sporklet 14

Editor’s Note:

Have you ever used a motel coffee maker to boil water for your French press, leaking streams across the nightstand?


Have you ever washed your dishes in the bathroom with your bare hands (with the same soap and the same sink that you used for them)?


Have you ever washed your cloth masks in the sink, then hung them out to dry in colored patches down the shower curtain rod?


Have you ever dug through bags upon bags, looking for some small thing like a tooth brush, or a bottle opener?


Have you ever squinted in the gray light of a motel, wondered where the fuck you were, and tried to calm your nerves by counting all the veins of black mold blooming eerily and beautifully and spreading in an ever-growing spiderweb along the wall?




I trace these webs in my imagination: spindle-thin stems of some future (which—of course—is still mostly unclear).


Quiet terrors of the everyday, augmented.
Quiet movements of the mundane, now made strange.


I think of Jeanne Dielman: the moment where, in breaking from the graceful ballet of domestic gestures she performs throughout the film, she almost spills her milk—almost! She saves the milk just barely. But! You see how terrified—how terrorized—she is beneath these surfaces.




The sensation of reading a book without reading it, paging through, thinking, I’m in here, somewhere. The sensation of touching yourself in your bed without touching much, thinking, I’m in here, somewhere.




Isn’t it funny, how our routines in our various respective cloisters—getting things and making things and moving things around—can both reveal and obfuscate the tensions driving them: whatever’s going on inside that makes us almost spill the milk?




My husband and I argued the first time I watched Jeanne Dielman. He went on about some feminist interpretation of the ending. Something about how the John she’s seeing makes her orgasm, and how she cannot reconcile herself to the loss of control.


I felt so angry at the notion of interpreting this ending, so resistant to this carefully articulated reading. I think I felt—and still feel—if you’re capable of explaining the ending, you don’t really understand it.


I check my bank account, my credit card. I pay things off.
Close old accounts and open new ones.
Talk to lots of pre-recorded voices.


Make a payment.
New customer.
Open a new account.
A home address.
A new address.




And so, I read—now—stirring all these little bits of inevitable identifying sensations amidst what I am reading, all these shivers in the textures of an orange, a bowl of soup, a glass of beer, a missing tooth.


Is it a kind of portraiture, this act of self-conscious assemblage?


Maybe. Maybe—even—for me—it’s an act of re-assemblage.


To use the phrasing of a friend who understands me better than I do myself: strange lustful amalgam of empathy—narcissism—