Title: The Seven Sovereigns
Subtext: A brief audience.
Date: 14 Feb 15 (Saturday in the AM)
Time: 2 minutes
Replies: 29
Revisions: 44
Publicity: Workshop

Tuesday night at the co-op. Always great. Marina makes curry. She knows how to do it. She waits til the coriander pops in the ghee before adding the coconut. It’s so good. Nobody has band practice, there are no parties, and nothing’s ever due on Wednesday. So everybody’s at the table.

Corner a co-oper across town and get an earful of jouissance. Sequestered together over a meal though, their conversation is less trangressively gleeful having more to do with things that just are, or might be, or might not be.

This Tuesday was different. The collective silence served an imaginary side dish of the symbolic order. It was the first time they’d all sat down since the thing with the thrones.

Let me back up. The guys play basketball all the time over there. It’s the one activity that cuts as finely down gender lines. There’s a hoop out back and it gets a lot of use. Usually after dinner a ball gets tossed around and just as usually, girls are out there, smoking tobacco or pot, taking in the sport and their cohort.

Last Thursday Shelly holed herself up in the garage all day making an Hephaestian racket. You don’t mess with Shelly when she’s got a circle saw in her hand, and not just because she’s probably got a joint in the other. She’d be stoked if you popped in on her to chat. It’s not that. It’s just, you know, typically, people allow her some space when she works like this.

That night, after a meagerly attended supper of red beans and rice with purple slaw, jalepeño cornbread, cashew sour cream, and green salad with radishes and lemon pepper vinegrete, followed by maple pecan trifles, and digestive shots of homemade absinthe bitters, the five in attendance went out for some air and to take up a game of one-on-one.

Elias and Sam shot for the ball. Elias – brick. Sam – swish. Sam’s ball. Elias retrieved it and underhand hook-passed it back in a curated but more or less genuine non-chalance. Sam dribbled twice to the top of the invisible key and checked it back to Elias.

“Wait,” commanded Shelly from the back porch. The ball went under Elias’s right armpit.

“What’s up Shell?”

At the edge of the riser, a surface tension between moments deflected the force of their strides, indefinitely extending the quantum threshold perpendicular to time.

She didn’t answer but paraded past them straight down the center of the court, to the garage door, where she bent down from the waist and grabbed the handle. She wasn’t wearing underwear. The boys liked that but also took it as a kind of “fuck you” so they never acknowledged it, even to each other.

Without a grunt the stuck old noisy door went up to reveal a 4′ deep by 20′ wide by 2′ high wooden platform with seven intricately carved and painted vaguely Indonesian by way of Arsgaard thrones on top. Shelly stepped up, sat in the second seat to the left, an ornate flaming construction of teal striped and fire stained twirling spires rising at the corners, and motioned to Laura, Bea, and Mandy to join.

At the edge of the riser, a surface tension between moments deflected the force of their strides, indefinitely extending the quantum threshold perpendicular to time, but the girls played on and once all four women had taken there places Bea intoned meekly, “Begin.”


Falcon » Authorship
Falcon » 4:42 PM 02 Mar 17
Falcon » 9:55 AM 07 Jul 15
Elk » 7:48 AM 26 Feb 15
Falcon » 8:09 AM 24 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:21 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:20 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:18 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:16 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:15 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:13 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:11 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:06 AM 15 Feb 15
Falcon » 9:05 AM 15 Feb 15
Elk » 1:40 PM 14 Feb 15
Falcon » 1:36 PM 14 Feb 15
Falcon » 1:34 PM 14 Feb 15
Elk » 1:30 PM 14 Feb 15
Falcon » 1:12 PM 14 Feb 15
Elk » 1:02 PM 14 Feb 15
Falcon » 11:34 AM 14 Feb 15

The Thread (29)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. I see some really ornate detail in these thrones. I don’t know why either, but I also feel like this takes place in the future. By the way, I could totally dig that meagerly attended meal right now. You wrote trifles correctly right? Because truffles would be just as nice. Also, homemade absinthe bitters? What? I want to get there.

  2. The future — interesting. More to come on the trifles.

  3. For whatever reason, basketball was (is) the perfect collegiate sport. There’s something about the conditions that creates a pickup environment. I love it.

    The thing about this piece that really sticks with me is the male/female dynamic. You think it’s traditional — but no. These are the vanguards. Because this is art school, my friends. This context can yield the left of the left — so far left it’s sometimes endearingly like outer space.

    But not here. These rebels of the left-of-left maintain gender roles, even at the co-op. And honestly, that’s what draws me to the people of the arts — anything goes, even the opposite. Perhaps the most traditional thing of all that’s articulated here is the complete dominion that women hold in this place. I don’t doubt it for a second.

  4. Word. You read it as art school. That’s interesting. I’m thinking of it as a liberal arts college.

  5. I can see the setting you describe. It was the ubiquity of band practice that took me from liberal arts to art school.

  6. Rereading this and thinking it’s curious and perhaps telling in some way that Shelly did all the building and unveiling but Bea’s the one to utter “Begin.”

  7. Wondering why the throne thing causes such strife in the community. I took it as an elaborate joke, that Shelley had literally built pedestals for the women (are there seven? Only four appear in the story) to sit on. I guess there’s more to it.

  8. Having lived in a co-op in a liberal arts college I interpreted it as such and was more or less there with the crowd. I take it as a light-hearted (elaborate) feminist-oriented joke as well, a bit of co-opting, if you will, the male gaze, turning it back around from the vantage point of the throne. Was there really strife here?

  9. This Tuesday was different. The collective silence served an imaginary side dish of the symbolic order. It was the first time they’d all sat down since the thing with the thrones.

    Normally the table is filled with conversation of the goings-on of the day. The throne event has turned it into dinner at the Arnold house: sounds of clinking silverware and chewing. Yes, that’s a Wonder Years reference.

    So strife might be the wrong word. Tension is probably more accurate. My question is: should there be a stronger indication in the story that the guys here feel threatened? We don’t see their reaction to the event, so we have to create it in our minds, though the outcome is clear enough from the beginning. I’m just having a little trouble getting from the perceived light-heartedness back to the Arnold dinner silence at the beginning.

  10. Oh then you should read Part 2 — the fate of the thrones is marked. I trust @falcon will be serving it up shortly.

    Agree with @bear that the tension/joke might have interrupted relations. Good call on the Arnold table. Clinking silverware brings something vivid to mind.

  11. Also want to note that some of the language is impossible to follow here — stuff like the pullquote etc. It’s pretty, but unintelligible. A cost/benefit analysis should be run on it.

  12. I’m glad you mentioned that @elk. The pullquote is problematic, yeah. I had changed the sentence it’s taken from and recognized the problem when I updated the HTML. Meant to fix and honestly wasn’t sure if I was translating after all, or if we were being timid about that stuff now after dismissing each other on the subject of syntax a few times in a row. I hesitate to admit that I enjoy the way it rolls off the imaginary tongue in my brain. It’s the dreadful “poetry” question, again, which is to say, the bad-poetry question. It’s a bad sentence. Thanks for pointing it out. Did you know that woodpecker tongues wrap around their brains?

    But you say “etc.” What other language would you consider unintelligible?

  13. Sequestered together over a meal though, their conversation is less trangressively gleeful about the supposititious . . .

    I’ll tell you what though — that bit about checking the basketball is right on the friggin’ money.

  14. Aha. Is it the word “supposititious” ? I’d avoid it normally. Thought its density worked in rhythmic and narrative context here. If you substitute “hypothetical”, “unreal”, or “illegitimate” does the construction make sense to you?

  15. I’d say the overall register of the sentence is too elevated for the content. It’s very dense and hard to follow.

    Also, logically, I’m not sure about it. If they aren’t discussing the supposititious, then wouldn’t they be discussing only the way things are and not the way they might or might not be?

    On my earlier comment on the man v. woman thing, maybe subtlety is the way to go. Maybe you’ve done enough to set the mind in motion toward that destination. I’m beginning to come around to that opinion.

  16. Interesting. I’d say logically, no, it’s not the same. They indulge in everyday hypotheticals as we all do at the dinner table. Not the same as speaking about the unreal or imaginary, or with certainty about theory in a post-structuralist context. But perhaps there’s room for more clarity. Open to suggestions on both sentences. Thanks.

  17. I appreciate the level of thought. It’s just a wide gap for us to traverse. I’m wondering if it’s possible for readers to understand that kind of momentary flash of connections that you’re making in the way you’re intending.

    Then again, right reader, right moment, and the same flash might happen again.

  18. It really is about how narrow but potentially deep you want to strike. Do you want to reform the soul of a single reader? Or do you want to entertain thousands? Of course, the grail is sometimes reformation of many thousands. But that’s more likely to happen with plain language than anything else. So yeah — know your goal.

  19. Def goal is not to reform anyone.

  20. So we’ve arrived at the question: to what end? Why write? To reform the soul? To entertain? To inform? To unburden one’s own soul?

    Well, I’ve got to go to the grocery store.

  21. I’m leaning towards supposititious not being the right word, but it’s a nice debate going on here. Certainly there’s a slim chance the flashes I build into my pieces are experienced by the reader in the way I intend, but so long as you’re on the right side of the ambiguity-divide choices like this serve as conversation pieces rather than impediments.

    Overall this piece gives me the feeling of something just skimming the surface of a pond. We’re getting a narrow slice of something with enough signifiers of deeper webs and connections, actions and interactions going on. Ripe for a sequel or two.

  22. I struggle with the why-write question. Is the base motivation simply masturbatory and exhibitionist? A hey-look-at-me-and-how-special-I-am? A cry for help and/or attention? Can there be an altruistic desire to share and interact? To unload and take on?

    I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.

  23. Good news. Green beans are on sale.

  24. Cut out “are” and it sounds like you’ve found the 6-word entry for today’s portion of your memoirs.

  25. Still going to address both those sentences — not settled on how. I kind of think supposititious is one of those uncommon words that is really easy to decode. Even if you don’t get the depth of it, re: semiotics or if you haven’t heard it used in the context of a “pretender to the throne”, you pretty much get past it with your narrative comprehension intact. That said, if it calls too much attention to itself, then maybe it is a problem. I wasn’t totally sold on it when I used it. I did think it had a ring of jargon to it, though it’s not a word that you’d really find in semiotic theory as far as I know. Sounds like one though. I figured “joissance” would be the hypertext moment there, and send the thourough reader to Lacan. With that too, I think you can feel it generally, though you might not get the jokes, I don’t buy that everything needs to be textually surficial. Still again, if it’s a problem it’s a problem. Def will think on it.

  26. I pitched one down and the other up.
    I think the thing hinges on these two sentences working. Psyched for further thoughts.

  27. @falcon — Totally amazing. I get it now. The thrones are like a force field. The women step across some quantum ethereal vortex of time, like across the event horizon of a black hole.

    I also get “transgressively gleeful” now, too.

    But is it only because I was a part of this conversation? And would an initial, disconnected reader pick up on these things at first blush? That, to me, is the real goal and litmus — first blush.

  28. Another good question by @elk.

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