Monday, December 30, 2013



(explicit content)

Knobby-kneed and flat-chested, I was a lanky cauldron of empty threats and spritely libido for the first two years of our relationship. Though I had been offering to since we were twelve, I was all tease and talk until that day. My burgeoning sexual energy was properly constrained until the eighth-grade afternoon when we were alone in the same room, dressing out for gymnastics practice.
He was as beautiful as any boy I had ever seen and he gave off a musky scent that most probably should have been better controlled by a good antiperspirant. The aroma was intoxicating; not a single girl since Eve's first-daughter-in-law--from China to California to Charlotte to Mumbai-- has smelled that scent emanating from the boy that she adored and not quivered. The loin-blazing reaction to this scent---rising from the first boy a girl loves--- is matched only in ferocity by the dulcet combination of aromas that waft from her three-year-old son, swelling a mother's heart.
I had completely disrobed, and stood before him. With his head bent down and his eyes looking toward the ground, I was close enough for his tallest curls to tickle me. They did. I stepped in so that the tips of my pink-painted toenails touched the fore-rubber soles of his sneakers. He noticed my naked feet first.
Crouched to tie his shoe, when he looked up, he was in perfect position to kiss it. Even though he had never even kissed my mouth, I was oddly self-assured that one was not a prerequisite to the other. I knew that my boundless desire for his lips upon it would only be satisfied when he complied.
Although I had loved him since the day he first spoke to me, it was not until that instance when my loins sizzled with the same ferocity as the red carefree can-sized curls upon his milk-toned head that I positioned--with more than passing whimsy--my unclothed pelvis in his face. I stood bare before him, naked head-to-toe, emitting my own erotic scent. I shuddered, ready to erupt, as I awaited what I fantasized would be his autonomic lingual response. With the squeaky-sultry voice that might have been reminiscent of a Marilyn-Monroe/Candace-Bergen love child, I spoke the words , "Kiss it."
"OH MY GOD!" He screamed from the most deeply-pitted spot in his diaphragm as though toward the back of the gymnasium—never mind that we were in an eight-by-ten bedroom --"Oh. My. God."
I was arrhythmic.
I knew that he smelt it too. Suddenly wrapping around my legs and swirling with the scent of female desire, a silent, invisible, gaseous bubble had snuck out from the opposite side of my body. I looked down at his face, pokered as though he held a pair of aces and didn't care about the flop, and waited for it to tense in reaction to my emission. It did not. I smiled down in his direction with an emulsion of elation and horror. Although I had gassed, I was no less afire; it probably served as a propellant because for every second that he smiled with the explicit joy of his two previous almighty-inspired exclamations, I felt more and more ready to burst.
For the next fifteen years, my love for him grew forth from this moment. , expanding outward in every direction, consuming my heart and every chamber-shifting beat. He would be my husband some day; I gazed dreamily into the not-so-far future. We would have a perfect lovesome son--I knew it--who would dash between our legs and complete our universe. Though I wanted him in the most primal way, I wanted him more absolutely and completely into an eternity that spread unconstrained into the future and into even that future's future. And from that contrived imaginary future, I looked back again to this moment as the genesis that must have banged forth from this special kiss--the kiss I expected.
Just a few months after this event, he told me he thought he liked boys and proceeded to name certain classmates. "Yes," I agreed, "what is not to like about him or him or him?" They were, no doubt, the comeliest boys in the school, so it did not seem wholly odd to me. He was attracted to beauty, and I thought this was acceptable given his affinity for all other things beautiful. After all, he enjoyed a cappella gospel music, black-and-white Tennessee Williams plays made films, contemporary art museums, and he wrote blank-verse poetry.
He made up a language to describe our relationship and taught it to me. With our language, we lorded over all others around us. He was consumer and creator of beauty, and I was beautiful by proximity and affiliation.
This did not deter me nor did it deter my aspirations to be the future Misses to his Mister. I always spoke of our future wedding as though it were a foregone certainty: how I could not wait to stand by his side at the altar before God and before our families. He always agreed, so I knew that all I needed to do was persevere through the silly phase that seemed to have gripped all of the boys on the cheerleading squad and most of the more patent male members of the drama club.
Parallel to my fantasy, over fifteen years, we grew into this family, with this child, with this blessed union. We made it through the humps and bumps, my infidelities and his, through school and parties and tailgates; we made it through the excruciating years at the groves and the death of his best friend whom I loved for his sake.
We made it through since that first day: when the third "Oh my god!" was accompanied by, "I have one too."
I looked confusedly down at the top of his head as his eyes bulged with excitement of the discovery which I had libidinally exposed and forced before him.
He had noticed a piece of dark lint that had caught itself upon the stubble around my labia.
"You have one what?"
"A mole, just like yours, in the exact same spot! It's like a little chocolate chip!"
I looked down and noticed the lint which did, in fact, look like a piece of my anatomy. Not wanting to diminish the excitement of the moment, wishing for any connection onto which I could grasp, I confirmed that I, too, had been searching for another with the same beauty mark.
He broke into a cadenced rap--an impromptu cheer-- spitting out a barrage of variations of the word chip: "Chippy chip chipsters, chippily chipping chips...CHIPPER! Weeeeeee're CHIPPERS!"
Awestruck by what I had just witnessed and its utter randomness to the situation as I had staged it, I instantly banished it from my consciousness and memory. In short shrift, it would return as the basis of our organically grown 'chip latin.'
"Yes, it is. I bet it is very sweet," I sultrily managed to respond to a question he did not ask. I wanted to invite him again--hoping that this time it would be accepted--to kiss it. I was ready to beg, but the intense heat that was raging through my core soldered my tongue in place. I was ready for what the inescapable words could not have captured anyhow.
He stepped back, now focusing his gaze on my face. He smiled with such intensity that I could feel the muscles in his face flex in my own. He reached his hands down into his white shorts and firmly grasped his penis with one hand while he used the other to pull his shorts and underwear down to his mid-thighs.
My alveoli emptied and my areolas tingled.
His newly-unleashed musk mixed with the other scents which, on their own, had already combusted all around me. I was on the verge of melting into a pool of my own desire. My heart throbbed in my ears and I felt my face flush.
I looked down at his flaming red pubic bush and traced with my eyes his stubby, stark-white penis. Again, I gasped. Still holding his penis in his hands, he walked nearer me. Unable to maintain my equilibrium, I managed to control a faint onto the chair against the wall. Wiping an imaginary bead of glistening perspiration from my brow with my entire forearm, I heaved deeply and could feel the fire in my loins explode outward through my belly then my knees then my cheeks then my feet. For a moment I felt my elbows throb.
He continued steadily in my direction, taking steps constrained by his shorts, the elastic waistband of which still stretched just above his knees. Except for a dusting of blonde hair on his legs, the white shorts blended almost completely into the palette of his white legs. Shirtless, I could see the slightly darkened change in hue on his stomach, above where his shorts usually sat. His skin was so light, save some tiny orange freckles on his shoulders where some sun had visited but never stayed long, that I could see his blue and green veins tracing along his pectorals, rippling in some spots on his biceps and forearms. It was as though a marble statue had come to life and ambled toward me. The bright orange explosion of hair was the visual manifestation of the same red heat that raged invisibly throughout my entire body.
He had now assumed the position with which I had recently enticed him. My face was a tongue's length from his penis which he maintained in his hand. Entranced, I looked up into his eyes and waited for him to give me my instructions. I told myself that I would obey without equivocation. His lips parted and, at last, he spoke.
"See, I have one too!"
He began digging through his pubic hair and parted it with his two hands, his penis dangling and noticeably un-erect. With his two thumbs and forefingers, he created a heart around a flat, brown mole. "Up until a few months ago, when all this hair started growing, it's all you could see, well that and my penis." Matter-of-factually, he continued. "And you have one too. This is perfect!" He beamed, "Like a couple," he continued without irony, "chocolate chips." He repeated, this time nearly squeaking, "You have one too!"
"Yes," I deflated. I could feel bile surging toward my throat. I faked a smile and lied, "I do."
Then, without warning and without changing the expression on his face or the position of his hands, he bent down and kissed my forehead. I knew that, for the next sixty years, I would eye-pencil-dot my pelvis with a chocolate morsel-sized chip.
"I bet it tastes sweet," he said playfully, in a way that was completely devoid of anything but a passionate love for sweet milk chocolate.
"I bet it does," I considered inviting his kiss again, but settled for the dollop I had just received above my eyes.
With that, he quietly farted as he reached down to pull his shorts back up.
"Excuse me," he chuckled.
"I love you too."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013




MMTN:           We have reconvened with Jason Leclerc, the author of Momentitiousness, to continue our fascinating discussion about his book.


JL:       It's good to be back. Thanks.


MMTN:           I would be remiss if I didn't ask the simplest author question of all: Can you summarize your book in one to three sentences? Something tells me no.


JL:       That is a challenge, especially when you consider that this is very clearly not a novel.  I've already made it clear that it is not driven by traditional narrative, so that leaves me with three sentences about form. The book is not driven by narrative, it is driven by form; it flies in the face of traditional narrative in favor of form. Depending upon the way you approach the book--the order in which you read or omit the moments--it can be a grand narrative about first loves, anger and revenge, cutting edge scientific discovery, or a zombie war.


MMTN:           These stories, of zombie war for instance, talk about "Semiotic Arbitrage?"


JL:       No, they, taken in these groupings, use "Semiotic Arbitrage."



MMTN:           So, we have established where you're coming from on an intellectual level? You've unpacked the term "Semiotic Arbitrage" for us, and I think it's much more approachable than it was at first blush. How does this theory manifest itself in your book?


JL:       You might imagine that you are reading the same story thirty times.


MMTN:           Well, I'm not sure I get that. Surely, there are a few stories, like Obtuse, Acute, and Equilateral for example, that make that obvious. But how can we say that Juans is related to, say, Flag?


JL:       Ah! The triangle stories. These are the most obvious example of our threes. I use these stories to lay it all out. They are, to use trigonometric terminology, a proof.


MMTN:           If a reader doesn't connect with trigonometry, can they still get it?


JL:       God, yes.  I never really considered this, but you raise an interesting point. Perhaps this can also be a "Math for dummies."


MMTN:           And also "Physics for dummies" and "Economics for dummies."


JL:       And, well, "Sex for dummies."


MMTN:           You are not shy about sex. Sometimes very explicit sex.


JL:       I got in some trouble with the publisher on a couple of stories. "Too explicit," they said.


MMTN:           You had to re-write a couple of stories.


JL:       Yes, I did. It was frustrating because I saw nothing wrong with them. Readers will understand that Bloom and Obtuse are truth-seeking, even if they do get a little raw.


MMTN:           Before we talk about some of the particular stories, I want to challenge you on your statement that they are "the same story" from multiple perspectives.


JL:       Maybe I should have been more specific. They "could be" the same moment thirty times told.


MMTN:           Yes, but clearly some stories happen way in the past while others are way in the future. In totally different cities and with completely different characters.


JL:       So, you are approaching the metanarrative from a linear perspective. You are trapped by the conventions of the novel and the cinema.


MMTN:           With respect, Faulkner used shifting perspectives a century ago. Movies like Crash play with time and irony. They are nonlinear.


JL:       Well, they are told non-linearly. They are linear stories that are clipped up and re-told in such a way that the story itself is narrated for effect. What I do is different. I imagine that, because of wrinkles in time-space, non-linear moments can occur simultaneously.


MMTN:           So is this about perspective or is it about actual simultaneity?


JL:       It could be both, because I play with the narrative voice as well. I almost want to believe that the same narrator exists throughout, shifting shape and dropping into moments.


MMTN:           Sounds like Quantum Leap.


JL:       In a way, yes.


MMTN:           But in some stories, the narrator is first person. In others, omniscient. 


JL:       This narrator is a devious sucker. One of the things I like about this narrator is that we never know when to trust.


MMTN:           You talk as though you're not sure. Just to be certain, the narrator is not you, right?


JL:       God no. The narrator is just a story teller.


MMTN:           One of the things I had a hard time with was how some of the very disparate characters fell into the same, almost poetic, didacticism. If you expect us to believe that there is a singular narrator, that makes more sense.


JL:       "Poetic didacticism." I don't know if I like that or not.


MMTN:           I don't know if readers do either. Although, I have to admit that it is easy to get sucked in by that poetic voice...especially as it ducks in and out of the form of the characters in the stories.  For example, here's a line from that story we've mentioned a couple times, Obtuse. Would you mind reading this part for me?


JL:       Sure.


            Though I wanted him in the most primal way, I wanted him more absolutely and completely into an eternity that spread unconstrained into the future and into even that future's future. And, from that contrived imaginary future, I looked back again to the moment as the genesis that must have banged forth from this special first kiss: the kiss I expected, the kiss I desired.


MMTN:           Now, that's a thirteen of fourteen year old girl talking. Rather introspective for such a young person.


JL:       Well, actually, it's an adult woman looking back through time at the moment.


MMTN:           I'm coming to understand the use of the word "moment" to describe these vignettes, but please continue.


JL:       So, I admit that these aren't necessarily all the thoughts of the thirteen year old girl. Nor are they the ruminations of a thirty year old woman, completely. They are thoughts of a young girl being recalled by an adult woman who is channeling the poetic voice of our devious narrator.


MMTN:           Translation?


JL:       Arbitrage! But translation is a fair depiction in a paradigm that lacks "Semiotic Arbitrage" to explain it.


MMTN:           I should have seen that.


JL:       But here's another point. You don't have to see it. You can see it if you want to.


MMTN:           It's a sweet story in the absence of these insights.


JL:       Exactly. At least I think so.


MMTN:           You tell a mean story. I found myself comparing you to Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald.


JL:       I'll take that. They're pretty different types of authors with completely different methodologies, but viewing the stories--moments--as discrete units provides some of the qualities of these masters. In storytelling technique, I'm not sure there are two American writers that I would rather emulate.


MMTN:           I see you try to give a go at Borges, too. Not sure you hit it square on, but you dance around it.


JL:       Borges is my god. But, really, this form, this "Novel Collection" is about the oscillation between the parts and the whole, between the GUI and the contents. It can be nibbled in pieces with no regard for a larger narrative, or can be consumed in chunks to develop an individual read that is free of narrative "truth."  Meanwhile, the individual stories are entertaining as discrete units: touching, gripping, sentimental, erotic, joyful, and compelling. In a "soft pre-release" of the story Flag, thousands of online readers and critics from around the world consumed and acclaimed the unexpectedly sweet and complicatedly patriotic "moment."


MMTN:           We'll talk about FLAG in a minute, but tell me why you didn't merely call the book "Moments" or even "Momentousness," both of which are real words and both of which seem appropriate titles.


JL:       Actually, neither is exactly right. It isn't merely moments. It's a collection of possibly related moments. It would be disingenuous to lead readers to believe that there are no connections. And "Momentous" implies something grand and spectacular. That is not really correct either.


MMTN:           Possibly related? So, you're saying that you haven't written connections--you point out tangencies--into the collection?


JL:       I've written in the possibility of connections, but some of them are spurious and inexact. Is the character from Borges the same as the one from Coma? There are a lot of similarities, but one goes to Southern Africa while the other goes to Western Africa? Wouldn't a good narrator be more specific? More precise? So the reader gets to make that call, to make that connection when the narrator fails--for whatever reason--to make the connections concrete.


MMTN:           Sounds noncommittal. Are you abandoning your responsibilities as an author?


JL:       I'm ratcheting up the responsibilities of the reader to be complicit in the storytelling.


MMTN:           Do readers want this responsibility?


JL:       Mine do. Let me reiterated that Momentitiousness is not merely a collection of "related" stories. Instead, it is a collection of moments that may or may not be related, depending upon how the reader approaches it: A "Novel Collection." The physical text is organized in one of 30 factorial (that's 30 x 29x 28 x 27...x 2 x 1) ways that the book can be read. The points of tangency are intentionally spurious, allowing readers to wonder (perhaps decide) whether the jagged connections should be overlooked to strengthen the story they want to read or perhaps challenged as the deceptions of an untrustworthy narrator.


MMTN:           Momentitiousness, then, is...


JL:       The residue of a moment. A sense that something has happened and that it may have happened to you. That it may have happened just now. And in fact, it did. If nothing else, you just read it. It's the aura of somethingness in time-space that you only know in recollection.


MMTN:           Isn't that what all story is?


JL:       All of my stories.



MMTN:           Do you think you're taking something that belongs to everybody and claiming it as your own?


JL:       I'm taking something that should belong to everybody and making that explicit. I would also argue that this is not what a novel does. The job of the novelist is to tell the story, to expose what she wants when she wants and how she wants. The novelist holds the power of narrative.


MMTN:           You don't expose and hide certain truths?


JL:       My narrator may, but even my narrator provides freedom to the reader.


MMTN:           Like a "Choose your own adventure?"


JL:       Almost exactly. Like a "Chose your own adventure." We haven't talked about the organization of the book too much, but the way I present it in print is just one way of reading it. I would love readers to read it out of order, skipping around, randomly. I will tell you that if you read Juans-Blast-Briarpatch, you get a far different story than if you read Arbitrage-Blast-Briarpatch and differenter still if it's Walden-Arbitrage-Briarpatch.


MMTN:           And the tangencies?


JL:       They take on different meanings in the absence of other pieces. The Arachne poem without the Fire story creates a completely different set of relationships.


MMTN:           "Chose your own adventure?"


JL:       If you approach the book that way, randomly, then you can look back and say, "here is the story that I created." You aren't active in its telling, but you are active in the connecting.


MMTN:           Let's talk about Flag, because you've had some success with that story independent of its place in Momentitiousness.


JL:       True. That is a story that, like all the others, stands on its own. If this project were simply about telling great stories, I think I've nailed that.


MMTN:           As an artist, you have to believe that.


JL:       Bravado.


MMTN:           Some of the "moments" are rather opaque on their own. But I'll agree that I can imagine reading these stories without regard to Semiotics or Arbitrage or time-space. Flag received some great press. It is sweet and tender and yet powerful. Where did this kid come from?


JL:       Honestly, there might be a little bit of me in him.


MMTN:           Memoir? I knew it!


JL:       NO, NO, NO! Don't even try to pin that label on any of this, it's all fiction. I had other readers respond very sweetly that they felt I was writing about them.


MMTN:           You capture this child's thoughts with such precision. Would you read this section from Flag for us?


JL:       Sure.


            As a twelve year old, his concept of metaphor was yet undeveloped, so the flag did not merely stand for an America that he loved, it was an absolute object of adoration, like his dog, tater tots, and his mother. This is not to say that he didn’t also love America or Ronald Reagan in the same way, but they all had the same intrinsic value. One was not merely a symbol of the other; they all stood in a pantheon of things patriotic, not simply representing, but being. Too, his sense of love was nascent yet, and there was no distinction by the type of care or profundity with which he addressed the objects of his seemingly excessive adoration. Thus, he was bound by the same rules and expressions of intemperate love that he rained upon his dog, tater tots, and his mother.


MMTN:           This was not you? Our little fledgling conservative lover of Ronald Reagan? And, the way he stands on the precipice of developing this idea called "metaphor," which is really to one day become "Semiotic Arbitrage?"


JL:       Fiction. To deny that an artist does not draw upon experience is to lie about the authors craft. But to assert that an author writes only what he knows is to deny the artist of his craft.


MMTN:           Fair enough. So, does this character--he has no name--recur?


JL:       Do you want him to? Is he the same kid in Doritos? Or Merry-go-Round? Is he the adult in Blast? The boy in Words? The protagonist from Borges?


MMTN:           He could be, I guess.


JL:       Exactly.


MMTN:           So let's talk for a second about your masterful use of pronouns in place of character names. I found this annoying at first.


JL:       I don't want to limit your read, the possibilities of connections. Names necessarily do that.


MMTN:           But you do name one character.


JL:       He is only a vessel for the imperfectly omniscient narrator to take form. The main character is the fully empowered reader, the "you" first introduced in One Cent in Manhattan: the foil to the narrator who carelessly shifts in and out of bodies and over time to present the moments that comprise the full text. The blurred lines between subject and object make "main characters" a redundant and unnecessary construction.


MMTN:           By the time you finally give us a name, I have already come to accept that I don't need names. But the name and the character you do finally give is somewhat disturbing. You put the narrator in blackface. You pull the voice of the actual character in and out, as though he is fighting to tell the story himself.


JL:       My homage to Joel Chandler Harris.


MMTN:           Would you mind, another section? From Briarpatch?


JL:       Sure


            I know, you aren’t supposed to know my name because it shatters the “universality of the anonymous.” In a thorny world where we have adopted the compulsion to name everything, you’ve made it all this way without knowing who anybody in this whole damn book is.  Must have driven you crazy, wondering, “Is that the same guy in those six stories?” and “How dare he talk that way about women,” and “That is the worst, most offensive black dialect I have heard since Joel Chandler Harris.” But Lawdy be, you don’ been throw’d in that briar patch, so you may’s well stick it out sin’ you already don in her’.


MMTN:           You may get some angry press over that.


JL:       So be it. I think this masking and unmasking is absolutely critical to the storytelling on the micro level. It is absolutely essential to the project and as a key to the accessibility of "Semiotic Arbitrage." Without this moment within this moment, there is no tacky glue holding the text together.


MMTN:           The last thing I'm going to ask about is the footnotes. This is where I really see Borges.


JL:       Do you find the footnotes distracting?


MMTN:           At first I did, then I just ignored them. When I arrived at Tangency Four, they made sense. I went back and reread them, disembodied from the stories they pretend to clarify.


JL:       Beautiful. I'm not sure I could have asked for you to have treated them any differently. Truly, they are the text. Everything written large above them is fluff.


MMTN:           What do you know about Dark Energy?


JL:       It's not what I know, it's what the text knows.


MMTN:           So the text has a life of its own?


JL:       As much as you or I do.


MMTN:           Getting rather metaphysical here.


JL:       I'm not sure you can disentangle what the footnotes do from metaphysics any more than we can disentangle the sign from the signifier or the signified.


MMTN:           Or the chair?


JL:       Or the loonies.


MMTN:           Jason Leclerc, Momentitiousness.  Thank you so much for your time.


JL:       Thanks again for having me. This has been a blast.


MMTN:           Best of luck.  Jason Leclerc, author of Momentitiousness.

You can blast through this book, or you can savor each carefully wrought word in this lyrical bootcamp for the mind. Either way, you will emerge on the other side banking more than you started with. Truly an adventure, from Arbitrage to Zombies.