Notes from Underground

A Manifesto for the Obscure and the Secret

by Wyatt Miller, guest writer

“The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground.” –Frank Zappa

“He invents a charm that makes him invisible / Hides in the air / Can I hide there too? Hide in the air of him / Seek solace, sanctuary / In that hidden place / In a hidden place.” –Björk

(2) We have removed portions of this document that must remain hidden.

(2.1) Additionally, there may be passages functioning as decoys.

(3) Moreover, we recommend you look very closely at the physical text of this document. The black ink of these letters, it speaks to you. However: This is only the Surface. You are not being honest with your perceptions—it is the blank space of the unmarked page that truly glows in its very emptiness. The margins of this text, the gaps between the letters, that ominous void inside the ‘O’; those are the genuine presence, the plastic out of which are cut these strange pictographic absences you call letters. (We call them by another name.)

(4) We are fascinated by Zappa’s words, not only for their perceptive dissection of the music industry(s), but for those other possibilities they open up. The blank page is the Underground. What secret Things swim in the margins, refusing to make themselves known?

(4.1) Be wary of false Undergrounds, hastily buried beneath sod and Astroturf. The main stream apparatus and its “viral” marketing appendage have laid many traps. Should you, tapping into some cavernous lode, find yourself greeted with a smile and a handshake, take caution. The true Underground offers no hospitality, indeed barely even takes notice of your entry, before quietly slipping off to some furtive grotto.

(5) Seek tunnels that have never been accessed. They may lie directly beneath your feet—sinkholes are common in these parts. The Earth is hollow.

(6) The entire Surface world is a mosaic of potential portals to Underground, ephemeral periscopes emerging to take measure. Mole-people are everywhere. That man, on the bench over there—(come to think of it, his hands look a little too big; his sunglasses could be hiding blind mole-eyes)—is it you he keeps glancing at? Perhaps it’s that newspaper he’s holding—does its cryptic headline refer to you?

(7) Look even closer at these inscriptions on the page—magnifying lenses are encouraged, as are trance-like states of focused obsession. Here there is a microscopic smear; there, a drop of ink bleeds into the blank space. Is this the Underground usurping (undermining?) our words? Or is it, in fact, a message? This blurry, inky place between communication and silence is our domain.

(8) We love noise, those unintelligible rumblings arriving from Underground, hieroglyphs whose esoteric figurations lead the observer to conclusions they only half understand—or back the empty margins of the page. We armor ourselves in the abstract. We cast spells of invisibility (following Björk’s example) even as we cast the yarrow sticks of the I Ching, randomly conjuring horoscopic cryptograms.

(8.1) We do unspeakable things—they can only be expressed outside (or somewhere far Under neath) the limitations of comprehensible (fathomable?) language.


(9) The titular Cipher decodes NOTHING

(10) All the while, the radiant presence of the empty page remains. You fixate upon it even as it defies your gaze. The herald who would tell you everything—she says nothing. She stopped and turned back not even halfway to your front door. She had more important things to do, plans to set in motion during her fleeting visit to the Surface. But she told you something. Did you understand?

(11) It becomes a question of light that might seep Underground, and the quantum information it affects. But there seems to be something odd about the flashlight you brought down here: The underground remains in superposition. And now an earthquake! —fissures form on the Surface. It is you who splits in two.

(11.1) We’re serious.

(11.1) We’re only joking.

(12) This is not the end of the document. Nor is it the only one—there was a manifesto that came before, of which this is merely an abstraction or a bastardization. There is more

Notes from Underground (PDF)


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