Co_temporaries (all my friends are funeral singers)
i. All my friends are funeral singers
Within the register of the present, our memorials are not enough.
On endings and transitions, we don’t do well. We are co-conspirators in endings, contemporaneous with continuings, unacknowledged collaborators in confused configurations and yet our timelines don’t always overlap. With, together, joint – co-terminus. We are together even in our endings. Even in our inconsistencies, with.
Independent, autonomous, alternative were words that hung together, laboring as hypothetical fictions without the precision of a definition. The language, like history, slippery. We embody or invoke one of a number of possibilities at any time. In this, we are alternative – posing various paths forward, all simultaneously open. Some of these paths wander off, some circle back, many end unceremoniously, but there are always others, advancing possible futures.
A movement, art-historically, is simply a series of interconnected events – concatenated spaces and shows and statements – the discrete characters emerging into sentences, stringing together a faltering argument. Our labor not only makes use of language, but becomes language in its accumulation. The narrative is intoned to one another as we continue onward. This itself is a history as much as an elegy, but I, like all my friends, am a funeral singer and these are the only words I can remember.
ii. All my friends are words
As I found out a scattered inventory of adjacent spaces were shuttering, or at least inserting a transition into unknown territory, I felt a survival instinct, like the last one to leave turn off the lights, lock the door, but stay inside. This is the impulse of the institution. This is, perhaps, the impulse of the son – to persist, to outlast. I am not making an academic argument here, but a domestic one. Not even an argument – more like the muttering frustration of lost files, phone fallen in water and all contacts within going abstract.
We are temporaries operating in alternate time. Our circular relations, like intermittent small fires, sparking. We used here as an outside I am not within, but adjacent to, sharing a wall with, having a common side.
|| Our fourth wall falters into three, and the third wall falls in some form also. We address one another, coterminous – having the same boundaries or extent in space, duration, moment or meaning. Here, we share the same non-existent space. We are sharing an absence. In this, we are con-temporary – with and in time; thoroughly temporary.
|| The factory-cum-upturned institution convened community meetings, questioning whether to keep the heat on, a haunting. The rendered animal of an institution, un-unioned and therefore even easier to decommission. It is factories, after all, we inhabit, until we rename them. One space after another, they say, the bones of an alphabet.
|| The garage, an object itself with other well-formed objects moving in and out like that late model Cadillac that they won’t ever quite bring back, just reproductions of what it once was, auctioned off as if at an estate sale of a distant relation. The iconic white flag, a signal of surrender before it ever began. What did we even expect? The symbol itself always wins.
|| Then there is the compound that was almost a shelter (well, it was a shelter, of a kind – familial even – father, mother, son) that split up, moved out, scattered itself laterally across state lines.
|| What would you call the phenomenon when the water falls back into the pool after a cannonball, when the water rediscovers its level? The aftermath of an action, an afterlife of a kind. These terms, they need definition, in death as in life.
We – the circles, the institutions I’m inscribed in – inhabit a former theater, a former pharmacy, a former quarry, a former school: already so many formers implied in every outset.
We’re all borderline broke, of course – non-working businesses, if that’s what they are. We learn to live in alternate times. Our tempo is out of joint, our timing is all wrong. We end too soon, we stay too long.
This is the party after the party that isn’t a party at all. The after-party. Well, where are our wake games? Or, what are our endgames? Our parties are consolidating this season, even as our circles are splintering – confetti as form .. harder to sweep up. You find it there in your library six months later, long after the party is over. We are always arriving, almost out of time.
iii. All my friends are keeping time
We watch the livestream of Andy Warhol’s gravesite each New Year’s eve to pay respects (all we can afford) for an artist whom even in death keeps us all hanging on almost singlehandedly like silkscreens of survivors stepping out of car crashes, warehouse collapses, eviction notices, collections courts. At some point, the foundations these walls are built on aren’t even enough. We’re just debtors on borrowed time, barterers with borrowed terms.
I abuse commas within my writing to hint at continuity, a forward unfurling motion, but the reality is that there is a range of punctuation we take with us from here, full stop ෴ I prefer to keep the specifics of my misreadings, the errors of our punctuation, the commas splicing independent texts together with a misleading faith that they will somehow hang together. Our accumulated text is scattered, transitional, transient. We transmigrate spaces, becoming other bodies.
We are together spectres haunting, no one ever returning from the dead, or moving on. A purgatory of the present moment, the half-life of an unstable atom. And we are with ourselves, co_temporaries, a blank tying together two words, with-in-time.