Fast False Forward
by Inbar Kaminsky
The last movie Adam had seen was Enemy, it opened at a small cinema near where he lived on mid March, a cool month before he joined Fast False Forward. It was a fitting farewell from the world of movies, an English debut of a French-speaking director, an adaptation of Saramago’s The Double; so many split identities preceding the actual footage. They shared the same name too, which wasn’t unusual; there were so many Adams in contemporary culture, too many. Adam hated being the bearer of symbolism and at the same time he was inevitably drawn to it, to the cultural reconfiguration of his given name. He watched it alone and felt relieved by the cyclical structure of the few uttered words, by the careful use of fragmented dialogue.
It clearly wasn’t a movie meant to be seen only once, a single viewing experience felt disposable somehow, wasted. The second time he watched it, he realized he was becoming part of the structure, not simply engaged in the plot but rather implicit in its unfolding, repeated rather than repeating. He was already aware of Fast False Forward but was afraid to attend the first meeting, to take that first step. The ending was unsettling even the second time around, but it was, as Moses later explained to him, the visual manifestation of the collapse of language. It was the moment in which words failed to explain the image, the only instance in the film when the protagonist is truly terrified to his core being. It had to end there; movies can’t endorse the demise of language, they can only allude to the supremacy of the visual and the auditory versus the verbal or the written.
He knew he belonged there when someone brought it up during the first meeting. Before the humming and the buzzing there were words that had to be set free. What was your last movie? What was your last book? What was your last song? Some people there couldn’t even recall these events, Fast False Forward being the answer to their unspoken prayers. Adam saw them as bold birds passing over nests. Ella volunteered her last film; it was Her but she didn’t like it. She actually said she regretted watching it, knowing it was her last film. But it was also the very thing that led her to Fast False Forward; it was the last straw – a disembodied voice endowed with too much of the living, too much of language unfolding, spreading as an addiction without an address.
There was no TV, instrumental soundtrack music was allowed but not the extraction of lyrics from favorite tunes – that was cheating. Peter and the Wolf was Ella’s favorite, the menacing piano strokes reminded her of her childhood bully. Movies were okay to watch on mute or with earplugs. Foreign films were out of the question; subtitles had ruined the world.
Adam fasted at least once a week, usually on Mondays to amplify the effect. Mondays were Vegan Verse’s busiest day; all those lapsing vegans atoning for their weekend sins by ordering his kale supershake, known to all as the KLEANSER. There was something about misspellings, even the intentional ones, which had always provoked in Adam the shivering sensation of spinal delight. This time, dizzy from hunger that slithered around his stomach to the drumbeat of an instrumental soundtrack and the stinging scent of fresh unrefrigerated vegetables, he almost collapsed as he stares at the label on the recyclable plastic cups: KLEANSER. He stared at it until he felt he was on the verge of fainting, the sweet pain of an ever receding shoreline of consciousness. Adam had been playing with the notion that typos and misspelling were the poetry of the unknown, the beautiful momentary grasp of the ungraspable reaching in and derailing language like a child wrecking his favorite toy. Adam wanted to be the child-that-is-already-the-toy but instead often felt like a toyless child.
Ella never bought any of that vegan bullshit, it just wasn’t her currency, wasn’t her regime. The idea of fasting seemed obscene to her for some reason. She ate fish at work. Gorged on it, especially Salmon. Baked, roasted, sandwiched, sushied. It was just a temp job but at least it got her out of the house. She would come back from work with foul fish breath, intentionally avoiding any liquids or any form of breath refresher, the undigested salmon particles swam slowly in the dry saliva inside her mouth. There was never a kiss at the door.
Day to day deliveries. Whatever was left was made into jam, mashed, or pickled. Tomato jam, eggplant jam, pickled carrot, onion jam, mashed yam. Adam lived off leftovers. The leftovers lived in him. He missed music, poached songs weren’t the same. He had always hated classical music, which considerably narrowed down his selection. His last verbal song was Amen; he listened to it over and over again in an endless loop on the day of the first meeting, to the priest of song with his gravel voice echoing a lonely man’s prayer. Leonard Cohen was the only Jew that Adam had ever let in. If there was any temptation to betray the UNWORD, it was solely for the pure wordiness of this dream catcher. It was too much, too many words caught in his fishnet. Thoughts were inevitable, everybody’s got a playground, but according to Moses, the trick was to simply drop the toys. EMPTY PLAYGROUNDS. Abandon literal thoughts as they emerge, embrace instead the abstract, the instinctual, the sensory.
Adam was frantically searching for new instrumental music on iTunes even though he wasn’t supposed to expose himself to words unless it was absolutely necessary. Serenity. Meditation. Sleep tight. New Age. It was necessary; he needed a brave soundtrack to help him fight off the pestering half thoughts, whose legs got stuck in his mind even though they no longer served the purpose intended by their reluctant maker. Mutations of former ideas danced the drunken rumble of acknowledgment; little did they know they no longer held his identity in their shivering palms, he kept slipping between their broken fingers like sand and much like sand, Adam felt himself amorphous and unplugged from the very faculties that had reigned over his identity for far too long, only he wasn’t sure what remained in their absence. He became so exhausted from hunger that he struggled to move his hands across the keyboard while erratic half thoughts began teething once again; cold sweat, possibly a fever, the tingling sensation of a system slowly shutting down.
Ella found him passed out on the coach, drool dripping on the only piece of furniture she had ever bought with her own money. Her one and only possession. Force feeding Adam on Monday evenings became something of a routine, another anticipated ritual. She would scoop him up like ice cream and stuff organic dark chocolate under his tongue, nervously waiting for the melted sugar to do the trick.
Inbar Kaminsky is a PhD candidate in the English and American Studies Department at Tel Aviv University, she has published short stories in TWO SERIOUS LADIES and MAD HATTER REVIEW and literary articles in PHILIP ROTH STUDIES and in several academic essay collections. Inbar is currently seeking to publish her début novel, FAST FALSE FORWARD, which explores the destructive love affair of a young couple who has joined a movement advocating the destruction of language. You can follow her on twitter @InbarKaminsky.