Spider & Joker
by Anna-Sophie Berger
After P’s death he suddenly had a lot of time to spend. He had started drawing again a while ago, mostly just to take his mind off things. The process was normally limited to still life, drawings of small objects in his immediate surrounding. A system, rigid enough to leave no space for extensive formal or conceptual investigations.
He would choose any one object, place it in front of a neutral background or on a neutral underground and make 1 or 2 A4 drawings.
The beginning was very hard, as he had heard and read in so many books, he was not in command of his hand anymore. While studying the object and trying to conceptualize a notion of its features, he slipped away. While looking at the shadows, he thought about the very nature of shadows, light, and objects. But normally at the second sheet, he had gained a certain distance and was actually focusing solely on the materiality of the thing in respect to the pencil on the paper. It was nice.
Now that there was nothing going on in his private life, and not only that, now that he had just come out of what was before daily permanent agony, he found himself caught up yet again in uncomfortable self-reflection during the process of drawing.
What did it mean to know how to draw? Was it to know things or was it to be sure of the process and to be skilled? Would it be enough to be determined strongly to draw a line to draw it well, or at least stylistically authentic?
Looking down at the drawing of a necklace he had snatched from one of the sad cardboard boxes of past years’ life he came to wonder about its genesis. One bead after another, black and silver on an elastic thread. He couldn’t remember having worn it. The curious thing were those 3 black beads, breaking the pattern of silver-black-silver etc. Within the otherwise uniform pattern they configured as exception, as demarcation of sorts. But why more then 2? 2 black beads as the sole consecution of same color beads would have been enough to make a difference, to create exception. Why three then? Of course, he starts the drawing at the 3 black beads part. It seems to him they are there as sign for him only, as his starting point. When he returns to the end after one circle, it is vexing to not finish with only one black bead. There are two more to close the choker, and there is absolutely no reason for that. He gets so uncomfortably excited, sweating like a pig he pauses and what he had so carefully tried to avoid happens. He wants to draw only one black bead, for a brief second he is poised to correct what he cannot accept. For a second he lifts his head and is back at that dreaded place. He can feel the sweet notion of power, of knowing. His hand is shaking when he cuts the corner and with a moan draws two beads. Throwing the pencil to the middle of the table, his heavy body caves in.
Spider had taken leave from work for grief. The only person he regularly saw was Joker, mostly to pick up cigarettes, or so he would tell himself, but however, he usually ended up sitting there for hours. Spider had stopped eating long before that and so he would just sit and stare, sometimes make a drawing or two. In the spartanic living room of joker it was actually possible to run out of motives which led spider to carry with him weird substitutes he bought cheap on the way over, mostly different brands of gum, toothpicks and lighters. When buying them he tried to pretend he was buying something of use, like a sort of present for joker. Spider would sit, draw and at a certain point joker would come over to eat her soup. In silence, they would share the round little table that had originally been intended for joker’s balcony before they closed it for undetermined reasons.
Sometimes joker talked about her day: “I worked all day, it went really well. I don’t know what’s going on with me, but it’s going really well. Today I cleaned out the drainpipe at the bathroom sink finally. You know water hadn’t been draining properly for over a month. I didn’t mind first, but since I used this new soap I brought back from last time at the lake, this soap you know, was of a dark brown color. So beautiful, you have no idea, brown like wood, and a smell too much like some earthy tree mushroom. Anyways, the soap upon each use inevitably rendered the sink dark dirty looking, with the water not draining fast enough. I didn’t find it terrible, but it did remind me of wanting to fix it. So today I just set to work. When I opened the pipe dark mud came pouring down on my hands. You know, I’m not picky with this stuff. For a long while I couldn’t seem to see what part was clocked. I got a little disheartened thinking it the old corroded pipes in the wall. With my hands drenched in black mud, hair and what not I fetched a metal hanger from the closet. I bent it to shape to get around the pipes 90degree angle and right into the wall. It didn’t change much. Finally, I noticed a pocket of mud and paper like dandruff inside the pipe piece that I had taken off. I cleaned it thoroughly, using the very same hanger now as scraper. All along I let the water run to flush out the parts that were coming lose. The bucket I was using was half full and the water pitch black. When I was done scraping and put the pipe piece back in using a bar clamp as make shift wrench I got real nervous and tried out if anything had changed for the better. I had a feeling though. The drain was completely functional again. What a relief.“
A different time, she’d been out all day with the car and returned only late afternoon:
„I was in the car and I was in a good mood, you know, things had been going well. Stuff had turned out ok, as it sometimes does. I was whistling to that one song, you know, that I listen to this days, I wasn’t playing it too loud cause I had my windows open. There was a policeman on a motorbike, but I should say, he was motorbike police, with all the gear and uniform. He had these very nice knee high laced boots, big bomber jacket. He looked like that guy in the second season of that LA detective series, you know, all proper but well packaged. Tight pants. I think he knew his looks appeared spectacularly exceptional to all of us car drivers around him. I was watching him closely from behind, and couldn’t get a glimpse of his face. His ass tightly squeezed in those pants. There was this tension in the air, since traffic was slow and everyone was barely moving. Yet we all knew this guy was dressed and equipped to hunt on endless highways, fast as lightning. It was annoying to see him squeezed between jammed cars, having to put his foot down every other meter to wait, stopping for impertinent pedestrians crossing last minute. I knew he must be tense too. Squeezed in this urban vicinity with all of us civilians his morals called for excellent behavior, under the pretense he was just another member of traffic. Without an emergency, he had no right to reckless behavior, no justification to suspend the rules. Yet we all yearned for him braking out. I suddenly caught a look at his face through his bike’s small left side mirror. He had a mustache and it was ridiculous how much he seemed to have crept out of an 80ties California detective hero story in Tom of Finland attire. He was licking his lips now slowly, hot salty sweat I imagined. I was getting wet since a while now but the licking set me in a different place.“
Spider listens silently. Mostly he stops drawing when joker is talking, still out of that same old sheepish politeness he had yielded to all his life even when it had been clear that it would neither get him anywhere nor have people think better of him. He looks at joker’s hands gesticulating spilling soup all over her sweater. He forgot why she is eating that soup; there was some story to it. But none of that mattered really.
He wondered sometimes whether Joker made an effort to select annectodes of her life that told of positive or at least neutral things in order to construct an educational mood of positive thinking for spider. But this he knew was near paranoid.
Spider had brought over the necklace with him today to make another drawing, which was exceptional in many ways, mostly because he already had done 2 +1 at home. There was something about the beads that struck him as relevant that kept him coming back. Joker winced at him when she saw the necklace.
Spider had not always known the language well. There were degrees to his learning and surely sharing life with P if ever so sporadic the last years had done a lot. There was no one who could jump so aimlessly from absolutely correct stylistic use of language and literal expression to a very personal lingo, teaching him about the rules of bending words to ones needs, teaching him how to hide little portions of meaning, disguising them like tiny envelops coming out of prison to be delivered for important causes, teaching him about words as bombs dropped early with deferred effects.
But to go even further back, he remembers now how he came from so far out figuratively speaking in language. He had been so afraid of not being able to talk about complex processes, having discussions and describing his intentions and feelings. All of that seemed very easy after a while. With curiosity he noticed that what was missing most was the ability to speak about things on a macro level, spatially. He had no ability what so ever to talk precisely about objects, their location, and shape. He could make an educated case about a political or moral situation, more or less using them same sentences he had used before in different languages. But he was lost on describing the depth of a sculpture, the dent in his favorite breakfast spoon, the beauty when yoghurt dries on water glasses...
Joker suggested on a rare occasion this was why he still liked the still life. Like a remedy, performed to make up for his linguistic lack of precision. He did not like that notion very much.
„What is it?“ Spider said. „Nothing what do you mean?“ “You winced?!” “So?” “You never really wince? I haven’t seen you do that?” “Oh I guess I was just confused for a minute.”
“The necklace really, still?” “I don’t know, Spider, but sometimes even for me…” “???” “..Even for me at times things can get heavy.” “I know but I didn’t put these two together necessarily, you know my habits well enough don’t you?” “Yes, I guess, oh Spider, you know I am no good for this kind of talk. Just forget about it. Just forget I winced ok?” “But now I am made to think and feel things too, it will be hard for me to let go, just so.”
Joker leaves the room and comes back with a pile of photographs, print outs it seems from some sort of print-digital-files-on-demand self service station. “Let’s look at these instead” joker says, smiling mildly at spider who cannot believe how she always keeps balance, how she never slips away.
Spider is too tired to insist. And also he realizes at this point, that if he did indeed insist - insist on knowing the precise reason for Joker’s wincing when perceiving the silver black beaded choker – if he did the drawing might be lost forever. To pervasive the narrative would have become, leaving no room for beads and their longer and shorter shadows. It is so frightening, Spider thinks, how adult life is comprised only of moments of regulation. Choosing to not follow a thought, choosing to let go of an emotion. Choosing to not find a truth buried behind a gesture, learning, that while choosing, truth is bent and curbed. Rendered irrelevant. If he stopped asking, nothing was revealed, yet not even pronounced. In Spider’s head still often the stubborn thought resides that there are truths. Like, ask your co-worker if they had been in love with you secretly for 5 years, and then they’ll finally tell you. Yes or no. The dichotomy of the life of the proud and shy. Crippling shyness has so often left spider in situations where truth had even stopped to be true while having been true once. Living next to or with a person he dearly loves without ever once allowing for a glimpse of his emotions to slip through. One day the person goes away. Turns their back, not even angrily, gaily, bidding him farewell. Spider star struck in his universe, heartbroken. Is it yes or no? He loves me, she loves me not. A game for imbeciles. Pre notions of life as steadily in flux. Nobody inherently just does or doesn’t like or love. But the proud, shy dichotomist needs the comfort in these definitive truths. P broke the spell because she cured the underlying pain, ever so slowly, each and every day. Someone else told spider that there was no such thing as clarity in feelings. It helped too, but couldn’t safe him from slipping back into manic fear from time to time.
Same now with the grief thing really. He’d rather not be in charge to be honest. He’d rather not know that its up to him whether the day’d be crippled with pain or actually quite ok.
Joker sat down on her side of the table and spider, who had now decided to really let that one slide, slowly made his way from his chair, down to the ground using the front right metal leg. He remembers painfully how he hadn’t been able to move for over 3 weeks. Joker would come to get him, pick him up. They had never ever before shared that intimacy. And now in a situation like this, so misplaced, so clocked with meaning that had nothing and everything to do with their own relationship to each other. Joker broke several of Spider’s legs these first weeks. She asked him if there was another way, but Spider then also refrained from talking. It could be argued that Joker saved his life. Yet – here comes a relativist Spider – nobody will ever know about that. It’s just how it was is all. Joker would sit down at her side of the table, spider on her left leg, which is her bad leg, which is why she needs to stretch it out from underneath the table while hunching over the soup plate. The table is much to low for her height. Spider can’t understand that type of neglect very well with a person like Joker, who needs their physical, bodily health to work. Spider remembers sitting on the leg, staring, smelling Joker’s soup. In disgust? Hard to say in retrospect. He likes it now. Things change. He would stare, joker would gulp and gobble, occasionally hitting spider with smaller and larger spits of soup either stirred up by her greedy use of her spoon or coming out from her mouth. He hardly noticed, but he remembers now, that at a decisive moment within this non-state stupor of his, he started counting the drops that would actually hit him. It is true this might have been the moment when he came back.
Spider reaches Joker’s chair and there is this brief moment of uncomfortable silence cause neither Joker nor spider know whether it is more appropriate for Spider to climb up Joker’s leg by himself or for Joker – out of pure habit – to lift him up. Spider now determined to return this lunch atmosphere to the calm pragmatics he needs so much for his drawings to work, takes initiative and climbs up jokers leg, that is, the leg in jeans (he is glad for that, the jeans definitely impacted his decision, he wouldn’t have had the audacity to climb on joker’s naked skin).
*oil bottle wrapper /label coming off
*small toy plastic handcuff
*velvety wisteria husks
*antiquated rusty two balled mace on iron chain, unclear whether decorative accessory or historic tool
*whipped cream in very small glass bowl
It is my new years resolution to not write letters anymore. They are fictions; you know it better than me, which is why you never answer mine. For 20 years we have lived to tell each other pleasant jokes, “fixed toasters and paid grocers”. I always wrote letters after leaving. Letters that were meant to clarify, that were set up to be confidential, to reveal what was otherwise not revealed. In this new year, I do not want to write you how I feel about our last meeting. I do not want to explain to you, why your story enraged me, I will not explain at length my thoughts and my shortcomings. Instead, I would be very pleased to see you Wednesday 4pm at the bar. Drinks on me, and lets learn to tell what we feel, lets start and talk about what we want in real time.
I know asking this without your consent seems paternalistic at best, but I think I know you know what I mean. I think you must agree being who you are. Sorry I broke that cup last time,
ps: I sent you one of my newest drawings that I wanted you to have soon. I think you should hang it in the kitchen, you know, on that wall behind the table. It is a mace, joker, exactly like the one you liked so much at the museum!
I won’t be in town then but would really like to take you up on your idea. It seems like a very good thing if not exercise.
Meanwhile, don’t worry about the cup –
Ps: received your drawing yesterday. Thank you.
Joker was taking Spider to the Zoo. They had settled on an activity after hours of Joker hyperactively proposing things, never leaving enough time for Spider to even conceive of the single options. Slurping soup and smiling, happiness radiating from her eyes, she talked and talked, more to herself then to him, thought Spider. It was the first moment that didn’t feel like agony, the first moment they had allowed the heaviness and futility of past weeks realization to dominate their emotions. Spider was conscious of this and a part of him accepted the change with relief, even though it hurt him. He knew Joker wasn’t good in hurting, he knew she would rather remain petrified and retreat to her inner place than to keep entertaining confrontation with Spider. He knew that much. Her joyfulness therefore might have been selfish and not stimulated so much by a solution and her feeling at ease with Spider, but more her sense of survival. Like a greedy lethargic animal sucking on a piece of meat thrown at them, their spirits unbroken even though their offspring had just been abducted. Her sense of survival was awe inspiring, powerful and seemed to Spider somewhat supernatural. He listened, she talked. While Joker laid out in colorful images the options for a day outside.
“Naturally this would be my first choice, but knowing you I might decide differently. ”
Joker had stopped and looked at Spider for the first time in a while, searching his eyes, searching for a sign of approval. She could see he hadn’t followed, but she also saw he had visibly relaxed, his body did not express the broken hostility he had displayed only yesterday when he walked in the door and had sat down in front of her. She knew she was avoiding his answers, more than that, she was trying to not have him speak at all. She had been talking to create noise, to fill the room with something that to her seemed productive, something to cover and cushion them in, to wrap them in a positive flood of words. She couldn’t bear the heaviness of the conversations any longer. Spider’s long glances and accusations. She had nothing to offer but this beautiful proposed fiction and she was offering it to him full heartedly.
“Do you want tea now?!” “Yes, ok”.
They arrived at the zoo and it was friezing cold. Spider had dressed to lightly, even though the past days had been equally grim. Joker thought she couldn’t understand this very much, since the outlines for this endeavor had been planned so thoroughly. It wasn’t like they happened to be walking for 30 minutes along the river banks but she had spent at least two hours talking to a silent, phlegmatic face, highlighting the pro’s and con’s of sauna versus zoo in winter cold. Spider was shivering but in extremely good spirits. He led the way, decided on the route. They started with the tapir, since it was Spider’s all time favorite. As always, the Tapir was pacing up and down mechanically along the fence. It was heart-wrenching. His walking up and down had turned the snow along the slope brown and slushy, the sad course of his existence milled into the ground.
They walked on with no clear direction. Spider’s feet were so cold he claimed not feeling them, determined though to make it at least to 3 more animal sections, now that they’d come so far. They rested inside the generous well heated animal pavilions. Families had brought provisions and picnics that they laid out between the stench of rhino piss and bird shit. Joker and Spider had no provisions. They still didn’t talk much, but they shared a silent calm. Spider would stay glued to vitrines, taking photos from time to time while joker would walk around, return, walk. When they came within proximity of the cat of prey pavilion, they heard ghastly, harsh and loud roars. “Lions?” Spider asked, Joker shrugged and they went closer, went in. It was indeed one of two lions in a hideously small winter domicile. While one of the apparently male lions – judging from their eponymous manes – was laying down tired or depressed, stretching his long body through what felt like half the cage, the other one was pacing. Spider was glad to find though that this pace was less mechanic and more domineered by the seemingly ill temper of the lion. He walked over to his colleague, stepped over him to sit down on an elevated stone plateau overlooking the winter landscape outside. He turned back to face inside, lying down but head up – becoming one with the idea of every lion that is. The kids were squeaking with delight, look “a lion”. Spider thought of his drawings and thought of the lion, wondering, if he, too, knew, how he could manipulate his image. He sat down, looked out, breathed fast and strongly, yawned. Spider looked on, Joker walked around. Spider knew what he was waiting for. The near otherworldly roar they had heard when walking closer to the pavilion had touched him. He needed to see it’s place of origin, its production. He was begging the lion to do it again. After a while the restless lion got back up, paced the parameter of the compound and ended up at the far left corner, directly facing on-looking visitors. His head directed to the corner where glass vitrine met glass vitrine, he opened his mouth and roared, convulsively, yet again mechanically producing those insanely loud cries, his abdomen filling with air, by the end the roars fading out into what resembled more of a coughing. Spider watched motionless. When a final now hoarse cry broke out the lion took a careful step backwards to create just enough space between the glass vitrine and his head to gently but dramatically let his large body flop to the ground. The scene was incredibly theatrical, dramatic and if one wanted to read into it sadness, that too was very possible. The weight of the world descended on Spider via the sad lion. Fortunately he noticed two women who had installed an information stand in front of the lion cage. They were gossiping by themselves, about the inner politics of the zoo’s organization. Spider caught the conversation when one of the women, probably moved by the animal’s hyperbolic down fall said: “they are waiting for this female bear to die now for at least 3 years. Her compound is to become the new larger lion compound to finally house a lioness. Every year after the winter the staff hopes she won’t wake up from her winter sleep, and every year she still does”. Spider savored these news. The tragic fate of his lion had gained a new nuance. It felt a little better to think of the lion not as aware of his captivity but merely going crazy over his sexual drive and lack of perspective of a partner. Like a Greek tragedy, the bears life strangely intertwined with the lions desire for sexual pleasure. What a world, Spider thought. When he related the story to Joker who had come back from a stroll around the pavilion, they both envisioned poor said bear, waking up to disappointed faces winter after winter. Cruelty then, they agreed, took many different shapes.
S: How are you today?
J: I feel numb.
J: well today just left me like this.
S: what do you mean?
J: I have no energy to explain to you why I feel that way, especially when actually I don’t really „feel“ is the thing. I say i feel numb but really I am numb. Pinch me.
S: I won’t do that and you know it won’t help
S: I understand, so you are beyong feeling. Isn’t that a little lazy?
J: I don’t need your empathy -
S: I don’t feel for you, rather you disgust me. Your willingness to dispose of your agency as described through a state of exception – outside of it all. you should be ashamed of yourself.
J: Why? can’t one just hit a dead end, reach a point where futility gets too thick to breathe? also, I never asked you to judge me...
S: Then why tell me?
J: Why ask?
“I like your breasts, but I wonder if there is a way not to like something that belongs to a beloved concept, a beloved overall structure. You know what I mean. The breast, that is your breast, of course I must like it. It simply is the sexual culmination of everything I cherish about you. The breast then is a mere symbol to you smiling, to you fooling around, being honest, being angry. My point is, there is no way for me to not adore this breast so to say it is a beautiful breast wouldn’t really do the trick. That’s why I think that criticism is ultimately conservative. Like, to assume there could be an available truth of universal nature to this work. What kind of a conception of art does this presume? Like, what art could be relatable or truthful to the uninitiated? and I think here is where said critic reveals their own failure, their own biased nature of knowing more about some things, and less about others. If the critic can’t relate to the beauty of a thing it is most certainly because of this unfamiliarity. I know, this is a little confused, but what I mean to say is: who cares for a breast detached from a person? Would I ever love your breast the same if it were anonymous flesh? Doubtfully so, since its precisely this one I want to lick right now and to suck on. and then, yes, maybe call me romantic in my understanding of an art, but come on, please, are we really looking for universality? If that were the goal, I can see 1000 different things worth doing but putting objects in a room. But hey that's just me.”
“I wish you would have stuck to the breast parable at last that is a topic you seem to understand.”
He felt he really loved the curves of this stupid beet root chips. It had been a left over from Joker’s previous nights endeavor. She had invited Spider too but he had for one happily declined, staying home sorting out old documents. As he arrived today Joker was late on cooking and he had 30min basically at the table by himself. He had wanted to redo the study of a fork he had started 3 days ago but the orange chip caught his attention. It looked delicious and crisp, and had this fantastic fold that made it hard to follow the lines. Curves and folds attracted and scared him. It was scary to attempt on tracing them, to follow the perfect distortion of a circle. A circle that had been twisted then petrified in baked substance. Spider thought of the crisp as contracting in pain when thrown into hot oil. It looked like beet, could be pumpkin too. It pleased spider to imagine he would only be allowed to eat it when his studies were done. Tracing the outer edges proofed hard enough, but to fill the inner parts that were not categorized by lines but by colored dark patches sprinkled with salt or sugar (for he didn’t know if the crisp was salty or sweet) seemed almost too hard to tackle. He kept losing track of the lines when moving from front to back. it was vexing, and the proportions were never right. he started to sweat again.
He showed them to joker. he had made 5 on one page. Joker liked the 1st one best. This enraged spider. “but it doesn’t look like it at all, how can you like this one best?” he was furious. “Oh, well, I dunno, it looks good, looks crisp to me, just like it should” joker said casually and in a fatal moment reached out for Spider’s object of study. Spider opened his mouth to scream stop but Joker had stuffed the crisp in her greedy mouth. Catching his eyes filled with agony she smiled helplessly munching. “You did that on purpose” Spider screamed.
Joker woke up and found Spider completely crumbled together underneath her pillow. She had looked for him for at least a few minutes since when she fell asleep she remembered him underneath the lampshade on the window sill. Impossible to say when he had fallen asleep. “are you alright spider?” no answer. Joker carefully pushed a piece of paper she kept on the bedside table underneath spider’s precariously cramped up members. carrying the sheet to the kitchen she sat him on the table while she went on to make coffee. Coffee always helped her, so she imagined it would, too, help Spider.
Is using the eraser cheating? Spider always wonders. Joker says no, she has this story from a book about an artist she likes, where erasing and re-drawing are giving the metaphysic quality of creation of depth. the ever new engraving of more lines on top of each other. Spider likes the story.
Sometimes I yearn for the times when you were just a stranger to me. A plane, a white field. Not yet a mirror, for too unknown and opaque. Anything is possible. I’d drop a sentence and search your eyes for a clue of the impression they made. If I found you to like my stories about fire, I’d keep them coming. Until they made no sense. To learn what impressed you, to learn what appalled you. To see you scared for the first time. To recede and to stay. One day, upon waking, I find that you know me, that I am not a revelation and I grief for that abysmal freedom that came with shivers, for that stage that I could fill afresh everyday. You know me, and there is no way for me to escape that me you know, that I that I am. Conversely so, I know.
“All we have is words. We hardly have any hard stuff to shape and furnish our life, our story. The bare existentialism of this existence has us proverbially sit on each other’s labs. Don’t you get tired Joker? Don’t you yearn for colors and materials from time to time. those things are real too, and sometimes I feel maybe we are less so, devoid of them?”
“I know the colors, I do go out. I bring them in. They live in my stories, in my adventures. We are very different spider. I don’t know what scares you so. That is, I do know, but it is hard for me to be affected by your emotions. For me life is not something in question. It simply is, mostly simple. I like cooking this dish very much. it isn’t some idle passé time, it isn’t a construction or one of your “functional pathways” to avoid a deeper hole in the ground. I just like it. I genuinely like making and eating it. And while for you each moment of happiness or enjoyment, has to lead you from a lower pane to some elevated moment of “better” I am just there, living, standing, looking. I don’t mean to say I do not get sad, but life is not a polar system of darkness and light. And it is very hard for me to have you judge me for this – or worse so – disbelieving me, seeking to coerce me into a grand confession. Like, “yes, I too can’t sleep. I too see no way out.””
“But Joker, what have we to defend ourselves?”
Joker made a weird face. Distorted, tired. It made Spider shudder, he didn’t like when this happened, when he cornered her with the gooeyness of his thoughts. It was like a compulsion. To draw her in, to draw her down soak her with tar. Only when Joker falters Spider ever has any strength to let go of his melancholia for one. He knows its unfair. He wants to be there for one when she is fine, when she is happy. Joker reaches out across the table and takes the blue post-its and a black pencil from Spider’s collection of crayons. She draws a funny looking little figure. Two antenna like tentacles on a classic round stick figure head, two sloping lines as eyes and a curled line as mouth, the beginning of a torso ending at the edge of the post it. Two hands with each 2 fingers held up high besides the body. When she finishes she sticks the post it to the wall beside Spider and smiles vaguely before putting on her giant red laced boots. “See you later Spider”.
Left alone in the kitchen while Joker had left to god knew where, Spider picked up his pencil again. his hand was shaking, under the influence of the dispute and his not knowing whether joker would return in placable or hostile mood. He was drawing one of her hair ribbons, small black made from lycra cut from a tube, no ends, one loop. As he moved from one curve to another shadowy twist in the round object, he thought about care and carefulness. Drawing had seemed to him for a while mow like a communication between shape and intention. But care seemed to be important as well. perception of features easily in his mind could be related to awareness of detail, to a sensitivity as in actively wanting to understand and see something. The wondering gaze along a line, step by step moving around the outer framework of a thing while then in a second attempt understanding its inside, giving up the solid outside to a more complex boarderless play of light and mass. All of this required care. like a loving touch, or a careful handling. the big difference between making a drawing and to crumple up piece of paper in ones fist, was the necessary binary of perception as alienation – the idea of the thing to be brought to paper, the idea about its roundness, the knowledge about its softness – and the contrasting realization of the flaws of these represented visual imputs. what appeared like a round soft thing turned out to be cubed, what appeared transparent could turn out opaque. To spider it could seem both like an alliance or a brutal fight with form escaping him entirely.
… Joker returns home three hours later. She had gotten a haircut. Spider looks at her in amazement. She looked so beautiful, the hair standing on edge like little spikes. She was smiling. She carried with her two boxes of pizza from their favourite take out. Night had fallen and Spider hadn’t realized he had been painting in semi dark. Joker switched on the lights, put music on and changed into her pyjamas. She ordered Spider to come eat with her in the bedroom and told him to stay over night. Spider was suddenly very tired albeit so happy to have her back. he slowly made his way over across the kitchen, closing the door behind him. Later as they lay half asleep the cat that was often screaming outside jokers window started its agitated screams. Joker cursed. “I hate this fucking scoundrel. I’ve tried to poison it so many times it won’t die” “want me to kill it for you?” spider asked. joker didn't believe he ever would, but she smiled. It meant a lot to her that he should care for her this way. “when I was coming out of the subway station, I saw this little kid with an ice cream cone” “ what flavor?” “oh non important, the point being, I was right behind them and as we climbed up the steps I thought how having ice cream in a cone in winter still felt like a little odd, even in this culture, when suddenly a drop of melted snow falling from above landed exactly on top of the ice cream. the kid didn’t realize and kept licking. It was such a beautiful moment, spider, it made me come back right away.”
“You should leave the house more, come with me tomorrow!” “but why? I have nothing to do outside I don’t expect to find anything or to stimulate anyone.” “The times are changing, don’t you think that should concern you? do you think you will always be satisfied with being on your own? you run the risk to let the gap open too wide, reality becoming more than unbearable.” “why I read the news, its not that I am not aware. I just see no point. others have made it their business and pleasure to shape what they allegedly call our life. I let them be, I don’t despise them for their enthusiasm, I even wouldn’t call them misguided anymore at this point of my life. I just wanna be honest with myself and others, and therefore I have no business outside.” “so does that mean you consider this inside a reality independent of it all? do you think this is made to last, or let me put it that way: do you think this will always be possible?” “are you asking me to become an activist to defend what little peace I have in private? I don’t recall this was under threat?” “my point is it just aswell might. and knowing you, I know that you at least have a concept of wrong or right. so, if I were to tell you what happened yesterday in the city, and you were to agree with me it was wrong, wouldn’t it be consequentially wrong for you to hold on to your gay isolation?” “its not on me to change things. I don’t believe in change I think. the outside stinks, it is overwhelmingly loud and brutal. I wish everyone else could stick to their goddamn insides and let drop the proverbial common as safe haven for what? I wouldn’t mind a smart decision to be made from a thoughtful voice about the regulations of our cubicled lives. no I wouldn’t mind that, I am rational about this, no unlimited means in limited environments, alright. But hell I won’t mingle with the impossible dream of a being together as bodies” “you realize what you are saying is not a new concept at all. and see how it didn’t get us anywhere.” “you are sloppy joker, mixing up you eclectic knowledge of all kinds of particular historical narratives to then ubiquitously calling them fake or failed. I have no answers, as I told you, and I much less have a theory. but what I know is that there is no wisdom for me on those streets.” “…you will be guilty if you want or not” “but we have always been guilty?”.
12th of June, Lunchtime, Joker’s story of the day:
“He holds a plastic light blue lunchbox in one hand. He wears the local airport security staff uniform. What is in his lunchbox? Who packed it (did he?) When time for the average person is as valuable as money, a lunchbox can be humbling. We take the bus instead of the train and the other way round to save. I am sure the intention cannot be to spare him the cost of a 2€ croissant, yet the box is too tiny to justify the action by means of quantity. What effort to carry it with him through the winter snow, from home to slushy train rails, in his backpack or jacket pocket. To not leave it at home, to not forget it at arrival in the designated locker, where he undresses to leave his street clothes (or did he put on the uniform at home?) At any rate, in the locker that stores his boots and other belongings, to have the heart to not forget said lunchbox in the jacket in the locker. To take it upstairs (or downstairs) to be placed next to him until consumption, and by the end of the day, same procedure - backwards. It seems for this excessive action to be worth his while there need to be either insanely good reasons or generous help. The food contained in the box we cannot see could be of the most delicate and rare taste. Something he loves above everything and can therefore not be substituted with anything available at the airport. Secondly, he might depend on the contained food item because of dietary restrictions. The box then signifies to him both dreaded reminder of handicap, as well as consolidation - it is for him and will do him good, as in no harm. Contrarily to option one, he might despise the taste of it, yet, just like with option one, it might be rare and not to be found at the airport.
Lastly, though maybe most convincingly, the food inside is neither rare nor particularly dear to the security officer. Rather another factor adds to the importance of the ritual around the lunch box. We would like to envision love at best, dutiful care would be our second best guess.“
Spider: Tell me about making fun, Joker
Joker: What do you mean by making fun?
SPIDER: Oh I mean, you know, joking around, fooling around, being the goof that you are, but you know, more like, how do you do it, on a day to day level, like how do you get into the right vibe, how can you perform something so dependent – at least this is what it seems to me to be like – on casual situational things. How can you instigate humor at will. I know you, so well, here, in this environment. I know how I perceive you and your jokes as defined by the most effortless motions and utterances. How would you perform something for others that appears to not be planned? to have no clear beginning and no sharp end?
Joker: Oh I see.
Joker: I don’t know spider I just do. it’s what I have always been doing.
Spider: But at least you must feel something distinc when you are in the process of doing it?
Joker: all I know is that it works. I am right there and I see it all works out. I don’t even need validating signs at this point. maybe you would have to ask yourself what you consider funny or humourous about my behavior?
An elderly man with a walking impairment lives one floor above Joker’s apartment. Joker sees him only when he walks up to the rooftop, which he does ever so regularly. He tells Joker he saw the man with the walking-aid. The man walks between his apartment to the right, and the apartment to the left, both doors stay open. He walks for exercise, back and forth, upon reaching the parameters of the corridor to one side, he turns around. His walk is a dragging one. he can hardly lift his feet from the ground. He wears black slippers and sometimes a woman from the right apartment keeps him company while he walks slowly from left to right, from right to left. Often times he keeps his phone in a small metal basket attached to the front of the walking-aid. The phone is stacked within a hankerchief and the phone plays music – normally pop. When Spider rushes past, he says hi, the man says hi too. Joker told Spider about the man. They had all kinds of theories about what had happened to him. Sometimes Joker came in crying, after having seen him. Spider disliked that trace about her even though he understood her feelings. In a very strange way he found it unnecessary and vain, as if she would assimilate the man’s pain and tragic destiny and appropriate it for herself. With wet eyes and unbelieving Joker looks at Spider and asks: “ but don’t you feel sad for him? These funny pyjamas he wears, with pink printed type. Do you read the words spider? It says “just be happy” and “enjoy Sunday”. he walks and walks between the doors in those pants and he is determined to get better, I can see it, but the process is so slow, I don’t know if anything changes for the better. I want to ask him sometimes, but maybe that is invasive.” “I feel empathy for him, yes, but it doesn’t make me wanna cry.” “That darn lion made you sad didn’t it, confined to its shoebox cage. didn’t that make you sad? I remember--.-“ “yeah somehow but not profoundly. I mean, it is what it is. that man too, he seems to me capable of carrying on. he is not desperate, he seems motivated, I’d pray for him if I would.” “OH come on.” Joker is angry and leaves for the kitchen. She thinks about Spider consistently antagonizing her, most specifically for her emotions in relation to the world. As if there were something untidy about her in these moments. Joker really would like to start talking to the man in the pink pyjamas. She doesn’t have a clear plan and she knows there might not be a specific outcome to this – hell maybe it is about her in the end. Maybe to talk to him would help her rather than him to deal with his fate. But also, maybe he would like some company.
Joker returns. “I’ll need the table today Spider, I have to make a new coat for next week’s assignment.” “Oh, what color?” “red” “again?” “they requested red.” “alright, well I guess I’ll go home then” “no, stay, you can stay, You know I like company when I do it, just clear the table for me will you, I need to wipe it so I don’t leave stains” “silk??” “no it's a middle ground job, I ll go with polyester, also, in all honesty, I seriously doubt anyone really can tell the difference. I come to think it is mostly about my feelings in relation to the material. Which is fair enough, since I am the one who needs to perform and be put in a certain mood, but if I can avoid it, I think I won’t go with silk anymore. It#S just too much. Expensive and all, and also, have you ever looked into silk production? It’s a mess, it still is, and I don’t have the nerves to research ethically correct options.” “I always liked that material of that one black coat, I found it magical and beautiful and I definitely can tell the difference.” “I am not saying there is no gain, I am just being pragmatic here. And the longer I am doing this job I simply wonder what is really necessary in terms of formality. A lot of it seems made up to me. Like interior, you know how we don’t really care for carpets. I think coming from where I do, knowing the engrained attached values to material, I kinda find myself on the agnostic side of the coin. Like what if we just made this up. You can recreate the shiny sheerness you like about the coat in synthetic material, it is absolutely possible. So what remains in ones attachement to “the real thing” is yielding to something precious, that is not scarce but monetarily less approachable. And I sort of dread this. Why play the game?” “So you deny the value of a beautiful thing”“Oh stop spider, you know I don’t argue for that. I am simply trying to put things in perspective. There is simply no universality in beauty and in our preferences. Which makes me question why one shouldn’t challenge ones preconceptions. If we find our tastes and therefore even emotions to be malleable, then shouldn’t we explore our capacity to do so?!” “ You know my answer is that I find your relativist introspections not very helpful, yet rather distasteful. Ultimately it seems to me to solely be related to your fear of losing agency. Instead of occupying yourself with meaning, you execute abstinence from a fabric. In the process, you feel yourself enabled, citizen, critical mind. Congratulations, you reclaimed your independence as individual, you are not enslaved in the material world, you performed an ablation. you are free now. etc. It all seems so childish when no real gain comes from it but that of yet another aesthetics. worse so, via this abstinence you make yourself a person less sensual, less able to simply look and like. who do you seek to become? the purified hermit? look at this place, you are on the right track. there is nothing you like, nothing you treasure. Void naked walls and 3 functional objects. are you proud joker? Or is it that you are prepared for something else? The more I think about it, curiously, all of this seems to me disgustingly religious. A moribound preparation for an afterlife. And this is astonishing given that you are the one who loves live, the one who supposedly takes no issue with the existential set up.” “Spider are you mad at me for expressing a doubt?” “I am not mad. Don’t you think it’s funny? Who do you want to become?” “I am me. I don’t see how you need to confuse my though process and willingness to change with a desire to change at large, or to rid myself from what makes me me.”
Spider remained silent. He felt his anger in his chest. he sat at the armchair by the window, his legs pressed tight to his abdomen. Joker meanwhile had scrubbed the table top with a sponge and detergent, she had cleaned it with water, than dried it off with paper towels. She had covered it with crude cotton cloth –Spider has watched her many times and he knows the procedure. On top of the protective white cotton cloth she unfolds the red polyester material. It is translucent even transparent. After marking the outlines of the pattern, Joker cuts out the shapes and replaces them on the excess material to duplicate the shapes. Before doing so, she hand stitches the cut outs to the material with white yarn. For this longest part of the process Joker sits down alternately on her and his chair – the only two chairs surrounding the dining table. “I thought about what you said about drawing the other day, spider, that thing about carefulness. like, while you are being careful, you develop an attachment, a responsibility, which than curiously enhances the act of care reciprocally. I feel that way about working with fabric and stitching. I understand what you mean. Also, and this is the big difference, when sewing, the faithfulness to the cut lines and edges, the line the machine is drawing on the fabric will directly and crudely be reflected in the three dimensional shape of the attached textiles. This magic relationship is very different from drawing I find, or at least from what I understand. The stitched curve will not be what it seems to be when brought to life by folds and covering shapes. There cannot be a greater difference between line and volume as in how we perceive it. Knowing to do it right, understanding the consequence of a flat stitch in relation to its three dimensional reality is the ultimate distortion of perception.” “Yeah that seems crazy. Also your tools are so much more aggressive. While my hand gets smudged in graphite at best, you bleed” “haha, spider, of course you must like that thought, though honestly that hardly happens” “ well obviously I mean it in a poetic sense.” “yeah” “I feel a little cold and tired, can I lay down?” “sure go ahead”.