The sky is so anxious and floats like a bloated body over a city that lies huddled below, looking for warmth in shadow. Of all the coffee shops in this city, this one speaks to me and makes my mind dull so that the sharp corners of bitter and big thoughts bounce away, diffused temporarily. Things to worry about later, after this little bit of sunlight stops burning through this big window, filtered, gray, tired like the rest of us. David Byrne is shrieking like a mad man through the speakers and I like the way my body moves involuntarily, drifts upwards to meet him, bobs without trajectory against corners like a dying moth against a window or a balloon slowly deflating, caught in phone wires. The streets are filled with garbage because of the strike. I feel apocalypse looming. I feel this most when public services are suspended. Certain things, unspoken, unnoticed tasks, have a large part in defining what order means. A group of men yell 'what are you' when I pass them. Not who, what. Like this is a simple question. I have no energy, I am mentally exhausted. In China town at Spadina there is a dark store with old clocks behind the yellow panes of dusty windows. The door is permanently propped open and when you look inside there is an old man seated in the dark, surrounded by clutter, napping with his head tucked in one shoulder. Two children are bouncing on a dirty matress in an alley, reaching out to touch the grafitti on the wall, their hands caressing, learning the contours of a striking, painted face. Black paint has fallen into creases on the mans noir profile and the children are whispering together, indifferent, stroking every part absent-mindedly except the eyes.
I have taken to neglecting doses of medication and enjoy the first hour of my body’s disorientation. The mind reels, the heart palpitates, my vision is blurred and I feel my body stretched between two ropes that dig into my flesh; that is the tension, the balance, the plateau of anticipation that I now approach with a degree of measured self-containment. I used to feel very afraid of these moments and avoid them at all costs. Now I want it to happen so that I can test my limits and breathe deeply. I dare my body to revolt and but my mind stays very calm, bemused even, watching a rebellious child squirm under pressure. When I am on the verge of panic, my eyesight blurs much like it does the moment before orgasm. My strategy in terms of coping with panic has developed in tandem with my recent sexual exploits. I suspend both the panic and the orgasm, allow myself to linger at that point just before I fall deep into it, before the body’s chemicals collapse inwards and send me out of myself so that I can’t recognize the difference between euphoria and death. This is the closest I get to meditation. When I was younger my first lover and I used to meditate together in the dark and then slowly reach out and touch each other’s bodies, our minds blank and dark, disembodied subjects but with hands that pulled organs and fluids out of each other. My mind is back in that place, often, suspended on that plateau, the fine balance between chaos and presence. I think a lot about Bataille’s belief that humans are blessed with wealth, with a wealth of excess energy that must be spent luxuriously in order to continue this cycle of energy. Luxury for Bataille is sex, death and food. Fuck people because this is the closest we can get to death, for those too afraid to die. I imagine Bataille cringing at the liberalist new age sounds of those words written down, strung together, stolen syllables stuffed with inherited signifiers. We can only decorate the prison words inhabit, never open the door. I think of Bataille pondering the flow of energy in the cosmos while he is being sucked off, when he feeds his semen to a lover. When I am naked I feel clothed, I want someone to reach under the skin, find that little tear like a loose thread and pull my body out of its skin enclosure, to be open and purified; I am never naked enough, I feel that my nudity is insufficient. I feel closed and want to be open again.
Forget the gaze of a man, the gaze of the city is most intrusive. Virginia Woolf says that women are like mirrors that "possess the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size." But the city wants to see itself in its people, it wants to be told, "you are beautiful, you are worshipped, take my body and make me your conquest, I will be a reflection of you and you will see what you want in me."