“IT IS SIMPLER TO BURY REALITY THAN TO DISPOSE OF DREAMS”
Adam Cooper Meghan Judge Ruan Kemp Toast Coetzer Gil Hockman
This collection is about that liminal space between reality and dreams. It is about seeking to transcend this binary of reality-dreams by finding new spaces that are both and neither, that are simultaneously lifelike and ethereal. It challenges whether reality is dreamlike and whether dreams are realistic. Reality and dreams have beginnings and endings. These pieces are about beginnings and endings: apocalyptic visions and the extinction of the dodo. The cradle of civiliation and the genesis of Plesianthropus Krugersdorpensis. It is about the birth of new forms of skinny jeans cool and new open doors. Reality and dreams have blood and shit. These pieces are about blood and shit: cars that run on air or water or shit when they can make air or water or shit expensive. Porta-pottis at Oppikoppi that on day three look like Jackson Pollock artworks. The head girlâ€™s champagne, semi-sweet, a bloody finger in that champagne. Reality and dreams are also about rituals. Rituals like weddings, reunions, prize-givings and performances. Rituals that are dreamlike, nightmarish, unreal and yet uncannily familiar. Ultimately, as Gil Hockman says, it is about chasing open doors that close when you find them. And then having the courage to build new doors in different shapes.
1001 Words To Read Before You Die TOAST COETZER Here is a man in a car, an old car, older than himself. They don’t make cars like that anymore, because they pollute the world. They make cleaner cars now, but they make them poorer and cheaper, so that they break sooner and then they have to make more cars and more cars and more cars and you, or me, or someone, has to buy them, and clever people make us want to buy them, gleefully. We are told we can’t have the future now, we can’t have cars that run on air, or water, or shit. Not yet. They haven’t found a way to make air or water or shit expensive yet, though they’re doing a good job on the water. Crossing over the highway on a footbridge are more men and women. They have taken the train and are walking to the docks, where they work. They don’t own cars, which, in a way, makes them pastoralists, while those in cars are hunters, on a small island in space, with the dodos running out. As the dodos run out, the battle for the last fat dodos intensifies, it crosses oceans and continents and skies to get them. It counts with a selective gaze the body bags it cost to get the dodos and the dodos themselves, on the other end of the scale, which smells not unlike Kentucky. The goodness of the dodos still outweigh the body bags, because they taste so nice, nice and crispy. What is it? Who is it? It is just us, us in cars, even though we don’t stand here with guns, even though we are trapped in the makings of our own makings, the cloth so thick and dense not even mousebirds can escape it to get at the plump purple plums outside in the free and open air. Now the dock workers do something in there, in the harbour, they pack and stack and tow and mop. They help the tuna sashimi to our tables, the oceans toward their desert state, and the lonely, loving albatross spouse towards its drowning death at the end of a long line’s hook. Sometimes they load scrap metal onto big ships, which get taken away to get turned back into cars, or tanks, or fighter jets, all of which require dodos, which require
thievery, deep holes, earth scars and lots of body bags. Make those dock workers stop that, make them stop loading and offloading things from boats? Then they go home with empty hands, and their children go to sleep with hungry mice gnawing at their stomachs, and they get angry, and they sharpen garden tools and kitchen utensils and carve crosses into bullet points and soon they find themselves at war, and they overthrow the government and take the government’s cars and the governments beds and houses and seats at the table. And they begin to require dodos, so they send someone to the docks, to offload tuna and load scrap metal. See now the golden seat of the toilet on the private jet of the Sultan of Brunei, see now the difficult second album, the coffee headache, the car alarm across the neighbourhood that just won’t stop. See now the leopard with its teeth sunk into the soft neck of an impala, see now the blood from a finger cut while slicing biltong, the squirrel running into morning traffic on Orange Street, the holocaust, the genocide, the Herero. With all this in our hearts, how do we eat, how do we sleep? How do we hold our phones in the air at rock concerts? How do we bother making our beds? How do we smile and laugh and lose ourselves in lovers? Is it that the world we create is stronger than the world that is? That we write ‘happy’ and become it? That we grin and bear it? Grind and bear it? Get bored? Get born? Again and again? Stop the music by ejecting the tape, so it springs out the player and jumps into your hand, the warm plastic still burning with song, slide your palm down on the vinyl, slow it down, right down so you can count the grooves, put your ear to the floor, drift like a somnambulist with eyes shut, ears full of water, sun beating down, mind asleep, body alive, fish below. Smile now, sing now, sleep now, send the letters far and wide. Somewhere the globe is being bounced like a tennis ball at the feet of Rafael Nadal, somewhere on the other side of the net stands Roger Federer, spinning his racket, blowing air from his lungs lightly over his lips, flicking his hair out of his eyes. Did the last dodo know it was the last dodo? Probably not. Did the person who killed the last dodo know he was killing the last dodo?
Probably not. Was it a man? Probably. Was he hungry? Probably. Could he have been less lazy and fished with a spear in the shallows off Mauritius instead of bludgeoning a fat, immobile bird to death with the back end of a palm frond? Probably. Rafael Nadal has finished bouncing the ball, the globe, and is now throwing it into the air, where it hangs at the top of its journey, waiting. Roger Federer is tightening his grip on his racket, anticipating the serve of his nemesis. Now it comes, hard and powerful and exactly where he anticipated. The return is ambitious, but just wide, and Rafael Nadal raises his arms in triumph. A little while later he receives a trophy, a golden trophy, and when he opens the lid to kiss it for the cameras, a dodo emerges, dripping with blood. Aghast, he drops the trophy. In the rear-view mirror, the man in the old car sees his left rear hubcap dancing through the traffic like a small silver UFO chasing a bone, as it often does when he is speeding and hits a slightly uneven drain cover.
It is much simpler to make a hole in someone’s face than to make a point in public RUAN KEMP The bleeding finger in the champagne. This is what he remembers best. The head girl’s champagne, semi-sweet. His index finger, bloody. There was of course the hurdles athlete’s hemline, and the cleavage with the invisible head seated opposite him, and the cruel imbecility of the disc jockey, and the fat man on the dance floor, but the blood and the bubbles is an image he will take to the grave. A faded photo folded in a wallet. He remembers the moment it was taken because of the way he fell – his arm flung outward, his head jerked over his shoulder – and banged his head on the table, fingering her champagne. The explosion of the blood in the bubbles was the explosion in his head. This was moments after the caveman shoved him and moments before the fight. This happened last weekend at a matric reunion held at a place called Makiti, a wedding venue in the cradle of humankind. Makiti is an Afrikaans word of unknown origin meaning party. The cradle of humankind is an unspectacular piece of land just outside Krugersdorp. It is a place where grown men, respectable in their years, play puzzles. Black men dig out pieces of bone and white men piece them together. Sometimes there is a mix up between the pieces and the resulting puzzles look monstrous, only half human. That’s why the most complete puzzle was named Mrs. Ples, from Plesianthropus, meaning near human. Mrs. Ples’s sex has not been established. Black men are still digging around for her sex bone. She is 2.15 million years old and was voted 95th in SABC3’s list of 100 Great South Africans. Paul Kruger, who named Krugersdorp after himself, came 27th. Krugersdorp is the kind of town that houses a school where a sword-obsessed boy recently slashed another boy’s throat, the kind of town that houses a school which decides to have its
1998 matric reunion at a wedding venue specialising in ‘fairytale’ weddings. Gnomes in the garden. The school has strict rules for boys and for girls. Boys are not allowed to stovepipe their pants and girls are not allowed to wear skirts shorter than four fingers from the ground when they’re sitting on their knees. It is the type of school where teachers ask girls to sit on their knees – a typical Afrikaans Christian School. The reunion was no makiti. It was round tables with semi-sweet champagne in the middle and boys and girls around it. They sat smiling at each other and jealously probed each other’s level of success. Nobody spoke of the old days. “Why don’t you have the reunion at your school?” he wanted to know. Nobody said: “Would a holocaust survivor go back to Auschwitz?” “Would you have your wedding anniversary at a school?” he asked. Nobody answered, so he elaborated: “There are no ghosts here, no memories, you’re having a reunion in a vacuum. You’re having a school reunion at a fucking wedding venue. It’s pointless. Go outside, see, there’s a little touched-by-Jesus chapel and there’re fucking gnomes in the garden.” Nobody had anything to say so he continued: “What shit is this? Hip-hop? Songs only black people sing. Songs they play in clubs only white people go to. You’re telling me this was your sokkie music? This contemporary crap!” “I like this song” said a girl with nail polish the same colour as her boyfriend’s cumber band, and pretended to dance. She tried to pull her boyfriend out of his seat. The boyfriend with an electrocuted baby blue cumber band couldn’t be pulled out of his seat. The DJ mixed the song into another one. The songs blended into each other the way a human body blends into the steering wheel when a car blends into a wall. The DJ has painstakingly prepared the playlist beforehand so that it excluded every sound that ever was the product of talented labour and included the kind of sounds that sounds like money, that sounds like sexually mutilated body parts, that sounds like ‘touchmenigga.’ Only one person
danced. It was the fat kid from school. Now it is the fat man who subscribes to FHM, who secretes half chewed junk food when he masturbates, a real obstacle on the road to world peace, an inebriated sack of broken dreams and bad dance moves. ‘I dance therefore I am a dancer’ thinks the fat man. It is much easier to make a fool of yourself than to admit that you are a fool. “Play something else, man.” he told the DJ. “You’re in a position of power… Don’t abuse it.” “I like this music,” the DJ said. “It’s what the people want to hear.” “Fuck the people,” he said and drank champagne until last rounds were called and the head boy announced that the after party will happen at Silverstar. Silverstar is a casino. The head boy didn’t say Silverstar Casino, he said Silverstar and the people knew what he meant. The casino cost R733 million to build. He asked the head boy if he could change the announcement. He had something important to say. He wanted the after party to be held on the school grounds, with take-away champagne, and children running on the fields, and kissing on the stairs. The head boy agreed, he could remember how to get to the school, and gave him a turn on the mike. The mike was attached to the rostrum and the volume was controlled by the DJ. It was not a podium, it was not a cathedra, it was a rostrum. It was made of twoinch thick armoured glass encasing a fancy design in gold. The design was either a candelabrum, or a grail, or a harp, or a hoof. The DJ fucked with the volume – an old joke they always pull on the groom at weddings and which nobody finds funny. It irritated him. He suffered stage fright and he had a point to make. “Jesus Christ” he said as the volume came back. The people heard him. He shouldn’t have said that. This is people who went to a Christian Afrikaans school and aspire to get wed in a place like this. “I’m gonna break this thing” he said, but the DJ was pulling the joke again, being in a position of power. Abusing it. “Jesus Christ” he said and the sound came back to normal. But as he was going to make his point the DJ mixed his voice into a touchmenigga tune. It blended the way glass breaks. He slammed his hand right through the rostrum. It shattered. It was spectacular
and it was sad at the same time. It unleashed a storm of pentup sadnesses. Thus he didn’t see the caveman coming; he was dealing with his own. The caveman had the aerodynamic forehead and overdeveloped skull thickness common of the people that first inhabited this area, a true Plesianthropus Krugersdorpensis. Then it happened. The bloody finger in the semi-sweet champagne – a moment significant beyond being signifiable, a graph that shot through the edge of the page, a moment that came unstuck from the chronology of things. When he woke the fight was on. There were no discernible sides, no good guys or bad guys. It was a messy spaghetti-western bar-brawl of a fight. Bottles broken over heads. He did not get into the fight. He was standing by the door to the hall listening to the sound that happens when a fist meets a face, listening to his girlfriend telling the manager: “…Firstly, you want to argue with a man that drank five bottles of champagne, and secondly you want to use an IQ of 45 against an IQ of 145 doing that…” The sound of a fist in a face is an ugly sound that travels at a frequency more audible than the ambient sound of people screaming, and glasses breaking, and tables moving, and clothes tearing, and a manager accusing him of starting the fight. The sound of his girlfriend’s voice is a comfort and a strength. He stood there listening, inhaling the amniotic fluid of her voice, loving it more with every syllable, until a human body flew through the window, and the caveman followed through the hole, victoriously and viciously, looking for him, a fist in his hand, and a point to make.
It is simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams GIL HOCKMAN you have no fucking idea . I just started thinking about this and you could almost hear the doors swinging shut throughout the house
slam slam slam slam dreams are the doors that are only open until you get there reality is the clay and dirt under our nails, stuck there from moulding our lives, mixed in with the paint chips and splinters from scratching at the doors.
scratch what are you doing? “I’m chasing my dreams” but your hands are all bloody “I know. but it will be worth it in the end”
scratch scratch scratch clay under our toenails paint chips and wood splinters under our fingers blood on the door posts running down into the sand mixing with our feet staining our shoes and the doors are not even doors just pretty paintings of doors pretty paintings from our imagination for us to scratch at
SCCREEAATTCCHHH down to our little finger stumps stumpy and bloody left to make little castles in the mud that get beaten by every storm or washed away by a tap that some kid left open in the garden never big enough really not with these worn down little fingers why did I never stop when the blood began to show? because life is not good enough
LIFE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH LIFE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH life is not good enough for what? huh? what is life not good enough? life is life
there is no escape from life but life requires work it requires patience is requires constant vigilance and effort effort to no specific end none at all only to keep going through the sandstorm and fog of the unknown from misunderstood past into uncertain future always stranded in the present for eternally so we dream to escape because you cannot bury reality you can only hide your eyes from it shhh quiet now itâ€™s ok safe in here no crazy howling winds safe here in the cold and damp on the inside the inside what can I get for you? anything? itâ€™s fine donâ€™t worry it all free in here all safe mmmmm feels so much better take whatever you want hold it close
nice and close and warm but you have to go now huh? you have to go? what do mean. um. you have to go to the toilet. oh. can I? no. you have to leave it behind. why? because it belongs here. you are mad! you are talking to yourself It must be possible sorry. I’ll just build a door into the walls of this place then I’ll come and take it with me it wont work I don’t care.
Nu Skool Zulu Emo ADAM COOPER In 1969 the radical feminist Carol Hanisch published an essay entitled ‘The personal is political’. She had no idea how relevant this mantra would be when applied to contemporary South Africa. In this country people toss farm labourers to the lions. The chief of police helps assassinate a grossly overweight mining magnate cum art benefactor. One’s choice of nutrients/washing routine is used to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS. Political ideologies and personal preferences mix like the ingredients of a pregnant potjie pot. The pot is very hot. You don’t have to search far to observe this personal-political potjie. If you open your eyes it hits you like a small seagull’s liquid shit falling from the sky. You can see it at the Oppikoppi music festival. Oppikoppi takes place near the Limpopo province mining town of Northam. It is an abbreviated name for the Afrikaans phrase ‘On the Hill’. People are on many things at Oppikoppi, but I didn’t see a hill. At the place where it is said that people are On
the Hill you can see many interesting phenomena. You see gimmick pink underwear hung on a line outside a tent, stretched like a man being quartered. You see signs that say your ma Sahara. You see porta-potties that on day three look like a Jackson Pollock artwork. You see soft red dust- confused African snow. The most interesting thing I saw On the Hill took place on the main stage. This thing I saw looked like two teams of All Black rugby players simultaneously performing the hakka. The hakka is a Maori war cry done before a game to intimidate the opposition. This hakka was performed by a Cape Town based English speaking Indie rock band called Desmond and the Tutus. Desmond and his Tutus were frantically howling at a crowd of Afrikaans emo kids who were doing their own hakka. Desmond and the Tutus are the descendants of Queen Vicky, stiff upper lippies and tea traditionally drunk with an extended hail Hitler pinky finger. Desmond and the Tutus spray out a form of music somewhat akin to mass-hysteria. Afrikaans emo kids are the descendants of Dutch people. They had trekked but only from Benoni, Potchefstroom and a place formerly called the Orange Free State. It isn’t orange any more but it is free. It wasn’t free before but they didn’t make cleaning staff eat faeces. Desmond and his Tutus look like a group of emaciated South African Mick Jagger-ettes. Desmond and the Tutus are frantic but they are neither macho nor completely morbid. When they play music they have wide eyes. They perform their hakka on stage like chickens experiencing a tik induced psychosis. There are lots of random, jagged arm movements. In the background there is a repetitive ‘ting’ ‘ting’ strumming noise egging on Demond, his Tutus and the man at the pancake stand. At Oppikoppi the ‘ting’ ‘ting’ jolted the Afrikaans emo kids into their own hakka. They didn’t wear square shorts or long socks for this war cry. Fashion mongering was the occupation of some of their forefathers. These Afrikaans emo kids wore skinny jeans the colour of hot dog condiments. Mustard and all gold tomato sauce
red. Chutney brown and chilli green. Emo is a genre of music evolved from hardcore punk rock. ‘Emo’ fashion involves tight jeans and t-shirts. A long fringe brushed to the side of the face or over one or both eyes. Dyed black straight hair. Belt buckles on paper waists, thick horn-rimmed glasses on heavy eyes. Emo kids are generally associated with depression, suicide and selfinjury; being emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted or angsty. In South Africa the descendants of Dutch people are not generally associated with these character traits. Desmond, the Tutus, the descendants of Dutch people and the hakkas they performed were like a unified clan of South African wild dogs howling at a melktert moon. They substituted generations of repressed English sensibility and conservative Afrikaner patriarchy for something absurdly frenetic. When they were finished, Desmond, his Tutus and the Descendants of Dutch people did not march from On the Hill to the Union buildings in Pretoria. They did not form a political party based on their personal cultural preferences. But they did Braam Fischer and Koos Kombuis proud. They said “fuck you” to PW and Cecil John Rhodes. They said “yes please” to Evita Besuidenhout and Johnny Clegg. There were definitely political overtones to this ritual. A new kind of South African man was born through an Indie rock emo womb. The politicians should learn something. Jacob Zuma and Marthinus van Schalkwyk would do well to take a few lessons from Desmond, the Tutus and the Descendants of Dutch People who were On the Hill. Kortbroek van Schalkwyk could get some red, hemp-based skinny shorts for his environmental affairs and tourism ministery. Jacob Zuma should put his machine gun down. He should shout “bring me my therapist”. “Therapist wam!” Or strum a nice tune. “Harpsicord wam!” You don’t need a big semi-automatic rifle to prove your manhood these days. Go look on the hill. You need tight mustard coloured jeans blotched with existential angst. Jacob Zuma’s shrewdest personal-political move would be to don a pair of skinny jeans. They produce them in Leopard skin
hues these days. He should get some hair extensions that flow over one eye. He should reinvent himself as a public icon of Nu Skool Zulu emo.
Childrens Blood Is Better Than Yours MEGHAN JUDGE after the midnight hour i sit ... and think of you you little shit. the daily grind will fall away as yesterday and tomorrow become today and i lift off my bed past moons above transported through my need for love. past the place i keep my mind, still looking for things to find. past the place i rest my brain when i think im about to go insaine. through the fields if ice cream even though thats just a dream and slowly as i start to drift my reality begins to shift and i see the key to the room your in as i allow the it all to begin
And when our eyes met in time and space and the ticking place outside your face came back to hear what it had missed I lent in for your kiss. A moments rest could test this nest of mocking in my head and that moments grace to save this place filled so many yet to come. As I move along this song remains a stain on my pillow case, as years of tears a trickle unties to the sound of your many lullabies. It stings my tongue to run your name though days gone by seem to fly and with every step as I get high Im still trapped in that lullaby As the light slips low I walk slow, out to the moonlit trees, and with her glow she reaches out and touches my new halo. The trees sway strong and I hear your song from the darkened grassy park, I sip slow and feel it flow through my throat into my veins, and the stains of yesterdays gone by escape the corner of my eye.
Blood red wine washes past my spine as I stand and wait for you, my heart a tangle I let my arms dangle as you sink your teeth beneath my skin â€“ and I allow this unholy sin to take my soul and heart turned coal. The moan subsides, I feel empty inside, as I collapse to the floor, my figure bends and its shape mends as sharp white teeth begin to grow â€“ I seek their flow and quake to shape my new cursed thirst The town asleep, its mage a sheep, tall doors pulled tight in the dead of the night I look into tiny spaces at all the slumbering faces searching for traces of your trembling hands. Each sip of their veins pains with a thumping in my cage reminding of days in a time no longer mine. The moonshine lights the dust in the dirt and the sky as I pass by with the wind knowing iv sinned.
Illustrations by Toby Newsome Clinton Osbourne Meghan Judge