Intentist Vittorio Pelosi wrote a short story that focused on the so-called ‘Butterfly effect.’ That is to say that even the smallest change can ultimately have great repercussions. In combining the everyday with monstrous absurdity (not dissimilar from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphisis) and as a commentary on the evolutionary Tree of Life, a small boy in a parallel world treads on an insect and Pelosi engages in discussion in the narrative over the implications. Films have been made regarding the morality of aborting the foetus of Adolf Hitler, but what if we could trace Hitler’s lineage past Homo Sapiens to this insect? Would we be killing Hitler or perhaps would it eventually evolve into the genocide of the entire future human race?
The interest for Pelosi was that while he was writing the story, he kept a detailed diary of his life. He would include his musings on the narrative’s development but would also include the more mundane aspects of his daily routine. The idea was that the reader could piece together the story from the diary and also make an educated guess what the writer’s intentions were and his daily inspirations.
Finally, Pelosi would only publish his diary and not the finished work, believing that the diary would be (in this case) sufficient.
Here is an extract from the first few diary entries:
It has been another crazily hot day- one of the hottest, dryers summers on record. Thankfully for the first time in many weeks in Rained. My wife’s godson is staying with us and they went to central London. I had a run after the rain and went to meet them.
On way meet Jenny and Juan. Underground. Been thinking a lot since discovered water on Mars and I read an article by oxford professor in response. Can’t remember details but essentially said human race just begun – may evolve for millions more years. All thousands of years of civilization would almost certainly be forgotten from that time scale. Then it got me thinking of Kafka’s metamorphosis that from this perspective we are evolved bugs anyway. If I can think about our distant descendants with the professor what about our distant ancestors? In what sense could a bug have been my great (x a million) ancestor? There are several books and films posing what ifs about Hitler- say what would be ethical if you killed him as a Baby etc – could ‘I’ step on a bug and kill off a distant parent of Hitler? It’s fantastical but logical. I then met with my wife and Juan and we went to the Southbank and watched the skaters. It has rained earlier but it’s still so hot so I drank a lot of sugary drinks. We missed our train from London Bridge to Wallington and so waited half an hour for the next one. I returned home very tired and went more or less straight to bed .
It’s been a hard time at work and I haven’t had a week off for nearly six months so I am making the most of having a lie in. I have all the windows open and a small air conditioner I recently bought called Artic Blast to keep me cool. I was thinking about the book idea a little. I think it might work as a small story or flash fiction. I am not sure how to approach the idea of something so seemingly insignificant and inconsequential affecting modern history. I started to think of titles as that might give inspiration. I thought of Swatting Hitler but that sounded comical and ugly sounding – my other thought was ‘Fly Trap’. This I think is better on the ear but it doesn’t really fit the the idea as a trap loses the impact of the killing being initially ordinary, accidental, etc I went out and sat in the sun after lunch. The temperature is much better for me since the rain. I think the idea of the story relates to a book I read many years ago that began by saying that you (the reader) was a miracle in that for thousands of years if any mating partner was impotent or had one partner met someone else then I wouldn’t be here now. In sum, the odds of me being here today is extraordinarily remote. In a sense the book idea just traces the lineage much further back. I guess there are elements of the butterfly effect too- from bug to the Third Reich. I then went to my Chinese practitioner and while I was having acupuncture I thought that a descendent that long ago might be more like genocide. It would wipe out a civilization – even a race. and met my brother and his wife and Jenny and Juan in central London. Jenny and Michaela (my sister in law) and Juan enjoyed the walk on the O2 roof. We then ate at Five guys and I shared my story idea with my brother. He asked whether I would actually have someone going back to the past and treading on a bug. I said that I didn’t want that idea as it sounded comical. It also reminded me of a Tharg’s future shocks- a comic strip in 2000 ad I read as a child when an inventor completed work on a time machine and the effort had given him a cold. He goes back to the age of the dinosaurs to see what caused their extinction. When he is there he sneezes and passes a cold on to a dinosaur. One by one the dinosaurs get a child and die- not having had a cold before. The last picture is the inventor screaming ‘It was me! I killed the dinosaurs!’ My brother also said how would I prove the lineage from the bug to Hitler. I said I didn’t think I needed to- I just needed to suggest it were perfectly plausible. We then made our way home. I went to bed around 12 as I have church in the morning and left my wife finishing an episode of Sherlock.
As it’s Sunday I went to church today and then went to my mum’s for lunch. I had a run with my brother even though it was raining. My wet clothes and my mum’s two Yorkshire terriers inflames my eczema so I had a shower at my mum’s. I then returned home with my wife and Juan and lay on the bed for a bit. I got thinking about my story again. I started thinking about ethics and justice. If the bug that would, in some sense, produce a human civilization of even species was killed- the perpetrator would be guilty of killing an insect but presumably not genocide. However, what if the perpetrator could know for certain what would happen- would there be guilt then? It reminds me of the atom Cruise film Minority Report where crime ceased because the law enforcement were able to arrest the person just before the act. The question is the event hasn’t happened – so even if the future is certain – are they guilty? Even closer to home is abortion – the fact that an embryo in many people’s eyes is not a human is pivotal in the debate. However, if you knew for certain that the embryo would become fully flesh and blood- does that make a difference? In the same way would knowing that killing a bug is definitely going to prevent a people from existing make the crime more than the actual event?
I was at work today. I’m finding teaching more and more tiring. I also haven’t had any holiday for five months. I am teaching 2 one to ones, an exam class and a speaking options class. Since I began teaching the student ages have dropped considerably. I was ten years younger and the students were ten years older. I came home from work and had a shower and then relaxed on my bed for a bit. I got to think about my story idea for a bit. I’ve really struggled to come up with how the narrative will play out. I typed out on my phone an idea but I’m not sure.
Like the lyrics on It was a very good year made famous by Sinatra, I could go through the years of a person’s life with the refrain : I’m a (add age) year old man and I…
As he approaches middle age I could the personify the bug with same same refrain : I’m a two day old bug etc but this would only be repeated a couple of times as the life expectancy of the big is shorter- the man’s refrain would then carry on. I an still unhappy as it doesn’t read well and I’m not sure whether giving human qualities to the bug is a good idea. I then made myself supper and settled down to watch Netflix.
Intentist poets encounter unique issues.
Poetry, compared with the static arts is linear. Some Intentist fine artists have portrayed the creative trail through palimpsestism, others through anarrativism. Neither are as easily possible with text for different reasons: A poem with different layers of text becomes primarily a piece of visual art; secondly, text, if it is to be understood at all needs to a lesser or greater degree to be narratorial.
The following three poems demonstrate three different ways Intentist poets are incorporating the creative trail in their work.
Gideon Parry’s ‘Grind’ leaves rejected phrases in parenthesis.
Vittorio Pelosi’s ‘Park’ combines the final version with the work-in-process inverted underneath.
Finally, Luciano Pelosi’s ‘Homeward’ retains unnecessary parts enclosed in commas, in a similar way to non-defining relative clauses.
((Sitting on a train.
Weakened by the weather, (it’s) gormless, overshadowed by snippets from last night’s dream,
Of love rejected.))
Slumped on a tube seat,
My head rattling against the casement window,
My stomach in knots,
(The power of 8,000 atoms)
Having dreamt about a (girl) vision who left me six years ago….
And now, only waiting for tonight…
To wash away the lemon (traces) grinds of the night before.
I lay around, dazed, immune to the world.
Yet, it reaches out to me, unbending.
Choking, I sit up.
Which way to the world?
Bright eyes? She teases. I turn – I must.
A discarded note.
I turn, I must. A discarded note. I choke.
She plays, she teases. I turn – I must.
I look towards my watch, counting.
Bright eyes? She plays, she jumps, she
Choking, I sit up, heavenward.
Which way to the world?
I supplant my attention on the girl in the park
I lay around, dazed, immune to the world.
Yet it reaches out to me. Unbending. I choke
Man was made to fear,
To love, to hate, to breathe, to hear,
Man was made for
He who made Man breathe,
And we abuse our fear on all but Him,
And we misuse our hate on all but sin,
For we all know begins,
All wisdom in the heart within,
Begins here –
Where Man has learnt to fear.
Untitled 2 (2010)
Two trees came and carved their names upon my belly:
They were very much in love.
I know because they cut me with that cold indifference.
The kind that lovers keep
To greet the world outside
Their twisted arms and knotted fingers.
I let my fingers stroke me where the wound has healed –
I stoke my fire
and nothing but their ashes lingers.
Untitled 3 (2010)
When weeks were framed
With painted flowers,
My hours were tinted pink with joy.
When speaking seemed too dim a power
A towering beacon beaming coy.
When she would rest
Young head on older
Nestling hot and upward sneak,
Her playful hair would share our shoulders
Then turn and whip my titian cheek
Till little petal lips
Pursued their pleasure
Softly printing love
While screaming silken coverings
Would gently make their rise above
Her knees to ease
Her breathing skin
And in be drown beneath
And more of this I shan’t begin
It pains my recollection
I am the true historian:
I hope you’re taking notes –
I’ll teach you how your selfish pride
Has torn my humble heart inside
With scorn, like some forocious tide
Which shipwrecked all my boats.
I am the true Historian:
I’ll guide you through your past –
How I’ve been wronged,
When always right
Yet saved you from your sorry plight
Befriending you in others’ sight
As if you never asked.
I am the true Historian:
Reminding you of dates –
That day your gossip made me frown
“What can I do?” I told the town,
“I forgive her when she lets me down,
And when she’s always late.”
I am the true Historian
Professional to the end –
I hang your sins up on my wall
You say they shouldn’t be there at all
But they’re forgiven and forgotten fool
Aren’t you lucky I’m your friend.
Luciano Pelosi 2010
I took my broken shadow home
It held tight to my, feet, ankles
As I dragged it through the dusk
It looked like, leaking, seeping
The coils of midnight’s serpent
It stretched and how it grew
So, great, long
But as we neared my house
The evening’s darkness swallowed
And it was gone