SEEDS OF DISCONTENT
While working at my day job of erasing the dictionary, I came across a unique entry: dissent. It directed me to [SEE: dissention] – which was defined as an argument, to be solved only through consensus, at which point two sides must reach consent. It was hard work to erase dissent, because it had so many derivatives. While I was erasing it I thought about the phrase “seeds of discontent,” and wondered if that was what I was feeling, although I was erasing at the same speed and frequency as usual. I think the seeds, if they were there, had more to do with my experienced fuzziness around consent, which I knew was very close to next in line for erasure.
I went outside to the garden to have a smoke, and watched my coworkers clear out a large ancient crypt of useless supplies. The function of the supplies had already been erased, so now came the dirty work of erasing the entrails of the function. My coworkers would haul the objects into bins and roll the bins over into an industrial-sized macro eraser, which erased over an endless void of oblivion. Standing next to the macro eraser brought up a lot for me, but I couldn’t name exactly what, because of course those feelings, their names I mean, had been erased. It was more just a vague sense of unknowing: that feeling of having a word “just on the tip of your tongue,” if your tongue was a contract laborer and your teeth were always watching. I took another drag. My coworkers were shoveling rapidly, and so I was almost entirely sure they were not as affected as I by the seeds of possible discontent or doubt in reaching a future consensus. They shoveled plastic tarps, iron birds nests, smashed plastic, soft plastic, smashed tin, porcelain serving trays, staplers, dry red paint, dead leaves, pink styrofoam, BIC lighters, vintage can-openers, drain stoppers, a cat, a dusty jar, handlebars, plant holders, cardboard boxes, savings cards and clothespins. Bartlett shoveled a hunting rifle but Megan retrieved it, scolding him for almost erasing something with a still-intact function.
I remember when the macro eraser was itself contested for function. That was when the poets were still employed, and they were writing poems about justice. But then poetry was erased, so they started painting about justice. Then painting was erased, so they started composing ambient electronic music that alluded in its avant-garde style of experimentation to justice. Then electronic music was erased and then the avant-garde was erased. Unionizing was erased, public programming was erased, government-sponsored housing was erased, conversations about race erased, justice was erased from the collective consciousness. The once-poets were now trying to get at meaning by soundlessly moving bodies through material. Sculpture was erased, and left behind this shed of dysfunctional objects that was now to be cleared out for mass eradication.
I ground my cigarette into the earth. I wondered when the last shred of autonomy went down the throat of supremacy. It was not darkness, it was what was left after darkness was erased. I imagined, in a rare allowance of foolish idealism, an invisible celebration of euphoric jubilee in the center of oblivion, that what had been sent to hell actually thrived there. I checked my watch: only 1.5 more hours till lunch. I have to remember this is just a job, I said to myself. Then I went back inside to finish with dissent.
Phoebe Glick is a writer concerned with preserving queer intimacy under the authoritative State. She has a chapbook called Period Appropriate (dancing girl press, 2016). Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Lemon Hound, Apogee, Entropy, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. She edits The Felt, a journal of otherworldly poetics. Be her friend @phoebeglick.