Teatro Grottesco

All of the myths of mankind are nothing but show business,' the other man said to me during our initial meeting. 'Everything that we supposedly live by and supposedly die by — whether it's religious scriptures or makeshift slogans — all of it is show business. The rise and fall of empires — show business. Science, philosophy, all of the disciplines under the sun, and even the sun itself, as well as all those other clumps of matter wobbling about in the blackness up there —' he said to me, pointing out the window beside the coffee-shop booth in which we sat, 'show business, show business, show business.' 'And what about dreams?' I asked, thinking I might have hit upon an exception to his dogmatic view, or at least one that he would accept as such. 'You mean the dreams of the sort we are having at this moment or the ones we have when we're fortunate enough to sleep?

Amnesia may well be the highest sacrament in the great gray ritual of existence.

And any room that I enter may become a sideshow tent where I must take my place upon a rickety old bench on the verge of collapse. Even now the Showman stands before my eyes. His stiff red hair moves a little toward one shoulder, as if he is going to turn his gaze upon me, and moves back again; then his head moves a little toward the other shoulder in this never-ending game of horrible peek-a-boo. I can only sit and wait, knowing that one day he will turn full around, step down from his stage, and claim me for the abyss I have always feared. Perhaps then I will discover what it was I did - what any of us did - to deserve this fate.

At times I have been rendered breathless by the impeccable chaoticism, the absolutely perfect nonsense of some spectacle taking place outside myself, or, on the other hand, some spectacle of equally senseless outrageousness taking place within me.

Even if this is only nonsense and dreams, I feel the need to perpetuate it all. Especially at this moment, when this pain is taking over my mind and my self. Pretty soon none of this will make any difference.

How can the disease be cured of itself?' you asked them. 'My body — a tumor that was once delivered from the body of another tumor, a lump of disease that is always boiling with its own disease. And my mind — another disease, the disease of a disease. Everywhere my mind sees the disease of other minds and other bodies, these other organisms that are only other diseases, an absolute nightmare of the organism.

In those moments, which were eternal I assure you, I had no location in the universe, nothing to grasp for that minimum of security which every creature needs merely to exist without suffering from the sensation that everything is spinning ever faster on a cosmic carousel with only endless blackness at the edge of that wheeling ride. I know that your condition differs from mine, and therefore you have no means by which to fully comprehend my ordeals just as I cannot fully comprehend yours. But I do acknowledge that both our conditions are unendurable, despite the doctor's second-hand platitude that nothing in this world is unendurable. I've even come to believe that the world itself, by its very nature, is unendurable. It's only our responses to this fact that deviate: mine being predominately a response of passive terror approaching absolute panic; yours being predominantly a response of gruesome obsessions that you fear you might act upon.

It has always seemed to me that my existence consisted purely and exclusively of nothing but the most outrageous nonsense.

METAPHYSICAL LECTURE 1
It has been said that after undergoing certain ordeals — whether ecstatic or abysmal — we should be obliged to change our names, as we are no longer who we once were. Instead the opposite rule is applied: our names linger long after anything resembling what we were, or thought we were, has disappeared entirely. Not that there was ever much to begin with — only a few questionable memories and impulses drifting about like snowflakes in a gray and endless winter. But each soon floats down and settles into a cold and nameless void.

No one gives up on something until it turns on them, whether or not that thing is real or unreal.

No standard exists for the peculiarity and ridiculousness of things, not even one that is unspeakable or unknowable, words which are merely a front or a subterfuge. These qualities – the peculiar and the ridiculous – are immanent and absolute in all existence and would be in any conceivable existent order . . .

Nothing belongs to us. Everything is something that is rented out. Our very heads are filled with rented ideas passed on from one generation to the next.

Perhaps our judgement of the purple woman was unfair. No doubt her theories concerning the "approach of the Teatro" made us all uneasy. But was this reason enough to cast her out from that artistic underworld which was the only society available to her? Like many societies, of course, ours was founded on fearful superstition, and this is always reason enough for any kind of behavior. She had been permanently stigmatized by too closely associating herself with something unclean in its essence.

So it was that the Red Tower put into production its new, more terrible and perplexing, line of unique novelty items. Among the objects and constructions now manufactured were several of an almost innocent nature. These included tiny, delicate cameos that were heavier than their size would suggest, far heavier, and lockets whose shiny outer surface flipped open to reveal a black reverberant abyss inside, a deep blackness roaring with echoes. Along the same lines was a series of lifelike replicas of internal organs and physiological structures, many of them evidencing an advanced stages of disease and all of them displeasingly warm and soft to the touch. There was a fake disembodied hand on which fingernails would grow several inches overnight and insistently grew back should one attempt to clip them. Numerous natural objects, mostly bulbous gourds, were designed to produce a long, deafening scream whenever they were picked up or otherwise disturbed in their vegetable stillness. Less scrutable were such things as hardened globs of lava into whose rough, igneous forms were sent a pair of rheumy eyes that perpetually shifted their gaze from side to side like a relentless pendulum. And there was also a humble piece of cement, a fragment broken away from any street or sidewalk, that left a most intractable stain, greasy and green, on whatever surface it was placed. But such fairly simple items were eventually followed, and ultimately replaced, by more articulated objects and constructions. One example of this complex type of novelty item was an ornate music box that, when opened, emitted a brief gurgling or sucking sound in emulation of a dying individual's death rattle. Another product manufactured in great quantity at the Red Tower was a pocket watch in a gold casing which opened to reveal a curious timepiece whose numerals were represented by tiny quivering insects while the circling 'hands' were reptilian tongues, slender and pink. But these examples hardly begin to hint at the range of goods that came from the factory during its novelty phase of production. I should at least mention the exotic carpets woven with intricate abstract patterns that, when focused upon for a certain length of time, composed themselves into fleeting phantasmagoric scenes of a kind which might pass through a fever-stricken or even permanently damaged brain.

Some heads are more haunted than others, whether they are haunted by ghosts or by gods or by creatures from outer space.

Sometimes, when I was sitting in the Crimson Cabaret on a rainy night, I thought of myself as occupying a waiting room for the abyss (which of course was exactly what I was doing) and between sips from my glass of wine or cup of coffee I smiled sadly and touched the front pocket of my coat where I kept my imaginary ticket to oblivion.

Such speculation however, was of no interest to my father, who strongly objected to the possibility of spooks or spirits of any kind or even the use of these terms. ‘There is nothing in the attic’, he explained to me. ‘its only the way that your head is interacting with the space of that attic. There are certain fields of forces that are everywhere. And these forces, for reasons unknown to me as yet, are potentiated in some places more than others. Do you understand? The attic is not haunting your head- your head is haunting the attic. Some heads are more haunted than others, whether they are haunted by ghosts or by gods or by creatures from outer space. These are not real things. Nonetheless, they are indicative of real forces, animating and even creative forces, which your head only conceives to be some kind of spook or who knows what

That night I slept badly, thrashing about in my bed, not quite asleep and not quite awake. At times I had the feeling there was someone else in my bedroom who was talking to me, but of course I could not deal with this perception in any realistic way, since I was half-asleep and half-awake, and thus, for all practical purposes, I was out of my mind.

The attic is not haunting your head – your head is haunting the attic. Some heads are more haunted than others, whether they are haunted by ghosts or by gods or by creatures from outer space.

The crimson woman has quite a few adversaries, just as she is connected with powerful allies. How can I say exactly who they are — some group specializing in art=magic, no doubt, but I can't just say, with a fatuous certainty, "Yes, it must be some particular gang of illuminati," or esoteric scientists, as so many have begun styling themselves these days.

The place was also slightly haunted,

There are enough fatalities of a mundane sort. Find a quiet place and wait for one of them to carry you off.

There is nothing like fear to complicate one's consciousness, inducing previously unknown levels of reflection

There was simply no peace to be had no matter where you hid yourself away. Even in a northern border town of such intensely chaotic oddity and corruption there was still some greater chaos, some deeper insanity, than one had counted on, or could ever be taken into account - wherever there was anything, there would be chaos and insanity to such a degree that one could never come to terms with it, and it was only a matter of time before your world, whatever you thought it to be, was undermined, if not completely overrun, by another world.

there was still some greater chaos, some deeper insanity, than one had counted on, or could ever be taken into account – wherever there was anything, there would be chaos and insanity to such a degree that one could never come to terms with it, and it was only a matter of time before your world, whatever you thought it to be, was undermined, if not completely overrun, by another world.

The voice of madness, for instance, is barely a whisper in the babbling history of art because its realities are themselves too maddening to speak of for very long — and those of the Teatro have no voice at all, given their imponderably grotesque nature.

... this
heartbreaking sadness I suffer every minute of the day (and night), this killing sadness that feels as
if it will never leave me no matter where I go or what I do or whom I may ever know.

this
heartbreaking sadness I suffer every minute of the day (and night), this killing sadness that feels as
if it will never leave me no matter where I go or what I do or whom I may ever know.

What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?

When I first took this job at the factory it was not my intention to work there very long, for I once possessed higher hopes for my life, although the exact nature of these hopes remained rather vague in my youthful mind. While the work was not arduous, and my fellow workers congenial enough, I did not imagine myself standing forever at my designated assembly block, fitting together pieces of metal into other pieces of metal, with a few interruptions throughout that day for breaks that were supposed to refresh our minds from the tedium of our work or for meal breaks to allow us to nourish our bodies. Somehow it never occurred to me that the nearby town where I and the others at the factory lived, travelling to and from our jobs along the same fog-strewn road, held no higher opportunities for me or anyone else, which no doubt accounts for the vagueness, the wispy insubstantiality, of my youthful hopes.