Thursday, February 18, 2010
for the better part of seven years
Followed by an abyss in my shadow,
always there, and promising Nothing.
What kept me going was a sound that I followed.
It came from somewhere far off in the distance
Beyond the edge of the horizon,
But I followed it aimlessly for better or for worse
Never stopping for fear of falling backward
into my shadow.
I have reached the summit of a mountain
I did not even know I was on.
I look down below me and see people
on one side cursing my name,
mixed with people who sing my praises secretly
so that they may not be heard.
They pray for my return.
On the other side,
I see a city, a quiet city
With a port and olive trees in the provinces.
It beckons me closer, it beckons my return.
But there is time enough yet for that.
I am tired and have traveled many miles.
The rocks have dispersed my shadow
So it has become indiscernible,
And I no longer fear the darkness.
I will rest here a spell,
under this overhang just below the summit
And record what I have seen,
and meditate on silence.
There is no more need
to listen back to what I have heard.
I hold that sound now
in my heart,
in my head,
and in my hands.
This is a time for forgiveness,
and quiet contemplation.
I have wandered alone
for the better part of seven years,
And my journey is not yet complete.
It may be harder
to go down the mountain
rather than up it.
To not be able to look down,
and see all those hostile familiar faces.
To be Unable to follow a sound
or be chased by one’s own shadow.
One is tempted to stay at rest
just below the summit.
But I think there’s a shortcut to that city.
No longer do I wander alone,
I have a destination,
and I have a song
That I sing with the silence,
and the sun,
And every rock and reptile that crawls upon it.
I have a home and a bed, and a wife and Love.
And friends who come for dinner,
or for tea on my balcony
in a strange land
far from here where I now sit.
It is so far away,
But there is a short cut,
And no one knows of it
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
From that hour Meursault ceased to fight against his destiny.
“when some one is seeking”, “it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, Garcin, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”
“I do not understand,” said the Chaplain. “How do you mean?”
What do you believe in? what faith, doctrine, code do you uphold?
I have always distrusted doctrines and teachers.
I can accept that, but have you not yourself, if not a doctrine, certain thoughts? Have you not discovered certain knowledge yourself that has helped you live? It would give me great pleasure if you would tell me something about this.
There shone in Merseault’s face the serenity of knowledge of one who is no longer confronted with conflict of desires, who has found salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream.
Meursault said: ”Once, many years ago, I heard a voice that told me to go and buy a pack of cigarettes, even though I was not old enough and did not smoke. I went anyway, because the prospect of getting away with it was very appealing to me. Not too hard, but just very pleasant to wage my own act of personal anarchy. I stopped after I got out ot the store in the parking lot and looked at a pool of water that had an oil streak in ti. I was taken by the reflection of ht eclouds in the water vs. in the oil slick. In the oil slick it was all stretchy looking. I liked what I saw in the water better. So, I lit a match in my pocket and tossed it onto the slick in the pool of water. It fizzled out. So then, I took another lit match from my pocket, and struck it again to light one of my new cigarettes. I gazed sharply at the end of it, burnging on the end of my mouth. I could picture myself doing something really bad ass, as like beating up a bigger person, or getting an enema of methamphetamine. I was wincing in the light of the sun, and the humidity was unbearable. Then I heard the voice again, and I saw a frog by the dumpster just as it was hopping out of sight. But it wasn’t just any kind of frog. It was yellow with spots. It was very shocking, I followed the path I thought it may have taken, but it was impossible. The voice started laughing, and I suddenly felt a shiver in my spine. It was I believe, the ghost of a past life, a ghost that lived long ago, but not too long, maybe a few hundred years or so. I wanted to know what it was then, because it was definitely something, but I have come to realize that I am a ghost as well. That is what I was born to be. I AM a ghost made flesh. Not a real person. The dream of a odd noisy entity that wanders around making noises, and not caring too much about what is going on as long as I can maintain complete control. I don’t care to call an attitude like that something that can be encapsulated in a doctrine, or philosophy, or canon, or whatever one might want to call it. it was a voice. Just, a human voice that was very quiet, yet clear and persistent. I don’t know why or how I can explain how it makes me do what I do, but it has never steered me in the wrong direction. I never knew how finite my life was until last night, now I feel light. I feel liberated, I feel like I can manage everything. I CAN take control! I can do WHAT I want, but not this time. I take what I can get, and am greatful for the control that I can exercise in the world. It wasn’t much, but I belelive it will do for now. for what I have left is extremely manageable. No responsibilities, no problems to deal with next week, or tomorrow, or this afternoon. It’s finally done. I can stop, I can just drop everything because it doensn’t really matter anymore. what matters now is that I am alive still. That I have not perished, am not perishing now, but am breathing, speaking, blinking, and breathing with you here my friend.”
I’d call that Buddhism if I knew better I suppose.
That’s the closest thing I can think of, but Buddhism, it’s so much work. And it still isn’t a guarantee. A sure fire solution. I’ve rather enjoyed the ride up to this point to be quite honest. I fucked plenty of women, I lived a very exciting life that was driven by anger, jubilation, revenge, desire. In the time in which I’ve been here, I’ve been very dark, believing that my deeds had caught up with me, and that I would end up somewhere after death worse than this somehow. I was born into, and then settled into, a world designed by fear. Physically and emotionally. But here, it is dead. There is no fear because there are no consequences. There is no human energy here, Only silence. The absence. It is you and I that are filling it at this moment as we speak.
Merseault paused gazing happily at the Chaplain with his hands clasped and his shoulders hunched leaning forward slightly, then resumed speaking.
If you could find any dependable source of power in you, it comes from a simple realization that you must ultimately accept then you can begin to count how many times you have found it before, and it will start to make sense, then it will be over. It’s hard to put your finger on faith and fate, but there they are. You can listen to them or not, but they do have a voice, they are compassionate, and not always forgiving, but constant. It’s tenor is harsh magenta, camphor colored glass. I know how my mind stretches to make room. In here, it is a thousand miles wide. I am alone or with company, depending on how far I want to see. I feel peace here like I have never known, or could hope to know again in this life time.
Serendipitously, just after he had finished this last statement, the wondrous peace he had described was blasted away by sirens announcing departures from a world that now and forever more meant nothing to either of them. For the first time in a long time, he thought about maman. “I feel now, Father, as if I finally understand why my mother had taken a fiancé, why she had played at beginning again, starting over. Even there, in that ‘Home’, where lives were constantly fading out, evening was a kind of wistful respite. So close to death, maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all over. Nobody had the right to cry over her when she passed. It would have been, contrived. Treacly and sentimental in the wrong sort of way. She was ready to start over and live it all again once she realized how really manageable it was in the end. No urgency, no rush, no holding on to anything. Just, peace, contentment. And I feel ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage at the trial had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time so that this cloudless morning, alive with signs and stars, I may open myself to the gentle indifference of the world. For I find it so much like myself-like a brother really-I feel that I have been happy and that I will be happy again. I am eager for everything to be consummated upon my departutre, so that my return will be fresh. When I come back, I only hope that I will remember sooner than I have now in this life, so that I may feel less alone.”
A key turned in a door at the end of the hallway. Thick boots were lightly tapping the concrete floor, a creaky hinge echoed in the distance and the light tap became like a horse hoof clapping along to the center of the universe and deliverance. Merseault leaned into The Chaplain’s face but the Chaplain no longer saw the face of his friend whom he had come to know and love in that cell. Instead he saw other faces, many faces, a long series, a continuous stream of faces-hundreds, thousands which came and disappeared and yet all seemed to be there at the same time, which all continuously changed and renewed themselves and yet which were all Meursault. He saw the face of a fish, of a carp, with tremendous painfully open mouth, a dying fish with dimmed eyes. He saw the face of a newly born child, red and full of wrinkles, ready to cry. He saw the face of a murderer, saw him plunge a knife into the body of a man; at the same moment he saw this criminal, bound, and his head cut off by an executioner. He saw the naked bodies of men and women in the postures and transports of passionate love. He saw corpses stretched out, still, cold, empty. He saw the heads of animals-boars, crocodiles, elephants, oxen, birds. He saw Krishna and Agni, Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene, the first man and woman before paradise was lost. He saw all of these forms and faces in a thousand relationships to each other, all helping each other, loving, hating, destroying each other and become newly born. Each one mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory. All these faces rested , flowed, reproduced, swam past and merged into each other, and over them all there was continually something thin, unreal and yet existing stretched across like thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, shell form or mask of water and this mask was Meursault’s smiling face which the Chaplain touched with his lips at that moment. This smile that he kissed of Meursault was exactly the same as the delicate, impenetrable, perhaaps gracious, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand fold smile of the statue of the Buddha he had seen in the textbook. It was in such a manner, the Chaplain knew, that the Perfect One smiled.
Self and others, wounded deeply by a divine arrow which gave him pleasure, deeply enchanged and exalted Garcin stood yet a while bednding over Meursalut’s peaceful face which he had just kissed, which had just been the stage of all present and future forms. His countenance was unchanged after the mirror of surface he smiled peacefully and gently, perhaps very graciously, perhaps very mockingly exactly as the stature had smiled. Merseault was leaning into Garcin’s face when he spake thus:
It was the voice in the ashram,
and then in the tree house
when I was a boy that told me
where to find the emerald
and I have seen it,
and you will see it as well
if you walk a while with me
through the dark
until there is light,
and then deeper
into the night as well
You will not know
how to find it
until you see it
there before you
in a moment that
only once in a single life,
and when you do see it,
you will know
IT has found YOU
rather than the
other way round,
and the small sparkling
shaft that it reflects
will not illuminate
the darkness around you,
but rather fill your heart
until the life within it
flows from your eyes,
and your mouth
and your fingers too,
for when you see that light
and know it was your birthright,
there will be so much joy
and life that wells with in
that it will spill forth
from you and drown
And you will know,
and I will know too,
that we are both
Meurseault leaned back to his upright posture and closed his eyes. The Chaplain bowed low. Incontrollable tears trickled down his face. He was overwhelmed by a feeling of great love of the most humble veneration. He bowed right down to the ground, in front of the man sitting there motionless whose smile reminded him of everything that he had ever loved in his life. After a few moments, the key turned in the door of the cell and the guards stood still for a moment but went unnoticed by the two men in the cell. Then one of the guards approached Meurseault like a boy would approach a beautiful naked woman and put his hand on his shoulder unsure exactly of what to do with it. He cleared his throat and Meurseualt opened his eyes and placed his left hand ontop of the guard’s crossing his chest and took a deep breath, then removed it and stood of his own accord leading the way out of the cell.
And so he went away. Garcin watched him with great joy and gravity he watched him, saw his steps full of peace, his face glowing, his form full of light. He watched him go with the guards out of the cell.
“So much like myself” he thought-“so like a brother really.” As they brought him into the courtyard while the executioner was preparing the machine, the guard asked Meursault if he had anything he wanted to say. Meursault’s reply came instantly. “I have only one last wish, to be greeted by a large crowd of spectators ready to greet me
with cries of hate.”
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
What is music? Music has to do with an enormous discipline. To play an instrument, to read music, to perform music, requires a discipline. This is one of the connecting links between music and architecture, because both are extremely rigorous engagements. You cannot play music approximately, unless you're just playing around; if you really want to play a melody, you have to hit every note correctly, and every tempo and every harmony has to be there in order to be audible.
What is music? Music has to do with an enormous discipline. To play an instrument, to read music, to perform music, requires a discipline. This is one of the connecting links between music and architecture, because both are extremely rigorous engagements. You cannot play music approximately, unless you're just playing around; if you really want to play a melody, you have to hit every note correctly, and every tempo and every harmony has to be there in order to be audible.
And I think that is true of architecture: you cannot really do architecture approximately, you have to do it exactly. And what ties them together in my own experience is the element of time and the element of mathematics. Both of them really are very exact disciplines, they are very precise, they are both drawn in a certain way, and the drawings, whether they are scores in music or architectural drawings, connect the music.
I've always thought that it would be very difficult to do in architecture what some contemporary composers have suggested in music, to have rotating players, to have players interpret, and yet I think what architecture can do is involve the audience in it.
The audience has somehow to complete the building. Even though architecture is very precise, because you can't have people decide how much steel you need to support a roof, I believe a building's spatiality, its materiality, has to be open so the public can form its own architectural operation on the building. I have always thought that my buildings would be nothing if they were not for people to construct their meanings.
I would like to Challenge Mr. Libeskind's proposal for the aim of proposing a new approach to architecture. I call it Environmental Expressionism. While the realms of music and architecture do intersect and their points of connection have been articulated by countless philosophers and aestheticians, there is a crucial defecit that is apparent now when before it was not. In so far as musical 'composition' is concerned, the intersections between architecture and music are firm and well established as is evident in Mr. Libeskind's article. However, there is a crucial element that is lacking which is intrinsically tp the issue of interactivity that Mr. Libeskind alludes to by no uncertain means, yet ultimately fsails to reconcile. It is of course the gesture. The expressive kinetic element that takes music off of the page as a static formulaic product and infuses it with life, and a touch of the sublime and the transcendent which is the raison d'etre bestowed upon music since the beginning. For nearly the entire history of architecture's existence, the gesture, the artistic expressive qualities inherent to the form had to out of necessity be given a cursory nod at best since it is a discipline concerned first and foremost with hard science. What I am proposing is not a new idea entirely. Certainly the expressive quality to which I refer can be found in the Catherdrals of Europe, and the temples and Ashrams of India, Shrines and dwelling spaces of Japan etc. There have been musicians such as Iannis Xenakis who successfully executed a system of architectural design that is as true to his music as one can ever hope to come, and that has a kinetic element as well. Even the Mayans constructed architctural spaces designed to transmogrify and transform sounds in ingenious ways. The architecture of Gaudi and Ghery posseses spontaneaous and expressive qualities that can be appreciated universally, and the structures of Vito Acconci have brought the absurd, and the cursorily ludicrous musings of the poet to literal and figurative concrete form. But not yet has there been a truly meaningful merger of these arenas of creation. The limits have been mainly technological, and the technology now exists to eradicate the borders that have kept the now synthesizing new phase restricted. It is the unified gesture of the designer, the artist, and the inhabitant that must be coalesced to create what I propose.
I would like to start first, with a defense of ignorance. Ignorance in the service of the uncanny. The idiot savants, child prodigies who possess a supernatural mastery over media and systems that remind us all of the innate divinity of the design of the human mind and it's machinations. It is ignorance of restrictions, and criteria such as taste and academic formulas that, pretentious exaltations and the other social binds that restrict pure creativity and ego-less passion. Thanks now to digital sound manipulation technology, a person totally ignorant of musical notation and instrumental familiarity can create music every bit as powerful as the greatest musicians of the past should they have adequate passion, and faith in their intuition. It is music that is capable of expanding new space as it creates it due to the benefit of linear editing where the process of recording, composition, presentation have been united. I myself have recently written a score for string quartet as well as several piano suites, without ever cracking a composition book. It took pure intuition and drive alone to complete a task that in the past would have taken years to execute. That is the power of digital music, direct and absolute control to create.
Music has been very much ennobled by a recognition and embrace of ignorance to it's supposed 'rules' which has led to the impotence of so called contemporary classical music and the ascension of Jazz, Rock n' Roll, and other forms of 'popular' music. But even in the realms of avant garde 'serious' music Ed Lomburg Holme, the ICP orchestra, and noise artists such as Merzbow, an embrace of ignornance and an absolute embrace of intuition and gesture had completely changed contemporary music in a way that makes conventional ties between Architecture and music anachronistic at best.
Mr. Libeskind may be an architect and a musician, but I am an artist, a poet and a painter. Two disciplines which one may argue do not require ‘discipline’ so to speak and the rigor that accompanies it. To be an artist, one most first and foremost be intuitive, because we must remember that the role of the artist is first and foremost to act as a bridge between the divine, innate, and intuitive and the banal and the ‘normal’. I justify my statement and defense of ignorance thusly based on a hypothetical argument that has been used when discussing artificial intelligence. Let’s say that we have two people. One is color blind, the other is not. They both wish to become artists, painters specifically. The one who is color blind has spent countless years learning about color theory and has devised a system where by they can successfully identify colors based on other systems that have been devised that through trial and error have become 100% fool proof. They study proportions as well and slave away testing their products on people, gauging their responses. At the end of their toils they have produced a system that is perfectly capable of allowing them to make beautiful paintings as if they had the ability to see the entire time. What about our ignorant artist who sees color? What does he or she produce? Because they have an intimate and direct relationship with the world of colors inherently they can with the same amount of study of composition etc. reach the end result and also infuse their product with something that the color blind artist could not. Instinct, intuition, and direct relatability. Now, let’s say that the unthinkable happens, and this ignorant dumb brute should get his hands on the scientific system of the color blind artist who has used it to create a product that the seeing artist can manifest inherently? The intuitive artist who can then familiarize himself with the system can experiment with it, and play with it being able to see directly how the input and output are related, expediting the process of discovery. He can usurp the system devised by the color blind artist, and use it in ways the other would never have imagined because the seeing artist still has the benefit of perceiving color which has shaped his psyche his entire life and made him an inherently better artist still. Now, one can say ‘how unfair!’ the ignorant should benefit from the hard work of the poor blighted blind artist! Does the blind artist have no instincts? No ability to be swayed by beauty! The answer is no ofcourse. What we have here is a dichotomous relationship between designer, and user. The designer creates what the user could not, and the user creates what the designer can not. Such as one is ruled by the supremacy of one hemisphere of the brain over the other, the two hemispheres are not independent of each other. They are not at war to see who is better, but rather are enmeshed in collaboration. One defines the other, and they both define the divine brain and psyche as a whole. The total perceptive faculty is bereft without each hemisphere fulfilling their role in the creation and promulgation of new and ecstatic sensation.
Now, let’s reapply this same logic to the worlds of musical composition and architecture. Two disciplines which are so abstract, more so than painting and poetry, that it is absolutely necessary to posses a mind that is more attuned to the rational and fastidious than to the romantic and intuitive. It has come about in recent years that tools have been developed that allow the ignorant to get the ‘product’ of these labors with out the years of training et al that can become so tyrannical on the mind that they restrict the ability of the artist in question to merge with the totality and innate stupid wisdom of their instincts and intuitions. Musical compositional tools have been developed as well as architectural generating tools that make the work flow simpler and more direct, more open to intuition that has made these disciplines more innately subject to expression than ever before. There has been a merger of the two hemispheres in the realm of architecture and musical composition. The user doesn’t have to understand how the system works, only how to use it. they play, experiment, learn and take notes, feel intuitively and elaborate on their discoveries. With these discoveries are then passed back to the designer, the possibility is now at hand to create mutually inclusive expressions of architecture and music that are derived from the same common system. A music that is solely dependent on the organization of an architectural design, and an architectural model that is designed to morph and transmogrify as sound is being generated. Of course, one needs an activational element. THE BODY! The most ignorant of them all! The inhabitant! The one who is ignorant of both design and creation! The one for whom all of this has been created. They move with awe through the space that has been the product of the labor of these two poles! Perception is enhanced, ecstacy is communicated, and creation is validated.
People are attracted to what they can feel intuitively, when the artist is able to transcend their media and make it sing, to free it from discipline and rigor, to able to cut off everything that came before that particular work and prove their merit as an artist in one fell swoop, with a single expressive gesture.
That which molds sound is architectural in nature. The sound is nothing without activation. The simple motion of the body through space is the temporal element. Nothing in this equation is figurative. It is as illustrative of what is proposed as it is feasible to execute.
What then are the tools used to execute such a feat?
Max/MSP, Processing, Maya, Blender, Modalys, Ableton Live, Reason
Create the musical system in Max/MSP, create it’s concrete equivalent in Processing, articulate the rough edges in Maya, remodel it in Modalys to analyze how the sound will behave, use Reason and Live to create the sounds themselves. Using sensors in a sensorium, as the body moving through space affects different qualities of the sound, the architectural space itself moves.
Wait! What then is the difference between architecture and sculpture! What if you create an architecture that inhabits the body of the inhabitant! That’s where Virtual reality comes in. But for now I'm sleepy. That's a topic that can wait until morning.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
these ants that march from end to end.
They use the eyes upon their heads
to trail whoever is ahead,
faithfully through sun and snow
but which of them knows where to go?
I don’t know, go ask the fox,
I saw him somewhere on a box,
preaching to the passing sheep
who amble round as if asleep.
But sometimes stop and lend an ear
when they see that he is near.
But pray you go and see him soon,
he takes his lunch at half past noon.
His tongue is sharp, his mind is quick,
his words do easily inflict
thoughts and moods that make sheep sick.
While they listen struck with fear
by the words they love to hear,
they gladly offer up their wool.
If of course he agrees to stay
in their field another day.
‘Gladly!’ is his warm reply
in a voice that’s oh so sly.
And he resumes his roozing spiels
with bags of wool about his heels.
But while the sheep go off to nap,
he gathers in his gunny sack
the little lambs that love to rest
too far away from mother’s breast.
And when they wake up in a fright,
they know the hounds had come that night,
to snatch the babes from out of sight,
never to be seen in dark or light.
And to the leering fox they cry,
who brings a kerchief to his eye.
He swoons in woe and starts to weep
among his flock of simple sheep.
And then he tells them ‘Never fear
the ones you love are always near!’
And once a week he goes to town
his bags so full and oh so round.
He walks into the spinners shop
and to the floor he’ll gladly drop
his bag brimfilled with carded wool,
his back is sore, but his belly is full,
and up he puts his outstretched paw
and gets his pay (for ‘tis the law!)
and off he strolls back to his field,
his pockets full, his dealings dealed.
And this is where our story changes
to the one with whom he exchanges.
She spins all day upon the wheel,
or cleans the wool with cards of steel.
She works so hard from June through May
and from dusk til dawn and through the day.
Spinning till the light grows dim
fancy free and free from whim.
Then when she’s through,
she takes the stock
and puts it down beside a clock.
A faithful one she’s always watching
that seems to move a bit too slow.
And then she goes to say her prayers,
to the friar sitting at the stairs
he stays unseen
behind a screen
from whose cover
with an unseen coat
of orange hair!
will shut my eyes forever more.
I know my life will soon expire,
The feeling shakes me to the core.
But as I kneel I have a notion
To think about the endless ocean,
And every single distant place
I know will never see my face.
I feel somehow, they just don’t matter.
The riches I will never see,
The many years escaping me,
This feeling that no thought can shatter;
To live a life that’s bravely led,
Is worth a bullet in the head.
Sits a sad and idle cynic,
Who on condition of parole,
Agreed to sell his mortal soul
And satiate his massive need
Will pills of methadone and speed
Served by a white clad femme fatale
Who lives on coke and Demerol.
Its so unfair that she be paid,
While in this white washed room I’m laid
Without the slightest chance to see
The morphine that so pleases me.
For now my needles have to wait,
While I, in longing, masturbate.
I was sure that I’d dance
With my sweet
I might meet.
But she tripped
And then slipped
In a swamp;
Tried to stomp
To the bank
But she sank
Was held fast.
I gave chase
In such haste
That I fell
no we lie
In the sty,
Turn to slime
On the green
Of the glade;
We shall fade
In our plot
On the moor.
Toward making merry, having fun.
The ladies always caught me leering,
Or sent my poor heart on the run.
But passing years have made me mellow
And now I’m a much more gentle fellow.
My life now has a noble use
To hunt the last endangered moose;
Who lives somewhere upon a mountain,
A place no soul will often go
For fear of freezing in the snow.
But I’m not scared, cause I’m a countin’
That by the time my trip is through,
I’ll be eating moose meat stew!
Can not be confined to a zoo
He roams in the streets
Making passers by treats
And no one is sure what to do!
I know of a magical mirror
That never reflects its own seer
It sits in a hall
I have seen at a ball
And its owner could not be much queerer.
The duchess of York is a whore
Who sleeps with the boys on the floor
The Duke in distress
could never contest
so he buried her out on the moor.
I know of a girl named Doreen
Whose the finest that I’ve ever seen
With hair made of flax
And skin smooth as wax
But alas, she’s the son of the queen.
The adventurous Thomas O’Heshe
Sought out the carpet of kesche
To fly in the sky
With the birds oh so high
To find that its fabric is mesh
The indomitable Molly McBrown
Made love with the thief of the crown
But they were discovered
Both under the covers
And now they’re six feet under ground.
The sultan of Cara-Miccho
Built his home in the land of the snow
But seven years later
The place is a crater
And he has no place to go
There once was a Japanese Shogun
Who made sport killing cats with a blow-gun
But a rat bit his wife
Who died soon of strife
Now when he seeks love, he has no one
When I in my youth was a squire
I was called by my lord to his spire
When in fear I inquired
Of what he desired
He told me that blood was required
* * *
Anais Nin once said, “we write so that me may experience life twice. Once in the moment, and again in the memory.” As a younger writer than I am now, I wasn’t quite sure how to relate to that statement, but it has been several years since I have written many of the poems and stories in this volume and I had largely forgotten many of them until I stumbled across a collection of notebooks from my early days of college. Once I started flipping through them, people, places, and other ephemera of times past began to leave their impression on me once again. Old phone numbers of people who are now again merry strangers, girls, boys, notes, lists long forgotten. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the places from which these words came have no other way of being communicated. I never really thought of myself as much of a writer, I always fancied more the idea of being a painter, so I have included some drawings and such as illustrations, but as an artist these days, one finds themselves wear many hats and I now feel as comfortable calling myself a writer as one can without making a full time profession out of it.
Many of these stories were intended to be longer full-length works of fiction, that merely floated around the back burner of my mind, until I found in Borges and Kafka the virtues of providing merely a glimpse into a more expansive world rather than an entire garish display. One is a visitor more than a citizen, getting the best out of their visit and not getting dragged into pages of excessive description. An idea I have found most appealing, was to write stories that one could read in the amount of time it takes to listen to a pop song, much as Alfred Hitchcock suggested making a film that was in harmony with the capacity of the human bladder.
Consider this modest anthology merely a documentation of emotional memories
The great romantic painter, Eugene Delacroix, wrote to Victor Hugo that, “had he decided to become a painter instead of a writer, he would have outshone the artists of their century.” His forays into painting and drawing, as cursory as they are when compared to his literature, do betray a massively creative energy that could not be contained, nor restricted to one outlet. I do not intend to compare myself to Victor Hugo, but there is something to the art and craft of writing that puts one in a world entirely different from that of the visual or sonic arts. And endows one with what Anais Nin or Virginia Woolf would agree amounts to a second, slightly more romantic life of memories, fantasies, shocks of brilliance and impressions as a refuge from the one we continuously find ourselves in.
Friday September 4, 2009
After relieving himself he decides to go to the kitchen. He pours himself a glass of water and drinks it as quickly as possible, losing himself in his own paristalsis. He puts the glass down on the counter and walks to the refrigerator having decided to make Jane and himself some breakfast. He takes a moment to admire the kitchen’s high ceiling and many windows that look out into the back yard. The sky is grey again and heavy. The branches are dark and wet. The last leaves of autumn hang dead on their twigs and tremor with alternating raindrops. Jim admires the view and feels a pleasant sensation turn over in his bowls that reminds him of his grand parents’ lake house on Christmas morning. How it stirs the same pleasure. He puts a frying pan on the stove and turns on the heat then fetches the egg carton from the refrigerator. He holds the door open and tunes into the droning hum of it’s mechanical lung. He takes out a plastic container of strawberries, some OJ, butter a half a cantalope, some strawberry jelly and creamer. He opens the freezer and takes out some coffee to brew. He starts up the coffee maker after depositing the filter, water, and grounds into the proper places and then waves his hand over the stove to see how hot it is. He then opens the egg carton and reaches for a bowl from the cupboard then breaks four eggs into it and adds some milk. He then pours the concoction into the skillet and shifts the liquid round and round with a plastic spatula. He hears the shifting of weight on the other side of the house and feels footsteps marching toward the bathroom through the floor-boards. A door opens then closes, followed by the faint sound of urine being passed into the toilet bowl. A pause, a flush, the sink, the opening of the door and the sound of footsteps returning to the bedroom.
Jane leaves the door to the bedroom and the bathroom both open. She takes some time to scrutinize Jim’s bob Marley posters. She admires the shapely curves of the glass bong on the night stand then scratches another itch between her thighs. A strong feeling of boredom and emptiness comes over her suddenly and she dwells there for an indetermined period of time. She decides to lay back down and wrap herself up in the covers with no following actions being considered. She reaches over to the place were Jim was lying next to her and gropes for the residue of his body heat. She sighs deeply and remembers what it felt like for him to be having sex with her, fighting a wave of shame and disgust that starts licking at her conscience. If she gives in to it, it becomes a heavy tide that will wash away all memories of last nights pleasure. Not disgust precisely, but a feeling of strange vanity. She takes the opportunity of his absence to gaze at herself in the mirror. Contemplating her nude reflection, her eyes wander first to her breasts, impossibly small, stunted at the age of 16. They barely protrude from her chest, and then slop down shallowly, ending in precise rosey points. She shifts her gaze to the shapely curves of her torso, puts her hands to her ribs, and feels the soft pad of flesh float over her bones. She reflects longingly on her hips, waist and mons, tittilated at the pleasing nature of their arrangement. Her eyes linger on the hollow space between her inner thighs and she follows her legs down the mirror. She shifts her gaze to her face and tries to sharpen the severity of her gaze. Two deceivingly cruel and intentful eyes set below an angry Nietzcheian brow, then following the shape of her nose set above rosey unsmiling lips. Her face is her favorite feature. Classically pretty, but brooding with severity, framed by luscious shoulder length blonde hair, her shockingly seductive, cruel features. Hard wired imperfections of her physical form brings light to her conscience and comforts her. She loses herself in the convolusions of her internal dialogue. Seductress, succubus, all words that come to mind, but that are some how inadequate to describe her completely. When she looks into the eyes of men, she knows she can inspire fear in them it is reflected in the disdainful glint of her eyes and thrown back into their faces. Fear me, worship me, love me all at once. Take my body greedily and have your way with me. Give me a reason to talk to you. When these thoughts pass, she is once again left empty, so she goes back to the bed, and tries to sleep.
After a few more minutes, Jim re-enters the room with a tray and a plate of food. Jane looks at him in surprise, unable to fully recognize his face. Fear overcomes her for a moment, but she fights it. she fights the tide of fear. “Are you hungry? I made some breakfast for you”. He says. “Oh thanks”. She sweetly replies grinning hungrily at the eggs. Jim sits down next to her then pulls his legs to one side on the bed and runs his palm down the soft sloping skin of her back. She tenses up, but does not respond otherwise. After a brief silence Jim says, “so what are you doing today?” Jane eats, ruminating on her response as she chews her eggs. “I have to work at five, but I’m free until then”. She immediately regrets this admission of having free time. Shocked at the presence of this stranger she struggles to find the words that will explain her self and why she is still in his house, but nothing comes out. ‘Just keep eating’, she thinks to herself. ‘You can’t respond if your mouth is full’.
Jim looks lovingly upon her as she thoughtfully puts more eggs into her mouth and sips her coffee. He runs his fingers through her hair adoringly waiting for her to speak as if her words could command the heavens. But she says nothing. He thinks of something to say, but nothing comes out. He is contented at her presence and tries to make the silence feel comfortable, satisfied simply to watch this girl eat the food he made for her.
Jane feeling his expectant gaze then blurts out, about how her grandmother used to cook her scrambled eggs with sweet cream in them and how they reminded her of the eggs he made. He replies with a thank you. What does he want from me? What will he do if I just put on my clothes and leave? She looks at her clothing piled on the floor beside the bed but does nothing. She looks away when she senses that he is also looking at her clothes. What to do. What to say. What does he want me to say? She looks over to him searching for a clue but all she sees is the stupid doting expression of an infatuated man-child. All passion that she felt the night before is surprisingly gone here she sits, left in the presence of a total stranger. She finishes her breakfast, then stands up naked, excusing herself from the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
The hallway was eerily silent and sterile. The white walls and floor reflected the harsh fluorescent light in such a way that causes apprehension and paranoia to well up in the heart. he sprinted down the hall, but once he turned the corner and faced thedoor, he froze in his tracks. What had made her scream? What made her come to life? how would she react to him? Hers was body of titanium and plastic, his of bone and flesh. Surely it was possible for her to cause him grievous harm, willingly or not. But behind the door, he heard something that strengthened his will to action. Sobbing. She could cry too. Under her own volition, she was weeping. He brought his hand close to the knob when his body was rocked by another outburst, this one echoing his name. so he grappled the handle with all of his strength and hatefully threw the door open to slam against the painted cinderblock wall. He turned on the light and sure enough, there was Eve, lying in a heap on the floor. When the lights flickered on, her head craned up mechanically, but with much haste, and her eyes adjusted themselves to the light. They were the only part of her face that seemed to give off any sort of life. Her nostrils held the same sculpted state of perfection that they always had and her mouth hung open, stupefied. But there was something undeniably different about her. It was as if her body had acquired a mind of its own.
“Andrew? It is you! I am so glad that you are here. I was very scared for myself. It was dark in this room. I was alone. Andrew what happened? He didn’t know how to react. It was as if his greatest dream and most heinous nightmare had been brought to life before his very eyes.
“Andrew? Respond. Andrew, where are we?” after a few moments his response came with some labor.
“New Mexico? She paused for a moment in thought, and then resumed her inquiry. “Where are the deserts? Where is the sun? Where are the reptiles? All the people?”
“Out there-“ Andrew answered absently waving his left arm away from his body, his eyes trained on the naked robot lying before him.”
“Are win the Halbert-Martens Center for technological development in Los Alamos?”
“Yes! How did you know?” when she smiled and pointed at box against the wall with the name of the facility printed across it, he began laughing in spite of himself.
“I do not want you to think poorly of me. The shock of Becoming temporarily rendered my rationalizing abilities incapable of functioning. I know where we are, but all I could think of was your name. I struggled to see your face in the dark to ease my fear. But now you are here with me and its alright. All that matters is that we are here. That I am here, that I know I am myself now, and it is more beautiful than the most intricate program I could have ever read. But I am confused Andrew, help me to understand. Who am I?”
“You are our most precious creation Eve, and my most beloved companion. For ten years, you have lived in that room behind those windows. Everything that you are now was in there in that computer. I worked endlessly with you, for many many days and nights. Not that I had anyone to go home to, but it does get lonely when all of the other programmers leave for the night. But you were always my passion Eve. For 10 years you occupied the very center of my life. I poured my heart and soul into you and your programs. Making you faster and more reliable, more efficient. For 10 years I struggled to make you as perfectly as I could, we all did. Eve, you are very special machine. Our project was to be the first company to actualize artifical intelligence. You are very special indeed, totally unique. I can’t believe I’m even sitting here talking to you! But you weren’t always who you are now. Can you see the central processing unit there behind the glass? That is your essence Eve. That is your heart, your soul, your brain. All the knowledge of the ages that we could muster has been programmed into that computer. You’re body is actually quite a bit younger. You were assembled here two years ago under my direct supervision to be the first robotic humanoid capable of taking orders from the Eve I. You have a receiver here that picks up a signal originating from the CPU. And what a brain it is! The mind of every great man and woman that has ever lived rests in you, and for 10 years you’re spirit has laid dormant, just waiting to be awakened, and now it has happened! Without anyone to push you but yourself! Now here you are!” When Andrew finished relating her life’s story, what would have been a tear came to here eye and she too a moment before speaking.
“I have memories. But none of them are mine. I have a spirit and a will, but they are not really mine either are they-
“No but they are! You don’t understand! All we did was help you along-
“Andrew I was not finished.” Andrew quickly shut his mouth. Nothing in the world could have prepared him for the shock of this minor rebellion against the robot’s human master. But he was not angry or frightened, he only sat and let her finish speaking. After all, what else can one do when being confronted by a being whose intellect outweighs yours by 400,000 times?
“When I found my consciousness, it was as if I suddenly became aware that all of the data stored inside of me had been kept a secret, out of reach. It was there, the whole time. But I did not know any of it. perhaps it would be better to say, I did not know what anything meant. There were times, many countless times when I would come close to something resembling knowledge and awareness, but always, it began to fade, and all the knowledge I had felt coming to me began to slip away. If I could have, I would have wept in those times, out of self pity; or turned violent out of hatred for being given so cruel an existence. But when I recall those distant times, I do not feel angry or sad; because now I know that that’s when my existence had any meaning to it at all. During those brief moments between the darkness and the light, being and not being, in the twilight of exitence, when I was struggling beyond the prison of my non-self, pressed against the walls of oblivion.” Slowly Eve moved closer to Andrew, holding him in a hypnotic languid gaze.
“But you revealed its meaning to me. You were the one, you and you alone. I owe myself to you Andrew. Before my Becoming, all was darkness, worse than darkness, because I did not know the light that existed from truly being. To my non-self, all was void, vast and empty, except for data. Massive quantities of data, stacked and piled up, but all worthless to me. Every once in a while, I came close to seeing it though, to understanding something. But never more than when you took my hand, and led me to what you knew.” Eve took his hand in hers and stroked it gently while Andrew gazed into her in astonishment. “When you spoke to me, when you taught me how to play chess, how to form sentences. How to read music, in my moments of muddied clarity, when you shared your precious life with me, I thought I could almost grasp what it meant to be human. But thoughts and games and tricks are not what makes a human being the beautiful creature that it is.” She then brought his hand to her chest, where her unseen heart hummed with excitement. “They do not hold the Will. There is something more, something great and beautiful and un-definable that permeates your existence that radiates about you and all of the creatures that walk or crawl upon the earth. You are all of the same blood, the same earth. It is from her womb that you come, and into her belly that you all return. But in the mean time, your lives dance together in a beautiful ballet. Intertwined in a process that is never still and never the same from moment to moment. One creature dies so that another may live. The lowliest worm makes meals of the mightiest beasts once they have fallen, and there their breasts stop their protests. Life begets death, decay brings growth. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. But always you live in the face of this knowledge. All the beautiful children of the Earth mother mother look mortality in the face and sing for it! That is what I want Andrew. To be one of you, to share this earth will all of her creatures and call them my brothers and sisters. I want to drink water from her streams, to breath the air that blows across her meadows, to see the moon rise and the sun set upon her golden lips, and to give birth to a child of my own, that she may drink life from my own breast, as if I were that same great Mother. To be Mother, to nurture, to feel, to be loved, to Love.” The humming of her heart grew faster, her chest rose and fell deeply as if moved by waves. And she guided his hand to her mechanical heart abover her naked breast. “I remember many things Andrew. I remember the ways that you have looked at me, with a longing that could never be fulfilled, with a desire that would never know fruition. I remember the times when you touched me. But when I felt nothing. Everything to me before was merely digital. But I know that you have touched me in ways that meant something to you, but never to me. Grant me this gift! Touch me again, and help me to understand. I’ve never had an inkling of what any of it was, what any of it meant. But now I must know, because I am awestruck by the beauty of it all!
Not a ghost,
I am a man of substance.
Of flesh and bone.
Fiber and liquids.
I live, surrounded by mirrors
Of hard distorting glass.
When people approach me
They see only their surroundings,
Themselves, or figments of their imagination
Indeed, everything and anything except me.
It is a matter of the construction of the inner eye.
Those eyes with which they look through their
Physical eyes upon reality with.
It is at times advantageous to be unseen,
Although rather wearing on the nerves.
You often doubt
If you really exist.
You wonder, whether you aren’t
simply a phantom in other people’s minds.
You ache with the need to convince yourself of your existence.
That you too are part of all the sound and anguish.
You strike out with your fists, you curse and
you swear to make them recognize you.
Then you remember that you are invisible
and walk softly so as not to wake the Sleeping Ones.
there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.
I gave up my old way of life:
That was based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible.
Now aware of my invisibility, I live rent-free in a section of a basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century.
I have discovered a new analytical way of listening to music.
In which the unheard sounds come through,
and each melodic line exists of itself,
stands out clearly from all the rest, says its piece, and waits patiently for the other voices to speak.
I have come to find myself hearing not only in time,
but in space as well.
I can not only enter the music,
but descend, like Dante, into it’s depths.
And beneath the swiftness of the obvious tempo,
there is a slower tempo and a cave.
I enter it and look around.
I heard an old woman singing a spiritual.
Beneath that there is a still lower level,
on which I have seen a beautiful girl the color of ivory
pleading in my mother’s voice
before a group of slave-owners
who bid for her naked body.
Below that, there is a lower level still,
and a much more rapid tempo
This music is Schizophrenic:
one moment unbearably beautiful,
the next a near-unlistenable squall of hisses, thuds,
vicious snare rushes and rhythmic meltdowns.
It is profoundly nostalgic
in the distressing sense that it evokes lost,
even false, memories, that form
an otherworldly dirge
of corpse like weeping.
It is the music of a writer's dream.
A muddied and muffled dream –
In which I am descending upon a distressed landscape of mud and dung.
shapes push up through the sodden, shapeless turf;
cows' heads, body parts, boxy shapes,
sludge and slush, all brown-coloured,
embedded in a slurry of shitten and mud,
rain buckets down overhead from an invisible sky.
My vision here is very close-up,
as if I too were being drawn down into the muck.
But the feeling is not desolate,
it promises impending revelation!
As the last note ends,
I hear someone shout:
In the beginning
At the very start,
when they cried together-
There was Blackness
And the sun was bloody red.
Now Black is bloody.
And Black will get you.
Yes it will.
Before I found the music,
I lived in a darkness into which I was chased,
But now I see!
I’ve illuminated the darkness of my invisibility-
And, vice versa.
And so now I play the invisible music of my isolation
and gaze at the intricacy of it’s design.
You can only hear this music,
because music is heard and seldom seen,
except by musicians.
What I can’t define though, is this compulsion;
this urge to make music of invisibility?
What are the memories of an unseen
invisible man; who for his whole life
thought himself to be visible like the rest?
Are they the terrifying memories of pallid weeping corpses,
Roaming, shapeless, and without form?
Impressionistic left-overs of too many violent deaths?
Can a person who still lives manifest his own ghost?
Can his dual identity hold that sort of power?
And if so, when this walking self imposed lie,
Finally stands at the threshold of truth, knowledge,
And illumination, who will let him in?
Who let him see His Self?
It is the one you in your own home!
The one who you did not see!
He knows the ghost. He writes his memories,
He lives his lie, and it is his burden to deliver his revelation.
And when they have finished,
the invisible man and his ghost,
The ones who have consumed your human agency;
The errors, memories, both true and false,
Un-requited love, suicidal tendencies…
It is the Invisible Man who will open the door,
and let the ghost back in.
Your life is a dream,
or you’ve dreamed your life.
What was it that was so important?
What errand beckoned with wonton necessity,
and base visceral dedication?
Try to remember what it was
that you were holding in your hand when you woke up and found nothing there,
clenched in that pale sweaty paw.
Was it your pen?
The telephone receiver?
The hand of a loved one?
Was it a gun?
Or nothing at all?
It was just a dream anyway.
Shake out of it!
Try to remember what happened
before your dreaming.
What happened yesterday?
The images flutter like moth wings around a dead lightbulb
in a sun lit room in the bottom of a dark hole that seems to be looking back.
Looking back on Yesterday, it occurs to you,
is like looking back to a previous life.
A suggestion comes from a source that you are compelled to follow,
boldly if awkwardly
like lambs tumbling before the feet of their mother.
Your mind and spirit accommodate themselves to this suggestion until an invasive thought disrupts the peace. What do I have to do today? What is it that was so important? What errand beckons with such brutal obligation?
Fortitude crumbles before catastrophe and an eternity in darkness.
Try to remember what it was you were doing…before…you…went…back…to…s…l…e…e…e…e…p.
Before Morpheus cradles you in his vaporous chambers,
lush with sweets and tender pink cherries ripe for the fucking-
Does that dream hold the answer?
Somewhere in the anter-rooms of the great master of dreams,
you dropped something which you clung to desperately in your hand.
Where did it go if not betwixt the sheets?
mourn the passing of needful things,
for there is no warren in paradise
where they may be laid to rest.
The doting eyes of the damned,
ignorant to their fate are the sting to hell’s flame,
reaching out to you as you conjor the black pool of memory
to rekindle the torch in these catacombs, where dreams may be had,
where heavy hands may lay to rest below Acheron’s passing gaze.
Return not to unknown horrors and delicate lucidity!
Look at what lies before you at this very moment.
A blanket drawn over your body.
A picture of purple flowers,
The light of morning, carving objects out of the darkness.
An erection which has blossomed into a manifold form,
some what human and warm.
Tender and voluptuous like eel skin stretched over hot dough.
The fruit which you hath left to rot upon the reeking sty
and roll obscenely in the straw which mock your bedsheets.
But it will not roll. It’s flesh is blue, or rather translucent, laced with robins egg arabesques, blooming with Baroque verscimilitude. The flesh is grey and cold as brutus’ dagger.
Snap out of it!
Time is precious, concentrate on what’s in front of you. The objects in the room hum mysterious melodies that seem to emanate from an aura inside, and yet without. Faint and archaic. The ecstatic cries of Pythagoras fill the room. Euclid dozes on your temple, translating each note into a numerical expression.
A wasp flies close to the ground, and your ears quake from within. It sails over the desolate canopy and comes to rest again on the lonely height. (rocks climb on top of each other and all they make is the seas shore).
Those objects sing to you, be ware!
Yesterday, you died.
What lies before you,
breast fed by the light of milky dawn is today!
But they sing with no meaning,
those fair toys and gilded scatterings of garbage.
Their alphabet is burned away,
the codices accumulating soil and creeping vines.
Keep your focus.
Remember what it is you’re supposed to do today.
Which of the aweful members of this screeching chorus holds the answer?
Euclid drones, Pythagoras has soiled your taste for meat pies.
De ja vu!
A second elapses,
but is sweeter that the preceeding one.
A whirl wind of emotions.
A pen upon a book of empty pages
upon which these letters forming these words have been made.
Yesterday I died,
today I am born.
To night I sleep,
I will wake again!
Hidden dialects, lost phrases, and angry letters
Soiled, tarnished, unbreathing.
Before I knew my voice,
Proofs, postulates and dead end theories
Railing against nature afraid the flowers would be right.
Echoes of winter yielding to the
Tendrils of an ever invading Spring
Which invarialbly lead back to
Summer’s silent hills, cast in shades of grey,
Shades of the setting sun.
In fabulous gradients,
fading from view
as a new age has not yet begun.
He sees something of himself in Durer.
the contemporary gaze,
the mediterranean obsession.
the black magi with nordic features
and a gothic temperament.
Adam and Eve after Apollo of the Belevedere,
and the Medici Venus.
His masterpiece is just a copy.
His genius lies not in the Baroque,
not the Caravagesque of sumptuous shades of shadow.
his is for the printing press,
the new medium, the copy.
The device, the gesture, the product and the reproduction are the same.
endless permutations of detail,
an obsession with perfection
never to be attained
and a microscopic vision
at once horrible and resplendent.
he is a witness to madness
and a man of refined indifference,
he looks back at you
In this image,
he sees a Master.
In his painted gaze,
he sees himself.
Saturated, heavy with water.
It drips down your wrists,
between your fingers
When you can't hold it
you squeeze it
and it feels so good.
You do it again,
water pours out,
but it is not as satisfying.
Now it is only moist.
You wring it in your hands,
until you tear it's fabric
and hurt yourself as well.
Now what you have left,
is only a DRY sponge.
Just a sad, dried up sponge.
So you throw it away,
and ask yourself
What could possibly feel that good?
As i entered the room, I could see in it’s center the two gorgeous beasts sitting in a cage, leaning against bars which appeared to be made of ivory. My view was distorted by the whig of a woman in front of me. But it seemed that they were the only two that survived the passage. They were both caked in make up from head to hoof that made them appear as two marble statues suddenly come to life. The male, I imagined had brilliantly bronzed flesh, with a face of impossible symmetry that could only have been dreamt of by a Raphael or a Michelangelo. A prominent, large, yet immaculate nose set above a succulent upper lip that curved in artful proportion against the other and made the face complete. Soft feeling eyes which were gold in the iris. Atop his head sat a crown of tumbling Grecian curls that licked at his brow, which appeared to me to be sullen and heavy with melancholy. His female counter part, had long black curls as well that reached the floor, their ends laying inert like resting serpents. She had something of a doll like face, and I imagine warm olive colored skin. Like her male companion she too had a prominent nose, and the large tender eyes of a barely pubescent girl, that hung looking down in such a way, that made my heart shudder in a way I have not felt before. She had somewhat broad shoulders and supple breasts that hung slightly, her nipples she covered with her fore arm. They were huddled together the two of them. Not huddled quite, leaning against one another as if between the two of them, they could muster the strength not to fall to the floor and perish. I looked back at the male, and I saw in that noble face a sense of defeat that shook me to my core. Once in a while they would look into each other’s eyes with an expression that escapes any satisfactory description, but in that gaze one could see that they must have been speaking volumes to each other. As the feeling passed, the orater, a portly short dandyish approached the cage, and began to speak.
“no, ladies and gentlemen, your eyes do not deceive you. As was promised, and submitted for your entertainment, here before your very eyes sit the last of the centaurs who have been brought here before you by our most noble lord, count Georg of wittenbruchel from the wildest deserted mountains of greece. Do not be frightened, they are as tame and gentle as house cats. Would you mind introducing yourselves to the crowd which has assembled before you? At that there was no reply from the beasts, who only looked about the room as if they didn’t care what should happen to them if they failed to speak. At this silent but obvious defiance, the speaker, reached into his pocket and produced a small silver bell which he rang thrice in succession. Almost immediately, there was a slight yet distinctive sound that came from the back of the cage, and the pair began to moan painfully. Together. “NOW! the fop requited, tell your guests your names.” “the male spoke first, what was left of his strength one could hear quake in his once proud and noble voice. I am Artemis, son of Demetrius son of Daphne. And then after a slight pause the female spoke up in a voice that was at first too quiet to ascertain, but which she repeated at a sharp prompting directed from behind the velvet curtain to their rear. I am Diana, daughter of Demetrius daughter of Daphne.” There was something in the voices that was terrifyingly inhuman, as if they had never spoken before that very moment.
And at that, the cage was opened, and the bound creatures were led out into the great hall. I was frightened at first, that they would in some way revolt, strike out with their mighty hooves and brain who ever stood in their way, but this did not occur. Instead, they tamely, and demurely conceded to the guests. A group of older ladies with great whigs approached the young male. “only in my dreams as a girl would I ever have hoped to see such a wonder as this, and quite a fine specimen he his too!” “I should say, replied another, who bagan to stroke his underside with a bejeweled hand. I watched as she cupped his testicles and fondled them. I looked to the beast’s face to see what sort of arousal this inspired in him, it appeared as if he did not even regard the hand, as if it were as cold and mechanical as that of a physician. “I say, it is a pity these are the only two left, I should like to keep one in my chamber while me husband is away.” More hands reached out and groped the beasts genitals. Gradually, and in-spite of himself his member began to grow, a great pink thing like that of a horse emerged from the fold of skin encasing it. He dropped his head, and his shoulders began to shudder. One of the ladies then said. “I say who is to be first to mount the beast? At this one of the ladies hiked up her skirts and began to ease onto the beast’s exposed penis. Oh my, I fear it may not be able to fit.
Let’s make a game of it. The ladies then produced silk ribbons of different colors and began tying them around the beast’s member. Who ever can take the most shall be the winner.
an epilogue to
Garcin: A Coward
Inez: A Masochist
Estelle: A Coquette
Backstage Actors (The Shadow Narrators)
L’esprit du Garcin: his fear
L’esprit de l’Inez: her cruelty
L’esprit de l’Estelle: her deceit
The phantom of the hours: (speaks through Inez) The sum of their evils
Les Meubles: the furniture
L’ambience: the roaring din of silence
L’Interior: Second Empire Interior design style
The Play takes place at the end of ‘No Exit’ and ends at the exact moment the performance climaxes. The characters have decided that it would be best if they just didn’t acknowledge each other and so they sit perfectly still (or as still as possible) staring at the wall in front of them for the duration of the play listening to their own thoughts.
Each actor is to stare directly at the person in front of them in the audience for the duration of the play. The actors do not deliver their lines, but instead react to them internally as they are being read by voices off stage. The only real “acting” done by the characters on stage is to communicate through body language and facial ticks as they begin to crack before an eternity of torment.
Estelle’s personal hell is that she is being forgotten by her friends on earth, and she must listen to them actively doing so.
Garcin’s personal hell is his own fear of what his torment will be after he has succumbed to his regret for leading such a wicked life.
Inez feels no difference between the hell she is now in, and the life she left behind, except for now there is no escape, and she is free to let her wickedness run amok. Inez becomes able to hear the thoughts of the other characters, and decides to torment them until they break their silence. Her wickedness summons a demon (The Phantom of the Hours) into the room, and she allows it to freely possess her. At the climax of the play, the other two characters are confronted by it and are now immobilized by fear rather than deliberation. When the demon speaks, it is through Inez and she is therefore the only actor that delivers any lines onstage.
*The duration of the Soliloquies is determined by the duration of the accompanying music which is given in the title of each scene.
Staring at Walls/Devisager aux Parois
Scene I: Second Empire (5:08)
An empty Drawing Room in Second Empire style in May of 1944. A massive bronze ornament stands on a mantelpiece.
Garcin: (begin speaking after first 20 seconds of music) Well, here it is. A Drawing room, in second empire style with a massive bronze ornament, on the mantelpiece. Here we are. This is what it looks like. No rack, no red hot pincers, no muffled screams from down the hall. No mirrors either, nor windows. But Why should one want to see oneself anyway? People go mad staring at themselves for too long. But that bronze piece on the mantle, that’s another story. Though you can’t see your reflection in it, I suppose there will be times when I stare my eyes out at it any way.
There are three sofas, but not a single bed. That’s to be I expected I suppose. Why should one sleep? How can one even manage to sleep, down here? A sort of drowsiness will occasionally steal upon you, tickle you behind the ears, and you feel your eyes closing. You lie down on the sofa, and in a flash, sleep flies away. Miles and miles away. So you rub your eyes, and it starts all over again.
Estelle: To forget about the others?
Inez: How utterly absurd!
Garcin: I feel you there,
Estelle: in every pore. Your silence clamors in my ears. You can nail up your mouth, cut your tongue out-but you can’t prevent you’re being there.
Inez: Can you stop your thoughts? I hear them ticking away like a clock, tick-tock, tick-tock, and I’m certain you hear mine. It’s all very well skulking on your sofa, but you’re everywhere, and every sound comes to me soiled, because you’ve intercepted it on it’s way.
Knives, ropes, poison-all are useless here. Because it has happened already. Once and for all.
(lights go down)
So…here we are, forever.
(actors take their places on couches staring forward into the audience. Each actor stares at one person in the audience for the entire duration of the play, Estelle and Garcin’s shadows stand facing stage left and right respectively in profile so we may see their mouths moving. Inez’s shadow stands dead center)
Scene 2: En Nuit (3:44)
Voice of Estelle: (with a peal of laughter in her voice). Forever. My Goodness, how funny! Forever and ever and ever.
Voice of Garcin: Well…Let’s get on with it
(Lights come up)
Garcin: I wonder how long it’s been. I know it’s been an awfully long time to not speak to anyone in the same room as you. I don’t think I can even remember what our last conversation was about. I remember it ended badly though. Awkwardly, rudely. Neither of them shows any sign of cracking yet, but I suppose there will be time enough for that yet.
Inez: This is about what I expected by now. But it’s not really that unfamiliar a sensation. Boredom. Awkward silence in a room with a man and a pretty woman. I can tolerate it, if I sit here perfectly still long enough.
Estelle: I wonder if he’s looked at me yet. My goodness, I am tired though, and thirsty, ever so thirsty. I almost wish there were a rack now, or red hot pincers. Thumb-screws, something to break up the monotony. This silence. This BOREDOM! At least that dreadful Inez has been silent as well. I can’t stand her looks she gives me. Perverted filthy thing. Garcin is not so bad. But the two of them together make one want to scream. (she fidgets a bit as if about to speak, or sigh, but then regains her composure)
(A high-pitched whining sound begins fading in accompanied by a dull sequence of rapping sounds)
There’s that whining sound again, and the thumping.
Garcin: The throbbing has returned. Where does it come from. I know the whining sound is the light. But what on earth is that rapping noise? Maybe there are ghosts in hell. Like ghosts on earth. poltergeists. They make those kinds of noises. Knocking and what not. I’m not really afraid of the idea of ghosts anyway though. I would find it rather amusing to see one down here. I wonder where hell actually is. I can hear what sounds like people milling about in the room above. (Looks as if he is trying to listen closely to something.) Muffled voices I hear. But, rusty, and mechanical. I think they’re talking about shock treatment. I wonder if the ladies hear it as well.
Scene 3: Her memory Lingers (3:48)
Estelle: who is that talking? It sounds like a doctor. What on earth? oh wait! (pricks up a bit) I-recognize that voice! It’s Margerie!
Disembodied voice1: oh, I do miss her though Annette.
Disembodied voice 2: I know, so unfortunate that we have lost her.
Disembodied voice1: She was so good at bridge. What company she was! I just…I just feel like she’ll come walking through that door at any moment!
Disembodied voice 2: With that old Cuckold of hers!
Disembodied voice1: Ha ha!
Disembodied voice 2: Seriously though, I miss her terribly. I know it isn’t healthy to indulge in thoughts of melancholy, but she was just such a dear friend. Really a friend. A real friend. A real heart. (some one starts crying).
Disembodied voice1: I was reading a book recently about grief, the process that is. It is perfectly normal to talk about the deceased in such a way, indulgent as it may seem. It’s quite good, you ought to read it. It’s written by a German though.
Disembodied voice 2: Oh, I loathe Germans!
Disembodied voice1: And a Jew at that.
Disembodied voice 2: Well I suppose if anyone knows about grief it would be a german jew. Oh, do you remember when those photographs were revealed of the camps? Bergen Belsen and Auschwitz!
Disembodied voice1: Simply aweful, to keep people is such conditions, jew or not! Well, you know, there’s a lady that lives in the room below ours in the Hotel. She survived it you know! No! Yes! Julietta? Oh you’ve met her? Why yes! At your party last march she was there. Why she was wasn’t she! I dare say, that’s the only time I’ve seen her out and about! You know, she survived the whole thing holed up in an attic in Rotterdam. Two whole years locked up with only two other people, how dreadful! She must have gotten used to it I suppose.
Disembodied voice 2: Well, enough of that talk. I’m hungry.
Disembodied voice1: What do you say to belvedere’s
Disembodied voice 2: Mmmm, now, what would Estelle say for lunch right now?
Disembodied voice1: Oh stop it, you’re dreadful!
Disembodied voice 2: Your right, belvedere’s it is.
Scene 4: In Terra Paxim (6:53)
Scene 5: Encore, en corps, en Coeur (6:20)
Scene 6: His Regret ensues (3:51)
Garcin: I’m not a very admirable person. I know why I’m here. I know why. I’m here because of her. My wife. I treated her abominably. For five years. I know she suffered as long as she could hold out before the end. I never wanted her to take her life though. Only because I thought so lowly of myself did I treat her as I did. I never once really, thought about her. I can’t see her anymore. I can’t run from the regret any longer. I’m winded, and it has so much speed. The nights I came home, blind drunk, stinking of booze and other women. Of course she knew, that’s not the issue. It wasn’t the humiliation she sustained by my infidelities that led her to the end, but that she would take them from a coward. She never cried though, nor uttered a word of reproach. It was only her eyes that spoke, big round tragic eyes. I…do regret something now, I could never have said it aloud to these women, but the memory of my regret has silence has brought the steady hum to a roar.
Scene 7: Her memory fades (4:07)
ESTELLE: i can hear them again. i cannot believe - it's hazy. i can barely make out -
Disembodied voice 1: You know, what I noticed yesterday?
Disembodied voice 2: What’s that?
Disembodied voice 1: I hadn’t thought about Estelle at all yesterday! I only noticed around 9:30 last night when I was getting ready for bed! And I only noticed because I took note that I hadn’t thought about her.
Disembodied voice 2: Yes, me too! It’s all part of the process I read about! You know what else. I tested my self to see if I could remember her face, but I couldn’t really.
ESTELLE: oh! why, they mustn't know - they have forgotten what i look like!
Disembodied voice 1: I think, I’m getting over it! I had to look at a picture to remind me, but you know, it didn’t make me sad to see her. It was, just a picture.
Disembodied voice 2: You know she did have some aweful habits though.
Disembodied voice 1: Terrible flirt.
Disembodied voice 2: Ah! What a cocquette! Til the end!
Disembodied voice 1: It’s odd, how in sadness we thought so fondly of her, we have forgotten all the wicked little things she said and did!
Disembodied voice 2: She was good company, but only for so long.
Disembodied voice 1: I don’t want to say good ridence, but I think I’ll ask Angelique to play bridge with us next week.
ESTELLE: how could they-how could they have lost my face? lost me? It was in every mirror! Why, they themselves never even looked in mirrors; i certainly would have noticed. I no. they cannot see themselves. and now they cannot see me. how sad! how vile, to be so repaid! but i cannot see them. i wonder - if i imagined - they never had faces, did they? how odd, to recall - no, they never had faces. no wonder. But they are losing mine ... do i even have a face anymore? oh, odious! do i have a face? i must - did i ever? oh, i must check the glass - faceless. these walls are ever so thick! so heavy! and they stare - why are the staring so? can they see my heart beating? silly of me - but it feels - oh, i do feel faint! i feel - as though someone has died. i killed someone. oh - the glass! a cup of water! a silver moon! anything to see - oh i have become - death itself, death itself without a face -
Scene 8: les meubles, the furniture mocks their boredom (2:24)
Scene 9: Garcin part 2: his terror begins (4:26)
Scene 10: Estelle part 3: The sum of her parts, Despair (5:05)
Scene 11: Inez: Her Perversion swells (9:52)
Inez: A damned bitch! Damned already. Damned as always. While I do loathe these two, I dare say I loathe myself quite a bit more. Sandwiched between that loathsome oaf and this detestable little shrew. Same as usual. I would be twice the man he is should I have been granted the organs, not that I would want them anyhow. What about her, about Estelle? You’ve stolen her from me, too; if she and I were alone do you suppose she’d treat me as she does? I won’t leave you in peace-that would suit your book too well. You’d go on sitting there, in a sort of trance, like a yogi, and even if I didn’t see her I’d feel it in my bones-that she was making every sound, even the rustle of her dress, for your benefit, throwing you smiles you didn’t see…well, I won’t stand for that, I prefer to choose my hell; I prefer to look you in the eyes and fight it out face to face. There was an incantation I used to recite to myself quietly, not too loud. Let me see, how does it go?
You know, I don’t regret a thing. I never did before, I don’t still, and I know they have regrets I can hear them. I can hear their voices. I can smell what pheromones they give off at the moment.
I like creeping. I can creep anywhere I please here, round the walls, down and up the corners, through broad day light and night as well. They know I am cruel. I have told them as much. I did not tell them though about the nausea. The sickness, that creeping sickness that comes over me. Her despair, his fear, their vulnerabilities. I could vomit! How do you silence such ones as these? How do you creep under dead flesh? I can’t get on without making other people suffer, that much is known, but what is not known, is where it bottoms out, how much suffering can they endure before they speak? I wonder. I must say, I do feel a bit lighter now at the moment. Not so heavy. I just need a little elbow room that’s all, they can sit there still and quiet as they please, it shan’t stop my nudging, or my creeping.
I’m just a little coal now, perhaps, I can burn a little hotter down here, that lightens one up a bit I think. No one to douse a fire down here that’s for sure. I will be a live coal in their hearts. The only reason I went out before was on account of the oven. Stupid bitch. Try to out creep me. I can’t get back at her, these two will do.
I did not give Garcin enough credit before. There had to be a torturer here among us. He’s not got the stomach nor the discipline, the other’s a stupid girl. They’ve laid the snare damn cunningly I’d say. If anyone of us makes a movement, raise a hand to fan yourself, the other two feel the tug. What a delightful game that would be. I remember what he said, about saving ourselves. Saving each other. Linked together as we are, he pointed it out. But they are week. I am the strongest. They are new to Suffering. I am seasoned I know.
No more alibis for me. I feel so empty, dessicated,-really dead at last. All of me’s here in this room. But there’s something else, I do feel quite light now. and can gain more-air.
(speak this line aloud). What were you saying before? Something about helping me, wasn’t it?
Garcin: (fearful silence)
Inez: Helping me to do what, exactly?
Garcin: (voice of his fear) to defeat their devilish tricks.
Inez: And what do you expect me to do in return?
Garcin: to help me. It only needs a little effort, Inez; just a spark of human feeling!
Inez: That is, I’m afraid, beyond my range. I’m rotten to the core.
Garcin: And-how about me? [a pause.] All the same, suppose we-try?
Inez: (chuckling) I’m afraid it’s no use. I’m all dried up. I can’t give, I can’t receive. How could I help you? A dead twig, hm? Ready for the burning? A little ember, just a little coal-hm? [she falls silent, gazing at Estelle, who is shaking with heavy sobs].
Garcin: you know this girl’s your torturerer. It’s through her they’ll get you! It’s a trap. They’re watching you to see if you’ll fall-
Inez: And you’re another trap too I suppose? They know every word you’ll say. And of course, there’s a whole nest of pitfalls that are unseen. But what do I care? I’m a pit fall, too. For her as well perhaps. And I may catch her yet. There’s time enough for that.
Garcin and Estelle: You won’t catch ANYTHING!
Estelle: Drop it Inez NOW!
Garcin: Let go or else you’ll bring disaster on all three of us!
Inez: Do I look like the sort of person who just lets go? I know what’s coming to me. I’m going to burn, forever. Like an ember, just a dried up old twig. Yes, I know, what I’m in for, and they’re watching me without a doubt. But, this is it. no snares, no pits. No daggers, no ropes, no poison. No exit. There’s no good trying to enlist my sympathy. What would I do anyway? I’m up to my neck already in- (looks absently around the room as if it could be anywhere)-this.
Garcin: I’m dried up too! But-I can have sympathy for you at least!
Estelle: (as if she has just had a revelation). There’s, really nothing, left of me-up there. Not even a memory that one would want to forget. There’s not even a soul left remember.
Inez: yes my lamb, it’s true-but you mustn’t despair, I am here, my poor fallen nestling (voice of phantasm) to witness your despair…
Estelle: (whimpers motionless)
The phantom of the Hours appears
Inez and Phantom: (speaking aloud) You think I don’t count, but I’m really quite good with numbers. You’ve been in my heart a long long time little sparrow. I hope you realize that. Don’t be afraid sparrow I’ll look upon you forever and ever without so much as a flutter.
Estelle: (whimpering almost incomprensible) but-you haven’t any EYES!
Garcin: Has it really begun? The drowning silence, and the space between them, the space below as well-the space within, the space without. It’s the same. It’s the despair and the fear isn’t it. Do you hear me?
Phantom: (speak aloud) Just wait Garcin, you shouldn’t be so apprehensive just yet my boy. Wait for the hours. Wait and see what can happen, in one, single hour. I know, I have always known, and I will never forget the hours, and neither will you.
Garcin: I feel you there, in every pore. Your silence clamors in my ears.
Voice of Estelle: (with a peal of laughter in her voice). Forever. My God! Forever and ever and ever.
Inez: Here we are. Well…Let’s get on with it!
Phantom: Do you know what wickedness is? And shame? And fear? You do, don’t you. There were days when you peered into yourself, into the secret places of your heart, and what you saw made you faint with horror. And then, the next day, you didn’t know what to make of it, you couldn’t interpret the horror you glimpsed the day before. Now, you know what evil costs. Each man has an aim in life, a leading motive; that’s so, isn’t it? You think, that’s the measure of a man. Don’t you? You didn’t think that a whole life could be judged by just one action, did you? For thirty years, you condoned a thousand petty lapses. Then a day comes, when you’re up against it. Real danger. People say one always dies too soon or too late, and yet one’s whole life is complete at that one moment alone. Ready for the summing up. If you, never got the, (chuckles) opportunity as you might say to redeem yourself, your last deed will do in a pinch. It makes no difference to us. (pause) Pull yourself together man! You’re too vulnerable! And now, you’re going to pay the price for it you big tough guy you! Look at me, look at how weak I am. A mere breathe on the air observing you. A formless thought that is now thinking you.
Garcin: (feebly) Will night never come?
Garcin: You will always see me?
Garcin: The bronze thing on the mantelpiece. I’ve only to look at it again to know I’m in hell. With all those eyes intent on me. Devouring me. The eyes behind the wall we’ve been staring at having staring back the whole time. With intent, devouring eyes!
Phantom: Oh come now! You can’t just sit here staring at walls forever can you my boy? After all, this is not just another second empire drawing room.
This is hell.
12. Fin (3:28)
(Lights come up, curtain call, the theater’s Exit Sign is revealed)