Deconstructing the Queen (Virtual Reality No. 9)

You are sitting, naked from the waist up, wearing only a PROSE STYLE so deliberate that his-
tory envelopes you. Official portraits rest on your knees--life-sized photographs of a seat-
ed woman bending sharply forward at the hips, inscribed with the words, "Her innocence,
her lightness, the DELICACY with which she suggests moods, her plasticity. . . ."
Flames lick up the leg of your chair. Jackhammers. AUTOMATIC FIRE. Blood pools on the linoleum
and speckles the lens. The cigarette burning down in the ashtray is of very high quality
and one of the GREATEST JOYS of your life. Someone is moving around in the next room,
coughing, eating with his hands, wearing a white sweater, turning cartwheels. You watch
with your EYES CLOSED. Each frame radiates ANXIETY AND LOVE. You adore the tears
glistening in his eyes. Noises drift up from the street far below. FREEZE FRAME: A distant
man carrying off your throne. You see yourself suddenly neutral with regard to the coro-
nation regalia, closer to the contemporary philosophy of PROJECTION. Your right hand is on
your thigh, and you fondle with your left hand an agitated little dog which has its own
JEWELED COLLAR. The merciless distance that comes with exile is the real opulence that
situates you in the world, the real helter-skelter of your existence: PEOPLE, TRAIN STATIONS,
HORSES, TREES, ROADS, HOUSES, CASTLES---an endless number of unfathomable forking
paths. Where the throne-thief turns toward a subjective phenomenology, you keep a critical
focus based in the smell of FACE POWDER, COFFEE, AND CREAM CAKES---a voluptuously
entropic montage of semi-autobiographical details and not-exactly-painful but never-
theless inexplicable point-of-view shots, the plot spinning off mini-narratives and non sequiturs.
Behind you, a moment later, the KING appears. He wears a black leather jacket and aviator
glasses. No Rollses, no Bentleys, no sirens, no flags. You are SOAKED IN SWEAT. You get up,
go over to the window and close it. Still, a dream in which the longings of your senses are
impossibly fulfilled persists. You turn on the faucet in the TINY WASHBASIN, you pass a
DAMP WASHCLOTH over your forehead, the back of your neck, your shoulders. You are
beset by seizures, unremitting pain, and involuntary wailing. INTENSE FALL OF LIGHT onto
your right breast and into the whitened pages of the book you have put aside. You flash a T-
sign: TIME OUT. Later, people come because you are beautiful--a grand opera of silence
and maternity--and are then AWED BY YOUR DISCONTINUITY. It's not a premeditated
action, or rather it's not an action at all, but an absence of action, an action you do not per-
form. Dressed in pink jeans and a pink T-shirt, you appear CATATONIC on the ladderback
brought in to replace the throne. You are accused of having had plastic surgery on your
face. Rumors of some sort of ANNUNCIATION, the message unclear. Of a creature with 140
pairs of wings. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers kiss your feet and grovel amiably. You slide
toward an uncanny realization of your own ALIEN NATURE, a confusingly kinesthetic mon-
tage: day after day you walk; with bowed head you walk; you walk; you achieve nothing;
you stop, move on, move on; you have lost all sense of direction. The associate curator
DEFINES you as "a devious architecture, a slippery architecture that SLIDES UNCONTROL-
LABLY from the familiar into the unfamiliar." Bickering ensues. As object of lectures four
times a week, you are COMPOSED OF MANY MEANINGS. As a building you're beautiful,
which aggravates the more modern faction. You are force-fed bullock's meat, butter and a
drink of sugared water, sake and tapioca blended together and sprinkled with SWEET VINE-
GAR. Debates about the relative merits of fat versus thin icons rage, moderators gesturing
like referees. YOU WALK ON, keeping close to the river; you stop and examine your feet;
you set off again; stop; turn your back on the river. Now you have made your choice. You
are really going home. You are mistaken. Your memory is slowly penetrated by oblivion.

Karen Kelley

read the author's Bio and Working Notes

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