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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which We Are Made Less Receptive To Big Ideas | Main | In Which Tess Visits Her Very Own Suicide Colony »

In Which We Equate Ourself With A Galaxy And You're Not All That Surprised

Space for All

by Alex Carnevale

Think in order
to recall
what the striking thing

(So impotently
loved the world

- Rae Armantrout, Precedence, 1985

This morning I visited the Russian consulate in Manhattan, where God made sport of Russian people for my amusement.

My coming series of reportage - much of it lovingly fabricated with compromising Lena Chen-esque photos of the prostitutes I patronize - will likely lead to a Pulitzer Prize in reporting and inspire conservative luminaries like Roger Kimball and Victor Davis Hanson to proclaim me 'the kike Ronald Reagan.'

The scene outside the consulate was an exercise in the disappointment inherent in cultural diffusion, a phrase I had to define in social studies but really means something like 'resentment.'

Crowds generally make me nervous. My last visit to Yankee Stadium in its final season was an uncomfortable experience, as a crowd of people chanted, "Y R U Gay?" to the tune of 'YMCA' at a Mariners fan. I have no doubt the men and women of the Russian consulate could have merited a similar but killing cheer.

Kafka, as with most things, wrote of that everyday experience the best:

"Don't you want to join us?" I was recently asked by an acquaintance when he ran across me alone after midnight in a coffee-house that was already almost deserted. 'No, I don't,' I said.

Staring at these people, there is no way to avoid thinking of the most terrible ideology in the world. Being a communist was once something unremarkable. Now, thanks in no small part to Franz's appraisal of bureaucracy, we know it is one and the same with death.

Capitalism bears no such mark, but it is still a potent force. Cue opaque observations of native Russians reading Harry Potter in English, joking among each other even while silent, as if in this little doll house was all in good humor. (The collective has never really been known for its sense of humor.)

In a tiny bubble, these people are in a soft war against a culture that invades every particle of their being, nineteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Kafka on the soft war:

An acquaintance comes and speaks to me. He makes the following statement: Some say this, but I say exactly the opposite. He cites the reasons for his opinions. I wonder. My hands lie in my trouser pockets as if they had been dropped there, and yet as relaxed as if I had only to turn my pockets inside out and they would quickly drop out again.

Only a few people are admitted at a time to the consulate, and since an Ivy League degree and my utter unconcern with the prospect of my death allow me to skate through even the most threatening situation, I prepare to sweep into the building.

The madness of the bureaucracy is most memorably documented in The Trial:

Without giving any answer to this offer, K. stood still for some time. Perhaps, if he opened the door of the next room or even the front door, the two of them would not dare to stand in his way, perhaps that would be the simplest way to settle the whole thing, by bringing it to a head. But maybe they would grab him, and if he were thrown down on the ground he would lose all the advantage he, in a certain respect, had over them. So he decided on the more certain solution, the way things would go in the natural course of events, and went back in his room without another word either from him or from the policemen.

As with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I often ask myself: Is it too much to ask that everyone get tumblrs and sort this thing out through reblogging?

Standing next to a grandma whose teeth chattered in the heat, two members of the Russian Mob emerged from an unmarked car. I trailed them. I then asked to go in front of them, as my task was small. They either didn't speak Ivy League English, or they were more afraid of me than I was of them. A general sweetness can accomplish what resistance on any level cannot.

That is unless you are one of Kafka's protagonists.

He wrote in 1922:

19 June. Forget everything. Open the windows. Clear the room. The wind blows through it. You see only its emptiness, you search in every corner and don't find yourself.

Heading to my office on Long Island through Queens, the constancy of marked difference between essentially similar things, that distinguishing feature of the capitalist landscape, is almost too much to take. If Kafka had lived where I live, he may not have survived it.

More and more I resist taking part. It is simpler to think of things axiomatically, expanding. A galaxy is a unit I can understand. It is a force to admire, envy, want to be. I identify singularly with massive explosions of energy, ongoing chemical need. To sit there and observe what unfolds is both to suffer and be suffered by. Only the sun, hanging low, scares me from bed.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.



these images were taken with the hubble telescope, itself the shining excrement of bureaucracy

"Við spilum endalaust" - Sigur Ros (mp3)

"Góðan daginn" - Sigur Ros (mp3)

"Suð í eyrum" - Sigur Ros (mp3)

marry fuck kill go


This is what a feminist looks like.

What’s happening in Paris.

Fanny Howe brings space-time to your doorstep.

The Earth is suffocating… Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won’t be buried alive

- Chopin’s last words

Reader Comments (2)

Fronthand props for this one. Iconic gesture of colloquial race-related body language.

June 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMolly Lambert

[...] Alex Is A Galaxy [...]

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