The Good Kind of Confusion

by Wendell Cooper/ Mx. Oops

Photo: Wendell Cooper/ Mx. Oops

In 2009, I was a resident artist at Djerassi with Mathew Heggem, as Kinesthesia. It was amazing to have someone to lose my mind with amidst those redwoods. Djerassi was a time to let my work unravel, meditate, channel new dances, new songs. I had so many visions—where to begin? Krylon faces on bark, through mist? Deer at sunrise? Falling to my death?

it’s july 27th, 2008, and the air is just as moist as it was yesterday. i am just as ready, but still not quite able to admit the sun is rising. it’s a feast, a libation of sleeplessness, we’re climbing and meeting each other more than halfway, join us.

she enters my occiput, bleeds new beings, drips down my spine to remind me everything will be okay, everything is as it should be, and i am still alive, living outside my skin, but still alive. dancing in my flesh, borrowing my flesh, she stops time long enough for me to see as in dream. the sky is wet with void, dripping with blackness, primordial blackness, a familiar emptiness.

joy abounds, the joy of death, a familiar death. my breath slows to stillness, i’m falling. i watch her dancing in my flesh, the dance of the living. my borrowed breath, now a memory. yes, i know her touch well, cupping my skull in her hands, as i die again. my body shakes, sweats, drips and slips through the forest as a breeze, breathed in.

i am again exhaled into being, in an elevator unhinged, unaffixed, in my father’s midst, we are falling. he asks, what are you afraid of? i don’t have the breath to answer. shit, i’m falling again, and this time it comes quickly, crystals drifting in ether, but there’s no bottom. no landing, only crossings. even he had to go. a black crystal pyramid slowly falling, rotating, remembering, tearing at the seams. he knew his time to die was coming.

in a day’s time we’ll gather a midnight, call in the ancestors. protector of souls, we willfully drink from your stream, this fiery blessed stream, changing in we, yes we, what it means to make meaning, to get lost in the act of seeing, of being and becoming. the sky is better wet with void, ineffable, inexplicable joy. my head still rests, cupped in her hands of love, on these sands of mars. this glowing dirt is evidence of enlightened worms burrowing in my mind, sowing seeds of confusion, the good kind of confusion. to be unborn free.

the midnight wind signals the beginning of the ceremony. east meets west meets north meets south, with the sun above us, moon behind us, stars within us, the tides are still shifting toward the infinite. our breath is so long it’s seems time finally waited, folded into itself, and leveraged the remaining complexity between us.

not skipping a beat, the space station temple steps are ablaze, let’s begin this, let’s enter. assembled and ascending the temple steps, breathing this breeze from the east as our feet meet shimmering deep green moss between our toes. yes, the time is now, can you smell the cedar? cedar most sacred. waiting and weightless, i’ll admit, i’m afraid of what we’ll find.

the ivy on the face of the building animates, leads us down this unlit corridor. now there’s only silence, blackness, as silence. the passageway opens, empties, we find a gathering of medicine healers in an unexalted state. adorned in cowry shell crowns, feathers and weathered beads, lavender breathed in, there are leaves somehow beneath our feet. i feel faint, but not dizzy. what is this language these beings speak?

tier upon tier of beings shedding their forms, ecstatic, floating above their bodies, as orbs, as ether, sipping this last bit of elixir, this vibration, more silence, more stillness. soon she’ll be here, the space is set. it’s time for the elders to collect in the center of the temple and beat the drum.

we break bread at midnight. walking in circles, clapping in layers, becoming nature in tandem, spirits housed in saints, bodies adjacent. the elders can hear your thoughts. the ancestors are near, just void of center, left of black, and deeper than space itself. blackness in the absence of absence.

it’s predawn. no birds, just frogs, fog, and bodies in transit, it feels like we’ve landed, they’ve landed, we’re together on this island, both assembled and ascendant, everything is energy—a truism of entropy—this is the legacy of sentience, embodied, in blackness, in diasporic afro-praxis, in song, with love.

About the Artist

Wendell Cooper aka Mx. Oops is a transmedia artist with a focus on multimedia performance, urban dance, and queer mysticism.