Hi. It’s Odious. It’s strange to be writing to you on a computer. Opening my heart while being hooked up to the Internets induces a special kind of loneliness. I made a detailed note of how it feels in my bright grey Moleskine reserved for documenting emotional states: it’s the sensation of being at once full and empty, a late capitalism vibe in which profound privilege meets the depths of despair, leading you to click on an ad in your stories for a new sports casual clothing drop that promises to swaddle you in thick organic cotton available in soothing neutral tones. My original plan was to say fuck the screens and send letters--real ones--typed on my vintage typewriters and embellished with my collection of fine point Japanese pens. I’ve been studying peeps like Mallarme and Basquiat and playing with the synchronic meaning of words and the paltry and important ways in which they look different in red or black ink or spaced out a little more this way or that so that they came to resemble the prescriptions on bottles of pills. (Reminder: order more sticker paper for fake labels). It also makes a difference how hard or not you hit a key, like playing a piano. To these pages I taped words and images that I cut out of my collection of ultra-rare books and magazines. These include the OG Supreme books, 1-6…a special edition of Vogue curated by Sophia Coppola and featuring the iconic image of Bill Murray smoking in a bathrobe, the white in his beard matching the white of the robe. There’s my biography of David Bowie from ’82…the official Cine book for Jodorowsky’s El Topo, a movie I still haven’t seen. I’ve got old Apple books about their new products, Miles Davis wearing a long winter coat in his black shades, the graphic work of the company Esprit from the years 84-86, Andy Warhol’s pix of Keith Haring when he was the age I am now, Megastar, and the big book of Interview cover art with the pic of Grace Jones with their tongue sticking out... After the PKD dream I gave away most of my clothes, furniture, and books. I organized everything that was left according to function, color and size, but I totally forgot about these books. They’d been stacked in the back of the second bedroom (unopened, I’d assumed) for so long--the only time I thought about them was when I dusted them, and then they were just shapes which I moved my duster around. It was a total random, fun idea to slice up these heavy coagulations of myth and desire cloaked in the mute drapery of high fashion and stuck-up gallery feels. Culture vulture bibles sold to collectors such as myself, who used to spend precious time I will never get back searching for them and corresponding with couriers and then arranging them in just the right way beside still boxed action figures made by graffiti artists and kitschy glass ashtrays and color coordinated lighters making rainbows upon my always half empty, perfectly imperfect repurposed wood shelves, the effect being one of offerings laid out in a temple where the god that was worshipped was a 100 inch monolith that was always on mute.
Over the course of several late nights and early morning sessions, I gleefully destroyed hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of resale value, just me and my Silver Shears.
I worked for days on the first letter. The prototype. I put the finished pages in a plain black plastic shopping bag (another collection). Unnumbered, so that even I would forget which one was first… Then I gave them a good shake.
“How the fuck is someone supposed to read this?” Swim asked, half-laughing as she peered into the bag.
“They just pick up any page and start.”
“But how will it make any sense? Do we just mail them this whole bag?”
“Yeah…or even cooler would be if we could get it delivered to them, by a bike messenger or an Uber. It’s a bag full of flows… it makes sense because that’s what it is. It’s not trying to force a tyranny of a beginning, middle and end. It’s a circle—instead of ending it comes back and starts again.”
She looked up at me, her expression one of bemused consternation. Then she looked back down, and her brow furrowed, and I thought it was because she was thinking this wasn’t going to work, that there was a reason in the first place why she had done all the writing.
“Holy shit, Odious, did you cut up your super books for this shit?”
They pulled up a page that featured a photo of Keanu Reeves in a suit and tie from a Japanese magazine in the 90’s, over which I’d drawn a black and white halo that I now realized resembled a noose.
“Hey, yeah. So what?”
“They’re collector’s items. They’re worth a ton of money!”
“They’re just piles of dead trees rotting in the corner.”
They examined one page after another in the bag. It hurt to see them grimacing in disgust at all my hard work.
“I can’t believe you did this.”
“I never read them anymore, I’d forgotten they were even there.”
“I do,” she said.
“Read them. Sometimes when I’m back there I take one out of the pile and look through it. I leave my phone on the couch and forget about the news. It’s like going to another world. It helps me write, at least a line or two here and there.”
“I didn’t know,” I said, suddenly saddened to have hurt something they cared about.
“I didn’t tell you. I thought you might be mad because you probably didn’t want anyone touching them and fucking them up. Which is pretty ironic.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“You don’t have to be sorry. They’re your books, you can do whatever you want with them and ruin them if you prefer.”
“No, I can’t, I mean, I won’t. I’m going to leave them alone.”
And then, as has happened before, I flashed back to the PKD dream. It wasn’t just my memory of it, rather it was like I was back in it. I felt the way I felt when it was happening. There was the presence of the older Philip K. Dick. I couldn’t see him but he was there, in the room, now, in real time, flitting about in the periphery but also as a part of me. It’s hard to explain, but in such moments, I know that he’s always been with me while at the same time coming from “outside”.
This time, I was also aware of the scroll that he gave me. It was in the room as well. Since I had the dream, I kept thinking about it as a metaphor--that the scroll represented the subliminal transfer of information that had taken place. But this was incorrect. The scroll was real. Its reach is so far, it’s as though it’s on a distant shelf, but it was like any book that sits in a room, forgotten, but is still physically there. It was among my possessions and it was waiting to be used.
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