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Rone Shavers

Crônica of the Grand Allusion


Once again, it’s necessary to comment on what the crônica is and why I tend to stick with it. The crônica is writing of/from the liminal space(s); evidence of the gap(s) between form and content, poetry and prose; it skates the line between art and artifice. And unlike so much else, it does so unapologetically. The fragmented nature of the crônica mirrors the fragmentary work of self-actualization, so have little doubt: It will get weird. And yet, what greater pleasure than to make it weird?


Thus, it’s like my daddy always told me: “Shavers, your eyes, they shine like the sun. I wonder why…”


I’ve recently become interested in the notion of value propositions because there’s just so much to unpack there. Like, who assigns value, and how is value determined? Precisely what is the proposition? It’s all so speculative as not to make sense. That is, not unless you’re already invested in it somehow making sense.


And yeah, I know, at this point it seems unnecessarily self-indulgent, but hear me out for a second. Or maybe just, my dear poets, at the very least, allow me to paraphrase: All it is, is the code of the streets/ so listen to the prosody and note all the beats.


Once, I wanted to teach my daughter a very important lesson. So I told her that she was on punishment and would remain that way until she could tell me exactly why I’d put her on punishment. Now, perhaps to untrained ears that may sound a little strange, but I did what I did because this be the verse that we all know: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad, they don’t mean to, but they do…”


For all those who like to talk about their past lives as a point of pride, consider this: Prior to 1865 I was thought of as a living tool, akin to a stinky wrench or a sweaty hammer. And only—only—if I was very entertaining, subservient, or pretty, after years of being used could I—under the right set of specific-but-mercurial circumstances—rise to the condition of “pet.” That was my life, the very real material and social condition some delude themselves into thinking I should celebrate. All because the color of my skin was the same then as it is today. So put that in your new age pipe and smoke it.


I understand the reluctance to embrace the form. And of course, the fact that work in the form is so abstract, so fragmentary that it borders on occasional incoherence is likely alienating to many, but to those in the know, the crônica is nothing short of a mental, emotional, and intellectual colonic. It flushes out all manner of creatively colonizing impurities.


However, since there are those who still reject the crônica as belonging to any particular literary convention, if I reference The Pillow Book, would that be enough to signify a lineage?


Am I wrong to rebel against the notion that craft equals beauty, and beauty, craft? Is it wrong to find most fiction just so fucking basic? Wither the fiction(s) of ideas, and unbridled attempts at exploring the boundaries of form for the form’s sake? In short, when it comes to the art of fiction, why do we only reward what we already know? Bof, it’s the curse of these times, I guess. What we often call art is mostly artifice. It’s that which adheres to our preconceived notions of what we think art ought to be, and thus we celebrate it, because by reinscribing the familiar we find what some critics call, “the human element.”


Simple declarative name: Therone Shavers. Office party name, especially at Christmas: Hanzee Drunk. Secret Agent name: Hunter Orange. Residency slut name: Art Fulltart. Pesky Guadeloupean name: Mala Latête. Name once I win the Nobel: Ahmsmackin Airebadie. OCD Pride name: Cuz I. Gotsta. Provençal party girl name: Rosé Piscine. Name given by those who flirt with me: F. N. Clueless. Only in Asbury Park name: Born to Rone. Love language name: Avoi d’Ant-AF. And because why the fuck not: Pickle Rone. Holy mystic chant name: Roné Krishna. Name like too many of the MFers I grew up with: Lemme Holddat.


And yet—because as always, there is an “and yet”—regarding the human element: It’s here, hidden in line after line, in each signification and obscure allusion. Yes, it’s here. Always has been, always will be. But when it comes to recognizing the humanity present, there are still some out there who consider the crônica to be worth only about 3/5th the aesthetic value of all other Western literary forms. I’ll leave it to those smarter than myself to ponder the reasons why.


I’ve made mention of it several times before, but I’m still somewhat dubious about, well, about sincerity. After all, how many crimes and affronts against humanity have been committed because of people passionately acting out what they implicitly know to be a proven lie? Alas, I fear that we live in an era where critical feeling has replaced critical thinking, and we’re all, every single one of us, the worse for it. But then again, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of chicken funk, so I probably really don’t know what the fuck is going on.


Reason to not date a writer, number 17 of 41. Because at bottom, there are only about seven types of writers, and they are as follows: the anhedonic, the drama-starved; the narcissists; the neurotics; the obsessive workaholics; the post-tragedists; and the just-plain drunks. And it only makes matters worse when one considers that these categories aren’t mutually exclusive. All to say that dating a writer is to consign yourself to a peculiar fate. In the relationship you will play the role of either muse, editor, foil, or prop, sometimes cycling through all four categories. And for what? What possible benefit? You turn up for what?


Regarding love: Why I’m so fucked up is because once I really, truly loved someone. But then she killed our kid and it damn-near killed me. It made me want to damn-near kill her. So then, like a millennial made anxious by affairs of the heart, when one mentions love I think, “Pendant que les champs brûlent.”


Gemini defined, for perhaps the eighth time: “It’s true: I’m sweet, kind, and gentle, and thoughtful, and even empathetic, until suddenly I’m not. Don’t ask why, because you fucking know why.


“For misery my friend, Cherchez le Rone.”





Crônica del Crepúsculo

For Kenning Jean-Paul Garcia


You know my first thought was to insist you use the moniker “Kenning, King of the Kronica,” so that even your initials—KKK— would make a strong and lasting statement. But now I dunno: Phrased like that it somehow has a strange, unsettling ring to it.


See, sometimes the word or thing needs to do the very thing it describes, sometimes the word needs to misrepresent it. Thus, my dear crepúsculo, as much as I love evocation, the truth is that real power lies in transmutation. I’m just saying, Jean-Paul. That’s all I’m saying.


Call me old fashioned, but I still believe in love. When I bond with a partner, it’s forever. But lucky for me, I’m a Gemini. And in Gemini time, forever usually means about 10-12 weeks.


And yet, because here is a perfect time to introduce an “and yet,” like any man good with balls, I will always find my way to the hole. It's a sports metaphor, but as we both know, “Heroes don’t do that.”


I have a problem with Capitalism, especially late-stage Capitalism. I mean, it’s impossible not to, since one of its default ideological positions can be neatly summarized as follows: “I will work for other people until I can get other people to work for me.” Okay, so, leaving aside the incredibly fraught implication that the ultimate end goal of the system is personal idleness—something completely contrary to the ethos of “the brand,” so to speak—what troubles me most about the phrase is both its focus on one’s labor as a raison d’être and its determination that the exploitation of others is not only necessary, but shrewd. It strikes me that achieving success in late-stage Capitalism relies upon removing the humanity from the human. Now of course, I could be wrong. But go ahead, prove me wrong…


I finally found the perfect text for you, K-Pop, one that speaks to both your aesthetic proclivities and New York sensibilities. It’s called The Rubaiyat of Omar Epps.


“Well, when I had reached this period of silence, I was forced into a measure that no one ever adopts voluntarily: I was impelled to think. God, was it difficult!” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up”


JP, as I’ve mentioned before, there is one specific name you should adopt: Queneau. Why? Because to even say the word is to evoke a distinct aesthetic position. And yet, since you’re nothing but contrary and because we’re besties, I’ll do you one better: Goines.


Ach, meine kleine Kenspeckel, für der Liebe in Himmel! Lying face down on the shore provides no respite. You can still drown in the wake. Leave the ocean thus, and come.


See? We make a real good team, you and I, like Proust and Albertine. And true, Monsieur Kenyatta Errata Garcia, tu as raison: there is no “I” in team. But yet there is indeed “me.” And I’ve seen the best minds of my generation… in the mirror. Ha-ha, just kidding. Of all people, you know I don’t really have much of an ego. As a matter of fact, I’m the absolute god of humility!


It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any expression of Blackness will draw a countervailing expression of Blackness. So in an attempt to prove my cultural bonafides, I once wrote a piece called, “Don’t Sleep on What Reading Hugo Von Hofmannsthal Can Do for the Black Community.” Yeah, as you already guessed, that didn’t work out so well... # wokewars.


But I mean, did you ever consider that two clever by half still equals clever? I mean, that’s to say that before I knew anything, I knew everything. So, like, I don’t know; there’s nothing I don’t know. And so, like, if you’re wondering exactly what I mean or where I’m coming from, the answer is about eight and half years from now.


And a word to those who tend to concern themselves about that which matters little: Don’t worry about my sexuality: I’m decidedly heterotextual.


It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any expression of Blackness will draw an attempt to police it. I mean, no one ever insisted to E. A. Robinson that it was necessary for him to write “the stories of his people," or better still, insist that writing the stories of his people was "divisive." # wokewars.


So JP-PJ-PBJ Kensington, rejectionist though you may be, what am I if not here to throw down the Afrofuturist gauntlet, aka, a “Grantlet?” Thus your challenge, should you choose to accept it: If I rock down to Electric Avenue, then will you take it higher?


And well, I probably shouldn’t mention it, but witness another example of our secret architecture. Or maybe it’s better to say that there’s a definite pattern to it all, a form, but it’s one unavailable to neophytes. It’s as someone once sang: “Citing lines in manic agitation is the Shavers way/ The time has gone, the thought is over/ I guess there's one thing left to say/ Form. Form again…”


Name of daddy’s little princess: Rone Shavers. Unrequited lover name: Abel Fantasist. Elemental name: I-Ron. Too soon and totally inappropriate name: R[one] Kelly. It’s always happening name: Rocket “Re-Rone” Stubbs. 14th-century Moor name: Al-Kemy. Stylin’ shoe boss name: Chukka Khan. Operatic name: Sad Clown Shavers, la testa di pagliaccio. Mid-80s Roots-Rock-Reggae name: Rankin’ Ronnie Culture, y’all! All about the cipher name: Dat Is Equals Iz Ish. Name that continuously names itself: the Black echo. Ghetto semiotician name: Black Eco. Name that puts the logos in Lagos: Black Eko. Name of my reverberating forefathers: The Black Echo.


For want of connection we speak in harmonics. And with the writing of this line, the goals again shift.



 

Rone Shavers is author of the experimental Afrofuturist novel Silverfish (Clash Books), a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award in Fiction and one of The Brooklyn Rail’s “Best Books of 2020.” His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Another Chicago Magazine, Big Other, Black Warrior Review, PANK, and The Operating System. Shavers’ non-fiction essays and essay-length reviews have appeared in such diverse publications as American Book Review, BOMB, Electronic Book Review, Fiction Writers Review, and The Quarterly Conversation. He is fiction and hybrid genre editor at Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora, and he teaches courses in creative writing and contemporary literature at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. For more information, go to his website: www.roneshavers.com.


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