f u g u e s t a t e p r e s s from Degenerescence by James Chapman
p.o. box 80, cooper station
new york, ny 10276
by James Chapman
I will sing the song with the beautiful arms, the song with the beautiful feet, the song with the well-proportioned sword, the mighty song, the song that lives in the garden.
I will sing until SONG comes to me. SONG will teach me the song of the song, the song of the song.
Now if the song is come. Now what do I say to the song?
If the song is come, if the song lets me sing, I will break hilltops, I will burn stone, I will praise the song. I will sacrifice my legs, I will sacrifice my chin and forehead, I will praise the song. I will thank the song, I will lacerate my body. I will beg the song to remain, until the entire song is sung.
Now if the song never will come all my life, if the song will not come. Now what will I say?
I will dress in flax-cloth, I will declare my self as “singer.”
I will put ointment on my forehead, I will praise my self.
I will blame all other singers. I will avoid water, I will avoid purification rites. I will not listen, I will not listen!
I know the song will never come. I know. The song will never permit me to sing. I will live as “singer who does not sing.”
In the daytime I will praise my former singing, I will scoff, I will make a show of eating soft sakir plants, I will drink matta like one who can sing, I will drink matta like one who is praised for his singing.
At night I will smear honey into my eyes, I will refuse to look. I will fill my mouth with burning leaves. I will refuse to sing, I will refuse to attempt to sing, I will refuse to sing!
May the song appear to me. May SONG please appear to me. Do not spurn me. Do not forget me.
I will give six hundred white goats, I will give twelve thousand baskets of fish, I will eat only a single root. Do not. Do not forsake me.
I will lay out silk clothing for even the mosquito. I will build a brick house for every flea. I will honor every created creature of your island, WOE, every piece of moving and unmoving life will I honor. Do not. Do not forsake me.
I will not sing falsely. I promise it.
I will not sing impurely. I promise it.
I will purify my mouth.
I will wash my mouth with nothing. Not with water or herbs or air or sunlight or spoken spells or musical spells or sour juice. The mouth is washed with nothing, to remove words and names of things.
I will wash my mouth with nothing, to remove words and names of things.
SONG avoids me still, because my mouth is surrounded by gods contending, my mouth needs to be washed.
SONG avoids me still, because my mouth speaks abstract words, my mouth needs to be washed.
My mouth has talked, my mouth has talked like a Briton who writes words, my mouth has spoken names of things that are not things, my mouth has named gods that only live in their names. My mouth needs to be washed.
My mouth needs to be washed, and then to wait, and to not speak.
The first word a cleansed mouth speaks, that will have meaning. Meaning is the soul of the mouth.
A song comes to the place where meaning is. A song avoids the place where words live in filth.
Listen, here is WOE. My mouth is pure. SONG come to me. I will sing about WOE. SONG come to me. I will say about WOE. SONG come to me.
Here is about WOE.
When WOE created the three worlds, WOE first created this world.
She created the world of named things, this world, where the mobile life of birds and fish and women each is animated by a name.
She created the world of named things, this world, where the immobile life of trees and plants and stars each is animated by a name.
She created the world of named things, this world, where the unliving life of stones and water and air each is animated by a name.
At the instant she created the world of named things, this world, at that instant the two other worlds became created.
These are: the world of the gods, the world of the names. Thank you WOE.
WOE created the three worlds, in one thousand eight hundred days. Thank you WOE.
WOE tells us: This world is founded on the names of gods, this world is founded on the names of things.
The name is the creation. Thank you WOE.
Speak of fish. Take it in your hands. Fish is brought here by the speech of the name “fish.” Speaking the name “fish” enables fish to appear. First fish appears in the mind, then in the hand.
When the prayer is made to luscious fish, the entire prayer is to say: fish. Luscious fish will surely appear. If a man sits in his boat, he is hungry, he loves the fish, he asks them. He loves them, he asks, he asks them to arrive, he says: fish.
He speaks while thinking the thought of luscious fish and tasting fish and smelling fish. Fish, they arrive to him. Such a fisher man catches many fish. A fish will love the fisher man who prays well or sings the name of fish and is joyful in the presence of fish.
The fish in the hand, it is the same as the name of “fish.” The name “fish” calls a god. A god is present in any fish, a god is present in all fish. This god has the name FISH, the name of the god is FISH.
Call to a fish and catch a fish, call “fish” and you are speaking to FISH. If FISH loves you, then a fish will appear, to feed your stomach.
The fish in your hand, it is destroyed of its life. The fish struggles. The fish dies in darkness. The fish says: My destroyed ocean, my destroyed sky.
My destroyed ocean, I have been struck down. I lived like silver clouds, I lived like rain water in the sun, I lived like the eyes of the king, the silver eyes of the wife of the king. Now I am on an unfamiliar path. Now I follow a dark path.
That is what the fish says.
FISH speaks to the fish, saying the name “fish, fish.”
The fish calms. The destroyed fish calms. The god FISH has said “fish, fish.” So the fish knows about the ocean, that the ocean will still live. So the fish knows about the sky, that the sky will still live.
We thank FISH, also we thank the fish, before we eat our fish. We name: “fish, fish.” We eat with the name, we eat using the name. We eat with the god, we eat using the god. We eat the fish. The three worlds have given us our food.
In the present, WOE lives with us in this world, in this world. She plays with us and we are permitted to see her without fear, in this world.
Before the past, before the three worlds, before the time of the past, in the distant years, in the remote times, prior to our world, prior to the loss of our language, prior to the silence, prior to the attempt to sing, prior to the creation of our Briton names, prior to the creation of our Europa names, in the years of the remote times, persons ate what was necessary, persons could taste the taste of bread.
In that time there was WOE and there were seven daughters of WOE. Before WOE sailed for another world, before WOE lost the ability to speak, before WOE was old, before WOE gained her enlightenment, before WOE lost her energy, when WOE was young, when WOE was capable of everything except the exercise of wisdom, at that time there was a tree growing at the place the sun sets, it was called the mist-tree.
Before the day of the mist-tree, before the water that came from the mist-tree, before the earth that lived under the mist-tree, before the sun that rose up behind the mist-tree, in the remote time before the remote time, in the distant past before the distant past, WOE was present at the destruction of the previous world, the previous world.
WOE tells us of the creatures of the previous world.
They were formed of rock, they were formed of glass, they were formed of ice, they were creatures of busyness, they spoke loudly, they laughed, they injured WOE, they accused WOE, they mocked WOE.
These creatures, they were created by a naming, as we are. They lost their names in that world, therefore they had no gods to themselves.
The gods in that world only slid in and out of words. The gods in that world did not stay within any word.
In that world, no word was a name.
In that world, you would not say “fish.” You would speak around the fish. You would say: Cook the one that lives wet.
In our world, the god of each thing is the weight of that thing. When you lift with your hand a stone, the weight you feel, that is STONE, the god. In the previous world, sadness was the weight, instead of the god of the name. Sadness kept creatures sticking to the earth.
All creatures in that world injured all other creatures, and WOE was injured most of all. Sadness made weight, confusion made movement, despair brought the rain, torpor brought sleep, fear was the sun.
The creatures of that world, they began their existence with words. Then those creatures felt their words grow thick. Each word became full of filth. Each word carried a thousand words. Each word was fat like a fearful anti-god.
The creatures of that world grew afraid. They lived in blackness. They cried harshly. Lamentation was all their world. Their words had grown thick, their words were full of filth.
They poured their wine into the dirt. They threw their grain into the river. They allowed their goats to run away.
Their king was chased by goats. Their dwellings were burnt with fire. Their babies were deprived of milk. Their women were deprived of water. Their men were deprived of weapons.
Creatures of that world, they fought each other as enemies. They fought with their hands. They wept as they fought. They pleaded with each other. They begged for a god, they begged for a name.
As if they were human, creatures perished in despair. As if they were human, they thought foolish thoughts. In the destroyed house, they said without words: My beauty is still with me. In the destroyed city, they said without words: The fault is with the others. In the flames, they said without words: Where is my bright neck-chain and my amulet of lapis lazuli?
Because there were no clear words remaining for food, because there was no god to speak “food” to, because there was no god FOOD, because there was no word “food,” the food grew hungry. The food did not remember to grow. The grain turned to worms that shifted in the light, the grain turned to stones that shifted in the light, the grain was worms and it was stones.
There was no clear word for fear, therefore the creatures ran without knowing what they felt. They ran like cattle from the knife, they ran like cattle from death. But they could also not see death. Death had no clear word. They could not remember death, they could not remember fear, they ran like cattle from the knife.
Dogs walked through the city, the dogs were happy, pigs walked through the city, the pigs were full of joy. The animals found food and drink, food and drink were every place, only the words had been lost.
The creatures mourned, they feared each other, they struggled for words, they tried to sing, they wept, they sang alone: May we understand. May there be food upon the ground. May there be rainwater for drinking. May we remember. May our lives return to us. May the dark spot where honey was, be brightened. May the dark place where grapes were, be brightened. May the order of our laws return to us. May our former terrifying king, our slaughtering king, our ignorant king, be returned to his justice-throne to rule over us. May our king’s henchmen be allowed again to kidnap and kill throughout the city, as before. May persons eat. May the city be normal. May there be no change. May there be no collapse. May there be no degeneration. May there be no change. May there be no change.
This is what the creatures sang. Only there was no word to sing for any of these. There was no word to sing for honey, rainwater, grapes or king.
WOE, whose name was not yet named, WOE walked through this world, WOE saw these things.
She was without a name, therefore without body. When the named things of that world slowly lost their names, when the named creatures of that world slowly lost their names, she alone was apart, who had never been named. When the things of that world became a fluid mass, when the creatures of that world became a fluid mass, she alone was apart.
She watched the sky flow down into the mountain.
She watched the mountain flatten and enter the sea.
She watched the sea stretch itself into the long unmoving plain.
She walked thousands of miles.
Sun and moon did not remain, nor fire nor either one of air or sky. Word did not remain. Stone did not remain. Bird and person and fish did not remain. Time did not remain, breath did not remain. Eyesight did not remain.