Submission No. 2


Why is our world so muted in its general appearance? Greens… light… dark… Reflected sky in the water… grays and browns… Dark water.

But aliens!

Aliens wear helmets of yellow and orange and suits of pink and blue and orange and red!

Their smoke, sucked into boxes at the riverbank, is pink and blue. They know something. They have yellow vehicles.

They move, jerkily, in a clear homage to movies we made of alien invasions in the mid 20th century. They do not want us to take them to our leader at all; it turns out they don’t care. Yet even though they come in peace, they so want to please us that, out of generosity, they imitate the aliens as we imagined them in our movies (who of course moved that way not for artistic reasons but due to technical constraints in filmmaking).

Okay. What I see.

I see pink smoke sucked into a clear box. With blue smoke trapped next to it. Two boxes, evenly subdivided, are sitting atop a tripod, high on a bank above a river.

Or is a swimming hole? The water, the background, slides speedily, but awkwardly, to the right. The smoke is sucked INTO the box, and does not escape it.

Is this video running backwards? Yes of course. But more than that: this world is running backwards. It is inverted. It is going back into the box. We know. Something will happen. Something that escapes the grip of the usual, the chronological, the sequential. We are in the realm of art.

Then it does: there is a man in a half-open suit, yellows, pinks, blues, oranges, wearing a helmet, around him various contraptions. But what we see is not the contraptions. We see, most of all, his hairy chest, his pale skin, the way his torso plumps out of his suit, a glimpse of his vulnerable penis in its nest of dark pubic hair. He moves urgently, but it is not clear what he is doing. He is maybe not a man, but an alien?

We see the box again, now with the blue smoke sucked into it. The water slides to the left. Then the man is floating jerkily, with a yellow fin. Back to the boxes. A yellow helmet sits on top of it now.

Why is it there? Why are we watching? But then who doesn’t want to sit by water, watching the wind or a current ripple its surface, the trees, the leaves, looking at something purposeful? That’s it: what we are watching is purposeful, in the most immediate sense of the word, not for any great purpose but simply with purpose.

Then we see another alien, this one with long dark hair (do they have genders?) fumbling with a yellow camera, sticking it to her eye, into the thick snow. Is that a car in the background? Is she alone? Is this a project of some kind? Is there a purpose? Has she lost whatever purpose she once had? Do aliens sometimes lose their sense of purpose the way the rest of us do? Is being inept the glue that holds the universe together?

Is there supposed to be a narrative at all? Stop looking for narrative, Tom. Look. LOOK.

She had a green face, a mask. I hated her all of a sudden. I thought she was beautiful, and she was only a monster, alien.

Then it all begins to go wrong: a white, toothy, utterly self-possessed, monstrous alien floats on the water in an open red wetsuit (is that what it is?). He paddles from the end of a canoe. He is monstrous not because of the way he looks but because he is, unmistakably, fully content with his station in life, his position in the world. He is entirely non-reflective, that is, not a single second thought crosses his mind, only first thoughts. He has a little round human mask on his belly, with a black tube poking out of it. How hard to disguise yourself when you don’t know what is important to another species… We would never be fooled, we homo sapiens. But could we fool him any better?

Oh, I forgot to mention, another alien, this one with a green face, is also seen, paddling another canoe. And then another one, with a red face, bringing the mask to his face, sucking on its little black tube. Fuck them too. Figures are seen in the distance, on the shore… Human beings? Orchestrating things? They seem oblivious to us, too important to notice us. Then where do I fit in?

Then an alien, or monster, or…

What are we doing here? Who are these creatures, these aliens, these artists, with their yellow objects, their bleeding-pink primary colors, their sped-up, fumbling behavior? Are they having fun? Are we? A man in a living room, with that same red wetsuit on the couch, and the little round human mask set up where the head should be, but this man, bearded, is on his back on the floor, with a wooden contraption over him. It’s like a being from a wooden planet. It twitches and turns over his supine body. It shifts, twitches, as he moves it as if under some compulsion. He rotates his body 360 degrees. His legs swing our way and we glimpse the brown hairy crack between his legs. Asshole. Humiliation. Offering. Or unintentional?

Doesn’t matter.


Then the next time there is a wooden leg of the contraption running vertically, right there, blocking our view — a moment of discretion? A random occurrence? Did we want to see that glimpse again? Are we grateful not to see it again?

What are we to make of this exposure to someone’s primary-colored dream-asshole? For that is what we are seeing: alien life form as purposeful fuck off you suck earth with your muted colors, your greens, your grays, your browns, your rippling water, your customs, your guarded habits, your friends, your good days and bad days and in-between days.

We are aliens. We dip our hands in the black, ovaloid wetness and roll multi-wheeled vehicles over our chests, and we will eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and we like to travel on our backs on the beds of small trucks, driven by embarrassed and game creatures from planets that we happen to visit, and we make box-like gestures there with our arms, sitting up on one knee, under the open sky.

What’s your purpose, human?

About Tom Clyde

The best place to learn about me is to read my riffs. What could be more revealing? Cheeky, maybe, but true enough.

One comment

  1. mightsayanything

    I was watching Beck’s “Loser” on VEVO and there’s a fragmentary scene that shows two guys sitting on the back of a mini-tractor truck just in the moment of putting helmets on… You can sit through the whole video or you can go straight to 3:25 to see it. I wonder if Torsten Z. Burns is familiar with Beck’s video? I’ll ask him!

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