multicollinear collision | ethical divide
[5 december 2009]

“In his analysis of biopower, Foucault shows that, contrary to Nietzsche's predictions about the increasing influence of life-denying slave moralities, modern societies have come to be governed increasingly through projects that do not perhaps affirm life in the Nietzschean manner, but certainly seek to maximize it, aligning our own desire to be alive and healthy with governmental projects of all sorts, from population policies to the enlightened hedonism of contemporary sexual regimes.”

—Mariana Valverde, “Derrida's Justice and Foucault’s Freedom: Ethics, History, and Social Movements.”

“Ethics...are inseparable from ethe, a word meaning ‘haunts,’ or, even more colloquially, ‘hang outs’ and by extension ‘habits’ or ‘practices.’… Through reference to the formation of ethical norms within communities, the sophists go beyond total relativism—a hedonistic self-interest—to a discourse about enlightened self-interest based in the notion of ‘self’ as constituted by the community.”

—Susan C. Jarratt,
Re-Reading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured


One result was a new sense of possibility and an awareness of alternatives.

Some of it was a little too frightening for some; others took it all in stride; others opened ourselves up wide.

Trying to proliferate the versions and stories of myself, an ongoing performance always shifting and multiplying. A multitude of voices. Truth always deferred. Perpetual circulation of lies, spiraling questions and knotted binds.

The erotic charge in the prospect of others making me up, over and over, in a variety of contradictory images.

Daunted by the low number of people I seem to be; frantic to increase the versions of myself up to a maximum of infinity.

All versions equally true/false; none special; boredom is the most terrifying thing.


The night they were supposed to go dancing, she showed up at his door in a short black skirt and blood-red stilettos.

“Guess what color my toes are,” she said, but before he could, she had quickly slipped one heel off with the sole of the other to reveal matching blood-red nails, perfectly sculpted and painted. Immediately, he fell to his hands and knees and began licking her feet, alternating between the exposed toes of one foot and the red patent leather of the high heel still on the other. His hands travelled up her thighs and under the skirt to verify that she had followed his request to wear nothing underneath. He brought his hands back down and breathed her in. She stood unevenly in front of him at the side of his bed, wiggling off balance in one heel and giggling as his mouth moved up her calves and thighs, before falling back on the bed, laughing. One leg lifted, the red heel pressed gently into the gap beneath his left clavicle, and he drove himself onto it until it felt like the skin there would puncture.


“I have two weaknesses.

“One: Dancers. Any kind of dancer, but especially gitanas.

“And two: The circus. Anything to do with the circus. Acrobats, fire-eaters, clowns.

“Especially clowns.”


The tattoo woman in Santa Sangre haunting his dreams, bellydancing in a new form of brilliant blue pigment invented accidentally by chemists mixing
two distinct biological elements.


Sheets soaked through again. Vessels emptied into each other. A volatile chemical reaction. Collision. Release.


She showed up at his door unannounced, wearing dramatic makeup and several other masks. “I don’t care who you choose to perform, as long as
you are game to play.”


“Eres cabrón,” she said.

“Thanks,” he said.

“Digo—un cabrón. Eres un cabrón.”

“Thanks,” he said.


The monogamous and the promiscuous—idealists alike. Particles collide. Supercooled ethical divide. The first trillionth of a second of a universe’s life.


Material lies.




“So I told her, look—it could be as simple as just admitting that you just need me to be your clavo for a little while, you know, para sacar al otro, that’s all, nothing serious or dramatic, I don’t mind. I won't take it personal or anything, I understand.”

“And what did she say?”

“She told me her plan.”

“Her ‘plan’?”

“Yes: One house here, and one in the middle of México. She said I could be part of her plan, but it would mean that I would have to spend the rest of my life traveling back and forth between the two. As soon as I got to one house, I’d have to turn right back around and start running the opposite direction, Tarahumara-style.”


“Right? So I go, ‘Well, you know, let me tell you my plan. My plan is to die with as little personal property and as much personal debt as possible, to avoid the labor camps along the way, and to laugh, play, love, and fuck, as much as I can before it’s all over.’”

“What’d she say?”

“That time, she laughed. Of course, it was one of the few times I was actually being serious.”

“You’re pathetic.”



“At this point, I have had so many multiple, contradictory first impressions of you that I simply don’t know what to think,” she said.

“Right,” he said.

“No, really,” she said. “It just kills me to think that you might just be another big phony like all the rest.”

“Well, what would Lukács think about it?” he said.

“I think that he would swing his rusty sickle for your neck in a surreal gesture of pure social realism.”

“Well, material conditions do shape consciouslessness. After all, a reified beheading is at the root of any worthy dialectical divide.”

“Are you mocking me?”

“No, just looking deeply into your big, beautiful, brown eyes.”


“Because I just can’t seem to get you out of my mind.”







“A few individuals wanted to kill me afterward. One threatened to sic her cousins from La Puente on me, and I think she was only half-joking. Another was about to send her ex-gangster brother-in-law and his friends after me, a scenario in which I think I would have ended up
deep in the desert far from any sign of civilization.
Yet a third has remained completely silent and unresponsive on the matter, which is even more
disturbing and troublesome, because I don’t even
know what to expect there, or when.”

But the fourth—now that is a whole other story.



“When will I finally get to see your writing?” he says.


“Yeah, wh—“

“When I carve it into your back with this
rusty clavo, you fucker.”

“Now there’s a story I’m dying to read!”



Years later, we were lying in bed and your thigh was pressed up next to mine, and something about how the tattooed words there were swirling and mutating between us, a porous exchange, and I proposed the image of the peeling of a grape. You said, “That’s my heart already, peeled,” and I laughed, “Na girl, that’s just an image in my head, something I can remember in my mind.” And you said in your most serious voice, “No, look,” and there between the chipped magenta nails of your thumb and forefinger was a small, peeled, jellied red mass barely holding together, leaking moisture around your whorled fingertips. Raw uncovered translucent flesh, tiny delicate seeds jiggling inside.

“This is your heart, fucker. When I said ‘my’ heart, I meant yours meaning mine now.”

And then before I could reach for it, you’d smashed it flat into my forehead with your wide open palm and then pinned it in place with a nail and your fist.

“Bliss!” I cried, as it liquefied, and the nail drove deep between my eyes.





image+text copyright ©2009 by Ruben R. Mendoza. All rights reserved.

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