In the Realms of the Unreal
Meditation 1: Her Desire to Be in Two Snuff Films
This is her film. A man loves a woman so much that he agrees to give her unbearable pleasure. They go to a cave of a house. He ties her up. Then for a long time, days, he approaches touching her, but does not touch her. It’s slowly, slowly. He reaches. Energetically. His touch builds. Finally, he brushes her, softer than a blade of fresh grass. He passes over her during the night. It’s a week before he touches a stray hair near her genitals with one of his eyelashes. It’s another week before his tip grazes her. For much of the time, the movement is suggestive, hypnotic: that is he almost doesn’t move, or moves with the speed of condensation. Whether or not he enters her, her pleasure grows and she cannot stand it. It’s impossible for her to accept more pleasure, but she is helpless. In their lovemaking, finally, she dissolves. She dies and her body floats up into the air above him, through the binds. She hovers there, free of everything. He did not expect her to die, or if he did, we haven’t been shown. But experiencing her death, he is so sad, he cannot move. The whole weight of him, the gravity is unaccountable. Frozen in his sorrow, he may not ever move again.
The vastness of their connection, their love (or at least his love for her) is so big, that it causes the earth to open. All of the other humans on earth die and some of the animals die. But somehow everyone knew this would happen.
Before this man loved this woman so much that he was able to give her unbearable pleasure there was a film that told the future. In this film, this man makes love to this woman until her flesh dissolves and her spirit floats above the brokenhearted man, frozen in his cave, where he is the only human left living in the world, because everyone else was killed by the power of this act of love. The man and the woman starred in this film. Many people saw this film and most of them died. At first it was seen in only a few theaters. And it was hard for people to believe the coincidence that so many people would die in theaters wherever this movie played. But the film was so beautiful, and the lure of the risk of watching the film was so great, that it played the world over, and almost everyone who went to see it died. And the few that survived were so moved by the beauty of the love of this film that they recommended it to everyone, if ever they were able to speak again. The man and the woman saw this film. It is unclear whether they believed the film. It is unclear how they felt to see themselves in the film. It is unclear if they were aware that they had acted in this film. It is unclear whether the film gave them the idea to enact the film. In any case, watching the film did not discourage them from trying to fulfill this woman’s wish for unbearable pleasure.
The man gives the woman unbearable pleasure. It kills her. The massiveness of this act of love causes worldwide earthquakes that swallow every human left alive on earth and some of the animals. The woman floats, translucent, at the ceiling above the man who is frozen in sorrow, because his love, his generosity and great feeling killed the woman he loved and isolated him completely. She floats above him. He does not move for one hundred years.
There was a second film. A sequel, but it is lost. No one saw it. Everyone was already dead. But this film is not nearly as good as the first film, in fact, it is really a bad film, so it is no great loss that it was not seen. But is interesting as it documents an opposite approach to reach the same conclusion. In this film the love between the man and the woman, or you could say the man’s love and the woman’s love for what the man did for her are so great that she comes alive again, or that finally he is able to die and they are reincarnated. In their reincarnation they are the only man and woman living on earth. There are some animals. The man and the woman do not remember each other or what they did, and their genitals are uncertain, but they somehow remember each other, internally from before. They are completely drawn together, but the internal feeling is so strong, that they are afraid of each other. For their whole lives they are never far from each other, and they watch each other, but they never draw close, they never touch. The feeling is too strong between them. Eventually they grow old and get weak and die and that is finally the end of all human life. It is a long film. It doesn’t matter which of them died first, but the film continues for a long time after the second death, although who is changing the reels is uncertain.
Meditation 2: Real Time (The Little Story of the Producers)
They may have cared for one another once, but now when we observe them make love it is just a carcass-with-two-backs, listless, without pleasure, limpid, tepid; even the desert sun under which we have placed them elicits no steam. Their wrists and ankles never strain the chains. Their mutual false-completion is a sucking lack, of any energy, of the last hope of passion; the flesh of their ass cheeks does not tremble, and the scorpions which once horrified them to some level of erotic excitement scuttle away, self-conscious to have sauntered into an embarrassment. An embarrassment of scenes, of screens. Of barely audible whimpers and no screams. It is hard to be a voyeur. It is hard to get old. And it is hard to film this. Sad scene. After sad scene.
We had feared our own diminishing health would be the true liability to our passion product, that our inadequacies might threaten its potency, as our absent-minds have again and again allowed our liver-spotted hands to accidentally loop into the frame, and our voices, drained by the unremitting shooting schedule, crack like tired parrots as we pant the play-by-play of our stars’ punishment-enforced sex acts into our microphones, deleteriously revealing signs of our advanced age to our desired demographics and alienating them, and numbing their arousal, [and slowing our hits, and preventing us from trending,] but less than halfway through the filming it is our actors that are cragged, absolutely lifeless, bloated by nothing, hardly inside each other. Bared, naked. Exposed. But unmoved. Uninspired. By our kernels of directorial wisdom. By our grand vision. By our harsh motivations. [By cattle-prods. Torn fingernails. Electrified, mentholated lubrications. Unpleasant sounds from scraped chalkboards and squeaked balloons terrifying all who dwelled in the desert. Itching powders. And everything. Everything else.] Counterintuitive to all expectations (for they were beautiful, and we were producers) it would have been far better to watch ourselves die in each other’s loose-fleshed embrace, but this was not the agreement of their imprisonment.
As our actors sleep the sleep of the dead, back to back, necks buckled, we feel something for them, something paternal. Like wanting to distance ourselves from this shameful scene. Pity tightens in our stomachs and we squeeze each other’s hands and look at each other, knowing we are both remembering times when the revulsion was less acute … when scavengers were still drawn by their lovers’ scent, when their bare flesh was ravaged by tooth and beak, even by grubs, the good sweet flesh of desire that will not stop pumping, a horniness that will not take steps to avoid being devoured. When it seemed appropriate to the pacing of our pièce de résistance, we’d step in and poke away the animals with our canes. Gauze bandages flew everywhere as they humped … it was vexing to try to treat their wounds and the shots were hot.
We can’t remember the last time a coyote stopped to smell the challenging invitation of their sexy territorial piss … was there a moment when things shifted, when they began to go unnoticed, carrying no stench to sing the praises of, was there a time of a great passing, of something lost, of a fading spring, or did the picture wither into listless sickness, just like that!
Just like life.
No, why pretend, why feign … naivety?
… I know what it was. It was there from the beginning. Of the desert. Of the nature scenes. A slowly accruing poison.
I sit at home watching the sheet we used under them for three years, when were doing the interior shots of the film, never changing it never washing it. It stands, more or less independently, in a corner. It seems to toddle toward me. I’d watch it forever. If I never had to peer through that viewfinder at our slave lovers again. If I never had to capture them again… That they wither, die, and rot naturally with minimal interference is essential to the real time nature of our snuff film. That love is the murderer. That they die of love. Maybe it can simply be called time-lapse cinema vérité. Or, my whole career. I thought I’d get to make more … but the picture has taken all of me. It is me, me and my legacy. Real time is a snuff film for everyone. It has already been two years since we walked hand in hand; since your last credits rolled. From natural causes. It seemed.
When we came out to our desert lot, and stood before our film set, spirits were high. We were brimming vicariously with the boundless beauty and energy and passion of our enslaved sex subjects, a desire for each other that overpowered even their mortal fears. Only for a great plummet. To open the door in a fake wall and be greeted by human remains: an obliterated back of a skull and its pile of pink oatmeal, hands and femurs scattered about, immortalized starlets of the celluloid, as if absent-mindedly, casually abandoned by the last film crew. The bulged-out eyes and tongues and the scabs ringing the twisted necks, the presence of larvae and tritely clichéd suicide notes, the actors reposed in their stinking clothes, stiff and crusted by their shit; it was an unthinkable lack of professionalism, for us, perhaps an insurmountable setback; we wracked our brains, but no explanation seemed plausible, no film company would stoop to this, no one could be so reckless, no simple dispute with the janitorial companies would elicit this result: their resources were endlessly expendable and replenishable. We told ourselves (we lied to ourselves) that these were real lovers who had staged themselves to look like a film. A wasted chance at true cinema magic. If no one captured this. A churning in our guts. A jealousy we had to push down. We looked at our shackled leads. At their blanching. The ultimate priority of our so-far creamingly rewarding collaboration had been temporarily outweighed by their self-concern, the fragile ego of the actor. Without the sick recognition of their own mortality, that they had glimmered from this death exhibition, would our lovers have forgotten the disparity in the power dynamic that lay between us and them; would they have been able to act natural? Until the end? Would it have been easier to remember that they were doing it and doing it and doing it for a greater purpose? That they loved each other for us? That their death, when it came, was a gateway to the immortality so sought after, so fawned over by the archetypes they loved. The Eros. The Thanatos. A starlet’s glazed glass eye stared nowhere out of a heavily perfumed chunk of rancid meat–we lay our performers down beside her and told them to lose themselves in each other.
The slow, creeping poison. Entered there. It was supposed to be a love story. We left the crying in. We left the snotty noses in, out of respect.
I supposed, in my notes—that I would never find greater reason to weep than I did while bearing witness to the withering of their love. God I can’t tell you how much I wanted it to work out for them. How I wanted it to be true. But soon, like the other predators, I knew, I could not
… I would not even find them. We are not young. The film will go on for a few more years, fading in and out on a more or less unchanging vista.
And the ones filming us…
The ones who I suspect were behind the bodies littered across our film set. The ones who irrevocably changed the course of our lifelong film to fit their own. The ones who turned our love story into a tragedy. I have never definitively seen them. But I have never been given a reason to believe they are not here, that everyone is not playing a pivotal part. As long as I can remember, there has always been a camera around every corner. I don’t know when they will stop their filming. But I know what they are waiting for. And by now, like me, I suspect some of them are looking over their shoulders. Wondering. Suspecting.
Aria wishes there was a better way. She has work, both art and literature, accepted in Magazines of Repute, Magazines of Less Repute, Magazines of Ill Repute, and Magazines of No Repute. She wishes all of them — all the magazines, and all the stories and poems and pictures, and all the makers of such things — had a better chance in this world.
Aria Riding is a name once used by Alex Riding’s sister. Alex started using Aria, exploiting her, to honor her memory. Aria Riding is now the author of the book series, “The Exhibitionists,” and the invisible face of several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds who have become one, as a solidarity project. Their collective voice, while offering no compromises of originality and quality, is a refutation of the illusion of individual achievement: that cornerstone of our superficial, unlivable society. Publications include Tin House, Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, Lydia Lunch’s Widowspeak, The Adirondack Review, Sex and Guts, etc.
Aria Riding is a name once used by my sister. I started using it, in her memory. Aria Riding is now the invisible face of several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds who have become one, as a solidarity project. Their collective voice is edited by me. Recent publications (about 14 in the past 6 months as I am working hard to have the credibility this work deserves) include Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, The Adirondack Review, etc.
Aria Riding is a name once used by my sister. I started using it, in her memory. Aria Riding is now the invisible face of several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds who have become one, as a solidarity project. Through this experiment, Aria eclipses the blind spots of a single perspective, becomes the author of a more complete world view, one that no one gets to refute. Recent publications include Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, The Adirondack Review, etc.
Aria Riding is a name once used by my sister. I started using it, in her memory. I then started using the name to help publish the stories of friends of mine who burned too brightly, who could not grind themselves into the submissions process. Aria Riding is now the invisible face of several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds who have become one, as a solidarity project. Through this experiment, she eclipses the blind spots of a single perspective, becomes the author of a more complete world view. Recent publications include Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, The Adirondack Review, etc.
Aria Riding is a name once used by my sister. I started using it, to change how people thought of the stories when I performed them. Then several people began to perform stories, saying they were Aria Riding. I then started using the name to help publish the stories of friends of mine who have various forms of madness, who cannot handle the horrible grind of submitting stories themselves. Aria Riding is now being used by several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds as a solidarity project. Through this experiment, she is trying to write a more complete author. Recent publications include Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, The Adirondack Review, etc.
Aria Riding is a name now used by several writers of different genders, persuasions, mental health states, and ethnic backgrounds as a solidarity project. Through this experiment, she is trying to write a more complete author. Recent publications include Gargoyle Magazine, Atticus Books, The Adirondack Review, etc.
A. Riding is the author of “The Exhibitionists,” a series of interconnected triggers, or stories about the unspeakable present: the things we suppress, and continue to do while denying that we do them.
Riding never goes out, is never seen, but her emissaries run Psychomachia Theater, a fringe space showcasing underrepresented/innovative arts/performance/letters (Seattle) and the dissident art/performance/butoh group Danse Perdue: website: www.lostdance.com.
After Riding submitted nothing for fourteen years (Lydia Lunch and a few others did publish pieces by Riding during that time — feeling that she was carrying on the re/search magazine tradition of socio/psychological literary inquiry), this past June, Riding’s fleshy, more able emissaries decided to take up her cause, and since then, her work has been accepted by Atticus Books, Gargoyle Magazine, The Adirondack Review, tNYpress, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Red Fez, The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society, A Glimpse Of (in Greek and English), HIV Here & Now Project, Apocrypha and Abstractions.