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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 11 Apr 2024

39

min read
+
Illustration by Mitchel Peters

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

    

  

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.

***

     

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.)

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.”

 ***