June Swoon, 1994 by Richard Holeton

Few would argue that he hasn’t constructed a brilliant work of art … entirely by using the words of others.    

— Kenneth Goldsmith

Why did Eva “swoon (desmayó?) & run away” at the motel? June Swoon. You might think this is a baseball phrase, something that every team has to hear when they go on a losing streak in June. I say this is a wild dream—but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the Instructions which I am now giving to you will be made available in written form for your deliberations. They must not be defaced in any way. You will find that the Instructions may be typed, printed or handwritten. Portions may have been added or deleted. Eva’s boyfriend Gabriel distraught, also in a spell—Objection: lacks foundation. Patterns, apparent or real, become enshrined in myths and superstitions. In baseball, the Chicago Cubs always seemed to go downhill during the June Swoon, making June a psychological hurdle. We pay attention to the June Swoon because it’s a month of bad baseball after expectations were heightened. It doesn’t really exist but our brains see a pattern. Thursday, June 2, is the Feast of Corpus Christi. Medieval artists depicted Mary fainting and weeping at the foot of the cross, and her sympathetic swoon shows her sharing in the suffering of the Passion. These early swoons are used to dramatize different kinds of dangerously intense experience. Hot—what’s with air conditioning? “Publishing” to the jury = showing Exhibits—Exs 1, 2, 3: phone bills, Eva’s yellow sticky [illegible] w/ phone # & directions—Eva coming to see boyfriend w/ condoms, “bathroom supplies” [“Trojan” doodle]. Psychiatrists have documented a variety of different personality profiles in patients with psychogenic paroxysmal events. One study found a higher rate of sexual abuse in the group with swooning or catatonic spell types. Romeo . . . / Guitar and hat in hand, beside the gate/ With Juliet, in the usual debate/ Of love, beneath a bored but courteous moon;/ . . . . Behind the wall I have some servant wait,/ Stab, and the lady sinks into a swoon. Court is not in session Saturday, June 4, World Day for Child Victims of Aggression, or Sunday, June 5, World Environment Day. You must disregard any deleted part of the Instructions and not speculate as to what it was or as to the reason for its deletion. You are not to be concerned with the reasons for any modification. Every part of the text is of equal importance. Eva tries to call boyfriend. Gets ride w/ strangers Alejandro and Carlos (doesn’t know names), take her to motel [building doodle]—Bad decisions!! remind daughters not to never do this. I see some of you are taking notes. Notes are only an aid to memory and should not take precedence over independent recollection. Notes are for the note-taker’s own personal use in refreshing his or her recollection of the Evidence. Should any discrepancy exist between a Juror’s recollection of the Evidence and his or her notes, he or she may request that the reporter read back the relevant proceedings and the trial transcript must prevail over the notes. We note that Tuesday, June 14, is Flag Day but will not be observed as a Court Holiday. No windows so stuffy—Exhibits 7, 8, 9 motel vicinity. As [she] emerged from the porch, [she] was seized with a fierce palpitation of the heart; the wellspring of life was dried up within [her], and [she] walked in constant fear of falling. Eva signals (mimes?) to motel woman Jackie Call police!—Exhibits 10, 11—motel room, [illegible]—Ex 12: before after motel, the park—scene of the crimes.—get sequence of events. In the afternoon they came unto a land in which it seemed always afternoon. Driving thru residential area “keep going, a little farther” (who says this?). All round the coast the languid air did swoon, breathing like one in a weary dream. Eva’s demeanor lack of eye  = contact—Eva “can’t read a map” trusted A & C to “find me a phone” [phone cord doodle?]—Objection: relevancy. Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, and so live ever—or else swoon to death. We should not make it a personal thing. The Court recognizes that Sunday, June 19, is Father’s Day and wishes all fathers among the Jurors a Happy Father’s Day. Help me teen tween daughters [illegible] dating soon. I strongly urge you to persevere in your concern for the family institution and unite myself spiritually to your concern about this fundamental cell of society today that faces innumerable challenges and that no human power has the right to manipulate.The packet of Instructions to the Jury includes the Information about the case with the specific charges which I will also read to you. The Information in this case charges that the Defendants, Alejandro B and Carlos D, committed certain crimes. Defendant B is accused in Count One of the Information of having committed the crime of Rape in violation of Penal Code Section 261(A)(2), a Felony, by accomplishing an act of sexual intercourse with Eva F against said person’s will. Alejandro had never done it before, said friend was next—Obj: conclusionary—Is that a word? Wow Eva [illegible] first time­, he was virgin—seems all backwards? The Swoon of the Virgin was an idea developed in the late Middle Ages, that the Virgin Mary had fainted during the Passion of Christ, most often placed while she watched the Crucifixion of Jesus. In order to prove the crime of Rape, each of the following elements must be proved: 1. A male and female person engaged in an act of sexual intercourse; 2. The two persons were not married to each other; 3. The act of intercourse was against the will of the female person; [and] 4. Such act was accomplished by means of force, violence, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury to such person. Any sexual penetration, however slight, constitutes engaging in an act of sexual intercourse. “Masturbated penis inside my vagina.” Proof of ejaculation is not required. Erection? “Seemed like [illegible]”— Objection: calls for speculation. Hero swoons. He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though they were the vehicle of vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odor. SART nurse Irene plucks by roots 64 pubic hairs youch—Introitus (opening of vag?)—”no consenting intercourse previous 72 hrs” [abstract doodling]—”Colposcopy” = closely examine cervix/vag/vulva? [more doodling]. Jurors 1, 3, 6, 8-10 fidgeting. The attitude and conduct of Jurors at all times are very important. It is rarely helpful for a Juror at the beginning of deliberations to express an emphatic opinion on the case or to announce a determination to stand for a certain verdict. Petechiae = red peppery irritation “classic mounting injury” consistent with sexual [illegible]—Pooling in cul-de-sac (below cervix?)—Jurors 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 look down. [She] had tottered out first, for the better display of her feelings, in a kind of walking swoon; for [she] performed swoons of different sorts. Against such person’s will means without the Consent of the female person. In prosecutions for Rape the word Consent means positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. Consent means Positive Cooperation quote for daughters. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act of transaction involved. Police sexual assault unit secretly? records Alejandro interview—”Willingly her? no not much”—Objection mischaracterizes testimony—Force her? “yes a little, a little force”—Penis, pito? I know huevos [huevos doodles]. How smugly would I marvel that she was mine, mine, and revise the recent matitudinal swoon to the moan of the mourning doves. Objection: leading the witness—Alejandro penis size [illegible]—Obj: vague & ambiguous—Intercourse failed twice but “he touched me on the inside”—Obj: narrative. Tuesday, June 21, Summer Solstice, Insurance Stocks Hit June Swoon After Healthy May Recovery. HVAC still not working—Unclear if when Miranda rights given. Defendants B and D are both accused in Count Two of the Information of having committed the crime of Oral Copulation by force, in violation of Penal Code Section 288A(C), a Felony, by accomplishing an act of Oral Copulation against the will of the victim, to wit: Eva F. Oral Copulation is the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ of another person. Exhibits 21-26 photos telephone booth at gas station [gas pump doodle] maps of area, park. Oral Copulation consists of: 1. Any penetration, however slight, of the mouth of one person by the sexual organ of another person, or 2. When there is no penetration, any substantial contact between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ of another person. Against the will means without the Consent of the alleged victim. Proof of ejaculation is not required. Defense: False names on motel registration—Motel mgr Jackie doesn’t recognize defendants doesn’t like rape allegation [illegible] at motel—Objection: hearsay—Alejandro 21, 6th grade educated—#10 snorts [illegible]—maybe half jury H.S. grads also half Latino half Catholic half [illegible] half female—what am I? He seems to be a man of wealth and position, and a practiced speaker who presents himself well at all times. He seems to feel a little bit above the rest of the jurors. Consent requires a free will and positive cooperation in act or attitude. Mere passivity does not amount to Consent. Alejandro says Eva “flirting” (coquetear?)—”We did it, we talked & then we did it She said it & then we did it We were talking & then we did it She did it with me fine” etc [illegible, doodling]—Brief recess, switch translators. Sorrow and fear and every other feeling faded away from him, and down he fell suddenly in a swoon. At last he began to draw breath, and soon after that to come out of his swoon, and memory and reason began to dawn upon him. Defense rests—People rest—”Argue the case” = deliver closing arguments—People: Eva’s credibility vs Alejandro’s [illegible], entire story flimsy, Alejandro’s nonsensical desc of sex act & flirting, “stuffing injury” needs no [illegible], “Eva being stupid doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped”—Defense: Eva’s mind on something else, Eva & boyfriend no record of 2 am phone [illegible], disparages SART nurse testimony. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: You have heard all the Evidence, and now it is my duty to Instruct you on the law that applies in this case. You will have these Instructions in written form in the Jury Room to refer to during your deliberations. First, you must determine the Facts from the Evidence received in the trial and not from any other source. Try to separate the Facts from the fancy. Second, you must apply the law that I state to you, to the Facts, as you determine them, and in this way arrive at your verdict. Light headed. Nauseous. Beware of fainting-fits. Beware of swoons. A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious—run mad as often as you choose; but do not faint. We should try to avoid emotionally colored arguments. You must not be influenced by mere sentiment, conjecture, sympathy, passion, prejudice, public opinion or public feeling. It is hard to find a sentimental fiction without a swooning, dangerously ill or seriously distracted heroine, and fictional representations of the fainting, indisposed woman remain frequent. Richardson’s Pamela faints in order to avoid sexual intercourse, while Clarissa is unconscious while being raped by Lovelace, thus escaping mentally from an unwanted experience; Rousseau’s Julie falls into a swoon during her forbidden kiss with Saint Preux. My girls my girls my [illegible] [stick figure doodles].  Slowly, as one in a swoon, to whom life creeps back in the form of death, I woke, rose up. Eva stands & yells at defense attorney in Spanish—I did not die [illegible] I did not die!—weird.  The swoon was used by many writers to dramatize vulnerabilities that our culture has imagined as specifically feminine: vulnerability to hysteria, to certain forms of illness, and to sexual exploitation.Objection Move to strike Move to strike!—final melodrama like TV [TV doodle]—Can you object to closing argument [illegible] courtroom outburst? He could not bear to think that everybody had taken her mysterious swoon for the flabby, vulgar sleep of a reveler. If any rule, direction or idea [is] repeated or stated in different ways in these Instructions, no emphasis [is] intended and you must not draw any inference because of its repetition. Do not single out any particular sentence or any individual point or Instruction and ignore the others. Consider the instructions as a whole and each in light of all the others. Swooning is a narrative device which serves innumerable functions. The swoon proper is usually induced by a blow or by the character’s fear, exhaustion, surprise, or joy. Regardless of its cause, its effect is almost regularly restorative rather than debilitating. It is a deep, energy-giving sleep into which the character falls for an announced and sufficient reason and from which he is aroused when he is again needed. You shall now retire and select one of your number to act as Foreperson. He or she will preside over your deliberations. “Each in light of all the others” Jury Room even stuffier than courtroom one tiny [illegible] fan—#6, #10 vying for Foreperson. Shall we admit right now that it’s hot and humid and our tempers are short? You must decide all questions from the Evidence received in this trial and not from any other source. I’m glad that we’re going to be civilized about this. Evidence consists of testimony of witnesses, writings, material objects, or anything presented to the senses and offered to prove the existence or non-existence of a Fact. There’s swooning and then there’s swooning. A scene that weakens my knees every time I hear or read it and would probably be my all time favorite swoon scene. Just thinking about it now, my heart is racing, my stomach is dipping, skin pebbled and I’m feeling light headed and I haven’t even read it again. Evidence is either direct or circumstantial. I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not attempt to define, or even to describe; yet all was not lost. In the return to life from the swoon there are two stages: first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical existence. Head swimming skin [illegible] & clammy. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. Had enough—Juror #10 will be Foreman over my dead body—#6 passes out! knocks over fan we call for help. Reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. You are the sole judges of the believability of a witness and the weight to be given the testimony of each witness. In determining the believability of a witness you may consider anything that has a tendency to prove or disprove the truthfulness of the testimony. This one is harder to believe than the Resurrection itself. The Swoon Theory, that Christ didn’t really die but was only unconscious. The expert Roman executioners merely thought He was dead. After a few days in the tomb, without food or medicine, the cool air revived Him. Then, He burst from the 100 pounds of graveclothes, rolled away the stone with His nail-pierced hands, scared the daylights out of the Roman soldiers, walked miles on wounded feet, and convinced His disciples that He’d been raised from the dead. The Court would like to observe that Sunday, June 26, is World Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. I have not intended by anything I have said or done, or by any questions that I may have asked, or by any ruling I may have made, to intimate or suggest what you should find to be the Facts, or that I believe or disbelieve any witness. Disregard any Instruction which applies to Facts determined by you not to exist. Each of you must decide the case for yourself after discussing the Evidence and Instructions with the other Jurors. Up to the present, my idea of collaborating with myself has been to get off the gold standard of literature. Speed it up a little. My idea briefly has been to present a resurrection of the emotions, to depict the conduct of a human being in the stratosphere of ideas, that is, in the grip of delirium.Do not decide any question in a particular way because a majority of the Jurors favor such a decision. Do not decide any issue in this case by chance, such as the drawing of lots. I would not sell my daily swoon/ For all the rubies in Rangoon./ What! sell my swoon? My lovely swoon? . . . / It’s not for sale, my swoon’s immune! When one expresses an emphatic opinion at the outset, a sense of pride may be aroused, and one may hesitate to change a position. Remember that you are not partisans or advocates in this matter. There are no caricatures, now, of effeminate exquisites so arrayed, swooning in opera boxes with excess of delight and being revived by other dainty creatures poking long-necked scent-bottles at their noses. Smelling salts for Juror #6! You must not make any independent investigation. You must not visit the scene, conduct experiments, or consult reference works for additional information. You must not discuss this case with any other person except a fellow Juror, and you must not discuss the case with a fellow Juror until and only when all Jurors are present in the Jury Room. I win run-off election vs #10—Jury Foreman Foreperson—could I have imagined. They described a circle near [me] and [glide] back into the cell, and now [I regret] that the swoon’s friendly embrace had been so brief. Woozy—[illegible]—try to focus. I attempt to describe the experience of swooning, but also to create a kind of swooning structure for the reader: a brief, lulled, dreamy haze, followed by an abrupt ejection back into waking life. There is no such thing as a June Swoon, at least anything that falls outside the normal parameters of what we should expect every year. But the words sure do rhyme. The swoon is a dramatic way to figure the possibility of altered consciousness: passing out predicts a coming-round, a waking-up to new engagements with the world.

*Constructed entirely from these sources:

Jane Austen, Love and Freindship [sic], 1790.

Naomi Booth, “Swoon! The cultural history of an ecstatic phenomenon,” Prospect magazine June 25, 2015, online.

Belinda Boring, “Get Your Swoon On,” The Bookish Snob [blog], 2011, online.

Grant Brisbee, “A history of Giants June Swoons,” SBNation McCovey Chronicles, June 27, 2014, online.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, 1856.

Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Book III, 1092, 1124, 1190, tr. Gerard NeCastro.

Ildiko Csengei, “She Fell Senseless on His Corpse: The Woman of Feeling and the Sentimental Swoon in Eighteenth-Century Fiction,” Romantic Psyche and Analysis, Romantic Circles Praxis Series, December 2008, website.

Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, 1842-1844; Bleak House, 1853.

T.S. Eliot, “Nocturne,” 1909.

Zaidee E. Green, “Swooning in the Faerie Queene,” Studies in Philology, Vol. 34, No. 2, April, 1937.

Pope John Paul II, “Address to the Bishops of Ecuador on Their ‘Ad Limina,'” June 21, 1994.

James Joyce, “The Dead,” Dubliners, 1914; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916.

Juror No. 12, trial notes, People v. R.Z. and J.M-M., County of Santa Clara, State of California, June, 1994.

The Honorable Judge K, Jury Instructions and Information, People v. R.Z. and J.M-M., County of Santa Clara, State of California, June, 1994.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence: How Winning and Losing Streaks Begin and End, 2004.

John Keats, “Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art,” c. 1820.

T.K. Meakin, “Insurance Stocks Hit June Swoon After Healthy May Recovery,” National Underwriter, Volume 98, Number 29, 1994.

Henry Miller, Letter to Anaïs Nin, 1932; Tropic of Cancer, 1934.

Vladimir Nabokov, The Defense, 1930/tr. 1964; Invitation to a Beheading, 1935/tr. 1959; Lolita, 1962.

Ogden Nash, “Cat Naps Are Too Good for Cats,” The New Yorker, 1937.

Edgar Allen Poe, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” 1842.

Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men (teleplay), 1954.

Linda M. Selwa, James Geyer, Nersi Nikakhtar, Morton B. Brown, Lori A. Schuh, and Ivo Drury, “Nonepileptic Seizure Outcome Varies by Type of Spell and Duration of Illness,” Epilepsia 41(10):1330-1334, 2000.

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, Scene 1, 1754.

Stendhal (Marie-Henrie Beyle), Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio, 1817.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lotos-eaters,” 1832; “Fatima,” 1833.

Wikipedia, “Swoon of the Virgin,” June, 2017.

Rusty Wright and Linda Raney Wright, “Who’s Got the Body?” Probe, Probe Ministries, May 27, 1976, online.

Richard Holeton is author of the hypertext novel Figurski at Findhorn on Acid (recently adapted as a radio play for Re-Imagined Radio) and other widely-exhibited electronic and multimedia literature. His print fiction has appeared in Indiana Review, Mississippi Review, ZYZZYVA, Black Ice, and F(r)iction, among other journals, and his awards include fellowships from MacDowell, the National Endowment for the Arts, Dora Maar House, and the California Arts Council. A former writing teacher and administrator at Stanford University, he lives near Half Moon Bay, California. More information is available at richardholeton.org.