Alphonse samson stood before the mirror in his bathroom for a long time before deciding to. The mirror had no frame but its edges were beveled and the soft light from the neighbor’s bright room shining through a small square heavy-glass window above his head on the right wall produced a doubling of. The scissors, he concluded after staring at them longer than was necessary to arrive at such a conclusion, were too small. He would need. He put the scissors on the back left edge of the ceramic sink and opened the medicine cabinet by pulling on the right edge of the mirror, which was hinged. Inside were four bottles of prescription drugs, all of which remained sealed. To deal with the problem later. To ignore, as long as possible, the ill effects.
There were three outcomes, and none of them. Anything else was a reflection only, the shadow of action. According to his disintegrating paperback of At-Swim-Two-Birds, [TK quote at very end of book which you stole and repurposed for the end of Artificial Light]. Or to put it differently, as TK had done in TK Voyages en Afrique, and obviously Roussell’s [sp?] Voyages en Afrique [check both these references, obviously the books weren’t called the same thing or even either of those things, but there was Afrique in the title of both, or at least in my memory there was, which is the point], the which both of which to say precisely the same thing but in different ways and. In the pile of books on his office desk. The photo of James Joyce walking along the strand in Dublin he had framed and propped on the desk against the yellowing wall. The photo of Nabokov reading by lamplight which he had framed and propped against the pale green wall next to the photo of Joyce. Most people assumed these were relatives. Is that your grandfather. Yes I said yes it is. [May have used this joke more than one too many times.]
In France they call scotch tape le scotch. For a long time Alphonse used to go to bed early, but then he finished the final volume of In Search of Lost Time and there seemed no point. He started going to bed a little later, maybe ten o’clock instead of eight-thirty or nine, but he still woke up without fail at five in the morning. This was the best time of day for getting things done. The most productive. This was the most productive part of the day. For Alphonse, the early morning hours were. There was a wasp buzzing a wasp buzzed outside of his office window buzzed a wasp or possibly a bee [can one tell by timbre of buzz? check] whose low hum sounded like an old man talking on the phone, or to himself, about something private. As if there were words just under the threshold. A kind of meaning. Like the amnion of unbirthed sun the pregnant dark from which the filigree of colors from which soon would burst the slow heat from it would soon be dawn. The desk lamp produced a semicircle a circle a half circle a crescent of silvery light shone silvery light on silvered light on the small stack of books and the worn wood of his desk. There was also a paperweight a round paperweight with a bird a black bird looking at red at red holly berries on a branch against a yellow background and a silver heart-shaped box containing in which could be found a pewter heart-shaped container an ornate, beaded box in the shape of a heart with a heart embossed on its lid which when opened contained revealed a polished pink quartz heart in a blue velvet lining lined with blue velvet the box was lined with blue velvet and contained a smoothly polished pink rose-pink quartz heart. Index cards and sticky notes and nearly twenty pens of various kinds and multicolored pens of various types: ball point and felt-tipped and. A pencil-sharpener, electric, and a three hole punch, manual. The pewter box containing the rose-pink stone heart was a gift from Caeli Fax from whom Alphonse had received many gifts and.
The walls of the office were lined with books arranged haphazardly arranged in no particular order disorder desultory disarray that followed a system only he could understand because he had invented the system of his own design which he had himself invented in fact was a system there was in fact a system behind the disorder a method. [Not a method.] C. M. Bowra’s book on heroic poetry was next to nestled against Richardson’s Clarissa which itself in order you could find C. M. Bowra’s volume on heroic poetry, Richardson’s Clarissa, Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy [not that again you are always using it or misusing it in fact] The Poetical Works of Shelley, Stephen Hero by James Joyce [no you have a picture of him on the desk that would be too obvious something better like The Journal of Albion Moonlight], Mao’s Little Red Book, and Newton’s The Principia [doesn’t that have a longer title in other words didn’t he write more than one Principia but on different subjects for Christ’s sake you have a PhD in physics you ought to know these things this is one of the worst aspects of aging is when your memory goes. I used to be able to picture everything as in a photograph, I used to refer to my memory as eidetic “but only when I drink” hilarious you stupid fuck now it would be better described as idiotic . . . eidetic, idiotic. Not the worst jeu de mots. Why does Barth always use such bad French in his books? He uses a lot of French, too, in every book there’s some little snippet of French either appropriated or appropriate to the scene. The Sot-Weed Factor that chapter where they go confront the Jesuit or the secret Jesuit and Burlingame in disguise speaks to him in French to prove his bona fides but the French is completely wrong. Almost Google Translate–level wrong. As if he didn’t care. Or didn’t know any better. At least he didn’t have the excuse of relying on Google Translate as it didn’t exist back then but whatever high-school -or college- (should these be capitalized?) level courses he may have taken did not stick. UNLESS the awkward or just incorrect French is deliberate, in which case it is always deliberate, down to his last book latest most recent book novel Every Third Thought where he makes elemental masculin-feminin errors. That would be a device were it the case, but even as device towards what end?]
Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma apparently has been or is going to be released on Region 1 DVD this year. Finally. The Artificial Eye UK version is very good of course but you can’t turn off the English subtitles which is frustrating. The greatest achievement [maybe] in film ever and you can’t watch it the way it was intended and the subtitles don’t add anything on top of which they’re distracting. Also it plays in the wrong aspect ratio on every all-region player I own. Presumably a Region 1 version would play in the correct aspect ratio. And the transfer could use some work, too, though its having been produced for television I doubt the image quality can be improved drastically. The constant bombardment [word choice] of image and text and sound, the layering, the incredible montages, these. What the fuck is kombucha anyway? What exactly is it supposed to do for you? Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: 1 billion. S. Boulardi: 1 billion. 1 billion what? Units? Strands? Molecules? Bacteria? And why would I want to put 2 billion anythings into my gut and since I have apparently done just that what is going to happen to me? Will I get any of my memory back? Will it rewrap the frayed synapses in my gray matter? It will not no it won’t it will at best one can expect it will produce noisy eructations. The which I may well have produced independent of the 2 billion somethings or other that I recently introduced to my body.
And a stapler, also manual. The stapler was Alphonse’s most prized possession partly mostly due to its longevity: he had stolen it from an office where he had worked as a clerk when he was sixteen and the staples as well which he still had, in boxes, in the bottom drawer of a credenza from probably Ikea [try to stay away from brand names, in twenty years Ikea is not going to mean anything, it’s like saying “Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxx” already nobody remembers that band, and rightly so, awful band, if only he had hired a singer instead of trying to sing himself. No one else in the band could play except the drummer, so why not be satisfied with over-dubbing forty thousand guitar parts and writing simplistic not-great melodies to go with your reductive me-versus-the-world lyrics and have someone who can sing do the singing?]. The staples were in their original boxes of blue-and-white cardboard, 5000 staples each in long rows stacks of rows of 500 each and had not rusted or lost their appeal over the years [see that? it’s your nose. And this is sitting on top of it] nor had the stapler ever required maintenance. Alphonse would not argue with anyone who said that things in general used to be better made constructed more sturdily built to last because in his experience or at least in his experience as regards as concerns regarding the stapler that was true the case more often than not. He was in the habit of drawing general conclusions from specific knowledge which is why the world has become is becoming will become a dark and savage place.
He squinted at his reflection in the mirror. All things in this best of all possible. In his left hand a weight, a thing with weight, an object that weighed. His fingers curled around the. People say now or never but that’s not. Never is an awfully long time. From the monochrome streetlights of Alphaville to the tangerine night sky of Alphabet City to the dusty unripe brown pear lid over Los Angeles and back and forth we go up. We go down. To be or not to be is false equivalence. Not every answer is binary. Between being and nothingness stretches a fantail of options, each with the same consequence with a different consequence the same completely different similar result and the end is the end after all is never the end. A golden spiral trapped in a glass paperweight with a black bird looking at red berries against a yellow background and you bring the object to your throat and squeeze but suppose but I suppose thought Alphonse that having made it this far there are as many compelling arguments pro as contra, in the absence of absolutes which we may take as granted or at least for purposes of argument granted by deficit by the God.
To be able, for all and ever, to stop explaining oneself. To stop justifying, excusing, apologizing, lying above all lying. To stop. To stop talking. There is in every human heart an impulse towards irony that is both the making and unmaking of us. No other animal can act irrationally on purpose. Can self-harm knowing the damage that will be done. Can drive at high speed into the ass-end of an alley full-stopped by a brick wall, on a motorcycle, without a helmet, in Paris, because just because.
Alphonse Sampson cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on the mirror good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.