J o n o S c h n e i d e r
from The Windows
I commit myself to the following sentence: "Simply, I knew what I liked." I was comforted by my creativity, and I smoothed it out and over my thoughts, a snug uniform that, if I had put it on patiently, permanently warmed me up to, and for, conversation. The first impressions I thrust upon others always began with what I forcefully argued while logic thudded to the floor, not trailing behind my opinions but racing instead to keep up with them; by the time logic recovered, I had already stepped into the next room with everything behind me, leaving the former room to its prior incoherence and its adherents who didn't know what to make of themselves now that I'd moved ahead to further my attentions elsewhere. But this, too, was a game, for the word "whim" hinted at improvisation, while I had pre-planned every placement of my hands in my pockets. My body was nothing to me unless it conveyed the greater purpose of what I hurled into the air between myself and the next person.
Desperation gave way to a conditional breathlessness whose resolution would only come in solving the problem of and for the subject itself.
But the subject itself wasn't where I was -- in fact, I'd moved quite far ahead of the argument because my declaration was in the past tense: I knew what I liked. By grammatically positioning myself as an ancestor to my own beliefs, I gave my feelings an historical agency to which I was responsible while bowing entirely out of an argument which history won for me. To like an object was to like the obligation I felt towards it, the connection between self and other, an obelisk I used to essentialize, and thereby reduce, the text. By putting what I knew first, I wasn't walking, because my body was preceded by the idea I had of it, predicting which part of my body would first pass through the doorway before anyone had a chance to see my face; I appeared to others as an image of who I wanted myself to be, an image rooted in the images that are the sole subject of personal memory.
My most vivid image from childhood is of the windows in my bedroom. They do not defy description; conversely, their "bodies" are almost too simple to uphold the imagination which literature demands. I will not draw them here; I'd much rather draw them out and draw on them to serve the purpose of my writing, which is to question the history that I've organized within myself as memory, an implication that displays the body I carry around with me, and through which I move ever closer towards what the world is asking of me -- and my responses to this are nothing, and are contained in nothing, but writing.
I was writing then in such a way that, when I finally did begin to write, it was the final stage in a circular, complex procedure whose endpoint was the retracing of modernized names.
The impeccable detachment of sun and sky proved to me that it was impossible to be alone in the world; to be alone meant that one had fully leaned through the the world as if it were another open window; if this was the case, then what did this window look out on, and how could I get back into my bedroom from where I first noticed the world to see how it had changed with what I would now know, or what I would later say that had I found out that I knew because I had found it there, waiting for me to activate it by drawing nearer to it with my body, the very thing I was willing to abandon in order to learn? The windows had undoubtedly complicated things, showing me that I could doubt their existence while I looked right at them, so I looked right through them.
By tossing names into the air around me, I became doubly aware of myself -- I was aware that I had been entered into this catalogue of names -- I was suddenly a part of it, it was no longer a fence around me which told me how much space I had been allotted -- and I was aware that I would have to begin to inventory those names that had called mine in return.
As a result of language everything around me was implacable and paraded its lack of resolve before me while I stood and watched.
I inverted past and future, and their meanings no longer converged on the same topic -- I slipped out of their collective grip, temporarily evicting the words that named them.
The windows had prepped me for the phenomenon of what to call myself. Once I customized the sun and sky to my eyes, I noted the houses across the way.
Jono Schneider is the co-editor, along with Leonard Brink, of untitled, a Prose Poetry magazine. You can read an interview with untitled's editors by clicking here >>