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August Debut

Issue 2; October/November


Aryan Kaganof


Aryan Kaganof

Aryan Kaganof is the author of the novels Uselessly, 12shooters and Hectic!. His published collections of verse include The Ballad of Sugar Moon, and Coffin Deadly, Jou Ma Se Poems, Drive-Thru Funeral and The Freedom Fighter. He lives in Johannesburg


a capitalist poem

air is free
time is free
but airtime
you have to pay for


We're sitting in a non-tekky infinity chamber for public access.
The public interface is done with kiosks. It's a live intervention piece.
On the wall opposite us there are architectural skyline projections expressing simultaneity in a tangible way and/or ways.
The clock keeps ticking. It's a late form of history.
One of the other speakers starts,
... speaking.

S/he says, "I hate using it but what else is there?"
The audience all rise on cue and chorus, "The third world."
Everybody standing gets thrown biscuits.
There's a mad scrabble for the biscuits.
When the biscuits are finished most of the audience leaves.
Another speaker starts,
... speaking.

S/he says, "We are the gatekeepers of African-ness.
It's a one-way representation. There must be more ways of seeing our non-being."
This reminds me of Paul Simon but I am not sure why.
Somebody asks me to respond to all the speakers.
I lean forward slowly and put the microphone into my mouth.
This successfully distorts all that I have to say.

My interest was always in not-being.
But not not-being in terms of being.
No. Not-being an sich.
Not-being as what is.

Then everybody has a turn talking about mapping.
Mapping is the new buzz in the digital art community.
It's the Emperor's new bytes. Utterly exhausting. Utterly trivial.
I make the cardinal error of speaking my mind. Actually saying what I think.
Am instantly ostracised from any possible future in the South African digital art community.
Somebody in the audience with very good ears sends a question to me by sms onto the huge flat screen monitor hanging ominously in the middle of the hall. "Kaganof, can you expand on what you mean by not-being."

Actually I can't.
I have no themes.
No subjects.
No concerns.
And now, with the new digital media, no form.
Therefore, formless, I drift between the dots.
I refuse to be thematicized.

One cannot expand on not-being.
The expansion of not-being is an absurd concept.
Not-being, something which isn't, cannot be expanded upon.
It's like trying to make the nothing bigger.
Nothing is nothing is nothing. That's all.
There is no expansion of nothing.
There you see, I'm already trying to expand on the not-being and getting nowhere.
So I'll stop.

When I hear all this passionate interest in introducing new media technology to Africa I can't help thinking about those missionaries who were equally passionate about introducing Christianity.
It's always in the best interest of the natives.
Paul Simon really was the American version of Johnny Clegg wasn't he?

The meeting is wrapped up.
The final speaker has,

spiro's scene, melville 2007

a bunch of revolutionary heroes are sitting at spiro's
nobody knows what's actually going on
the topic of debate is politics versus economics
kagiso grins and asks 'what are we campaigning for?'
itumeleng tightens his brentwoods and yells emphatically 'the beginning of the real struggle'
another round is ordered
everybody's onto the hard tack by now
norbert from surinam is getting maudlin
'my parents were punished for speaking papiemento.'
bongani exhales slowly and deliberately, 'the mother tongue'
the whole group responds: 'the mother tongue'
the repetition is whispered low and grumbling
it's a chorus from the dark side
just then lightning flash an im weak heart
norbert continues, 'we were romanticizing the notion of liberation?'
itumeleng rejects this notion, 'who is us?'
sbu finishes his malt whiskey and orders another - 'the campaign is ourselves'
itumeleng can hardly balance by now, he's hitched his brentwoods up, his words slur themselves against the sides of his mouth,
'lejima, the collective, means a lot to me'
sbu castigates kagiso loudly, 'kagiso is trying to run away from his shadow'
kagiso retorts snappily, 'ag man, blackness isn't the issue, africanness is.'
another round of hard tack
now everybody's mumbling and stumbling
it's the revolutionary state of mind anno 2007
we have to come at ease with the whole thing

why i am not popular

the only taboo left for me to transgress
is to stay at home on the big night of the bokke
and not give a damn
whether 'we' win or not

rugby is a gruesome scourge
and all who watch it

i believe in poes

i invented my father
for fuck's sakes, i'm sorry that i'm better than what you are
then i shot him
again and again
as for my mother
she's a good listener when i'm not talking to her
otherwise it's non-stop with the mouth
one never gets over the abandonment
not for all the therapy in china
as for me?
a left-handed jew
that's about as close to the devil as you can get
i invented the movies
without them i'd be dead
fuck arty. i like guns and sluts
best of all: from the time before colour
those were flicks
the picadilly bioscope on saturday mornings
colour ruined the movies
made the pictures look too real
who wants real?
'keeping it real' - what a nonsense
i invented redemption
but too late
by then i was replaced by a recently advantaged less reflective person
by the time one is old enough to realize what it's all about it's almost over
i invented south africa
here good enough is what people aspire to
in the movies good enough is not good enough
but what can one do
it's true the body is an illusion but still it must eat
and not just manna, manners from heaven
i invented god
this oke asked me, why don't you believe in god?
so i told him:
because god's a poes.


bongani has a sign saying 'Ugly with no money'
i give him two rand
'that's a good sign. it's true.'
'no. i'm not ugly. i just wrote that to make money.'
he stands on the corner of empire and melville every day.
'why don't you get a job?'
'i've got a job. i earn R200 a day here.'
i'm flabbergasted, that's more than i earn writing these stupid stories.
ugly with no money


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