Knowthing Zine #2
Knowthing Community
Fall 1992

nooz and vyooz
by karen mcewan

there'll be the second gutter gala happening in lynchburg on feb. 15th, the day of hate. come on, come all, and see what happens when gutterpoets dressed up as gutterpoets get together in our sunday best. $2 beers. $3 mixed drinks. $5 tabs.

new tape release: shouting out the window about god just released a new tape, recorded in dave belzum's home studio. it's damn good. best track is probably equine cavern. send dave $5 so he can buy a few extra tabs at the lynchburg party. for yr. copy, write to:

dave belzum c/o scott ferguson
1117 amber ct.
lynchburg, ia youknowthezipcode

since everyone's all of a sudden getting tired and blase about attending gallery openings -- and i don't know how all you kids are what with all the free carlo rossi -- karen mcewan is doing a postcard show. you don't have to send any money. karen's sending them out of the goodness of her heart. just mail a stamp to:

karen mcewan
561 n. point st.
de salles, ia uspswillgetitthere

everyone's favorite dealer dexter methorphan has been rocking and rolling around westbury. he's the guy wearing the propeller beanie hat around all the time. but don't try making fun of him for it, esp. if you don't take psilocybin seriously. last time that happened, dexter punched this dude out.

Diabolas Mundi
by Dylan Klein

Deep in the Newtonian machine where we haven't even gotten to Einstein yet, a beggar is weeping on the floor from unsalvageable life and breaking through insurmountable police cocks surrounding her. Thought control, mass media and it's the telephone warbling off the coast of East Algiers Tangiers it's sinister, corruptions of pasts unknown and dwellingplaces filled with rats and exterminator gas from all the roaches that's slowly seeping through a suffocating windpipe. It sweeps loudly through machinedrone eczema belief in God the terror the horror of what we have done and what we could do. Tantalizing silver linings leave you struck by a thunderbolt. Magnolia chasing diadem eludes fantastic breakthroughs of the mind and puts in our parents' path. Stars collide, the maggot's bride scatters across broken wood panels and the roar of the electric heater.

Guilt sweeps my face and I want to cry out in anger but am rescued by the beauty, the phenomenon of expression and Joycean monologues through everyone's head at the same time, the enormous complexity of it all, but I can't even tell which way to walk let alone how to keep moving. Brain is castrated by silence, hands hang limply at my sides, since they don't know what the hell to do either.

Towering monocles and men throwing punches in the park it's too hot to sleep and I'm taking off all my clothes to get bitten by a bedbug. It's hard to tell whether hallucinogens or personal experience have left me at this point, if the hallucinations have actually made me more sane than I would have been otherwise left to tower in groans and moans, left to colonoscopy bags withering stomach acid seeping through the plastic. Exorcise on paper you can't get in trouble for pointing a crucifix at a computer. Diabolas mundi. Cough syrup and Rachmaninoff, a boy in stitches eating the sweets of sin.

Anonymous sidestreets littered with syringes and ugly graffiti not even the artistic kinds. Change my name, erase my face: how to disappear completely and never be found.

by Lawrence Folk

So everyone's always saying that they're going to start their memoirs any day now, and I'm just not buying it. It's one of those things that you say you're always going to do, like cleaning under the refrigerator or going to buy a new comforter for your bed, but it never really happens. Except this one's even less frequent, because it takes longer than running to Target, and it's more expensive too. You might think that $30 for a new pair of pants after you get down on your knees and ruin your new jeans with the orange juice that spilled under the fridge three months ago is expensive. Or that $70 comforter you've been eyeing that would fit perfectly with the rest of the room's décor. But in the long run, writing your memoirs is considerably more time consuming and expensive. Everyone knows that it takes a long time to write a memoir, but when you factor in the cups of coffee (and meth, depending on your lifestyle), purchasing a new typewriter just for the aesthetic appeal, and eventually losing your job because you're too devoted to writing to ever do any work, memoirs are definitely more expensive too.

Everyone always understands that it's hard to write a memoir when you're still going through new experiences, too. That's why this one is tentatively titled "The First 30 Years": it denotes a sense of youthful bravado and naivety which I've heard is very appealing to readers, and it makes people think that your first 30 years have been important enough to write a book about. In truth, this one's probably not, but you can treat this as the typical self-deprecatory disclaimer that makes people to think, "Wow, this guy can't be as bad as he's actually saying, can he?" and forces them to read more.

So with the critical smirk of the confessor, the martyrdom of self-flagellators, and the burning necessity of spilling out the world's triumphs and horrors on a page belonging to everyone of any age, I present myself to you humbly. But not humbly enough not to ask a small price for it that I may preserve myself as a meager artist, one who uses the precious coins which you disperse amongst the peasantry to purchase a few delectable crumbs off of your dirty plates. Maybe I'm going a little overboard here, but these are my Confessions, like the overblown and overrated Augustines and Rousseaus of the world, and it's nice to get a dollar or two in my pocket. My confessions won't focus on weighty ideas too much; they'll be concerned with the feeling of being alive in the world and what it takes to stay alive. I'm not concerned about constant Scripture quoting or Enlightenment ideals either. That stuff's for the birds.

So let me stop spilling it about spilling it and start spilling it. My name is Lawrence Folk. I'm an African-American (which may shock you due to my lofty prose style, with a small cough for emphasis), and I prefer that you call me that, not out of any political correctness but common courtesy. Most other African-Americans I talk to prefer to be called that, and I always err on the side of being more formal than necessary, at least for people I respect. That's another thing: I think all people deserve courtesy and respect until they take that same courtesy and respect away from you. You can still give them courtesy at that point, and probably still should, but it's certainly not required. So since Latino, Asian-American, Native American, and other terms don't seem to deeply offend anyone I've spoken with, I prefer using those rather than any other words.

I keep qualifying everything I'm saying or rambling about them a little, but that's part of a memoir: some sort of structure that you've built with your life that works for you on some level. And my structure is working for me. Of course things can be difficult sometimes, but overall, it's effective. I've never gotten into trouble that I didn't want to be in on some level, and it will probably continue that way. Once you've got the respect part down, you can carry out any action you want in the world, which is an almost unreasonable amount of freedom. Any idea you hatch which enough of the population agrees would be better for society or convenient will probably succeed in being implemented. But you don't have to work on those ideas either. You can spend hours coloring with crayons, buying gumballs with every quarter of your salary, or examining potholes around the city and petitioning your local government to do something about them.

But none of those have ever seemed to me like the right way to live my life. There have always been more important things to focus on and learn about. I mean, you're talking about life, a gift of 80 years in which you can do whatever you want on this beautifully imperfect Earth. And that is a gift that you should be using, not returning to the store after your birthday with a knife or gun. At least that's how I look at it. Things aren't always great, but they can always be improved. If you're cynical about that, I've already told you: naivety sells.

Anyway, I guess the point of a memoir is to preserve your memory for future generations, so I should probably talk a little about the memories I have. People always say that you should start off personal essays, let alone memoirs, with an original quote. And I've read some really incredible and insightful things about memory. The problem is that I get all of my books from the library, and I can't remember any of the quotes, which doesn't exactly get this off to a good start. Someone, probably Emerson or Nabokov or one of those ODWG (old dead white guys) said that memory was really important. "Memory is the lifeforce," or something like that. It doesn't really matter that much.

Actually, I think the library is more important than memory in a way. It's gotten to the point where there's so much information that it's impossible and not really worth trying to stuff your mind with things you can look up easily. And in a roundabout way, I guess that brings me back to the idea of memory.

This isn't to say that I don't have a few childhood memories. In fact, the library is where most of them developed. One of my first – well, one of my only memories of childhood was going to the library for the first time with my parents. They took me to one of those cheesy readings to encourage children's literacy, which if you're fighting for a cheesy cause is a pretty decent one, and I remember just walking into the children's section and being surrounded. My parents were both readers, but they weren't readers. They would bring home dime novels people left in the laundry room or would occasionally serve leftovers a few nights a week if they wanted to pick up the new great novel one of their friends were talking about. I remember them taking turns reading it, especially my mom stealing their book if my dad left it in the bathroom and gloating afterwards. The things you remember are really strange sometimes, but it makes sense. They're perceptions you can relate to, like the smell of coffee and syrup waking you up on Saturday morning. Kids are so overwhelmed by stimuli that it's tough to ever really figure something out, a snippet of a conversation can stick in your brain forever as long as you understand it. But even though I remember it with a nostalgic golden glow around it, that's not ever what I wanted to be. I wanted to become one of those readers with italics after seeing all of the books they crammed on the shelves.

My love for libraries is still here, and hanging around in them so much makes me nervous that my work won't be read by anyone important, ever. I mean, there are always those books that you mean to pick up, like Robinson Crusoe and War and Peace, but it never really happens. Even though people know those books are great, they never really have the occasion to read them. So without acting like the publishing companies' monkey, how are you supposed to sell 1,000 copies of a book? Sex doesn't even sell anymore. People have porn for that, and they have exactly what they're looking for, no matter how ridiculous the fetish is. Drugs don't sell anymore, either. People want to take them, not read about them.

So what sells a book? I guess the only thing that does is enough people enjoying it. So many niches have already been covered, though, and people are already too smart to want to know anything else.

Credit Card Hacking Follow-up
by Slomo

Okay, so no one contacted me about the credit card hacking article last issue, and I haven't seen any reports on CNN about global card hacking scandals, so either I wrote the article really badly or no one's interested in this shit besides me. So here's my follow-up article on how to really change the system. This is what you should do if you really want to spark a revolution, kids.

1. Half-assedly listen to music and fucking smoke pot in your parents' basement.

2. Pretend like you're really cool and know everything already.

3. Only associate with the same losers you have been for the past few years.

4. Mention the word "anarchy" in vague terms and not be able to name one world leader.

There, are you happy? Enjoy kids. You're really changing your world.

Jesus Christ, this is everyone's problem in this town. Someone tries to give you an idea that they've already formulated for you, and you can't even act on that. Just give up and become a Christian suburbanite -- it's so much easier.

But I'm not mad. Someday, someone will read this and do something about it.