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nick brennan

New Fiction

the quINtessential modern experience

by Nick Brennan

Part I:…

professor hamlin: so…[haha…so…..s…haha…ha.] What is(.) The modern?

Silence. The class does not respond.

professor hamlin: IN. dead. [o…r]. now! […] w/e [haha] ha ve class
so[…hahaso…..s…haha…] for the purpose [insert cough] of [insert cough] INstrucktion-
x[…]see[…]use Me…[=]What is[.sniffle] The modern?

Nyc Brennan: Modernism is the rebellion against standardized social
            conventions, such as morality and rationality, in an effort to provoke genuine
            experience. To Modernism, the conventions of morality and rationality inhibit the
            Individual’s free and total immersion within the vast depth’s of human
            experience, and therefore must be overthrown to gain this, especially as they
            marginalize unexplored experiences as unreal or invalid means of living for no
            reason beyond their own prejudices. Modernism proclaims that through such
            experience, the Individual will attain more thorough and genuine possibilities
            of being. As Nietzsche declares, “You ought to become who you are!”

professor hAM-l-IN: so[…hahaso……s…haha…] now! that that[…]is[?] settled[?] is[?] The modern that or the struggle to fINd that, but an eternal quest?...[h]another story, but [ha]nother question…Why does modrIS[o…] eksteins INtroduce his novel with diaghelev’s le sacre du printemps on Its openINg night IN paris? What did it. Release…

Nick Brennan: Modris Eksteins focuses so much of his novel on Le sacre because he
            aims to capture modernism and the ballet has come to serve as a canonical
            embodiment of Modernist principles. What’s more, it is no wonder how the ballet
            became so, and so it is an example that places little interpretative responsibility on
            the part of the reader, being a clear symbol.
                        But so, nearly every aspect of the ballet intentionally subverts traditional
            social conceptions of beauty and grace, substituting violent, even offensive,
            presentations of irrationality and ugliness within these terms. The music is but a
            spiraling fury of evanescent harmonic patterns with no reference to melody or
            even a consistent time signature. The movement of the dancers is equally jagged
            and disjointed, each dancer even possessing its own rhythm independent of the
            orchestra. Furthermore, the violent dancing defies the preconceived necessity of
            grace in the ballet: the stomping of the dancers’ flat feet is so pronounced that it
            even drowns out the orchestra’s percussion. It resurrects human dignity from its
            suffocation beneath the bourgeois’ anesthetizing monopoly over the arts and its
            nearly exclusive valuation of sheer conformity. Displaying such furious violence
            in the destruction of the traditional, both the dance and music evoke war and
            death as a means toward life, a recurring theme in Modernist ideology. Spring
            arrives as the virgin allows herself to be taken away, toward her death, by the
            spiraling irrational.

professor hamlet [the chicken or the egg]: yet is[…]the book not[…]about world war: I? What is. modrIS’[o…] meanINg IN his juxtaposition of “R”ites of “S”prINg: [/“T”]he “G”reat “W”ar [/a]nd the “B”irth of the “M”odern “A”ge [haha]? [ha…ge-e…gee…ggggg…haha….ge-e…] How does it tie…IN.

Nyc: Modris Eksteins employs a discussion of The Rites of Spring to more tangibly depict
            the principles of Modernism, for he claims that these principles ultimately
            inspired the continent to go off to war in the book.
                        Bravely and vaguely, Modris presents World War I not as a confrontation
            over primarily military or economic concerns but the battle for ultimate
            supremacy between two cultural psychologies, that of Tradition and that of
            Modernism. He presents Germany as an unquestionable representation of the
            revolt of Modernism, waiting to burst. Throughout its history, even after
            unification, as he explains, the German identity defied objective definition: it had
            no tradition. Thus the identity was allowed to be freely and constantly imbedded
            with ever-evolving imagination and myth. With no objective end to unite the
            German community, German Kultur solely emphasized the true spiritual
            cultivation of the Individual. With this sense of the Individual as the foundation of
            identity, much of German philosophy focused on a rejection of history as
            objective reality, perceiving it rather as an expression of the subjective intrigues
            of the Individual’s soul, while offering further reason to disregard a preoccupation
            with and glorification of this contrived, unreliable past, proclaiming an ever
            striving forward. Yet, these philosophies equally reveled in the idea of history as
            the product of one’s own creation, even if one could only be inevitably locked out
            from the meaning of one’s creation. Such a notion granted the Individual mind
            supremacy over experience while suggesting that experience could only ever be
            continually constructed, not blown to bits. It presented experience as the stirring
            of one’s soul striving towards beauty—as the idealizations of an epic poet imbuing
            mundane reality with his own symbols and metaphors and spinning life into a
            grand, magical myth. War and its encompassing destruction served as an integral
            part of this creative function for war made possible new direction. Only through
            having one’s surroundings completely rattled upside down in that way could the
            Individual soul be allowed to be its own and create. For then there would be no
            more history to do whatsoever with. The Great War was Modern as it placed this
            embodiment of the avant garde versus the embodiment of the old guard of
            Britain. War itself became Modern as numerous sides wrote of freeing and
            cultivating the Individual spirit while they waited for the strikes, writing its
            history before it happened.

socrates: How did the war experience hold up agaINst these projected hopes and ideals?

Nick: Not very well … The soldier did not revel in his imaginative powers but only employed them to somehow cope with the onslaught of indescribable horrors that constantly barraged him. Even language became a casualty in the war’s retreat from the conventions of rationality. The ideological purpose of the war sought to make the individual soldier more powerfully aware of the reaches of his own subjective experience, literally taking out the world before him; yet, words, being symbols concocted for the purpose of mass universal communication, did not seem to retain the capacity to adequately capture the unique experience of each individual soldier, much less the unprecedented horrors that haunted the battlefields: such words were invented before the existence of such horrors seemed even remotely fathomable, and so did not seem capable of communicating them. Words became meaningless sounds and the soldier, delving into the most primal realm of his soul, remained isolated in his unverifiable visions, unable to give his or receive from others. Certainly, all was destroyed in the war, leaving but the soldier’s will to propel him. Yet the war did not cultivate that will, that spirit: it wore the will out and revealed the alienating, contradictory entrapments of purely subjective experience. There was no life in the destruction; just confusion, emptiness, and despair. Even the firmness of individual identity and the significance of creative force became suspect.

professor HAmlin: W[ha?]t[.] are w/e [haha] [?] to Make of all this? How are w/e (haha) to use this supposed historical account When modrIS[o…] himself recognizes the essence of history as myth making, openly refers to parts of his book as acts, and projects a single abstract cultural event to frame an endlessly complex era that continues to haunt the present(?)? Is he not merely presenting a contemporary myth to someHow comprehend the myth making of a past era, what’s more for The modern- that which should transcend all language and definition- makINg the authenticity of the whole set of concepts someWhat impenetrable? What with this?

N.: Hmmmmmmm…

(prof) HA: hmmmmMMMMmmmMmm…

n.: hmmmmMMMMmmmMmm…It certainly is…(?)…x-cite-IN-g…as a way of seeINg … I get it.

Part I cont’d:::…

             (“)W(”)(/)e (“)free(”) (“)spirits(”) ((haha)), (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe- w(/)e ((haha)) were on our way to the subway: (“)T(”)he (“)A(”)ssignment?- (“)D(”)iscover the affects of (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) IN (“)P(”)erson. (“)Y(”)et, w(/)e ((haha)) were not to be just studyINg any painting that afternoon- no (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe were to travel to (“)N(”)ew (“)Y(”)ork’s (“)M(”)useum of (“)(“)M(”)odern(”) (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) to (“)experience(”) (“)P(”)icasso!: (“)L(”)es (“)D(”)emoiselles d’(“)A(”)vignon.
            (“)A(”)s (“)I(”) seemed sure the day would hold some sort of formative, dare (“)I(”) say cultivatINg experience, (“)I(”) thought(?) I(“)t(”) appropriate to begIN the trip by discussINg our own (“)(“)A(”)rt(”), so as to poignantly INitiate this journey INto the most elemental depths of our (“)(“)I(”)Ndividual(”) (“)souls(”) and prepare us for the evaluation (or rather descent) of said (“)souls(”) to follow with the later, greater (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) to come. (“)S(”)o I turned to a short story (“)J(”)oe had handed me earlier IN the week. I(“)t(”) was about his new year that year, a night that he had spent with his friends from home at (“)C(”)olumbia (“)you(”)niversity. (“)T(”)he story was INtitled: “What Exploded, New Years 2009?” (“)A(”)s (“)J(”)oe recounted the immature pranks he and his friends had scattered throughout the night’s festivities, pourINg alcohol and piss equally out from nINth story wINdows, smokINg until they could only hack up mucous, speakINg lewdly to members of the opposite sex, etc., (“)I(”) found the (“)psychology(”)of the speaker IN(…)commensurable; more often than not the speaker would be directINg harsh condemnation toward such acts, and then at times suddenly justify such irresponsibility IN the very next paragraph without explanation or even allusion. (“)A(”)ll the more, the speaker’s IN(…)congruent voices were impartINg these various perspectives IN a narrative manner irrespective of any coherent sense of chronology. (“)A(”)ll this troubled Me as the speaker kept claimINg that he INtended to narrate the story as objectively as possible.
            (“)S(”)ittINg on the dull orange seats of the sixth avenue express, (“)I(”) confronted (“)J(”)oe about my frustrated confusion concernINg the motives of the speaker IN the story. (“)I(”) INsisted upon clarity from (“)J(”)oe as to precisely why the speaker sought objectivity IN the narration, yet at times explicitly slighted certaIN acts of his friends’ as pathetically juvenile or self-effacing nihilism without explorINg any other perspectives on the circumstances, as if stubbornly resigned to the pre-conceived notions his parents had INundated him with since the day he could walk that reflexively warned agaINst the triviality of frivolity. (“)A(”)nd though admittINg to have never INtimately con(-)sidered such a matter, he supposed that his INtention was to present subjectivity, IN all of its sprawlINg and INcommensurable facets, as the (“)T(”)ruth in you. (“)H(”)e told me that he desired to present an unmitigated explosion of skewed perspectives as reality to (“)i(”)ts core, all that there was. (“)I(”) accepted his response.
            as        sat there, waitINg to get off the traIN,        heard a child squirmINg and gigglINg.        looked down and saw the gigglINg little boy sittINg right next to me. he was playINg with an action figure of some professional wrestler.        asked him who the figure was, but he offered no name, no answer, simply laughINg at my face.        smiled. the child knew. he knew that the figure was nobody and everybody.
            (“)A(”)t seventh avenue, w(/)e ((haha)) exited the car toward the (“)M(”)useum of (“)(“)M(”)odern(”) (“)(“)A(”)rt(”). As w(/)e ((haha)) did so, w(/)e ((haha)) found five other kids from our class exitINg the very next car ahead of the one (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe rode. IN the subway car directly next to the one (“)I(”) and Joe rode, there sat five other kids from our same (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) history class, kids we had been takINg the same classes with for over a year, headINg to the (“)Museum(”) of (“)(“)M(”)odern(”) (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) with the very same assignment, and neither (“)I(”) nor (“)J(”)oe had any idea that they were there. (“)A(”)s our groups passed one another, w(/)e ((haha)) declINed to acknowledge each other, and kept (“)i(”)t that way. They were dorks, and we were talking the stories of life.

            (“)T(”)raversINg the blocks of the midtown sidewalk toward the museum, (“)I(”) skipped back and forth over a crack that formed a lINe down the middle of the cement. (“)I(”) cried, “(“)L(”)ook at him go!” as (“)I(”) flailed my jutted knees to arrive on my tippy toes and back up IN the air and over agaIN. IN the midst of my frolic, a girl ran past Me right out of nowhere and snapped the lens of her camera up IN my face. (“)I(”) did not see the face of this guerilla photographer that apprehended the image of mINe, but (“)I(”) assumed she had heard my call. (“)B(”)ut, then (“)I(”) thought(?) that (“)I(”)t was probably my purple pants that had really attracted her. (“)G(”)od damn those shits are fly.
            (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe were already a little out of (or rather IN) I(“)t(”), and so, needless to say,(:) (“)I(”) and he were (“)experiencing(”) struggles locatINg the (“)M(”)useum of (“)(“)M(”)odern(”) (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) along our walk. (“)E(”)vantually, w(/)e ((haha)) made our way to a giant glass wINdow with the words “THE MODERN” writtIN IN white across (“)i(”)t. (“)I(”) and he assumed that w(/)e ((haha)) were getting close to the (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) at the end(.)
            (“)B(”)ehINd the glass, spannINg the INtire length of the wINdow, hung a massive(less?) yarn quilt wovIN with every color of the grand fluorescent neon spectrum. the colors followed no pattern, but rather imitated an explocean. IN the foreground of the quilt, flickerINg christmas lights and those blue tubes that lINe the aisles of movie theaters had bIN and contINued to be strewn IN every which direction. fragmented light and nonsense were suspended as one behINd the glass. joe joked that “P”rofessor “H”amlin probably made his wife sleep with him beneath a replica of that quilt every night: that way he could evIN study the Modern IN his dreams and be better prepared for his lessIN the next mornINg.        said that the buildINg with the wINdow IN front of us was probably his home.        had a vision of what the place looked like INside and an evIN more disturbed one about what professor hamlin did IN “THE MODERN”.        didn’t tell Joe.        just kept I(“)t(”) to myself.
            after standing IN … front of “THE MODERN’”s flickerINg quilt and laughINg our asses off for a good twenty mINutes, and Joe realized that w/e (haha) had bIN standINg a block away from the museum the whole time. (“)I(”)t was right down the street and “THE MODERN” was just (“)I(”)t’s official restaurant.
            (“)T(”)he revolvINg doors seemed to apprehend (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe IN a vortex as we embarked upon (“)N(”)ew (“)Y(”)ork’s (“)M(”)useum of (“)(“)M(”)odern(”) (“)(“)A(”)rt(”). (“)T(”)he first thINg that (“)I(”) was struck by was how large the lobby was. (“)H(”)oards of womIN, childrIN, and the elderly sat anxiously upon cushINed mINiature pyramids as if IN an airport termINal. (“)I(”) watched as they sat there helplessly waitINg for their loved one’s to arrive back from the vacation they had taken withIN The (“)M(”)o(“)M(”)(“)A(”)’s caverns, prayINg that (“)I(”)t’s destruction that they knew themselves far too feeble to handle had taken pity on those close to them and would return them IN a recognizable condition.
            (“)W(”)(/)e (haha) were directed toward a lINe to check our bags after receivINg our tickets, a lINe that seemed to stretch endlessly. (“)F(”)or (“)I(”)t was (“)F(”)ree (“)F(”)riday at the (“)M(”)o(“)M(”)(“)A(”) as sponsored by (“)T(”)arget. (“)F(”)ree, IN(.)dead. (“)S(”)urrounded by security and velvet rope, (“)I(”) felt as though (“)I(”) was at a downtown (“)M(”)anhattan club on a (“)F(”)riday night, but only IN the afternoon and IN midtown and for (“)(“)A(”)rt(”). (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe played bass on the velvet rope like w(/)e ((haha)) were both (“)S(”)ting on (“)S(”)ynchronicity to pass the time.
            IN the waitINg wINg, (“)I(”) became entranced by the strange paintings suspended on the walls, callINg me. (“)D(”)igitized plasma bled out of the pictures’ frames IN disdaIN of discernible color schema, though red domINated my eyes. (“)I(”) imagINed someone slittINg the throat of a factory machINe with a garden tool pronged for diggINg up earth and these pictures beINg the unwittINg product. (“)I(”) felt like (“)I(”) was IN a supernova.        looked closer and saw that computer circles layered upon different colored computer circles layered upon different colored computer circles formed these abstractions, formINg a vortex that ultimately led to the white of the obscured foundINg paper. as these hauntINgly blank pixelized blotches hovered IN three dimensINs over their two dimensINal frames, (“)I(”) felt all standard faculties withIN my mind for IN(…)terpreting space, color, and order, dissolve IN their violence: (“)I(”) felt properly oriented underneath to embark upon my (“)M(”)o(“)M(”)(“)A(”) (“)experience(”).
            (“)A(”)s (“)I(”) moved away from the vortex wing, (“)I(”) found myself beside three large gray workINg bINs that stood on the other side of the velvet coat check lINe rope. (“)I(”) had seen a select few open and close these motionless wheeled bINs from afar, and while        assumed that they were empty, sitting IN such proximity to the general public, (“)I(”) felt the INcessant urge to open them and see for myself. (“)O(”)nce (“)I(”) was close enough, (“)I(”) IN(.)dead opened not one bIN, but all three. all were empty. returned to the lINe and waitINg patiently to hand over my bag. (“)T(”)he only thought that sustained Me during those IN(…)sufferable moments confINed to those filed black lINes behINd the idiocy of a sINgle museum security guard makINg Me hold even with space and telling me to “straighten up” was the one that told Me (“)I(”) (“)knew(”) the (“)(“)I(”)dea(”) (“)C(”)andy (“)S(”)hop awaited Me.
            (make speaker naïve about situation is enterINg INto, not aware that self he prizes so much to cultivate will be lost beneath the crashINg wave and rescINding tide of that which he seeks to cultivate, I(“)t(”), that losINg everythINg to see also costs the self: device) (“)C(”)rossINg the channel, (“)I(”) and (“)J(”)oe did not approach, but rather wandered, INto the (“)M(”)useum, humblINg ourselves beneath the (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) and rather, for once, lettINg the wINgs choose our selves. (“)W(”)(/)e ((haha)) entered a wINg INtitled “(“)C(”)ontemporary (“)(“)A(”)rt(”),” a wINg devoted to abridgINg (reducINg) the (“)(“)A(”)rt(”) of the past forty years to (“)I(”)ts most essential features. (“)I(”) and he were greeted by a large corridor (“)full(”) filled with empty=roaming chairs. (“)I(”) stopped IN front of one chair that happened to be, nearby. (“)F(”)ilm projectors stood above and flashed movies onto a blank book sittINg on a desk, pages not turnINg. (“)T(”)his INtire scene was placed IN front of bleachers placed IN front of a white wall. (“)T(”)he bleachers were open to the public. Everyone was supposed to be watching but no one was. (“)I(”) was not sure who was runnINg the projectors, though(t?). (“)I(”) was not sure whether or not the piece was tryINg to show that the (“)I(”)Ndividual was IN ownership of the projectors and was subsequently wastINg away from (“)I(”)ts IN(…)ability to escape (“)I(”)tself, unable to receive the ideas of others, merely projectINg personal preconceived ideas of how an experience should end onto an experience instead of explorINg all that such experience had to offer beyond; or rather that the (“)I(”)Ndividual had no awareness at all of the projectors, and was not simply wastINg away, but was completely non-existent, only an alternate dimensIN to passively store all that It came by chance to INcounter, employIng the grade school settINg to emphasize this sense of passive non-existence IN humIN edification. was not sure who was runnINg the projectors when no one was IN the stands. (“)I(”) had to sit down.
            passINg by a white dump truck spillINg white boxes of white foam, sat down IN front of a film be?INg played on the other side of the hall. (“)I(”) rested for a few mINutes and watched. (“)i(”) saw stills of a dear and a wolf flickerINg across an off-white screen. RegaININg my legs, (“)I(”) arose, re-IN(…)vigorated, ready to explore more.
            (“)I(”) saw a little table and chairs across the gallery. (“)H(”)overing above the table were three separate, yet connected black columns, each shaped so as to rise as an expandINg fun(“)-(”)nel. (“)T(”)here were three little stools at the foot of the table: one for each black column. (“)N(”)ailed to the little table were three sets of headphones, one set nailed respectively below each column and before each columns respective empty little stool. the piece remINded me of the little table and chairs my dada hammered together for me when (“)I(”) was littler- though(t?)        recall he put them right IN front of the family tv IN the livINg room and (“)I(”) ate all my meals there.
            went up to the piece only to read ITs title.        had no INtention of fallINg … trap to this piece’s cleverness and offerINg myself as an utter ass to the surroundINg public. The low child-size chairs made it quite evident that it’s “A”rt was supposed to mockINgly portray the INsipidity of modern art enthusiasts. all who sat down would seem to be belittling at least some modicum of his or her remaining dignity for a title, IN the veIN of some poor construction, hypocrites at heart in their earthly search for the great beyond, blINd and unquestionINg to the pitfalls of the reality they claim to fall through. was not to waste my time vaINly attemptINg to gaIN access INto another head that my eyes would never opIN to see, especially for those that seem to tell me that        will not be able to see them and laugh at the thought … (?) ... that        ever thought(?)        could. (acconci, “Three Columns for America”)
            rather        walked across the room so that        could get a better view of those that sat down and put on the headphones, observing from the stands. one by one they crouched over and stooped to the stools, their knees all bendINg all the way up to their chINs, stuffed right down their jaws letting flys IN to sit on their tongues. one by one of course so as not dilute the “Individual” experience. each tried on the headphones, sat for about thirty seconds with them on their heads, and then stood up to leave.        presumed they left disappoINted.
            (stop stop sto(o)p. cut. cue w/ alarm noise IN background. speaker’s analysIS of painting nonsense: too quickly nonsense. path toward disillusionment not explicated enough. where’s the visit’s modernity? revert back into downward spiral from ultimate abyIS for a bit more to really feel destruction of INternalized modern sensibilities and values: continue what        was informed of modern experience to complete it. buildINg’s white wall reads ‘modern’ IN hanging suspended blocks outside…Make me feel it this time, going between the letters…and act…ion…) (“)Y(”)et, however amusINg, (“)I(”) could not fathom why each stayed for so long, as I(“)t(”) seemed absurd for them to hear sound there while equally crouched uncomfortably and only looking at black blocks. How could they still stay so long? (“)I(”) wondered. (“)I(”) had to (“)know(”).
            (“)I(”) IN(.)dead sat down, alone so as not dilute the (“)INdividual(”) (“)experience(“) that seemed to be(…?)captivating so many. (“)I(”) crouched over and stooped down to the stool, my knees bendINg all the way up to my chIN, stuffINg them right down my jaw lettINg flys IN to sit on my tongue. (“)I(”) was surprised that they got up that high. (“)I(”) put on(…)the headphones. No sound. (“)I(”) waited for about a mINute. still. no Sound. good one…Vito Acconci…(“)i(”) thought(?).(..)
            (“)M(”)y head was begINnINg…to feel ever lighter. (“)i(”) was havINg trouble standINg and so (“)i(”) started back toward the couch IN front of the film with the wolf and the dear. (“)A(”)(…)long the way, (“)i(”) passed by a wall pINned with hundreds of an eastern man’s baseball-card sized pictures of himself, all con(-)structed IN a straight lINe. (“)T(”)hough(t?) (“)i(”) walked briskly past, (“)i(”)t seemed to me that the artist was repeatINg the same picture of himself, only slightly alterINg the facial hair. (“)Y(”)et, (“)i(”) was not sure if he had used computer graphics to layer the same picture with new facial hair he had artificially designed for each picture, or if he had actually grown each new hairstyle over a period of time, since he took a picture IN the same clothes each time he got a new hairstyle. (“)W(”)hile h(“)IS(”) expression was very similar IN each picture (“)i(”)t seemed a little different IN each. (“)i(”) could not tell if th(“)IS(”) was an illusion caused by the adding of new facial hair, or whether I(“)t(”) was an actual physical difference that he had photographically documented that would have occurred naturally over the time (“)i(”)t would have taken him to grow out new facial hair. So much change over so little time or change is the trick of the eye? (“)i(”) was not sure (either).
            (“)i(”) seemed to get a better look at the film the second time once (“)i(”) got there. (“)i(”) did sit IN front of (“)i(”)t for an hour, though(t?). I(“)t(”) all just seemed more vivid, what…the artist was doing. (“)T(”)he wolf and the deer paced around a room across from one another, a room of off-white walls and pale, sterile green tile floors: what(…) (“)I(”) would have liked to call a hospital mINus furniture. (“)T(”)hey were not attackINg each other as would be expected, but were merely lookINg at each other, though(t?) barely making eye contact, only pantINg and pacINg: they were not actINg naturally. (“)T(”)he film did not evIN care to project a natural portrayal of time, makINg quite evident that the whole process of filmmakINg was the mechanical cohesion of isolated frames in a so(u)lely contiguous format, more likely than not mISsINg somethINg IN between: the image, emasculatINg nature, flickered and flickered like a poorly drawn cartoon. (“)A(”)s the animals went through time, I(“)t(”) seemed that surely they were the same shape; yet they did not quite seem to be same thINg underneath, not IN any one of the sixty-second scene loops that kept replayINg these two animals pacINg and pantINg over identical paths over and over. Like somethINg mISsIng was slippINg IN and out. (“)i(”) just sat there and watched, hypnotized though(t?) not certaIN if (“)i(”) was tryINg to get anythINg out of the film st(-)ill. (“)E(”)ach time (“)i(”) tried to stand up to meet back with (“)J(”)oe, the blood rushed from my head, and (“)i(”) started to feel real dizzy. (“)i(”) could not walk a straight lINe, much less walk for that matter. (“)Y(”)et, the strangest thought(?) entered my mINd: (“)i(”) thought(?) (“)i(”) could make (“)I(”)t(…)there up to (“)J(”)oe and (“)P(”)icasso if (“)i(”) danced. (“)N(”)ever-the-less, (“)i(”) was forced to return to the dear, the wolf lyINg impotently on the green tile floor beneath the off-white walls of what (“)i(”) stopped trying to call a hospital.
            (“)F(”)or a moment, (“)i(”) turned from the film to watch the people. (“)i(”) just stared at them, trying to make (“)I(”) contact, seeINg what they would do. (“)S(”)ome turned away. (“)S(”)ome smiled, though(t?). (“)B(”)ut they kept walkINg.
            (“)O(”)ut of…no-where(?), a man sat next to me IN a hoodie absolutely covered IN paint blotches. (“)i(”) could not even begIN to fathom … someone … considerINg that a style fit for lightly formal public outINgs. (“)B(”)ut (“)i(”) couldn’t fINd the words to say anythINg to him. “I like your paINt.” Yeah right.
            (“)A(”)s (“)i(”) sat, (“)i(”) realized that no one standINg or passINg by me was speakINg the same language. (“)E(”)veryone was forIN; everyone was a tourist. (“)A(”)nd (“)i(”) couldn’t understand a word anyone was sayINg. (“)i(”) thought(?) of the imperial palace in star wars (not sure which episode … maybe all of them), all these aliINs from the far reaches of the universe circlINg around and admirINg the empty seats of the republic.
            (“)F(”)inally, after for what seemed like eternity … or maybe just eons- (“)i(”) found enough strength to go up to the fifth floor and see the picasso exhibit joe and (“)I(”) had origINally meant to see. (“)i(”) circled around the corridor with all the empty chairs about three times before (“)i(”) stumbled upon the elevator.
            (“)B(”)efore gettINg to the fifth floor, (“)i(”) passed by a wINg with photography. IN one series, an art(“)IS(”)t had found very eerie ex(“)IS(”)tential pictures, digitized them real(…)ly poorly, and labeled them with various pan am (not) flight lINes. (“)H(”)e presented philosophical musINgs as mere vacation trips, or made possible by them. (“)i(”) was drawn to two IN particular from the series: pan am (not) hawaii and pan am (not) france. (“)For(”) pan am (not) hawaii, a photograph of a native silhouetted to pitch black hovered on a surfboard out IN an ocean where the sun reflected IN the water like a cosmos of bright shINing stars. (“)i(“) supposed the people were really out there in hawaii: they were just space, one with the universe, taking apart its parts. (“)T(”)he image clicked … IN … a sense for me. (“)i(”) always thought(?) that they had to be cool people from livINg on a tropical (“)IS(”)land. (“)T(”)he pan am (not) france label sported an old chap, back turned to the viewer, bowler cap and all, walkINg IN a forest that seemed to be growINg IN a glass observatory. france=truly just trees IN the factory.
            (“)R(”)ealizing (“)i(”) had gotIN off at the wrong floor, (“)i(”) scrambled back to the elevlator. (“)O(”)n the way back (“)i(”) saw what looked to be a fifth grade shoebox book report project on Lawrence of Arabia sittINg on a platform. I(“)t(”)s label read “Helio Oiticia. Box Bòlide 12, ‘archeologic’” good one- Helio Oiticia. that just doesn’t make sense.
            when (“)i(”) reached the painting, findINg joe be-sighed I(“)t(”) as well, (“)i(”) was IN … no condition … to take notes on I(“)t(”), or les demo(“)IS(”)elles d’avignon. the rest of the paintings in the gallery were cast IN shadow beneath the fire and ice that collided IN the ridges bathINg les demo(“)IS(”)elles. the womIN’s eyes on the far right were going every which way, morphINg IN…to a mask. their bodies were just slidINg blocks that had nothINg to do with each other. they were all offerINg me grapes as (feignINg) well.
            be-sighed me, a man asked the womIN he was with to a take picture with les demo(“)IS(”)elles d’avignon. at first she stood directly IN front of the painting. the man rolled his eyes at her INitial positioning as plebian. IN aggravation he waved his arms feverishly at her, implorINg her IN sharp span(“)IS(”)h to move to the left of the painting, her right- or at least I(“)t(”) seemed that he was sayINg that from h(“)IS(”) hand motions and her reaction to those hand motions. he waved h(“)IS(”) hands for about thirty seconds IN frustrated attempts to properly reposition her before fINally openINg h(“)IS(”) camera case. Uno…Dos…Très…Uno màs. Uno…Dos…Très…Uno màs. Uno…Dos…Très…Uno màs. (“)i(“) walked behINd the man to look at the picture, he was takINg, what he had to be… so meticulous about capturINg. (“)i(”) followed the lINe of womIN from right to left, from the womIN the man was with to those gazINg behINd masks. (“)i(”) imagINed that by placINg h(“)IS(”) lovely wife at the head of th(“)IS(”) lINe of utterly m(“)IS(”)shapen, hideous, begotten women, th(“)IS(”) man was tryINg to accentuate the gradual devolution of the prostitutes IN the brothel. (“)i(”) saw another man ask the womIN he was with to take a picture with the painting as well. this womIN also stood directly IN front of the painting at first, and with frustration equal to the first man’s, this man repositioned her, only to the right for h(“)IS(”) picture, her left. (“)i(”) imagINed him tryINg to convey the painting as the horrible perceptions of deformity capitalism’s commercial culture forced upon womIN IN an effort to cultivate a pervasive INsecurity withIN these womIN and nearly create a need withIN their natures to buy various beauty products. with the line of womIN left to right progressINg from the hideous women of the paINtINg and culminatINg IN the actual womIN, I(“)t(”) was as if the paINted women, hoverINg only a few INches above the womIN’s head, were beINg deposited IN to the woman’s psyche. (“)i(“) felt bad for the womIN IN this picture. (“)i(”) also saw that (“)i(”) was never once was looking at Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. (“)i(”) couldn’t ever get IN…there. there.
            (“)i(“) stumbled away, lookINg for a seat; but there were no … seats on the floor. all had to stand and support themselves as they stared INto the destruction. all had to strengthIN their wills and directly receive, or rather withstand, real-I(“)t(”)-(wh)y IN all of I(“)t(”)s actual violence and chaos. you were not to run away from I(“)t(”). you were not to be a coward. I(“)t(”) was to make you. only I(“)t(”) could make you. I(“)t(”) was emboldININg. I(“)t(”) was to make you(?) … so that you could make other things(?) … spit I(“)t(”) back out … all that is I(“)t(”) is inside … spit- I(“)t(”)’s-black-out…

            (*sense of drama*)

            dizzy. darkness. electro. magnetic. blotches. blotchINg. flickerINg. flockINg. fluorescent. frolickINg. lickINg. little. dots. all. over. white. wall. fallINg. blackness.

            blackness. awaken walkINg around floor. stone statues of soldiers standINg IN front of paintings IN position of the thINker. no one talkINg. no one movINg. but me. yet air is…a cacophony of chantINg tongues tryINg to be heard over movINg cogs and computer sounds. wailINg tongues tryINg to be sparks climbINg out from the pit of a flamINg funeral pyre. not evidINt for whom pyre rises…move on. only light is flood lights on floor positioned as spotlights for each thINg of art. stand IN front of painting that is … completely red. red is I-t. the con tent IN … side the frame morphs INto a cryINg soldier’s face. unknown. like he is beINg shot. a blip. back to red. the con tent morphs INto a painting of me standINg where        am standINg at the moment lookINg at the space IN between two red paintings like the one        saw before that swallowed soldier face. space: the white wall. zoom IN … on white … now. white white White White WHITE WHiTE whITe wHIte WHTE WHT W whte wht W www…

            stand up-stumble-not workINg-fallINg-blackness-agaIN … blackness…

            the walls are all like behINd the front glass of the modern. the lights hum and buzz like the edges of supernovas. many colors flicker. whether too many cannot tell … around the corner come the dancers from le sacre du printemps. they stamp and stamp…they lift me up on their shoulders … they stamp and stamp … they march forward … they stamp and stamp … they brINg me to an unidentified wINg. there is hamlIN sittINg naked on a white platform, silINt, eyes closed IN buddha position, christmas … lights and light…tubes flickerINg all around like at behINd the front glass of the modern, where        first imagINed him this way, though(t?) now he wasn’t hoverINg anymore. the dancers let me off their shoulders and they stamp off stage, far off … INto the distance extendINg outside the small grasp of my best peripherals … they stamp off … they stamp and stamp.        approach hamlIN.        get up IN his face- look him IN … the eye- and say: “you are Socrates. i am Nicholas.” a little one of my sayINgs that        always had a likINg for. hamlIN’s beard grows down to his knees. he cranes his neck- bugs his eyes out- and replies: “do you want fires with that?!” maniacal laughINg. tubes of light shatter. release gas. hamlIN throws on a gas mask and gallops out on all fours IN … to an emergency exit doorway that seems a mirage…

             awoke to a lovely senorita with her hand behINd my head as        lied on the floor. she asked if        spoke “E”nglish.        paused. sullenly        replied yes and closed eyes agaIN.        ..

             awoke to secur-IT-(wh)y all around me askINg for my name and everythINg as        lied on the floor.        gave them “Nicholas” and age. somethINg went off IN “braIN” sayINg these responses were appropriate and logical, that they should be givIN for my safety.        was not sure who was … speakINg. all the security guards remaINed, fed me water and made sure didn’t get up and walk away from the museum.        had the realization that        had just had the quINtessential modern experience. And still had my legs.
             fINally got cleared…to leave by the guards after havINg proven        could stand up okay around the art. joe had been by my side the whole time apparently. It was eight o’clock by the time w/e (haha) actually left the place.        and joe were tired, hungry, and not sure what to do, so fried. w/e (haha) figured w/e (haha) would just go to “T.” “G.” “I.” “F”riday’s. It was friday.        got the chicken fINgers and breadsticks like I always used to do when        was a kid. somethINg        thought? This        was sure of.        said next time It might be easier just to take the virtual tour.
            “(“()” “()”)”

Nick Brennan is an aspiring writer from Albany, NY. He recently graduated from Fordham University and continues to chill in the Bronx. He spends most of his days researching the possibility of human teleportation. Through his writing, he seeks to turn the world on its head and see if its pieces can actually come together. "the quINtessential modern experience" is Brennan's first published story.

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