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BEN MARCUS

 THE GOLDEN MONICA

There exists in some precincts the phenomenon of the intruder or mad invader, who enters the American house in order to extinguish himself in the presence of the mister, the female, the children, whomever. The man powers in, arranges a prison of wire or rope onto the members of the shelter, and settles onto a comfortable area-the rug, a layered blanket, the soft membrane of the floor-to attain a posture of attention to his own body that will render its demise. They are forced to watch, the family. He lights a fire, this man. Or he arranges the appliances to emit the sensations of music, acquits himself of the gentleman's movement in the center of the room, queries the animal likeness carved into his garment. In other versions he strips to his skin and manifests a final saying to his audience. Make no mistake, they are bound such with the wire or rope that they are forced to acquire the status of audience to this act, and then further to the self-created corpse, which singularly occupies their attention until rescue arrives. The condition of corpse is achieved with a lotion, usually. The intruder might apply a final wound onto himself with pistol or kerm. This knife is curved, fluent in the obstacles of bone and cloth.

What is interesting, as always, is the aftermath. The body, as such, lies often coiled on the floor. Whosoever sits bound at the perimeter must witness its stillness. The television, when activated, accompanies the temperature of the room with a purling forth of warm air, casting the captives under the bluish gild of the broadcast runnel. Thereafter, through unspecified elaborate means, a single figure from the bound hostages-and plural it is, always-manages to delimit himself from his lashed state and escape the site. It is this figure-the escapee who abandons his bound gang for some place of lesser tension-who not only is accused of a murder, but confesses to one, thus absorbing the suicide as his own act, despite the weirdly meek pleas of his family, whose claims for his innocence sound hollow, fictional.

The acts of doing and watching are interchangeable here. It is the genius of the perpetrator of the monica to shift volition onto his audience. The spectacle is arranged to emanate from whoever watches it, where seeing is the first form of doing. The audience is deceived into a sense of creation for the act it has witnessed. A member of the family seems riotously certain that he has murdered through the body, attaining the kill.

The act is called a monica because a suicide is forced into the purview of an audience of hostages. It is an apt model for the discussion of the shelter and its forms, assembled in these areas under the rubric of the glimmering, new suicide-houses in which to die. The American areas, in constituency, collaborate to intrude and invade, looting the body of what it does not require, fortifying it with the American medicine of the final home. While any critical neologism made here will be shucked by the world's refusal to bear the statements of anyone but its author, a certain new assault can be claimed for a shelter that would close the down down, deny it light. This body will not heal itself, feign wellness, posture some possession of any type of solution. Indeed, where air or light does not exist, it will fashion its own, at whatever cost, whatever pain, extracting that tonic from its own ravaged materials. The witness to this body, and even (or especially) the figure who seeks to escape the welter of the home proposing the monica, will be transfixed at once by the style of death that each man achieves, rightly paralyzed in the beauty of a new mode of exit. And then ultimately, always, by necessity, he will feel certain that he has caused this disappearance, through some stillness or silence of his own.

It is simple, really. Where a house is, this man will maul it with noise and steam, scouring what is stuck and stubborn therein with a lather of golden light, producing an exit of life that is marked by the inception of a shadow. And the shadow takes up residence inside the body, the world. And the shadow is a scar that will not soon be put off.

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