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Ötza and the Open-Ended Becoming of the World

Levi van Gelder (author)

Levi van Gelder

Levi van Gelder (@levi_vangelder) is an artist living and working in Amsterdam, working in performance, writing, sculpture and video work. In his work, he explores fanfiction as a tool for queer resistance and counterfactual reclamation of histories and fictions. Through writing, performing and making as Ötza—5300 year old mummified fanfiction entrepreneur and drag adaptation of Ötzi the Iceman—he creates a subversive, post-historical rendering of the Tyrolean mummy, queering (pre)history in a meta-textualized account of misrepresentation, questioning and resisting claims to truth with quick-witted storytelling and playful critique. Van Gelder graduated from the Sandberg Instituut and is currently a resident at De Ateliers (‘24-’25).

Mitchel Peters (illustrator)

Mitchel Peters

Mitchel Peters is a Dutch illustrator based in The Netherlands. His work consists out of digital illustrations solely created/edited with Microsoft Paint. Within his work he takes on the roles of the overseer, storyteller and guardian of 'The Forest', the imaginary place from another universe where his illustrations take place. Through weekly lore/character creating and keeping everything cannon, a fictional place can exist where (un)realistic moral questions can be answered and problems solved, all this by following the lives and stories of the ‘Residents Of The Forest’.

Instagram: @pmitcchh

Published 05 Jul 2024

111

min read
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Illustration by Mitchel Peters

This week on Ötza and the Open-Ended Becoming of the World:​​​​​​

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

We are down to the nitty-gritty, the penultimate chapter of my residency on The Couch. Before bringing you the thrilling culmination of this series of sixteen fanfiction vignettes, I wanted to take a quick step back and ruminate on the time I found one of my many alternate deaths in the finale of the 71st Hunger Games by the hands of one Wim Hof the Ice Guru. An earlier installment of my fanfiction syllabus, but nevertheless a significant one.

See, when I saw in 2011—from my climate controlled cooling cell in the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano—that the museum people were installing a wax reconstruction of my likeness, I was completely baffled to see a depiction of a middle aged man. I was horrified to find out that I was not in MTV’s Pranked, nor the victim of a machiavellian scheme by one of the Italian scientists that was (clearly) obsessed with me and mad that I didn’t wanna french after a one on one bowel scooping sesh.

I started to think what I possibly could have done to upset the Italian scientists, why they felt the need to clock me, tarnish my reputation and insert an inalterable image into the public imaginary of me as old, gray short king with man hands and more wrinkles on my forehead than chapters on this very web page. Surely, the pants were kind of stunty, but if anything, the 5000 years of cryodesiccation gave me a natural lip flip, a 22 inch waist and made my thigh gap wider than ever. All that time in cryogenic slumber, and they were just going to erase all this hard work?

But, I just decided to put it aside. The queue at my cooling cell was always longer anyway.

It wasn’t until 2020 when I was watching (and loving) Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab, that I was introduced to Wim Hof. He immediately struck me as familiar, but for a while I couldn’t quite put my skinny desiccated finger on it. It was later in the episode, when I saw him swimming in ice water, that everything fell into place. I looked out of the little condensation-ridden window of my cooling cell, and saw my alleged reconstruction, and looked down at my stone tablet where I was watching Wim Hof on a snowy beach doing yoga exercises, when I realized that they were the same.

It was this very realization that incentivized my plunge into fanfiction. I felt so utterly frustrated, and unable to voice any concern from my sound-proof cooling cell, that I decided to put these feelings into writing. All my confusions, insecurities, desires and anger went into those first chapters, the very first of which starting with me walking into The Planet with a short dress, skin tight on top to hug my shape, but frivolous and funky on the bottom to show off my long, shimmery legs. I still haven’t decided whether Wim Hof appropriated my brand (or at least the one of the reconstruction), whether the museum built the reconstruction after Wim Hof (“coincidentally” the first relevant scientific investigation on Wim Hof began—you guessed it—also in 2011 at Radboud University in Nijmegen), or whether this is all just a karmic, cosmic retribution for me not wanting to french this geeky Italian researcher, but at this point, I honestly don’t really care anymore. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and all these adversities helped me find my voice, my platform, and you; my Hunty-Gatherers.

So, before we jump right into the gripping finale of the 71st Hunger Games, I want to introduce the tributes that were representing the 12 districts of Panem for this installment of the Hunger Games. Obviously they are all already dead in the beginning of the chapter, but I just wanted to give you an idea of who Ötza (me) had to beat to get her much-coveted finale position.

District 1: Anne Imhof and Wim Hof
District 2: Azealia Banks and Elon Musk
District 3: Slavoj Žižek and Sophia the Robot
District 4: Greta Thunberg and Jomanda
District 5: Old Deuteronomy and Wendy Williams
District 6: Elizabeth Holmes animatronic and Hasbullah Magomedov
District 7: Dasha Nekrasova and Anna Khachiyan
District 8: Banksy and Cake Lenin
District 9: The Bogdanov Twins
District 10: Trisha Paytas and Sophie Anderson the Cock Destroyer
District 11: Beatrix Ruf and the Tinder Swindler
District 12: Ötza (me) and Grimes in her spaghetti fase

CHAPTER 71: THE HUNGER GAMES

The air was dense and all tangled up with breathy banks of mist that mirrored the reddish glows of the artificial sky. Everything smelled like sulfur now, particles of destruction drizzling down and getting swallowed by the moving soil. All the volcanoes visible on the horizon were bursting out their death rattles, their havoc coming closer in glitchy waves. It was almost done.

The ashes and scorching clouds had brought them together at the place where it had all begun. She apprehensively approached the Albert Heijn To Go around which all 24 tributes were jolted into the arena 2 weeks ago. 22 of them were dead now. The only two left were her, the corpse girl, the girl with the empty eye sockets, the cryodesiccated tribute from District 12 – and him.

Wim Hof the Ice Guru.

He had trained his entire life for this moment, had withstood ice and fire to volunteer at the ripe age of 63 and become the winner of 71st Hunger Games. He had killed more tributes than anyone else in the history of the Games, and the only thing standing between him and his long awaited victory… was her.

He appeared from behind the self-checkout cash registers. Ötza was dumbfounded when she saw that his hands were empty. The moment he noticed her surprise, he slowly turned his palms towards Ötza, and simply smiled.

“I come yielding no weapons, Ötza,” he said. She was confused. It couldn’t be. She had seen his frightening determination when he murdered her district partner Grimes in her spaghetti fase, perforating her with his trident like an overview of an annual tax declaration that you want to organize neatly in a ring binder because your accountant told you that you don’t seem like a Virgo rising. Why didn’t he have a weapon? But before she could ask, he already answered. “I am going to kill you with my bare hands.”

Before she knew it, he was right in front of her. He was ridiculously fast. Ötza was able to duck away from his first punch, which aimed for her neck, but his second blow hit her right in the stomach and made her drop her machete. She gasped for air, trying to reach for the smaller knife she had hidden in her sock, but it was useless. She crashed into the already trembling gravel after he launched his entire body into hers. He enfolded his unflinching fingers around her throat and she heard herself making a ghostly sound when he tightened the muscles in his hands. She thought he would snap her fragile neck right at that moment.

Then he asked her a question: “Are you afraid of dying, Ötza?” She saw her eye sockets get big and bulbous in the reflection of his own. “Don’t be,” he said. “Death is just a concept.”

He squeezed harder. Ötza heard the bones and tendons in her neck rifting, bones that had refused to decay for over 5000 years, the cracks reverberating through her entire body, dissolving with the rumbling of the landscape. Her vision became blurry, the sulfur cloud of oblivion already settling in. At that moment, she almost made her peace… until she—in her struggle for air—found her petrified hand stroking the handle of a portable scanner of the self checkout. In something that she could only describe as a survival instinct, she grabbed the scanner with the very last bit of endurance she had left in her body, held it in front of his eyes, and fired.

He let out a primeval roar and pawed frantically at his eyes. Before she even took a breath, Ötza squirmed her skinny legs from underneath him, kicked him over and crawled on top of him while sliding the knife out of her sock. She desperately held his chest down, feeling the texture of the dried blood of murdered tributes beneath her fingertips. She steadied the trembling Damoclesian knife above his head. She paused. And then he saw her hesitation.

“You can’t do it, can you.” His face mutated into a sadistic smile. The entire arena was collapsing, rocks and fire shooting from the sky, crashing into the glowing Albert Heijn To Go logo hovering above them. Lava was advancing towards them. This was it.

She looked him in the eyes, and saw—again—her own gaze reflecting back at her. She collapsed so deep into this reflection that everything but her own face disintegrated in his blue eyes. Suddenly, the knife was lingering over the face she had lamented so often, her curled drooly lip, her lumpy skin, her hollowed eyes, her small chunky teeth. The face of pathetic insistence, of abjection. The face of age-old death without the grace of dying, of decomposing.

She eroded her way to freedom. With continuous blows, the knife pumpjacking her in the chest for multiple pseudo-eternities. The moments in between were the worst. The terror and anticipation enthralling her entire sense of self, until her shackles had turned into throbbing too. The stabs would almost be moments of release. Sweet pain, simple and unambiguous. But not infinite. Nothing would be infinite anymore.

With the fog clearing out over an unidentified period of time, debris disintegrating into infertile soil and her will (or ability) to act disappearing, her suffering turned immanent and everyone; spectators, fans, opponents, readers, watchers, people that cared, people that didn’t, people that never even heard of her; everyone (including herself) simply forgot.

Her body became one with the cosmos, but her soul had to wait in the tiny backspace of the Albert Heijn To Go, because she forgot to pay and got caught during a random check.

Previously on Ötza and the Open-Ended Becoming of the World:

    

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

Dear reader,

Let me start with the tedious task of introducing myself. My name is Ötza, freelance fanfiction entrepreneur, cryodesiccated corpse from the neolithic and local posthumous micro-celebrity. 5300 years ago, I was just your run-of-the-mill seasonal sheep herder slash multidisciplinary artist (mostly working with copper and durational sound-pieces), until I found myself frozen in ice for a couple thousand years after a failed hike in the Italian Alps. Two German hikers stumbled upon me in 1991, after which I was excavated, and since then I've been locked away in my little cooling cell at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano where the boys (figure of speech, not actual young males but referring to Italian scientists) can’t stop touching my bowels.

I am now, by trade, a fanfiction writer. In the physical realm, this means I can frequently be found behind my curved ultrawide monitor (mounted high to accommodate my curved ultrafucked spine) in my (posthu)Man Cave(1). In the metaphysical realm, this means I reiterate myself in a plurality of meta-textualized vignettes which act as fictionalized and radically immanentized worlds of discourse that reconstruct themselves in a post-historical rendering of a constellation of ficto-schizophrenizations that all started when Ötza walked into The Planet during season two of The L Word (2004)(2).

I want to clarify a couple things before diving into the first chapter of fanfiction. First and foremost, I will take this opportunity to (once again) clear the air about certain rumors that have been popping up on X. (Formerly known as Twitter(3).)

Long story short, I have been falsely accused of being unable to read or write, because I am a prehistoric human, which is not only false but also very detrimental to my career as a fanfiction writer, which I take very seriously. Clearly I can write, since I wrote all of this fanfiction, and clearly I can read, since I just used the word ficto-schizophrenization, which I read in a book of one of my favorite writers (Body Yard), and is used—by this writer—to describe the writing of one my other favorite writers (Ballard), of whom I also read books (plural) cover to cover.

So, in response to all the people deducing that since prehistoric means before history—which means before writing was invented—it would mean that I am literally illiterate: prehistoric is way more vibe than this harsh category, which I would know because I’m from then. Back then we just had prehistoric vibes, it was not that everyone was just not reading and writing all over the place, it was more giving that vibe. Plus, I lived between 3350 and 3105 BCE and writing was invented in Mesopotamia in between 3400 and 3100 BCE, so gotcha there.

To develop that thought further—and to elucidate my working process a bit more for any skeptics still among you readers—I want to propose a counterfactual criticism. Say that I am reading my fanfiction at Performa in New York(4), around the corner from where Marnie and Charlie were robbed (Bushwick?) and a heckler screams from the substantial crowd that showed up for my sold-out show: “What is this foolish infinite regress into textuality? You’re a joke! This is merely a dehistoricized quotation of past forms, m’lady, can’t you pull anything better from your impressive thigh gap?” And that person is Fredric Jameson.

Well then, to this fictional rendition of Fredric Jameson I would say; thank you for acknowledging my thigh gap. But secondly, how would I possibly be able to provide any rendering of reality that is not dehistoricized? Which historical forms are there for me to quote? I lay dormant frozen in ice between 3105 BCE and 1991, and while any reference between 3350 and 3105 BCE would be widely be considered prehistoric, you—Fredric Jameson—described a fatalistic crisis in historicity in the very year these two German hikers(5) plucked me out of my cryogenic slumber. Any historical references between those dates would be either after or before my time, in that order. Alas, what can I do than to reconstitute myself as in a cyclical chain of pre- or post-historical renderings? I won’t give examples, you will witness soon enough.

So, needless to say, in this post-historical constellation, I wear many hats. This comes with the immanent problem of describing oneself, which I already encountered in the first paragraph of this author’s note, and I brought myself back to, here, in the ninth. How do I describe myself? A narcissistic victim of my own brain? A Tiqqunesque Young Girl perpetually stuck in Lacanian mirror stage? A cryodesiccated egregore of equal parts reproduction and misrepresentation? A victim of science’s regime of truth, not unlike the Bogdanoff twins, the Hallie Parker and Annie James of the topological physics community? A freelance fanfiction entrepreneur? A corpse? A hunty-gatherer? A Slabby Lee Miller(6) shipper? How is it that, once I emerged from the ice in 1991, I found myself in a cycle of self-actualization and (failed attempts in) monetization?

This brings me to the economic reality of multihyphenatism in this cultural climate. (I guess you guys were already wondering when I was going to address this.) The following segment is directly excerpted from my speech during the graduation ceremony at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, when I was invited to provide words of wisdom for the graduating class of 2023.

Lacan (chuckle) actually calls the gap between one’s direct psychological identity and one’s symbolic identity (so whatever is between my hyphens): symbolic castration(7). This is the gap between what I immediately am and the symbolic title that confers on me a certain status or authority; the scepter of a king or the robe of a judge or the stick-and-poke scribble on the upper leg of a starting tattoo artist.

But then, hysteria emerges when a subject starts to question or feel discomfort in their symbolic identity. For example: “My website states I am a research-driven artist-curator working in between Amsterdam and Berlin exploring the intersection between creative dentistry and posthumanism— what is there in me that makes me that?” We painstakingly subject ourselves to a Big Other forcing us to define our practice within outdated categorizations, but are also lost without categorizations to defy. The external phallus morphing into the negative space precisely outside of the checkboxes of the Stimuleringsfonds talent development grant, finding agency in its alienation and simultaneously (and often unrelatedly) multiplying with the amassment of newfound gigs that bring newfound hats and caps sourced from Vinted. In its hysteric struggle, hyphens accumulate and draw the subject even further apart from the unspoken desire that it once was alone with, in an empty glass workshop, wondering what would happen if it would suck instead of blow.

But whenever you feel like the titles, hats and hyphens will forever accumulate and stick out as incoherent, excessive prostheses that reinforce the very gap because of which you will never be able to fully identify with your Instagram bio, remember to pause… take a sip of VOSS water (8), and realize that all roads in late capitalism lead to the same thing: the impending climate crisis. Or becoming a DJ.

Now, I sincerely hoped to cover my quick rise to local micro-superstardom in the Amsterdam art scene, but this AN is already bursting out of its seams. So, I’m passing the phone to someone who is an advocate for prehistoric literacy and a self-proclaimed connoisseur of theory-fiction: myself, in third person.

For the first chapter of this online collection of fanfiction for The Couch, cryodesiccated mummy and 5300 year old freelance fanfiction entrepreneur Ötza re-entifies herself (which is different from identifying, which she doesn't do because she doesn't exist; she insists as a disontologized entity) as Ötzy Lee Miller—owner of the Ötzy Lee Dance Company. This chapter has been previously shared via a live reading and a small publication during Ötza, Ontologically Speaking at Mutter (Amsterdam) but was recycled because it’s really good. Subsequent (brand-new) chapters will be published irregularly on this page, whenever she feels prolific and finishes a new chapter. Feel free to sound off about the chapter in the comment section of the corresponding post on Instagram, or send in pseudo-anonymous fan mail via the DM.

As her corporeal counterpart is locked in a cooling cell in the Museum for Archaeology in Bolzano (Italy), Ötza’s writings are hopeful yearnings for a counterfactual salvation from her inhumane fate of science, surveillance and spectacle, and an attempt to rewrite her own story that has been (unfairly) extrapolated from scientific reconstructions.

Hope you like it!

1. Neologism by Ötza (2023).
2. Unfortunately not part of the syllabus for this online assemblage of fanfiction, but can be requested per email.
3. The last thing that turned into an X for me was my boyfriend when he ghosted me for 2 months.
4. Manifesting.
5. Both played by Sandra Hüller in my biopic, if I would have to cast them right now, while she’s still reeling with the Oscar-buzz.
6. Portmanteau for Slavoj Zizek and Abby Lee Miller, of course.
7. Shoutout to the Lacan Circle of Australia for giving me a shoutout on Instagram.
8. Just to clarify: this blog entry is not sponsored by VOSS. (Believe me, I sent them a lot of emails, but no response.)

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Illustration by Mitchel Peters

CHAPTER 38: THE ÖTZY LEE DANCE COMPANY

Ötzy Lee Miller walked into the biggest classroom of her dance studio, the Ötzy Lee Dance Company. Actually—to be precise—she stormed into the biggest classroom of her dance studio. She was in the worst of moods. The girls scored second at the Miss Prissy Kissy Epistemologissy Dance Competition in Columbus, Ohio. Second! What an abhorrent crime. They had been working on their new dance routine for this specific competition for the last weeks, an ambitious piece titled: “Frank & Stein: The Gothic Flatline.” A dance routine about the conflicted counterfactual friendship between the wax figure of Anne Frank in Madame Tussauds and Gertrude Stein, who together are discussing the Gothic flatline, as described by Mark Fisher; the plane where it is no longer possible to differentiate the animate from the inanimate and where to have agency is not necessarily to be alive.

She looked each girl—most of them around 11 years old—straight in the eyes, making sure every single one of them understood that she was displeased. No, not displeased, outraged. She didn’t say a word. Ötzy Lee had given them more than enough energy over the last couple of weeks. Working tirelessly, day and night, assembling the intricate story of Frank and Stein in a jazzy hip hop lyrical performance. She had given them everything and the ungrateful leeches didn’t even bother to fully stretch their feet during the grand jetés.

She had given them everything and the ungrateful leeches didn’t even bother to fully stretch their feet during the grand jetés.

The kids were trembling. They knew she was not happy and she was happy that they knew she was not happy. The moms were standing on the side. They were also not happy, but mostly they were not happy with the kids not being happy for knowing Ötzy Lee was not happy. She couldn’t bear to look at their faces, always complaining, always thinking they know better. They wouldn’t know a chassé if it hit them right in the face.

She gave them one quick glance, scoffed, and turned towards the pyramid.

“On the bottom of the pyramid, we have…” She swiftly tore the white A4 paper that was covering the first headshot of one of the girls—of which there were six—taped to the dance studio mirror in the shape of a pyramid. “Kendall.”

Before Ötzy Lee could even finish the name, Jill protested loudly, her shrill voice inciting a sudden storm of rage in Ötzy Lee, but miraculously—however it was no miracle that did it, it was the skillful patience of Ötzy Lee—she found the power within to ignore Jill’s ungraceful squealing while speaking to Kendall, whose eyes were tearing up.

“You had an essential, crucial part in the piece. And you were HORRIBLE. You did NOT embody Gertrude Stein, you did NOT finish your turns, you did NOT give ANY energy and your face was completely LIFELESS. You were the only animate character in the piece, but how can we demonstrate the fickle balance of differentiating between the living and nonliving when the only live character seems to be BEREFT of life.”

“Next…” She ripped away the second paper, with even more temper than before. “Nia.” Dr. Holly rolled with her eyes. “ You were supposed to be a frighteningly inert cyborg that narrated the dissolution of history in times of technological triumph… but I didn’t believe you.”

“Accompanying them on the bottom of the pyramid.” She tore another paper from the mirror, a third face of aggravating righteousness appearing behind. “Mackenzie." She crumbled up the paper in her hands and threw it across the room, aiming for the trash but just missing it, which made her even more frustrated. “That is where you belong. In the trash. You were supposed to be an uncanny valley girl, a dancing art animatronic that was a continuous leitmotif for dead labor and mechanical reproduction. But you gave me Chuck E. Cheese stripper.”

Mackenzie was choking on her tears, knowing damn well that there’s absolutely no place for tears at the Ötzy Lee Dance Company. If anyone, Ötzy Lee should be the one crying, for this character was based on her personal experience working as a Jordan Wolfson animatronic at the Stedelijk Museum back when she still was a professional dancer. Mackenzie knew how important this role was to Ötzy Lee, and yet, she gave 0% of the attitude and je ne sais quoi that a depiction of Female Figure (2014) should have.

“Third on the pyramid.” Another loud ripping sound. “Chloe. You were supposed to be a dead piece of meat on the stage… and you were a dead piece of meat on the stage, in every sense of the word. A true dancer knows that, even as a dead piece of meat—a disembodied entity that overpowers the docile body into inertia—you have to bring it to life on the stage. A disappointing performance.”

“Second on the pyramid: Maddie.” She heard gasps throughout the room. Maddie had stayed undefeated at the top of the pyramid for four months. The girls looked at each other, Melissa stumbled over her words, Maddie froze completely and Ötzy Lee watched it all play out. “You had the main role, which was a difficult one. But if anyone would be able to portray the barbaric subjugation of the wax figure of Anne Frank in Madame Tussauds Amsterdam, it would be you. You can do WAY better than that, disappointing week for you.”

“Then, on the top of the pyramid…” Expectation filled up the room, doubled even by the room-sized mirror, the silence too heavy for the dance floor to withstand. Ötzy Lee couldn’t help but smile when she tore away the last sheet of paper with a screeching rip, showing the picture underneath to be completely blank. Gasps. “No one,” she said.

She returned the offended gaze of the last girl standing, her unnervingly tight ponytail almost yanking her blond hair out of her scalp, seemingly stretching her facial expression into one of perpetual contempt and ungrateful ostentation. She was supposed to be Mary Shelley, a omnipotent puppet master superintending the relationship between the wax figure of Anne Frank and Gertrude Stein towards the point of apocalyptic flatline in the end of the piece, towards a world without any differential fields or distinct objects, devoid of the possibility of any other alternate actualities than a singular necropolitical capitalist homogeneity.

But she committed two heinous, unforgivable sins… She lip synced during the routine. And she dropped her baton.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

First and foremost a big thank you to everyone that crawled out of the woodwork to read the first chapter of collected fanfiction on The Couch. In this second chapter— which I am very excited to share—I am opening up about some of my experiences at therapy, which is undoubtedly quite personal. I decided to put it in print after talking with my therapist Dr. Holly. She said, and I quote: “Ötza, somehow I feel like you put up a wall between you and your dedicated readers, maybe it’s time to break this wall down and let your emotions flow into your writing like a batch of fresh VOSS water cascading into the bottle when they fill it up in the VOSS factory. Let them in!” And so, in this chapter, I will. 

Briefly reflecting on the chapter that you will read momentarily—and consulting Freud while doing so—this piece (and its innate rectal leitmotif) is, to put it bluntly, a psychosexual venture into my (likely) regression to the sadistic-anal stage that (probably) returned from repression via neurotic fixation on my lactose intolerance (and the rectal orifice where this intolerance often culminated), which was later (probably) largely inflated by the obsession with and exhaustion of my bowels—and its (dis)contents—by Italian scientists, which ultimately was the trauma that (most probably) incentivized my descent into perverse re-cathecting and IBS. To be very clear, the claim that my last meal was hyper-rich in fat is violently untrue. They were just gluten crackers.

A thought: according to Freud, pleasure in defecation during the sadistic-anal stage (2-4 years old) is connected to one’s pleasure in creating something of their own. This then might explain why I am such a natural lorecrafter, and why I became a fanfiction writer. But could my entire career be explained by a traumatic regression into the sadistic-anal stage? And even more importantly, how many times can one write sadistic-anal stage in an author’s note and have it still be published? The answer to all these questions seemed to be crystal clear; Nietzsche. As described by Mark Seem in his introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, it was Nietzsche that exclaimed similarly to D&G—who (and I’m paraphrasing) were hanging in the back rooms (what were they doing there?), behind the closed doors of the analyst’s (Freudian slip) office, in the wings of the Oedipal theater (where they record the finales of RuPaul’s Drag Race)—that it smells bad there, and that what is needed is "a breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world."(1) And regardless of whether the ‘z’ comes after the ‘sch’ or before, I think he’s right.

1. That part was D&G again, probably from their back room. (Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2009). Anti-Oedipus. Penguin Books.)

CHAPTER 51: THE CRYPTOMNESIA

That Tuesday, at past-life regression therapy, her therapist was being extra annoying. (More about that later.) Ötza had come in early to be bored in the waiting room, wanting to feel the excruciating pace of every second (she had left her phone at home) because time had been passing so fast lately. However, she was playing Snake on her burner phone when she was called in, because she got too bored with being bored.

Ötza suffered from severe cryptomnesia. Every Tuesday she went to past-life regression therapy to force an encounter with a past self via hypnosis. See, Ötza was 200% sure that she wrote Nietzsche’s magnum opus “Thus Spoke Sarah Schuster”. She woke up one day with a story that might’ve been a dream, but very well could have been an idea. When she had told a friend over coffee, this “friend” told her that she’s describing a work of philosophical fiction by Friedrich Nietzsche. Needless to say, she blocked this friend on every possible platform and swore to herself to find out whether she—in fact—had been Friedrich Nietzsche in a past life or if Nietzsche had stolen the idea from her.

She sat down on the pleather chaise longue, trying to ignore the sticky-icky feeling of the sweaty fabric against her bare legs. She had told herself last week to wear long pants to therapy, but she hadn’t done it—which already frustrated her. If she moved even a little, the pleather would eek and squeak and be insanely rude to her. She imagined how great it would be to burn this ugly, pretentious, worn-out chaise longue. She fantasized about the smell of burning plastic and the black smoke emerging from the cursed piece of furniture. She decided to tell her therapist that she wanted to burn the couch, to which the therapist asked her why she wanted to do that. She replied that she hated the sticky-icky feeling against her bare legs, to which the therapist told her to wear long pants next time.

In that session, she revisited a past life as a medieval kitchen wench that was having anal sex with a duke in the kitchen of the royal court. When he pulled out, she shat all over the pigeon pie she had arduously constructed the day before, and was hanged shortly after. When Ötza came back to consciousness after an hour, she asked if there was a way to filter out all her illiterate past-selves, since this kitchen wench couldn’t possibly have written “Thus Spoke Sarah Schuster.” Her therapist said no, which made her very frustrated (again).

Months went by without Ötza thinking of this unfortunate peasant girl, until she was talking to a random person at a random event on a Thursday evening. This girl, wearing statement tinted glasses and barefoot shoes, said her love language was deeply rooted in feudalist serfdom, and that—subconsciously—she’s always looking for her feudal lord. This annoyed Ötza. Not only because the girl had refused to let Ötza use her vape some minutes before (she was afraid of cold sores) but also because she suddenly remembered that she once had been a serf in a past life.

“You don’t know how it is to be a serf,” Ötza said, taking a sip of her pay-by-donation Aperol Spritz for which she had given 50 cents. The girl didn’t respond and walked away. Ötza was left feeling misunderstood.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

My dear readers, there seemed to be some confusion in regards to my previous author’s note which I would like to clear up in this one. There were no liberties taken in my citation of therapist Dr. Holly (and yes, this is Dr. Holly Hatcher-Frazier, mother of Nia, Taurus), she told me this verbatim and gave me the permission to publish it. Secondly, IBS is irritable bowel syndrome. 

Additionally, I referred in the author’s note of the very first chapter to, and I quote: “a plurality of meta-textualized vignettes which act as fictionalized and radically immanentized worlds of discourse that reconstruct themselves in a post-historical rendering of a constellation of ficto-schizophrenizations that all started when Ötza walked into The Planet during season two of The L Word (2004).” In the footnotes I clarified that the latter was unfortunately not part of the syllabus.

As to be expected, this left a lot of readers feeling curious and generated an overwhelming amount of requests to publish the OG chapter of The L Word fanfiction. Reddit-user “NicolePaigeRhizoSlut91” from Atlanta, Georgia claimed she felt: “[...] more breadcrumbed than when the third season of Euphoria was released as a Happy Meal booklet.” Hence, in the spirit of reciprocity, I want to share this chapter with you. Quick reminder; this chapter was written when I still had my braces, so I was a little self aware about my teeth.

CHAPTER 1: THE PLANET

It was busier than usual that night at The Planet—the most popular lesbian bar in West Hollywood. Maybe it was the DJ that brought in a lot of people. Maybe it was the fact that Peaches was playing at the Planet exactly a month from now, but the graphic designer had fucked up the date in the flyer. Maybe it was the new salad that Kit put on the menu that week, which had this new kind of broccoli-asparagus crossbreed in it, which made your piss stink. In any case, all that matters is that anyone that mattered was at The Planet that night.

The dance floor was already crowded, people pulling out their pearly whites for anyone that would brush against them while dancing, teeth-flirting. They all looked ready to chew. An accumulation of teeth was moving along the jazzy saxophone-driven Drum and Bass beats, reflecting the stroboscope and faint blacklight. 

Somehow she managed to walk in right at the climax of the track the DJ was playing. Leaving some people inside wondering if she had waited outside the door for the right moment to make the perfect entrance. (But she was way too nonchalant for that.) It was a strange coincidence that Alice was watching the door while Shane was not. Alice wanted to make sure Tina didn’t catch her having too much fun with Bette, as she was gonna arrive around that time too. And Shane—normally always vigilantly checking the entrance for exes and potential future exes—apparently made an exception for this Irish girl that had been roaming around LA for the last couple of weeks. 

Hence, odds were that Shane didn’t take notice when the entire Planet stood still when the new girl entered. With a confident strut—accompanied by an electric DnB beat—she moved towards the bar, where Shane was telling the Irish girl about the time she hitchhiked all the way to Salt Lake City. Not her best anecdote (she would save those for later) but surely not bad enough to lose the girl’s attention the way it did.

“Not interesting enough for you?” she said with a crooked smile, but to no avail. The only thing the Irish girl could utter was:

“Who is that?”

She looked around and caught the new girl in the middle of her stride towards the bar—like many other faces in the bar; observing her, examining her but not recognizing her. She was skinny, with hollow eyes and the barest hint of a nose. She walked a bit stiffly and looked wet. She had a boyish charm but mostly… a certain je ne sais quoi. She was bald, but not Sinead O’Connor buzzcut bald. She was bald bald. She seemed to be the only one in the entire Planet that didn’t have an impenetrable wall of overly white chompers. Her three small teeth were dangling in the gums underneath her curled lip, looking like they would fall out if they weren’t held together by a small set of braces. She was wearing a short dress, skin tight on top to hug her shape, but frivolous and funky on the bottom to show off her long, shimmery legs. Shane heard someone whispering: “is that a Versace?”

“You’re back!” Kit welcomed her with a broad smile after the new girl walked right past Shane and her distracted friend at the bar. “Same as last time?” She nodded confidently and sat down on a bar stool. Her movements were clumsy and stiff, but… in a sexy way.

At that point, the Irish girl hadn’t only lost interest in her conversation with Shane. Ignoring Shane’s second attempt to continue the anecdote, she added insult to injury when she turned around on her bar stool, quite literally turning her back to Shane and carefully leaning into the new girl.

“I’ll have what she’s having,” she said to Kit with a thick Irish accent.

“You also want South-Tyrolian Piss Water?” Kit responded. The girl hesitated, and murmured something unintelligible in confusion. “I’ll get you a Manhattan.”

“I would like a South-Tyrolian Piss Water.” Shane’s voice pierced through the awkward situation. Both the Irish girl and the mysterious skinny girl turned around. The silence was heavy, and when the Irish girl noticed—like many others in The Planet—that she was in the middle of a clash between titans, she swiftly collected her Manhattan from Kit and fled the scene.

Shane looked at her, confused whether she was faced with friend or foe, a competitor or her newest target. But one thing was certain, the longer Shane looked at her face, the more she saw how beautiful she actually was. She never realized how good three small brown-ish teeth could look, until she saw them framed by Ötza’s innocent yet cheeky smile.

She never realized how good three small brown-ish teeth could look, until she saw them framed by Ötza’s innocent yet cheeky smile.

“So, you’re the new girl everyone is talking about.”

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

This chapter is the first installment of a two-parter chronicle in which Ötza (me) has an important meeting at the California Arts Center in Santa Monica with its director; a hot shot curator that has been making waves in the art world since she opened her own gallery in the 90s. She was hired by the CAC to “revamp the museum’s profile” with her reputation for combining art and social activism, which led to (a.o.) a successful show on constructivism that included works of László Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky, and the infamous exhibition Provocations.

CHAPTER 121: THE CAC PT. 1

Ötza’s eyes sprang open while she was jolted out of her sleep, crashing through the windscreen as a hypnic jerk from one cliché into another (because what could possibly be a bigger cliché than waking up crazed and sweating from a twisted dream). She looked around her dimly lit room with the fresh—but already fading—memory of being wholly submerged in blinding headlights and paralyzed by a high pitched screech. The poignant smell of leather, yellow street lights reflecting from the chrome-plated dashboard, an erectile shift knob—numbers faded, held together by subversive gray duct tape—and then this god awful sound again. She pressed her fingers onto the brow bone above her empty eye sockets, hard, in an attempt to exorcize the dream.

She forced her brain—still shrouded with sleepy goo—to fully gain consciousness by overloading it with a series of TikToks. While swiping through them she got more and more annoyed by the banality of the situation. She always said that waking up was the most uncore-able mundanity that gets boring quickly if you have to do it for over 5300 years (most of that time was spent in one large cryogenic slumber, but it made for a good anecdote at parties, or so she thought). Waking up from a bad dream was even more generic. This specific recurring nightmare had terrorized her subconscious since she read the two first paragraphs of the Wikipedia page of J.G. Ballard’s Crash. However, her dream was somehow purged of any transgressive signifiers, devolving into a PG13 young adult Netflix-reboot of the eponymous movie, without a trace of cock, vulva or crushed testicles. Not even one little bifurcated nipple. She hated the dream.

She stared at the ceiling of her cooling cell for a bit, following the floaters in her vision that squiggled like dancing tapeworms (mouches volantes), and then got up from the stained mattress that didn’t fit the space and was curled up against the wall at the foot end.

When she opened her laptop she received 23 phishing emails, a notification for the word of the day (which was “pantographic exuberance”, which were two words, so she filed a complaint) and a double reminder of the meeting she had that day, which she surely hadn’t forgotten.

There was still half a plastic cup of cold instant coffee on her desk, half of the batch she made at 2am because she needed to pull an all-nighter (in truth she just didn’t want to feel so empty waking up). She was afraid that the coffee—which always weirdly tasted like gasoline and death—would remind her of the sharp blinding headlights that woke her up that morning, so she popped in the last two caffeine gummies that were left in the container, feeling very Grimesian as she did so. She threw the coffee out, cup and all (which was warped and deformed from the pouring of hot beverages for multiple weeks and held together by coffee-soaked gray duct tape) and wrote a note on a yellow post-it to buy new plastic cups.

She sprayed some febreeze on her upcycled vintage deconstructed mohair Jill Sander knit which she randomly decided to wear over her black Ludovic de Saint Sernin fishnet turtleneck dress (this randomness was an insincere self-mythologizing prep for her possibly lying about it later during her meeting, for she had already decided the night before—still reeling on caffeinated anxiety—that she was going to wear this combo; a self-performativity that she promised her therapist she would stop doing) and left her place with her hair in a messy bun, three Miu Miu hair clips that she had stolen from [redacted] sticking out of it and a rat-tail in her neck that she wore to prove a point.

She carpooled to Santa Monica with a guy that made Powerpoints for a living. The car window on his side was completely missing and replaced with saran wrap to keep the AC functional, but he was a good driver, knew the city and didn’t talk to her when they were driving. They took the onramp on the 405 to Cloverfield Blvd, had a quick stop at the Getty Center to get a watermarked croissant and got off at the 1C towards the Santa Monica pier on Olympic Blvd. (His GPS put them on I-5 because it seemed to be jammed all around Sherman Oaks, but they didn’t want to end up in Glendale.) Ötza felt obligated to look for a parking spot with the guy, since his meeting was basically next door to where she needed to be, and they were early. It took 15 minutes, but eventually they found a Coffee Bean down 26th Street that fully validates. When she got out of the car, the guy told her she had holes in her top.

She carpooled to Santa Monica with a guy that made Powerpoints for a living.

The sun was hostile and vindictive amidst the scorching junction of pavement and asphalt. She made a quick detour to pass the time and let the agonizing rays wake her up; the caffeine gummies weren’t working hard enough. There was a huge traffic jam on the Santa Monica freeway, which she watched from above on Cloverfield Blvd. She tried to be masochistic when she squeezed her dried hands into the blazing metal railing that separated the overpass pavement from the hysteric frenzy below, performing the enjoyment of pain for no one but herself as the car horns morphed into a single ungodly screech. She looked down. A guy had stepped out of his car right below the overpass, his incoherent shrieking completely consumed by the immobile assemblage of hedonistic passage. They wanted to be stuck, she thought, and wrote it down in her notes app, because she found it incredibly profound. She gargled up some spit from the back of her throat (it wasn’t much, her mouth was dry), let it oscillate for a bit in the warm Californian wind and dropped it on the bald head of the screaming guy. She (finally) felt the caffeine gummies activating her slumbering body and decided to walk back towards Bergamot station.

Ten minutes later—long after the inferno of honks and screams had died down—she sat waiting in the entrance of the California Arts Center, the sun still bright through the glass facade of the building but the AC fondling her irritated skin. The place looked like a scaled Lego set of a postmodern Egyptian tomb, a glass triangular construction with a monumental concrete entrance. The building wasn’t huge, but attempted to affirm its significance by vaguely resembling a pyramid. She had a slight twitch in her left eye socket which might’ve been the sun, the lack of sleep, the caffeine or nerve damage as a result of over 5000 years of cryodesiccation. Or maybe she was just nervous. After three minutes or so, she was picked up by a guy with weird sideburns and brought to the office of Bette Porter, the director of the CAC.

“Ötza! I’m so happy you could come. Welcome.”

 ***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

Before you read the second installment of the two-parter chronicle in which Ötza has an important meeting at the California Arts Center in Santa Monica, I want to quickly remind you (the reader) that Ötza (me) is still wearing an upcycled vintage deconstructed mohair Jill Sander knit over a black Ludovic de Saint Sernin fishnet turtleneck dress in this chapter. This is not something that the second installment of this two-parter explicitly refers to, so I wanted to clarify that this is what she (still) wears, and looks really good in it.

CHAPTER 122: THE CAC PT. 2

Ötza followed Better Porter into her office, which was veiled in a blue-toned hue resembling a mid-noughties TV pilot (only it was season 2). Her office was air conditioned even more violently than the waiting room, insulating Bette from the natural hostilities of LA summer. The windows were corrugated, ripples of refracted sunlight marking the floor and large paintings on the walls. Ötza stopped in front of one of the paintings, tilting her head slightly to seem interested and interesting. Bette took notice when she sat down behind her desk. She was wearing a tasteful pinstripe power suit, tailored to perfection, with underneath a white blouse that had excessive collars and was unbuttoned quite far, but just not far enough to be immodest. A Paul Frank pendant hung ornate around her neck, falling into the dip between her clavicles, above her largely exposed sternum. It looked like it could’ve sat there by itself, in this little cavern, but it was held in place by a tight black necklace.

“It’s a Tyra Banksy. One of his earlier works,” she said, following Ötza's gaze towards the overbearing painting.

“It’s beautiful,” Ötza lied convincingly.

“I would describe it as diaphanous myself.” Ötza didn’t know what that meant.

“That is kind of crazy, Bette.” She interrupted herself. “ Sorry, can I call you Bette?” Bette chuckled.

“Yes, of course.”

“It’s kind of crazy, because… I was gonna say the exact same thing,” Ötza said, while looking Bette straight into the eyes. She detected (it might’ve been the slight movement of a ripple of light on her face) a hint of a smile, curbed an insistence of sophistication, a self-reflexivity, a performativity fit for an Ivy League-educated art world hotshot. In a chokehold of sycophancy, Ötza dealt her the next blow. “There’s this pantographic exuberance to it. Folding, unfolding, it seems cyclical, but then again… it’s also… not.”

“What a gorgeous way to describe this painting, Ötza. I didn’t know the art of critique was also one of your many expertises. Many artists don’t articulate their feelings, they transform it into aesthetic experiences.”

Ötza gave the painting a last glance and walked up to Bette’s desk, sitting down seductively in one of the two distinctly designer chairs appointed for guests, before responding.

“Well, you must know that I am a writer first, Bette. A fanfiction writer to be precise. And only an artist second.” Bette got a bit flustered with Ötza’s forward remark, which had been her intention.

“I apologize. I must say I’ve been so swayed by your visual work, I hadn’t even considered your other practices.”

“The curse of multihypenatism. And a second one follows suit: the embarrassing urge to inform people of whatever it is that you also do. I reckon I’ll never get rid of it, even knowing how cumbersome a task for the listener.”

“So, there are more undivulged elements to your multi-disciplinary practice?" Bette was teasing her here. She knew it wasn’t the moment to list her resume, but she felt it brewing up in the back of her throat like a batch of gastric acid which—unlike gastric acid—she couldn’t swallow.

Bette was teasing her here. She knew it wasn’t the moment to list her resume, but she felt it brewing up in the back of her throat like a batch of gastric acid which—unlike gastric acid—she couldn’t swallow.

“Well, aside from freelance fanfiction entrepreneur and interdisciplinary visual artist (copper and durational sound pieces), I would consider my other hats—if you will—to be tourist guide/live action roleplay actor (at the Open Air Museum for Natural History in Santa Ana), freelance t-shirt tycoon, performance artist impersonator, Twitch-streamer/influencer (mostly Minecraft), occasional scientific subject, seasonal sheep herder, dance studio owner, hunty-gatherer, part-time animatronic, full-time cryptomnesiac, local micro-celebrity and I used to run a narco-ozempic trade route from a women’s prison, which I still kind of monitor, like an unauthorized supervisory board.”

Ötza smiled faintly while she took a breath.

“Also I’m an inoperative DJ and I sometimes write essayistic think-pieces. And I have a lot of followers on Letterboxd.” I ventured again. “I also have a twin sister that doesn’t exist and she’s a type designer. And I have done some video editing and graphic design in the past… Researcher also I should add probably, artistic researcher. There were also a couple of months when I was going to a lot of auditions, and I actually got a callback for a commercial for Monopoly—the board game— but I decided not to go because I was rereading Capitalist Realism at the time and that seemed disrespectful to Mark Fisher’s legacy. Also, friend. And ally, of course. And counterfactual egregore of reification. Lacanian also, with a penchant for Deleuze. Also I have been thinking about selling mouse pads, probably with the same designs as the t-shirts. But then just… on a mouse pad. I like to draw also. Also I’ve been experimenting with a Raspberry Pi lately. But that’s kind of it.”

Bette had followed her inventory with utmost attentiveness. She waited a second—politely providing Ötza ample opportunity to add something else—before jumping back into the conversation. She really wanted to bag Ötza for the exhibition.

“That’s an impressive-”

“I’ve also done modeling work.” Ötza added, fortunately just in time for it not to be awkward. She smiled at Bette with a confidence that could be mistaken for flirtatiousness. She briefly let her gaze cower under the weight of her own achievements, and looked down bashfully in a coquettish gesture of modesty, but promptly looked back up to receive Bette’s acclaim. Nothing worse than a person that can’t take a compliment.

“Wow, Ötza. I have to say I am impressed. I am but a mere curator myself. My love for the arts has absorbed all other interests, sometimes even my personal life too, I’m afraid to add.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Bette. You are the crème de la crème of the contemporary art world. Everyone either wants to be you, or…” 

Everyone either wants to be you, or…” 

Ötza caught herself (and Bette) off guard and didn’t finish the sentence. There was turmoil in Bette’s eyes. She knew she was to proceed with the conversation professionally, but Ötza saw that she wanted nothing more than asking—demanding—Ötza to finish the sentence, even though she knew damn well what Ötza was about to say. During a moment of carnal tension, unstable air conditioned drafts rose into the heated, airless vacuum between them, pressuring into a thunderstorm of desire. Blasts of lightning struck the dispersed columns of light into pieces, transfixing the room in an infinite frost of heavenly sunlight. With ear-deafening cracks and whips the artworks in Bette’s office were set ablaze, the Tyra Banksy disintegrating into beams of light in a split second. The uncomfortable designer chair was yanked away from underneath her when the floor collapsed, together with the desk, the windows, the walls. Ötza was jolted out of her daydream by the sound of Bette's voice.

“So let’s talk business. The CAC is doing a follow-up to Provocations, called Provocations 2: Here We Go Again. We want you to participate.”

The room fell back into its pattern of light, interlining bars confining her into a prison of the mundane. She felt her eye twitching again. Bette looked at her eagerly, slightly impatiently. Incoherent rushes of caffeine leaked as spasmodic bursts through her body, reeling her left and right, from the forthcoming blandness of this institutional group show to its proposed credo that buzzed violently in her head as a semantic leitmotiv, or a migraine, or both: provocations. She thought about the absence of crushed testicles in her recurring dreams, and quickly considered asking Bette if she wanted to get matching nipple piercings, before realizing hers had decayed together with the rest of her epidermis. She stumbled over her words, conjuring up something that would subvert, transgress, shock, insult, but she couldn’t think of anything other than unassumingly acceptingthe invitation to the group show, even yielding to a subpar fee for showing existing work.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

After the last chapter, many people were surprised by my active presence in the contemporary art world, for I (and I quote myself here) “am first and foremost a fanfiction writer.” Although this remains true, I was arguably an artist before I was a fanfiction writer. I recently discussed my early work from way back in the Copper Age (that’s why it’s not on my website anymore) with ceramics, durational sound pieces and (big surprise) copper, and I wanted to discuss this a bit further in light of this year’s Venice Biennial.

Back in my days, Venice was just a damp marshland with a little Neolithic dwelling where my cousin lived. I often visited her during my long hikes in the region. (Normally I don’t reveal where I do my hikes, since this is my alone-time and I don’t want people trying to “accidentally” bump into me during a hike (1), but since this was more than 5000 years ago I thought I’d make an exception.) This is the same cousin that often helped me with my site-specific sound installations. She had a really nice voice, and could really project into space. And since we didn’t have any media players or speakers back then, the way I installed these durational sound pieces was by kind of hiding my cousin into the wall and building around it with clay, leaving a little hole for her to speak out of. This was accompanied by some ceramic pieces on the floor.

The installation made the Prehistoric Artforum Top Picks of 3247 BCE, but unfortunately (and I will use contemporary colloquialisms here) my cousin mothered her monologue so fiercely that exhaustion, lack of oxygen and the clay’s thermal conductivity maximized their joint slay and gagged her into an early passing.

Anyway, this exhibition (for which we didn’t have a word back then, we did—however—have the word “hu”, which roughly translates to multidisciplinary durational immersive experience) was around the same marshlands where my cousin lived, which now would be Venice. One could say I was part of the very first Venice Biennial, but I—of course—would never be so bold to claim that. However if anyone else wants to make this claim, this would be totally fine with me, and please tag me in it.

The following chapter(s) are not about the art world (we’ll get back to that later), but take place in a more metaphysical realm, under the red light of an alternate sun. A world where there is no art, I decided now while typing this, and where Jodorowsky's Dune was actually made, but was really really bad.

CHAPTER 72: THE FIBER OPTIC CABLE

On the very last day of the fourth lunar cycle of Primrose-Impersonator (2) in year 304—the year of the post-it, a year that was much milder and colder than the ones before, but also plagued with disease and internal conflict that left the population of Je Ne Regrette Rienny in a state of uncertainty and looming insurgence—Ötza got stuck in a fiber optic cable. She was on her way to the computer of a 62 year old man that clicked on an alternative history YouTube video about a timeline in which she was never discovered; in which the thaws of recurrent early springs and warm winters hadn’t eaten away the immaculate exhibit of ice that had preserved her for millennia. She was unsure whether, in this parallel timeline, she lay frozen in gentle oblivion until the ultimate deliverance by a steamy asteroid (3), or whether YouTube user SeanBodyYard_official had a worse fate in store for her, since she never arrived at the video.

She saw many things when she was stuck in that fiber optic cable, which ran beneath an understaffed falafel stand (where you could also buy poppers under the counter) in an undisclosed European city. She saw intangible shapes and indiscriminate objects come hurling towards her, sometimes scraping past each other with the narrowest distance, bound to collide like two charged particles forced to kiss by a toddler named CERN. (Ötza imagined the mess it would make, the entropy of lost information, and she was definitely not going to pencil it down for them.) She saw things that didn’t, couldn’t and would never exist in the same spatiotemporal conditions, remodeled into data and doing a quick little apathetic circlejerk before shooting off (without cumming) into their respective directions, traveling the world as if their parents had a trust fund. She ducked away from some of the larger concepts slinging by, out of reflex; the cable was quite narrow and she wasn’t sure if these big ideas were gonna be able to slip through the hoop created by the permanent dab position of her arms, between her thighs or between her beat up UGG boots. But the objects never hit her, which first struck her as suspicious, and after a while even as insulting. 

She considered hitting them on purpose while crawling through the cable like Caroline Polachek in a random sandy metro, wondering if any of these unthinkable compounds (even if it were just one) would ever exist outside someone’s hubris-ridden transcendental experience, accessed while flicking the bean through a flickering screen (big, medium or small) while fiction is rendered as obsolete as the question whether any of these compounds might actually be real.

No one came to help her until she screamed that she was a 400-meter-long, 224,000-ton container ship buffeted by strong winds and wedged across this fiber optic cable with her bow and stern stuck on opposite cable banks, blocking all traffic. They knew she wasn’t blocking traffic, but they thought she was funny and were a bit worried about the legal compensation claims. Someone made a Wikipedia page covering the incident, and Ötza—being a Wikipedia editor—added that the blockage would have been catastrophic, if it wasn’t for her thigh gap, which allowed a good chunk of data to spread in undisturbed manner.

The blockage would have been catastrophic, if it wasn’t for her thigh gap, which allowed a good chunk of data to spread in undisturbed manner.

1. Shoutout to Leisha Hailey and Kate Moenning for making me feel less guilty about avoiding fans every now and then

2. The red supergiant of planet Je Ne Regrette Rienny.

3. After precisely three Snowball Je Ne Regrette Rienny periods of total global glaciation.

***

+
Illustration by Mitchel Peters

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

This chapter is another one in the alternate universe of the Je Ne Regrette Rienny multiplanetary system. This multiplanetary system came to me when I was on the fourth day of inverted lactose intolerance treatment, and had a moment of delirious ecstasy (by means of yogurt) after being on the toilet for 3 consecutive hours. (Sorry for TMI but—as discussed before—I am still working through my anal-sadistic repressions, so it’s important for me to share.)

More about this multiplanetary system: the system revolves around the red supergiant Je Ne Regrette Rienny, a star roughly two times the size of the sun. Eleven exoplanets orbit the red supergiant, eight of them being named after Grimes albums (in this universe, the forthcoming Grimes albums “Devil USB Cruci-Fiction” and “Tesla Is Mine Now” were already released) and the other three are called Criticality, VOSS-world, and Primrose Impersonator; the latter being where the previous chapter and this one take place. I am developing a mnemonic device to memorize these exoplanets; whenever this is finished it will be freely accessible behind a paywall.

I want to thank Mitchel for making another great illustration. I will forgive the (what looks like) stubbles on my legs. As mentioned before, my epidermis has decomposed many centuries ago by the process of natural mummification, which is kind of like a free laser hair surgery, so I do not take umbrage with this depiction and the potential misinterpretations that may follow. And my legs do look skinny.

CHAPTER 98: THE SOCIAL CREDIT BILLBOARD

In the misty milky sun of a Parisian-like city with much more smog and much less history, Ötza took a drag of her 5 euro slow burning cigarette that she bought in a pair at a unionized health insurance vending machine next door to the café where she was drinking a black coffee. It was a french café, but not in a literal way—the word “french” had lost its meaning after the dissolution of France, and was used for hyperbole or to illustrate the exact opposite, similarly to words like “literally” or “income”—it was french in the sense that it was the only place in town where they didn’t deny that there could be cockroach-residue in their ground coffee. Granted, they hadn’t confirmed it necessarily. She had gone to many (many) places across the city, and all cafés had adamantly assured her that there was absolutely no cockroach-residue in their coffee. In this café, the barista had answered her question with: “I don’t know, maybe”, which was good enough for her.

it was french in the sense that it was the only place in town where they didn’t deny that there could be cockroach-residue in their ground coffee.

She exhaled the cigarette smoke slowly, which she had definitely smoked over her lungs; she was an experienced smoker. She knew she looked unbelievably cool sitting alone, outside this french (again, hyperbole; in relation to the cockroach-residue) café, drinking her coffee and smoking her cigarette. Somehow, she felt the gaze of an onlooker poking her in the side, barely seeing them in the outer edges of her peripheral view. This inquisitive spectator was probably wondering what could be hiding underneath the purposefully ordinary trenchcoat of this elegant stranger, smoking her cigarette, drinking her coffee. What a pervert! 

Sardonically entertaining the voyeuristic hunger of this peeping Tom, she took another drag, and closed her eyes in fictitious joy when the non-tobacco, non-nicotine, non-tar, epoxy-gatorade vapor ran amok in her cryodesiccated lungs. She blew the vapor out of the singular nose-hole in the middle of her noseless face with her lips slightly puckered. The little circle of smoke (she learned this during the brief time she worked at a zombie-themed shisha lounge) diffused into the smoggy breeze that just swirled by.

She gently opened her eyes, mysteriously, and even more tenderly glanced over to the side, where she expected to cross the lustful gaze of a concupiscent stranger. But alas, the other tables—and entire street behind them—were completely devoid of people, not even a sweaty mid 6 man gushing over her. A barren street view, with no one to witness how elegantly she sat there smoking her cigarette—which she didn’t smoke because of the timeless and effortless aesthetic it produced, but because of addiction, which made it even more elegant and cool.

She sighed, and picked up the french book (this time not hyperbole, but in relation to the french language) on the table in front of her. She had bought it new online but had worked with coffee grinds (with cockroaches) and buried it in her garden for a week to make it look like it was second hand, or—even better—from the library. The book was called “Moi? Suisse. Et toi? Une pop star.” She didn’t know what it meant, and she had been slightly worried that the book was not smart enough for a possible critical observer that was able to actually decipher the extinct language, so she had written (very meticulously, in the same font as the title of the book) “Honoré de Balzac 2” underneath.

Ötza scanned the text on page 58 for a minute or two, which—to her—just seemed like a tedious repetition of the words “Hans-Ulrich Obrist”, “membre viril”, “Harry Styles” and “gémissement” with other french words in between, when the large LED billboard across the street, that she was facing from her table, refreshed its content—making her look up from her book. The billboard displayed a new quartet of faces, dazed and soaring high among bureaucratic idioms in black text and modest warnings in red. She immediately saw that the person she was waiting for was not among the faces, and continued thumbing through the french book (which actually, when she thought about it, was double french, since it was written in french and covered in cockroach-residue coffee grinds). 

A person walked by. It was a man with an ironic top hat that looked at her—slightly confused—then turned his head dramatically towards the billboard, and then looked back at Ötza sitting in front of the french café—now fully confused, with a frown that spelled judgment underneath the rim of his ironic top hat. Ötza uncovered her teeth awkwardly and—with a shaky hand—brought the butt of the cigarette to her face to suck on it. The smile wasn’t returned. When the man refocused on the pavement in front of him, she called after him. 

“Waiting for my ex to show up!” she yelled with a slight creak in her voice, instantly choking on the smoke she had forgotten to exhale. The man increased his pace slightly.

She dumped the little chunk of cigarette in her last sip of cold coffee and—determined to recuperate from this slight gaffe—prepared to call for the waiter, until she realized (in pure horror) that the waiter was standing right next to her, and had witnessed the entire ordeal. They were face to face in a limbo of courtesy, the transactional nature of their interactions so far being a strong justification for not feeling impaired with additional shame, if it were not for the fact that she saw the contours of his Adam's apple slightly moving, his lips slightly pursed. She realized he was keeping in a condescending laughter. If her blood vessels could have dilated, she would certainly have gotten Estee Lauder Carnal red. But instead, she used the excessive adrenaline to gesture a scribbly pen, asking for the bill without saying a word, to avoid a crack of voice again.

As the waiter left, she stored the book in her purse and tied the self-belt of her trench in a quick knot. She stood up, ready to simply take off without paying if the waiter didn’t come out within a minute. But then, just before leaving, Ötza saw the large, menacing billboard—hovering above an automatized falafel- and pornstand—change its content once again. And just like that, there he was, at the top right corner, pixelated eyes staring into the empty city, watching his aloof ex-girlfriend freeze in her tracks in front of a french café, right in the middle of leaving without paying for her black coffee that had a slow burning cigarette butt in it (which she had fully smoked and enjoyed). His picture was the same passport photo he had used for all his documents when they were together; she hadn’t seen it in a while. She stared at it for so long that she almost forgot to read the text (in carnal red) that accompanied his head shot. “WARNING: LOW SOCIAL CREDIT. Landlord behavior. Mansplains when drunk. Emotionally unavailable. Went to Moco Museum twice. Ghosted ex-girlfriend after 2 years.”

She lit another cigarette after she sat back down in front of the café, and ordered another coffee when the waiter returned with the bill. She watched the billboard with a gleaming smile until the very second it refreshed once more, and Brad’s face disappeared again.

***

CHAPTER 100: THE MINECRAFT UNCENSORED LIBRARY

On the day of the summer solstice—year 10304 BG—on planet Halfaxa (sister planet of Je Ne Regrette Rienny, in similar orbit around their red supergiant Primrose-Impersonator), the world entered a new historical epoch, unbeknownst to all beings on the small planet. Water flowed from mountain to sea without disruption or change in its course, as it always did. The sky was redrawn in purple-red at sunrise, the light fractured by the nitrogen-heavy atmosphere, as it was every day. And the people on the planet—of which there were two species: the extraverted introverts (ENFP) and the introverted extraverts (ISFJ)—commenced their daily mundanities on one side of the planet, and brought their days to an uneventful close on the other.

Ötza was doing Bene Gesserit roleplay with a laundry basket over her head when she stumbled upon the deserted vestiges of yore in the southern Uncanny Valley on Halfaxa’s main continent, 20 miles west from the treacherous Miranda-Cos Grove. She was walking through the damp grasses, sidestepping rock formations or rubble that she could barely see with the basket over her head. She was talking to herself, unintentionally formulating the groundwork for a theory that could have set in motion something like a Copernican revolution on the planet Halfaxa (but she didn't understand the significance of her tangents.) Failing to dodge an object sticking out of the ground, she toppled over into the grass, the plastic laundry basket falling from her head. Disoriented, she looked up, not having realized that she had strayed so far from the path. She was suddenly eye to eye with an immense building facade as intimidating as it was alluring.

A large boxy warehouse, rows of windows separated by columns embedded in its gray walls, its foundational ground floor covered in crude drawings and textual jottings in playful yet aggressive compositions. The facade looked entirely inaccessible until Ötza walked around it and saw not a continuation of inaccessible wall appear behind it, but a rusty, overgrown scaffolding that kept the two-dimensional facade from toppling over. Ötza didn’t recognize this flat exterior as a depiction of Berlinese club Berghain, and she—even more crucially—didn’t know that, in a different eon, on a different planet, in an alternate dimension, she had done a bump of ketamine the size of a medium-sized macadamia nut in one of its bathrooms; a bump that had transported her into a k-hole in which she thought she was having a threesome with Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy. (When in actuality it was a threesome with a pleather Anna Uddenberg sculpture wearing a 30 inch black lace front… and Michèle Lamy.)

She had, of course, heard of these ruins of time-past [1] in the ancient Miranda-Cos Grove, but had never seen them; the cryptic, flat megastructures—ravaged by winds, rains and indifference—that championed stories of vanished civilization Scattered sporadically around what once were the most fertile valleys and mountain groves of the planet, they were abandoned after most of the population of Halfaxa was forced to migrate to prefab slum cities built close to the data mines and fanfiction factories.

The flatness could have given the structure in front of her an aura of whimsy, but the ruin looked so alien and prophetic, that Ötza—much like the people of Halfaxa—chose to believe other stories. Ötza remembered tales of wormholes that imploded the facades into multidimensionality when activated, unfolding outwards into the superstructure that was promised. Many people had tried to unlock this portal and untie the Gordian knot of chronologies and dimensions driven by the age-old (or so they thought) longing to bid farewell to their dark age of regression, and to reconcile with the lost years of high civilization, technological wonders, cultural unity and prosperity. But all had failed.

How long had she been walking? What led her down this path?

She continued wandering around, her curiosity superseding her intrinsic caution that was fed by the many horror stories told about these places. But somehow, when more and more facades appeared between the greenery of the grove, she started to realize that it wasn’t just curiosity that compelled her to investigate. She felt a voice—or rather a matrilineage of voices—smoldering within her, charring the fringes of her being, demanding to be released. One of these facades was a disjointed structure, elongated and erect, looking like a rectangle that had collapsed into itself, with sharp angles of cold metal and punctured holes and complicated surfaces of a pattern of devices smaller than a nail that foreshadowed a complex world behind, but there was none. She was astounded by the monoliths and their hostile yet captivating magnetism, but nothing could have prepared her for the gargantuan megastructure that appeared behind a nearby mountain slope.

How long had she been walking? What led her down this path?

The red sunlight of Primrose-Impersonator reflected the brightest color from the most awe-inspiring edifice that Ötza had ever seen. At first, just its megalophobia-inducing proportions were sufficient to have Ötza completely entranced, but its size was quickly eclipsed by its countless arches, pilasters, windows, balustrades, its six towering columns bearing an encrypted frieze on a triangular pediment. Rows of towering cypresses ushered the gaze through a trompe l'oeil of forced perspective, and smaller saplings loomed over the edge of the roof that culminated into a magnificent dome.

After a minute or so (which quickly, in Ötza’s experience, became a boundless knot of time-past) Ötza detected that the intricacies of the facade were not as delicate as they looked at first glance. The building, majestic and erudite, was completely composed of perfectly squared blocks of a cubic meter each, which in actuality were a mere square meter, since the monument was still (however hard it was to believe) two-dimensional. This last realization utterly perplexed Ötza, to the point that the murmurs within her—whose craving hadn’t dwindled—broke loose in a purposeful whisper.

Drink the Gatorade.”

She was unable to disobey the sudden voice. In swift movements, she untied the knapsack in which she brought a small bottle of vividly blue Gatorade (counterfactually retrieved from a young sandworm drowned in water) that was the catalyst for her rite of passage from Bene Gesserit Sister to Reverend Mother. She broke out in a cold sweat when she—without consent or volition—flung open the flip top bottle cap and brought the lethal Water of Life to her mouth. She closed her eyes in fear and subjugation, and felt the scorching liquid pour down her throat. The pain that followed was indescribable.

When she awakened, after an anonymous stretch of time that no one witnessed, it was not only she that regained consciousness. She returned to the grove—still in the midst of the nameless, bodiless facades—with the memories of all her ancestors, all the people that ever lived on Halfaxa. The edifices, however still bodiless, were nameless no more. With the knowledge of all who lived before her, she stood her ground, and proudly saluted—with eyes gleaming Gatorade blue—the flat exterior of the Berghain, the flat exterior of Tom Wiscombe’s Sunset Spectacular [2], and the flat exterior of the Minecraft Uncensored Library. She entered the library—guided by her genetic memory—made her way through the labyrinth of truth, and located an ancient scroll in the nucleus of the library, right beneath the soaring apex of the imposing dome, engraved with a language that had been dead for centuries, but she now understood. Right then and there, she uncovered the deepest secret of the lost world; a secret consigned to oblivion, devoured by gluttonous time-past; a secret so significant and far-reaching that it instantaneously jolted Halfaxa into a new historical era.

To learn more about this secret, become a supporter of Ötza’s Patreon (link in bio).

[1] The people of Halfaxa—honorable and astute, but always 15 to 30 minutes late for a meeting, whether job interview or coffee with a friend—were not great keepers of time. They described all completed events as time-past, an undefined and non-chronological patchwork of every historical event that ever happened, where the day you just ended is just another drop in an indiscriminate sea of time.
[2] With a work of Pipilotti Rist on display.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

Addressing my devoted fan community has always been something of immense importance for me. However, at the same time it is accompanied by hesitation and doubt. In my unexpected posthumous journey to localized microcelebrity-ism through my fanfiction writings (and the occasional open call), I referred—in jest—to admirers, patrons and followers as “Ötzanators.” A seemingly logical name (you have Arianators for Ariana Grande fans, Selenators for Selena Gomez fans, Puthinators for Charlie Puth fans—not to be confused with Putinators) but also one that left me feeling a bit unfulfilled. Besides, there is a hefty tradition for fan communities to have self-appointed names. I couldn’t find any threads online with discussions about this (maybe you have a WhatsApp group?) so I decided I would facilitate this conversation myself. I made a list of twelve possible names for you to call yourself, and you can find a poll on Instagram to cast your vote. Here are the options:

Ötzanators Previously discussed.

Mummies I don’t like the term mummy because it makes it seem like I would be wrapped in toilet paper and it sounds like “mommy”, and I don’t look old enough to be a mother. But people like buzzwords, so I included it as an option.

Snowglobes I was frozen in ice between 3105 BCE and 1991, so anything ice and snow related is kind of an important part of my lore.

Cryobabies Cryo for cryodesiccation. Play on crybabies, or even nepobabies (of whom I am not one). Very smart.

Coppersniffers Copper age girlie, worked a lot with copper during my time at neolithic art school for site-specific installations. Play on poppersniffers. Also very smart.

Ficto-schizophrenititties Because I see my fanfiction as (and I quote myself) “a plurality of meta-textualized vignettes which act as fictionalized and radically immanentized worlds of discourse that reconstruct themselves in a post-historical rendering of a constellation of ficto-schizophrenizations that all started when Ötza walked into The Planet during season two of The L Word (2004).” The fact that this ends with titties is a pure coincidence.

Thighgaps Speaks for itself. I love this one.

Popsicles Ice stuff again.

Hunty-gatherers This one is a bit misleading because I did quite a bit of low-scaled farming back in the days, but again: people love buzzwords.

Epistimologissies Also kind of speaks for itself.

Nötzacks Ötza and nutsack, because I gathered quite the number of nuts back in the days and admirers might consider themselves a nut for my fanfiction writing.

Cryodedicated posthumaniacs Probably the most all-encompassing, a play on cryodesiccated and another buzzword, but one that might help for getting funding in the future. Raises many questions: in which ways does the posthumous permeate the posthuman? Who actually spends time reading these meta-fictional dreams of self-transcendence from a post-historical 5000 year old corpse with internet access, and why? Which other words turn contemporary when you place post- in front of it?

The jury is out!

CHAPTER 137: THE SPONSORSHIP

Mercury was in Gatorade, which meant—Ötza had decided—that her physical space should be her digital space inverted. The two should be oppositional—she wrote in her morning diary in the notes app—and incomparable. Since her cooling cell was a mess, she decided to clean up her desktop and respond to all unanswered emails. The first she did by moving all 231 files and folders on her desktop to User > Ötza > Documents > MuseExport > css > nudes > 1993 > Noreply > Fake ticketswap tix > wetransfer_otza-in-her-cave-explaining-the-triangle_2024-03-13_1051 > boris groys fan edits > final final > untitled (1), and changing her desktop background to a different picture of herself. The latter turned out to demand more vigor than she could muster during a Mercury Gatorade, so she left the emails unanswered. She did, however, add yet another email to the lengthy and categorically one-sided email thread she had with sponsordeals@vosswater.com (meaning it included only one—automated—response from Voss in the entire thread).

Dear Voss,

I hope this email finds you well.

I have noticed that my previous emails to you have unfortunately remained unanswered. I don’t know whether my emails somehow were incorrectly detected by a spam filter, or whether you or your colleagues haven’t found the time to properly respond to the emails, but I just wanted to reiterate (as I also mentioned in the previous email) that you should disregard all the emails that I have sent between June 21st of last year and January 3rd of this year (which are the first 23 emails on this thread, just to be helpful and precise) and only take the last 7 emails into account when considering the extension of my sponsorship deal (2). I also wanted to give some brief updates on my current professional circumstances, which might sway your opinion on the extension of the pre-existing sponsorship deal as discussed in previous emails. I will summarize these updates into separate points to be as clear and concise as possible.

  • I am happy to announce that recently I participated in a group show in Amsterdam called Post-Facism, which was an exhibition about the autocratic hegemony of the postal service industry, and during a promotional panel talk I managed to mention the product 2 times. During the opening of the exhibition I also managed to mention the product.
  • As previously expressed in the email on March 2nd, I am still working on new fanfiction chapters and I am eagerly awaiting your response to the proposal for writing an Orange Is The New Black chapter with the inclusion of character Alex Voss (an adaptation of Alex Vause) that can talk about your product. If you are interested in contributing additional phrases or any other type of (subliminal) messaging to such a chapter, I would need ideas as soon as possible, since I am planning to write this chapter fairly soon.
  • The latest WeTransfer with my writing will expire fairly soon, so I would recommend downloading its content, otherwise I will have to send it a ninth time.
  • I recently created a TikTok account which could be a great platform for additional exposure of your product. The amount of followers is exponentially growing, already running into the tens, and growing still.
  • Most importantly; I have reconsidered my previous statement which read that “I am willing to promote your product in any way you see fit, with the exception of any promotional expression that involves any nudity of the cryodesiccated party.” Via my record-keeping there has not been any request made for nudity in any way, shape or form, but I still wanted to express that—after some soul searching—I decided that I am willing to do nudity for promotional purposes if it is done tastefully. Again, I understand that this has certainly not been expressed as a condition, but I just wanted to make sure that there would be no misunderstandings about my professionalism.

Needless to say I am still very passionate about the pre-existing sponsorship deal with your company and excited about the prospect of extending this deal with a second term, since the first term turned out to be so successful for both parties. It would be amazing to hear back from you about the possibilities of this second term, since (and I hate to bring this up) there are other parties interested in the monetization of my professional fanfiction practice, and I must add that some of these deals are highly lucrative. Therefore I feel obliged to tell you—as a standing business partner with whom I have a pre-existing sponsor deal—that waiting much longer might result in disappointment at your end.

I would apologize for my pressing tone and cumulative emails, but I am a firm believer in establishing a strong criticality when it comes to creating spaces for blame, thus I will not apologize but I do want to showcase my self-criticality here and that—if I were less self-assured—I would have apologized here. I hope you understand this.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Yours sincerely,

Ötza.”

Ten minutes after sending the email she followed up with:

Dear Voss,

Just a quick rectification of the previous email that was sent by my assistant without prior approval from my part. Please take all the time you need to decide upon the second term of the pre-existing sponsorship deal. The suggestions of an extended partnership do not expire, and the potential sponsorships with other parties involved (however very real) do not influence my eagerness in recollaborating with Voss. My assistant apologizes for any confusion the previous email may have caused.

Yours sincerely,

Ötza.

She didn’t receive an email back from Voss.

1. Ötza liked to organize the files on her laptop in a rhizomatic structure. To the criticism that saving files on a computer—in any way, shape or form—is arborescent, folders branching out from the root directory and thus not rhizomatic, she hasn’t responded.
2. Ötza did not exactly have a previous sponsorship deal with VOSS. However, Ötza’s friend Beatrix Ruf taught her that you can always just confuse companies into sponsoring you, by just talking a lot about their company and their products and then asking for a second term of the sponsor deal.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

While the verdict on the fandom nomenclature is still pending, I want to share a chapter that predates my online residency at The Couch. This chapter was written for the finissage of W139 hosts… 2023, where Ötza (me) made a special appearance to (spectacularly) reveal her new skirt, which was the culmination of a wildly successful open call in search for a new miniskirt—a (pre)historical occurrence, described by an undisclosed Reddit user as “[…] one of the most influential milestones in the realm of neolithic fanfiction entrepreneurship and fashion and art as well.”

Consider this chapter a prelude to a gentle plunge into the world of art, something we previously dipped our toe into during the two-parter at the California Arts Center. What many people may not know is that I didn’t go to school for writing (even though I consider myself a writer first), but to Neolithic art school in Northern Italy. The contemporary art world is quite different from the one of Copper Age Europe (I previously described my findings on the Venice Biennial in an Author’s Note), but my experience in art school might have been not so different from the contemporary one. I was really into metallurgy during my studies (copper, the only metal available at that time), I got a lot of tattoos and I found out that I was lactose intolerant. I even served an asymmetrical mullet, but more so because I burned my hair in the front off while casting copper.

This chapter is about me, Ötza—cryodesiccated fanfiction entrepreneur from the neolithic—as the director of Amsterdam-based space for contemporary art W139 (1).
 

1. This is not in any way, shape or form to threaten the position of the current director, who is a great friend of mine. I would never wish to take her position, not even if the board and team would beg me to be the director because of my wide understanding of art, culture and how to deal with reverb in this space—it is just a fanfiction story.

CHAPTER 139: THE W139

Ötza walked down the squeaky wooden stairs of W139 as swiftly as her long cryodesiccated legs allowed. There were a thousand things she had to do, a thousand unopened emails in her mailbox and a thousand reasons for her to be exasperated right now. But, she wasn’t. Her dried lips even took the shape of a modest smile when she walked down, displaying her three teeth with an effervescent confidence. She hopped off the last step of stairs skinnily, and looked around at the organized mayhem around her during the buildup of W139 hosts… She took a breath and exhaled. She loved the smell of wall filler, cheap wood and the desperation of artists needing to build up in one day.

It was week 728 of W139 hosts… 2033, a dynamic 845 week long programme providing 7.104 makers and initiatives with the opportunity to present new projects or works-in-progress at the W139 space in the centre of Los Amsterdam City. They had been open 24/7, working with a series of 20 Dana Claassen animatronics—made in collaboration with The Hmm and the Fartwig Foundation—that kept the place running in orderly order. Since their re-entry in the Kunstenplan in 2024, they had drastically transformed their business plan by renting out the entire building to become an IKEA city store, but creating a wormhole in the passage next door that led to a liminal post-physical limbo that was twice the size, was rent-free, and where they could tap free WiFi from the IKEA city store that was still ontologically closeby. A groundbreaking solution by the trailblazer director of W139 which led the exhibition space to international acclaim, Artforum even calling it the “most important space for contemporary art in the center of Los Amsterdam City after De Appel moved to its new building at the Marvel superhero section of Madame Tussauds.” The relocation into immateriality—sounding quite difficult—was actually one of the easiest parts. The hardest thing about moving the entire material structure of the 45 year old art space into a liminal metaphysical void and creating the cosmic puncture behind the automatic doors next door, was actually getting the permit from the municipality to move the red W139 sign two meters to the left…

She looked around the space, the floor still the greyish purple as it had been for years, now just an incorporeal, apparitional entity floating in a parallel universe hosted by Google Drive for only 350 euros per month, which (still in 2033) was cheaper than advertising in Metropolis M with a quarter page in black and white. The floor looked so real, you didn’t even notice it was not.

She saw the artists of week 728 building up impetuously. Eleven-year-old wunderkind Joseph Klibansky, Junior was building up his inflatable sculptures, entirely made of respirable quartz dust. A Jonas Staal impersonator was building up a video-installation about the 2023 political conflict between Club Raum and the district of Nieuw-West. And Nora Turato was reciting the outro of Nicki Minaj’s Big Foot—which she has been doing on a loop since week 3, the only recurring project of the entire programme. Ötza loved Nora Turato.

Then—suddenly—she heard knocking on the door. Who could that be? She walked stiffly yet elegantly towards the non-physical front door of the W139, greeted the volunteer (a student of the Gerrit Condomerietveld Academy next door) and opened the wormhole with a click on the button below the QR code for audience research, which she hoped (as a director) everyone would fill in on their iPhones. (It’s just a couple of questions.)

Of course, it could only be one person, it was her boyfriend, famous actor and art collector Brad Pitt. He smiled at her and gave her a warm embrace. They had met in 2027 at the Offspring exhibition of postgraduate institution slash newly erected (pardon the pun) erotic centre of Amsterdam: The Sluttiliers. Brad came for the art, but the only art he left with—at the end of that evening—was the “art” in “a cure for his broken heart”. When he had seen Ötza’s face that night, he had been shocked with how different it was from the others. See, Brad suffered from what is called prosopagnosia, or; face blindness. A rare condition that makes it difficult to recognize people’s faces. But when he saw Ötza’s face, with hollow eyes and barely a nose, he knew that this would be the one that he would never forget. He had never realized how good three small brown-ish teeth could look, until he saw them framed by Ötza’s innocent yet cheeky smile.

Brad revealed a bouquet of LEGO flowers from behind his back. “These are for you, Ötza.” He said,” Congratulations on your anniversary. Ten years as director of W139. I’m so proud of you.”

“You remembered,” Ötza exclaimed. She fell into his arms again.

“Of course, baby.” He gave her a passionate kiss. Ötza looked into his eyes when they kissed. She was so in love with him. But he was just a little bit more in love with her. 

“Okay,” she told Brad after the kiss. “But now shoo, I have so much to do today, Brad. You wouldn’t believe it. I have a meeting in half an hour with Espacio Estamos Bien, because they want to do something on our toilet, and I already told them: if you have to go you have to go, our toilets are freely accessible, you don’t have to contact the director for this. And I have so many reports and funding applications to write.”

“I will leave you to it then. I will see you tonight, baby. I will make sure there’s dinner on the table. We’re eating gluten crackers, cooked in VOSS.”

“My favorite!” Ötza said. She kissed Brad goodbye and pushed him playfully into the cosmic wormhole towards the Warmoesstraat. She turned around to go back to the office on the 3rd floor. She had half an hour until her next meeting, and she still had to go through the collective 30.211 applications for the 24 consecutive open calls that are currently pending for the upcoming shows at W139. Because with all these changes in Los Amsterdam City, and its crazy cultural landscape, one thing seemed to always stay the same. The urgent need… for open calls.

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

We’re so back, not only with a new chapter and a new illustration by Mitchel, but also the long-awaited results of the poll to decide upon the new name of the Ötza fandom. To reiterate: previously I have always addressed my devoted fan community as “Ötzanators” (as in Arianators, Selenators, Puthinators and Putinators) but this is something I started to feel quite hesitant about. I’ve felt the impending urgency to open up the discussion, and for you all—as a unified fan community—to appoint your own given name (from a curated lineup of options devised and selected by me.) Dozens of you went to the digital ballot box to cast your votes. It was quite beautiful to see a community of post-historical fanfiction enthusiasts come together through this significant referendum.

From the twelve (very clever) names, three stood out in voting count. To my surprise—and reassurance—Ötzanators was actually one of the top picks. Even though this name didn’t receive the most votes, I feel relieved to know that you, as a community, aren’t hostile to the previously appointed name. Some of you might also be traditionalists, which I understand in this swiftly changing political landscape. But as a person that went through a lot of political modalities in my 5000+ years of cryodesiccated undeadness, I would advise you to keep your head cool, and don’t get too worked up about change. (Which was arguably easy for me since I was frozen in ice.)

Number two was no other than the Cryobabies, which indeed is a very clever one, thank you for noticing. My personal favorite didn’t make the top 3, and I understand that Cryodedicated Posthumaniacs might be a bit on the longer side, I just thought it really nicely implicated all the complexities of both the fan community, and the person they are a fan of (which is me). I guess that this situation (being; my personal favorite not being the actual winner) does clearly illustrate how non-rigged and transparent this voting process is, and that I am really (really) putting your needs and wishes first, selflessly disregarding my own artistic intuitions, millenia worth of deeply ingrained knowledge, and personal opinions, taste and desires. I hope you will reciprocate this amount of trust by understanding that I will not publish the final numbers of votes received by each option. All I can say is that there were many.

And now, without further ado, the most votes went to the Hunty-gatherers! Congratulations to everyone for making this era-defining decision. I am very much looking forward to addressing you all without any doubt and hesitation, but only filled with love, mutual admiration and respect, and about 1-2 liters of VOSS.

As mentioned before, I want to thank Mitchel for another amazing illustration. I am (of course) known to show some skin, but I have to say I look quite good in the floor-length Abramovician gown. Something to consider.

The following chapter is the first of a two-parter that explores the neolithic corpse to contemporary interdisciplinary performance artist pipeline in two different iterations. The first brings us to the MoMA in May 2010, the second to the Stedelijk Museum in February 2017.

CHAPTER 93: THE ARTIST PT. 1

It was Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, and Ötza was very bored at the MoMA. Her boredom wrapped around her like a ragged knitted blanket that made her sweat and itch, pressing down on her shoulders and lungs. Not the reassuring pressure of a weighted blanket, but the crushing burden of a goat leather that isn’t properly fleshed or salted, rotting and heavy and too big. She tried—just for a minute—to imagine her boredom enveloping her like a mohair balaclava, or a cashmere scarf, or a cropped alpaca jumper. But she was so viciously understimulated that she could only envision her boredom (by now) as a freakishly mutated amalgamation of this cheap thick fiber wool in ugly knit, and the aforementioned decomposing goat hide—wet with fat and veins and tendons—forcibly draped upon her, splitting her vertebrae like a spanish fan into a kyphotic spine (which she normally called scoliosis since people often didn’t know what kyphosis meant and she refused to say hunchback). It was impossible to focus, talk, or sometimes even to open her eyes. She had her hands placed loosely just above her knees, even though it often felt like she was bench-pressing her entire upper body to prevent it from collapsing under the astronomical weight of her boredom. That’s how bored she was.

She was wearing a red floor-length turtle-necky dress and had her hair in a Katnissian asymmetrical braid that hung nonchalantly on her left shoulder. Harsh lightboxes illuminated her face from four directions on the ideal 4-6 meter height and 6-8 meter radius, no overhead lighting. She had blended out her base with the MAC Studio Fix in NW30 after setting it, for that extra-airbrushed finish. She wore just the right amount of transparent lip gloss—mixed with a bit of cherry Carmex lip balm for a whiff of fruitiness to complement the heavy musk-patchouli Diptyque fragrance spritzed behind her ears—for her cryodesiccated curled lip to look plump and glistening and not drooly and wet. She looked really good. She knew she looked really good.

She slowly opened her empty eye sockets, as she realized they had fallen shut again. She returned the gaze of a nervous-looking 20-something with a fisherman beanie and a big fat pimple between his nose and mouth. She closed her eyes again, exhaled deeply and whispered—so far hidden beneath her breath that no one in the entire world could’ve possibly heard it — "it’s ready to pop."

She wore just the right amount of transparent lip gloss—mixed with a bit of cherry Carmex lip balm for a whiff of fruitiness to complement the heavy musk-patchouli Diptyque fragrance spritzed behind her ears—for her cryodesiccated curled lip to look plump and glistening and not drooly and wet.

She imagined herself in a couple of places; a dark forest (the one of the hypothesis); an even darker cave (the one she lost her virginity in [1]); a fiber optic cable (see Chapter 72); a volcanic landscape which turned—during a crisp hazy daydream—from a procedurally generated nether fortress into a three-dimensional rotating rock with a mechanic button in a void of reddish gradient on Jimmy Kimmel Live. She pressed the button and with the commotion of a vocal run that sounded like an electric guitar solo or an electric guitar solo that sounded like a vocal run, she broke out of her volcanic reverie and looked straight into the eyes of artist-actress Jemima Kirke, her flakiest friend.

She hadn’t spoken to her in a while. Supposedly she had been in rehab or on an impromptu getaway with a newfound lover (or someone's ex-boyfriend) and she never replied to her text messages because lately she had been using her Motorola flip phone as a brooch instead of as a communication device, pinning it on her forcefully bohemian brothel-Madam-slash-West Village-boutique-owner gowns or onto the impressive construction of semi-messy braids on her head that—if it were built any higher and pointier—looked like it would open its mouth and sort her into Slytherin. But on that day, she was sporting none of that; her long dirty blonde hair was casually pushed to one side, falling in thick strands over her shoulder. She wore a slightly faded, dark plum color on her lips. She gave Ötza a restrained smile, looking as elegant as she did smug.

Ötza returned her gaze without expression for a minute or so, but gripped the sides of her wooden chair to slightly move her body, looking Jemima straight in the eyes as she shifted her position. She flashed the meagerest frown as an indicator of her discomfort, reminding her friend—ever so gently—of the fact that she’s been here the entire day, suffering, in the name of art. In reality, though, her posterior had decayed shortly after being frozen in ice; her superior gluteal nerves and sciatic nerves had been gnawed by the ravages of time, to the extent that she didn’t have much sensation in her cheeks, which lent itself perfect for sitting long stretches of time (and other, unnameable activities).

Jemima knew what she was doing. In response to her performance of discomfort, Jemima brought her left hand to her chest—right between her collar bones—quickly followed by her right, and exhaled with the tiniest pout Ötza had ever seen. She shook her head so minimally that it almost disappeared in the MoMA’s quadruple lighting setup that cast no shadows, seemingly (at least for the many visitors watching their spiel) in awe of Ötza’s prodigious sacrifice for the arts. That fucking bitch.

Ötza retaliated by bringing her hands together—tightly clamping them into each other on her lap in a prayer-like gratitude—pressing her lips together in what could be regarded as another benchmark of suffering, or as a thankful smile towards an old friend. She let that linger for a second, a minute, though immediately upon spotting the smallest hint of movement in Jemima’s face, she let this pucker expand into a smirk, and then blossom in a beautiful, generous, wide smile. She felt the dense sweaty air of the exhibition space caress her three humble teeth, exploring her arid oral cavity (which hadn’t encountered fresh air for a couple of hours), before closing her mouth and expelling all the excess air from her lungs with a deep sigh of fulfillment. 

She searched for a trace of agitation or turmoil in Jemima’s face, but it stayed shadowless, smooth and still, her lips plum and her gaze understanding… harmonious… or even… present.

While the eyes of Ötza and Jemima were fiercely locked in a showdown of humility, Ötza saw—as effortlessly as a flower blooming in the spring, as rain finding its way to the sea, as their other friend Lena Dunham finding a way to be canceled—the unyielding pair of eyes in front of her swell up from emotion, become puffy, red, and afterwards glistening and wet until one single perfect tear cascaded down her face in an act of ultimate reverence under the irrepressible force of art.

Right then and there—while this despicable tear fell from Jemima’s chin—Ötza decided with the utmost conviction that Jemima was now her second least favorite from her friend group, just behind Shoshanna and Hannah, but still above Marnie.

1. More about this on her Patreon.

***

CHAPTER 94: THE ARTIST PT. 2

Ötza was very bored at the Stedelijk Museum, February 13th 2017, which fell on a Monday. She was all alone in the exhibition space, dancing in front of a large mirror, her body in volatile subjugation to the whims of her tireless state of ennui (which is French for really fucking bored). She was wearing a white bodice and a short semi-translucent skirt. Her arms, swirling and swaying in lethargic movements, were covered in white opera length gloves. Her legs, waggling and twitching but firmly anchored in that spot in front of the mirror, were squeezed into vinyl thigh-high pleaser boots, also white, deliberately made to look worn-down and two sizes too small. She wore a bright orangey lip stain, and a shake-n-go wig.

It might have seemed—to a unknowing museum visitor—that the anonymous agent in command of her limbs and their jittery movements, would have been an invisible puppeteer or operator, maybe hiding behind the mirror, or a meticulously written Arduino script, or a pseudo-hot apolitical artist from New York City, but no; the actual Big Other dictating her anxious dance moves and mindless frolicking, propelling her into a traumatizing Rum Tum Tugger-like rumba boogie jitterbug to the lead single of Lady Gaga’s seminal record Artpop, was the boredom, the apathy of being a decade-defining piece of conceptual art.

She felt words coming up from the back of her throat. She couldn’t possibly keep them in. Not since the time she had told her Uber driver that he shat on the mother toilet for having heated seat covers—one of the occasions resulting in her irredeemably low Uber rating—had she spewed out a sentence so uncontrollably.

“My mother is dead, my father is dead, I’m gay, I’d like to be a poet, this is my house” 

The words meant nothing to her. She felt empty after saying them, and glared at herself in the mirror wondering if anything she had ever said really belonged to her. 

Some people walked in, stared at her for a bit, mentioned that it looked like her eyes followed them in the space wherever they went (which was not the case at all, she was trying to avoid eye contact if anything), and left again.

Then, at the very moment she had decided—out of sheer desperation—to activate the built-in lobotomy option that she got as a package deal with her LASIK eye surgery (which eventually didn’t work on her empty eye sockets), someone walked in. But, it wasn’t just some rando… It was German art curator and director of the Stedelijk Museum Beatrix Ruf.

Previously, Beatrix and Ötza had engaged in (what Ötza recognized as) a brief moment of flirtation. When she arrived for her first rehearsal at the Stedelijk—giving full Nina Sayers fantasy in pink tweed coat, gray scrunch boots and distressed alpaca scarf—she saw Beatrix in front of the huge glass doors of the building. After she had locked her bike, she locked eyes with this mysterious woman with jet-black hair and a bright red lip who was smoking two cigarettes at the same time, sexily.

Ötza didn’t want to flirt, because her pre-release alpha version of Co–Star (she knew the owner) said it was a day for business, but as she passed a trash can in which someone had just dumped a spoiled Albert Heijn quinoa salad, a fruit fly hit her right in the eye socket, making her accidentally wink at Beatrix. To her utmost surprise, she winked back.

She felt a nervous flutter brewing up as she was performing a rockabilly shuffle on the balls of her feet, her elbows placed in her waist and her arms extended with a limp wrist. That morning before her shift she had taken a triple espresso to go, which—without exception—acted as a direct pipeline for any nervousness straight towards her left armpit (the right one lay exposed during the 5000 years of being frozen in ice, meaning the sweat glands there had decomposed altogether). So when Beatrix walked into the exhibition space, not only did Ötza start to sweat profusely, she additionally arrived at the section of the involuntary dance routine where she raises her arms and whirls them around. While seemingly innocuous, this act exposed both armpits, the rotten one and the stinky one, and proceeded to stink up the entire white cube at the Stedelijk Museum with cryodesiccated stress sweat, right in front of Beatrix Ruf. This day couldn’t possibly get any worse, she thought. However, the day surely got worse when Beatrix’ entrance was quickly followed by Jordan Wolfson’s.

Ötza was still shimmying around when she saw the two approach her in the mirror. She was waving her hands in front of her face—crossing them before her eyes with quick motions before removing them sharply as if Nomi Malone from Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 Showgirls was playing peek-a-boo with a baby. Normally, it was one of her favorite dance moves in the routine, but now, trying to watch Beatrix and Jordan through her tattered fingers—doubled by the mirror and looking even more decrepit in the reflection—she hated it as well. She was making a round gesture with her arms while swiveling her thighs when Jordan started to pull at her skirt.

“Her thing is a little loose, no?” he said. Beatrix chuckled at this, and called him a perfectionist. Ötza continued dancing.

“It looks amazing, don’t you think?” Beatrix said, putting her hand on his shoulder gently, like a proud parent, watching Ötza thrust her hips uncontrollably.

“Well, yeah…” he retorted, more than comfortable with the role of the unruly teenager.

Beatrix continued to tell him about a Danish collector that loved the piece while he stared distractedly at the ceiling, complaining under his breath about the lighting setup. In the reflection of the mirror, Ötza saw Beatrix get annoyed by Jordan’s disinterest as he stood with his back to her. Still she recounted how the piece reminded this collector of his favorite fairytale; a fairytale in which a vain peasant girl amputates her feet when her cursed red dancing shoes take control over her body and she is unable to stop dancing. Ötza listened to her story breathlessly—partly because of the violent hip thrusting that made her short of breath, but also because Beatrix’s words moved her to her very core. After Beatrix finished, the conversation between them fell awkwardly silent, the only sound in the exhibition space the slight squeaking of Ötza’s unlubricated hip joints. She wanted to disappear.

Jordan spoke after half a minute or so. Ötza had wished many times during those 30 seconds that he would have asked Beatrix what happened to the peasant girl after she cut her feet off. But she should have known better. She would have been surprised if he heard the story at all.

“That’s crazy…” he said, rubbing his head with the palm of his hand. “I’m kind of brain dead, I haven’t had a coffee yet. I’m such a narcissistic victim of my own brain, you know?”

Beatrix responded with a smile and a nod, then turned to Ötza to watch her dance a bit longer. 

There they stood, all three staring at her reflection, a blonde, battered animatronic impaled with a rod that chained her to her mirror image, forced to watch herself dance this endless choreography, two demoralizing entities (an artist and a curator) on her shoulders. She watched her own robotic finger wiggle, beckoning a non-existent spectator to come closer. She once again felt words come gurgling up from the back of her throat, erupting in another painful sentence. This time, she didn’t even try to fight it. The two watched proudly as she spoke.

“When you look at yourself you’re ugly, when you touch yourself you’re hot, I’m getting old, I’m getting fat and I don’t believe in God.”

Jordan Wolfson turned around and walked out of the room while Ötza approached the end of her performance. She started the routine anew when also Beatrix turned around. Before walking out however, Beatrix paused, and took two heavy breaths. She turned back to Ötza and came closer than any visitor had ever come, gently pushing Ötza’s blonde hair to the side and bringing her red lips to her ear. She whispered so softly that Ötza almost couldn’t hear it under the blasting noise of Lady Gaga’s Applause. But she did hear it.

“In the end, she begs for mercy, and goes to heaven, where no one mentions the red shoes.”

***

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

Recently, I posted a little Q&A on Instagram to engage with my Hunty-Gatherers, but this plan has gone quite awry. Not only was the response so substantial that we realized quite quickly that there was no way to answer all the questions, but to make matters worse, I lost all the questions due to Instagram not being a girl’s girl and disabling the option to view the answers after 24 hours. (And this was exactly the 24 hours in which I was pulling an all-nighter making my sculpture of Trisha Paytas doing Elizabeth Holmes ASMR roleplay.) So I have decided to extrapolate the questions based on my comprehensive knowledge of my own fans. I do apologize if you were one of the many Hunty-Gatherers who sent in a question and was waiting for me to answer it. Please file a complaint with Instagram for this flagrant wrongdoing.

Have you seen Love Lies Bleeding yet? What’s your take?

Haven’t seen it yet and I have had really bad reception from my cooling cell the last couple of days, so I’m not sure if I can stream a movie. I’ve been trying to watch a video of Caroline Polachek screaming at geese on YouTube, but it loads one second per minute, making for a very distressing watching experience ( though I imagine it was even more distressing for the geese in question.)

What European city is nice to move to for precarious art graduates without being a gentrifier?

I heard a lot of people are going to Marseille? Personally, the only France I wanna see is the one where Ross and Rachel get back together.

What is your favorite word?

At the moment ficto-schizophrenizations.

I’m struggling with finding an audience for my writing, do you have any tips for a beginning fanfiction writer?

I would probably say don’t expect the journey of fanfiction entrepreneurship to be a linear path to success. After my bachelor I was a shepherd for a while but pretty soon I became a social outcast and was expelled from society, sent into the mountains to die. I was frozen in ice until I was found by two German hikers and became a scientific subject and tourist spectacle, and only then did people kind of become interested in my fanfiction. So it took me a while too.

How’s dating life?

People have been asking me lots of questions about dating, and how to balance your professional life with dating. And these questions, in my opinion, are a bit in bad faith. If you know anything about me, you know that I have been, since my emergence from the ice in 1991, subjected to many, many types of dating by many types of men, always probing and poking my crevices while I’m just trying to pursue my fanfiction career. If you really want to know more about these boring dating experiences, I guess I will divulge…

Most of my horrible dating experiences were carried out with the application of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, specifically Carbon-14 dating. This technique analyzes minuscule amounts of carbon isotopes in organic materials, not only of my body (tissues and intestinal contents; the boys absolutely needed to know that I ate high-fat ibex meat the day before I got frozen in ice—can’t a girl have a cheat day?) but also of the artifacts I was found with (don’t you just hate when people go through your stuff?) I don’t really understand this excessive need to date me. You don’t ask a woman her age but I guess plucking it out of cryodessicated tissue samples is all fine…

Anyway, I did learn from this ordeal (and I’m going to get a bit personal now) to be very careful in curating the items I surround myself with . Let’s just say that, when they investigate my intestines 5000 years from now, they will surely only find VOSS water (inexplicably still in liquid form) and some gluten cracker residue.

Which fanfiction chapter are you currently working on?

Still waiting for green light from VOSS to write the Orange Is the New Black fanfiction chapter, in which Ötza runs a narco-ozempic trade route from a women’s penitentiary together with her prison girlfriend Alex Voss.

Do you have anything to plug?

What an amazing question. On Thursday June 27th I will be hosting an intimate reading of some fanfiction chapters at Woonhuis Ateliers, at 19:00. I hope to see some trusty Hunty-Gatherers there!

CHAPTER 9: THE FAN AND THE FICTION

Ötza had always written the word “fanfiction” as one word. However, she recently had been called out on what people online said was a grammatical error (writing fanfiction as one word when it should be two) so she decided to make a public statement about this egregious misunderstanding. In a 12-part TikTok video (split screen, the other half featuring the first 20 minutes of the 2019 remake of Cats) she clarified that she writes fanfiction as one word very intentionally. Ötza considers this a minor (but significant) cog in her larger professional objective to encourage the consolidation of fact and fiction through parasocial relationships and the projection of the self into highly-grossing media franchises. In Ötza’s frame of reference (Anschauung if you will) the violent empty space between the two words illustrates a type of alienation and schizophrenic dissonance one may feel when experiencing excessive parasocial obsession, which ultimately exists in a context of late capitalist commodity production in which—by much the same token—the ubiquitous labor-consumption circuit can only be experienced as alienating, and fictionalizing one’s existence becomes indispensable when considering the raison d’être (which is french for dead raisin—don’t ever call me that) of participants in this cycle, may it be the fictionalizing of the participation itself, or devising counterfactual narratives for emancipation from labor and consumption (often here, explicitly existing within and written with the semiotics of consumption itself.) To uncouple both words, therefore, would be to stress the dichotomy and futility of imagination, the defective transcendence of finding escapism with the master’s tools, with the sole result being the emphasis of a dismal reality in a mediated world, in a broken mirror (seven years of bad sex, well, that’s better than no sex amirite). Dissolving the space between the words can be seen as an attempt to similarly dissolve said dichotomy, and instead underline the limitless potential of a world of radical immanence (the pretzel immanence, or maybe the crispy mint ones), in which this parasocial desire is instrumentalized precisely to mend the alienation of consuming and being commodity, the process of fictionalizing alleviated from its antagonistic obligation to the real, by allowing the proliferation of said desire to run amok, and, ultimately, letting one’s counterfactual constellation of self-mytholization dictate one’s participation in whatever is left of reality—if there’s anything at all—since reality has then become obsolete as a social category, superseded with and integrated within a rhizomatic network of existence in which the “fan” in fanfiction constitutionally informs the “fiction” and vice versa in a complete flat ontology of hyper-personal attachments to cultural signifiers in media consumption of which the only possible culmination can be the total concentration of media ownership into the economic and cultural monopoly of a specific sub-branch of Netflix that solely focuses on producing scammer docutainment series written and directed by Lena Dunham.

AN (AUTHOR’S NOTE)

After my traumatizing counterfactual encounter with Jemima Kirke in the MoMA in chapter 94, I opted out of the Girls (2012) universe for a bit. However, after an impromptu rewatch of the sixth season on my new stone tablet, I felt there were some things to unpack. So for this chapter I am quite literally descending deep into Lena Dunham’s polemic oeuvre. Consider this my official Girls renaissance, which will be short lived, because next week we will be entering the Hunger Games.

Something IRL to briefly plug; this chapter and two others will be on show in a video installation at Still Making Art vol. 7 at Arti et Amicitiae, opening Friday July 5th. I dusted off my old neolithic projection screen for the occasion, and will additionally be doing a small intimate reading of these (never-before-read) chapters on July 13th at 16:00. Hunty-Gatherers gather!

CHAPTER 147: THE ASCENSION

The scene was dark and the road was long. Ötza was in the middle of a tortured ascent from the underworld together with her quirkiest friend Shoshanna Shapiro, after saving her from an afterlife of eternal torment by singing her rendition of Kanye West’s Stronger for the feudal landlord of the netherworld. They were firmly headed towards a world in which Ötza, by bringing back Shoshanna, would also definitively reconcile her dysfunctional friend group of five. She had cramps in her thigh gap and her lungs were burning from exhaustion. Without the sun to clue them in about the hour of the day—whether by its placement in the sky or by the length of its casted shadows—time had folded in on itself. It could have been hours, days even.

Suddenly, the sun broke through the jumbled rocks far above her, blinding Ötza with aggressive brilliance. She squinted and covered the glare with her weakened arm—wet with sweat instead of condensation—realizing she hadn’t packed her shutter shades for the trip. She sighed softly, quietly sorrowful, for she realized immediately that the darkness had been easier, but she didn’t want Shoshanna to notice her despair. The sun was out, how much longer could it take?

With the pathway in front of her illuminated by the sudden flashes of sunlight, sketching out rock formations in violent ruptures and sharp edges, she also felt her unease swell into a paralyzing panic that she’d previously managed to suppress with the consolation of darkness and physical drudgery. Ötza was hit by a foreboding, and swiftly saw in the flashes not the path in front of her, but the depths of the abyss they were escaping. She became aware that the rumbling echoes of the song she had sung to release her companion had died down—a muffled melody that had reminded her of a triumph that felt as distant as it felt fresh, eroded into a mere vibration. She was struck by this silence, the terrifying absence of the sound of her companion’s footsteps. She cried out, for the compulsion to turn around had suddenly become unbearable. She stopped in her tracks. But she didn’t turn around.

“Are you there?” she asked, out of breath. She thought she heard a soft crunch of gravel, but it was just a reverberation of her own last step. It was silent for a brief moment.

“Yes,” said the girl behind her. “But honestly I am a bit weirded out-slash-worried about this question like we just said that we were not going to talk anymore and now you changed your mind, and I was like, sure we can do a silent tortured climb, I was totally okay with being being the Samwise to your Frodo and just literally supporting your torturedness, but—like–it was not easy, even though I have a theatrical focus and a weird untapped natural talent for method acting, and now you kind of broke the fourth wall and not in like a cool Nathan Fieldery kind of way but more so in like a ‘cut, and back-to-ones’ kind of way, and we cannot go back-to-ones because we’re literally ascending from effing hell.”

Mapping out the dark corners of the fractalized frontline of Girlization, she came back to her sensibilities during Shoshanna’s tirade, understanding her fear to be just that; fear. She couldn’t let herself be consumed by this unfounded despair anymore, there was no one fooling her, not Shoshanna, nor the three chthonic entities of clinical egotism that were waiting for them in a small bathroom in season six at the end of the treacherous road. She could already sense their hazy judgment, hypocrisy and narcissism in the thick air in front of her, they were close. She just had to keep faith, keep moving, not look back. Because if she did, they would lose her forever.

Ötza started counting her steps. Every time her worn-out UGG boot collapsed into the dusty gravel—her ankles nearly caving in, unsupported by the withered sole of the boot that dangled in futility next to her burdened steps—she reminded herself of her mission by repeating a simple yet effective mantra. “I’m the glue. I’m the glue. I’m the glue.” She knew she was the only one of the group that consolidated their differences, the only one able to awaken their very—very—latent collective capacities to transcend their hereditary flaws of character and heteronormative traumas, and the only one that could bring Shoshanna back, with that mending the estrangement that had fallen upon their friend group. With Hannah pregnant, Marnie aimless as ever and Jessa not even existing as anything other than a correlate of Lena Dunham’s barren concept of Jemima Kirke, Ötza was the only one that could save them from a fate of interpersonal alienation and the inevitable descent into an unbreakable cycle of actuated autotheory, an apotheosis of self-absorption and self-referentiality that only Andrei Tarkovsky could have experienced if he was alive long enough to be a Lana del Rey stan.

Then, uncertainty started creeping up on her, slithering back into her slender, modelesque body that left many people wondering if she was on ozempic (but it was a mix of having a fast metabolism and being a 5300 year old, completely dehydrated mummy). She listened, and heard the last rumblings of her own voice descend into the abyss. “you there-” “you there” “you there”. The echoes of her own voice, but not of Shoshanna’s. She had rationalized a long time ago that the absence of Shoshanna’s footsteps might have meant that she would remain a spirit—between two deaths—until the very moment they cross the final frontier between the dead and the living. Here, she would rematerialize into the eccentric, innocent but strong-willed girl from Manhattan, probably wearing the yellow canary fascinator Ötza last saw her wearing. But there was no reason for her voice not to echo down the slopes of the mountainous trail like her own. Where her distrust had been fed by turbulent fear before, it now came with the utmost clarity. She had been bamboozled. Her conversation with Shoshanna had been merely a figment of her imagination. She wasn’t there.

This realization cascaded down the sharp slopes of the canyon, thrusting into her body as it was swiftly engulfed with astasia. The world mutated back into a bright black as her despair took control of her eyesight in the shape of an erratic rush of vertigo. And then… she turned around.

And so it was that the death-shadow of Shoshanna Shapiro fell back into the abyss when Ötza could no longer bear the purgatory of uncertainty, the fear and humiliation of arriving at earth’s surface alone. Ötza and was forced to watch her friend—and the last chance at the reconciliation of her tragic posse—plummet into the vast darkness of the netherworld, her hands stretched out, longing to be rescued, her voice (singular, unreverberated) calling out for Ötza: “like… help!” The trembling yellow feathers of Shoshanna’s fascinator were the last to be swallowed by Hades’ reign, shrinking into the smallest yellow dot in a sea of black, before one single feather escaped on a light gust of wind from the abyss—like a small burp after a big meal—swirling back to the surface where Ötza caught it with a quivering hand and tears in her eyes.

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