Selfie, Suicide, page 1
or Cairey Turnbull’s Blue Skiddoo
By Logo Daedalus
For my most outstanding loans.
“The water of the forest is still & felicitous
& we, we can be vicious & full of pain.”
...the nameless knight in Lucremorn
by sorcerer accursed
awaited for unending days
his muse’s fate’s reverse
by reddened signs of sacrifice,
the toll that was foretold,
when on a brisk & moonlit night
with an unearthly cold
he’d sailed for the remotest isle
by vessel that he’d stole
above the satyrs’ labyrinth
to resurrect her soul.
He faced the fire breathing snake,
by grace of Lucremorn.
He sought the way of recompense
& mending what had torn.
Somewhere the star of death’s redress
was hid within the deeps
where mortal eyes had never crept
nor mortal fingers reached.
“It is not lost & can be found”
began the dragon’s speech
“but this alone is not a cause
for mortal hope’s relief
as men far braver than yourself
have sought for it in vain
unable to afford its cost,
a lifetime spent in pain...
You must drift in Lucremorn
until the sky’s ablaze
& blood from other realms is paid-
& then, she’ll leave the maze...”
Cairey Turnbull is precariously perched on the edge of a fall. His head is heavy & half-floating. He’s buzzing with thoughts like the sun-sagged balloons that litter the bedroom of his tenement. His musings are unballasted. They sway in the invisible shifts & drafts of any wind’s decree. He’s buzzing & bubbling under the influence of bottomless brunch mimosas, & he’s swaying aimlessly, but swaying safely still. He’s been able to avoid an alluring slip into the shallows of intoxication. For now, there’s a residual fortification in his guts- an eggs benedict, half digested, still maintains its salubrious sponginess as it floats upon a hollandaise foam beside a flotsam of duck bacon bobbing beside it like the remains of a shipwreck in the maelstrom of his digestion.
He’s holding a door aloft. His shadow has already entered the foyeur of the Museum of Expressive Humanism, but his body remains, hanging from its door, as he’s misjudged the heft of this delusively transparent entryway, & in his struggle to pull it open against the force of the street-sweeping gale, a loose strand of his overcoat hooked itself onto its handle. After forcing the door & losing his balance as the wind’s force shifted in his favor, he discovers that he has become ensnared. This is how we find Cairey Turnbull, our most lamentable specimen.
Hanging over a puddle which reflects the overcast sky, warped by the warring circumferences of sporadic stillicides, he feels, once again, a sensation which reflects the eeriness of his station. He’s haunted by his life’s regrets. He feels a presentiment, again, of that horrific revelation, the one which taunts his waking hours announcing his damnation. This dreadful ambience is amplified by mist & haze from the dribbling incessance of this late-morning rain, which renders his surroundings as obscured as his hopes, & weighs on his shoulders like his moist winter coat.
He hadn’t slept well, but he rarely slept unmolested by bad dreams. He had greeted his alarm with the panic of an overdue lateness, as it had interrupted a phantom of his adolescent anxieties in the guise of a guidance counselor, as it so often was, as she was informing him that he’d missed every deadline, appointment, & test, & was consequently doomed to his woes, distresses, & of course, his regrets...
So he’s drowsy and out of sorts, but he’s been that way for years. This thought is itself routine, & if he were honest, it doesn’t come to him without a hint of vertiginous thrill. He’s addicted to the sensation of being on the brink & he’s enchanted with the visions of ego-squashing ecstasy that accompany it. His botched quests for revelations, mystifications, purposes, always lead him to appels du vide- a phrase that he has enjoyed rolling around his mouth like a hard candy ever since learning it in one of his youniversity courses, enjoying the polyglottic resemblance that Dr. McTeuf had pointed out, to those doubly forbidden apples of eternal life, which in the Garden of Hesperides... well, Cairey never swallowed them whole- these original choking hazards, these myths...
No, Cairey is not a brave boy. He’s always shirked his readings & his duties. Truly, he only enjoys the flirtation with these dangerous ideas- delighting in the gnaw & dance & shuffling along the edge of a plunge which seems so tantalizing, but never... He chocks it up today to the chemicals in his bloodstream- the caffeine from his morning draught of cold-coffee, the side- effects of his prescription pills, the fetid soup of his abnormal brain, & of course, all of that uncelebratory champagne he’d quaffed in citric disguise. All of these poisons combined so early in the AM explain his lack of poise or so he assures himself. The nauseous sensation in his throat is tied in his mind to a sort of car-sickness he suffers from which emerges as soon as he begins to walk after sitting so long in transit that the sudden expansion of space from hermetic enclosure & the resultant blood rush to his semi-sleeping limbs spurs a lightheadedness & a blind dizziness which makes the ablest of surfaces feel as trepidatious as standing alone in an unwieldy canoe.
Needless to say, Cairey’s warped & unbalanced, & more-than-figuratively hanging from a thread. The simian sturdiness of upright normalcy is just beyond his grasp. All he has are his instincts & anxieties from which he hangs by his sleeve- & neither of these are heralded as reliable navigators of the vast unmapped & the mysterious phatic unspoken.
But as he’s hanging from the door to the Museum of Expressive Humanism, he allows, with accidental chivalry, his algorithmically assigned date to pass before him. This provides him the opportunity to inspect her posterior anatomy with a libidinal flick of his hazel eyes. So far he’s lacked this vantage on her & he’s something of an expert in judging the three-dimensional curves rendered by the nude female form. He believes he can see through clothes, given the proper vantage. Up to now, he’s only known her as a two-dimensional figurette- a carefully curated avatar, a hint younger, & more than a clue slimmer, with a name he’d learned to be a pseudonym devised by her roommate to “keep the creeps at bay”- & so far, she’s done nothing to complicate these first impressions & disappointments, nor has she provided any authentic scaffold to replace it. All of her outer significances are easily mapped to a type Cairey has an unwilling attraction to, despite the fact that he’s sworn off this- as he has thought- “feminine junkfood.”
Her hair is dark at its roots, but the bulk of it is bleached blonde & tipped with a chemical pink- like a neapolitan fudgsicle, the sort with a strawberry that tastes of bubblegum, a watery yellowed vanilla honed to cut manufacturing costs, & a chocolate that only melts on your fingers, dripping down the balsa wood grip & staining your hands with a henna tattoo of asymmetrical insignificance. Her eyes are brown & framed by a raccoon smudge of eyeliner, tapered to a triangular flourish- like the wings of horus. Beneath her coat she wears a baggy turtleneck which hangs like a pastel pink hospital gown over a pair of baggy sunbleached momjeans. The combination renders all physique below her neck utterly imperceptible. She is opaque. It’s a style all the rage these days amongst fretfully aging twenty-somethings. She’s normal, he thinks.
& so Cairey, still hanging from the door, but having finally circumnavigated his date, finds here nothing but
He’d had another dream the night before. He was on the top floor of a skyscraper, with a thunderstorm looming over the city. It was raining so heavily that the streets below were lost in a mist. The only lights were from parallel skyscrapers reflecting the lightning which forked & shattered the clouds. Thunder cracked like a felled tree & boomed like the impact of its fall. He had been alone in his dream. He was in a skyline bar with rotating floors. It had been stationary at the time as the building had lost power. He had known all of this instantaneously, as one does in dreams, & he’d also known, just as instantaneously, what his dream had destined him to do. His dreams always imposed this sense of inevitability. & so in his dream he ran as fast as he could & burst through the plate glass windows of the skyline bar- falling shards tinkling melodically as they twinkled with reflected lightning- all so slowly, so serenely... It was only as he looked below him & saw the streets demystified, revealing an immense body of water below, that the tug of gravity pulled his projected arc into a parabolic fall. & before he could hit the water, he exploded into a cloud of blood.
He woke to a timpani roll of distant thunder & the hiss of rain on the roof of his tenement. The clock read 4am. His heart was racing. He went back to sleep.
& still hanging there, from the entryway, he thinks of this. He often wishes for such a cinematic ending to his life, & barring that, he’d accept a midseries cancellation ordered by a power beyond his station- or at the very least, an indefinite hiatus without the possibility of a fan clamoured reboot. He wishes for the death of himself or his Director. & this is what he’s thinking about as he attempts to liberate himself from the thread tying him to the handle of the door. & these thoughts spur more thoughts, until he finds himself unspooling his associative web to the source of this idea- something his date had said over their exhaustive brunch.
After an introduction pained with confusion over the proper gesture of greeting- his extended handshake denied for an awkward one-armed shoulder hug- & after an eternity of uncomfortable silence during which they perused the brunch menu, they’d spent the majority of their pre-meal anticipation discussing the season finale of a television serial, as well as the critical thinkpieces that trailed in its wake. The subject had been suggested, quite successfully, by the dating platform they had used to meet each other. It was only natural that this- being, apparently, the common ground upon which the seeds of potential affection might flourish into lifelong romance, would appear so early in their algorithmically ordained love story.
The show was called Symon.
Its plot revolved around the insurrectionary & pranksterish exploits of the psuedoeponymous artist-cum-anarchist-cum-cult leader & his disciples. He was portrayed as one of the archtypically cliched antiheroes which are so popular in the medium of serialized televisual drama. & in this sense, the show was not substantially unique. It was one of the many other television serials which strutted the stage of social media relevance, fretting not so much the tossed tomatoes of amateur film critics so much as losing the attention they had garnered. Generally, the goal for such shows was to go out on high, or better, gloriously early, in order to maintain mystique & discussions of “what could have been.” Better that than to go woefully late, like so many ill-fated serials, whose finales felt like ill-attended hospital deaths, in which the few remaining mourners pilloried the damn crone with questions about “justice” & “responsibility” & “betrayal of expectations.”
As Symon was an antihero, it was obvious to most viewers, by subconscious mythopoetical logic, that his Faustian debt would be repaid in blood in this finale. The transgression that would be punished by this resolution was Symon’s implied communions with the occulted terrain of the viewer’s world- the realm beyond the screen. This theme was particularly appealing to Cairey, not only for his ineffable aesthetic biases, but because the show was filmed in the very city in which he had lived for far too many years- & of course, it is this same city which so charitably houses the Museum of Expressive Humanism. Symon’s city was an alternate take on Cairey’s city, with its timeline running parallel to its, albeit, with a slight delay due to the contingencies of production. The show had often dealt with “real” events, & “real” persons- ripping them from the headlines as it were & only barely disguising their inspirations behind flimsily devised parallel names that even the most dull-headed viewer could match to their sources. Even still, there were so many articles spelling out these allusions that it made one wonder...
Symon himself was not an unknown personage in Cairey’s world. His name was, in reality, Simon LaFeint, & he was the bohemian son of a wealthy financial lineage. He used his endless personal fortune to fund the show. Little was known about Simon outside of his show. His youth had been spent drifting about the globe, enjoying lavish luxury, & throwing parties that many remembered, though few remembered him personally. He was notoriously difficult to track down, & his few interviews, many suspected, had been composed by himself. They were factually contradictory, otherwise improbable, & generally outlandish. The only solid information to go on came from the public business records of The LaFeint Foundation. It was these interests that obsessed Symon’s critical community.
For instance, in the third season of Symon, the city’s formerly beloved golden boy Louis Derozio, a now disgraced exile, but then an upstart mayorial candidate, had his extramarital exploits mocked so mercilessly by Symon that the show was often blamed for his electoral humiliation. Derozio’s interests in fighting the “elitist intellectuals” of the city’s financial lineages put him at odds with the LaFeint family as he had named them in particular. His reputation was destroyed by his parody in the figure “Lewis Deruzual,” the antagonist of the season, who was depicted as a hypocritically bigoted “man of the people” & “man of God” who happened to partake in those two most beloved pastimes of upstart politicians- extramarital liaisons with the fourth estate & underaged interns.
The show had delved into stranger territory than that over the years. There were plotlines in which neglected historical & political figures, typically of radical persuasions, were resurrected & had their grievances aired in lengthy monologues. There were psychedelic episodes in which the city was plagued by the ghosts of the savage Native American tribes who had once hunted on its lands. There was even a one-off episode in the fifth season in which a kaiju composed of the city’s sewage fought a mecha personification of its crumbling infrastructure.
Over the years the show had become downright unhinged & difficult to follow, to the delight of its core demographic, the pretentious, overeducated encyclopedists of pop-cultural allusion & contemporary flotsam, like Cairey, & the show’s cinematographer. However, in the show’s finale, these quirks had exploded beyond the wider audience’s expectations. In its final scene, Symon had produced a poster advertisement for the show’s final season, familiar to inhabitants of Cairey’s city from its ubiquity on subway platforms, bus stops, & the few, somehow still remaining carcasses of phone booths. It asked “IS THIS THE END OF SYMON?” above the trademarked Symon mask, a horned visage carved with an abnormally wide & almost malicious smile, sticking out its tongue, in the style of hellenic comedy masks.
With this poster in hand, Symon revealed to his disciples, a crowd gathered below his perch on top of a tenement cornice, that he was, indeed, the protagonist of this television serial, & worse, that he was a self-insert modeled on the personality of the lead-actor-writer-producer-director, Simon LaFeint- a man with a rather “problematic ego” as the piece-thinkers were so fond of saying. This had been unsurprising as this had been obvious to everyone who watched Symon. What was worse was that he had announced that the “sho
The proverbial shark had been jumped, as many more than one astute commentator had noted in review. More generally, the wider audience’s sympathy had waned with the waxing of the seasons, & this overwhelmingly heavy-handed fourth-wall-breaking meta-shenanigan had missed its mark. What had aimed so loftily at an inspirational & conceptual awe had landed squarely off the target & into the corkboard of “pretension” & “condescension”- far from the critical bullseye of its second season finale, which concurrently rests at 97% on most review- aggregating sites. This had been, critically, the height of Symon. It had been his pop cultural apotheosis, introducing this cult & critical darling into the mainstream. This episode had been seemingly beloved by all, so much so that its climactic scene had become a cultural icon- an orgy of five thousand disciples mounting each other in a farcical pornographic display in the center of LaFeint Park. Symon sermonized from a megaphone on the Liberation of all Libidinal Desires as the ultimate aim of enlightened humanity. Was this only the pride before the fall? Was this episode’s title “Symon’s Complete Hubris” much less ironical now, in retrospect? Such were the questions asked by reviewers in their headlines & answered in the very act of their asking. Was this sort of “postmodern play & parody” really so revolutionary after all?