Phenomenology of Giving


Rodrigo Toscano


La Maratonista ... two physically-oriented urban subjects exchange and enjoy the agony of random encounter and passionate exploration

Los Manifestantes ... a greek revolutionary friend visits two eager american activists, the exchange they have is based on a shared contempt for the capitalist system as well as on sudden joie de vivre street actions

Las Globalistas ... two global capitalist post-enthusiasm career-angling actresses realize their full potential

Los Terrestriales ... two aging avant garde pervos delight in an andromedans potential for terrestrial aesthetic slavery

El Alumno ... two MIT alumni strike up a toxic working relationship for the betterment of themselves

La Maratonista

Inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints had never occurred to her as something to even think about, something to mull over in great detail, let alone something to dote on with deep affection, something to gift to people whose devotional admiration of inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints borders on religious ecstasy.

She can spot them a mile away now. The way their pupils lock in and dilate at the first sighting of their terrifyingly demanding object of study. They're slaves, actually, slaves that willingly submit to their bonded condition; the more they prostrate themselves before the alter, the more bountifully free they feel!

This strange new world that she's since committed to fully exploring was first introduced to her by accident, by a total stranger, at an unexpected time. The odd thing is, is that she wasn't wearing carbon electron free-radical released, polyurethane blue & gold racing shoes, but fair-trade cotton vegan sandals when the stranger stopped her as she strode across the Broadway and 42nd street crosswalk in Manhattan, northwest corner.

YES, she had felt those emotions locked in her inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints for a long time. YES, if she hadn't felt all of the fifty-six emotions that the stranger described in minutest detail, then certainly she had felt many of them, enough of them. Their mutual empathy was immediately sealed.

As she took off her non-urethane, non-carbon electron free-radical released fair-trade cotton vegan sandals in her yoga studio, and slipped off her hemp fiber compression socks, she felt a sensation of excitement in some of her inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints as they met the open air by way of the stranger's scalpel. They shared a giggle that lasted about seven seconds. As soon as the "giggling" ended, she watched as the stranger set up a toddler-sized microscope and straddled it whole body; she sensed the glow of the instrument's 200-watt mercury bulb light up the stranger's bulging right eyeball.

The sensation of having been dissected was odd at first, but surprisingly pleasing, like the high of a jasmine-raspberry tea coming on as a wide-turning city bus nearly crushes you. The stranger then shifted her focus to a left calf hematoma just beginning to surface, and then back to the inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints; additional murmurations on lower limb morbidities worked their way from smooth descriptions of lactic acid hyper-production, to the wrinkled, tubular, curving counters of the newest pharmaceutical speculations about cerebral cortex functions; then something about the bony ridge that ran alongside the lime-encrusted skull of a human ancestor, then back to the four pudgy toes of a nearly extinct ape snuggled next to an imperially imposing distant cousin's fully-flexed pinky. Gradually, she felt a mixture of new emotions escape from her inflamed metatarsophalangeal joints, spreading throughout her entire body.

Ever since that fortuitous mid-town Manhattan day, she's had the ability to synchronize her eyes onto others' eyes whose sole focus is - that thing. It is a damage/repair understanding of the world. It is also a life-injecting exchange between two random people in the big city.

Los Manifestantes

When their Greek friend announces that he's coming into Denver for the weekend, they both enjoy planning for it over dinner on Friday night. As usual, on the agenda will be an improvised paint ball gun fight in the new hip area downtown by the museum, a late brunch, a one o'clock storefront window shattering spree, bike riding around Cherry Creek Lake before sundown, and then their favorite, lighting police cars on fire while podcasting the live images set to repurposed soccer anthems.

Ball bearings, is something they've loved since elementary school, and having experimented with all types and sizes (first chrome steel, then ceramic, then hybrids - 20 mm, 40 mm, 80 mm), they know well what they're capable of producing.

They start off by pelting to a pulp the bell-shaped dome of the State Capital, the Greek friend hollering trajectory coordinates, taking in deeply the unfolding glorious image, wiping gold flecks off his goggles, till the round brass cap tumbles to the ground. Quickly, but carefully, they gather several trash bags of government-issued corporate charter deeds and flee the scene. As the Greek friend wonders for a minute just how far his two American friends are willing to go (usually, they make it at least past the brunch, and increasingly, lately, at least till the bike ride around Cherry Creek Lake), he unclasps the belt snaps of his olive green canvas bag, and entreats his friends to have a quick look inside. As the propylene blast torch comes out of the bag, he adroitly glides the white safety tab so that the red ignition button is exposed, and pressed.

Eventually, after the three have swapped the screaming flame for several rounds (each time, the pyre rising higher) and as they move in on the charred corporate charters to add a stream of revolutionary uric acid to the conflagration, the little party comes to an end.

The black vinyl bibbed Vespas are then unceremoniously dumped into an underground sewer in Cheeseman Park. It never becomes a topic of conversation between them as to where the exact location of this is, nor as to who exactly tipped them off to it. It happens as it happens.

The sense of unity and oneness they get from these weekends is something that glues together their diffracted sense of where the world is going for months afterwards.

Las Globalistas

From rural Maryland to an old castle in Luxembourg - she can hardly believe she's actually here, acting in her first movie, as an extra, working on a "Twenty American media promo whizz kids punk-slapped (one by one)" scene with the illustrious French star of the movie.

The director decided to keep the film crew at a minimum so the two could find the mental space to completely settle into the sequence. So, for now, the only ones present were the director (a Russian man - of 17), the camera (a Korean girl - of 62), the lighting tech (an Argentinean guy - in transition - of 44) and the two actresses (21 and 25, American and French, respectively).

By the sixth or seventh shoot, they were not acting anymore, aggression-induced saliva was frothing from their mouths, their noses were dripping blood, their fingers were smeared with blood, saliva, and tears. The darkness of the small castle chapel echoed with the sounds of face cheeks snapping and teeth splattering against the mold-coated, stone walls.

Then, rather suddenly, a kind of Global Pop Culture fuzzy feeling started to come over the both of them. Fingers were now being re-directed into their own noses. At times, singular, firm slaps were laid across their own faces, making the room resound with the fury of their newly discovered chronic inner boredom. By the end of the twelfth take, faces had been patched up enough so as to recognize who was who; as they sat side by side at the black-lacquered wooden alter, they spoke as if possessed by their respective "places of origin."

The camera (but not the light above it) had actually been switched off after the twelfth shoot, though the actresses didn't know it at the time. The director looked at the camera girl, and in a wink of mutual agreement, they allowed the two actresses to delve deeper into this two-person global-professional fizzle-fest.

By now, they both had managed to blurt out some specific requirements of their respective "national sensibilities," and were desperately trying to recoup a single personal-national memory worthy of translating into any language known to humankind. The light was then turned off. It was pitch dark, and slowly the sound of their excited murmuring quieted. After five minutes, the strange silence prompted the lighting tech to turn the light back on.

The American was dancing in a sort of one-person square dance, her mouth gaping open, her hands occasionally gripping the security of the black-lacquered wooden alter (though she actually broke off a sizeable chunk of it). A steady trickle of sweat was leaking from her forehead down to her clavicles. The French girl's neck muscles were bulging as she pushed against the mold-covered stone wall with the top of her head. Suddenly, a little squeak came out of the American, a squeak that blended horror with pleasure. The French girl then gradually stopped pushing her head against the wall and, while facing the American, performed a barely-perceptible one-person minuet - for about a minute.

After the shoot, in the brightly lit bathroom (former dungeon), they both cleaned themselves of any castle gunk (as well as any stray DNA) with wet towels. The American, while drying herself off, paused briefly and looked at the other girl with a blank look, and in a quiet, hoarse tone said, "thanks for that," and then broke into a soft smile. The French actress put her index finger on the American's nose and (in an even quieter tone) said, "fuck you."

Los Terrestriales

It's a very exclusive club. Only one out of every couple hundred Andromedans who audition ever get to go on. "Go on" at this club means getting stress-tested in the latest alien casing designs and posing for seated academics. Every academic gets its own Andromedan for two hours - in a private lab. Almost no base code is ever exchanged. The room's lasers of various spectrums and pulse rates are controlled by them, so is the dispensation of deuterium fluoride compounds and mixtures. They are not allowed to touch the Andromedans or to proposition them in any way. They are, however, in full command of what they're meaning to say at any given time.

This fuselage covering in particular conforms to the molecular bonding interpretive frame that one of its regulars has on display. They're an older couple, in their early 60's. Their obsessive crush on this Andromedan has cost them over $10,000 in club passes and "extras" over the last six years.

Their fantasy (of which the Andromedan is only murkily aware of) is that it's been scanning phenomena rich in the rubidium of their own logarithmically calculated eventual decay of the element. It brings them to an agitated electrons jump-point thinking of this Andromedan's avant-garde, cadmium-corseted waste pressurizing a singular long ingot of rubidium into its lower propellant fuel chamber. The spiraling super-heated conception is about to be expelled into an oxygen-rich atmosphere - at any moment.

The Andromedan believes they have an avant-garde, cadmium-corset fetish, pure and simple, so it double-flash welds every single rivet, very precisely, till they're all flush, till all of the encasement specs are "realized," till the Andromedan can barely breathe.

The Andromedan's smile is as digitally scrambled sweet as you've always known it to be, plus, it always did like to play "inter-galactic artist," right?

El Alumno

"Worker behavior-based accident." That's the phrase his intriguing new older friend likes him to rhapsodize on. And that's just what this very serious young corporate industrial hygienist gives him. And lot's of it.

He met him six months ago at an airport bar during a layover on the way back from an Abba comeback concert tour in Orange, California. Never in a million years could he have imagined getting entangled into a toxic chemical reaction chain with another alumni from MIT.

It happens mainly on the mesas of Ciudad Juarez, in half kilometer-wide lithium sulfur tubs. The young hygienist enjoys the challenge of allegorizing the letting loose of a whole day's worth of run-off into the neighborhoods in the valley below, and his intriguing new friend is relieved by the re-directed torrent of guilt, shame, and depression that engulfs somebody else's every sensation.

The only other alumni who know about these lucrative enterprises are his intriguing new friend's two other friends (brothers) who've got a thing for Tea Bags dunked in brackish waters. Party party party.