Daniel Y. Harris—The Tryst of Thetica Zorg (BlazeVox, 2018)

Artists of the Paleolithic age painted cave walls with animals that, in the flicker of a torch, appeared to move. In this way our first teachers taught us how to create beautiful illusions, simulacra, hyperreality. Daniel Y. Harris updates hyperreality w/ virtual reality in The Tryst of Thetica Zorg, where the copies wait to be copied. His world doesn’t exist yet, but the template is here, and he wrote it with us.

The first volume in Harris’s Posthuman Series, The Rapture of Eddy Daemon, reformatted Shakespeare for the age of steel and routing paths. Here we’ve left the First Folio at home, and are plugged straight in. A post-post dystopia of code tomes made up of remixed human language, common phrases, jargon, and lit clippings re-contextualized, Star Wars filtered through Homer, barely bypassing covfefe next to flambéed quails in cognac. Characters (sometimes in the computing sense) shift and upload through the n_a_r_r_a_t_i_v_e like a Burroughs novel in HTML, w/ names like the titular Zorg, Orb Oran, and Khora, future identities transmitted through 117 poems, each twenty-seven lines, called exergues. In numismatics, exergues are the texts under a coin’s obverse image. In the time after people, poetry = currency.

The language of the exergues carries the weight of a national slogan: big chunks of texts in many codes & languages, chopped, spliced, and blended. Catechisms, Modernisms, netspeak, equations, all converge into a polyglossia of technorhythms and bop kabbalah. This includes the lexicon our current alt-timeline, evidenced by lines like “Drop trou as Snowflakes rub/Gilead balm on their cuckhold’s red #MAGA hats.” There’s an occasional hint at politics, maybe even the ones that created this future, but as far as what it means to truly “punish delinquent pew renters,” you’ll have to “snort the hornblende” first to find out.

Poetry readership is rising, and somewhere someone is doing anything. Harris’s book hints at a nextworld where even if we finally burn out, the collective uploaded consciousness will keep movement flickering in the darkness. The Tryst of Thetica Zorg may only be one possible outcome, but as long as there’s a copy out there & online, the formula is there in want of a rebis. Ratify the hoax.

~ Seth Copeland

Exergues XXII & XXIII appeared in #5 of petrichor, Fall 2017