Manifesto in Autopilot

All my life has been autopilot. The sky zippered. Flowers ritually sutured to the earth. When I dream I dream in autopilot, of waterbeds on fire―no less than thirty dolphins trapped inside, wriggling pink autopilot fins. When I masturbate I do so autopilot into a sock, until my flaccid whip secretes autopilot desire. Even now, I am writing this manifesto in autopilot, when all language is autopilot language and YouTube so full of autopilot auto-tuned kittens. Peer through a telescope, tell me what you see: Outer space full of cul-de-sacs and the astronauts floating in perpetual repose! This orange I peel proclaims itself full of juice, but my mouth is so beleaguered by the very idea of watered-down that it doesn’t even notice the juice. Only the rind. In a local church the preacher preaches autopilot, each sermon as stale as the body-of-Christ crackers the congregation inhales like Chex Mix, praying robotic prayers. Every hallelujah an aimless hallelujah. Only Jesus isn’t autopilot Jesus. Jesus has a jetpack, steers solo manual-only through heaven dropping pamphlets on the lukewarm halos of autopilot angels. I fumble through the pages of a falling-apart book in autopilot. *Life with a capital L is only man alive. Even a cabbage in the rain is cabbage alive. All things that are alive are amazing. And all things that are dead are subsidiary to the living. Better a live dog than a dead lion. But better a live lion than a live dog. C’est la vie! For the life of me I don’t understand what DH is talking about. Cabbage alive? Fuck cabbage, man. All my cabbage is autopilot cabbage. The manifold body eats, drinks, weeps, shits, sobs; the manifold spirit yawns, sobs, shrugs, shrinks, aches, all in Technicolor A_T_P_L_T. Go outside. When was the last time you spontaneously smashed a phone booth? Climbed a tree? Put your head through an aquarium? Tossed your shoes in the river? Collided with a stranger? Threw a brick? Got rained on? Earned a callus? Appropriated chaos? Grew dank terrariums of panic within your chest? Flaunted fresh scars? Measured the circumference of ecstasy by the glistening torque of a tongue? Lived all that shit you write? Where there is life there is death, but where there is death there is life. The sidewalk has no urgent memory of your existence, no imprint of your name, nor does the mountain the sea or the sky―bleed to remind them, to remind yourself you were once un-autopilot alive: Rain Cabbage Alive. I am un-writing this manifesto now. Un-carving my name from your lips. Un-begging you to un-read me. Un-burning the page. Un-smashing the computer. Un-masturbating into this sock. Un-leaving you to it to unzip the sky or un-die un-trying.


*Excerpt from Why the Novel Matters by DH Lawrence


Matthew Burnside

Matthew’s words have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Kill Author, PANK, Pear Noir! and NAP, among others. Come nightfall, he’ll steal his girlfriend’s satin jacket and cruise around town pretending he is trapped inside the movie Drive.

Joe Callahan

2 Replies to “Manifesto in Autopilot”

  1. Although I don’t normally like angry young man angst, this piece has a great voice. I can see this author creating beautiful works as his voice becomes more and more sophisticated.

    For discussion’s sake, I see this as an example of traditional non-fiction that can be a perfect first layer draft for experimental fiction. By way of inspiration, I imagine creating a similar piece with the addition of matching style with content. For instance, the poetry technique of common meter would add depth and sophistication, making it an example of experimental non-fiction in a way that would bring new readers into the genre.

    1. I would disagree on calling this traditional non-fiction, as I think traditional non-fiction gives the reader more to anchor too, more of a sense of where they are in space. But, I agree that this is heading in the experimental direction. It is somewhere between the two, maybe. This writer definitely has a strong voice and leaves a lot of room for the reader to participate and imagine.

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