Accidents and Unforeseen Surprises

Peter Lewis

Questions written down as if not really questions catch our attention, arguably more so than if they had been overly considered, measured and formally posed with answers somehow already in mind. "Every word is directed toward an answer and cannot escape the profound influence of the answering word it anticipates." [Bakhtin] The anticipation of dialogue itself poses an awkward question of intent within informal modes of address, especially concerning the improvisational. The opinion here written as a conversational phrase is out of context, yet circumscribes a universal recollection of the impossibility of improvisation without its rehearsal: "..there is no place anymore for accidents or unforeseen surprises..." [Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness, Chris Kraus, MIT/Semiotext[e], New York, 2004, p17]

/seconds invited responses to this framing of the extract from Chris Kraus's Video Green, reproduced below

Dear Chris,

I'm sorry about how I was on the phone the last time we spoke. As you can tell I'm a wreck. I'm loosing it more and more each day. I never know what god is going to do next. As of now I'm six months behind in my rent and even though I owe you five more cleanings on the check-off sheet I can't come back. My t-cells are down below 200 now and I get sick every other week. The car you bought for me is wrecked. This is just one more example of god's evil little tricks. When I had the accident I found myself carving the words "God Is Evil" on the hood. No matter what I do or try god will be right there to take his monumental shit on me, like the weeks I wasted trying to raise those one-week-old abandoned kittens. God killed seven kittens in one week and at this point I can no longer hide my contempt. I want everyone to know that god is evil. Look at the day the washer and the dryer at your house went out. That was all planned by god and I don't want to infect you with god's curse. You have been very kind to me and I'm grateful and will not forget but you need someone you can rely on. What I'm trying to say is I'm going out of business. I just give up. I just can't clean anymore. Every day I go to work full of such panic and anxiety because I know god will play another trick. I feel like a ghost has wrapped its hands around my neck. My chest feels like some one is kicking there. Look at what happened when I was going to help you with the move. And what about the upholstery guy I overpaid who did those chairs for you? I'm sorry about those last cleanings but there is no way I can pay you back for them right now. I hope you'll let me pay you back another day.

God is an evil fucker and the accident was just his last revenge. I should have known two months ago when he let those kittens die that something else would happen. What kind of cruel and heartless person would leave seven innocent kittens out to die in a cardboard box next to a dumpster? I spent the last money that you gave me taking them to the vet and still I couldn't save them. Do you know what it's like to have a four week old kitten dying, in your hands?

You have been very kind to me over the past three years, but every time you advanced me money, something happens so I go into more debt and I'm behind again. I have tried for years to contain my depression, my anxiety attacks, my post-traumatic stress disorder, my alcoholism and my food binging. All I can control is the food and the booze. That's it. Ten years ago when I got sober and started up my cleaning business I promised god I'd never go on welfare but why should I keep my promises? I'm going to apply for Section 8. I guess you could say I'm filing bankruptcy on my life. God wants everything to die. Myself included.

Your friend,

This is a reconstruction of a letter Bo Wilson left for me in June when I was away at Yaddo. When I returned my boyfriend and his teenage son and my husband and his girlfriend's taffy-coloured dog were all living at the place downtown I bought this spring in Westlake....

Chris Kraus, from 'Video Green' [2004, op.cit.]