:: Article


By Bryce Jones.

Mike Corrao, Gut Text (11:11 Press, 2019)

This is a copyright infringing fiction. A parasite. A bodily growth.
This might be a review.

Since Gutenberg produced the movable-type based printing press, text has been an index of industry. It denotes stock figures and horse races – a cigarette advertisement balled-up and buried in a dumpster, revived and re-rendered in the grocery store, sneer-flirting on a Camel carton, the final reproduction of itself before it can be bought. Text has been whichever dowager’s address James Joyce scratched on an envelope, denoting her property, connoting the postal service, and the letter inside insisting her patronage (the letter’s eventually bound in a book and sold after the addressed and author are too dead to refuse). Text has been banked into a degree that might allow students to produce more text and procure more degrees. All text has been sold and ideally exists in a process of reselling itself.

The ontology of text is money.

(A teacher told me we only read Shakespeare because his books are affordable and therefore easy to sell.)

Once the money is extinguished, the text exists in half-life – dormant, archived. Joyce exploited this to structure Ulysses. A book that is in part a catalog of capitalism’s textual ecdysis. Culling names, places, and events from old newspapers that had been shed from the public, abandoned to libraries. A numismatist of Dublin’s forgotten meta-currency circa June 16, 1904.

Since the rise of the internet, text has become an index of the industry of text itself. We now see the majority of text online, and the majority of this text is alienated from its own investment – it is produced for free, on social-media platforms, filling Jack and Mark and Sean Rad’s coffers. With so much text floating around – a rebus for air – how does one assign value to pieces of it? Separate the wheat from the chaff – the oxygen from the particulates? The value of the text on the cigarette carton was assigned by the cigarettes. The average pan-flash twitter-text doesn’t have that built-in value. Who cares whether or not, in which way, and even why it signifies the author. They’re not famous. They’re not cigarettes. Text, in the internet’s fractal of Typhon heads, is only assigned value when it’s in reference to text bigger than itself; when it snaps on a celebrity, claps back at the president, big-ups some TV show, and distracts from the fact that it doesn’t really matter.

Text is a void until reference makes it an entity.
Mike Corrao understands this.
Text is a void until reference makes it a body.
Metastasizing and metastasizing.

In Gut Text the characters are just that. Characters. Letters. nn, yy, ff, vv. Each existing in separate states of inter-textual reference and becoming.

Poor nn would rather not become at all. They are liminal and leaning towards nothing. They are described as a coward who wants to disappear. But “cowards are slow to disappear.” In a world – a text – where reference equals corporeality disappearing is a way to assure one is wholly themselves. Un-interfering. Un-interfered with. Because of their cowardice, their inability to assert themselves as nothing, they are made to exist. “Witness my construction… In multitudes. The duplicable existence.” “Object made out of somethings.” nn’s psyche has been pumped full of un-nn texts, turned inside out and made to occupy a body. Bodily augmentation via intertextuality. Reference is language’s silicone. Their subconscious is their expanded text-flesh. In their “DREAMSCAPE” they become Lolita: “Don’t touch me, I’ll die.”

If intertextuality is bodily augmentation a text can grow into infinity. Imagine. If my muscles could grow while I’m perusing Gray’s Anatomy or watching something muscle-y like Jane Russell serenade Olympians I’d become grotesquely arrogant. A show-off. I’d watch and I’d read until my muscles collapsed the walls of my house. yy is similar. An arrogant pedant of reference and thus their own growth. “yy says: … there is a difference between a body with organs and a body without organs” [Deleuze]. “yy says: … It contains multitudes like Walt Whitman’s fat tongue.” yy “would like to contain a universe inside of [themselves].” yy is aware of Twin Peaks. yy quotes M Kitchell. As they say these things they grow. They become yyy. They become many yy’s layered (which I won’t attempt to transcribe because kerning adjustments cause my computer to crash). They become huge columns of layered yy’s attempting to collapse the walls of the page.
yy is a child. They convince themselves that seeming big is the same as being big. Their bigness is deflationary. They are now very obese and they are running. They cannot sustain themselves. They shrink. They’re references have vanished. yy is just yy again. “yy says: how should a person be?”

yy asks this of ff and vv. ff doesn’t know. vv says “there’s no reason to.” nn doesn’t speak. Though the others speak of nn as something to be abandoned. They re-deconstruct nn with an editor’s pen. nn. Referenced out of being. De-bodied. De-organed. Because nn always wanted to disappear they made for a bad collaborator. They are liminal again. Being leant towards nothing.

“How should a person be?”
ff is an illusion.
vv is weary.
ff speaks only in quotations. Unattributed. Or all their own. Doesn’t matter. They have subsumed themselves into reference. They are a diffuse body. Late-capitalism’s nightmare. They do not link to what they reference. They are not a body tattooed onto advertisements. When they display their largeness it is “”text”” spaced across the page like the wishbones of a Rorschach blot. Interpret the artifacts of their existence anyway you choose.
“There’s no reason to [know how a person should be].”
vv will never be one.
vv can reference Deleuze in a sentence-graph.
vv can do that.
Intertextuality has provided them a body, but vv is not a person.
If they were to be cut open the blade would deckle reams of paper.
vv is weary.
vv “[wants] to exist out of context.”
Neither vv or anyone can.
I exist inside of text.
When I die I won’t be dead until corporations write I am.
At least I can occasionally forget this.
vv will never be so lucky.
They are always confined to their self-awareness as text.

I’ve made vv’s life worse by writing them into further awareness.
As a product of self-serving reference.
Claiming my intelligence via another text.
A parasite.
A bodily growth.

Bryce Jones’ work has appeared in Burning House Press, The Fanzine, and Slant. He lives in Oregon.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019.