Two Crônicas


Is a text still a text if it’s not meant to be understood?

Who would ever say no? Fourteen 14 times 3 is an age of possibility and innocence, and being self-determined to find myself, or at the very least, discover what or who I was supposedly like, I gave in to my higher power and said, “yes.”

Consider yourselves either blessed or cursed, then, depending on your point of view. The only reason I haven’t started codeswitching yet is due to my recent change to a plant-based diet.

And there I go, getting all French again, when this is America. I should be ogling tits and ass and busying myself with sportsball, instead of indulging in so much language porn.

Those who insist on the image in poetry are more interested in the image of the poet than the force of the work. But if I must, then I must. About the image: consider the eggplant. Over fried chicken.

Fret not: there is a process.

Fits and starts. Empathy based on convenience. Relationships based on proximity. An existence based on the ephemeral.

Maybe there is some queerness to it, as in estranged or uncanny, an element of je ne sais quoi. Maybe the queerest thing about it is that on its surface, it appears so pedestrian, mundane.

Neither fear nor countenance the mountain. Like all rocks, it will split, chip, crumble away. In time. Impermanence.

Oh, simple youth: what you fail to understand is that which you call plagiarism, we call homage. There is an honor in the copy, for no copy is ever perfect. And besides, that which we copy is what was already plagiarized. Copied from us, before the fact.

When I was young, the thing I wanted to be more than anything else was an avant-gardener.

What I once planned, and planned meticulously, fell apart. I realized that such concerns as the deliberate foregrounding of anti-poeisis bore no symbolic or semantic weight, especially in terms of potential future interpretation(s) of the work. That is to say, conceptions of poeisis and poetry were as similar as apples and chinchillas, for how to distinguish an attempt at poetic form from that which is essentially aphorism?

It was Flaubert who once said, “The entire dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of bourgeois stupidity.”

“If I sleep away all yesterday, then

Is today tomorrow?”

If you wonder why we can’t get along, why it sometimes seems as if the gulf between us is insurmountable, perhaps this explains why: I didn’t come from a world where a phrase such as “having to proctor an exam” was used as a commonplace. You assume that the discourse you employ is easily understood, never seeing that it’s a rhetorical tactic meant to normalize your elite upbringing.

Dude, there’s an easy way to save the planet: just admit your privilege.

And after today

Tomorrow will be today

The day after tomorrow.

So then, maybe the aphorism is the point? But who would ever want to structure so much chaos? Who thought it a good idea to plan spontaneity?

A stone, a reed, a horse on fire, afraid of the stream.

Inevitable Self-Justification

There is this notion, an exceptionally misguided one, that the image, the text, the poem, even art itself, is somehow at bottom, representational.  Wither the crônicas of the intellect, of the imagination, of the mind? Are these categories mutually exclusive?

I can state that there’s a happening happening where the happenings happen, but I won’t experience it. Due to bad diction, neither will you. Such is the way, the material and atomizing weight of words.

After all, you see this look on my face? It’s a reflection of my commitment to abstraction, to the cerebral over the visual, ideas over image. But don’t overthink it.

I’m not a critic, I just hate a lot.

The formal approach is one of collection. A (re)presentation of aesthetic detritus. That’s where—and how—the crônica gathers its strength. It doesn’t require aesthetic justification because what it uses has already been justified.

And yet—and as always, we can introduce an “and yet” – it was the famed raconteur and ersatz Frenchman Stephen O’Connor who once quipped, “The city is language, language that attempts to embody the world and be the world, and while it is nothing of the sort, it’s all we’ve got of the world.” And yet—and again, we return to the “yet”—what of os crônicas minhas: the crônicas of rural life?

If Occidental art can be said to have a fatal flaw, it’s in its assumption that despite modifications of and variations on themes, all narratives are essentially linear. That is, it’s the belief that while one can jumble things around a bit, everything regardless starts and ends somewhere, an endless loop of cause and effect. Nature, the universe as we now understand it, is a lot more complicated. So is the crônica.  

But the language fails; a poor substitute for these semantic shell games disguised as phrases, sentences, ideas. We play the dozens, only with those unable to count.

Mostly because lottery, like language, is equal parts obstacle and opportunity. And if I told you this passage was seminal to an understanding of the work—the project, the cause, its politics—would you hold it in your mouth to suck on, like a marble? Or would you swallow it like a pill, wet and heavy on your tongue?

It all could be solved if I explained it in French, or summarized it with a single, German word.

On an expressive level, the crônica evokes something from us: a specific feeling, a particular sensation. It alludes to the fact that we’re just a biological speculation, sitting here, vibrating, and we don’t know what we’re vibrating about…

Y’all see my point? The shade of the dogwoods, itinerant moths, the starling and the rabbit; a long summer, weighted with pause; the ash, soon to be washed by rain.

It’s the beauty of the form. It avoids metaphor like so much treacle. Fidget, giggle, shuffle, shuffle, humblebrag.

Form or content, isn’t that always the question, the eternal debate. In an attempt to answer the question, consider the following: The form of the crônica is its content. Thus…

What we thought was Mumbo Jumbo was in fact, a future text.

Rone Shavers is a writer who publishes in multiple genres. His fiction has appeared in various journals known for showcasing experimental or innovative work, including ACM: Another Chicago MagazineIdentitytheory.comLongform.orgNth WordPANKThe Operating System, and Thought Catalog. Shavers’s non-fiction essays and essay-length reviews have appeared in such diverse publications as American Book ReviewBOMB Magazine, EBR: Electronic Book ReviewFiction Writers Review, and The Quarterly Conversation. His latest work is an experimental Afrofuturist novel titled Silverfish, which will be published by Clash Books in 2020.

Barzakh Mag