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On the Way to the Forum 5

Continued from


Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

―T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

On the Way to the Forum
a gory allegory


Third time’s the charm.

What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? you say.

And she sips and smiles with her nose and says: Are you kidding?

If you’ve never heard Paul Robeson sing Old Man River, you say, then you’ve never heard Old Man River!

You’ve got to lean in and yell to be heard above the din. Chopi, the Man, is spinning straight fire tonight, big bangers, quantum drops.

Again, and probably not for the last time, readers that we are, we are reminded that all this saying and sipping and spinning and whatnot is all only in a manner of speaking. But there is nothing to fret in this fact. Let us add that at once, yes. Anna and Vronsky, Daisy and Gatsby, and all the rest, going all the way back to Eve and Adam, are all subject to the same fact.

I’ve heard Sinatra sing it, she says. Great grandma was a bobbysoxer!

Say, how old are you? he says.

Do you really think time exists? she says.

Well what’s this all about then, he says, gesturing around at pandemonium.

Verfremdungseffekt, she says.

Are you German? he says.

What makes you say that? she says.

An immense dungeon of “darkness visible,” to quote the Poet on the venue, aptly I dare say, the deafening rhythmic din of some incessant techno beat pouring forth from everywhere it seemed and all at once through some massive sound system, sight and sound displaying an objective correlative of madness itself, surrounded on two sides by video panels showing the dancing Ganesha, an ironic touch lost on everyone no doubt, while high overhead LED fixtures coruscate with lights of many colors of the visible spectrum and light beams and movers, hazers and lasers all make out a horde of wild strobed shadows, starting up like a battalion of bacchantes, arms raised, swaying to the beat, many sporting glowers, gloves, orbits, poi balls, some laser lashes, while holograms of cavorting maenads dance onstage, and at the center of this booming luciferous chaos, against a backdrop of projected images of simulated mitochondria at work, the high-priest, on a raised platform engulfed in smoke, leader of the cult, Deejay Chopi, ecstatic in a headset, capering about his console like a chimpanzee on crack cocaine.

You sit on a glowing chair at a glowing bar table off a black light bar sipping a cool cold Dolina Hipótesis Nº 01 Lluvia Mortal, a fractal UV banner of a mandala floating nearby.

She sits across from you..

What Sign are you? she says.

You show an amused smile, long practiced. Are you kidding? you say. I thought you said time is an illusion.

It is, she says. This is about space—you know, alignments.

You take a bemused beat. Have you ever heard Eddie Cantor sing “If You Knew Susie”? you say.

Who’s Eddie Cantor? she says.

Ask your great grandma, you say.

Say, how old are you? she says, smiling, sipping something green through a cocktail straw.

And suddenly it dawns upon us, readers that we are, that they are trying to “meet cute” in spite of all.

To what end, some of us may be wondering? Shortly they would have to produce, by law, their papers—state IDs, health certificates, affidavits of intent, consent forms—for this was the world according to Btzby we are in now. The sign over the door read “Abandon All Cheer, Ye Who Pass Through These Portals.” Posted by law for a generation that would not recognize the allusion and did not know what Ye meant. This is the cheerless world of the Rainbowspinners we have entered. The Culture Wars had ended long ago. The Climactic Battle For Meaning had been lost. But it had been won as well. Won by those who hadn’t done their homework. This was Chopi’s world now. What point could there be to “meeting cute”? Alas! We have seen too many vapid movies! But none of this fazes you in the least. You are 99 years old—99 years young, as your mother always says, God Bless Her. And while you look great for your age, and more importantly feel great, having avoided the consumption of dead animals for all of your adult life, you are not here to “hook up,” to use the idiot phrase. You are here on business. That was the point.

Been a member long? you say.

About a year, she says.

Did you know a member by the name of Beerbohm? you say.

She knew the name only.

He was before my time, she says.

What had she heard about him?

He was banned from the club, she says, wasn’t he? That’s what I heard anyway, that he was banned from the club.

Did she know why he was banned?

She sipped thinking, and swallowed.

For breaking the rules, she says.

Is that all? you say.

Isn’t that enough? she says blinkingly.

Rules are made to be broken, you say.

She winces smilingly. What does that even mean?

Do you know that clown up there? you ask, jutting your chin toward the stage.

Who? You mean Deejay Chopi?

Yes, you say. I mean Deejay Chopi. Do you know him?

Sure, she says. Everybody knows Deejay Chopi.

It was Deejay Chopi who banned Beerbohm, you tell her..

Okay, she says slowly, puzzling, wrinkling her brow. Then closing those lips around that cocktail straw once more, she sucked at that green liquid in that stemmed glass and seemed to brood.

All around you pandemonium rages, all at once ancient and futuristic. Your temples throb thunderingly. In the pulsating darkness, the cavernous darkness, sweeping beams of light, bands of light, machine smoke and haze and the animal heat of a silhouetted host rising like effluvia from a swamp, stifling, stultifying, the air reeks and resounds.

Did you hear what I said? you say.

Deejay Chopi banned Beerbohm, she says. Say, what are you, a cop?

You give her another practiced look, like the look that actor gives the girl in that movie you like.

Do I look like a cop? you say.

Another false start? Let’s, shall we say, hope not. Third strike? That would do us for sure or I’m no fan of baseball. Another start like that and we are done for, empyrrhically speaking. Indeed, another false start and we are done, period. Might as well cut right to the climactic scene in Deejay Chopi’s art deco suite of apartments, located, for the sake of literary economy, directly above this cavernous nightclub, and imagined for us, readers that we are, on the large scale, making the big statement, like his avatar, Chopi’s, that is. Something right out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons, in period B&W cinematography, by Sid Hickox, A.S.C. I should think, all silver, black, and chrome and crystal chandeliers, slip shade sconces, white glass, etched glass, mirrored pieces, large zebrawood furniture, and tiled floors overlaid with rugs in geometric patterns, stepped and sweeping forms, sunbursts and chevrons, trapezoids, zigzags, the spacious streamlined suite of rooms where lovers dance and villains are exposed in the final reel.

You look like trouble, she says, again smiling with her nose in that way she had.

What kind of trouble? you say.

Is there more than one kind? she says.

Sure, you say. There’s the good kind and the bad kind.

Do you see her? What is she wearing? A backless halter neck plunged mini dress? Metallic mini shorts and boob tube top? O Daughter of Eve! Proud Scion of the Enlightenment—deconstructed! Proud of her teeth, proud of her legs, proud of her glands. The pride of postmodernism! Her voice is in your ear like tinnitus. Looky here—she’s giving you the Big Eyes! Are they blue or are they brown? The Big Eyes, at the same time betty-booping the cocktail straw. Has she looked in a mirror or has she looked in a mirror? What is that green ichor anyway? A grasshopper? The Eternal Feminine—revised, politicized, deodorized! And there are more rap rhymes where those came from, Jocko. Advocated. Emancipated. Updated. Stimulated. Lubricated. Depilated. Hyperventilated. (Overstated?) Radiating all “the charm of the inorganic,” to borrow Beckett’s phrase. All animal magnetism drained from her. Become anime. Bits of binary code. A fox? A hottie? Do you see her? Do you like what you see?

I’m a shamus, you say, in the manner of Bogie in The Big Sleep.

You mean like a priest? she giggles. A medicine man?

That's a shaman, you say.

Shaman—right, she says. So what’s a shamus?

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