Casey – Notes on the Moving State

Setting

Mari Lou, or let’s call her that, had always liked books about runaways, movies about runaways, so it was only natural she should find a soft spot for wandering junkies and other luminaries of the vertiginously decaying aristocracy known as American intelligentsia. In those days she read mostly William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, occasionally Paul Bowles, and she had thought she might want to become a lawyer, or an actuary, but now she wasn’t so sure. Neither major seemed to promise a life full of intense vital experiences.  She had never left the country before her semester-abroad trip to France; half-way into the semester she stopped attending her classes, and seized what she saw anyway as her OPPORTUNITY, and took a train south to Malaga, and then, trembling, bought a ferry ticket and arrived the next day in the Moroccan port city of Tangiers, where sixty years before William Burroughs had, between or in or craving heroin-induced trances, written the notes that would become Naked Lunch.  Morocco was cheap, and, she imagined, small. With no real itinerary, and feeling always as if she were slowly hurling herself, she bought a bus ticket and headed further south, writing in her spiral-bound notebook all the time as, she imagined, a Beat Writer would.

 

Excerpt:

In theory I’m heading to Beni Mellal.  Nothing’s posted at the Gare Routiere. Near the entrance bayers of urban oratorio—Fes!Casablanca! Rabat! Agadir! I interject my destination and more alacritous takes me by the arm to the parking lot out back.  A prple bus, with Fiesta! written in orange along the side. Fare is 60 dirhams. A man with Solid Mustaches says the bus leaves at « onze heures moins cinq » but that’s not for another hour and a half and people are already sitting on the bus as though to imply that departure were slightly more imminent.  I ask another guy on the bus and he says  different numbers.  Looks up. Perks up.  « Journez seul? » 

 Predatory fucking bastard.  So long as I’m going.  Gotta move, gotta go, Go!, that’s what they did those Beat writers, Go! they shout in manic polyphony but it don’t always listen and it don’t always move.

At present we’re 30 degrees off going. Every seat on the bus absorbs passengers, we begin to roll forward, still slurping up more of them, filling the aisle, filling the steps, body heat and sun heat and engine heat, melting passengers so that they soften and mold to one another to let in more.

 (Note: the viscosity of the average human being is lower than you might think. The nomadic peoples of the western Atlas mountain region further diminish their viscosity through the practice of infant compression. After a child is born, the midwife places it into a small vacuum packer, and gently compresses it.  If done properly, the child will eventually resume its original humanoid shape but thereafter retain a malleable, fluid quality, which as you might imagine has all kinds of uses.  If done improperly, the child will die or, in rare cases, appear physically fine but experience a severe emotional compression, predisposing it to unexpected and severe outbursts of anger later in life.)

 Old men with  no luggage spring up from the emptiness to hail the bus, then dismount to evaporate in telluric wastes. We  reach another town  that is the same town in a different place, and here we pick up women in tropical djellabahs, black eyeliner smudging down faces, bleached in homage to European beauty. We gather them from their houses, in front of little coffee bars, on their way back from visiting their cousin. The perseverant Go! shrills desperate within, it’s all  okay as long as we’re moving!

 Is motion itself a drug ?  Does the perpetual « going » that the beats wanted, lunching naked on the road, rushing towards the maximum hilt then pushed to an even further extreme, always a higher high, a lower low, can the effect be the cause, can the high be the drug itself ? Can I go on Go?  

 The Fiesta! engulfs ten more people.  Solid Mustaches squeezes his way down the aisle, collecting fare.  A scrawny boy, not more than twenty years old wriggles in the row behind me and takes the last seat while a woman with a baby has to stand.  Solid Mustaches begins shouting at him to move, I think. The kid won’t budge, he wheedles excuses, and the terrible stress of Solid Mustaches is building, you can see it, he’s reached over my head now to grab the kid by the collar. I press against the window as Solid Mustaches looms over me and closes in on the boy, one yells the other whimpers. A man in the aisle places his hand on Solid Moustache’s shoulder, « Safi, Safi, » he says.  Enough, enough.  

But the midwife squeezed too hard on baby SM. He grabs the boy under his arms and hauls him over my head.  He presses him through the crowd and shoves him head first out through the door.  The boy braces himself in the door frame, two scrawny arms  clutching to stay on the bus like a mindless struggle to GO, but Solid Mustaches is on a righteous crusade, purging the Fiesta (!) of this worm who takes seats from women with babies, of sloth and selfishness, of all which is an affront to the dignity of men.

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