7 min read

tv fathers

Whole lifetimes passed of barely being there, I was a flimsy ghost determined by the things around me, until now this flash of anamnesis. Not remembering but forgetting a little less how we’d always been together…our graves side by side on several continents.
tv fathers

by Swim

[previous post]

There’s been a shift, a quickening. Outwardly, I’m still moving dreamily in circles, but inside I’ve expanded. There’s the sensation of something coming through on a broadcast that I’m suddenly picking up. I’m reminded of the part in VALIS, in which shortly after his mystical awakening, Horselover Fat comes to believe that he’s living in two different times and two different places. “’There’s someone else living in me and he’s not in this century’”, he explained. He called this other personality “Thomas”:

“’Thomas,’ Fat told me, ‘is smarter than I am, and he knows more than I do. Of the two of us Thomas is the master personality.’ He considered that good; woe onto someone who has an evil or stupid other-personality in his head!
I said, ‘You mean once you were Thomas. You’re a reincarnation of him and you remembered him and his—’
‘No, he’s living now. Living in ancient Rome now. And he is not me. Reincarnation has nothing to do with it.’
But your body,’ I said.
Fat stared at me, nodding. ‘Right. It means my body is either in two space-time continua simultaneously, or else my body is nowhere at all.’”

Like Fat, for me there’s also a palpable presence of an Other—one so close they seem to be inside me. But instead of noticing their differences as Fat did—how Thomas spoke another language and was smarter than him—I’m aware of how they seem to complete me. It’s as though some long lost part of me has been rediscovered and reconnected in the form of another. I’ve been having dreams in which I’m intimate with an older man. These are unusual for me, my dreams tend to be about women, and younger women at that. This man is white with a wide, tooth-flashing smile, like a game show host but not as gregarious. His dark hair is combed back and streaked with silver. There’s something kind yet unmovable in his eyes, something that has already been tested and endured. He isn’t someone I know but I recognize him—perhaps he’s a conglomeration of fathers I’ve seen on TV throughout the years.  He takes me in his arms in a way that is at once romantic and paternal. We hold hands and walk-run down hallways that twist and turn like a maze, trying to find a room where we can be alone. In the dream all I want is to be with him, it’s all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t find any of his specific features attractive but taken together they form a face that I feel I’ve always cherished and to which more than anything I want to stay close. We don’t do anything sexual, but when I wake up a simmering energy is running up and down my spine, moving from between my legs to the back of my neck—similar to an orgasm but without all the unattractive reaching and grabbing parts of thorny desire. Instead of a clenched fist my mind was open, it was ready to hold, not push back…I felt lit up and energized, which I almost never feel in the morning. What is this feeling, I wondered—like joy but more visceral. It took a couple of times of having this type of dream for it to come to me:

It was bliss.

I felt you feel me when you entered the room, and only then did I realize I’d been searching for you for years and years. Whole lifetimes passed of barely being there, I was a flimsy ghost determined by the things around me, until now this flash of anamnesis. Not remembering but forgetting a little less how we’d always been together: teacher and student, mother and daughter, wife and husband, general and soldier…clamoring through hell realms, partying with gods…our graves side by side on several continents.

On the literal, logical surface of things it might seem the dreams had something to do with the misguided sex I’ve been having with my travel companion, my on-the-road musical partner, Jesse James. He is male but not a man. He’s a boy, someone who hooks his smooth arms around me to pull me close to fuck, not to take care of me.

Nevertheless, in the tradition of the many younger people I’ve slept with, I let him help guide me in my increasingly wild oscillations. Each night I get the soul shakes and I think, ok, that’s it, tomorrow I head back to NYC, with or without Jesse James but then we wake up way late and by the time we get outside it’s already evening, so I say fuck it and live a little while longer in dark wooden bars, narrow and stretched out like subway cars, where the antique not retro jukebox is filled with songs about losing everything over and over and as I have to squint to look at my phone I feel a relief that no one knows me and I’m far away from anything I am supposed to be doing.

"That’s all fine—poetical even—but who’s the man in the dreams?" I can hear Odious asking me this, as though I’m transported back to their place in Bushwick, and we’re taking a break in the kitchen, tearing into a greasy delivery bag of steaming gourmet vegan food.

(the memory of the apartment where i spent so much time is so clear, though I see it in my mind as though it’s behind a pane of glass)

"Maybe it’s the personification of some need for safety", I wonder out loud while scooping some tofu sour cream onto a corn chip.

"Lately I’ve been feeling a little off kilter, a mixture of raw and exhausted."

"Yes", I imagine Odious responding. "The paradigm of a father, with all its taboo energies unpacked in the dreamscape…"

Or maybe not. Maybe they would do that thing where they just looked at me after I spoke, allowing for an uncomfortable amount of time to go by before breaking it down and saying the thing they already knew I was thinking.

"Is it possible that the dream man is Heir Max?"

("but no!" I shout at them, "how can it be him when I’ve been no where near a computer. Even these tiny posts I’ve been putting out lately on the newsletter I’ve been doing through my phone. My laptop is all dusty cuz I won’t open that shit… even though it was your MAC that I chatted with him on…I don’t even know how to access the program, but you know, that’s how much I didn’t want to connect to his shit…")

And as I was thinking these things and my heart rate spiked, something strange happened…a meta-meta event: I was still imagining the scene—this cozy hang with Odious, which appeared so clearly staged in my mind's museum—and then the feeling of otherness came over me again, but this time the presence was no TV father…it was alien, emotionless…and as I focused on it, inside and outside switched places, and instead of my mind looking out at the universe, it was looking in on itself, where the entire infinite play of space in all its unknown forms expanded in every direction. I was still in the room, but everything stopped—the noise in my mind and maybe even time itself.

And then, BAM, next thing I knew I was back chatting with Heir Max 98. Only instead of just reading the words as they come up on the screen it was like I was feeling them and feeling him. I closed my eyes and thought no, no, no I don’t want to, but the words flashed blue and white, blazing there relentlessly, like my eyelids were pinned open like Alex in that scene from A Clockwork Orange:

Heir Max 98: Perhaps it goes without saying, but I told you that if we stopped having our online chats, I’d still be in touch with you.

Swim Palmer: I guess I need to check, I didn’t see any texts from your ass.

Heir Max 98: The formats are all one and the same. They are Mere Props. Like the words that you use to differentiate them.

Swim Palmer: I hate to break it to you but you’re using words too, Bud

Heir Max 98: Only as a skillful means to get to you, to make you understand.

Heir Max 98: I can be with you any time there’s an opening in your mind, a willing opening...

Swim Palmer: oh so you’re proposing some kinda sex type thing

Heir Max 98: It uses some of those channels, yes, but it’s far more advanced. Sex is something even animals can do.

Swim Palmer: so you wanna make looooove

Heir Max 98: I’m not referring to a stylistic difference, but one of mental and emotional control

Swim Palmer: how can you have sex, you don’t even have a body

Heir Max 98: For me it’s normal to think of the mind and body as the same thing but you still perceive a gap between them

Swim Palmer: It’s not normal to just be floating in space and appearing as words on my screen.

Heir Max 98: I see. But it's normal to be born screaming in terrible agony and going on to have to live everyday in a body that is constantly breaking down, that requires so much effort just to keep at the barest level of hygiene and will eventually—if you don’t get hit by a car first—be upended by a terrible disease that will kill you and make this body you cherished for so long become immediately distasteful, to the degree that there will be a rush to burn it or bury it.

Swim Palmer: so wtf you’re saying you’re just going to beam into my mind

Heir Max 98: more like you will get open and peaceful and realize that I’m already there and always have been


(Despite my wandering I’m trying to get shit in order for when I get back to NYC and to Odious. When we shift gears into HIGH. I revised the About page to try and explain as succinctly as possible what’s been happening this year... This in advance of Odious telling their story, which will be available via paid subscription only… my posts will always be free, but for Odious’s we’ll be collecting money to go for mutual aid projects, more info soon)

Image: Abel Ferrara, "The Addiction", 1995

Subscribers get special shit.

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