He destroys books. It’s a ritual: each Thursday he goes to the local used bookstore with $20 in his wallet and winds his way through sci-fi, romance, classics, photography, and ends with philosophy. With these bundles, he races home, pulling his finds out of the paper bag and spreads them in a semicircle. Out come other materials he keeps in the studio: glue, cosmetics, beads, feathers, zippers, scissors. It looks like a child’s craft area minus construction paper and googley eyes. He picks up a romance, finds an amorous passage, and draws a red-lipstick heart upside down on the page. When aliens begin taking over the human race in a ratty paperback copy of an X-Files novelization, he draws a skull with a purple Sharpie and places a two-fingered peace sign to the right, estimating the phantom space where the arm of the death’s head should be. He rips out pages of Anaïs Nin’s erotic diaries and pastes them before the most discomfiting scenes of Lolita. When he finds the perfect antichristian aphorisms from Nietzsche, he cuts them in perfect rectangles and pastes them below photos of starving children, whom he has doused with glitter. Next week will be his exhibition of yellowed pages and illustrations at the art museum, complete with dusty shelves and chairs that scrape too loudly across the floor. People will read these destructions, believing this is reality, not knowing collapse is creation, not knowing who William Burroughs is.
In 2006 Burning CDs Was All the Rage
Justin Holliday is an English lecturer and poet. His work has appeared in Rogue Agent, Impossible Archetype, Occulum, b(OINK), Queen Mob's Teahouse, and elsewhere.