tom9351 on Fri, 6 Nov 1998 15:42:44 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Body


by F.P. Belletati[*]

In the streets, putting my ass on the line twenty hours a day.
My town is an endless parade of scaffoldings and road yards. They're
building a new railway station. Unlikely roundabouts, circumnavigations, I
feel I've rounded too many Cape Horns.
Ozone makes my head heavier, I see pictures of the Pope on every corner.
The average cop looks like Heinrich fucking Himmler.

The nights. Stars are invisible, the sky is useless, paranoid watchmen
summon each other to show some ID - over and over again.
Dragging my ass thru the town, meeting artists, philosophers, pimps... The
town slides beneath me, a smooth valley of silicon clogged with
do-nothing-go-nowhere circuits.
Looking east, I see rays of light rising from discotheques like geysers -
urban whales blowing steam, all that power misused, wasted, nothing other
than pollution. Unspeakable mysteries beyond the gates of madhouses,
quicksand as a state of mind. Rats. Musquashes. Field-mice. Nasty
videotapes and CD roms sold by gypsies at crossroads.

I spend my nights beating the crap out of snitches with a cricket club,
finding myself in strange mazes like or places whose
sysops are perverts. Like a movie starring Alberto Sordid. A dangerous
case, a jailbait jungle, cocks and cunts, gerontophile muff-divers, nazi
fag mags, buttholes with dingleberries, mountains of shit - either
metaphorical or...

I gotta find the Body, that's my job. Not any sack of old bones, but the
very concept of Body as represented and discussed by transnational
egg-heads. Thanks to post-human jack-off artists, the Body is today's most
popular issue, and yet it's unanymously declared absent, remote, alienated,
sophisticated in all senses [and in all senses of "in all senses" and so on
(like russian dolls)].
They want me to find the Body. What for? God knows (doesn't he?). You'd
better not think, just dive in shit and swim, butterfly stroke, throw shit
all around, something shall emerge sooner or later.
Why did I take this job? 'Cause I was starving. I even started to doubt I
still had my body. After weeks of wretchedness, my wallet got 3D again.
I don't even know who I'm  working for. The customer got no face, just a
monotonous metallic male voice. Every night I dial 0258213801 and record my
ridiculous non-discoveries on an answering machine.  About a half-hour
later, my mobile phone rings in the pocket, and the guy's like 'Go on!',
nothing else.

Ain't going nowhere, man. Been working ten days putting my fingers in any
and every orifice, and what do I find? Fuck all. No one seems to know.
The Morgue, via Irnerio: the personnel laughed, that's why I smashed two or
three faces and blurred the distinction between hosts and guests.
Theratological Museum, via Avesella: the place is closed all the time but I
don't care, after all there are only dead freaks and dickheads in formalin.
Avant-garde wankers and bullshit artists look for inspiration by sleeping
in garbage dumps and looking for D&G in every trash-can. No goddamn way to
get close to them - they stink.
As to feminists, they don't even know what the hell I'm talking about.

Now my mobile rings. One of the snitches I clubbed, he goes (more or less)
'The geezer you looking for lies in a ditch near the Parco Nord fly-over'.
He hangs up. For fuck's sake!

Via Stalingrado, a launch pad to north-eastearn infernos. I turn my back to
the hills, leave the area devastated by construction workers then make my
way thru the Fiera district. A hundred Brazilian transexuals. Drive along
the concentration camp for North-Africans, bump into Tunisian corpses (bugs
eating their eyes away). Here's Kenzo Tange's serpentine ring-road, flying
over a radiantly derelict hinterland. Only warehouses... See the signposts?
Welcome, this is the middle of anywhere.
Parco Nord. The only impressive sight is The Oasis, a dismal bar. Glass
walls, glitter kitsch and tinsel dreariness - patronized by that particular
fauna trying to sell that particular flora.
Only dusk makes you grasp the poetry of this area - you can breathe clouds
of monoxide as though it were the Final Solution, enjoy the whores and the
traffic jam... But it's too early.

Yeah, it's the Body... nay, it was. No positive ID but I'm pretty sure.
Advanced state of putrefaction, bones triturated, teeth broken to pieces,
toes and fingers chopped off, the navel undone and the guts snatched out.

Twenty minutes later, still trying to throw up. I see myself down in the
swamp of blood and bile. Cars pass me by, I'm just another weirdo. The
coroner doesn't give a shit, he's a cold-blooded die-hard with an iron
Who kicked the shit out of the Body? Anyone. Everyone. Most likely many
passers-by stopped and raged against the poor, dying bastard. 

The sun's going down. I dial the usual number, record the message, take a
shower, brush my teeth, take a dump, hear the news on the wireless
("anti-abortion activists bomb maternity ward: 78 children die", "Elvis
delivers funeral oration for Sinatra... or was it the other way around?")
and call again. The guy's voice is the same, so cool that I could catch
pneumonia, going: 'Good job, Mr. Belletati. You deserve a perk. I'll put in
a good word for you, a friend of mine needs a detective.'  
Twenty-four hours later, this other anonymous guy rings me up. He wants me
to find the West.

I look at the sunset... Naaaah, that would be too easy, the West can't be

Where can I start from? Christopher Columbus weighing anchor in Palos,
Arsene Lupin bragging about his telephone switchboard, J. Rodolfo Wilcock
on a transatlantic liner, Jeffrey Dahmer lynched in prison, Adam Worth
meeting up with William Pinkerton in Paris, the name of the rose, the
compass rose, the cardinal points, Claudia Cardinale in 'Once Upon A Time
In The West', Ilich Ramirez Sanchez in Vienna in 1975, Ilich Ramirez
Sanchez in a French penitentiary, London seen from Parliament Hill...

The scum is invading the streets again. Time to move my ass.

(*) Originally written in Italian, translated into English by the "author"
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