Porn

Otto (Or Up With Dead People)

by on Apr.10, 2012

I thought I would repost Jiyoon Lee’s comment about “Otto” (from below):

I just watched the movie. I really like it.
I like how the female director is a dictator in this film even though the title is Otto; Otto is a passive protagonist despite it sounding like “auto”. He is a subject to the film, subjected to the fictionality of undead despite his firm belief that he is actually undead. It is female(human)-gaze time, bitches!
We as viewers are also subjected to the ranting of the director, her ideology that is spoken in the hyperconcentrated jargon that form its own language, just like shrieking static noises Otto hears everywhere. It is painful, like the piston movement of a male undead penetrating the wound of another male undead, but you have to take it.
But there is a higher power that runs and dictates this movie; it is overflowing lust for bodies, penises, meat. The lesbian director cannot have wild sex with her partner because her partner is indulging herself in her virtual existence, like the incessant pleasant piano music that accompanies her implies. The partner never bounces out of the black-and-white film like Otto or other male undeads do. Otto and male undeads, their bodies specifically, have to keep springing out of the narrative–hyper political–, confusing the viewer’s sense of boundary between real and fiction, progress of the story. That is all because of their superflousness of their bodies; Otto springs out of narrative and digress into eating other people, being lynched because he is actually undead (urge to eat other people, hightened body odor, sinister presence), the latter because they have penises that crave for sex, orgies. They can’t stay in one level of film. Their bodies are kitschy glitchy bodies that require penetration, biting, fucking, and cumming:superfluidity. Their fluids cannot be contained. But I do not mean by this motion of “springing out” that they spring out from fiction to the reality. There is inevitable genres that keep closing in due to the nature of film as commercial medium, such as the moment where Otto and an actor get intimate; The camera angle, movements, and transitional techniques indicate pornographic film. But what matters is that they spring out from one to jump into another, in and out, in and out, never settling down. continuous piston movement.

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Paraliterature/Carnival Square

by on Mar.22, 2012

Johannes’s recent post (following Lucas’s) reminded me that I had written a note on genre & paraliterature (putting together & introducing a paraliterary anthology) for an independent study with him at Notre Dame a couple of years ago. Thought I would bring it in here.

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What is the literary mode we call ‘paraliterature’? The prefix ‘para’ puts it ‘alongside, beyond, altered, contrary’: at any rate, as Samuel Delany asserts, it is a mode of writing most people would describe is “just not ‘literature’.” [1] An alternative name for paraliterature is ‘genre fiction’, implying that it can only exist inside taxonomic boundaries (and that the principles of taxonomy must be self-evident; that the taxonomy itself must be stable), while literature or ‘fiction’ neither requires a label/prefix (implying that it must be ‘original’, ‘natural’ and ‘true’), nor does it need to be contained.

The latter assumption indicates that something bigger than ‘literature’ itself is making sure it remains clean of everything ‘para-’. What could this technology be? Moreover, ‘genre fiction’ implies a dependence on generic rules and frameworks, while ‘fiction’, you would think, has no fixations. Why then is it so bent on representing and serving reality?

Jean Kinnard argues that contemporary fiction since the 1960s has been characterized by non-realistic [2] techniques (Olsen 276), but even after a number of attempts to question the lines dividing the literary from the paraliterary, these lines have still not vanished. It is no wonder that Kate Bernheimer is skeptical of “Artists Formerly Known as Realists” (52): their appropriating non-realistic techniques has not turned them into canon-busting iconoclasts, nor has it made them excited about examining the ideologies that lead to one aesthetic being valued more than the other.
(continue reading…)

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Dream

by on Feb.02, 2012

I had this very weird dream a couple of nights ago, and I’m still pondering it:

I was sleeping in this big room full of cots. Some kind of boarding school. The guy in the bed next to me was my old friend Matt Miller. It was lights-out time but he handed me a stack of porn magazines and a little vial of oily liquid. The porn magazine were very strange because they were so airbrushed that one could hardly see the women which makes me wonder why it wouldn’t have just been a laptop with the likes of watchmygirlfriend.porn or something displaying. And the women’s faces made these open-mouthed-screaming-Francis-Bacon-ish grimaces, except they were airbrushed so thoroughly that it was even hard to see what was going on with the faces. The theme was “Thailand” but the girls were very blond and white, and mostly swimming – possibly drowning – in the water. Some of the pages were stuck together, so I tried using the liquid in the vile to separate the pages but then I was somehow informed that this liquid was supposed to be used for some kind of covert activity that would undermine the boarding house, possibly by developing photographs or by setting off a bomb (I don’t know if Matt told me this or if I was just given this information). Then the dictatorial school principal came by the bed, making the rounds to make sure we were in bed. It was George W Bush! He asked me about the vial and I told him that it was an eye drop and to prove it I poured the chemical in my eyes and it really burned but I had to fake like it was fine so nobody would suspect anything. He bought it (b/c he was as stupid in my dream as in real life) but then I realized that as soon as the school was blown up (or secret photographs published), he would remember the liquid and I would be arrested. My mom was outside in the garden planting flower bulbs that looked like bones (femurs, ribs etc). I told her, “You need to have more space between the bulbs or they won’t thrive, you can’t just throw them all in a hole like that.” She said, “No, this kind of flower you just throw in a pile in the ground and hope for the best.”

It seems like an old-fashioned Freudian castration dream! Except with terrorism! And very weird flowers! Except the Freudian reading is too textbook to ring true to me (the blindness, the mother).

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Zurita and Ecology: Leonard Schwartz and Joyelle McSweeney

by on Jan.24, 2012

[I thought this article relates to the discussion we are having in the “gaudy” discussion thread below:]

Excerpt:

…Grace of its linguistic and visionary commitment, its capacity to imagine what is perforce outside experience, Zurita has written a poetry that surpasses what a more politically committed poetry could have achieved. Zurita’s poems might be figured as an eco-poetry in which the space between nature and history is closed up, once we realize that the work reimagines the entirety of the ocean in such a way as to include those thrown from planes into that ocean. And reimagines the mountains in such a way as to include the Disappeared thrown from planes into their snows until one can only speak of those mountains as containing those people. And renders the desert no longer conceivable except if the voices and the deaths in the desert are made a part of that desert. It was Camille Dungy, the editor of the anthology Black Nature: Four Centuries of African-American Nature Poetry who pointed out in her CCP appearance (#221) that the poets in her book do not necessarily view a tree as simply a tree, since it might also be the case that someone was lynched from that particular tree; they do not look at an agricultural site as an idyl, since one’s ancestors might have worked that land in slavery. Indeed, only certain privileged, bourgeois perspectives can divorce “nature” from “history” in order to yield a “nature poetry” that refreshes us in its aftermath. I have argued that to view Nature apart from other discourses and entities (like language for example) is analogous to the pornographic (without taking any position pro or con on pornography), where one function (Nature) is fetishized and isolated from other functions and possibilities (as sex is in pornography). By contrast to a nature poetry, an eco-poetics seeks out complicated interrelationships between multiple modes of the sensual. Zurita’s is one of the great poetries to overcome the artificiality of the nature/history distinction, to give us the Tree and the invisible histories enacted in and around the Tree, as Dungy calls for.

The view Schwartz take of Zurita shows its relationship to the “necropastoral” (as opposed to “Nature Poetry” or “Political Poetry”, never mind that he uses the “porn” trope that I so dislike.), which Kent suggested was incompatible in the comments below the “gaudy” post.

Here’s an excerpt from Joyelle’s piece about Zurita and the necropastoral:

Pinochet’s military converted the very landscape into a mass grave, dropping bodies from airplanes into the mountains and oceans, so that they became, in the words of Zurita’s song, “stuck, stuck to the rocks, to the sea and the mountains/stuck, stuck to the rocks, to the sea and the mountains.” This kernel of assemblage is repeated in all the micro and macro structures of Zurita’s visionary landscape, which saturates and resaturates Pinochet’s landscape (continue reading…)

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"Strange Circus": Horror Movies, Surrealism, Trauma and Art

by on Jan.09, 2012

In a comment to Lucas’s post, Lara wrote about Trauma:

Johannka, you asked me how I think trauma functions on MV? My sense is that we’re collectively pretty traumatized by the horrific state of things, what Joyelle calls “this present hellish universe.” We are all very hungry for pleasure, despite this. Or maybe, to spite this.

We often feel crushingly trapped/threatened. We are collectively trying to tunnel a way out through art that makes us “susceptible, vulnerable, exhilarated, chagrined, obliterated, changed into Art” (again, Joyelle’s words).

Sometimes I’m able to locate pleasure in my own debasement. Sometimes I’m not. I’m not often able to locate pleasure in the debasement/humiliation of others, even if it’s clearly staged. In fact, it totally repulses me. I don’t feel “intrigued but chagrined.” This is a visceral reaction, not a moral one.

My intestines are my morals. I am a limited creature. Only one of my six legs actually works.

It’s this seeming tension between pleasure and debasement, horror and beauty, trauma and trauma, resolution and compulsion, marked out by both Joyelle and Lara, that I would like to think a little bit about.

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Matthias Forshage, one of the founding members of the Surrealist Group of Stockholm, who wrote “Surrealism in Ulterior Times” with Aase Berg (a document frequently quoted on Montevidayo, it’s where Joyelle and I get the phrase “meet us with the lemurs”), has written an interesting article about the surrealism of horror movies (in fact the entire blog is well worth reading):

It is one of the main points of surrealism to not deny the unusual phenomena and their dynamism, but still reject all these more or less religious poor explanations, avoid succumbing to premature rationalisations. In the movies, let them go on with their fairytale concepts, they’re not fooling us, we know that the dynamism of weird happenings, chance and significant casual events is an aspect of life itself, and such a dynamism can be remarkably effectively simulated and savoured in the particular fiction of the horror movie. It contributes to teaching us to see. It orchestrates and emphasises those poetic atmospheres where everything is hanging in suspense and anything seems possible, the moments of the surreal. On the most simple level this is obvious in films of hauntings; all these haunted houses, the poltergeists, the insistent messages and the chaotic disturbances. It’s partly very banal, still often very effective, sometimes orchestrating a liberation of the anti-utilitarian, fetishistic or just poetic surrealist sense of the object, sometimes luminous juxtapositions, constellations of things, true poetic images, classic surrealist assemblage. A literally convulsive beauty is sometimes achieved in the very “over-the-top” absurdness of many stories; where strange events and convergences, personal tragedies and emotions are so densely accumulated together with the unfettered expressionism of blood and gore (for this particular line, Re-animator (1985) remains a centerpiece). In a way this is the old formula of Walpolian Gothic, plausible human reactions to implausible courses of events, the mechanics of the mind encountering the world of inclusiveness where anything is possible, the so-called paranormal or maybe the surreal. Yes, on an aesthetical level, this is clearly a kind of expressionism, but since surrealism is not an aesthetic it doesn’t mind employing other aesthetics for its purposes…

It is the ambience that I love in horror movies, before all the weirdness has been explained away, usually through some idea of the traumatic: ghosts and hallucinations were caused by a child dying or child abuse or some such tragedy. Often it involves the child because the child represents the future; horror movies are often about the tragedy of stalling the future, the descent into anachronism or children who will never grow up, distorted families etc. I get bored with these explanations, but the build up always feels the most tumultuous to me, the most affecting.

It seems perhaps that there are two models of the traumatic at work here: (continue reading…)

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"It Seems as if the Saint Has Lifted Her Skirt": Hilda Hilst on her obscene book

by on Jan.07, 2012

The Late, Great Hilda Hilst

In her comments to my last post, Lara raised some interesting points about the sexual politics of Hilda Hilst’s The Pink Notebook of Lori Lamby, a book that initially shocked her critics and readers in light of her much tamer earlier work.  Back in 1990, when the book was first published, Hilst gave a great interview on Brazilian TV.  I transcribed and translated the whole thing because of how ably I think Hilst navigates the kinds of ethical and representational issues that keep coming up on Montevidayo.  Her responses, it seems to me, get to the heart of what’s at stake in excessive writing.  Hilst mentions Clarice Lispector, Genet, and the “nostalgia for sanctity” that obscene writing provokes–itself a dazzling response to anyone who might call her nihilistic (not that Lara is doing this!).

Hilda, is Lori Lamby an act of rebellion?

It’s an act of aggression.  It’s not a book—it’s a banana that I’m giving to editors, to the publishing industry, because for 40 years I worked seriously, I had an excess of seriousness, of lucidity, and absolutely nothing happened.  And now I think people need to wake up.  It’s very important, if a person has been sleeping for too long, you suddenly commit a vigorous act so that the person gets up.

Does this country not like seriousness?

No, it doesn’t.  You’re not supposed to think in Portuguese.  It’s good to think in English, in German—people accept it.  In Portuguese, to think is something horrible, and so editors hate you, they spit in your face.  That’s what they did to me for 40 years.  The only editor that didn’t spit in my face was Massao Ohno, except that Massao Ohno loves to keep his books at home, he loves to look at the books.  So, if there’s no distribution, there are no sales.  I love him, he’s a great artist, a great visual artist, but he’s in love with books and stores them in his bedroom, some even under his bed!

How was Lori Lamby received by critics and readers?  Has it already provoked them?

People think Lori Lamby is totally repugnant.  And I think that’s exactly the effect I wanted.  But I personally think Lori Lamby is a puerile book, an infantile book, it’s porno for kids.  Now I’m going to publish a porno for adults called Contos d’Escarnio:  Textos Grotescos.  I hope to become an excellent pornographer. (continue reading…)

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Dispatch from Brazil #1: Hilda Hilst Wrote Porn for Children

by on Jan.06, 2012

I just got back from a 10-day vacation in Brazil, where I got to take in a few cultural delights in between family visits.  In the spirit of Johannes and Joyelle’s reports from abroad, I’ll be sharing my discoveries with you, Montevidayans, virtual denizens of the Southern Cone.

First up:  The brilliant Hilda Hilst’s The Pink Notebook of Lori Lamby, a work once classified by its author as a “banana” instead of a “book.”  Hilst, according to this interview, thought of the novel as “porn for children.”  Lori Lamby, the 8-year-old narrator whose surname plays off the Portuguese word for lick (lamber), is the decidedly monstrous lovechild of Lolita and Humbert Humbert who writes in diary format about her sexual conquests/exploitation.  The artwork, provided by Millór Fernandez in the style of storybooks, alone suggests Lori’s insatiable appetite and unsentimental education:

Here’s a rough translation I’ve penned to give an idea of how Lori Lamby slides in and out of art, language, pedophilia, and prostitution in a comically (!) libertine fashion:

I’m eight years old.  I’m going to tell everything the way I know it because Mommy and Daddy told me to tell it the way I know it.  Now I have to talk about the young man who came here and Mommy told me now that he’s not so young, and so I lay in my little bed so pretty, all rose-colored.  And Mommy could only buy this bed after I started doing what I’m going to talk about.  I lay down with my doll and the man who is not so young asked me to take off my underwear.  I took it off.  Then he asked me to open my legs and I lay down and I did it.  Then he started to touch my thigh that is really soft and fat, and asked me to open my little legs.  I really like it when people put their hands on my thigh.  Then the man asked me to be quiet as a mouse, he was going to kiss me on my little thing.  He started to lick me the way a cat licks, really slow, and squeezed my bumbum nice.  I stayed really quiet because it’s delicious and I wanted him to keep licking the whole time, but he took out his big thing, the piupiu, and the piupiu was very big, the size of a corn ear.  Mommy said it couldn’t be that big, but she didn’t see it, and who knows if daddy’s piupiu is smaller, the size of a smaller ear, maybe a ear of green corn. (continue reading…)

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The Image/Media (Or as I might call it: the "porn" of the visual)

by on Dec.13, 2011

“What does seem to remain constant across the cycles of media innovation and obsolescence is the problem of the image. The deeply ambivalent relationship between human beings and the images they create seems to flare up into crisis at moments of technical innovation, when a new medium makes possible new kinds of images, often more lifelike and persuasive than ever before, and seemingly more volatile and virulent, as if images were dangerous microbes that could infect the minds of their consumers. This may be why the default position of image theorists and media analysts is that of the idol-smashing prophet warning against Phillistines – the exemplary ancient idolaters, since reincarnated in modern kitsch and mass culture. The same critic will, however, typically be engaged in elevating certain kinds of images in selected types of media to the status of art. Aesthetic status is often credited with a redeeming effect on the degraded currency of images, as if the image had somehow been purified of commercial or ideological contamination by its remediation within certain approved media frameworks (typically art galleries, museums, and prestigious collections). Even a nakedly commercial image from mass culture can be redeemed in this way, as the silk screens of Andy Warhol demonstrate.”

(Just read this in WJT Mitchell’s Critical Terms for Media Studies and was struck by how similar his take on images is to my own – down to the use of words like “kitsch” and “redeemed.”)

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Necropastoral & Ruins Porn; Bug Apocalypse; Bee & Stare

by on Dec.12, 2011

Here's Gramps having his Spirit Photo taken again

OK so I woke up thinking about THIS poem again. Is it ruins porn? What happens in a time of civil war? The house collapses, the humans eat each other’s  brutal hearts, and the honeybees move into the interstices to reboot post-apocalyptic time.  Yeats oversaturates his imagery– he’s talking about his own ‘house’ and body and sense of history collapsing, yet there’s another house– the ‘house of the stare’ (i.e. starling)– which is going to be repossessed by the bees. I actually see this ‘nest’ as a stare’s carcass,  a ribcage and cranium now to be Occupied by bees, who will fly the vessel around, a flying colony, right out of China Mieville.  And of course I read that ‘stare’ as the gaze itself, to be occupied by bees, bees put out my eyes, what is this buzzing, a synesthesia which permits no insight and no outsight, a vision which is a medium for not sight but pain, a conversion of sight to pain, the nerve impulses a swarm (Yeats was no fan of mobs or swarms), WBY being flown over civil-war Ireland like bird-skeleton, a vessel, a war-machine steered by a pack of Killer Bees–

VI. The Stare’s Nest by My Window by Yeats

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare. (continue reading…)

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Strange Factories and Star Fuckers: Andy Warhol, Gunnar Björling and Henry Parland

by on Dec.11, 2011

Recently I participated in a questionaire about “experimental poetry” on the web site HTML Giant, organized by Christopher Higgs. One of the questions was: “Is experimental writing political”? This was my reply:

“… Part of the politics of art is in its mimicry; it makes doubles, counterfeits, fakes. It makes a costume drama in which categories are tested (so much of the rhetoric I can’t stand – rigor, form, value – seems aimed at limiting that costume). Part of the politics of Art is that it makes a wound in our culture. The key is not to try to close that wound. The key is to remain homeless.

Artifice is associated with Evil. I’m just now as I type this watching “The Lion King” with my daughter and her cousin. My daughter wants to be batman and her cousin wants to be a princess. But this movie suggests that artifice is unnatural, associated with Death and Evil. The original Lion King appears at the beginning of the movie in a position of authority to present his son while the soundtrack sings “cycle of life.” The royal, authoritative order is appears as “natural,” based on what Lee Edelman has called “reproductive futurism.” The evil uncle on the other hand speaks with an accent, acts feminine, has weird green eyes and scars, and, in the midst of a spectacular pageant, organizing his unnatural union with the deathy hyenas (he has no children of his own) into a fascist rally. This counterfeit king deceives with language and fictions. Why do kids have to be taught the dangers of Art? Why was Michael Jackson’s face a bigger crime than his overdose (which was almost seen as a side-effect of a greater problem: his artifice)?

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It seems that Art always interrupts the idea of “community.” The natural relations between people. The unmediated relations. In the “feministe” blog post about “ruin porn” that Adam linked to in the comment section to Joyelle’s picture of ruined South Bend, there was the same rhetoric: real, moral action consists of being a Human as part of a Community, being Useful. The foreigner, the tourist, the Artist makes “Porn” (something immoral, pathological, useless exploitative) out of “Reality.”

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As another model of community I like to think of Andy Warhol’s Factory. (continue reading…)

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Star Fuckers – Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, James Pate, Nick Demske and Old Dirty Bastard

by on Nov.30, 2011

[Warning: I don’t know much about the Rolling Stones so if somebody wants to clue me into any background errors etc, please feel free.]

The other day Joyelle and I were in Pittsburgh talking about the necropastoral at a conference called ASAP. Joyelle went to a panel that talked about how “Star Star” by the Rolling Stones was actually addressed to Candy Darling and evidence of Mick Jagger having been drawn into “Andy Warhol’s orbit.” Apparently, upon entering into this “orbit,” Jagger began to model his look and appearance on Andy’s transvestite “superhuman crew” (Bob Dylan had been pulled into the Warhol orbit some five-ten years earlier). In other words, he was a superstar who became a “superstar.”

I think “orbit” and especially Raggedy Andy’s “orbit” of super saturating art/life is an interesting way of thinking about an alternative to influence/lineage and all that: “a zone where interesting things happen.” A necropastoral “strange meeting.”

First, here’s the song and the lyrics:

“Star Star”
Songwriters: Keith Richards;Mick Jagger

Baby, baby, I’ve been so sad since you’ve been gone
Way back to New York City
Where you do belong
Honey, I missed your two tongue kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to Fun City, girl
I’m gonna make you scream all night
(continue reading…)

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PARDONMYWHOREMOANS (By Kate Durbin)

by on Nov.08, 2011

PARDONMYWHOREMOANS
By Kate Durbin

I have already written about the teenage girl’s excessive body, her objecthood she wields as a weapon and a wrench and a period-stained rag.

I have written of her excessive hormones, emotions, fashion. Of her unfortunate yet unfortunately necessary place in the market.

The teenage girl is a consumer, valuable only as such. But she is inherently unstable; her identity ever in flux, the flickering roll of the tumblr scroll, the manic-heaving breasts of a cute bow-haired girl in a moving .gif. The market is always selling to this finicky, anorexic customer, who doesn’t even spend her own money. It’s mommy and daddy’s bling.

The teenage girls texts are excessive. She mumbles in girl code, she sends out an SOS to other girls she’s never met. She texts, she facebooks, she tumbles.

In class, she is mute. At home, she screams I HATE YOU at her parents. (continue reading…)

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The mystery of the human bean and bug-time

by on Nov.03, 2011

I figured out where the phrase “human bean” came from–Lorraine Neidecker! Thanks, LN. I hope to someday read your collected works.

In my research into the life of beans (or things with bean-ness) I have been trying to find connection between myself and plant-life. I have gotten as far as the worm. In previous entries on my blog, I have written about the practice of humility as a poetics. A teacher I once had brought compost to class and told us about her time spent with her face in the fresh black humus. We smelled the compost and let the earth particles into our lungs. I didn’t see any worms, but I thought about the wormhood that must have produced the mould.

Sidenote: In practices of some types of shamanism, exorcisms involve “poisoning” the possessed with herbs. This often killed intestinal worms, so in the scientific way of looking at it, the body was healed when the worms were destroyed. It’s interesting to consider how to empathize or understand certain shamanistic practices, because it is so difficult to think of toxic convulsions as anything other than sickness. I’m reminded of the scene in True Bloodwhen Terra gets exorcised but later tries to attack the witch because the exorcism was a hoax–she was fed poison and hallucinated her demon. When I was a kid in Singapore in primary school, we were given small pink tablets to eat and these would eliminate worms, if we had any. Two of my friends have had worms. One had benign worms, the other had worms that caused emaciation. One described seeing worms in the toilet as an intense experience of shame. Worms are a symbol of shame. If you call someone a worm, you are calling them a coward, unfit, disgusting, etc.

During conversation with some poet friends, the worm came up as my “spirit animal”. The worm has 7 hearts and is hermaphroditic.

green porno

(continue reading…)

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