In The Desert of Mute Squares; or, Errors; or, Dreams I Never Had; or, Late Capitalism is difficult to define in regards to genre. Sometimes it looks like poetry, other times like fiction, and even other times like a collage. What can be said with some degree of certainty is that this text is metaphysical. It is the plane of immanence, the place where all existence has become interconnected, but refused to reduce itself into something transcendent. It is the physical manifestation of what a book would probably look like. Here, reality is made up of dreams, death, sex, and memories. There is a way in which everything seems so distant and faint. As if the narrator knew about his eventual shift into this oddly abstract existence, and the way that his body would disappear, reducing his being into language. We witness the collection of sensory details. Earth is lush, the land is negentropic, sex is constant, it pours out of the unconscious and invades dreams.
There is the sense that only one character speaks throughout the duration of the book, and that every other voice we encounter has still come from his mouth. In the Desert of Mute Squares is a collage of every way that these voices have dripped onto the page. Often beautiful / surreal / erotic / intimate. “I want to use your body to validate my own.” The visual aspects of the text only accentuate these qualities. Without them, it would be something entirely different (unrecognizably so). The abstract spaces in which we exist would take a different shape. They would appear distant and unbuilt. Here, they are in the midst of construction. The book forms itself as the body does after birth. Pages are alive. They correct themselves, and adapt to the seemingly unexpected perpetuation of their lifespan.
The book is its own setting, and I’m not sure if this setting has existed forever, or for only a brief moment. There is a fragility to the structure. It is cosmic and large, so much so that it might consume you, but at the same time, it seems concerned about whether or not it can hold itself together. The narrator drifts in and out of dreams. He tells you who you are, what he has heard, what he wants you to do to him. The book literally begs for you to fuck it.
In The Desert of Mute Squares contains the desire to understand oneself on one’s own terms. And it shows how those terms might eroticize the physicality we once possessed. Writing this, I feel like I no longer have a body. John Trefry (of Inside The Castle) wrote about the book on Goodreads, saying, “It will tear your soul… apart.” and in some regard I feel that this is true. One night I might wake up and find that I am no longer myself, that the incredible corporeality of this book has robbed me of my contents. M Kitchell’s work is ontological and otherworldly. It is the fetishization of the reader. Sexual desire in a vacuum.
The pages of this book are complex and ever-changing. They range from scattered blocks of text, to images blanketed across a two page spread, covered in clusters of language. There are images of men tied to trees, water turning into mist, volcanoes, tide pools, scientific experiments performed on apes, towers made from jagged stones, passing strangers, stars and smoke. Human subjects typically occupy the roles of sexual partner or loved one. Sexual partners are bound and naked. Loved ones are obscured and difficult to remember. This is a book we are asked to occupy as fully as we are capable of.
While reading, I thought of this book as the manifestation of language in a physical space, or the exorcism of the author, or an infection of images spreading across pages of poetry (as if Max Ernst’s Hundred Headless Woman was thrown into a washing machine with an erasure of Blake Butler’s Three Hundred Million). Now, as the title of my review suggests, I think of it as the erotics of some abstract machine, the pleasure of entering this place where your physicality is replaced by that of the book itself.
Finishing M Kitchell’s book feels like waking up from a self-induced trance. The experience of witnessing something so dense and complex as it performs its own existence, is immensely engaging.
In The Desert of Mute Squares is Text as a plane of existence / Text as freedom / Text as physical body, a mound of meat / Text as lush and fertile / Text as negentropic / Text as a means of moving across spacetime / Text as tomb / Text as the intestine casing around your corpse / Text as cube / Text as ruins / Text as unsustainable / Text as revelation / Text as erotic and fluid / Text as box and boxes / Text as geological / Text as the arrival of a new science / Text as holy immanence / Text as cock, pussy, ass / Text as a house for bodies at rest / Text as suspiciously real / Text as radically queer extra-dimensional tome / Text as physical excess / Text as the evacuation of language / Text as living and active / Text as ever changing, self-correcting / Text as séance / Text as ontological / Text as object / Text as planet / Text as afterlife / Text as fetish / Text as mule / Text as god and fucking / Text as every body / Text as every voice / Text as the decay of heterosexuality / Text as flaccid / Text as pervert / Text as contradictory / Text as image / Text as bondage / Text as dream, and naturally as reality as well /