[ToC]

 

PROBLEMS WITH TWO OR MORE VARIABLES AND TOO MANY EQUAL SIGNS

Yongyu Chen

 

 

[1]

It's 2018. It's 2018 minus 2018 and it's winter minus winter and I'm trying to figure out how many car crashes I can survive in a single night. I'm trying to see how far I can go before I see my own end credits flash across my eyes. It's 2018 times all the years that we wasted times 0.00 and my best friend is telling me that she's in love with poetry and starvation again. "That's ok" ... I say ... "I believe you." Tonight this backseat is spinning out of control even though the car has disappeared. Tonight this narration is finding you like a transmission from the bedtime film of the world, warning you about nothing but its own chances for survival. Problem 1. In this memory from the present tense I'm in a car with three invisible poets that all have diagonal names. And I designate them A, A, and A for your own sake because I loved you as well. I remember the markets that we planned to corner with minor poetry. I remember the months that we unwrote together in the public baths of other months. "Alibi 1. A is dead" ... "Alibi 2. A buried poems in cordilleras because he thought that words would freeze as well if he just gave them a chance" ... "Alibi 3. A is still crying with his poetry hand in his mouth and his event horizon in his hand." The question, then, is this: if this is a trial and you are the only witness in the world who can speak then what do you say. What hopeless poems from your literary history do you recite, bargaining for time and more emergency exits. And why are you suddenly sure that you're guilty. Why is this ambulance dragging me away from everything and stopping at all the green lights.

 

[2]

The second question is an elegy for the first question. Tell me if you've heard this one before, from your disappearing poet friends in cities with too many stop signs. Tell me if you've heard this one before by accident, on the scene of a crime film where nothing adds up but everything subtracts away. Tell me the fifty-five words that you wanted to misuse at the exact same time and duck before I respond. Forget poetry before I respond, too late and without punctuation. Problem 2. This narrator can't look you in the eyes anymore. And in language, the last hotel has collapsed. In language, the second person is as far away as the third. "It's night" ... someone says ... "It's night but it's a night short enough to fit into a single taxi ride home" ... "Please leave as soon as you possibly can." Problem 2. This is a question of responsibility. This is a fuse for responsibility. Problem 2. Time limit: 20 minutes. Time limit: the rest of your life. Time limit: the time it takes for the dream to sink into the nightmare. In this question, A is trying to find a language in which poetry and regret rhyme. In this question, B is a sad young lawyer trying to invent a witness who looks just like Jean-Paul Belmondo. In this question, C is a guerrilla artilleryman who can recite Ovid's Metamorphoses by heart but can't remember how the Nuremburg trials ended and why he didn't survive the jury. In this question, D is a film that haunts itself in the subtitles. In this question, E1 is the speed of light in a closing mouth. E2 and E3 are kaleidoscopes. And the question is this: why are A, B, C, D, and E all in love with you. Why do they like to lie down on beaches at night with the wind blowing below sea level to think of you. And if you leave just before closing time in Café America, what did you miss. Why does it all feel like the hands of Fellini, staring at you through a thousand windows while you disappear. Freezing encounters. Ice ages that are all glacial drift.

 

[3]

Problem 3. It's the year 1862 after 0. It's the year where time can finally pass faster than the speed of time and I'm holding your hand. Problem 3. Film was made in 1862, from an explosive without a working fuse. No one speaks about this but we should. No one speaks about this but we should, before all the detective films in the world explode and time spins out of control on our rooftop dreams. Problem 3. A is no one. B is the hostage. C is you and everyone else that's been left out in these equations. Problem 3. Tonight every camera in the world zooms out at the same speed. Tonight every camera in the world is learning to read. Tonight every camera in the world has thrown its director off its trail. Problem 3. D is the flashback that malfunctions. E is the storm. F is 1862. G is Paris. And one night the best director in the world wakes up just outside of 1862 and Paris. H is 2018. I is unusable. J is New York City in a year without calendars. Problem 3. And one night the best director in the world finds his hands tied to his head and his birth certificate traded for an economic variable. And this is where you come in, with your diagrams of failure. This is where you come in, with your ability to fall apart in just the right way. Problem 3. The problem is exchange. The problem is the black market and why it refuses your life savings. The problem is speculation in sphere of revolutionary capitalist poetry. The problem is time and stop signs. The problem is the screen on your best friend's life support system and the way his name flickers in and out of aphasia because it's not his name anymore but you don't know what else to call him. Problem 3. Can you build a city K or J bigger than space but small enough to fit into time. And what can you do if you wake up one morning and everything equals everything else in variables that fall like rain. What do you do if poetry isn't greater or lesser than the freezing beaches anymore. Problem 3. If the question hurts my teeth to say it, then what is the answer that can save my life.

 

[-3]

Problem negative 3. The other side of this question is the photograph of an answer. It's the chase scene of an answer. It's the broken projector of an answer. "Sometimes at night I see Roberto Bolaño showing me his impossible amulet" ... "Sometimes I find a wound in an instruction manual and it takes my breath away" ... "Sometimes I see my own insomnia split in two" ... "And then, passing through the walls, I see time stopping for me in a future city and I see the first cafe in the world that unsells poetry and forgetting. And all I have to do is to stare at it long enough through my closed eyes. Through your burning erasers and your criminal's talent for deregulation."

      
     

 

__

I was reading Baudrillard's Impossible Exchange at the time. I was trying to think through Baudrillard's Impossible Exchange. And I was watching a lot of films. Some Godard. Some Fellini. A lot of Oshima. A lot of Akerman. Hotel Monterrey over and over. Juan Antonio Bardem's Death of a Cyclist.