issue 93 supplement

Editor’s Note

Welcome to Matrix Magazine’s extended Conceptual Dossier. When Sina Queyras and I set out to co-curate a conceptualisms issue, we had no idea that we would end up working on two issues instead of one. As the amount of quality submissions grew exponentially, our own ambitions for a second or extended issue also grew. I am extremely grateful and honoured to introduce you to these brilliant conceptualists and their work.

Ranging from Simon Wake’s “Immortal Poets” to Kristen Gallagher’s “Things You Can Buy,” the works gathered here point to the artifact, the sediment, the storage of data as more than mere trace elements shadowing a compositional plane. The act of collecting and parsing information is perhaps at its most exemplary in Jeanette John’s “Plans for Walls and Floors” where space is compressed into units of data vacillating between artifice and artifact, confounds the two. In contrast, derek beaulieu’s and Steve Giasson’s visual works use space, not as units of information per say, but as a a manner of framing the given-to-be seen. In several instances, the texts gathered here invite visual deconstruction, textual reconfigurations, but most of all they invite us to consider the frame as substantiation device.

I invite you to explore, surf, read into the vantage point, the in-between spaces, the tangible presence or absence, and wish you a bonne lecture!

Geneviève

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Self Portrait for Abortions by Steve Zultanski

Self-Portrait for Abortions

1.

So there’s obviously no chance that a cluster of cells that ends up a newborn could grow up to be a perfect copy of me. But every cluster of cells that remains unborn has exactly the same chance of potentially having grown up as a perfect copy of me, given that because it never happened, and thus remains an impossibility, there’s no ruling out any one aspect of such an impossibility.

And given that any of the 42 million clusters of cells destroyed in abortions each year could have, in an alternate future, survived the operation and potentially grown up to be a perfect copy of me, and that only .8 million of these abortions are in the U.S., there is a 1.905% chance that an aborted cluster of cells that survived the operation in an alternate future and grew up to be a perfect copy of me would have been an American.

But there’s a 30.952% chance that I would have been Chinese.

And a .178% chance that I would have been Cuban.

Based on current information, which is of course incomplete given how many abortions go unreported; very many.

2.

As a child, I heard my father tell a friend of his a funny story about storing condiments too near the flame of his new outdoor grill, and accidentally melting the plastic packaging.

Because he didn’t share this story with me, and because I was young enough to associate the word “condiment,” which I didn’t know the meaning of, with the word “condom,” which I didn’t know the meaning of but knew the meaning of just enough to know that its hidden meaning masked the more terrifying hidden meaning behind the word “sex,” I associated outdoor grills with this mystery; and I assumed that when I was old enough I would finally understand the relationship between the two.

1.

If I (the perfect copy of me, which is so perfect that there’s no distinguishing between “I” and “it”) were born in China, there’s a 7.9% chance that I would have the surname 李 (Lǐ), the most common surname in the country.

So overall there’s a .002% chance that I would have been born a Lǐ.

As there’s a 6.12 x 10-7% chance that I would have been born a Borg, the most common surname in Malta.

Given that the chances that the perfect copy of me would be christened with my current name are unfathomably small, I must accept the possibility that a perfect copy of me may remain perfect despite the legal implications of carrying a different name, which distinguishes me from me in the eyes of the law.

2.

As an even younger child, a friend used the unfamiliar word “condom,” and provided a baffling cursory definition.

The mental picture I conjured of the object resembled an action-figure — a hard plastic tube which looked vaguely like a piece of military equipment, with blue stripes running down each side and a narrow boxy tip, like a cockpit for a toy pilot.

1.

Given that these perfect copies of myself will never exist, because the cluster of cells that could have developed into such a copy have been destroyed before assuming any identity at all, much less my identity, we know that I will never meet myself.

However, there remains, because of the potentiality forever condensed in the unborn, the possibility that I would have met myself, or even more than one of myselves.

So.

Say the average person meets about 10,000 people in their lifetime.

Given that one has a .000145% chance of meeting any given person, we can assume that there’s a 1.77 x 10-13% chance of my 李 self meeting my Borg self, by my calculations, which surely leave certain factors entirely out, such as geography, which is a big one, and so the percentage would probably be much lower. So:

“喂 我的名字是李先生”

“Hi, jien jisimni Sur Borg”

is a perfectly unlikely scenario, without precedent. However, as long as it remains without precedent, that is, as long as my perfect copies are unborn, we cannot assume that it’s impossible.

1.

Because a perfect copy of me would, by definition, do what I do, there’s a 100% chance that each and every perfect copy of me would also calculate the likelihood of the existence of a perfect copy, that is, itself, and the likelihoods of their nationalities and names, that is, of its own nationality and name.

The only difference would be imperceptible: instead of calculating the likelihood of another’s existence, the perfect copy would be calculating the likelihood of its own existence, and thus the resultant numbers would function, for the perfect copy, as horrifying existential proof of the unthinkability of its birth.

2.

As an adolescent, I bought condoms presumptuously, hoping to use them with my first girlfriend. When she rejected this idea, I used them by myself, to see what it was like, because they gave me a sense of being with another person.

But because I was too nervous to toss them in the trash, where there was an outside chance one of my parents might inadvertently catch a glimpse, I hid them in a small safe, along with my coin collection, and waited for them to dry out.

1.

And if two of my perfect copies meet, or three, say 李 and Borg and my Cuban self, Romario Martinez, who has a 1.72% chance of being christened Romario and a .00275% chance of having been born at all, chances are (by the way, there’s a much less than 4.867 x 10-16% chance that all three perfect copies would meet) they would most likely engage in a detailed comparison of private minutiae, hoping to map the commonalities between their lives (which commonalities would be abundant enough to remain fundamentally unmappable), in order to bring each perfect copy into sharper focus for the others.

For example, if any one perfect copy has a .6% chance of knowing a girlfriend or future ex-wife who’s had an abortion in the past year or thereabouts, then each has a .6% chance of knowing such a girlfriend or future ex-wife, and would tell the others about it. This goes as well for the perfect copies of me who are women, as it’s equally possible that they know a girlfriend or future ex-wife who’s had an abortion.

They could then figure out for themselves that there’s a .6% chance that three or however many more perfect copies of me might each be, respectively, the co-creators of a cluster of cells, which, by virtue of its having been destroyed, would also potentially have been a perfect copy of me.

And that these perfect copies, because they won’t exist, will always might have grown up to become the co-creators of however many more potential perfect copies, and so on; not to mention they might have met by chance at an arbitrary point after having set out from beds scattered all over the mess of countries; not to mention they might have recognized each other if not by name than by uncanny face; not to mention they might have then calculated the unlikelihood of their being alive, in perfect redundancy, word by word, of the method by which I’m now calculating the unlikelihood of my being alive more than once.

Insofar as any living copies of me, as a cluster of impossibilities, are so perfect as to actually be me, they write whatever I write, at the same time as I write it.

That is, there’s a .6% chance that I wrote this.

Steve Zultanski says:

“This piece is an excerpt from a long poem, Agony, which uses mathematical and logical constraints as a form of confessionalism, or autobiography. Sort of.”

Plans for Walls and Floors by Jeanette Johns

Plans for Walls and Floors
















Jeanette Johns says:

Plans for Walls and Floors is a series of 17 works that use the traditional craft of paper marbling to achieve cartographic effects. The map-like surfaces are each paired with a pattern derived from the 17 distinct plane symmetry groups – also called wallpaper groups. A wallpaper group is a mathematical classification of a two-dimensional repetitive pattern, based on the unique symmetries that structure the pattern. This particular way of filling a plane with a repeated image, often used in decorative motifs, is used here to draw a connection with how we look at and absorb landscape. These two observational vantage points draw attention to similarities in the processes of deciphering topographical landscapes and deciphering the various ways a pattern can repeat. The act of observing leads one to notice intricate constructions of landscape and geometric pattern composition. This looking, and seeing the whole, transforms chaos into understanding, which in turn allows one the experience of pleasure and intrigue in observation and maybe finding beauty while trying to locate a sense of order.

Untitled by Josef Kaplan

So you could totally arrest me right now?

I could. But trust me, you wouldn’t want me to. You really, really don’t. If I’m in your living room, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s the understatement of the year.

I’m not kidding.

Neither am I.

As long as you stay on the right side, you’ll be fine. For the last seven years, I’ve been a detective for Internet crimes against children. So if you ever see me, you know we’ve got you. If we come to your house, it’s all over. You’re going to be arrested. You’ve been having Internet conversations with me, and we’ve got all the evidence we need to take you down.

What’s your arrest catchphrase?

My catchphrase? Like a motto?

What do you say when you’re roughing up a perp? “On the floor, dirtbag!” “Book ’em, Danno!” That kind of thing.

Well, uh. (Long pause.) My job is to be a little girl.

Come again?

I play a little girl on the Internet. So whatever name I’m going by, that will probably be my catchphrase. If I’m Tanya, then it’ll be something like, “Tanya says hello.” And they’ll be like, “Tanya who?” And I’ll say, “You don’t know no Tanya, huh? I’m Tanya. Let’s go.” And that’s when the cuffs get slapped on you.

I’d be less concerned with the handcuffs than the fact that a seven foot bald man just introduced himself as Tanya.

(Laughs.) Yeah, they don’t like that very much.

Without any warning, Shaq grabs my hand, places it on his cock and holds it there. Then he guides my hand along the shaft so that I am stroking it with my fingertips. I can feel it throbbing, growing and getting stiffer by the second. The feeling is awesome. So is its size. I feel myself getting hot. Shaq was right: I do want to suck his beautiful, big, black cock. I close my eyes, trying to visualize myself sucking that long thick rod, and sigh audibly.

Shaq lets my hand drop and moves a large chair over, and sits down in it. As tall as he is, it would have been impossible for him to stand and for me to be on my knees trying to suck him. Shaq tells me he wants me to be naked when I suck him. He helps me to undress, and I parade my body in front of him seductively. He smiles his approval, then I get down on my knees directly in front of him and bring my head forward. I am face-to-face with, and staring in awe at, the colossal head of his erect penis. It has a big Cyclops eye.

“Is this what you want?” I say in a very seductive voice. Then I bend forward and begin to kiss his dick. I rub my finger on his cockhole, pinching it lightly as a drop of clear sticky fluid forms. I use my fingers to moisten the swollen glans. Shaq strokes my hair. I tease his cock with my kisses until he howls in agony. After more than half an hour of teasing him in this way, my lips part. I open my hot and tight mouth and pull his cock into it. Placing my right hand at the base of his penis for support, I guide the monstrous head in and out of my mouth. I thrust it in fast and then slowly pull it out. I suck the top half of his shaft while jerking off the lower half. With every beat I suck down quickly, and then gradually withdraw my lips so that he can see the saliva-coated shaft slide out of my mouth.

Then I change pace, roughly grabbing the base of his pole and jacking it off rapidly. At the same time, I bear down hard on the top half of the shaft and collapse my cheeks, responding to every piston-like stroke. Seeing my cheeks change shape from convex to concave, as I’m being mouth-fucked like that – it’s almost too much for him to bear. My hand slathers my saliva over the area I was jerking, causing him to vibrate and twitch. He says that it feels like electricity is shooting through his balls. He senses he is close, but he tells me that he wants to make it last.

“You’ll have to work harder than that to taste my cum, bitch! By the way, do you want me to cum in your mouth? No, on second thought, maybe I should cum on your face!”

“Please fuck my mouth more, I want you to fuck it until you cum!” I whisper in my throatiest and sexiest voice. My eyes must be wild with lust.

“Are you sure you can handle this kind of rough treatment, my little white sex bitch?”

I nod as best I can, and don’t move a muscle as his huge cock slams in and out of my mouth, inching a little deeper with each thrust. His huge balls slap against my wet chin.

Josef Kaplan says: 

“In this untitled poem, I interview Shaq, and then I give him a pretty good blowjob.”

Morning by Sarah Dowling

Morning

Number one is my coast

Number two is my sunshine

Number three is mornings

Number four is my feel

Number five is my girl

Number six is that somebody

Number seven: go death

Number eight is my girl

Number nine is mouth

Number ten is my feel

Number eleven is my naughty

Number twelve is girl

Number thirteen is my coast

Number fourteen: go tea

Number fifteen is that somebody

Number sixteen is tell nobody

Number seventeen is cigarette

Number eighteen is my feel

Number nineteen is my girl

Number twenty: go robe

Number twenty-one is my hawk

Number twenty-two is window

Number twenty-three is my feel

Number twenty-four is that naughty

Number twenty-five is flies

Number twenty-six is my girl

Number twenty-seven: go snow

Number twenty-eight is my girl

Number twenty-nine is might

Number thirty is my feel

Number thirty-one is my coast

Number thirty-two is baby

Number thirty-three: go dock

Number thirty-four is bout nobody

Number thirty-five is that one

Number thirty-six is my naughty

Number thirty-seven is girl

Number thirty-eight is buses

Number thirty-nine is my feel

Number forty: go clouds

Number forty-one is my girl

Number forty-two is my girl

Number forty-three is that’s good

Number forty-four: go flutes

Number forty-five is beach

Number forty-six is my feel

Number forty-seven is my girl

Number forty-eight is my bees

Number forty-nine is tell naughty

Number fifty is nobody

Number fifty-one is my coast

Number fifty-two: go sand

Number fifty-three is that somebody

Number fifty-four is my girl

Number fifty-five is my girl

Number fifty-six: go tears

Number fifty-seven is heart

Number fifty-eight is my feel

Number fifty-nine is my girl

Number sixty is that we’ll

Number sixty-one is my naughty

Number sixty-two is birds

Number sixty-three is baby

Number sixty-four: go humor

Number sixty-five is parking lot

Number sixty-six is my feel

Number sixty-seven is bout nobody

Number sixty-eight is my girl

Number sixty-nine is my coast

Number seventy: go keys

Number seventy-one is that somebody

Number seventy-two is car

Number seventy-three is my feel

Number seventy-four is my naughty

Number seventy-five is girl

Number seventy-six is my girl

Number seventy-seven: go bicycle

Number seventy-eight is lunch

Number seventy-nine is my feel

Number eighty is that somebody

Number eighty-one is my girl

Number eighty-two is tell nobody

Number eighty-three: go anchovies

Number eighty-four is my girl

Number eighty-five is sentence

Number eighty-six is my feel

Number eighty-seven is my naughty

Number eighty-eight is my coast

Number eighty-nine is that somebody

Number ninety: go stars

Number ninety-one is my girl

Number ninety-two is snow

Number ninety-three is my feel

Number ninety-four is my girl

Number ninety-five is baby

Number ninety-six: go calling

Number ninety-seven is card

Number ninety-eight is my girl

Number ninety-nine is that somebody

Number one hundred is bout naughty

Number one hundred and one is nobody

Number one hundred and two is nothing

Number one hundred and three is my feel

Number one hundred and four: go music

Number one hundred and five is my girl

Number one hundred and six is my girl

Number one hundred and seven is my coast

Number one hundred and eight is that somebody

Number one hundred and nine: go crossword

Number one hundred and ten is puzzle

Number one hundred and eleven is my girl

Number one hundred and twelve is my girl

Number one hundred and thirteen is my naughty

Number one hundred and fourteen is feel

Number one hundred and fifteen is my girl

Number one hundred and sixteen: go passenger

Number one hundred and seventeen is tell nobody

Number one hundred and eighteen is that flies

Number one hundred and nineteen is my girl

Number one hundred and twenty is my coast

Number one hundred and twenty-one: go place

Number one hundred and twenty-two is my sunshine

Number one hundred and twenty-three is my girl

Number one hundred and twenty-four is that naughty

Number one hundred and twenty-five is somebody

Number on hundred and twenty-six is baby

Number one hundred and twenty-seven is morning

Number one hundred and twenty-eight is my feel

Number one hundred and twenty-nine is my sunshine

Sarah Dowling’s note on the poem:

In his now-famous coming-out letter, Frank Ocean describes the life-changing effects of his first love. An unnamed, unspecified soundtrack is crucial to this experience: “I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager. The ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak.” We all know this language, even if we, like Frank Ocean, don’t speak it yet: mundane, inane, relentless, at once unfulfillable and disappointingly true. “Morning” draws on some of these sentimental songs, their teenage repetitivity, their unspeakable bathos and unavoidable sincerity. Its title and structure are taken from another Frank — this one’s O’Hara: “I’ve got to tell you / how I love you always.” I wanted to write a text caught between being completely poignant and completely flattened. I wanted to write in a language I did not yet speak. I wanted a text whose retrospection and repetition would not slide into critical superiority and hauteur. I wanted a text that would be as machine-like as love, doing it over and over again.

local colour by derek beaulieu

local colour

 

 

 

derek beaulieu says:

local colour  engages with the graphic design of the information that we process, applying the tenets of concrete poetry to conceptual writing. Like logos and PR statements for the corporate sponsors of Jorge Luis Borge’s library, my poems use the particles of language to represent and promote goods and corporations just out of reach. These imaginary businesses, and the advertising campaigns that support them, promote a poetic dreamscape of alphabetic ostranenie.