The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 22, 2001


The Find of the Chest from Late Edo

I own a small Japanese chest from the late Edo or early Meiji period. I
found it at a yard sale in Miami. It was in 28 pieces, fairly broken up.
The seller, who was an interior decorator, suggested I take the drawers
out and use some as knick-knacks. I thought of mono no aware. She sold it
to me for 5 dollars. I took it home and carefully repaired it. It is
missing one cover and one small drawer rail. It is about 18" x 14" x 9".
It is not very large. It has six drawers and two small shelves. The
pictures are delicate and beautifully rendered. The drawers are decorated
with gold on black lacquer background. The largest drawer stretches the
width of the chest and portrays two samurai and an armored horse against a
landscape. The other drawers have floral, landscape, or miscellaneous
motifs. There is a beautiful crab, several flowers, a boat formed with two
golden lines.The decorations on the top and sides are stylized fans. The
lower side of the bottom of the three smallest drawers have a sign _ro_ on
them. I think this stands for satisfactory - the decorations were okayed.
The piece was probably made in a small workshop. There are engraved metal
reinforcements on many of the corners. These are held in place with small
hand-made nails. This is a terrific piece. There are two hinges in the
middle of the chest and a metal receptacle for a lock on a strip of wood
reinforcing the bottom. At one time, a small cover must have been present,
partially covering the drawers and/or shelves. The background lacquer is
black, almost dark brown in places. The back of the chest was painted with
another black lacquer that has mostly peeled off. I used Elmer's glue for
repairing the chest, and cleaned it softly, first with water, and then
with Pledge. The lacquer is flaked in many places. The chest is what a
find. The drawers have small turned ivory pulls on them, except for one,
which has a small engraved metal handle. One of the other drawers shows
signs of being converted from a similar metal handle to an ivory pull. I
have many small Buddhist relics in the chest, but almost all of them are



Of the Latter Days and what you might hear

And of unto your inner worlds, where you must die. It makes no difference,
whether you make peace. And of course one always hopes that embracing the
worst, overcomes. And of course that is a myth. We have not escaped the
fire, to speak.

Do not make peace. For whom shall you make peace. Do not seek your hearts.
For whom shall you seek your hearts.


This is temporary. You may not receive this. You may receive this only on
a temporary basis. With the proliferation of small-scale nuclear devices,
the Internet is in imminent danger of collapse. There may be days, weeks,
months, a few years, left. This is the end-game of culture. Your knowledge
is useless. Don't fret our media.

But it is a privilege to read this. It is a privilege to witness the
curtain coming down on the future. It is a privilege to recognize that
little will remain on the other side - that later, much later, something
else might inscribe similar words to these.

Later, much later, something else might read them, but not these, but

There are too many bombs; there is the untoward simplicity of the bomb. It
is human to hate, human to take out one's enemy at the risk of one's life.
Sacrifice is the core and kernel of being human; hate is the shell that
derives destruction.

These lines are written between one destruction and another, between one
and another finality. They are produced on the road to another's paradise
and the dissembling of our own.


The world frantically holds peace concerts. The world frantically produces
beautiful music reaching throughout heavens and earths. The world produces
books, fashion, songs, operas, magazines, articles, psalms, poems, epics,
sculptures, paintings, puppet-shows, cinema, theater, whole literatures,
all in the name of peace. The world produces screams, terrors, whimpers,
moans, cries and whispers, all begging for peace, caterwauling for peace,
yelling for peace.

Human beings scurry in all directions. Plants burn. Rivers burn. Animals
are blinded. Lesions develop. There are rumors of bombs. There is no
electric. Servers and routers are silenced.

I will stand up and sit down. I will be the prophet of the last and latter
days. I will type on dying keyboards, dead laptops. My words are the words
of truth. My words die from crippled fingers. My words die in ten throats.
My words die in one. My words are lesions.


Countdown. This is written from the future to the past. This has already
been written. This will already have been written. This will already have
not been read.

Not by us. Not by something else.

Listen: We are all dead. Listen: It is too late now. The poison is here.
Listen: It is time to make our peace. Listen: It is time to listen to
ourselves. This is the end of the sentence to which we are sentenced.

No one will make peace. No one will listen to another. It is the nature of
being human. It is human to hate. It is human to act on that hate. We will
dance until we are burned alive. We will dance with our lesions. We will
dance and destroy. We will go to heaven. We will take you with us.

It takes only one. Technology: It takes less than one. One minus one is
zero. It will take nothing. It will take nothing at all.

Hello Pakistan will you not listen to us. Give us your weapons. Hello USA
please listen to us. Give us your weapons. Hello India, Israel, China,
France, Germany, Belgium, England, Russia, Sumer, Latvia, Babylonia, Chad,
Japan, Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Canada, give us your weapons.

We will take your weapons and we will beat them into weapons. We will take
your weapons and we will make a column of ash and smoke, fire and debris,
radiation and cloud, from pole to pole, an axis of fury, an axis of death
and destruction. We will cleanse the earth. We will boil the oceans. We
will flood the lands. We will freeze the oceans. We will burn flesh. We
will fuck our enemies. We will arrive in paradise. We will arrive in
heaven. We have removed our enemies. We have removed your enemies. We do
this out of our own goodwill, out of the hearts of men. We do this out of
kindness and charity. We have removed their hearts.


But we write between one destruction and another. At the risk of boring
you: We write between one destruction and another. We write into the air
air we breathe. We write through the slaughter, onslaught of lesions
always already among us. We write through our sickness. We write for the
decades of routers and servers. We write for the years of wireless, months
of optical, weeks and days of pdas, minutes of broadband, seconds of
remaining life. We write for audience of one, for audience of one-half,
for audience already tending towards zero. We write for the terror among
us and the success of that terror, and its end.

We write for an improbable length. It takes nothing. It takes nothing at

We write for our lesions, our implacable hatreds. It takes nothing. It
takes nothing at all.

We write in order to kill. We write against one another. There is no other
writing. We write the enunciation of slaughter. We write its emancipation.

We write in order to be silenced. We write in order to be successful. We
are successful. We write for an irrational number.

It is a matter of time; it is a matter of nothing else. And we write for
the silence to follow. We are at the end of days. We are of the end. We
are the meat of the end, the flesh of the end. We are of the flesh and its

We are not improbable. We are not improbable at all. We are most probable.
Of this I am sure: We are most probable.

It takes nothing. It takes nothing at all.


- from a midrash



phenomenology of speech and prophecy

it doesn't matter what you say.:it happens anyway.:problem with being a
prophet: no one listens. ::

your death is a proof they won't allow you to see.:the best they do is
spit at you. the worse they do is ignore.:you're not writing for them.
you're writing for collateral.::you speak to the murderers of your speech.

she speaks a language of no consequence whatsoever. to an audience of no
consequence whatsoever.:the prophet more than anyone else knows it doesn't
matter.:you speak to your murderers. your speak to the murderers of your

it is always already in another tongue.:it is always after the fact and
therefore both eternal and ephemeral, langue and parole.:it is the nature
of pure speech or the purity of natural speech.::


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