All I wanted to do was cook a chicken. Put a full bird in a crockpot with a little salt and pepper. Leave it alone. Come back after a hard day of work to a succulent meal.
I wanted to be a normal person who eats home cooked meals and doesn’t subsist on store bought sandwiches and snack cakes. I’ve been eating burger king and croissants from work and getting fat and stupid, so I went to whole foods and bought a whole organic chicken to kick off a new era of wholesome eating.
When I came home from work I entered into a nightmare. Flies were covering the kitchen. Not your typical flies, small and quick, little dots darting around. These flies were massive; they were heavy and slow and the flapping of their wings sounded like a concert of buzzsaws. They didn’t fly. They hovered like helicopters. Almost immobile, hanging in the air.
As if my kitchen were full of rotting corpses. As if I had stumbled into the slaughtershack of an obscure madman. The flies as big as small birds were drawn by the stench of decomposing flesh, severed limbs and strewn viscera. Walking into my kitchen and seeing the unholy swarm and hearing the hellacious buzzing I expected to get an ax to the face, swung overhead by a lurching lunatic.
The flies were getting in the house through the holes in the window with the air conditioner. It hadn’t been a problem until I left the chicken in the pot. Sure, there were cockroaches racing out from under piles of dirty clothes and silverfish squirming on the wall behind my underperforming toilet. I’d accepted sharing my house with a certain number of disgusting insects, living creatures we screen from our lives because they remind us that life has an inherently horrifying, relentless character.
But the flies were a new torment, a fresh plague on my house. I’m a character in the Bible. I’ll wake up tomorrow covered in sores and boils, my cattle will die and my wife will leave me for a Chinese man. God is testing me and proving his arbitrary power. Where was I when he brought the mountains up to meet the sky. Where was I when he filled the oceans deep. I was nothing, less than a speck. We’re at the ever-present mercy of an unfathomable, capricious and eternal being and I’m here to remind everyone. My suffering is expiation for the hubris of humanity.
We think we’re invincible and all powerful despite a consistent history of everyone dying and failing. The descendants of the dead don’t look forward to their own demise. We stop our vision short of our end and pretend life will go on forever. Each day can be thrown away because another will follow it. And this is true for life in general. For someone or something there will always be a new day.
For writhing, impersonal, unconscious life, there’s no end. No fatigue or fear. This is the testament of insects and their soulless striving after perpetual existence. You can keep killing them and shooing them away but they will fuck and procreate in logs of dog shit and trash heaps. They don’t desire love or recognition. They live for a few evanescent moments of pulsating, ingesting and excreting and then undergo a violent death.
But they don’t stop. They don’t hold conferences on overpopulation or the ethics of reproduction. They don’t recognize themselves in a pitiless struggle for a meaningless existence. It’s blind persistence, monstrous clockwork. There’s no transcendence, only the unstoppable instinct for squirming in shitpiles until the earth is covered over in unbreakable ice.
I took the air conditioner out so I could close up the window. I couldn’t do it. The lower half of the window wouldn’t fit back into its groove. I stood on my couch trying to jam a panel back into its place to seal up the portal of doom emptying the contents of hell into my living room and kitchen. Flies in my face, the buzzing cutting into my eardrums. I had to thin their numbers out before I could fix the window.
So I grabbed a converse sneaker, lightweight and easy to swing, a piece of lethal, precision footwear. And then the rage overtook me and all I could see, taste and feel was murder. The flies were fat and clumsy, easy targets clustered together in big bunches. They gathered on the windows and the glass panel of my door. I moved automatically, like I’d been trained or programmed. They started dropping like some kind of easily killable, mass quantity pest. The carnage was bracing and my lust for death only grew with every swing of the shoe.
They seemed to reproduce as they died, springing fully formed from spilled blood. I was hacking at the heads of the hydra. A flydra, if you will. I had to put the food away. Get the chicken off the counter. It had been cooking all day and was sitting in a scorching pot full of scalding broth. After lifting the long simmering chicken into a pan and shoving it into the fridge I grabbed the crockpot and opened the door so I could dump out the broth.
The pot was so hot and I was moving so quickly I tripped and spilled the blazing chicken water on my feet as a confused mailman looked on from the comfort and security of his mailtruck. Waves of flame washed over my feet. It hurt so much I almost barfed. Then I dropped the crockpot in the broth soaked, muddy ground and ran inside, slammed the door and unleashed a primal scream. Anyone on the block in that moment would have heard the chilling roar.
More flies gathered to feast and fuck on the mess I’d made. I suppressed the rage and pain roiling inside and was able to get the window back into place, close all the entryways and put all the food away. One by one I crushed the remaining flies. The bodies studded the walls and windows. They were big enough to leave streaks of blood wherever I’d murdered them. It was a stinking, stomach turning scene.
At the point of physical and spiritual exhaustion I looked around and saw that all the flies were dead. I remembered that I’d left the air conditioner outside for a couple of hours. When I went back out it was gone. But the book I’d been using to prop the air conditioner up in the window, which I’d also left out on the ground in broad daylight, was still there.
The toothless jackals who took my air conditioner weren’t enticed by my defenseless copy of Gillian Rose’s study of the thought of Theodor Adorno. The Melancholy Science. Hundreds of pages of heavy academic writing on the heavy writing of an academic. A page turner, if you like to turn your pages at the rate of one a day.
To be fair, this study of Adorno is much more readable than Adorno himself. If you’re a writer and an academic and you need other people to explain what you meant, you failed. If you create a minor industry of marginal people who devote their lives to making your material digestible then you’re not using language correctly.
It’s a long ling of people commenting incomprehensibly on incomprehensible texts. Using undefined terms in idiosyncratic and inconsistent ways. Marx based his bitter ideology on Hegel and Adorno was a Marxist. So to understand Adorno you have to understand Hegel and that means you won’t understand Adorno. But you’ll use the word dialectical like you’re pulling out a foot long penis at a dick measuring contest.
All of these leftist critiques with their hedging and evasive rationalizations for refusing to challenge their own assumptions or reject the bunk notions of their insane forebears. The labor theory of value and commodity fetishism. The dialectic. Class struggle and the culture industry. Surplus value. August terms and phrases that have an entrancing power even though they explain nothing and are dangerously misleading. The style is stratospherically lofty and pretentious while the content amounts to little more than sweeping slander.
People are dupes. An inexplicable power structure or discourse dominates the credulous masses. Everything is suspect and corrupt and a mask of oppression but we still believe in a better world that we can’t articulate or imagine with any real detail.
Every application of Marxism ends in torture, murder, poverty, suppression of speech and artistic stagnation. But we still haven’t interpreted him correctly. Or maybe we can supplement our reading of Marx with a little more Hegel. The perfect society will emerge from a dull, studious lackey reading a resentful maniac.
Somewhere nearby, maybe a few streets down from my house, a domestic disturbance is taking place in a room cooled with my stolen air conditioner.
As of this writing, my house is back to containing the normal amount of insects and parasites.