Dirty Words (excerpts)

Once upon a time there was a big blue planet that's still traveling through the universe on its way to the beginning. The blue color comes from all the water and the blanket of air that separates the planet from the universe. The planet itself is made of liquid fire covered with a thin layer of stone and soil. Deep down in the fire lives the Devil and high up in the air lives God. In the beginning they did the creating together, modeling little figures out of clay and blowing life into them, always coming up with something new to surprise each other. The Devil invented sex to make God laugh and God invented religion to make the Devil laugh. Paradise was now. Until the day they created a creature that had a word for everything. From now on all the other creatures would be called animals and the new creature would be called God's own image. The fire under the ground would be called hell and the Devil bad, the air above would be called heaven and God good. From now on good and bad were at war and the battlefield would be forever inside the new creature.

And now the whole world is nothing but this creature's dream and he loves to dream so much that he's always asleep. He walks in his sleep, he fights in his sleep, he eats in his sleep, he grows in his sleep. Already the planet is almost completely covered with him, but he just goes on growing and sleeping, deeply, restlessly. His hands strike each other and his feet kick each other, his brains subdue his heart, the voices in his head are always contradicting each other and his belly can't stop eating and it grows and grows and everything grows along with it and still he's always hungry. His swelling volume spills over the edges of the continents into the oceans, but his hands just go on grabbing and his mouth can't stop chomping and gulping. One chomp and all the dodos are gone forever, another gulp and he swallows all the buffaloes... He talks to phantoms who do not answer, he wallows through his own excrement and eats his own garbage. His snoring symphony drowns out every other sound and when he turns around in bed, the crushed nations scream in minor. No matter, those who sleep don't notice a thing.

God and the Devil are tired of fighting with each other, they hope the omnipresent creature will soon fall off the planet and die in the cold of the universe. In the old days the Devil used to surprise his friend with a swimming jelly pudding with long stinging tentacles, and God countered with a lap dog that started pissing if you picked it up... Always in for a good laugh. But now all the Devil and God ever get to do together anymore is fight over a rampant growth of boring souls that force them to live according to a scripture that's all made of nothing but words.

Not all of the cells in the monster are sleeping so soundly, there are even a few that wake up once in a while. There aren't very many of them and mostly they know nothing of each other's existence since they all live spread out across the body. But living with open eyes is so painful because then you see all the horror the sleep is doing with the other cells. The monster must wake up. But how do you make that happen? First you explain what all the benefits are. He hears nothing. Then you make an alarm clock go off in an echoing well. He just rolls over and goes on snoring. You stick a sword in the monster's big fat body while you scream in his ear. He flattens you like a fly. You let him crucify you while you go on loving him. Now he dreams sweeter dreams, prayer and meditation bring him peace and quiet and he sleeps much better. The coma is holy. The coma lives forever. The coma reincarnates from one cell into the next. So kneel and worship, and don't disturb the peace and quiet or else the coma will send in a squadron of cancer troopers.

The blue planet is still blue. Behind the horizon there must be more blue planets. Anyway this creation is a miscarriage. The monster has almost grown itself to death and it's snoring louder than ever. Its corpse is already rotting away in some places... Preach preachy preaching preach. Why don't you just shut your mouth, you nagging self-righteous bore. You don't want to bring the cancer police down on yourself now do you? We still have a few hours left to open

Open like what? A wound or a flower? And what does open mean, to you who are the owners of the words? I don't even want to know, I'm absolutely almost certain it's not what I want to say, and with flower it's just the same, if I were myself I wouldn't even try... And now for the next impossible statement. My inside was a flower with grasping petals...


In the beginning, when we created the light, we believed the word would follow all by itself. No wasting time on anything as grandiose as literature, this was the story that would write itself. The story that was roaring from our hearts. We had found the solution to the relationship problem and the solution was as simple as focusing a camera, all you need is your eyesight. The problem is the relationship itself. Murder the relationship and be forever alone together, forever a freak. This story is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the story is us. All we had to do was tell ourselves the story with a tape recorder rolling, and then type it all out. Not a work of art but a briefing report. How to commit the perfect murder, the perfect suicide. Peel off the two skins with their wounds and scars, their myths and habits. And create one new skin, one new living myth, with inside it one beating heart, one soul, one ego. Easier said than done, and hadn't we already done it? But on the six hundredth day, the gods saw everything that they had made, and indeed, it was not very good. The word was nothing but words, the dust remained dust. We had no choice. We had to learn a trade, we had to become a writer.

The story begins with an ocean, with on each side a continent where there's a person who's longing for something. Nothing special of course, the world is full of continents all packed to the shores with people who are longing for something...

We were not born of our work but of ourselves. The language of humans is not our mother tongue. We're made of filth, each spot is a story and our writing is a microscope to penetrate the filth until we see the crystals it's made up of.

I don't dare write anything anymore. I could get tied down for another fifteen years trying to say it right. But I just get bored with the melody before I've mastered the counterpoint. Enough of this sticking halfway out of the grass and never getting out that flower. Enough of all this art, all these fine new words for violence, for cold and isolation. We all master the fine art of sneering, but whenever we want to say something real we can't even... No. Enough.

This is not a book but a letter to the night. A niary. Dear night... It loves the dark and everything you can see in the dark. So I don't have to Finish Something Very Important First, like Washing The Dishes, or The Book That Says Everything And Even Pays The Bills. We'll just have to eat Nothing today, from Dirty Plates, and The Book will have to go on Mumbling In The Basement. But, dear night, I have one small, simple question, when your darkness takes me over, can I still find the beloved? And now that I've written this down at last, can I stop stuttering it inside my head?

It's not a question of wanting or not wanting. It's about the force pushing behind the want. The want itself is no more than the slow winding of the tip of a climbing plant trying to find a point of support. So I just go on winding. Never get to the point. Hope to say it by what I don't say. By saying all that it's not... If I name it directly, then at once it's a lie. Then it fits in words, and words fit in heads and all those heads color it with their past, with their history, with everything they already know. Be careful, don't write it down, it might be an illusion, to want something so badly is dangerous, it can cover the eyes like a dreamy membrane and rip open when the hard facts scrape across it... Be careful, write it down at once, speak, otherwise it'll just hide once again under the ground... Timidly the flower laid itself in my hands and blossomed a dewdrop.

We ravished each other's heart and head and every other organ and when we no longer knew what was whose, we found ourselves in the furthest monastery, on the continent where no one lives. Not a cockroach, not a rat, not a soul. Only us who together are I. A freak with one head, one heart and one set of organs. Silently we move across the shine of splintering ice. The salty river one day will reach the ocean. If we can watch the ocean flow then it's not really the ocean yet. We laugh at ourselves. The fool. And we're back in the world where everyone lives. Cockroaches, rats, souls. Their voices scream and their hands reach through the shine of splintering ice, they thunder in the salty river and beat the ocean with their fists. Where is you and where is I and where is we? We open our eyes and once again are I.


All is silent on the continent where no one lives. The ice lies wordlessly upon the land, the black heavens breathe the cold of the universe down the spine of Mount Terror, the snow dissects the light of the stars in its iridescent crystals... Three king penguins follow the southern cross to the axis of the world. The first incarnation of the myth is born. We've named this body after the land that is our home: Antarctica.

And now we're leaving for an expedition to the civilized world, to announce the birth of the living myth. The myth has been cast into an approximation of words, and now these words are in search of a book. So we fill our suitcases with the cold and the loneliness of our continent, we put on face masks that know how to speak and smile and listen in the language of the civilized natives. But we do not bear arms, we do not bring along beads and salt, no gods, cigarettes or chewing gum, no light bulbs or clean syringes... We bring nothing but the myth that never stops laughing at the absurdity of all our efforts. The stories you write are always lying the truth, says the myth, they're so small, always much too small. Catch me if you can, winks the myth... But look at this, we answer, what about this story, this time it must fit at last, can't you see this story is as big as outer space itself... And then what does the myth do? The myth grows even bigger. Failed again, and a good thing too.

Are there any readers out there in the civilized world? Perhaps, just perhaps, but then again there might be nothing but cannibals waiting to feast on the flesh of boiled monks... Because who wants to read a novel like this? A living myth isn't the same as a real main character with a name and a face and a dramatic development. Real readers would rather read a real novel about a real character, someone they can easily identify with, someone who's just as lonely and horny as they are, someone who sets a trap inside his own head and then walks straight into it... Real readers would rather read the newspaper, especially one that researches what real readers want to read before it writes and prints it, then at least everyone knows it's real and true and right, because it fills a real need, because it tells them all about real disasters and wars and dog shoots man bites dog fucks girl because good news is no news is bad news...

All is silent on Antarctica. We haven’t left home yet but we’re almost done packing. Far away the civilized world is drumming on its faraway-watching boxes, I want feed, clamors the world, feed for the eyes, feed for the underbelly, let me feast on fear and loathing, I want to be entertained and my power is great, don’t you ever forget I can turn you off with the mere flick of a switch... I could have made you immortal, if only you had played by my rules, but now I’m already bored with you, you’re not even dead yet and already I’ve forgotten all about you, so what else is on tonight?

All words and images copyright 2008 by Vanita & Johanna Monk

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