Matthew Conrad

May 15, 1986 - Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski

34AA, 7mm drills and Knausgård

i still want to write an honest
"critique" of my reading
of Knausgård...
but how can i? who said that:
we only write about reading?

i've been having a problem,
a "problem" - piercing the fabric
of the night with this tonne
of words that wishes:
if it were only a paragraph!

- no... i do not want to find myself
going to bed with
the insects of nightmares:
comments and snarky readers...
the ones...
who... you "apparently"
don't find! when reading
a book... by a lampshade...
with a bourbon and coke...
and a leather chair to sit on -
on a material that could
as well be scented -
like the bow used to play
the violin strings...
the index and thumb
flipping the pages...

not in this, blistering neon glare
of the internet pixel canvas...
somewhere beneath
the leftover of a day's
tabloid press - laying about
on trains or buses -
or soaking up rain in
a puddle...
this writing is what feeds
rats... the underground
bubbling of... festering wounds...

i can't write a critique...
since there isn't one...
how can i write a critique of a book
i'm reading in a different language
to the language i'm writing
about it?

the more i succumbed to
my bilingual hiatus - the more it should
become evident that:
i don't really need to write
this before i wrestle with
insomnia...

but i've finally managed to read
something by volume...
or: i've found something i could
read by volume...
like my grandmother could
read romance novels...
her harlequins:
so i too could read an "existential"
piece of work...
without having to jam
and stutter: as was expected
when reading Samuel Beckett's Watt...

the alt. to this?
writing about some imaginary
experience in my head?
at least there's a clean and precise
ping-pong dynamic with:
this bare minimum...

Knausgård: a man in love -
vol 2... a conversation in the Pelican
with a Geir...
for over 2 weeks after my "release"
from haitus i thought the book
would be over...
i forgot the nightime reader...
who managed to move
his reading lamp (and table)
from next to the bed to next
to the chair and book shelves...

while also changing the hues
of the same monochrome colour
of the room's walls...
i find it almost impossible
to have to write...
when i haven't finished a book...
this is an oddity to begin with...
i can't stomach "multi-tasking"...
for a few days i've had spaghetti
for what should have been
a cognitive castle...

i felt guilty having written about 10
"poems"... i had to deleted them...
in the past there was something
i adhered to:
the libra of reading : writing (ratio)...
i wouldn't feel guilty
about writing: anything - good or bad...
had i read more...
i would never succumb to
write more than i've read...
or read less... than i would ever write...

perhaps that's why i can excuse
this as "poetry"...
free-verse and what not...
not with a stick-up my ass sort of approach
to all the available tools of poetics...
poet, primarily as reader...

in the hiatus i clocked up...
350 + 540 + 600 + 605 pages of prose...
and i'm just finishing 740 pages...
all... in order to not feel guilty...
having written: but this much...

but you can imagine: i can't deal with
imaginary happenings...
however grand they are...
i rather my eyes pierce
the dust and a scuttling spider
on a bookshelf... than an afternoon
tea with Mussolini!

i look at the books i've read
in the past 6 weeks and... feel a sense of relief...
it's not that i even pride myself
at being a fast-reader: i read...
i don't skim... i don't read morse-code:
something i pause for thought
and the odd: image...

but this conversation between
Knausgård and Geir in the Pelican
in vol 2 of min kamp just
"irritated" me... i had to write something...
how can i suddenly not finish
a book... and write: even as little
as this?!
well... i never managed to find
out the pleasure from drinking two or three
sly drinks and reading...
plenty of bollocks in terms of writing
and drinking combined...
but never reading...

mind you: those were 6 weeks bound
to some other mediocre chores...
fixing up my grandparents bathroom...
well... the old lady has a problem getting
into the bath... she required two pivots
on the walls to hold onto to get
into the bath...

catalogue of memory:
the screws + screw condroms were sized 6mm...
the lady at the store thought
it was better i used an 8mm drill...
there was a 7mm drill...
i figured: let a man listen to a woman
sell him an 8mm drill to fix 6mm screws...
as a woman will listen to a man
and sell her a 34AA... when she want's
a 28D!

there was also the "chore" of cooking
meals for the old couple...
and finally getting to cleaning out
my grandfather's cellar...
jars and rusting tools...

but that's different: reading my native-,
i've wondered: when i read more in
thing tongue than think in it -
well... if i thought in it...
i certainly wouldn't be writing in:
this here english...

i tried to assimiliate...
no wonder then... that i'm sorta giving
into the idea of abandoning
reading in english...
in shrapnel... english is shrapnel
to me... and all that over-emphasis
of sentence structures on
the use of pronouns...
i can read a book in polish
and not even spot a single "I" pronoun...
since it's self-evident who
the narrator is...
and who the dialogue is between...
on the rare occassion -
like some rhetorician grasping
a glass of water: a he said appears...

i'm starting to think:
was reading in english always this painful...
it's really painful writing in this
language...
perhaps it would, perhaps it would
be painless writing in Polish?
ah... but i'm not lucky enough
to own a simple ctrl + to introduce
these little buggers:
ą, ę, ć, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż, ł
i can just imagine...
ctrl + c / ctrl + p from the internet...
when the piano is missing
the "bum" notes...

but reading in english?
perhaps it was always supposed to be this
painful... perhaps i allowed
this parasite of bilingualism to reside
in my head for long enough -
perhaps all that remains to to use
this language -
and not let it enjoy a cognitive
space - after all: i have written this
without even a gram of soul...
automated...

assimilated they might ask?
sure... i can be non-catatonic...
i can respond to a hello and: mind the gap
on the tube... but does this language
require me to let it peacock in my head -
this inorganic entity?
well... it's organic to someone else...

but i don't remember the last time
i took pleasure from reading:
in the english cognitive realm...
sure... all the other senses parallel each other...
except when you invert seeing
and hearing... and work with reading...

i don't remember having enjoyed reading
in english in a long time...
perhaps that's why i'm reading in
my native-,
O gods! give me better tools!
and i wouldn't be writing in this language:
either!

- a chance conversation with a friend
of mine, once upon a time:
you know, there are a lot of neo-nazis in
Poland these days...
and i was like - even though i didn't
say a word:
am i... Abraham?! am i some patriarch?!
some god's wrath because
you in the west wet your willy-nilly
in a niqab?
because... sure... that's not
an Arab driving a maserati down Knightbridge...
once or twice a year...
bringing the iron beasts all the way
from the UAE for a month once a year...
so he can... rev. up on a stretch
of road... that's IDIOTIC...
it's not like they travel to the fucking
Hockenheimring... no no...
bling bling maserati next to typical
Flloyd & Tacky Co.: Harrods...

so it's decided... here's to not reading
in english... if i had better tools:
i wouldn't be writing in this language either...
like i had any power to sort out
the neo-nazis of Poland...
as ever: it's called patriotism in h'america...
but has to be that ugly word
in europe: nationalism...

chance a sprinkle with populism?
after all... "we" did just celebrate 100 years
of independence...
again: you don't know what you
have... until you're teasing to lose it...
which, will always become a welcome
conundrum:
how can i write in this language?
how dare, i?!

i just want to start a fire...
give it enough smoke...
then watch the insects of nightmares
start crawling out...
as i rarely dream i was dragged
into a tomb that was formerly a bed
by a dream...
i apparently left a cat...
inside a room... where a strange wasp
was laying its dormant cells...
the cells would crawl out of proportion
and later devour the cat...
not from the inside out...
again: dream-distortion...
i can refer to something as a wasp...
but that's actually a misnomer
of something with wings... a body
of an insect that shitted out cells
of sperm and an external soft pouch / egg...

that would later grow with an ex nihil impetus...
but would reach an event horizon where
they would have to become dependent on:
in vivo... stored energy... like... hibernation...
of a bear... revved up really fast...
in how... a parasite can...
store up a tranfer of energy and explode
into life... or rather: onto life...

god and the parasite of creation...
marotiis and the parasite god?
why cum god: or deus es crux?
why not? how else to code this dream as not
a postcard from god?
i returned in the dream to the room
where i left the cat with the wasp
and the growing cells...
the room was bloodied... more like a lift
than a room... someone was sitting
in there... and tried to explain...
i could feel the ultimate freezing sensation
of horror at... the coherence of
the answer to my bewilderment...
but the horror of the inability to counter
it...

upon having dreamt this dreamed
i figured: there's no point reading in english...
i can meta-translate...
if i start to meta-translate:
read in one language...
write in another...
where neither language really occupies
a baron status of thought-narrator...
maybe i'll get more of these postcards
from god...

after all: my bilingualism has to be more than
what the locals and the norms
would name: "schizophrenia"...
i expect to be read my mono-linguals
in the greater majority...
hell... why would any of them consider
autobiographical stages in their life
as attributed to a different language
occupying their mind and sole effort
to life? bad gwammaw waaa?

given how i so rarely managed to conjure up
a dream... thank god i'm not one of these
anglophone egocentrists who
manage t o "create and discard"! whole
worlds with their dreams!
who have the symptom of: dream recurrence!
i get what i call dreams:
postcards from god...

i.e.: wish you weren't here...
and no... that's not an insult to my intelligence...
what would be insulting in such
circumstance is to not have such
dreams prod my mind...
as to why i would pet a cat
(in the dream, owning two cats in real life)...
while watching a parasite lay its eggs...
and then walk out of the room...

perhaps only to find this creature talk
to me... this humanoid...
as to why i was so naive in doing so...
as to confirm my horror -
since in the end...
i didn't leave a helpless cat to be fed
upon parasite...
i returned to a bloodied room...
where the wasp cells and the cat
came with a baggage worth
of symbiotic verbiage... dream talk:
i can't decode a good enough cipher
to startle myself with:
akin to Rembrandt's the feast of Belshazaar...

it's so clear...
i don't have to entertain english as a reader...
i can put english into my hands
and automate this language...
i can put a chain on my tongue
and armor my larynx with ivory...
and i can return to "my people"
while enjoying a cool drink and
the classics akin to Reymont's Chłopi...
lucky for me...
i can keep my organic identity hidden...
while using this inorganic tool...
there's not even a need for me
to don a niqab...
there's not even a need for me
to don a turban...
or a kimono... or a bald-scalp...
this could truly become one of those
"religious" experiences...
and it can remain: oh so! oh so so! private!

- and why? i'm done pandering to whoever
the english feel like pandering to on a tuesday,
or a wednesday... i'm done with their...
ahem... polite prancing...
first it was the 39 chinese dead in Essex...
sooner came the truth that it
was the 39 Vietnamese...

but... it will be my most thrilling desire...
to... as the Merovingian said -
or rather, as i will tranliterate it as...
to write in english...
is perhaps... so much more exquisite
than saying shit in Fwench...
it's like being a genius mathematician...
quick-snap-of-the-fingers
type of counting and breaking
and arranging words...

because thank god that the person
behind these words...
isn't an organic englishman...
or some pompous post-colonial
commonwealth-"etonian" of... demographics...
always a good enough reason
to find that 2nd avenue in never
having to translate a mental blockage
with some physical outlet akin
to push-ups or squats or boxing...

Knausgård... he like... completely avoids
this... he expects the Swedes to
know Norwegian...
fuck me... even the Ukranian women
in Warsaw's Western Railway Station
don't make that mistake...
they just speak with a heavy
accent that's sing-along...
but i can understand them when they joke
about buying Camel Cigarettes:
eh... kazzzdy kto u nassss kupuji
to bogacz!
hiatus over... but at least this observation
was made in english...
where i can shit on Knausgård
but retain reading him in language
where i enjoy the prolonged period
of "weaving"...

seriously... though...
that's like me going to Prague and speaking
Polish expecting the Czechs to understand
me... mate! move to Scotland!
but... mind you...
i've lived in Scotland for three years
and i understood them, nay'bovver...
but enough is enough:
there's still a night's worth of sleep
to be found.
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