure — you need rest. Our postmodern episteme is killing us — us in all senses of the word, every single one of your severed identities. We do not have to live like this. There must be something after this world. The radicals with whom you hang find themselves stultified in their lack of imagination. You screw your face up in disgust. Is it really so hard to reject the episteme in which we’ve been made to make an isolated and infamous life? Are we really so t’rapt in this World? What would it mean to say no?
You are still here, living a fugitive life in your quarantine bunker. You no longer know what you believe. It’s easier to just remain ambivalent towards anything, and to name this reaction of fearful indifference skepticism. No more worlds, no more politics, no more metanarratives, no more identities, no more humans. Just vibes.
You are impatiently waiting for the end of the world. You cannot see what is behind the horizon, but you also cannot look away. History hurts, the present is pain — all that there is the promise of a future that looms at a distance, beyond the camouflaging fog of our episteme, this iron cage we call modernity.
What dwells over the horizon, beyond the post that marks the edge of the world? When will this viscous revolution come to a close?