Monday, 29 March 2010

The Book of the Serpent

By Ursula Andkjær Olsen

THE BOOK OF THE SERPENT / HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED: GOD CREATED THE SERPENT. THUS THE SERPENT ALSO HAD UTOPIA BEHIND THE EYES: HAPPINESS AND HARMONIOUS COHABITATION WHEREVER POSSIBLE. SOMETHING TO GROW. BUT UNLIKE MAN THE SERPENT SHOWED A GREATER INCLINATION FOR DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH THAN FOR ETERNAL LIFE, SO IN PARADISE HE TURNED TO THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE AND ITS SHINY PEARS. EVEN THOUGH MAN FLATTERED HIMSELF FOR HAVING GIVEN NAMES TO THINGS AND PUT LITTLE SIGNS ON THEM HE DID NOT MANAGE TO NAME THEM ALL, AND AFTER THE SERPENT AND MAN TOOK KNOWLEDGE DOWN FROM THE BRANCHES, NONE OF THE NAMES STUCK TO THINGS ANY MORE AND MANY FEELINGS WOULD COME AND ALSO MANY THINGS THAT WOULD LATER LACK A NAME. THEN THERE WERE THE WARS ABOUT THE THINGS AND THE WARS ABOUT THE NAMES OF THE THINGS AND MANY LAY DEAD AND WOULD LIE DEAD ON THE FIELD. WHEN PARADISE WAS BLOWN OPEN THE SERPENT TOOK WITH HIM THAT SMALL PIECE OF THE GARDEN OF GARDENS WHICH HAD BECOME A PART OF HIMSELF: HIS EYEBALL WITH THE ENCLOSURE, WITH THE SIGNS, WITH THE GRASS AND THE LION AND THE LAMB AND THEIR SIDE BY SIDE. AND THE TINY LIGHT PEAR THAT WOULD HELP THINGS TO GROW. SO AS HE TWISTED THROUGH THE FOLLOWING CENTURIES ON HIS BELLY IT WAS WITH AN INVITATION TO ALL MEN TO SURRENDER THEIR SOVEREIGNTY TO THE COMMON GOOD: "WHO ARE YOU? LET USSS TAKE CARE OF THAT, SSSWEETIE, GIVE USSS DESSSTINIES! AMENAM." BUT ALSO ALWAYS WITH A PICTURE OF PARADISE – HAPPINESS AND COHABITATION AND BEAUTIFUL NAMES ON SIGNS – ON THE TIP OF HIS TONGUE, FOR THE GREATEST COMMON GOOD:" LET USSS FORM A CLOSED SSSIRCLE OF GIVE AND TAKE. FROM USSS YOU HAVE COME TO USSS TO USSS YOU MUST GO FROM USSS YOU MUST RISSSE AGAIN. AMENAM. AND LLLICK YOUR BIG TOE. HEEHEE. SSSWEETIE." THE SERPENT GREW AND HAD MANY NAMES: THE MIDGARD SERPENT COMBINED WITH THE GIANT YMIR AND AT ONE TIME HE WAS DISCOVERED AND SPOTTED AND CALLED BY YET ANOTHER NAME: LEVIATHAN AS THE STATE MONSTER HE WAS. IT COULD HAVE BEEN GOD WHO SLAUGHTERED THE SERPENT TO LET THE RIGHTEOUS SUCK ON HIM FOR THE PROMOTION OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT. BUT IT WAS THE SERPENT HIMSELF WHO SLAUGHTERED THE PART OF MAN THAT WAS SERPENT. ZIGZAG: HE WAS SO DIALECTICAL THAT HE HAD TWO PERSPECTIVES IN HIS EYE, THE UNIVERSAL AND THE INDIVIDUAL. HAPPINESS AND COHABITATION WHEREVER POSSIBLE AND SOMETHING TO GROW. AND THE SLAUGHTER WAS SALTED AND DISTRIBUTED FOR ALL TO SUCK ON IT SO IT WAS A FEAST. THE SERPENT GREW SHOCKINGLY AND BECAME A COMPLEX CREATURE OF BRIDGES AND PASSAGES TO TRANSPORT BODIES AROUND IN RISING FLEETING AND FLEXIBLE PATTERNS: "WE ARE THE SSSCENE AND WHAT MOVESSS AROUND ON IT. HOLY SSSHIT! IT ISSS USSS. GIVE USSS DESSSTINIESSSS! SSSOME LIKE SSSTARSSSS TO SSSHINE IN THE SSSKY JUSSST LIKE OPIUM FOR THE PEOPLE AND SSSOME TO LAY A SSSORT OF FOUNDATION. THE PEOPLE WE FUCK WILL FORM THE BASSSISSS. YOU WILL FORM THE BASSSISSS LITTLE HEART, PURE LAMB." HE GREW AND HE GOT MORE AND MORE NAMES: FLEXICURITAS REX FOR EXAMPLE. AND MORE GENDERS: BIG PRICK AND CARROT, BLING BLING MÖTHERFÜCKER, STATE PUSSY, FAIRY QUEEN AND THEN THE HERMAPHRODITE TYRANNOSAURUS FLEX, STATE AND MARKET IN ONE WIN-WIN, JUST THE NUMBER OF HEADS: IN ADDITION TO STATE AND INDIVIDUAL ALSO THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND THE ARMY OF THOSE WHO STRUGGLE FOR POWER AND GLORY AND THE BIG CAR WITH TV. AND THE SERPENT WENT ON EXPANDING WITH NETWORKS, INCENTIVE STRUCTURES AND PROJECT RECRUITING. HE WAS ALL THE HANDS THAT DON’T KNOW WHAT THE OTHERS DO. COLD ONES AND HOT ONES. AND ALL THE BREASTS, BOTH GOOD BREAST AND BAD BREAST, FROM WHICH WHIP AND CREAM AND LIFELONG LEARNING FLOW FREELY. THE BIG CAR AND THE LION AND THE LAW AND COHABITATION WHEREVER POSSIBLE. AT ANY RATE PARTS OF THE SERPENT SAW HOW BIG HE HAD GOT AND THAT THIS WAS NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD THING, AT ANY RATE ONE VOICE IN THE SERPENT WANTED TO MAKE THE NAMELESSNESS IN MAN REMAIN NAMELESS, GO ON BEING AN OBJECT FOR DEFINITION, BECOME A SOURCE OF EVER NEW NAMES AND NEW THINGS. FOR ALL TIME. IT WAS A STRANGE UTOPIA. IT WAS A UTOPIA OF BREATHING HOLES IN THE SERPENT. OF HOLES THAT THE SERPENT MADE OPEN IN HIS FLESH, IN HIS TOTALITY. A UTOPIA OF A FREE GARDEN FOR EVERYONE IN THE HEART, CONTAINED IN THE GREAT GARDEN, WITH SIGNS AND NAMES AND HAPPINESS AND LAMB AND SOMETHING TO GROW. SOMETHING TO SPEND ONE’S TIME ON. PARTS OF THE SERPENT SAW AND HOPED THAT IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH.

translated from Danish by David McDuff

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