I am late to the Whitney screening and miss the first film, but despite being sold out I am seated in the front behind the artist who I know, who I am there to see. I hear him talk about black holes, reading in the dark describing the idea of projecting without light, where the word monster is defined by its Latin origin monere, meaning to warn, also seen in monitor. Is surveillance the action of monster? He suggests this warning is in demonstrate but I find it comes from Latin monstrare, meaning wonder. Do our demons warn us or are they meant to make us wonder? Is a warning concrete opposed to something with the room for thought? He talks about how the universe is not only queerer than we think but that it is queerer than we can think. I stay to say hello after his performance; he says he is going to work. I walk the High Line and am under the impression everyone is wondering about me. I try to survey inside the expensive apartments and offices along the High Line but cannot see through the tinted glass and foliage.
When I get to Brooklyn I meet my friend I have not seen since the weekend I left Brooklyn, all those months ago. I take several books of poetry and an essay collection from his office before we leave to go strolling through Prospect Park. The sun disappears when we arrive. The water by the ice rink is topped with thick algae, giving the surface a matte finish, still and dull except for a single white swan afloat in the middle. It has its back to us and eats its bath. To use swan as a verb is to mean going somewhere casually, or being irresponsible. I do not wonder aloud how these two definitions relate to the same word, as we stroll onwards, casually. I do not wonder if we are two irresponsibles.
Halloween has become a couple's holiday, almost more so than Valentine's Day. This "holiday" we face every October as an excuse to band together, in pairs or groups of display. The point is more than to be seen, it is to command of others, "Look at me" in which the first person may be singular but acts as agency for the group. Traditional celebration of this "holiday" cannot be a solitary act, it must involve interaction with others, even if they are dead. My friend says he does not particularly pay attention to Halloween; I lament we are not pagans observing Samhain. Being in the city though, we could just head to First Avenue and Ninth Street and be at the witches' worshipping. We are not celebrating Halloween tonight.
I am wearing a long denim button-up because it is a light enough jacket in this oddly warm weather - pleasant and lovely - which distresses my inner ideas of time. I wonder if I am at the start or end of the summer. Is it last year still? Or, again? The shirt has a black velvet collar I close to the top of the neck with black plastic buttons. I like the feel for its comfort and the material for its durability and the look for its nostalgia of a person I never was, like a 90s grunge teen or an 80s young housewife. I think of how on my birth certificate it states my mother's occupation as "HOMEMAKER." I discover that the tag of my long denim shirt is labeled Maternity and I decide my Halloween costume is: abandoned, asymmetrical, aborted.
When we stop at a diner for fried plantains for him and black coffee for me, he gives me a small journal from his recent travels. The pages are stark white inside, blank and nearly blinding in the yellow tint of the diner, after walking for miles in the dark. As dark as it gets in Brooklyn, at least. The cover of the journal is slick, smooth; I make him feel it although he knows it well. I say it will be perfect for slipping in and out of pockets, but he says it makes him nervous the book will slide right out of his grip.
I think of the ink on the paper, the algae on water, the moonlight reduced to dullness. Would the thoughts and words be swanning in pages? Is it casual to slip or irresponsible to not stay put? Put being the past tense, a description in the present. What are my thoughts for them to stay put? I think of all the irresponsible swanning I have thought, how casually I stray down tangents. Swans are aggressive and known to attack. My mind, it is swanning.
As I was strolling the High Line, I admitted to a friend the vacuous feelings the city is restoring in me at certain times, at certain thoughts. I think one thing, the city mirrors back no thing: me with no thing, me and no thing. In a certain history, I have had to become nothing as a means for progress. I have given up my self in place of becoming no thing; there is no whom of which the history will reference when the history is brought up. I have removed myself from an equation so someone else does not need to solve it. The solution is to have no problem in the first place. I have taken the swan and ethically slaughtered it for consumption. S is for swan. S is for me. "We share an exceptional capacity for yearning," responded my friend. If a yearning is an unfulfilled desire by definition, I wonder how it can translate into being. Perhaps the beingness of "no thing" is more simply the negation of being, in which you are not and therefore have not and therefore desire. Is yearning a debasement we tell ourselves?
At the diner my friend praises the power of humble submission. I earnestly agree with him.
His skin is soft and I think of the smooth pages of inkless blank nothing in the journal, his gift.
I miss two trains before I say goodnight and leave him in Brooklyn.
All day I have thought of what I ought not, have seen the reminders of what I seek not. Of whom. The use of whom is to replace a person with an objective pronoun when discussing the person with a preposition. The use of whom is to make a person into an object and put it somewhere.
All day I think I see people dressed up as someone I know.
I think I see someone who is dressed up as me.
I don't see the person of whom I am thinking, I don't see a person dressed up as me.