There is something about not sleeping that can make you tell many lies and many truths. In the light of the Vegas sun, what is artificial and what is real becomes irrelevant and strange. Staring at pockmarked skin in the sunlight makes you suddenly aware of the earth and time. Fine lines make me want to hold your hand until you are contained within the darkness of my fist. Until you cannot love me anymore.
Much has been said of the simulacrum of Vegas. The hyperreality of a city where the real and fiction are indistinguishable from one another. When I think of the notion of a simulacrum, the representation without an original referent, I think of this city. I think of the origins of love.
When I hold hands with you, I have created a representation of what I want us to be. Believe us to be. When you hold hands back, you affirm this notion: we want to touch skin to skin. In reality, I want much deeper things. There is a piece of me that loves what Vegas gives us: this hyperreality of whatever we want to say and do.
It’s only 1 am, but your liquor-laden breath holds me close. You tell me things: you love me, want to marry me, want me to be the Bonnie to your Clyde. We are going to walk into this casino, and make thousands of dollars. We are going to get married. Wait, not tonight. In a year. You want to save up for a ring first. Nobody has ever said these things to me in a way that I could believe them. You give this to me, your words buffered by cigarette smoke and whiskey. When I fall down on the street, you hold my hand to lift me up. When we wake up to the Vegas sun, it’s as if these words were never spoken. We live in multiple spaces, not knowing which is real, not knowing if it even matters.
Maybe I have always been obsessed with simulacrum because I have never known what is real. For example: I have always convinced myself I needed [you]. Wanted [you]. When you are gone, after your hand dissolves, after your hot breath leaves, after your body no longer loops with mine like rubber bands, I don’t even know if the missing-ness of you is real. The wanting-ness. In power relations, this is important. If you don’t have anything I truly need, you have no capital to own me. And yet, I will give anything to hear your voice in a dream. An image of an image of something that may not exist.
When I think of the origin of love, I think first of original sin. Is this the reality I wish for love to be based on? The disgrace of man, the shame of nakedness, the falling from somewhere as starting point?
In Vegas, everything is 24 hours. If you fall down, nobody looks twice. Somebody has to fall each day [night]: it might as well be you.
Our conversations trace in and out between consciousness, and I no longer know what is real. When we are sober, we only think of Vegas with our eyes, like it is unspeakable and yet omnipresent. Vegas happen(s) : the sky blue ceilings of Paris, the water-color blending of day with night, the slot machines feeding like open eyes that see it all, the drive-through weddings. Vegas happen(ed), maybe.
When your breath gives me words of love and liquor, is this an affirmation or a negation of a truth that may or may not exist? Please: tell me that when you speak in whisky, you tell me only the deepest truths. But even then. After we emerge, when we hold hands in an unfiltered light of day, when you look me in the eye: please, tell me those words have not disappeared. Tell me that they are not representations, or images of images, or fleeting signifiers . Tell me that they are real.
Or: maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe all love is a construct of something that has no original model, an amalgamation of scraps until it looks and feels right. How can we represent something that may not exist except in its representational form? Love can be a banished ghost, a perversion in itself of the humanity it is meant to reflect. Or, it can be a flawed human in flesh and blood, perfecting on the specter itself. It can deny reproduction, it can deny reflection. It can be anything we wish for: and still be right.