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Archive for the ‘Introductions’ Category

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Next Spring I will launch a publication called FLAPPERHOUSE. I’d like to tell you about it, though I’m not really the type to write mission statements or manifestos. So I’ll say this instead:

Dorothy Parker, Jorge Luis Borges, and HP Lovecraft walk into a speakeasy. Louis Armstrong sings “St. James Infirmary Blues” over a rusty phonograph. Behind the bar, Salvador Dalí pours absinthe into a hubcap full of peanut butter and raw macaroni, and he stirs the mixture with the antler of a live moose.

“Four martinis, Sally,” says Parker. “Plus whatever the boys want.”

Borges excuses himself to the basement in search of the restroom. He must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere because before long he’s lost himself in an infinite labyrinth full of shelves with mirror-spined books. He starts to imagine what stories these books contain, and how he might review them.

Back upstairs, Josephine Baker dances in sensual ecstasy on Fritz Lang’s table while he peeks at her sideways through his monocle and pretends he’s not aroused. René Magritte paints himself painting them both through a castle’s window. Apples hover before their faces.

The ghost of Franz Kafka’s in a corner, leaning sharply against the wall.  Lovecraft spots him and approaches, timid yet determined, as if helpless to confront his most horrifying fear. “What’s it like?” Lovecraft asks, referring to death. Kafka’s ghost replies only with facial expressions: First with what seems like laughter, then a grimace like he might cry instead, and finally he shakes his head to say no, I really shouldn’t tell you, no. Lovecraft sits and stares at the floor for a while.

We are neither living nor dead!” shouts TS Eliot, raising a glass of gin. “And we know nothing, looking into the heart of light, the silence!

Parker’s sipping her second drink when she finally notices the ants crawling from the stem of her martini glass and onto her hand. Fucking Dalí, she thinks, as she swats and squashes as many bugs as she can. Kafka’s ghost can hear their screams.

She holds her cameraphone in front of her face: bemused, rankled, heartsick, yet almost drunk enough to be tickled by it all. Once she’s got enough good madness framed in the background, she sips, clicks a picture, and posts it to Instagram, caption, “Just another night at the Flapperhouse… #thirsty”

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“ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS” is the phrase that begins so many of our stories- especially the first stories we remember hearing- and naturally, it’s a lie.  Now we know better: time is not merely relative, but cyclical.  Nothing ever “was,” it always “is,” again and again and again forever and ever and ever…

Yet the fact that time twists infinitely upon itself, möbius strip-like, exposes only part of the lie.  Truth is, most of these stories never fall upon any time, at least not in any realm outside the imagination.  In the languages of certain cultures- Arabic, Azeri, Czech, Georgian, Hungarian, Persian and Turkish to name some- many old stories begin with a paradox slightly closer to the truth: “There was, there was not…”

A better beginning might be: “There is, but not really…”

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