The Sound of Time When Pressed Under Infinite Mass
This is all smoke and mirrors. This is a ruse. This is the sad, sad attempt of a broken man to seem whole, more than whole, wholly interesting. What you see is not what you get.
The author eats meals that are, in the majority, frozen burritos. Sometimes his guilt buys him a salad.
The author was fired from a Michelin-starred restaurant at the age of sixteen for being high all the time.
The author doesn’t actually hate people, they just make him endlessly sad. He puts on the emotions of hate (anger, frustration) because that sadness sometimes feels like enough to consume him.
The author likes to think his psychosis has made him a Carl Jung figure, bringing insights back from the other side of logic. In reality, he’s more of a Dan Aykroyd.
The author has a subscription to a gym ten minutes from his home. He hasn’t been in weeks.
The author watches “unlikely animal friends” on youtube to cure himself of the existential loneliness of subjectivity.
The author has only slept with two people. The first was a prostitute.
The author got into writing in middle school, creating erotica for classmates who were horny enough to masturbate but too ashamed to watch porn.
The author hates his body. The author hates his brain. The author loves himself.
The Sound of Time, When Pressed Under Infinite Mass
“Nothing affected me quite so deeply as the coalescence of dew in the springtime of your absence. On crystal mornings, a teardrop drool from bladed tongues forms a happiness beyond the expressive skills of vegetation. And I was not sad. I was—”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, this is some namby-pamby bullshit isn’t it.”
“Jesus, not another one of these.”
[insert the sound of a plunger sucking itself off of drywall]
“Hold on, first I thought this piece was serious, albeit overly saccharine, then, you started to set up conflict, but now, where the hell are we?”
“The piece is in the room with us now.”
“Because all the best comedies are self-referential.”
“I’m not sure this is a comedy. I’m not sure pieces like this have a genre. I’m not even sure there are pieces like this.”
“I’m not sure it needs one. Genres are like old rotary phones: useless in this day and age, best when broken. As for originality, isn’t everything both intensely derivative and intensely personal?”
“I suppose, but shouldn’t it all be simple enough for your readers to parse out what’s happening? I know I’m lost.”
“I’m not sure I know how to write for readers.”
[insert the sound of a pancake slapping down on the surface of a wishing well]
“And so while the lawn reveled in the crepuscular breeze, I was not sad but in curious regard of my own emotions which felt reattached to me like severed limbs. Alien, and with nerves that were severely damaged. To call them my own was not so much a matter of possession but rather of origin.”
“I know writers think themselves morose but man, I can’t tell whether this is witty or just dramatic.”
“Definitely dramatic. No nuance whatsoever. Obtuse for the sake of it.”
“And so we both embark on the twenty-first century grind, you towards a government office, towards social progress in the epoch of backwards moving, falsely paralleled syllogistic thinking, and me towards what? What value does this have, this postulation into the Sisyphean abyss?”
“I don’t think he even knows the work of Camus. This is just getting sloppy.”
[Insert the sound of a sizzling steak being scraped from a cast-iron pan by a crow who isn’t hungry, but was instinctively attracted to the smell]
“You’re like, intensely self-critical. I’m just not sure that’s relatable, ya know?”
“I think everyone capable of thinking about thought is critical, or at least frustrated with how their own brain moves.”
“I don’t think that means anything.”
“Sometimes when I don’t have the words to say what I want to say, I just wind up playing conceptual legos until I find something close enough.”
“Sure, but that lacks specificity. All good writing is specific.”
“Sure, but all generalizations have exceptions.”
“Why are you trying to be the exception to a rule that’s much easier to just follow?”
“I think I’m just optimistically stubborn that way.”
[insert the sound of car brakes that are starting to get old but aren’t quite worn out yet. Not really a squeak, more of a grind that flourishes into the higher registers at the end]
[insert the sound of a motorized lawn mower nearly kicking on, then kicking on, then mowing a lawn made of exclusively celery]
“And so I exist in a state that is one step removed from living. Try to ease my way back in, like life is a hot tub. In the interim, people make conversation, expect assignments to be turned in by my two dipped toes. Over time they’ve learned the dexterity, if not the intensity of thought that I might have in moving my hands—”
“Okay, this has straight up become intolerable.”
“I know, very twelve-year-old art school student of him.”
[insert the sound of microwaving BUBBLE WRAP]
“I think your self-critique is pretty apt there. Also, why isn’t this in script format? Wouldn’t it be easier to just give the characters names without explaining, or expecting people reading it to keep up?”
“Because I’m insecure about what does and doesn’t count as fiction. This is already pretty far removed from tradition but I think as long as it’s in a word processor I can pass it off as being experimental.”
“Sure, but why not write what you want to read.”
“This is what I want to read.”
“Now you’re just being obstinate.”
“No really, it is. If you don’t like this, you don’t have to read it.”
“Fine then, I won’t. Well, maybe, one day, when I miss you.”
“See, I think we’re all sentimentalists at heart. It’s just a game of trying to get through people’s defenses.”
“But how can this piece reach out, really touch people, if it’s so far removed from reality? Where even are we? Start there?”
[insert the sound of coiled rope unfurling off the banister edge of an abandoned home on a no-name island off the coast of Washington]
[insert the sound of crunching salt and glass, both blue, on the sole of flip-flops. Make that sound two shades colder to match the blue]
“A white-plastered arrangement of homey art. White furnishings, white sheets, intolerably off-white curtains, boxed in by white walls, paint lines of a DIY remodel. A small green side-table precariously holds afloat an off-brand television, just one size too small for the space. In the corner, a reading nook, and nestled inside, a maroon chair with green and yellow, or formerly white, now yellow inlay. Overhanging it is—”
[insert the sound of a blender that instead of liquefying solids, reconstitutes liquids]
“No, this just isn’t me. All settings are familiar, and familiarity is boring. Hobbes was partly right. Not all thinking is picture thinking, but all mediocre writing is made of the stuff. The stuff my brain doesn’t have room to hold on to. It’s why I’m always running into things.”
“A. You’ve drifted away from self-critical and into just critical, and B. Place gives way to physical forms, human bodies, characters. You can’t have them without setting.”
“My physical body is something I often forget I have. That’s why mirrors make me claustrophobic. I’m not sure real characters can exist if they have bodies. Because then everything serves to reinforce or subvert preconceived notions. They can no longer just be.”
“C’mon, start with describing me, right now. Go from there.”
“A human, but sped up 20% and with limbs of mind vastly outnumbering my own.”
“That wasn’t what I asked for and you know it.”
[insert the sound of tinnitus, but then make it into a voice, and have it reciting the script to Forrest Gump]
“And so to be in love with a face so expressive, so carefully communicative is to forget yourself without it, like living in a home without a mirror. You have to go by the warped and faded reflection in the toaster and mentally adjust the image. At that point, your notion of self is imagined. At that point you wonder why you do this to yourself. Your body feels entirely tumorous—a part of you, made of the same stuff as you, but distinctly not you.”
“What are we even talking about anymore? Enough with the abstract metaphors.”
“I am a two-dimensional character meant to reflect the author’s notion of his readers and their criticism. He clearly doesn’t think very highly of people in general.”
[insert the sound of applesauce sloshing around in a bowl made of more frozen applesauce]
“Woah, woah, woah. Why? You’ve just established rhythm, I’m just catching up, then you hit me with that self-referential bullshit?
“Comedy and horror both work best with lots of surprises.”
“It’s not a surprise if it changes the rules your readers need to keep track! It’s just confusing.”
“People put in an intense amount of mental exercise to dissect things like Infinite Jest and Finnegan’s Wake. Don’t I deserve that effort?”
“No. First you have to prove you’re worth their time.”
“What’s more worth it than finding meaning that your own effort reveals to you? It’s like there’s a miniature world with threads, ripples running through it. It’s up to you to trace them to their source. It’s cathartic. I imagine it feels like becoming born again, only you can do it more than the once.”
“Most people find that laborious—wanna leave it to the literary snobs.”
“I haven’t done anything academically alienating, have I? I’m pretty sure anyone in middle school English could at least understand the individual sentences on the page. You saying that is admitting that the more conventional, the less literary something is.”
“Now you’re just twisting my words.”
[insert the sound of the Holy Grail being flattened under a pneumatic press]
“And when you return, it’s as though time ceases to exist. It’s like a singular moment expands infinitely forward and outward. I feel as though I could lay out on that moment and all of my life would suddenly become a constant. People always think about the infinite in terms of space, in terms of things, but not time. Time always bears death on its back, it’s infiniteness understood but unknowable. I’m not saying time stops either, that everything freezes. That’s too cold, too removed. They say the smaller a creature is, the more of time it experiences. That while a gnat may live only a day, it experiences the time of those twenty-four hours in a vastness that humans, whose lives are made up of decades, of the better part of a century, cannot fathom. When you return I become subatomic. When you return, the infinitude of time becomes endlessly compressed.”
“I’ve lost track of what this is even trying to be.”
“I think it’s a love letter.”
[insert the sound of running stones over jagged water]
“Why? Why write me a love letter that I’ll never read?”
“Because it makes me feel close to you to hear your voice, even when it’s in my own head.”
The author is played by the author, or the embodiment of pretension, or something doughy and half-baked that you’re too lazy to put back in the oven.
The editor is played by everything critical inside the author as projected onto their significant other, or the left and right brain in a backwards tandem, or the sensation of loss personified, and playing the devil’s advocate.
The audience is played by embarrassing memories that were given mouths, or a sense of never being worthy enough of approval, or no one at all really.
You are played by you, or the idea of you, or the idea of the idea of you.
is a recent Sarah Lawrence College graduate living in Oakland with his fiancé and his cat. A long-time student of literary form, Krause experienced with popular writing what he does with most things: boredom. His goal in every piece is to write something wholly new, something that could never fit into an airport kiosk crime drama or a midwestern post-modern novella about the decay of a marriage. His modus operandi is to make vulnerable his readers to some bit of emotional honesty buried in the chaotic messes he calls stories.