by Leif Haven
—then the candles. Hand me your wax. Breathe in. Here is your wax back. What is it in the shape of? Breath out. Who is the last person you shook hands with? I bet you can't remember. No really, I bet you the next round, you can't remember can you. If you can it probably happened today. Did it happen today? What is the last handshake you remember, in that case? Was it overly damp? What do you think it means to have a damp handshake or a damp memory of a handshake? What do you think it means to shake hands often? Or to remember shaking hands often? Can you name a dog? Like, what's the last dog that you spent time with, that you "hung out" with? Can you remember its name? What kind of dog it was? Can you describe its personality? Go ahead:
Imagine you are watching TV through a window you can't hear any of the sound. Then you are given a selection of paint. You are in the Louvre or the MOMA or something. Somebody hands you a shopping bag full of spray paint. What do you do? What do you do? What if whoever hands you the spray-paint in the museum has a gun. They just show it to you there in their pocket or on a holster or something. There is no one else around. It is late at night. The museum is empty. The person that has handed you the spray paint is a security guard. The security guard assures you that you will not be held accountable for anything that happens and there are no alarms that could go off. Ok. Good. What if the security guard threatens you more blatantly with the gun and tells you to paint. What if you are really good at judo or tai chi. How am I supposed to know? Maybe you are? I don't know. It could happen. What do you do then? What if you were an art history major? Does that change anything? What if you are a painter and what you do is paint? What you want to be is a painter. What do you do then? I bet that changes things doesn't it. If you are a painter.
If you have a dog this question may not be for you. Do you wear stripes? Do you have a favorite pattern? Do you mix patterns? Do you tend towards dark or bright colors? What are you wearing? Where were you last night? What do you think that the patterns you like say about you as a person, and about the afterlife? Give me that wax back. I'm going to make this into something else. I want you to tell me what this wax is in the shape of when I give it back to you, not what you think I made the wax into the shape of but what you think it is in the shape of. Good. That thing is now your talisman of power. How long have you been gone? You dosed off there for a bit. No, I promise, ok, here's the wax back. I've made it into at thing that is very important to you. Close to you and sad. I want you to stare at it. To feel its shape with the tip of your fingers and maybe your mouth. Then close your eyes. Take the thing that is important to you and take it into your hand. Now crush it until the heat and force of your fist squeeze ribbons of wax out of the small spaces between your fingers. Now, where those bits of wax fall on this clean white piece of muslin that I have arranged previously, what do you see?
Take a moment like this into your hand and wonder at it and what it could lead to. No don't. I take that back. What I want you to think about now is eating. Do you feel healthy? Do you think you could be better? Why? This is important. Is there something you would like to change? Why? Can you remember what you've eaten today? Can you recall it in detail? Ok. Good. Now forget it. It's important that you forget everything. Go to the other side of the room. Now come back. You need to let quantification fall away from you now. How do your legs feel? Not as a whole but as little bits, as parts, and also as a whole made up of parts, a something and a nothing, a together and an apart. The part the front, the shins, the heel and the Achilles and the thigh and groin, etc. See if you can figure out how they all are feeling and how they all feel together and now focus. You know all the time how you feel but now do you know how to pay any attention or direct that attention? You probably do. Who am I kidding? But, for the fun of it, lets try this now: think of the thing you have used your legs for the most. Perhaps walking; perhaps not. Perhaps getting up from the floor where you sit, or crouching, if you're like, a catcher or something, or maybe kicking or crossing, or something, and see if you can isolate in the things you feel in each of the parts of the things that are making up what your body is what the things that you have done with them and to them are making them feel like. When was the last time you fell down?
Where have you been? Do you want the directions? Do you know what intersection you are on, or the closest intersection to you and could you tell me what your birthday is and do you know your mother's middle name and do you realize how urgent it is that you tell me the answer to all these questions do you remember the first lake that you swam in or do you remember what brand of bathroom cleaner you buy and can you understand how urgent these questions are and how grand a thing this is that you are a part of and please answer this question below in the box below the question thank you: If you are given a pencil and it has no eraser and you start writing from both ends of the paper simultaneously the long way with your one pencil and a starling battles a pigeon hawk somewhere in Texas there is a church and beside the pond, the only one, and for some reason the trees don't have leaves yet and the wind then how long will it be? How long will it be before dinner is ready?
Write down the name of a person on a piece of wood. Take the piece of wood and put it under your mattress and sleep on it like it's a bag of money for at least a week or preferably longer maybe a month that would be the best, at least a month, so that your muscles grow accustomed to the bulge under your mattress and it's very important that you are able to sleep, this should be priority other wise it won't work, find a place for the wood under the mattress such that it is still comfortable enough to sleep on, but it should at least be under your body so I hope that's not inconvenient or uncomfortable because if it's not then everything is lost. After a month tie the piece of wood to a string. Or tie a string to the piece of wood, as you like. Hang it somewhere. Then take it down. Break something with the wood. Build something with the wood. Then break whatever you built with the wood. Take the piece of wood to dinner. Pour wine all over it. Whose name did you write on the wood? Does it matter to you? I'm sure you know what to do now.
Now, quickly find the nearest flower and as ritualistically as possible destroy it. Slowly is the best way. Add symbolic meaning to the destruction. Add some kind of desire goal that this may achieve or cause to happen. Later, in the night there will be sounds. Ignore them. They cannot harm you here. Treat objects tenderly. They are the same as you, though do you always want to be treated tenderly? I didn't think so. How did you destroy the flower and what kind of flower was it? While you keep that in your mind think of what kinds of things you will destroy in the next month. Plants & animals. Paper. Various packagings. Maybe some piece of furniture. A glass. A bottle. A pair of shoes. Insects. Now take your flower picture in your head and walk somewhere right away, I mean right this instant, I mean to the first place you imagined that is not your home, it is important that you do this immediately, what ever occurred to you first, when you were told to walk some where, don't forget your shoes, and your keys but by all means go. You should walk because part of this thing is that you have to walk and hold the image in your head constantly of your destroyed flower and this may take some time to get to wherever you were going and still hold that picture in your mind but it's important that you try. Keep it at the front. On the backside of your forehead. And when you get to wherever you're going and I am sure that you will know where you are going when you get there then stop look around maybe sit on a bench or in the grass or lean against something and catch your breath because I'm sure you're tired and the next part is rather hard so you should have your faculties about you so find a place nearby where you can deposit something. A bridge would be good for throwing things off of. Maybe a garbage can, a mailbox, though that might be cruel, a cliff, a chasm, a manhole, what have you, find something that can act as an abyss and in there you need to take your destroyed flower and eject it from inside of yourself so that it is outside of yourself and chuck it down the hole. Good luck.
First, think of your best friend. (Already you are forced to choose.) You and your best friend have taken a nice long walk through a pleasant garden and you have discussed diverse topics such as botany and fashion, art and food, tuberculosis, the texture of particular kinds of paper, the smell of a particular far away city in the morning paired with a particular brand of cigarette at a particular time of year and you have arrived at a bench. Your best friend says have a seat; I have something to tell you. You think nothing of it and sit down happy to rest your feet for a moment and listen. Your friend takes a deep breath and says: I am cancerous. I don't have cancer, mind you, I, myself, am cancerous.
Now that we've come this far take a deep breath. Take your mind and consider it. Ask yourself important questions like: how did you sleep last night. And why. What kind of shoes are you wearing and what does that mean to you? What do you have planned for tomorrow morning? Do you consider yourself busy? Have you stared at anything recently? Take the time to stare please. Yes, now. Not at a person, that might give the wrong idea. Stare at a thing that won't mind. And it won't mind. But still, just be considerate ok? When staring or in general. The books are still on the shelf unless you moved them and well, you might have. The fish is still alive in the bowl unless something happened but it probably didn't. Remember the world that you made? It sits there waiting for you. There was a song once but I've forgotten it. Maybe you remember?
What is next is just as complicated as the rest. I want you to take this shovel. Take it to the dirt and make with it a hole as subtle and imaginable as the world. And what I mean by the shovel is the pen. And from these instructions I want you to also dig for the other instructions. Take these instructions and then bury them with your new shovel. I know it isn't new, I'm sorry, it's a used shovel, but think of it as patina, or provenance, yes, it is new to you, think of the history, I'm sorry I didn't get you a new shovel, believe me this is an important shovel, and a new one just wouldn't do. I want you to treat it as the best thing. As exciting. And with it these words might be burned or buried. They might be disposed of properly. That from these might be born a host of new instructions and in those will be sticks and string and tape and beans and wheels and museums and the slow drip of unidentifiable liquid and as those go on that these might go on.