386 Hollow doll electricians hit reset + file under a lost but now found Black Sun

Dear Internet,

30.10.2014 > 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' is at the printer ... volumes 0 (en-Telemachy) + 1 (In Pursuit of Higher Art In) anyway. Decided to save volume 2 (The Homecoming) for later. We've been working on it now for over a year + didn't feel we could sustain the pace ... need a break from it to gather strength for Nostos. As always when u finish such an all-consuming project, we are left in a vacuous wake of now what? ... still in a state of ½-closure after all these years. This 1st book will be available Jan 5-6, 2014 ... exactly 32 years after our father died, 25 years since our brother-½ started his original odyssey.

Thinking will probly get back to our West of Kingdom Come project (of which the The Becoming was book 1) now, which is only ¼-way finished (or ⅖ finished if u consider Ark Codex±0 to be a part of the series) ... now entering the psychological state of conscious incompetence. Which is to say we are now cognizant of our primal idiocy, which—in our usual spirit of method-acting—will likely be reflected here on 5cense. Duh. Apologies in advance.

Conscious incompetence perhaps characterizes our general state of being ... stuck in a state of arrested development. 1 day maybe we'll manage to be competent at something ... at least consciously.

The name of this 2nd book (#1 in our numbering scheme) is Raft Manifest ... tho we can't say for sure what it's about, xcept to say we're thinking it's high time we re-read Huck Finn + listen to Idiot Wind for inspiration ... or as Charles D’Ambrosio put it: «The canker of self-consciousness has been long in me, so like a lot of writers I not only do a thing, I see myself doing it too—it’s almost like not being alone» ... guess we need to embrace this 1st so we can then shake it off.

from Dolls Found, Words Lost by Faruk Ulay

1.11> Still off the grid of Maphattan, the project still on hold as our better-½'s not running on all 4 cylinders ... ever since flying back from Italy. Something to do w/ air travel—the pressure, time change, metabolic change—whatever it is triggered her heart to start fluttering erratically again. Happened earlier in the summer after an insane bout of travel, had to cancel our plans to summer in Sussex. Batteries of tests then determined it to be an electrical issue, but then it went away, baffling the heart electricians ... but now when it came back figured we needed to just go thru w/ this procedure ... won't go into all the details, suffice to say it only renewed our lack of faith in the American medical system. Amazing, sure—that they can send little devices up thru your veins + look at your heart to figure out what's wrong + then zap whatever nerve is misfiring—but at the same time barbaric. There's no humanity in it, little hospitality in hospitals. Doctors no better than car mechanics ... + this is the best of the best after 2nd opinions + multiple referrals, etc... can't imagine what people w/ shitty or no insurance have to go thru.

We'd scheduled this procedure earlier in the summer, but the fluttering went away on it's own thru exercise, good eating + chilling out ... so we canceled. Heart mechanic shrugs (1 less fee-for-service reimbursement to collect) + says it's «unusual» but no intrest in knowing what caused it in the 1st place—there's no $ in determining cause, or giving preventative care, only in fixing something). Fine, we were just happy we didn't have to go thru it, but still a nagging worry about what caused it ... figured maybe it was triggered by some strange virus she picked up in Nepal or Uganda where she was travelling. But whatever, it resolved itself ... + all was good over the summer into early fall ... until we flew again to another time zone, got out of our exercise/diet routine, added some stress (whether she wants to admit it or not). Tachycardia returns w/ a vengeance ... not something u can ignore, runs up to 200 beats a minute, little explosions in her chest, wearing our better-½ out.

So rescheduled the procedure, Halloween eve. Of course, a few days before the fluttering stops ... we again question whether to go thru w/ the procedure ... they won't know what to fix if it's not broken. Heart mechanic/electrician says come in anyway, maybe the anxiety of being at the hospital will induce it, or they have ways of inducing it. Come Halloween, walk to the hospital. Still no flutters, keep asking whether we should even be doing it, but only speaking to a series of technicians ... head electrician/doctor on a high throne somewhere. Lots of waiting. Essentially an assembly line, rows of people all doing the same procedure. They «prepped» our better-½ (shaved otherwise private areas, stuck in wires + tubes ... such indignity) + wheeled her away on a gurney. Called the next name like short-order cooks flipping burgers. Kept thinking of J.G. Ballard. Had to return to the waiting room, which was freezing. Every 1 bundled in parkas ... didn't get the memo that u have to dress for Arctic weather in the waiting room. Every 1 talking on cell phones, relaying vital information to concerned loved 1s. No privacy. After an hour or 2 our heart electrician emerges ... but not to speak to us, but some 1 else. The fucker's multi-tasking, doing multiple patients at once. After another hour or 2 our electrician comes out, shaking his head. What the fuck is that spose to mean? Ends up they couldn't do anything ... couldn't get her heart to flutter so couldn't figure out what to fix, which misfiring nerve to burn. Duh, could've told u that. Did try to tell u that. That didn't stop them from jamming cameras up her arteries into her heart ... which even tho they said u wouldn't feel a thing our better-½ said was extremely painful. These clunky 1-size-fits all catheters too big for tiny bird-sized people. Various mechanics + plumbers coming in + out, jiggering, trying different things, shooting adrenalin into her + electrically jolting her heart to try to make it flutter. Anyways ... it's done, w/ nothing done. All that to do nothing.

Turn the page ... life goes on. Shit always seems to have a way of working its way out.

photo we took in Sussex (where we ended up not summering) on a prior trip

We've taken to following @fuckeveryword on Twitter ... like how it meshes in our feed.

Fuck hospitals. Fuck America.

In the waiting area we started to read Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff. Harry Crosby was the hedonistic poète maudit who co-founded (w/ his better-½ Caresse) Black Sun Press (famous for publishing early works of many rising stars of the lost generation, including Joyce) ... before Crosby went out in a blaze of glory, shooing 1 of his many lovers + then himself. Fascinating read so far, tho given our circumstances we were a bit distracted + there was a television blaring CNN about that stupid Virgin galactic spaceship (something Harry Crosby would've been 1st in line for) that crashed + the others in the holding area all yacking on cell phones.

another of Faruk Ulay's found dolls

2.11> These wonderful doll pics are from a book Faruk Ulay sent us—Dolls Found, Words Lost ... a book of photos of these staged estranged dolls alongside equally exquisite texts. Been dipping into it now + then, specially in light of the creepy doll exhibition we recently saw in northern Italy.

Ulay the 1 also responsible for Beneath the Shadow of Perpetual Defeat—our favorite book we've never read ... still can't bring ourselves to slice open the pages to read it.

The dolls also seem appropriate enough considering it's Day of the Dead ... do dolls ever die?

Here's a sample text from the book (better to show the actual page since ½ of it is about how it looks on the page):

Elsewhere he says that truth is left-wing, but fiction is bourgeois ... which kept ringing in our head as we were reading about Harry Crosby ... + reflecting self-consciously on our own state ... not that we write fiction, but is art in general decadent + self-indulgent? Perhaps. Do we give a shit? No.

Don't remember our brother-½ ever mentioning Harry Crosby, but seems he must've had an influence on his 'SSES" 'SSES". For example:


+ the last piece in volume 1 of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY" (corresponding to Oxen of the Sun) is entitled HELIOTROPISM ... + this was the very 1st page of the original 'SSES" 'SSES" (which we included in the 0th episode we posted already on Sleepingfish)

If it was me, we would've made the grid 5 x 8. Or 8 x 13. There's time yet ... perhaps for volume 2.

Crosby's story is intresting for sure, like watching a train wreck ... or better yet (flying was 1 of Crosby's obsessions), an out of control intergalactic plane w/ no landing gear + a pilot that doesn't know how to fly + no eject button ... on a crash course into the sun. But our gripe that we have again + again is that ok it's fine to live a self-indulgent life of unabashed reckless abandon, but 1. u cross a line when u have sex w/ underage girls (or boys)(we're talking 11 + 12 year olds in Crosby's case) + 2. killing people is uncool, even if it's sold as a William Tell accident (in Burroughs case) or a suicide-pact.

In Crosby's case, it's not a matter of separating the art from the artist ... cuz he is the art ... the way he led his life (does any 1 actually read Crosby's poetry? From what we've read seems awful). But just as fiction enables us to vicariously experience things otherwise unspeakable (such as fucking babies) perhaps u could say Crosby lived + died for our benefit (surely the tabloids in his day thrived on it). It's of course made more complicated by his circumstances—being born of such Bostonian blue-blooded wealth + expectation ... + of witnessing the carnage of WWI 1st-hand. Who's to say how we'd react under such circumstances, in those times. + obviously Crosby didn't act alone, he was 1 of many of the Lost Generation ... in fact, u could say he epitomized the Lost Generation.

Icarus flying into the sun ...

(... Icarus being the son of Daedalus, Joyce's Telemachus.)


We'd perhaps dismiss his story altogether if it weren't for his involvement in starting Black Sun Press. We can also personally relate to his obsessive need to chronicle, thru writing, whether it be his poetry, his journals or letters home to his mother. As Wolff puts it: «From his first letter home he began to function as a writer, as though things could have no substance unless they were written down, just so, as though he would pass unnoticed unless he took events by the tail as they passed him, and caged them in words.»

But if u weren't invited to his parties, if u weren't in his inner circle, then sure u'd think Harry Crosby was a pretentious womanizing asshole. Even ½ the people in his entourage probly thought he was a dick but just put up w/ him cuz he was publishing their books or paying for their drinks. The bit about him asking D.H. Lawrence to write the intro to Chariots of the Sun was funny ... Lawrence rips it to shreds, but Crosby was so desperate for some 1 like D.H. Lawrence to write anything that he included it (bad publicity makes for good publicity). But it is precisely this unabashed determination even amidst such failure + criticism which makes Crosby such an intriguing + tragic figure.

Have we mentioned here how much we loathe D.H. Lawrence? Even The Plumed Serpent, which he wrote in Chapala, Mexico, where we spent our formative years. Like Crosby, Lawrence seems to value self-indulgence over being self-critical, which for the most part leads to bad art. Sure, people are productive when they are uninhibited, but on the other end we have to weed thru all their diarrhea of the mouth to find a kernels of insight. Like we agree w/ Crosby in thinking museums are full of dead stuff. + we share his obsession w/ the sun (our nickname in college was «sun junky» not just cuz of our academic intrests (phyllotaxis, then solar physics), but couldn't get enough of it on our skin ... inevitably leading us to Arizona).

time-lapse photo we took (from deep in Mexico) of the solar eclipse of July 22, 1990 ... the event which in a roundabout way led us to our better-½

It's November now (of 2014) + we are entering the season of stunning sunsets. Yesterday was the silly tradition of «daylight savings».

Also intresting that Hart Crane's father invented Lifesavers ® ... tho we never much got into Hart Crane either.

In talking about Crosby's opium habit, Wolff also quotes Thomas De Quincey (whose Confessions of an English Opium Eater we re-read last year in our 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' research) at length, including this nugget that had we not already sent the book to print we might try to somehow work in the Lotus-eaters or Oxen of the Sun episodes: «If a man 'whose talk is of oxen,' should become an opium-eater, the probability is that (if he is not too dull to dream at all)—he will dream about oxen ... »

Something about how it all ended sounds off to us ... for as much as Crosby glorified suicide + bragged about how he would end it all, seemed a bit hurried + half-ass ... surely we'd expect more of a spectacle for his grand finale? Jumping out of a plane naked whilst having sex w/ his «fire princess». For whatever reason it seemed an impulsive act of whimsy ... like he accidentally killed his princess mistress (whether she begged him to or not) + then staged it to look like a suicide pact. Maybe the fire princess put him up to it ... she was a dope fiend at wit's end ... + like Crosby thought the ultimate act of love was dying together (as evidenced by her final submission to Black Sun Press). So Crosby shoots her but then finds he doesn't have the guts to do himself ... but then after thinking about for 2 hours realizes he doesn't have a choice.

Either that or Caresse had had enough of his shit + staged it, knowing full well that after all the times he'd talked of such a suicide pact it'd never be questioned. + it'd bring attention to the press... was she that clever? Pulled a Courtney Love 70 years before Kurt Cobain's time?

+ surely Crosby wouldn't have missed the opportunity to leave a suicide note? Sure, the best way to immortalize yourself is to leave cause of death undetermined, leave it up in the air to lend mystique ... but this doesn't seem like Crosby's style. Like a terrorist, he would've wanted to take credit for his actions.

Not that we're saying everything Crosby did was calculated ... his life was rather random + haphazard. Caresse on the other hand ... here's some 1 who invented the bra when she was 19! We are far more intrigued w/ her character, as seems was Genesis P-Orridge, who named 1 of his daughters after her. We're thinking she represents the P (her name was Polly til Harry urged her to change it to Clytoris or Caresse) in the Power couple, the brains behind Black Sun Press, wearing the Pants ... + she was the 1 who kept it going after he died.

Come to think of it, there's a funny story about a bra in episode #10 («Bras, Grapes + Heartbreak») of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' ... + considering the story is also about debaucherous ex-pats, seems our brother-½ must've been under the spell of Black Sun:

scan from the original 'SSES" 'SSES"

... another reason we're tempted to hold the press on SSES ... now that we've read the Crosby book, we're starting to read more into our brother's motivations ... guess we do have 1 more round of edits from the proofs (+ just now the printer reported all sorts of errors that we had to assure them was intentional) ... but then again, there'll always be more connections to fold in .. that's the beauty of blogging, THIS is a living inter-connected document ... which at the same time is its demise. In keeping a journal by hand or writing on a typewriter u are constrained to linear thinking, to recording the events as they originally happened ... for better or worse.

Oh + thx to Jared of Black Sun Lit (can u guess where they got their name?) for turning us on to the book ... + there's also an episode of 'SSES" 'SSE" "SSEY' forthcoming in their Vestiges.

3.11> We lied about sidelining Maphattan for this week ... our better-½ is already feeling better + eager to move her legs so today we set out to do a few streets, 55th thru 52nd ... around 9 miles.

Maphattan route 11.3.2014

Speaking of Black Sun, only recently we passed by the Hotel de Artistes (1 W. 67th st) on 1 of our Maphattan walks, but didn't realize then it was where Crosby's murder/suicide went down. We assumed it was in Boston. But sposedly Caresse Crosby's 'sprawling' apartment in NYC was at 137 E. 54th street—on today's itinerary—but we found no such address. Seems it must've been torn down. After Harry flew into the sun she lived there + elsewhere + eventually bought a big castle in Rocca Sinibalda, Italy ... near Rieti, just north of Rome ... + she died in Rome (of natural causes). When we're back in Rome next spring we'll have to check out her castle.

For now, Manhattan ... down 55th... past the David Letterman show + also where the Colbert Report is taped ... until his name replaces Letterman on the Ed Sullivan Theatre marquis. Stopped in the St. Regis to see the Maxfield Parrish mural.

Peninsula Hotel (left)


Maxfield Parrish mural in the Old King Cole bar of the St. Regis


looking into the (closed) Monkey Bar on 54th



where Studio 54 used to be, now showing Cabaret (w/ Michelle Williams)

There's a sign now for th Avenue to show u where the series of alleys is running between + parallel to 5th + 6th ... used to be only people in the know working in mid-town knew about these secret passages. Revisited where our better-½ used to work for a few years on 53rd.

On 52nd tried to find the apartment where John Lennon spent his «lost weekend» w/ May Pang ... the 18 months he was separated from Yoko ... when he was hanging w/ Harry Nilsson, who in this post we likened to the NY Tyrant, when come to think about it the NY Tyrant is a modern day Harry Crosby ... at least in his approach to publishing. If Pang's apartment is at 434 E 52nd it's rather modest + doesn't seem to have a view overlooking the river where Lennon sposedly saw a UFO on Aug 23, 1974.

view from the end of 52nd ... if Lennon did see a UFO it was in this sky above Roosevelt island ... to the left u can see the remains of the old Small Pox hospital (which we show up close here)


bldg on 52nd

Saw lots of recovering runners on the street (being the day after the marathon) including who we are pretty sure was the winner, Wilson Kipsang, strolling around w/ another Kenyan runner. Also unexpectedly ran into our older brother on a busy mid-town street ... still strange to us that he lives here now.

the back of Roseland Ballroom ... where we saw many a show, now defunct


1 of our favorite bars in NYC ... the Russian Vodka Room on 52nd


getting toward the end of 52nd

Looped back up the west side highway, past the 1st place we worked in NYC on way-west 54th street ... past where we used to stand in line at the original Soup Nazi ... still there but franchised + he's not the 1 serving (he's probly off on some Caribbean isle). Ate at Yakitori Totto, 1 of our old favorites when we lived in this hood. Passed a few of the newer Totto Ramen's which had insane lines since it's the hip new thing + ramen is in right now, which thankfully distracted the crowds from Yakitori Totto so we actually got a table.

 > 387 > A Short History of Decay -dance: our biographical odyssey as archival geneography in space + time seeded w/ mitochondrial Eve + capped in sage


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