How to panic

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 31 of 39 in the series Manual


Flip, flop and fly — not necessarily in that order.

Re-wire all your circuits and don’t ground anything.

Re-calibrate your trajectory every half-second like a butterfly en route to nothing in particular.

Unless you believe in market forces, you will die in your sins. Trust in the rational investor and the invisible hand.

Use the small hammer provided to break the glass.

When called upon to participate in a panic attack, be sure to bring the viable issue of your torrid fling with a goat.

Sew panic buttons into all your shirts for easy access.

Alongside the lyric, dramatic and satiric, pre-Socratic philosophers recognized the importance of the panic mode.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, you must be some kind of goddamned robot.

Panic, like dancing, worship services and outbreaks of bubonic plague, is best experienced in a group setting.

Love may take you out of yourself, but only panic can save you from the tedium of thought.

Don’t shout “fire!” willy-nilly in a crowded theater. Wait for a quiet moment full of dramatic tension.

Remember, it’s not true that the lemmings in that Disney nature film committed mass suicide. They were pushed.

How to exist

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 32 of 39 in the series Manual


Assemble yourself from molecules, cells, electric currents, phases of the moon, words and worms.

Individuate. Break off from the bedrock.

Particle or wave? Better try both to play it safe.

If you happen to possess mass, you can experience gravity. Find something to orbit.

Only 4% of the observable universe consists of ordinary, luminous or nonluminous matter — and who wants to be ordinary? Dark matter, being at this point a complete mystery, is much more attractive to the ladies.

Elude precise definition. The wholly understood thing is a mere fantasy.

Consciousness is a popular option, but if you choose it, be sure to revisit unconsciousness on a regular basis in order to stay grounded.

If you must be a being for whom Being (Dasein) is a question, do not join the Nazi party.

Love. Or failing that, harmonize.

Make a name for yourself using phonemes, morphemes and — optionally — graphemes.

Whether or not the soul exists has no bearing on the problem of existence itself. So can I have your soul?

When life gives you asymptotically free quarks and gluons, make quark-gluon plasma.


How to drive

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 33 of 39 in the series Manual


Keep both hands on the wheel at all times. The turn indicator may easily be operated with the chin.

Do your best to ignore the dashed yellow line in the middle of the road, which is transmitting subliminal messages in Morse code telling you to kill and kill again.

As an alternative to road rage, try merely counting coup.

Wool-gathering can be dangerous. Avoid distracted driving by coming to a full stop and gathering the whole sheep, presuming you can get a seatbelt around it.

Learn basic auto mechanics—not so you can fix cars, but so you can understand the lyrics of any American pop song written in the past 80 years.

Are you an asshole? Get an off-road vehicle!

Drive as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to drive forever.

Weaponize your fuzzy dice. Because you never know.

In thick fog, it can be nearly nearly impossible not to out-drive your stopping distance. Send a passenger out to patrol the road ahead of you on foot and fire flares at oncoming vehicles.

If you’re a hit-and-run driver, it’s considered poor taste to paint a human silhouette above the right front wheel for each of your victims.

Don’t confuse automatic drive with sex drive. You want manual transmission for that.

Most essential tasks can be performed without getting out of your car: withdrawing money from the bank, purchasing and eating food, falling asleep, screaming, defecating.

To make long trips more entertaining, get a CB radio to talk to truckers with and use the handle “fruit bat.”

Bumper stickers encourage tailgating. Instead, get a can of spray paint and say everything you need to say just as our paleolithic ancestors did: with aesthetically appealing and instantly comprehensible hand prints.

On two-lane roads, playing chicken is a good way to keep adrenalin levels topped up. Do not attempt to play it with Amish buggy-drivers, however, as their “nonresistance to evil” ethos makes them nearly unbeatable. Also, buggies can’t swerve.

Do not listen to polka music while driving, as the infectious, phat beats will have you tapping your feet—and “tapping” other cars—in no time!

You are under no obligation to obey road signs with flawed grammar. “Keep right”? No thanks, I prefer to share. “Watch children”? Only if they do something interesting.

If you want to drive someone crazy, pick up a self-taught preacher from Texas.

When putting the pedal to the metal, be sure to let it roar.

How to question authority

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 34 of 39 in the series Manual


Loudly, so the police sirens will be abashed.

Softly, so your blood-sucking interrogator will lean in close where he can be asphyxiated by your garlic breath.

From within, so the authorities will begin to doubt themselves.

From beyond the grave, which affords some form of protection against reprisal.

Through the slogan NO, which, as nitric oxide, reduces blood pressure by expanding the veins during its brief half-life in the bloodstream.

Through songs, which spread by invisible spores and can grow six inches in a day.

In the voice of unreason, since all the reasonable men defer to whomever commands the most barking guns.

Casually, as if walking on hot coals.

Automatically, through negative phototropism.

Surreptitiously, linking to your co-conspirators only through quantum entanglement.

With an absense of authority, which calls the very logic of authority structures into question.

Joyously. Because otherwise what’s the point?

How to cook

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 35 of 39 in the series Manual


Know your ingredients. Take them out for drinks.

Follow recipes as closely as you can without being detected. Wear a disguise if necessary.

Buy fresh, buy local. If you are broke, search only in the ripest dumpsters and patronize your local food bank.

Ashes can be substituted for black pepper in a pinch.

Never challenge an onion to a game of strip poker.

Give names to each of your knives and talk to them frequently. This will guarantee few interruptions while you work.

Don’t serve anything you wouldn’t eat yourself. If you enjoy pain and humiliation, for example, feel free to serve a knuckle sandwich.

When cooking with gas starts to lose its luster, try turning into a pillar of fire by day and a pillar of smoke by night.

There are only three bodily secretions you should consider cooking with: milk, blood, and tears. The last is an excellent seasoning for pork.

Open sesame with a mortar and pestle. Magic imparts a sour taste.

Sing to pickled things in a minor key.

Never buy processed foods. Instead, stock up on artificial sweeteners, preservatives and stabilizers and make your own.

The rituals of food preparation can imbue your everyday life with holiness. Visualize each muscle in your body as a choice, sacrificial cut of meat.

Like the O’odham Indians, go on an annual pilgrimage for salt.

Artisinal bread is simply bread that has been shouted at.

Keep a dog under the table at all times.

Add more garlic.

How to find things (videopoem)

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 36 of 39 in the series Manual


Watch on Vimeo

Belgian filmmaker and composer Swoon (a.k.a. Marc Neys) has made another film in response to one of the pieces in my Manual series, using the audio I included with the original post. This one recycles footage (with permission) from a YouTube user, “Ephemeral Rift.” As Marc explains in a blog post,

He’s a very inspirational guy who makes videos to induce ASMR.
Check him out if you are into that or would like to learn about ‘the tinglesmiths.’

I like his videos ’cause he’s not only paying attention to the ASMR-sounds but has a great visual touch. I wondered if his images would stand out without the sounds they’re made for, and they do.

This is the fifth film in Swoon’s “Manual” collection, following an eight-month hiatus in production. There’s some continuity with the others, but also a new element of the grotesque that I particularly appreciated. Needless to say, I am pleased and deeply honored to have an artist of Swoon’s calibre building upon my texts in this manner.

How to distress furniture

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 37 of 39 in the series Manual


Bang on it with sticks, but fail to keep the beat. Wrap it in chains but evince no erotic interest in it whatsoever. Let mice rummage through its drawers or nest in its box spring, and recoil at the suggestion that you might leave your own bite-marks on its legs. Paint it absentmindedly while humming some recent and forgettable pop tune. Sand against the grain. Be in your 20s, and talk on and on about how ageing confers authenticity. Take photos of each step of the operation and post them on your blog for everyone to see. Thereafter, use it solely as a surface on which to stack empty boxes. Turn it to the wall. Replace it after three years with some cheap thing from Ikea.

How to meditate

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 38 of 39 in the series Manual


1. Watch a flower bud swell and open over the course of a week. The moment it’s fully open, clip it for an ikebana arrangement. It should feel as if you were severing your own limb.

2. Radio waves are passing through you at every moment. If you’re very still, you might be able to tune them in. (Concentrate on FM. AM stations are too shouty.)

3. Find a natural setting and meditate on a fresh pile of excrement, preferably your own. Watch as it slowly sinks and disappears into the ground, the work of stealthy beetles operating from below, for whom it is everything they ever wanted.

4. Climb a tree as meditatively as possible. Note: this is not a good time to practice non-attachment.

5. If you are a man, try to maintain an erection while keeping your mind completely blank. When you find yourself unable to do so, prostrate yourself 108 times before the nearest woman. She might sleep with you just for that! But probably not, you dysfunctional loser.

6. If you are a pregnant woman past the first trimester, listen to your baby’s heartbeat through a fetoscope for up to a four hours at a time. Stop if you feel your own heart starting to beat 160 times a minute. This could cause it to explode.

7. Counting meditation is popular with beginners, but what really comes after 1? Put that in your censer and smoke it.

8. In Tibet, some monks can elevate their body temperature to survive freezing mountaintops with little clothing. You can do them one better. Concentrate on elevating your electromagnetic field so that you could, if necessary, survive in interplanetary space with no other shield against the solar wind.

9. Cultivate an intimate relationship with your least favorite word. Make it the first thing to pass your lips upon waking and the last echo in your mind before sleep. Say it until you grow hoarse and your tongue turns numb. Then forget the word.

10. Take all your clothes off and meditate on a street corner. If you are in New Delhi, this may attract followers, and will almost certainly bring enough donations to keep you alive. If you are in New York City, it may or may not get you arrested. There’s no particular point to this exercise; it’s just amusing for the rest of us.

How to be a poet

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 39 of 39 in the series Manual


Write from a place of deep fear, which the authors of the Old Testament rightly considered the beginning of wisdom. Turn your poems into cunning traps and instruments of fraud. Writer’s block is primordial and best left uncarved; create only in its shadow.

Prize your digressions. Revise nothing, and put all your poems into books that self-destruct after a single reading. Wallow in idleness. Treat inspiration as a sworn enemy.

Practice abstinence; it’s the only way to know what love and hunger are really all about. Find something absurd to believe in and cling to it as passionately as Pound clung to fascism or Neruda to Stalinism. Watch a lot of television.

“First thought, best thought”: get it down and go do something useful, like cleaning the toilet. In lieu of reading, listen to audiobooks. Write about what you don’t know and didn’t think you cared about. Stay in your cave until you start seeing beasts on the walls.

Cultivate suspicion and distrust toward the universe — after all, it is out to kill you. If you must be sociable, avoid poets, for they are boring at best and petty at worst. Hang out with artists and musicians instead.

And for god’s sake, learn HTML.