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Un-Corporealized Vessel, The Angel of the Apocalypse, & Unbetrayed Esotericism: Three Recent Equus Titles

Elijah Young reviews three recent Equus releases, Mike Corrao’s Desert Tiles, Performances for the End of Time by Harold Jaffe, and Ryan Madej’s Assassin.


“An ekphrastic approach to our probable swallow by ocular data.” (MJ Gette)—a grain is a fraction of a small blind and unimportant ant stands on intussuscepted dunes tossed but remaining planted with each distended wave a product of the same sourceless regardless . . .

The site is a surface across/through which data arrives. The desert is this surface: a product of in-put code of method and performance. The ant (we) are subject to the text: we (the ant) are always present to be made small blind and unimportant. Corrao packets that dialectic—there is no text without subject without text—in Desert Tiles: what we receive is both jam and enjamb, data collated, data spilling over, but data always contingent on the ant-ithesis. The ant is a vessel for data adrift in the desert in a constant and tesseractic state of becoming-unimportant. We are compelled to eat ourselves: “The text demands your labour,” Corrao refrains. “AFTER THIS IS ALL DONE […] YOU WILL NEVER SEE ME AGAIN.” We enter the desert, we leave the desert, as we enter and leave the desert-text. When Corrao sets YOU against THEY—”YOU ENTER THE SPACE THAT THEY OCCUPY”—he makes the subject an intruder and encroacher upon data, upon the text. But Akira-flesh is unstable, he tells us.

The “valley of flesh” depends on the parcelling of anatomies into packets of text, into data-objects ever descending, into language. There are two ghosts in the machine: the subject and the subjective
flesh, and the flesh can be sick without a sickness of the subject. Among the desert tiles, we are divided and dependent on division—physical, indexical, geographical . . . Demanding labour of the subject-who-is-made-subject to this bifurcating of positions, this splitting of flesh, forces us into a constant semiotics. Shapes of data must be arranged in an order according to the perspective of one small blind and unimportant ant. Interpretation is a labour of reconstitution: “What I would like to suppose is that the formation of these semiotic components introduces a kind of perpetual motion. In which the ignition is sparked, and locomotion becomes endless.” Desert Tiles, circling the drain of obfuscated distinctions between subject- and objecthood, attempts to provide the apparatus for this “endless locomotion,” the descent into fractal sets of data which a re(a)d surface can and, Corrao contests, should enable. The recognition of ourselves as tissual semiotic organisms: “This is the ritual. This is the inevitable.” Desert Tiles is an exercise in pushing the eye through a virtual wall. The sequencing of datasets cannot be reconstituted reproduced or represented—no presentation can be “re-” presented.

[Any structure that appears in a desert is an anomaly]
[Any man-made structure that appears in a desert is a façade a Narcissus]
Continual reevaluation under a unique set of conditions for the excision [1] exposure [2] and dissection [3] of data involves a performing subject and a textual surface.

The product, the man-made structure, is anomalous because the desert must contain potentialities of interpretation in order to continue as a surface. All data is data concealed. All arrangements are efforts at revelation which cannot be repeated. The text absolves and imbues the ant-reader of and with power at once: THE DEATH OF THIS PHYSICAL PLACE involves THE BIRTH OF / AN ARCHITECTURAL LANGUAGE. “It is natural for the body to break down,” to become-unimportant, once the text has demanded labour. And labour here is in demand.


—Script (notation) is implicated in performance: To perform is to perform to an ordered plan for performance. Beneath the performance is script and atop the script is enactment: thesis. Jaffe organises Performances for the End of Time around symbiosis between the note and the act a structure which a/descends into itself a mise en abyme for comprehending the world in the time of the pan e d.

The concealed pride unearthed through catechistic dialogues between two mute voices. Interrogative of the paths traced in the operation of prison structures. The Buddhist monk who achieves nirvana through and as the denial of food. The unread clothbound copy of Finnegans Wake. Objects according to—hunger is a certain definition of art as prayer is a certain definition of automatic writing in Jaffe’s scriptural field: “Die peaceably among the madding crowd / while inscribing the fast-unto-death narrative with a precise, comical elegance.” Every performance is an inscribing act which engenders the script into the network of laws the vague theoretician can consider and write of (as) “the social.” Where Baudelaire describes melancholy as a “principle of conquest,” Jaffe sees a “handsome phrase.” Where the boy-artist records and poeticises fun (loser)——the medium is the massage.

We need a new world: that is the massage. Our current world is contingent on a system of ever in/decreasing prisons for quantifying the movement of matter. The animal is given human weight so that the animal can be understood. The incarcerated are victims of an apathetic logistics. The drone relies on distance between the user and the recipient to enable its dual function: to kill and to avoid the sensation of killing. In his 2013 Theory of the Drone, Grégoire Chamayou conceives of the drone as resident in a unique space where warfare operates without actual combat, where no dialogue can occur between combatants because one is distant to a point of abstraction, a space upheld when policies referring to a certain definition of war are obfuscated to permit the drone. The construction of a grey space and the myth of necessity. We need a new world. Jaffe reconfigures this structure in the context of death end final/ite where death expresses nothing because death is a grey space where nothing can be said—a silent ecumenical prayer for the isolated dead is an act of the extraneous observing alive the difference between a grey space and an ungrey space being that the grey space can never be colonised erased or overrun with parasymbols of a superior and false god.

We need a new world. In the time of apocalypse we are shown the grey space and we inhabit the grey space which signals to us the end of a certain definition of history. There is nothing to colonise we are told. Resistance is (not) futile, with Jaffe placing brackets firm around hope as a mechanism for defence. We need a new world. A pale image of mass prisoner death—giving way to a sneer about “your Kindle version of Proust.” Mood whiplash expected with a vignette approach but Jaffe’s sardonic asides can get the best of his messaging at times and his critique of the crisis/es of postmodernism would read better undiluted. To make disingenuous or otherwise idealistic the real clear and imperative moral message—that we are doing too much and not enough.


The heat death of the Equator leaves a beautiful corpse—the Strange and Charm quarks whistling past black holes, which is where we find Madej: a construct of man (of collison) whistling past a black hole in the nature of space. No one can read the changing cycles any longer.

Narrated through a series of warehouses and footnotes containing the authoritative darkness of the Universe and all the spirits masked there—and located Madej tells us in between monoliths delimiting the pulsing vibe of a Void stuck on tease. A novel in footnotes split thrice into knowns (activities) monochromatic recordings of time (traces) records of esotericism that would draw blood from the cheeks of Eco (hard-wiring) and “physics mathematics sex magick [and] myth” (musings). Gore is praxis—this principle guides Madej in his characterisation of the absent Jade, sanguinis mei puella—between the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and the Pigalle in Paris one leader of a human trafficking ring is decapitated and Jade swings the axe—and guiding this principle are the myriad influences drawn from a marred esoteric survey, Multiple Interacting World theory, producing the text Assassin.

Paracelsus, alchemist, medical revolutionary, observant: image of the haunting canonised which lingers over a decaying world. What is the value of education. What is the value of medicine. What is the value of knowledge in the entropic time. Answer (one): the Stone tempts. The vibe of the Void—esoteric practice is sex practice is violent murder. ECL that leaves the accomplishment in the act of righteous dismemberment. Some other outlet for release that happens to be just. Our narrator is a mimic of this justice this experience. “Blindfolded she prostrated herself before the Inspector General,” that vanguard of private knowledge whose wielding of potencies a faithless third-order simulacrum of the pratyahara. Under this thumb we find strata of deprivation—senses and releases denied. This is realised in the two experiences of the cave: “that the material body is false” and “that restraining the senses only heightens one’s resolve to erase the body.”

To erase the body—to leave not even a corpse but the trace of a corpse and not even that, in a proper and true erasure. We meet Yesod and Malkuth the root. From here we begin to ascend (as being assemblage). Diagrams in the smooth rock, maps of the impossible world… A future wrought of knowledge-to-be-known is the inverse of a trace, the untracing of a trace. That is what Madej attempts here. A reverse-engineering of the litanies of sources that formulate transgenerational conspiracies—bedrock of “esotericism.” To speak of a future that had been altered by the mechanisms of the worshippers of Shiva it might not have mattered what I had traced upon the paper.

Formulae are crafted on the pages subsequent to these articulations of the Archive—which might be significant to a numerologist, but Madej seems to be losing his voice in the woods. To me, this is intentional. A symptom of self-location: “I see her in a Crystal Cube within a Sphere”—“to the North (Earth) to the West (Water) to the East (Air) to the South (Fire) […] First I pray to the South I build my fire.” Unfolding in orders the reader reformulates their body, from the physical to the relational. The product of a specific intersection of strands of light observed at a given and unrepeatable moment that must be repeated in every moment as a condition of knowing life—for the unequivocal is repeatable and therefore comprehensible, but the mutuality of the ideals he disseminates is like the shadowy realm that is neither life nor death (Musil). If the body is to be erased through esoteric practice, Madej tells us, then this must be a continual erasure unto death in the form of observation and knowing.

Assassin tells us that the observer in pursuit of divine knowledge—knowledge of the divine—undergoes erasure in their agglomerating of information about the visible and invisible worlds. Reason and Intuition go their separate ways to be rejoined in this aim: “the eventual reconciling of opposites through union…” SOME ARE SAT IN THE BLACK CUBE. AND THOSE WHO AREN’T WILL BE SOON.

—Elijah Young, 2023

About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.


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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
"It is the business of the future to be dangerous" // A.N. Whitehead

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"Poetism is the crown of life; Constructivism is its basis" // Karel Teige


“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
February 2023
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