January 21, 2009

How To Suffocate an Angel [jake]

Hello and thank you. I welcome you, first of all, to an enigma, and I thank you, second of all, for being open-minded.

I found this collection of papers underneath my tire in a gas station parking lot. The only reason I picked it up was because I had thought it was trash, and I felt guilty driving off knowing that it would be left to blow around when I could have thrown it away. I pulled my car forward a tad and, upon snatching up the papers, discovered that it was some sort of loose-leaf compilation of written works.

All that I’ve been able to configure about the author or the works’ origin is that his name is Levi Ethan and that he seems to be somewhat… on the eccentric side, to put it lightly. The compilation, entitled “How to Suffocate an Angel: the Complete Anthology,” appears to be an assembly of Levi’s sporadic journal entries dated from mid-November of 2003 until late January of 2005. He talks about supernatural planes and weird dreams he’s had and this thing called “fundamental presence”—which, I believe, is some sort of neo-nirvana. Upon reading, I’ve wondered whether or not the majority of his writing is based in some sort of dream-world of his. I’ve also wondered whether or not it’s our world that is the fantasy.

Regardless, his writing is thought-provoking in a near-deranged way, so I found it worthy of editing and submitting under his name. Partly in his mysterious honor and partly in the hopes that he might see his work published somewhere and find a way to contact me. It would certainly be a privilege to meet him face-to-face.

Levi, if you ever read this, my name is Jay Keff. My phone number is xxx-xx9-xx11. My address is xxx M— Street, C—. You have reminded me that life does not always exist on my terms, and I thank you for that.

How to Suffocate an Angel: the Complete Anthology
By, Levi Ethan


The Disease (11/17/03)

We’ve grown to know it; prone to it—now, unavoidable
It snares your tongue and slides down your throat,
   Fills your lungs and sits in your gut
You may cough, but it will never leave
   It will rot your teeth
   And poke holes in your complex beliefs
Reason has enraptured your mind, captured your understanding
Now your body submits
   And your heart becomes a beating flesh
You may bleed, but you’ll never feel
   Despite each meal
   You’ll never truly eat
We keep attentive watch over our fields, making sure
That none can place a seed that we don’t see
   But it has been planted nonetheless
It carries in whispers of curious conversation
It sweeps through cities, infecting every silent street
   These kinds of things cannot help but get around…
The deceased now think life is meant for attraction
The disease put a knife into olden interaction

Expiration Dates (3/18/04)

This morning, upon examining the expiration date of the gallon of milk in my refrigerator, I have discovered the key to obtaining foundational presence. And my milk, though supposedly expired, both smells and tastes fine. I shall eat it with my bowl of cereal.

I’ve known for awhile that it’s all about foundational presence, which is why I’ve decided to live in the past. Moreover, I’ve concluded that it is, in fact, a good thing, a beneficial thing. I’ve forgotten all my negative, preconceived connotations and simply embraced it. Logically, it’s the only way to understand time and appreciate experience. It’s necessary now to introduce a new paradigm for the perception of chronology—a more accurate perception, I might add.

Traditional thought tells you that the past is dead, the present is alive, and the future is in a constant state of almost-birth, always just being born. We believe that we should live in the present moment because it’s the one in which we allegedly find ourselves. The future is far too unpredictable, so wandering too far ahead can cause us to lose grip of any foundational presence. And we believe that the past, because it has already occurred, cannot be inhabited. The claim is that, because these moments have experienced closure, they have experienced completion, and they are therefore “dead.” How can one live in something that is not itself alive? The present is wherein all foundational presence lies; therefore we must live in the present. It’s all about foundational presence, after all.

But this assertion is false, outright. How can one find foundation in the present? The present is ever-present, yes, but it is also ever-fleeting! We cannot cling to it, for it is vapor! It escapes us in every moment, becoming what…? That’s right: the past, every moment’s final resting place.

You see, the past is immortal, the present is constantly being killed, and the future is its elusive murderer. Though the past is dead, it is eternal. Time has an afterlife, as we mortal mammals do. Oncoming moments of the future destroy and replace moments of the present, which, upon dying, become the dwelling place of foundational presence; the past is the only place where time stays forever.

Though historically you find yourself in the present and facing the future, you must choose to abide in the past into eternity. For time will push you farther and farther away from the present by chronological proximity, which will, in turn, push you farther and farther away from the fleeting motion of present and future moments. The pursuit of true foundational presence can only be found in an out-of-body immortality that comes through exploring the past.

I am fortunate to be able to do so through the modicum of an active memory. Once the reality of the present settles into its state of past, it is then enabled to be formed into the romantic history of your liking. This sort of epic nostalgia can be painted imaginatively as a land flowing with milk and honey—a magical place where even the bad was better than the current good, and you can revel in your own legend without ever facing death! Experiencing foundation presence has a funny way of keeping dead things alive.

Expiration Dates II (3/19/04)

Today I realized that I had misread the expiration date on my milk. Though I thought it to be expired and still tasting fresh, it was not expired after all. It expires in nine days.

I still stand by my principles of foundational presence.

To and Fro, Up and Down (6/7/04)

I tried to write a children’s story today. I haven’t illustrated it yet. Here’s how it turned out:

There once was a six-year-old boy named Jonny. He lived on a farm in Farmtown, Kansas. His farm had lots of animals and lots of lands for the Jonny and the animals to run and play on. Jonny loved his home.

Jonny had a horse named Mel. Mel was Jonny’s favorite horse because, when Jonny was three-years-old, Mel saved him from drowning in a river that ran through their property. Mel was a strong, loyal horse. He loved Jonny very much.

One day, Jonny was out in a field playing with Mel, riding him or chasing him. Sometimes Mel would lead Jonny around in the grass. They both loved playing these games in the open land very, very much.

This day, however, Jonny decided to imagine that there were invisible fences in the field. Whenever Mel would try and cross where Jonny had laid a “fence,” Jonny would rebuke Mel. He would say, “No, Mel! No! You cannot go here! You must stay in your fence where I put you!”

Soon Jonny found that when he would take Mel out to the field to play, Mel would act funny. He would only move in certain directions, in certain ways. Jonny watched Mel move: to and fro, up and down, to and fro, up and down.

Overtime, Jonny got used to Mel’s movements. They became ordinary and predictable. Part of Jonny felt more comfortable with Mel moving this way, but part of Jonny grew bored with Mel, always moving to and fro, up and down, to and fro, up and down. Mel still loved Jonny, but he only wanted him to remove the imaginary fences.

By the time Jonny had turned seven, he no longer played with Mel at all. He stayed in his home and neglected the land. Mel still loved Jonny. He wandered across the land: to and fro, up and down, to and fro, up and down, waiting for Jonny to remove his fences, so he could show his good friend how well he could really move.

What the Hell (7/22/04)

It’s been said that everyone has their own personal hell, a place that each person creates and forges in accordance to the manner in which that individual chooses to live their life. They say that hell is one’s deepest fears, manifest and transfigured into an escapable reality. Whether it be snakes, alien abduction, or desperately striving for eternity in a perpetual state of dismal loneliness and wretched failure, they claim that these fears form an amorphous, enrapturing existence. Some, however, take it a step further, saying that a personal hell is not produced from the animation of one’s deepest fears, but instead the retribution of one’s darkest sins. This theory promotes a sort of wrathful, long-term karma that waits until the last minute to cause what has gone around to come around again. Essentially, you’re spending your afterlife carrying the weight of the sin in your past life. I don’t know about you, but the thought of a bunch of moping spirits wandering in hellish catacombs, complaining about “the way things used to be,” just seems so Charles Dickens. The only other mainstream opinion in western culture about the dark-life after death is the “fiery lake of burning sulfur” approach put forth by the romantic Christians with their na├»ve tales of good and evil.

Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s perfectly acceptable for popular belief to inform one’s outlook on what will happen when your ticker finally tocks.

That being said, these three perspectives, though based in natural fundaments of human existence, have completely missed the mark.

Although they may be onto something. Let me explain.

Hell is as dynamic a place to be as there ever was. I haven’t been there, but I know it’s growing and changing all the time. Frankly, we’ve all heard hell described to us in bits in pieces every day. Remember the sweltering humidity in the unventilated waiting room in the dead of summer? Then you’ll recall when the guy sweating next to you muttered, “It’s hot as hell in here,” underneath his breath. He just created hell, my friends. And not just his hell either, he created all hell; everyone’s hell. Beyond that, you heard hell described when the big ice storm hit. You were outside scraping the ice off of your driveway with a shovel with your friend, who exhaustedly puffed, “It’s cold as hell out here.” The fog in his breath designed a little more hell. Your hell; his hell; all hell.

You wouldn’t think it when you said it, but now it is sticky as hell. Now it is dry as hell; bright as hell; loud as hell. On top of that, you’ll have to run like hell through what looks like hell, and it will hurt like hell. However much it hurt, you will feel it hurt in hell.

So in a way, our deepest fears are making hell, if we attribute them accordingly. And our darkest sins are reaped in hell, if our conscience instills such a directed conviction. And the Christians are causing hell’s progress, too. The Bible laid a groundwork for both action and scenery—even a warden! But we are adding to hell continually.

Everyone’s a contributor; everyone’s a patron. Hell is the archetype of aggressive expansion. We all keep building hell, for hell is built by ceaseless tongues. Or weeping and gnashing of teeth—whatever you say.

Another Brick (7/30/04)

At the department store this afternoon, I heard an aggravated customer exclaim, “That’s dumb as hell!” Hell is built another brick…

How to Suffocate an Angel (12/11/04)

As we all know, there are all manner of spirits wandering over this earth at any given time—angels, demons, ghosts, aliens, whatever: they all interact on the same plane. Not everyone can see them, or knows it when they have seen them, but I’ve seen them. I’ve known it. I see them everywhere, all the time. There’s one important thing to bear in mind about spirits, though they interact on their own plane, like I said, the spiritual plane crosses our physical plane at several distinct points, allowing them to interact with us on our plane to a certain extent.

We’ve all heard stories about supernatural occurrences—paranormal engagements, alien encounters, “entertaining angels unawares,” that sort of thing. I mean, it’s all the same, really. But know this: the ground on which the planes cross is a two-way street, though we’d like to deny it. “If-I’m-touching-you-then-you’re-touching-me-too” mentality. My point is that while they affect our existence, we too affect theirs. Although we are obliviously amusing angels, we are ignorantly asphyxiating them as well.

Though you may not be aware, hundreds of spirits die every year on account of human disregard. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in the supernatural plane—being that death only exists in ours.

Now, I know what you all are thinking: if we’re killing angels all the time, how come we haven’t been issued a court summons to the Supernatural Court of Utmost Law and Justice? An understandable question, but a simple answer: they call it the “Bezer Rule.” It’s not murder, which is why there are almost no convictions, but think of it as manslaughter, unintentional killing. You are, in a way, innocent, but you’re not completely unaccountable. After all, there are certain ways that we suffocate an angel which have become second-nature, maybe even third- or fourth-nature:

One – The first way we tend to suffocate angels is by committing to a general process of desensitization. The fact is these spirits are always active and speaking, and our two planes are so intimately connected that it’s impossible to be unaware of its existence. The key is that we often develop such a heightened awareness to spirits that we become altogether unaware of them. When a spirit is present, more often than not, it will be on your right hand side—I’ve never observed an occasion contrary—and this constant presence creates an unconscious rejection of activity on our right side. Being ignored will put them in a weakened state, highly susceptible to the death.

Two – Aloneness—which, like death, is bred only in our plane—is apparently fatal to spirits and also deeply contagious. The less involved we are in human relationship, the more angels will catch our pox.

Three – There are certain words and phrases that will choke any ghost (holy or otherwise). Here is a short list:

  • The word “lost”
  • "They wouldn’t be homeless if they would just get off their lazy ass and get a job”
  • “After what he did to me, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness”
  • The word “fire”
  • “That’s just the way I am”
  • Any “dead baby” joke
  • “What does God need me to do with my life?”
  • Any racist joke
  • “She doesn’t love me how I want to be loved”
  • The word “fine”

Four – For whatever reason, thinking on something profoundly beautiful and reacting emotionally to it without moving your body responsively will kill an angel near-instantly.

Five – The simplest way to strangulate a spirit is also, seemingly, the most insignificant. Because you’re already committed to inevitable ignorance, all you have to do is commit simple, self-focused acts. After all, what’s the difference between committing a sin and committing to a sin? Each malicious wish, each rotten thought, each greedy deed will suffocate an angel.

On Your Belly (1/19/05)

I had a dream last night that I thought I should record—I think it was significant.

I went to bed earlier than usual, which may have had something to do with it. I should try going to bed at 9:27 every night—the time of day might be conducive of revolutionary visions. Experimentation shall verify this.

Anyway, my dream began (as far back as I can recall) with me in the grocery store, shopping for oregano. For whatever reason, I was in dire need of lots and lots of oregano—and the grocery store, apparently, didn’t want me to have any. After having cleared all the oregano from its specifically labeled place on the shelf and into my cart, I knew that there was more (in that dreamlike way that you just know things that you couldn’t possibly in reality) in the store that I simply had to acquire. I sensed also (in my dream-reality… dreamality) that I could not trust any of employees in the store; they were all either holding out on me or out to get me.

So I raced my cart through the store, eyeing each employee with suspicion and hunting my hidden oregano. I was finding it behind frozen dinners, under heads of lettuce, and inside of cereal boxes, everywhere imaginable. Before I knew it, my shopping cart was overflowing, a mountain of oregano swaying and swaying.

“Hello,” a voice said behind me.

I turned. It was a snake, talking to me in the dairy aisle of the grocery store.

“What’s your name?” the snake asked me.

“Levi,” I replied. He seemed to await my reciprocation. “Oh…!” I jumped. “What’s your name?”

“My name’s Snake,” said Snake. “Thanks for asking.” He was a very cordial snake.

“No problem. Rather fitting name you have, Snake.”

“I think so, too.”

He smiled at me in silence for awhile. I smiled back, awkwardly.

“What are you up to?” he finally asked.

“Gathering oregano,” I said. “I need it.”

“Indeed,” he said.

Another smiling silence between us—I’d never talked to a snake before.

“May I ask you some things?” I asked.

“If you’d like.”

“What kind of snake are you?”

“A diamondback rattlesnake,” he replied.

“That’s nice,” I said. “What kind of things do you eat?”
“Oh, the usual. Mice, birds, that sort of thing—you know.”

“Yes, yes, of course. How long are you?”

“Four feet, one inch, last I measured.”

“Hm. Well, what’s it like scooting along on your belly? I imagine that’s got to be a difficult or frustrating mode of transportation.”

“It’s okay,” he shrugged, or performed whatever the equivalent to shrugging would be for a snake.

I seemed to have run out of questions, and the smiling silence rose again. I then noticed that my cart was gone. One of the employees must have stolen while I wasn’t looking—the bastards!

“I didn’t use to scoot along on my belly, you know,” Snake interjected. My bewildered stare must have said it all. “Oh yes,” he continued. “I used to have legs, much like any lizard you’ve seen. And I was quick—oh, boy, was I quick! You think I’m quick now, you should have seen me then.”

“That is fascinating!” I exclaimed. “I do wish I could have seen that!”

“Those days are gone,” he stated callously. The silence that arose was a different quiet, a darker quiet. All I wanted was my cart full of oregano. I wanted to break the silence, but had nothing to say.

“New days are coming,” he blurted. Then the snake named Snake darted through my legs, slithering wildly across the tile floor. I watched him lunge for a hole in the wall across the way and then disappear for good.

“Can I help you find anything, sir?” an employee asked me. I whipped around to see a stem of oregano in his shirt pocket, recoiling in horror.

Then I woke up.

I think I’ll keep going to bed at 9:27.

Disappointment (1/26/05)

I have gone to bed at 9:27 for an entire week. Results have yet to prove conclusive. Perhaps it was something I ate…


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