What you have to do is, after a long day working in the shop or shoveling sillage, just rub your hands together very hard for a few minutes until the black oily skin starts to scurf off in long black threads. These can then be picked from the creases in your palms and collected in an old tobacco tin. make sure you tell any smokers in the house what you are doing and keep rolling papers away from where you keep it. After a week you should have half an ounce of black resin and can start treatment.
Mix a little of the black threads with spit and make a thick paste, then rub firmly into your nose with your fingers. Press firmly to force it into the pores, and keep adding more. Scrape the rest off and save it.
Now look in the mirror. The small black dots will have formed. Just wait, in a few days many of them will be rising up and swelling with the pressure of the oily white stuff within. Don't pop them yet, just place your finger over the opening and press down firmly several times a day. This irritates the flesh and causes more secretion of the sebaceous fluid.
They are ready when the central node or "fetus" is so big it starts to push the head-cap out of the pore. Now is the time to enjoy them. Sit down before a mirror with good lighting and compose yourself. Don't start with the largest, that should always be saved till last. Don't start with the smallest either, they should be allowed to grow, like underweight fish. Just select a ripe berry, ready to burst, and place your index fingers on either side of the base of the dome. Move the fingers together slowly. Don't dig your nails into the skin, ar slide them across the skin, in fact, it is best to trim your nails beforehand. It may sound like a bothersome detail, but I think it's important to do this right.
Now, if the blackhead is ripe enough the cap should start to ease out of the pore, rising on a thin column of white pus the consistency of junket. There should be minimal pain, just a poignant tingle, to spice up the feeling of release of pressure which is the great joy of this activity and the reason it is so widely enjoyed. Keep pressing, until the column tapers off into a thin thread of mucus and starts to topple. Now you can gently scrape it away from the skin and inspect it.
Inspection is important. This is a product of the creative powers of your body and therefore is endlessly fascinating. Observe how the darker tones of the head blend into the white stuff, and try gently squeezing it for firmness. Good blackheads are firm and meaty, while immature ones are too liquid and won't hold together under handling. Don't put the fetus back in your tobacco tin, scrape it onto a corner of the bath towel, or, if you wish to build up a colection and compare your products over time, flick it onto the mirror. Although it will shrink once it dries, the humidity of a hot shower will cause it to swell and rehydrate, so you can get a good comparison of your progress.
Work your way through the ripe pustules until you reach the king, the biggy, the mother of them all. Often this is a second generation blackhead or "boil", where the original pore has been damaged and burst open, producing a larger cavity in which a mixture of blood and cottage cheese resides. Boil are to be avoided. Blackheads, when removed, shrink back into healthy yawning pores hungry to be filled with more dirt and grease. Boils have no head, but are rather sealed healed-over balloons with high pressure contents. They are evidence of poor technique, and they tell other blackhead enthusiasts that you have been hasty and weren't prepared for your crop to reach fruition. Try squeezing the boil gently while inspecting the skin for any signs of a relict head or pore opening. If this exists, you can lance it very gently with a sharp pin. Gently ease the contents out but do not save them, flush them down the drain immediately. Boils are the bane of a blackhead enthusiast and should be fought at all costs. Now apply eucalyptus oil with a cotton bud. Kill that boil!
If you have been patient and saved the biggest to last, well done! Carefully get into position. Do not tense your arms, a tremor might cause you to ruin the work of weeks. Carefully, as though you were a diamond cutter making the first blow, sqeeze the blackhead. Watch the surface to make sure the cap is sliding from the pore, otherwise the sides of the pore will burst and you'll have a boil. Enjoy the feeling of release as the long thick column rises majestically under the impetus of your sqeezing fingers. Up and up it rises, until finally it reaches the peak and drops back, exausted, onto your finger nails. Some correspondants have reported having orgasms at this moment. When you have recovered from the experience, add the fetus to your collection and wash up. Use plain soap, no perfume. Wash well, your skin should lie fallow for a few days before you can plant another crop.
I hope this posting helps you enjoy your blackheads, and remember; God hath made all things. Bye bye.
Have you ever fallen in loathe, and then found yourself alone again?
Just after Christmas a man by the name of Lawrence moved into the warehouse where I live. As I type this I can see, through the open doors to my studio, across the little balcony and the ricketty ladder that leads up to my mezzanine garret, across the passage that allows the forklift to reach the back of the place, across the large expanse of bare floor that roofs most of the ground floor storage area, to Lawrences studio. It's empty now. Nothing but fragments of plaster, wax, wire, and a rabbit in a pen.
I remember when he moved in. I took an immediate disliking to him. He was a wiry short forty-something bloke, looked like a desert prospector in washed out blue canvas shirt and shorts. He had a pinched, bitter, suspicious face with little watery eyes which wandered around and didn't actually have any expression in them, because they were too small.
Lawrence was a sculptor who had a dream of building huge forty-foot-high gesticulating human figures out of bronze and sticking them on top of every tall vantage point in Sydney for the Olympics. When he moved in he brought with him boxes of scale models of these hideous stretched sculptures, modelled in wax and then cast in bronze and fixed on wooden plinths. His master plan was this: he would live here, rent free because he was staying on storage floorspace rented by the Envirobooks mail order company but left unused; he would set his sculptures up like a mini art gallery; he would invite as many ministers and politicians and influential people in to view them as he could persuade to come; he would arrange funding to build his huge monstrosities, as tourist attractions for the Olympics; and he would thus stamp his presence all over the city like a mini art Hitler that he was.
The first time I spoke to him, he was in the kitchen cooking one of the only two things he ever ate. Food #1 for him was a cup of soybeans, soaked, then boiled, served on a plate with a side salad of chopped tomatoes and shredded raw garlic. Food #2 was for special occassions only, a kind of cassarole made in a black iron pot. I never found out what went into that, but he used to take the pot off the stove and put it directly into the freezer, melting all the frost on the coils and causing a fetid drizzle to rain down over everything in the fridge below.
As he served his noxious beans and stuff he told all present that a vegetarian diet was best because vegetarian shit doesn't smell. I couldn't believe that an adult human could be so twisted as to decide what to eat simply to reduce the smell of his shit. Anyway, it wasn't true. He used to spray the entire toilet bowl with a thin dark gruel of grey drek and then use the half-flush button "to save water", or maybe so we could all observe his creative output.
He was a human dildo. He was stiff, dead and cold, his head always thrown back, he'd stomp around the place looking for things to complain about, radiating arrogance and contempt for the politicians who refused to sponsor his dream, who couldn't recognise his genius. I made up my mind about him when he announced that he especially wanted to put sculptures on top of the pylons of the Glebe Island Bridge, which is visible from here. I asked him which particular sculptures he wanted to put there, and he got confused. To him, it didn't matter. None of them were designed for any particular location. All he wanted was his work, big, in everyone's faces. At that moment I fell in loathe with him.
My loathe increased when he started washing his beaten old prospectors costume in the sink and hanging it on a line outside, like a sign saying "Look everyone, someone's living here!" This is an industrial zoned building, no residency. Then he started hosting creative drawing classes. Dozens of smug wealthy art students would come in and seriously draw FULLY CLOTHED models while he criticised and instructed them. Then he'd boil them a pot of meal #2 and they'd occupy the kitchen for 2 hours, staring coldly at anyone else who tried to get to the sink or fridge to rescue their bread from the warm rain of melted frost. He had a tinny clock radio which he tuned to a classical music station and left on all the time. Endless tinkling piano or violin concertos, all day every day. His "friends" were stuffy old women and frail queer "art lovers" who would come around and drink white wine and, I swear, hold little recitals where they would recite classical poetry and sing motets in latin. Then they'd discuss in loud voices how backward Sydney is for not having an official sculpter-in-residence, and how perfect he would be in that position. All the while grooving on the poignant poverty of his current position, as he did his little "starving artist" routine for them.
To show him my loathe I hung an example of MY art work, a huge 9 X 9 foot quilt of a black and white bitmap of a crying childs face, 60 X 60 black and white pixel cotton squares, on the outside of my studio facing his setup. I also started buying fatty lamb chops and grilling them in the kitchen, so he could savour the smell. Also, I'd crank up Fear Factory or Lard whenever he had his classes, and put on my most threatening urban geurilla gear whenever his wanky friends came round, and go out and scowl at them.
When his students started chatting with me, and especially when they befriended my black cat and would come over to pat him, he found a baby rabbit somewhere and set it up in a pen near his studio. It's a stupid little thing, just eats vegetables all day and shits and pisses right where it stands, all over it's food. You can't pat it, if you get to near it bolts and runs for cover where it crouches shivering for an hour. I reckon he was hoping the cat would eat it so he could complain, but Mozart's pretty cluey, he'll catch rats and pigeons but I've seen him socialize with a pet rat in a cage, without trying to bite it. If he sees a human feeding an animal he just assumes it's some kind of mutant cat with it's own slaves.
The climax of his stupidity came when he claimed to be part aboriginal. This would have been stupid even if he was, because there's been a few scandals here, such as a white lady painter who maintained a black persona for decades to sell her work, and a writer or two who've been constructing aboriginal identities to get critical acclaim for their novels. He started showing his classes videos about how black children were taken from their parents in the 50s and sent to live with white foster families, and then discussing how being part black is what gives his art it's special depth, and also how this fact is why the fascist bastard art council wouldn't fund him the millions he needed for his dreams to come true.
Then one night three of my friends came over at 2am after closing time, drunk as fuck. I had to let them in - they had booze. They drank in my studio for awhile until we got bored and I had the idea of hanging them on the gravity frame. This is a stretcher with foot restraints that pivots on an axle, so you can strap yourself in, lean back until you're hanging vertically, and, I hoped, puke all over the floor.
None of them puked, all it did was give them (and me) wicked headrushes as the alcohol-enriched blood surged down into the cranium. So, in that state of mind, I suddenly had the brilliant idea of going and looking at the rabbit.
We silently tiptoed our way towards the pen, and were just about to see if we could get little Mopsy to drink a saucer of beer when Lawrence emerged from his spartan cubicle like an rabid bat and started screaming at us. At first we were too shocked to do anything, so we just stood and stared as he screamed and waved his fists in our faces.
It wouldn't have been too much work to pound him down but something was wrong. As he ranted I realised he wasn't actually saying anything like "Go away and let me sleep you bastards", he was just insulting us, calling us drunken worthless louts (true), stupid fuckers (not true), and generally antagonising us. Anyway, we were metres away from his actual studio and we hadn't made that much noise. When I considered the consequences of hitting him, I realised it would involve him getting lots of sympathy from his friends, maybe coverage in the papers, more publicity (Aboriginal Sculptor Beaten In His Studio by White Gang) and so on. So, I started pushing my friends, still stupified by his performance, back to my studio, while he followed and tried to drag them back. We made it and I locked the door and explained the situation to them while he stood outside and continued screaming. They may have been drunk but they understood the situation, so we waited until he gave up and tiptoed out to find some food.
The next week was great. Every day Lawrence would find some excuse to come and stand at my door and make with the epithets, while I worked and pretended I couldn't hear. I heard him telling his class the epic tale of our encounter, how he frightened us so much with his ferocity that we turned and ran like the racist cowards we were (one of the guys was fullblooded Korean, by the way), and how they shouldn't leave anything valuable lying around because it was obvious we were theives trying to rob him.
Then, our loathe afair ended.
I was working late one night, the building was silent. I could hear Lawrence stomping around, still maintaining the rage. Then, a horrible banging and crunching, silence, and a hideous groan. I went to investigate.
At first I thought he'd fallen down the stairs, but it was better than that. He'd been stomping so badly that he'd dislodged part of the floor. A panel of thick bulletproof perspex from a demolished bank, which was set into the floor to let light into the space beneath, had jumped off a beam and tipped up like a trapdoor to let him fall through. He was lying between rows of bookshelves in Envirobooks storage area on the ground floor with the heavy panel on top of his body.
At first I thought he was dead, but he started to move and pushed the panel off himself. This was promising, and I hoped he was just stunned and I could go back to work, but then I saw his leg. His right shin had been deeply gashed on the metal beam on the way down. It was like a knife cut, like a dissection in biology. I kneeled down for a better look. The sharp edge had sliced to the bone and then pulled the cut open so the layers of meat and gristle were displayed. It was bloodless at first, the same grey and pink of a Christmas ham after a week in the fridge, this effect enhanced by the white length of bone running down the middle. Then the shock faded, the veins unclenched and the rich red korover started to flow.
I calmed him down when he started to thrash around and panic, and told him he was okay except his leg was cut open and it was definitely a stitch job. First step, transport. I can't drive. So I left him and went to call an ambulance. When I returned Lawrence had dragged himself to the Envirobooks phone and was calling someone. I told him the ambulance was coming and he panicked at the thought of paying for that (heh!) and demanded I cancel it. So I did.
Luckily Dave, a musician with a studio here, walked in just then and I told him what had happened. He has a van. So, we picked up the delireous Lawrence and dragged him out to the van. On the way he told us he'd called a doctor friend who lived nearby, so we drove over to the address he gave.
The doctor was actually an accupuncturist, who took one look at Lawrences leg and demanded we take him to hospital. Like, she was going to stick pins in the wound and close it? So, off we went again. Dave had blood all over his shirt by this time, as he was carrying Lawrences leg end, so we looked pretty good as we carried him into the emergency reception of the hospital. At first they thought we'd had a knife fight, until Lawrence admitted he'd fallen down and cut himself.
Next thing we drop Lawrence in the bed they led us to, and start waiting for the doctor. Now Lawrence asks, can we call a friend of his who does Reiki and ask him to beam some warm rays of long-distance healing energy to his leg. This made me really sick - some tired doctor was going to do his best to stitch his worthless leg up, and Lawrence would credit his recovery to a bloody newage faith-healer. Dave made the call and came back, and Lawrence starts feeling better immediately.
We left soon after when the doctor decided to line him up for a leg X-ray to look for fractures. I really wanted to go because Lawrence was actually smiling at me, and I knew then that our loathe was at an end. It was all over. We could never be enemies again.
This was confirmed the next day when he hobbled in and thanked me meekly for my kindness. Apparently he was deeply touched by the fact I hadn't left him to rot on the floor. I swallowed the bolus of vomit that rose in my throat and said it was nothing. Anyway, Dave was the guy who drove us and got bloodied up and had the carpet in his van stained. But still, he was grateful. I guess, if the tables were turned, he would have laughed and gone out to leave me to die.
Poor Lawrence, now scared of the floor dropping out from under him again, and without the bond of our loathe to hold him, quietly packed up his wretched belongings, crated his statues, scammed a ticket to Paris from someone, and left. Now, it's so quiet. All we have to remember him by is the rabbit, now twice the size it was when he got it. Soon, unless the calicivirus gets it, we'll hold a little dinner party and serve it with soyabeans and tomatoes in memory of this remarkable man whom I shall miss forever.
Scientists are unsure when intelligence, as we know it today, first appeared amongst the hominids. Archaeological finds suggest that a little over 40 000 years ago, the use of fire and tools was well established amongst all the subspecies of man which existed at the time, cro magnon, neanderthal and others. But the true spark of intelligence, which includes the ability to reason deductively, and more importantly, the ability to engage in creative thought and invent concepts which had never been in existance before, to synthesise thought deliberately, did not yet exist.
Some theorists claim that this step, from an intelligent animal able to use a limited palette of tools and techniques to sustain life, to a creative being able to plan for the future, use symbolic languages, concieve of spiritual things and engage in truly abstract thought, was achieved with outside help. Not that they believe such help was supplied by tall rectangular black monoliths or slitty-eyed grey skinned aliens. It was more likely a plant or mushroom which provided the necessary kick that lifted humans that last step up the evolutionary tree to consciousness.
Dr. John Lilly, language theorist, best known for his efforts to communicate with dolphins during the sixties and whose experiments with float tanks inspired the Paddy Chayevsky movie Altered States, has long believed that early humans relied on mind altering alkaloids found in various fungi to inspire those first creative thought processes. He believes that, especially in Northern Europe and Africa, where many species of hallucinogenic mushrooms can be found, proto-human tribes used these fungi to bring on trance states and that the earliest religions were inspired by these practices.
"Those people were living just on the cusp of language. They couldn't advance any further and create a truly symbolic language with writing, or at least pictographs, because they were entirely immersed in the material world. We find this hard to concieve, because so much of our experience comes to us in the form of written language, or art, or movies and TV. Showing one of these people modern writing would not elicit much response, because it would just be percieved as a random pattern, much like marks on tree bark or paw prints in sand. It took a huge deductive leap to create the fundamental idea of language, and quite frankly, those guys just didn't have the leisure time to do that."
Lilly believes that early man sampled mushrooms first while grazing for food. The experience would have been pleasurable, though dissorientating, and perhaps even dangerous for people living in areas where carnivorous predators could be found. But a tribal people could "babysit" those "poisoned" by mushrooms until they returned to normal.
"We can only guess at their reactions, when they first started taking mushrooms. While under the influence a human might have thrashed about, fighting dream animals, behaved in bizarrely abnormal ways which the other humans would never have seen before. After the trip, I'm sure that the enlightened ones would have tried to find some way of conveying their experience to the others. With the enhanced cognitive and imaginative powers which are an inevitable byproduct of the use of hallucinogens, this desire to communicate something which had no parralel in the world around them can only have resulted in the first languages."
"The first word humans ever uttered would most likely translate as 'Wow!'"
Many shamanistic religieons still practice the use of drugs. The early witch cults of Europe were based on the ritual taking of mild doses of Skullcap, the Amerindians had their peyote dances, and in the Arctic Circle the shamans relied on Amanita Muskara, the white spotted redcap mushroom. It seems that, at least 40 00 years ago, everyone was stoned.
There was, however, a gaping hole in this theory, which scientists have only recently come close to filling.
"The big problem with relying on a mushroom or cactus for your inspiration is, what do you do when the supply runs out? Mushrooms can be dried and concentrated preperations of most alkaloids can be preserved for a short time, but what then? Do you just slump back into ignorant stupidity when the dope runs out? If early humans needed their intellects enhanced to solve the problems which came with the changing climate just after the ice age, and that same changing climate killed off the supply, they would have been in big trouble!"
It was while Lilly was at a party on campus at UCLA with some undergrads that he stumbled across a solution.
"There's always some new drug doing the rounds in American universities, and some of the newest are also the oldest. At this party I noticed that certain youngsters were smoking something that smelled awful, worse than burning shoes. They seemed to hate the smell as much as I did, but they persisted, lighting small pinches of fuzzy blue stuff in a brass pipe. I questioned them and they seemed surprised I had never heard of 'fluff'."
'Fluff', Lilly discovered, was simply the blue fluff which the students were harvesting from their own navels.
"I had the most intense flash of clarity and insight which I have ever experienced." he said. "That may have been enhanced by my inhaling a few lungfuls of slipstream smoke. I realised that 'fluff' would never suffer from a scarcity problem. Wherever there were people, there would be fluff. Enough for each person, because each person grew their own exact dosage in their own navel."
Whether primitive humans grew psychedelic drugs in their navels has not been proven. Certainly, it is known from Lillys own investigation subsequent to the discovery of the fluff-smoking co-eds that the blue fluff which grows in our navels does contain considerable amounts of psychotropic alkaloids.
Dr. Wenbay of the Miskatonic University's Mycology department has recently completed a monograph on the species of fungi which are responsible for the properties of fluff.
"The fluff from a normal humans belly button contains a complex interdependant ecosystem of fungi and bacteria. They are adapted to live only at human body temperature and in the uniquely moist, sheltered environment of the navel. The main species of bacteria produces the long threads which twine around and hold together the body hair and fibres from clothing that accumulate naturaly in our navels. The bacteria live inside the fungal cells and, together, they produce the alkaloid drugs their host needs."
So far the evidence suggests that this symbiosis has existed from very early in human evolution. Working on a hunch, Dr. Wenbay sampled blood from human umbilical cords and analyzed it for bacteria. "There were spores of the exact bacteria found in navels, and fungal threads. Not much, but enough to start the culture again in the babies navel after birth. This method of passing on the bacteria must have taken thousands of years to evolve, but, if the practice of smoking or ingesting fluff is responsible for conscience, then it has an obvious evolutionary advantage, doesn't it?"
"So many religions are obsessed with the navel. The Hindus, with their creation legends, where the world exists inside a lotus blossom growing from Shiva's navel. Most forms of meditation involve concentrating on the bodies centre of gravity in the solar plexus, or more specifically, the navel. The main Chakra point is the navel. It goes on and on."
While it appears the students rediscovered the practice of smoking fluff by accident, the stage is set for a big comeback.
"Certainly we've seen it spreading." reports Dr. Lilly. "I hardly think it's something to worry about. We all experience the effects of fluff from time to time, by natural absorbtion through the skin. Besides, it tastes horrible and smells worse. If it is integral to the evolution of human brains, I say, let them smoke more!"
But authorities are starting to worry. The discovery of a drug which grows naturally on the human body, around five full doses for every human, is the nightmare of any concerned police force. Various campus patrol units are already preparing to take steps to control this new menace.
"It would be possible to control this menace if it gets out of hand, but only just." said an unidentified officer. "I would consider mandatory anti-fungal irrigating of the navels of students, and regular inspections to prevent anyone building up a deposit of salable quantity. Especially the fat kids."