from: The drumhead

The Operation I:

(Guy assumes his Cover)

“The Guardian has disclosed that, over three decades, undercover police officers in a covert unit known as the special demonstration squad had been hunting through birth and death records to find children who had died in infancy. Once they found a suitable candidate, they then created an alter ego to infiltrate political groups for up to 10 years. They were issued with official records such as national insurance numbers and driving licenses to make their personas more credible.”  two-police-units-dead-children-ids

It was karaoke night. “I remember Rod was one of the first up and did 'Firestarter’ by the Prodigy,” a friend recalls. “He was literally screaming it, picking up a chair over his head and waving it and then running around the seating shouting: 'I’m a firestarter’.” rodrichardson-protester-never-was#

Guy had just arrived in another City for another Operation. V—Violetta—was his contact. She was to take him to Genittal House where he’d be stationed for the next who-knows-how-long-it-might-be. The Brief outlined the parameters of the Operation and the cover he was to assume.

The Not So Anonymous Continent (NSAC) had tweezered Dead Babies out of public records and reinstated them for just such an Operation. They’d not only reassigned the babies’ names but had taken the idea to do so from a novel.

Guy had been working on-and-off for the NSAC for over a decade. His Dead Baby was Rod Dickson. Rod had been born and had died the same year, 1973. A selected (tweezered) few of these empty, vacated lives were given the opportunity to service Future Generations; dead generations revived and refilled, all at service each working. Dead Babies don’t usually work.

Document 2.0

u For Your Pleasure (1973)

 / /  In Every Dream Home A Heartache  / / 

 / /  With Every breath I adore you. Inflatable doll. My role is to serve you. Disposable darling. Can’t throw you away now  / / 

 / /  I blew up your body. But you blew my mind  / / 

I’ve been distracted by this song… Seems it was released the same year Rod died (and was born). t

I’m not really sure who it is I’m meant to be possessing. I don’t know where the other Agents have been installed either: to leak any of the sensitivities of our interrogations is considered  / / a complication / /  to the integrity our assignments… something they can’t seem to handle.

Every couple of months the NSAC’s Dr. Schrauber would summon the Agents / Dead Babies back to HQ, dragging them out of their assignments to attend sessions whose intent purpose was to restrain the promiscuities a Dead Baby could provoke.

At one such session Schrauber offered this from a Performance Manual:

Sometimes Agents’ abrupt departures from the field were dangerous, under circumstances where their cover could have been blown, or where the interrogators had not been given sufficient time to break out of their counterfeit names. At times such as these, they would bring the dead into the camp.

This was increasingly becoming the case for Guy.

He regarded such swift re-calls to HQ an affront to the precariousness of his position. He was teetering on the edges of both himself and the unearthed name and both were near as consuming as the forces that required such subterfuge in the first place.

Guy was required to report back to HQ at least twice a week when Dead Baby business was slow, unless he was sent off on some parallel reconnaissance mission. If that was the case he’d be gone a week or so at a time, making it all the more difficult to reassume his Dead Baby on return. He’d have to attempt to exorcise whatever conference, assessment meeting, or retraining exercise he’d resumed his given name for when he unlocked the  / / Main Office / /  door back at the Genittal House where he would again be consumed by Rod.

This was all becoming harder and harder for him to manage.

During assessment meetings Guy would be prompted for an elaboration of his activities. This is when his Documents were submitted and his performance appraised. His job (if we can call it a job) was to submit the particulars of the Field, Documented. He was also required—during Q&A sessions—to attest as to how exactly these Documents might / / shed light / / on the sub-terrain they’d enlisted, but his attentions were being pressured by the field’s overwhelming particularities.

Each passing day was a collage of slipping hours and his mind was increasingly preoccupied with the resurrected vehicle with which the Operation was to glean all this information, his alias, his Rod.

After every side-swiping scene change—back to HQ, to Genittal House, or a return to the Field—he became increasingly conscious of the fact that it was more difficult to distinguish between the bearers of his occupations. Each, meaning the upkeep of his own name and the one the Operation had gifted him. They bled into one another and he was afraid the confusion would compromise both. His propensity—exacerbated by his training—to order his impulses into recognizable and more manageable feelings was, for the most part, well intentioned. He was led to believe, not only through experience but by the persistent doctor that his private labors could escape some of the tyrannies an isolation—one required of an investigative subterfuge—would impose on him if he could manage to share them, to recognize them, give them words. The tremors his activities often induced could be possibly transformed into more amenable sensations—both for himself and for the others around him—making his performance all the more palatable.


We’re not really sure who our characters are or where exactly they are. It’s hard to isolate their motivations. It’s necessary for us though, to assume that some sort of orchestration is being draped onto them, and over buildings and places, the same way that Rod (the Dead Baby) has been draped onto our Guy, but we’re not really sure about that either. The Operation will require him to be scrupulous. He’ll probably fail and in so doing he’ll be subject to encounters that arouse accident. This requires a kind of flexibility in our Agent, and so he should expect to be  / / on the ready / /  It should not be beyond us to empathize with this facility—his plasticity—as we (you and I) seem ourselves able to manage great caches of information in our everyday lives. If we were fisherman or lepidopterists, our perceptions; our nets, would be sifting through exorbitant amounts of stimuli every day. Guy’s assignment asks of him first to exhume a name and then to record what this name will engender. The NSAC will require him to disregard what they deem unnecessary. This will prove difficult for him and at times, he’ll lose the plot.

There are moments when Guy’s becoming unhinged, due in part to his interrogations, will allow him flights of fancy that he’ll revel in, when Guy will feel that Rod is not entirely obliterating him but is instead crafting something new, something else of him.

The Operation III:

(Ticket to Ride)

So Guy / Rod was not sliding easily greased into any of his roles. His legs would go from here to there when needed. His arms would extract his machine and the liquids he’d interchange for whichever cleanliness the next period of time required—toiletries from his small bag at security checks—but the trunk of his body and the bauble on top of it were resisting the exaggerated pragmatics of such easily itemizable transitions.

He realized right here and now, that sitting in a train dislodged the uneasiness his torso and head were bloated with. Bloated with the impression that he was being propelled irrationally through—and hurtling across—textures. A precariousness shadowed his every move. He’d taken the train instead of flying this time because his Guy-stained Rod was coming close to being compromised and in these days of liquid, tax-free borders in the region, Documents were rarely checked on trains.

In this seat next to the window he wandered and a quiet came over him. Here, right now, he was stable and it was the world that was hurtling past him.

The calming of his nerves might also have to do with the generous rhythm and jiggling motion of the train. His mind / body swam without care, the world outside of him having no real purchase on his mood, his balls inside his pants responding to the train’s tickling of the grounded rails. At 200 miles an hour the carriage of an ICE train would register, however minutely, whatever irregularity the tracks offered its wheels.

In planes turbulence can jostle your family jewels once in a while; if you happen to have been born with a body part that is tamed by the words  / / family jewels / /  bruising them when the tin can dropped hard. Otherwise the passenger is strapped down and sedated by the thinned out oxygen in circulation. Take-off and landing were the favored bookends of any of Guy’s transfers. Then at least the body registered a degree of freedom, any relaxed muscle or loose and excess skin would gyrate, would assume the jiggle of the plane’s small wheels on miniature legs not yet folded battling with hard bitumen and speed. These were titillations of the quick fuck kind leaving one prostrate in a seatbelt next to huge Dutch guys who didn’t know, or care to know, the limits of their bodies.

Guy removed his laptop from Rod’s graffitied satchel. His calm had allowed him to momentarily displace the gravity of his assignment, but pulling out the machine was letting the cat out of the bag. Not a cat but a register of the naked stink he’d been pouring into and all over it, his greasy finger smudged ash-collecting keyboard accumulating moist, and his Documents. Its encasing, grimed with whatever ecosystem he’d introduced it to, was accumulating a kind of tough armor that had been building up over the time of his assignment, effectively forming a crust. It was aggregating into an ugly, hard, shell-like formation protecting whatever improprieties its keys were registering. Guy had the impression that each of the procedures engaging his projectile, satellite dishing eyes and fumbling digits; losing their particularities, were caught up in a feedback loop, becoming one indiscernible mass, filtering every blundering invocation into his Documents. The filtering was spewing out words whose resemblances tended more towards the vacillations between his Guy and his Rod.

Document 3.0

Most of what I’m doing right now is sedentary: drafting and re-drafting going over my Documents so that I can avoid interrogation back at HQ. Most of it’s done sitting down in front of the machine. I’ve been so preoccupied with it I’ve not been maintaining… the state of the machine… how it looks… despite spending most of my time on the thing, with it. Fatigue keeps creeping up on me and it’s been harder to focus on the keys and the screen and the casing, which is becoming some kind of crystal-like almost transparency. I didn’t see it happening at first. It’s been so gradual. But then when I started to notice this scaling I thought it was all the dust in the Garret collecting, and I paid it no mind—but it (whatever it is) has begun to accumulate. At night, the screen is patterned by discs of light reflecting, angling from somewhere behind me. I’m so incredibly tired that I rub and poke at my eyes constantly, repeatedly, often frantically, and this incessant hand-eye-coordination has exacerbated the irritation. I had to go to Schrauber for a medical consultation. He didn’t seem at all surprised that I’ve been suffering from recurring eye infections.

It’d begin with an exaggerated stickiness, the dark recesses of sleep making it’s self known in the yellow gluing my lids together, not letting go. It escalated into irritation as more of the sludge from the machine was transported from my fingers into my squinty, blinking eyes. My fingers would leave their posts and compromise the skin… darker and more lax… the boundary around the moist globes of my eyes.

My poking, rubbing, and wiping grows more urgent as more is asked of their fleshy apertures. They’re in overdrive, the sticky wet from my digits add to the kaleidoscopic churning of the shit I have to witness, imperatives my eyes, my ears, my mind, even my skin, is constantly filtering.

On the train, the usual unhappy tension between his undercover koerper and the necessity for it to be faithfully documented had almost disappeared altogether. At the very least, the uncomfortable cramps it induced had relaxed to almost negligible.

It felt important to be inside of his body again, to be feeling his testicles tea-bagging the inside of his pants and the seam that pasted the two legs together, its firm complication of stitches caressing them, so he’d put the machine back in Rod’s bag. Interrogation of the kind he’d enlisted for with the NSAC did give him rise but it serviced an obliquely asocial corner of his mind. That was all fine, but it tended to demonstrably overshadow what his body offered. At times, the perfumes the Operation had inadvertently let tickle Guy’s olfactories would arouse in him the impetus to become engrossed in the most rudimentary and common impulses.

Guy had forgotten whose underwear he should be wearing. Rod’s worn cotton and novelty-patterned boxers celebrating an adult irony the dead child would never have had the pleasure of knowing, or the snug repetition of the black elastin briefs with only a slight introduction of leg that Guy wore every day. Today he’d simply forgotten to wear any, and in their absence his beleaguered state was caressed by his nakedness, regardless of the other people in the carriage.

They, the others on the same train, didn’t derail Guy, didn’t stop him from losing himself in the impropriety of enjoying the steady surging. His downturned eyes, or more rightly, eyes glazing over with a distance vast, an unknown horizon, did not belong to a portrait of shame. His downward gaze, his detachment, was stolen from a reader immersed in a book whose mysteries made him invisible to all the bodies around him; noise was muffled, faded to grey.

Document 3.1


• Five stern-faced, large-cheeked Bayerische women in the same cabin on the train between Eunuch and Imminent Stadt..

• A Mother with acid-sharp eyes and her two daughters in their 20’s.

• A mostly ambivalent older woman crosswording opposite

• A knitting woman who joined the six-seater cabin at the beginning of the journey.


These things are all inventing themselves and they’re taking us, all of us, with them… The lines of freshly engraved tattoos become blurry after time because the body’s factory is always attempting a digestion of foreign agents. It slowly breaks down the invasive ingredient. In Guy’s case it’s ink, being processed by some gland nestling adjacent to the cock hole of his throat. Even if Guy was to get external laser treatment (Tattoo Removal) to rid himself of his ticket to ride with the NSAC, this gland would still remember the erasure; muddling each colored ink, it would remain the sum total of those colors, those foreign agents.

Document 3.2

What arrests my attentions so many times over is that …

slippages are wetting themselves in corners and on center stage, any time they’re being performed and breaking silences everywhere, anywhere…. psychic states off-stage are dangerously possessed by a refusal to assimilate the gestures of her written character…

I know this might sound tangential but there’s a guy in the window opposite who mops the floor at around 6 AM. I somehow admire the floor plan of his job. It’s very clear and although the timing might be wrong— the question could be, who wants to or has to organize their time by the sun?—he knows exactly What Is To Be Done. The commitment to exercising a / / wily, suppler, more sinuous moment / / enlists a different, more precarious state of being, precisely because it allows itself to be provisional…

Both discipline and dishonor are the things that will take me through this procedure…

The Operation IV:


Restnom was the 2IC (Second In Command) of the Electrician’s Guild on site and he was to be the designated focus of Guy’s interrogations. He was illuminatingly competent and so he was also one of the improprieties that Rod was entreating, the one he hoped would be an arresting / / slippage / / He was a tight built nugget and because his limbs stayed close to his body—instead of extending from his torso like the fronds of a majestic giant fern unraveling when waking’s mist first laid its generosity on the body of another adored young man—he had a command over them that stemmed from / was dominated by his trunk. Occupying the tower of the wheeled scaffold from where he’d adjust the lighting on his rig, his wrought frame was capable of appropriating the four-meter tall extension with ease. He’d seen many a production come and go and with them, countless Directors. Restnom would adjust with precision any command given by Mary (Liz / Angela / Dominique) using the rig to propel him to the next plotted problem by grabbing it tight and snaking his torso downward in an almost body wave dance move. The curve began stiff in his arms, shuddering down his chest with the aid of tightened back flanks, kicking forward or to the side with the limbs that extended from his waist—now folded atop the scaffold—and down through his metal prosthesis shifting his scaffolded body to the next spot; the whole apparatus would slide across the floor. Mary’s commands were turned into a sublime act, an executed precision colored by a primate dexterity, and because it was tainted in Guy’s eyes with employed bar-top dancing, it made his Dead Baby rage with an immodesty that marked him all the more at Restnom’s disposal.

Starship 12: Cover Ariane Müller, Henrik Olesen
  1. Cover Ariane Müller, Henrik Olesen
  3. Editorial Starship 12 Nikola Dietrich, Martin Ebner, Ariane Müller, Henrik Olesen
  4. * Gunter Reski
  5. Terminal + Nora Schultz
  6. Morgan Fisher Nikola Dietrich, Morgan Fisher
  7. Untitled, 2014 He-Ji Shin
  8. what am i doing here? David Antin
  9. 2014 Sam Pulitzer
  10. Trois Visages et deux Oiseaux Henrik Olesen, Christopher Müller
  11. from: The drumhead Gerry Bibby
  12. Houston, Houston, Do You Read? Mark von Schlegell
  13. Abstraction advancing backwards. Stephan Dillemuth
  14. Chinese Notebook Chris Kraus
  15. Ich werde Frau, ich werde Gott Hans-Christian Dany
  16. DIMM Memories of the Ruhr, 2014 Sam Lewitt
  17. aus: Performance im Rialto Annette Wehrmann
  18. Die Woche über oben üben Ulrich Heinke
  19. Gemüse mit Muskeln Gunter Reski
  20. Natural Law Haytham El-Wardany
  21. Partial observers: about senses in some scientific arguments Mikhail Lylov
  22. * Yusuf Etiman
  23. Le Temps retrouvé Francesca Drechsler
  24. Wir, die in den 1970er Jahren Geborenen Stephanie Fezer, Vera Tollmann
  25. Pastime with Mitchell Syrop or Life is just a Feeling Tenzing Barshee
  26. Annotations Starship
  27. Dear Aaton 35-8, Florian Zeyfang
  28. Très Riches Heures, Teil 2 Ariane Müller
  29. No Center for the Center Judith Hopf
  30. * Julian Göthe
  31. Mrs Cayenne Henrik Olesen
  32. Am kühlen Tisch Amelie von Wulffen
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