Jan 13 2001

Splitting, a novel by Brian Charles Clark

Published by Brian at 11:50 pm under fiction, the_secrets, the_unknown_future, poetry

Splitting, a novel by Brian Charles ClarkA rhizomatic epic poem disguised as a novel, Splitting is “A psychedelic odyssey of love and spiritual discovery.” –Publishers Weekly

“Four hundred billion stars for Brian Charles Clark’s world-heavyweight champion novel… In this hallucinatory yet grounded tale, our narrator employs a richly allusive style, half Joyce, half William Borroughs.” –Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, review by Paul Di Filippo

“Brian Clark’s romp through a world of static television screens and desert landscapes sends science crashing headlong into fiction with its highbeams on. The resulting wreckage, Splitting, is a jagged collage of delicate poetry, hip-flasked theory and high-energy prose broadcast directly from the cerebral cortex of a bisexual potassium terrorist struggling to resist the systematic telepathic colonization of earth by hyperlingual aliens. Using a host of agents, neurotic doctors, and psychotic drugs, the aliens are replacing our fractured, amnesiac reality with a cohesive, linear history that corrodes the human capacity to think.” –Review of Contemporary Fiction, review by Trevor Dodge

“Brian Clark’s first novel is a fever dream: a voluptuous explosion of melody and rhythm. A gender-bending ride in search of spiritual identity, Splitting revels in the regenerative power of art and language.” –Nikki Dillion (aka Lisa Dierbeck), author of Scratch

Splitting, excerpt from part one

The rush from the injection while supplies last kicks me in the chest, a chill metal gasp fleeing custody, a lightning of Tartars hording down my medulla oblongata. Compounding chords, like the drone I heard last time we saw the flying saucer. TV induces illiteracy this week only. The itch that roils, the feed from the media line, the news waves in like a bath of riffs, the wake-up punch of water bullets, barely seeing the remains of the day before, I’m reel-to-reeling from the effects of the drugs they make me take here. Implanted memory syndrome compresses all experience into a singularity, and time, coming to burn the village, crumbles like the plaster face of a false idol.

Neocortex-penetrating carrier waves are generated with moiré patterns, waves so dense with information the entire Opus Contra Natura can be limned in just a few microwatts. Which is exactly what the aliens have instituted, although I admit this is not a very popular idea.

It’s because of the microdots. All the color is separated into just six colors and these six are recombined in stochastic arrays of tiny dots all along the radium shower. Warp and woof—optical illusion, Goethe reminds, is optical truth. The scan lines of television are a weaver’s flying hands. Based on the matrix, the telepathic expression of the feminine, consciousness is holographic, and the patient can only digress. Making me an engine of bifurcatory profusion, a seeker beside myself, salted with desire.

Try to remember what we must have known. In this sweating knitting prison suspended in the static of the TV dream, the gnomic bits are all that survive.

Consciousness is a bird, a free-winging metaphor, a spiraling accretion of dialogical stories, and this is where I split up in order to cover more ground. I and I know Rose Mountain is a mystical island of psychic reality veiled in a cloud of unknowing and that KOH wil curve there like a coil of DNA. We are a flock of birds, gliding over territories and estuaries and tertiarities, seeking him her it, heresies, connubial bliss where the wings join the spine just below the sky.

* * *

I have tried to explain to the various doctors over the years that our only chance is to use neurobardic stragectories in hopes of initiating a cerebral cascade that will shear away the false memories the aliens have accreted in our brains. Over the years, the doctors have responded with syringes of varying size. So instead of fighting in the resistance, I’ve been busy recovering from drug addiction. The scream I hear stings like rays. The course of my treatment has left me fragmented, scattered, and with very poor edge detection, but from the powders, dust and shards, a fibrillating vision is emerging. The desperados will find a way to contact their friends.

Dr. Sax has diagnosed my condition as enthymemic aposiopesis. That I leave the middles and ends out. I think it’s plain old CIS, Chronosynblastic Infindibular Syndrome, or, as it is now better known, dystemporalexia compounded with alien mind control. Then again, I have nothing better to do than sit around and think. Or so I presume. It is too easy, and too dangerous, to say anything at all.

* * *

“Who was your wife?” The Necks always turn a simple question into a drill bit, daggering it at my head.

“Armamentia Bila, of course,” I reply plainly. There is no point in beating around the proverbial. Not while there’s a goddess left alive.

“Tell us everything you know about her.”

“What’s to know?” And I haven’t, not for years. I’ve been busy sitting here telling the Necks how little I know of her.

There may be torture. I have no means of verification. Every day is an island, torn free and floating in a sea of malassociated memory fragments. I’m certain some of the memories are mine, but I can’t remember the context of their origin to know for sure. I feel as if I’ve been in the habit of taking the exact same walk along a beach every day for years, but I’ve never been here before. Another possibility is that for years I’ve been sitting with a cat in a small hospital cell. The Necks come and go, quit, get fired or pulled up the sux. I can see the shape of the sea that surrounds me, the endless flat reflecting all our faces, the prison wall made of the weakest thing, and the aliens enslaving me in their driftworks.

I know the Necks are using drugs. On me, I mean, though I suppose among themselves as well. I know I would. Some drugs enhance, others erase and make the mind rerecordable. I wake up from the blackouts with a mouth full of burning feathers, blurred vision, head a roaring ocean, body a sack of throbbing fluids. Basically, though, it is the simple fact of the implants that makes me suspicious. Who remembers when this fashion of wearing an RCA jack in the neck started? The television is an aquarium for the aliens. They rule from the inside.

* * *

Square white room. Pears soap. I think I once had a count of how many bars I’ve used up, but that little slip of paper is not to be found. There are many iterations of the control-freak movie.

They send in Dr. Olympia Sax.

“I’m familiar with your work,” I tell her. “I’ve read your books.” At some indeterminate point in the past, I think.

“Why indeterminate?” She smiles with telepathic highlights, and pulls out a pocket pad and pen.

“That’s a good question.” What did she ask me? “I wish I could remember the answer.”

She cocks her head. Her face is a nearly perfect oval, though I don’t at all see her as abstract. “What did you do yesterday?”

“I can’t tell the difference.”

“Would you describe your life as a blur?” As her lips phoneme Ur her thick gray curls vibrate and roll in waves o’er her white-coated shoulders.

“I would describe my life now as being drugged and held against my will for something like the past fifteen years.”

“Yes,” she says thoughtfully, “I see that in your chart.” She pushes her glasses up the long bridge of her nose. “Do you have any religious affiliations you’d like to tell me about?”

“I once loved a Jainist, and never should have left her. Her memory is reincarnated in my heart every day. Personally, I consider myself a gnostic Fortean animist, which is a fancy way of saying I’ll believe anything if I witness it myself, but not before.” I tap the implant in my neck, nod at hers.

Amanuensis Einstein twirls Madonna Curie’s panties around his pinkie. But that can’t be right. Hypergnosic hallucinations are a side effect of certain mind-control drugs, such as ketamine, served on a gruelingly regular basis as a soup into which the prison chef may well have spit. Hospital cook.

“Have you been menstruating regularly?” Her smile twitches. She may be testing me.

“It’s a padded cell,” I cycle back obliquely, although this is not strictly true.

“I’m going to change your medication immediately and we’ll begin the talking cure in the morning. Now, can you tell me your name?”

I feel I can trust her. She wears sensible shoes. Her books have affected me deeply.

“Denny. Scry? Nairbula. Cody? Whatever it says on my chart today.”

Dr. Sax nods and stands up.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she says from the door.

“Time will tell,” I say.She closes the door. The cat comes out from beneath the cot.

* * *

Tony Cross and I once saw an alien ship descend upon Desert Christ Park. This was long before I met Lydia. Armamentia and I had been childhood sweethearts. Or so certain seeming biographical facts can be interpreted. Armamentia once went with me to Desert Christ Park, when I first moved to Yucca. Wewere twelve. “What do you do?” she asked. “Sit around and watch the rocks crack?” The lesson I take away is that I never learn. There were dozens of statues in the park, constructed of whitewashed cement, some quite large. Several had been knocked over in the Landers earthquake, breaking arms off saints and heads off lambs. You could see the chicken-wire frames. A ship the size of a Frisbee descended and bathed a nativity scene in gold fire. Suspended sevenths. Tony and I stood by Joseph beseeching his coat and couldn’t move, as if we were gazing through a window onto an erotic tableau. The craft emitted a brilliant flash, a blinding light with a sonic kick that felt like a shot of smack, inexorable and magnanimous.Years later, a few weeks before her birthday, Lydia made twenty-thousand dollars on a dope deal. She took me on a trip. We spent the next six weeks shooting speed, drowning barbiturates with Christian Brothers brandy in hundred-dollar a night hotel rooms. We never turned a TV on once. We’d been together a couple of months. I had cast her horoscope and predicted a dramatic future for her. It wasn’t hard: I could see she and her husband were ripping apart as Flika Oswald seduced Lydia’s man away. We picked up everything at hand and tossed it all into the air: kids, households, mates. Lydia and I burned through the drugs, and there was drama enough for all. But for those few weeks we spent driving from motel to motel, up and down the coast in my old Toyota, I do think she loved me. We’d squeeze that memory for years, until it was so thin and dry it became completely transparent, and was finally carried away, without our heed, on an invisible wind.

* * *

“Things I say three times are true.”

You are not making sense, Dr. Sax thinks, but does not say. Human flesh is permeable. Just look at the Necks, dirty breathers. Call myself Jezebel for wanting the curium of the world.Filled with a surplus of meaning, an incantatory, irresistible force which ruptures discursive language, an adept who holds them in her hand is carried by them and is able to fly. “Huntell Mayiz cummen. Green, green, green!” It is pointless to try to translate; is this not the garden of branching quotations? If I could just ride my centaur down Main Street, lead Apollo’s cattle in a charge. Lyre. At dawn, I sail with the Spinach Ramada. They brought you here in a bucket, and there were revolving glass doors. When Lydia and I used to work for D. Gurdy Leitch, we’d barter babysitting for long lines of coca distillate, fool’s gold in them hills, and pyromaniacal last rites, glass breaking everywhere.

I had to get it down from the highest shelf. The cat considers jumping, then has a bath. Cream of tartar can be used in many recipes, including, presumably, mind-control drugs and whipped egg-white concoctions. A rhapsody of swing. Sometimes, with the televisions and the medications blaring, it’s all I can do to muster the focus to put down even one word to the memory of what is happening.

* * *

As soon as an idea or image requires expression in the dry form of prose one can be sure it wants to polemicize, to dualize and to offer discrete definitions rather than a field of perception. The intellect, proverbial one-winged bird, deals from a position of weakness because it demands dogma, and dogma demands defense; and as the samurai know, there exists no such thing as an adequate defense. Slash! and that’s the beginning and end of it. Your brain will make a nice soup.

It is too dangerous to write representationally—to write sequential and reasonable journalism. Finally, very little of any importance can be said in that medium since it comes from and directs itself to one area of the consciousness to the exclusion of all others. Only poetry (including texts to be read as well as texts to be sung) and story can address consciousness as a whole and yield the bifurcatory cascade that will break the aliens’ grip. Unable to maintain a genuine narrative or continuity, displaying the confabulatory delirium of enthymemic aposiopesis, she must literally make herself up at every moment.Poetry and story, which vanish like a cycle of cat’s cradles into the zero of the circle of logos-thread, can present reality far more effectively than prose. The image, unlike the idea, cannot be defined but must be identified with. The poetic or narrative image is open, like the integrated consciousness, and can go where the body goes. For here is a woman who, in some sense, is in a frenzy. The world keeps disappearing, losing meaning, vanishing—and she must seek meaning, make meaning, in a desperate way, throwing bridges of meaning over abysses of meaninglessness, the chaos that yawns continually before her.

How then can I tell the history of those who specifically reject it? How can I capture the likeness of constantly fleeing shadows, when I myself have fallen into the trap of time, am caught in the talons of history?

I am still haunted by the question: Why, century after century, have humans gathered together to say no to something? This something has taken ever-changing forms—predominantly alien televisual politics in the last sixty years, whether we know it or not—but, by the same token, even our awareness and our protest are fragmented. This is the first unwritten law of alienation, and we need to be conscious of it: The something we say no to is never the real enemy, but only the shadow it casts over and within us.

In wine is remembrance. Therefore, we must be drunk as much as we can, in whatever way we can. When intellect becomes intuition it sheds prose like a snakeskin, and dons its many colored-coat of poetry. In this sense, art is necessary because it constitutes the only possible language of such a rebirth. When you feel the rush you’ll be convinced, like someone showing you a photograph and you, too, suddenly recalling you saw the same thing once yourself, at a decisive moment that you had somehow long since forgotten.


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