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They were clean cut but what of it, ‘cause the way they were clean cut wasn’t something I was reading straight, it not speaking of any type of mainstream I’d seen before, but, still, them saying how I wouldn’t have to wear a neck tie if I didn’t want to, like that might have sold me, also had me off, and I had a copy of ‘Fantastic Man’ in my tote and eyed them with the kind of regard Glenn O’Brien reserves for white socks, though undeterred, a young man with a thin neck leant over me and sang, in my ear, oom, ooooooommmm, a tenor, youthful, his song a submarine’s journey into the wartime night of the ocean, my finger in my ear (right) and the song turned in my mouth, mercury liquifying, I spat on the ground and little mercury men ran to various horizons, my depression lifting[1], all the things that had been getting me down, gone, how I’d been uptight because I had not properly understood what it meant to be independent, always looking, I guess, for some kind of validation from my wife and her big sister Flo, thinking that because they were friends with Cixous and would brook no difference between theory and fiction, except for theory being a pause, over coffee, at a coffee table, not Starbucks[2], a summing up and restating of misunderstandings, all of if so very precious, it (I, she, him, who?) might too erase those kind of borders I had grown so very weary of but was unable to overcome because, in truth, I have always found it so hard to embrace the frictionless space of soulness and libidinal flows and making that is a form of daily social-ism, tinged with melancholy, imbued with the simplicity of craft in life, and the plastic design of minor literature I had written about in journals and specialist pamphlets, the lack of my whinning becoming anything, so deeply wounding, the inability (again) of translating its negative form into an actual work of literature or life or fashion or art or home-style was truly getting me down, and in the sudden space of the absence of this low-tide, was a song, not much more than an out-breathe, it being nonetheless unifying, weaving in its resonance, I let my body fall into it, my check-shirted torso strongly supported by a fictive communalism of limbs and long hair in the afternoon sun, I said, ‘I would like not to wear a neck tie’, and we sat down in a circle on the side of the road while Mark Borthwick took photos and Cattelan played the fool and Chan Marshall sang inside a small bush in the distance, and passed between us books scrawled on their margins and across the loving texts all sorts of opinions and philosophical asides and diagrams and plans for parties and poetry readings and days in the Winnebago[3], such that I understood that it was not in the ‘zines themselves, nor their accumulated commentary, but in their passing that the oooommm resided, at which point I too breathed out a dizzying Schubert lieder, the air rushing out of me a brilliant white light, until all the checkshirts I’d ever worn turned into a whirling kaleidescope, spinning faster and faster and faster until my teeth cooled and I was able to mouth the words that had been inside of me for so long but never, no, not spoken, ‘I would very much like to make a tree-house’.  And that’s exactly what we did.

[1] Mercury build-up from old-style fillings has been found to be a probable cause of chronic depression.

[2] Cixous talks about her theory vs and not vs poetry in an interview here: http://www.long-sunday.net/long_sunday/cixous/

[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSWUWPx2VeQ

Robert Cook

Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Photography and Design, Art Gallery of Western Australia