I often fantasize about taking a hand-crank drill and opening a small hole in my skull, directly between my eyes. I imagine it as a release of pressure, like letting a little air out of a taut balloon. I guess this is a little bit like a prefrontal lobotomy. My cousin, who died of schizophrenia, might have had the same thoughts before he went. Schizophrenia can feel like a massive increase in intracranial pressure. I wouldn’t know, unless of course this is exactly what I’m experiencing now.
It happens the most when I’m unable to sleep. Insomnia is like a crushing wave of aimless guilt. It’s not the same as a lack of tiredness; you’re exhausted, your brain pulses pain, the lightless air caresses your open eyes like sandpaper. But sleep, the ultimate release, won’t come, affording you plenty of opportunity to meditate upon your own shortcomings.
Is this what I’ve become, though? A nonfiction writer? A memoirist, for crying out loud? I won’t accept it. I used to have what felt like boundless reserves of creativity, and goddammit, I worked it until it could no longer walk straight. But it seems that sense for the absurd has left me. I blame it on whatever illness makes me think of puncturing my skull, the flat area between my stomach and pelvis, the base of my penis, and only those three spots, over and over as I dry up in the dark like a used paint-roller.
It’s pointless, though. There’s the rub: it’s all become pointless now. Nothing comes naturally anymore, not least the things that are supposed to bring me pleasure. My days have become tackleboxes filled with carefully rationed activities, not because there’s anything I want to do, but because I have to do something until I’m too tired to keep myself awake anymore. And not a single fucking point to be found among them.
This has been a transmission from the reality police band. You may now resume your regularly scheduled programming.
The digitization of the book-as-object has begun.
Brena Smith, local stalwart of the bound and printed page at the CalArts library, has begun work converting the fruits of Literary Citizenship: Tiny Press Practices, or “Tiny Litizens” as the course is known among its cultish adherents, into timeless/ethereal digital artifacts (not the kind you get for free with a bad DVD transfer, either). Included among the first batch of these is Destroy This Book, the ultra-limited-edition, self-destructive, self-censoring, bite-sized offering of beliefs I created last fall between many a papercut and singed nail. You can find images of Destroy This Book here, or together with the entire collection (in progress).
Other “books” digitized thus far include Brian Pickett’s Cardz, a collection of cards commemorating fake or obscure players across American sports history; Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s HELLO my name is: An investigation of naming within the Historical Present; and Gina Caciolo’s How To Ride a Bike in Pittsburgh (text by Robert Isenberg), the first in the Stamped Books series and sure to be a collectible item some day. If that doesn’t entice you, keep checking the collection; there ought to be more to come, both from this batch of Litizens and those on the horizon.
Totally lost? Try reading up on Destroy This Book and the Universal Beliefs Project here.
When’s the last time you certified your Reality™ ?
The Reality™ Institute, your one-stop shop for all things actual, has hosted a dramatic reading of my self-censoring book project, Destroy This Book. DTB, the first publication of the Universal Beliefs Project, was conceived and distributed as part of Jen Hofer’s Literary Citizenship: Tiny Press Practices course at CalArts. Check out the video below.
If that wasn’t “real” enough for you, The Reality™ Institute is hosting two additional projects born of the Tiny Press course: Ivanhoe’s Greatest Hits (as read by Christopher Lee) and Mikey Valis’s phantogram music video “POP.”
In more Universal Beliefs Project news, the UBP has begun weekly belief postings, starting with those featured in Destroy This Book. If this ultra-limited edition literary masterpiece passed you by, you now have a second chance to witness other people’s honest beliefs first-hand!
You were warned. You knew it was coming. But perhaps I was naive to think you could ever be truly prepared.
Destroy This Book, the inaugural publication of the Universal Beliefs Project, has begun to make its presence known to the world. It has always been here, smoldering just under the surface, waiting for the right conditions to rupture its thin bubble of atmosphere and ignite the blaze. Sort of like the plot of Backdraft, but with ideas.
Do you think you can handle what this book will ask of you?
For more on Destroy This Book and the Universal Beliefs Project, visit universalbeliefsproject.wordpress.com.