Hypotheticals and Doublebinds

You are allowed to reenter a former life but only as something crushed up inside the walls.

If each of your former selves can be represented as some sort of enclosure, a la Proust, then you are only, in the act of recapitulating them, allowed to burrow around the borders, in the chinks, behind the plaster, along the studs, wiring and ductwork. As the enclosure involuntarily modulates into a series, as in dreams, you find yourself squeezed and refitted around incomprehensible associations of ideas, like memories, only more vivid.

You may know you are dreaming but only by your failure to operate your body.

Given a door through which to pass you will not, as you might think, standing there ineffectually fumbling with the knob, fail to grasp its inner workings, but instead project onto the door itself all the steps you must take to properly turn the knob. Thus a great machinery accumulates where normally only a simple handle would be, and this machinery is the lattice-work of nerve fibers, muscle tissue and bone matter you must command to make anything at all ever happen.

You may leave your body but only by burrowing into your head.

We are taught the head to be all but fathomless, but recent core samples show only a crowding of common fibrous matter marbled with Mandelbrot Sets and Lorenz Attractors shaping our fantasies into whorls of self-similarity as common in structure as the simplest fern. What we find instead of, for instance, infinite hexagonal galleries is rather more like a single cluttered room squeezed however spasmodically into darker and darker parodies of itself with the ineffable, silent and mysterious passage of our own eras.

You may impart your thoughts or ideas upon an other but only if you can fit your mouth around and over this other's head.

It may comfort you to think of reading as consumption, as eating on the sly, ultimately something you control. But what if the text, instead of an edifice, enclosure or nutrient, were itself thought of as a mouth? The way it opens, it envelopes, folds over and obscures. The pain we feel when falling into it, as they say, being taken over, what is that if not the feeling of being chewed and gnawed? Toyed with. Slow, measured bites, meticulous carving-the text rolls up onto your back and before long it's unfurled, wrapping up over your neck, hooding your eyes, making its way down over your nose.

You are allowed to reenter a former life but only as someone you've never met before.

Burrowed into the walls, you are constantly morphing with the pressure of your ever incredulous interior into future selves that fail to recognize the recapitulations of rooms. The rearrangement of old furniture, the donning of larger garments, the loss and/or reconfiguring of old/new hair-stuffs convinces the future person that they have been crushed into new walls, that there's nothing static about them, they are in fact moving all about unseen. The overarching of their stretched limbs, the flattening of the face, the spreading of the brain like gravy in an oblong boat, all serve to estrange the future self from recognizing the scenes he hides within himself as belonging to someone else. That is, the process of perpetual estrangement is the only link backward, the only continuity, the only form the self takes through time.

Mark O'Neil lives with his family just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY. His work has appeared in 5_Trope, 3rd Bed, Ducky Magazine, The Cortland Review,, Parenthetical Note, The Journal of Modern Post, and Tarpaulin Sky V3n1.


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