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It was a temptation for me to get off the plane at Tangiers and join Robert Fraser who was to spend a weekend with a group that would include Mick Jagger. I thought at last an opportunity to photograph one of the most elusive people, whom I admire and am fascinated by, not determined whether he is beautiful or hideous.

But my exodus from the photographic excitements at home was dictated by my run-down state of health, so on I went to Marrakesh, where I knew nobody (except Ira Belline) and for four days was quite by myself. I overslept and became introspective, extremely displeased with myself and hating all that I saw of myself in the nude. On the Tuesday evening I came down to dinner very late, and to my surprise, sitting in the hall, discovered Mick Jagger and a sleepy-looking band of gypsies. “Where is my friend the art dealer?” I asked. Robert F., wearing a huge black felt hat and a bright emerald brocade coat, was coughing by the swimming pool. He had swallowed something the wrong way. He recovered and invited me to join the others for a drink and then, by degrees, for an evening out.

It was a strange group, three “Stones,” Brian Jones and his girlfriend, beatnik-dressed Anita Pallenberg,‘ dirty white face, dirty blackened eyes, dirty canary-yellow wisps of hair, barbaric jewellery. The drummer, Keith of the Stones, an eighteenth-century suit, black long velvet coat and the tightest pants, and a group of hangers-on. chauffeurs, an American man with Renaissance-type hair a “Moroccan” expert (also American) from Tangiers etc. l was intent not to give the impression that I was only interested in Mick. but it happened that we sat next to one another. as he drank a Vodka Collins, and smoked with pointed fingers held high. His skin is chicken breast white, and of a fine quality. He has enormous inborn elegance. He talked of the native music, how the American had played him records of a Turk from near here, which music included the use of pipes that were the same as those that were heard in Hungary and were also the same that were used in Scotland. He liked Indian music. He would like to go to Kashmir, Afghanistan, would like to get away. England had become a police state, with police and journalists prying into your lives. Recently so policemen had invaded the house of the drummer in the country to search it for dope (no charges have been made). The papers had written completely false accounts. He was going to sue the News of the World. He’d done nothing to deprave the youth of the country. He liked to get away from the autograph hunters. Here people weren’t curious or badly mannered. l noticed he used quite old words, he liked people who were permissive. By degrees the shy aloofness of the hopped-up gang broke down. We got into two cars (the Bentley I was in had driven from Brian Jones’s house in Swiss Cottage to here, and the driver was a bit tired and soon got very drunk. The car was filled with Pop Art cushions. scarlet fur rugs. sex magazines).

Immediately the most tremendous volume of pop music was relayed at the back of my neck. Mick and Brian responded rhythmically. and the girlfriend screamed in whispers that she had just played a murderess in a film that was to be shown at the Cannes Festival.

We went to a Moroccan restaurant, tiles, glasses, banquettes, women dancers. Mick preferred to be away from the other tourists. He is very gentle, with perfect manners. He commented the usual style of decoration give little opportunity for understanding to the artist. He indicated that I should follow his example and eat the chicken in my fingers. It was so tender and good. He has much appreciation and his small albino-fringed eyes notice everything. “How different and more real this place is to Tangiers, the women more rustic, heavy, lumpy, but their music very Spanish and their dancing too.“ He has an analytical slant and compares what he is now seeing with earlier impressions and with other countries.

We talked of mutual acquaintances. David Bailey had been too busy being married to take any good photographs during the past year. His film was not erotic. he wished it had been, it was merely black and while, and obviously avant-garde. He liked the new ballet, Paradise Lost. but [was] bored by Stravinsky’s Les Noces. (Tchaikovsky he called the composer. but he showed he hates US chorales as much as I do, and is limited in his field of music to that which he had studied since he was 11 years old, and which he is never tired of absorbing.)

“What marvellous authority she has,” listening to a coloured singer. “She follows through.” He sent his arms flying about him. I was fascinated with the thin concave lines of his body, legs, arms. Mouth almost too large, but he is beautiful and ugly, feminine and masculine, a “sport,” a rare phenomenon. I was not disappointed. and as the evening wore on, found him easier to talk with. He was sorry he’d not been able to converse when we met at that fancy dress party (Christie’s). How could he remember? He asked. ‘Have you ever taken LSD?” – “Oh, I should.” lt would mean so much to me. I’d never forget the colours. For a painter it was a great experience. Instead of one’s brain working on four cylinders. it would be 4,000. You saw everything glow. The colours of his red velvet trousers, the black shiny satin, the maroon scarf. You saw yourself beautiful and ugly, and saw other people as if for the first time. “Oh. you should take it in the country, surrounded by all the green, all those flowers. You’d have no bad effects. It’s only people who hate themselves who suffer.”

He had great assurance about himself, and I have too. ‘No, believe me if you enjoyed the bhang in India, this is a thousand times better, so much stronger.” He’d let me have a pill: ‘Oh, good stuff. Oh no, they can’t stamp it out. It’s like the atom bomb. Once it’s been discovered. it can never be forgotten, and it’s too easy to make LSD.‘

He didn’t take it often, but when he was in a congenial setting, and with people he liked. Otherwise it didn’t work so pleasantly. Maybe he took it about once a month. We walked through the decorated midnight souks. He admired the Giacometti-like drawings, loved the old town, was sad at the sleeping bundles of humanity. Brian Jones said he had not seen such poverty since Singapore. Mick was full of appreciation for the good things we saw, the archways. the mysterious alleyways.

THE SKY SPANGLED WITH STARS

Again we bundled in the cars. Again the gramophone records, turned on at volume. By now the Moroccan chauffeur in front was quite drunk and driving on the wrong side of the road. When we shouted in warning. Brian said, “There’s no traffic!” I was quite alarmed as to whether we would get home safely. We all trooped up to our bedrooms on this floor. Gramophone records turned on, but by now it was 3 o‘clock and my bedtime. They seem to have no magnetic call from their beds. They are happy to hang about. “Where do we go now? To a nightclub?”-“lt’s closed“-“Well, let’s go somewhere and have a drink.” Never a yawn and the group had been up since five o’clock this morning, for they motored throughout the day through the desert from Tangiers with the record players blaring, It is a very different way of living front mine. particularly from that of the last four days. It did me good to be jerked out of myself. Mick listened to pop records for a couple of hours and was then so tired that he went to sleep without taking off his clothes. Only at 8, when he woke, did he undress and get into bed and sleep for another couple of hours.

At 11 o’clock he appeared at the swimming pool, I could not believe this was the same person walking towards us, and yet I knew it was an aspect of him. The sun, very strong, was reflected from the white ground and made his face a white, podgy, shapeless mess, eyes very small, nose very pink and spreading, hair sandy dark. He wore Chanel Bois de Rose. His figure. his hands and arms were incredibly feminine. He looked like a self-conscious suburban young lady.

All morning he looked awful. The reflected light is very bad for him and he isn’t good at the beginning of a day. The others were willing only to talk in spasms. No one could make up their minds what to do or when.

A lot of good humour. I took Mick through the trees to an open space to photograph him in the midday sun, thus giving his face the shadows it needs. He was a Tarzan of Piero di Cosimo. Lips of a fantastic roundness. body white and almost hairless. He is sexy, yet completely sexless. He could nearly be a eunuch. As a model he is a natural.

Ira Belline came to lunch. Mick left the others to join us. In a sweet, natural, subtle way, he showed we were friends. Ira was charmed. gave him compliments. said how imaginatively he and his friends were dressed. He reminded her of Nijinsky upon whose lap she sat as a child. Mick talked of the struggles to success. It had seemed slow, those four years, and now it had come, he didn’t want anything more than a good car. He didn’t want possessions. He would like a house somewhere with 30 acres. He wanted to work less. They’d worked so hard. He’d arranged for his money to be paid over the next 30 years. He didn’t want vast sums. but he had recently had fantastic offers to make films. One was intriguing. He’d be a Mexican with dark skin and curly hair, but he wouldn’t appear as a pop singer.

The group lying around the swimming pool, eating a lot. Then we went sightseeing in the town, to the market square, and the souks. and to see the new young Getty‘ house (very sensible beautiful 1830 Moroccan house with just the right garden). While watching the native dancers, Mick was convulsed by the rhythm. every fibre of his body responding to the intricacies. Likewise Brian who, with microphone, was recording the music. Then in a quiet moment he blared it forth. Each of these “Stones” is utterly dedicated to the music they love; they are never tired of learning, of listening. of enjoying (they are furious at the phrase “background music”).

Unfortunately they seemed to have got into bad hash habits. Brian, at one point. dozed off. “Are you asleep?”  -“l just tripped off.” Before dinner, a long spell in Robert Fraser’s room when cookies were eaten and pipes were smoked. This meant that they did not arrive in the restaurant by 10 o’clock. The chef had left. Awful row. Embarrassing scenes. Mick came down at 10:15 p.m., to be told there was nothing but cold food. (The sideboard looked very appetising to me.) Oh, he was furious. He couldn’t stomach that stuff. It turned him off. He told the maitre d’hotel he was “very silly”! He was quite angry, and chef d’hotel too. I must say a scruffier-looking gang could never be imagined. The photographer, Michael Cooper,’ Keith, with green velvet blouse open to his navel. in a red coat with tarnished silver fringes round the sleeve, absolutely gone. Robert, wild and unshaven. I tried to calm the scene. Mick told of an occasion when they had such a row that the food was thrown about, and of course it got into the papers.

I was determined, having waited so long, to eat my dinner. I chewed my way through rouget, and cold turkey. The others, meanwhile, having found a sort of restaurant that would be open until 2 o’clock, were content to sit without any idea of hunger or impatience. Brian went into a drugged sleep.

Mick intended to leave alone tomorrow (he finds travelling unpleasant, fills up on pills and becomes incredibly offhand). He said he’d like to see me in London and was pleased we’d been able to meet each other here.

There are moments when little is said but a few grunts. tough banalities, but much is sensed. I feel he is his real self. I watched him walk through the series of glass front doors of the hotel and look back for the driver, his hand on one side, the picture of grace, and something very touching, tender and appealing about him.

I wonder what the future can bring to someone so incredibly successful at such an early stage? Will the hash wreck his life, or will it go up in the smoke of the atom bomb with all the rest of us?

PS They never seem important, never in a hurry. Their beds can wait. their meals too. They do not mind if the drink ordered arrives or not. The hash settles everything. Their wardrobe is extensive. Mick showed me the rows of brightly shining brocade coats. Everything is shoddy, poorly made. The seams burst. Keith himself had sewn his trousers, lavender, dull rose with a band of badly stitched leather dividing the two colours. Brian at the pool appears in white pants with a huge black square applied on to the back. It is very smart in spite of the fact that the seams are giving way, but with such marvellously flat, tight. compact figures as they have, with no buttocks or stomach, almost everything looks well with them.

Not one book in their rooms. A lot of crumbs from the hash cookies or the kif pipes. The most obvious defect of drug taking is to make the addict oblivious to the diet and general slothfulness that he conveys. The photographer. Michael Cooper, is really dirty, with his shirt open and trousers to below the navel. Unshaven, he spends a lot of time scratching his long hair. No group make more of a mess at the table. The aftermath of their breakfast with eggs, jam, honey everywhere, is quite exceptional. They give a new meaning to the word untidiness.

We must reconsider our ideas on drugs. It seems these boys live off them, yet they seem extremely healthy and strong. We will see.

The party, minus Mick, loses all its glamour. Brian Jones seemed in a more communicative condition and smiled a lot. His voice is quite affected, unlike the rawness of the others, and he makes attempts at politeness. He even apologised for falling asleep at table last night, “It was very bad-mannered,” he drawled with a bit of a lisp. I asked him about their work. They’d started off playing blues, by degrees developed their present style. altering their instruments, and now they spend much more time than before experimenting, playing back tapes, and now, for example, the sitar holds a more prominent role. They continue the tapes, more alterations, play back another tape. Elvis Presley, now a back liner, was very important in the history of modern music, and Ray Charles. Ray, who still went on doing what he believed in and it was good, unlike the tuxedo Las Vegas gang, in their tweeds (Sinatra and Crosby). Keith and Mick generally write their own words and music. They thought the best of “pop” came from the US.

At about 3 o’clock they were joined by the others, who had been house hunting. “I’d like to buy a house” – “l’d like to have a good car” – “Put a call through to London, will you?” and again there was another row with the waiters. The chauffeur, Tom, returned from Casablanca and was furious to be told there was no more hot food. The kitchen empty. Likewise the photographer-where had he been to be so late? Just waiting. He of all people to complain. Little wonder that the elderly waiter became furious. “You’re a lot of pigs. You should go to the market square, the Medina, and eat your food there. That’s where you belong! I am not going to serve any of you again.”

Robert F. rushed out to complain to the manager. Gosh, they are a messy group. No good getting annoyed. One can only wonder as to their future. If their talent isn’t undermined by drugs etc. They are successful rebels, all power, but no sympathy and none asked.

The sound element uses the short story Allal by Paul Bowles, read by Paul Bowles. The image is from the image archive of Marco Grassi, painting restorer. All other parts were created from samples made for the post by the Frank Minoprio project Green Relm, edited and produced with field recordings by A Moment of Eternal Noise. The text is from Beaton In The Sixties, The Cecil Beaton Diaries as he wrote them, 1965-1969.

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“The heat was so intense that (the hot sun shining all day on deck) they were all naked, which also served the well to get rid of vermin, but the sick were eaten up alive. Their sickly countenances, and ghastly looks were truly horrible; some swearing and blaspheming; others crying, praying, and wringing their hands; and stalking about like ghosts; others delirious, raving and storming,–all panting for breath; some dead, and corrupting. The air was so foul that at times a lamp could not be kept burning, by reason of which the bodies were not missed until they had been dead ten days.”[12]

 §49 As may be surmised from the preceding material, for a boat to be successful in the West Indies it must somehow be in favor with the other world, and it is not surprising to learn that it is popularly believed that a boat must have a soul, a human one, in order to function properly. I was first made aware of this one day when I overheard two seamen discussing a vessel hove down for repairs. “Maybe now she be good vessel,” one said. Thinking that perhaps she had been damaged, I inquired why and learned that while she was hove down one of her crew had drowned, so the vessel now had a soul-something she had lacked formerly.

§110 Although the following belief, which was popular until recent times, could not be called witchcraft exactly, it certainly borders on it. When a vessel had been overlong at sea or the neighbors had special reason for communicating with it, a very strong girl was induced to fall into a deep sleep. While sleeping, her spirit would away to the vessel and return with the desired information. However, it was thought a dangerous practice, for should the wind change before the job had been completed the girl would go mad.

§101-102 Far older than telephone wires is the belief in underwater bells in certain places in the sea. Three such places are off the coast of Brittany off the coast of Cornwall, and in Kingston Harbor, Jamaica. In each case the story concerning these bells is quite similar. The inhabitants of Portobello (in Kingston Harbor) were a miserable lot, being composed mostly of buccaneers, whores and slaves. They spent most of their time drinking, wenching or gambling in this great pirate port until God gave them a taste of what he gave Sodom and Gomorrah. One day an earthquake and a tidal wave struck the place and it sank into the sea and along with the town went the church. For many years the Place was visible beneath the waves, and to this day mariners say that they can hear the church bell ring before a hurricane.

§111 Should the weather fall calm, two ways of many to raise a breeze were either to “scratch the mast and whistle” or to “stick the knife into the mast and whistle.” So great was the power of whistling believed to be that it was forbidden on board ship except in times of flat calm. In fact, there is a saying in Newfoundland about whistling “Whistle to your plough boys, sing to your ship.” Sometimes in Scotland if the wind didn’t blow, a male goat was hauled alive to the masthead to induce a breeze while at Petit Martinique a more humane and less odorous method was employed, namely to hang a wooden cross in the fore rigging.

§360 As a matter of interest, excrement has long been used medicinally by the sailor. Hen and cow manure are thought to make excellent poultices, and I was informed in Maine that “nanny-plum tea is the best kind of thing to straighten you out.”

§364 Almost every item mentioned can fall into one or more of three categories. Most important are the things detrimental to the ship in some way: cards, dice and women can only lead to trouble at sea. Another category includes things that do not normally frequent the sea – for example, crows, pigeons, bluebirds, starlings – and therefore may bring some kind of warning. Some items are connected with the world of the supernatural. Foxes, hares and cats are shapes in which witches can appear. They do unusual things. Hares go mad in March, Foxes are too clever to live, and cats carry static electricity in their fur and are familiar with the devil. Ministers, churches and bells all deal with Christianity (a ship’s bell is supposed to toll her end when the ship goes down). Since the sea is not Christian, it tries to do away with them. The more categories the item fits into, the more viable the belief.

§458-459 The fourth great strand, which is perhaps the oldest and most resistant to change, is found in the ancient belief in the ability of the dead to participate in the activities of the living. This, coupled to the almost universal belief that supernatural beings inhabit the turbulent waters about great headlands, completes the strand and hawser, for it is here, around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, that the greatest of all the spectre ships appears.

Our story appears in many forms and guises, but three seem to comprise the root of all the others. The first is the story of Dahul (an Arabic name meaning Forgotten One) who turns up sometimes off Cape Finisterre. This man was a pirate and had as his chief consort no less a personage than the Devil, who came aboard as a stowaway. One day he struck the Devil a terrible blow and threw him overboard. Shortly after this he captured a vessel and found aboard a Spanish family and a priest. Dahul ordered the priest to be crucified and cooked the Spaniard’s child. He then laughed at the priest’s final agony. Suddenly the sky darkened and a great voice was on the deep: “You shall wander, Dahul, at the will of the winds, at the mercy of the waves. Your crew shall exhaust itself in endless toil. You shall wander upon every sea until the end of the centuries. You shall receive aboard all the drowned of the world. You shall not die, nor shall you ever approach the shore, nor the ships which you will always see fleeing before you,”

Since that day the vessel has wandered. No one sleeps nor eats. She has no water and no hope. She is seen always before a storm and in the ominous quiet and half-light that precedes a great gale. She drives past under close reefs, her black hull half-buried in a smother of foam.

The second tale concerns a huge, powerful Dutch captain named Bernard Fokke, who drove his ships beyond the power of humans. To make sure his masts could stand the strain he encased them in iron bands. He was hard on his men and given to swearing great oaths. His ninety-day passages from Batavia to Holland were so fast and so regular that sailors believed he had made a compact with the Devil. However time means money even at sea, and his owners loved him. Eventually he failed to return and it was popularly thought the Devil had called him home. He may still be seen before an approaching gale driving his vessel around the Cape of Good Hope.

The final story has two versions The simpler one states that a Dutch sea captain, Vanderdecker (The Cloaked One), tried his best to beat round Cape Horn but made no progress. At last he made a vow that he would never stop trying until he doubled the Cape no matter how long it took. He would “be damned” if he did. This was, of course a direct affront to God and he has been battling for his westing ever since. The old windjammer hands used to see him before storms in the vicinity of Table Bay and when he appeared he knew that trouble was in the offing.

§22 There is an interesting sidelight to the distaste for changing names in Maine. Recently I was told by Ken Baker of Bowdoin that lobstermen name their boats for their girlfriends. When they married, if they did, they added the lady’s last name or its initial. For example, Scott Jones loves Linda Bridges. He names the lobster boat Linda. He marries her, and the boat becomes Linda B. This way, the name’s extended, not changed.

This post was inspired by the original track Trail Song given to A Moment of Eternal Noise by Georgina Starlington, the Jack Hines/Julie Hines duo formally of Brooklyn band K-Holes. The main text is from Folklore and the Sea by Horace Beck, 1972. The first quote is from Documents and Letters Intended to Illustrate the Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County, N.Y. by Henry Onderdonk, 1884. The image features a postcard of the ship Noisel wrecked on Praa Sands, Cornwall, 1905. The ship was bound from Cherbourg to Italy, but was caught in a south west gale.

 

“The tradition of all the dead generations
weighs like a nightmare”

The message of the death°s head also calls for a historical examination of the subject-object dialectic: the dead are not yet ready to receive you. Those who have died, the dead generations preceding you, do not want you yet. Through a death’s head, the dead declare they have no room for the subject and have nothing to say to the living except that the past is off-limits to them. The object is the effigy (the skull) of a totemic ancestor who rejects his descendants: the newcomer is not wanted. What lies behind the subject-object dialectic in the collection (and particularly in an antique shop where all objects are an appearance of the past) is a historical divide between the subject and the past.

Certainly the vision of “the entire known world” and of “the philosophical dunghill from which nothing was missing” is sure to induce a modicum of historical weariness in the subject. One does not stare at an overwhelmingly comprehensive “panorama of the past” without feeling the dead collectively weighing down on one’s puny presence at the end of history: “He felt smothered under the debris of fifty vanished centuries, sick with this surfeit of human thought, crushed under the weight of luxury and art, oppressed by these constantly recurring shapes which, like monsters springing up under his feet, engendered by some wicked genie, engaged him in endless combat”. This is not the utopian vision of a place where the whole of history stands at attention, but rather the awesome image of riotous legions of historical objects trampling over the living. In the museum, history condenses into a crushing authority. There the historical subject suffers the epigone`s fate. The historical stock is replete from the start (“nothing was missing”); I am left with no option but to wither away in the shadow of a fulfilled past.

Raphael groans under the weight of history. Nothing is left of the amicable handing-over of the past to the present once carried out under the aegis of tradition. The past, as it crystallizes in the museum, is an edict passed against the rights of the living: its motto, for Balzac, is that of epigonic modernity: “All is already said and we have come too late, for the last two thousand years of mankind.” The museum is a treasure trove under the authority of the dead, not the living. The latter must fight dearly for whatever breathing space they can wrest from history. In fact the past appears to be the actual place of the living (“constantly recurring forms”) pushing aside an ailing present (“sick”). The story of the Ass’s Skin squeezing life out of the hero is already implicit in the museums overpowering historical authority. The object crushes the latecomer with the weight of history:

The visitor… came to a fourth gallery, where his tired eyes were greeted by, in turn, a number of paintings by Poussin, a sublime statue by Michelangelo, several enchanting landscapes by Claude Lorrain, a Gerard Dow canvas which resembled a page of Sterne, Rembrandts…; then ancient bas-reliefs, goblets in agate, wonderful pieces of onyx! In short, works that would discourage anyone from working, so many masterpieces brought together as to wear down enthusiasm and make one hate the arts.

Clearly the museified work of art is not the comforting gift of the past handed down by avuncular tradition. The past is no longer a fount of wisdom and a repository of example. It is a poisoned well: everything shrivels in its shadow. In the museum, the subject is scrutinized by the evil eye of history and slowly wilts away. In that Sense, Balzac’s museum echoes the distant report of the historical clash of modern consciousness with the past- clash that, to some extent is handmaiden to modern consciousness. The Balzacian gallery is an image of how uprooted things must have been for Marx’s verdict, terrible in its implications, to be true. “The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain Of the living.” Marx’s sentiment shows how far modern consciousness has drifted from the tradition based world where ancestors were an auspicious, benign presence. The past now hangs over the present like a censorial threat. For such a conflict to arise, a wedge must have driven itself between past and present. A walk through the museum does not bring one closer to the ancestors; instead it so estranges one from them that they appear hostile to one’s existence. Here, Balzac’s museum reads like the historically alienated consciousness of modernity itself.

In the museum, the subject encounters objects that serve as historical lessons. In being abstracted from its original background, the museified work of art in fact becomes more historical. On the one hand, the statue taken out of the temple may lose its symbiotic relation with its historical home. On the other, it acquires a mythical veneer of pastness once it is relocated to the historiographic sphere of the museum. It takes on an aura of absolute historicity. ln the same way that one’s nationality is highlighted when one is abroad, but is also reified into an abstraction, the object°s historicity comes to the fore in the museum but only as a precipitate of abstract pastness. Qnce removed from its historical context, the work`s historicity becomes a given. Indeed history becomes aura, something almost mythic Which takes on an absolute, overbearing character. The past is no longer something that grows old among the living, handed down by tradition; rather it is something remote and aloof, untouchable and hostile an angry father, Saturn devouring his children.

Balzac’s museum lays out the place of conflict between the domineering dead and the beleaguered living. Conflict is conceivable only in the two parties stand in mutual alienation. In order for the past to be inimical to the present, as it is to Raphael, it cannot appear to be integrated with the the present. Historical consciousness must have gone from an integrated, homogenous sense of historical continuity to a splintered state of separation. What used to flow into the present like a generative stream of age-tested wisdom (and likened historical knowledge to soothsaying) is now dammed up as something alien and threatening. The museum piece is a bit of historical consciousness that has cut itself off from its source in traditional time. It embodies the rootlessness of modern consciousness behind Raphael’s fight to the death with the collectibles-a fight that comes to a head in the Skin-stands alienated history. History is ready to become a science because it has become an object standing over against consciousness. The development of historiographic science in the nineteenth century can be conceived only in an age which, because it experiences itself in severance from tradition, can turn an objective eye on the past: to it the past is a thing, at once removed and alien. The museums philosophical paradox is the alienation of history in its very preservation: indeed that history is nothing but the product of estrangement, that is, of our inability to penetrate time.

Didier Maleuvre, “Museum Memories: History, Technology, Art” 1999

The video ‘For Teda’ was created by Neon Dance for A Moment of Eternal Noise with an original soundtrack by Ólafur Arnalds. The video is made from a combination of found and new footage. Neon Dance took “a piece of incomplete archive footage of a dancer, the author lost to time, and deconstructed/re-imagined 55 seconds of new content into an artistic statement that has not only been informed by the past but responds to a digital future.”

 

We have heard a story, indeed, of a painter in France who, when he wanted to paint a sea-beach, carried realism from his ends to his means, and plastered real sand upon his canvas (writes Robert Louis Stevenson. He continues:) Thus his scene was less a depiction of a thing and rather was the thing in itself, not transmuted into any artistic convention; or at least was an extension of the thing, made up of the very stuff of real life. (Stevenson breaks off writing at this point, smiles to himself, runs his fingers through his beard.)

 

One suspects – writes John Gardner, almost a hundred years later – that Stevenson may simply have made him up, this unnamed French painter. Stevenson’s purpose – Gardner continues – was to point out that literature exists on a continuum between poles, which he called ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’; and in order to give an illustration from the visual arts, he compared the French painter’s beachscapes with the effect of early- and middle-period Turner, whose landscapes were like vivid scenes seen through a window. Stevenson himself, of course, like most nineteenth century authors, occupied the subjective end of the spectrum, what we would now call ordinary, “realistic” fiction, where the writer’s intent is that the reader fall through the printed page into the scene represented – and, at this sudden point in Gardner’s essay, you can sense the seductive power this idea holds for him, his longing to be able to fall in precisely this way, to move freely through a language that is weightless, pure, utterly transparent.

 

Not so for Raymond Carver. For him, words have weight, solidity. Building a sentence is like building a wall with stones, Carver says, paraphrasing Flaubert. The stones have to be the right shape, he continues, the right size and heft to be wedged into place tight against other stones – he is fond, certainly, of metaphors to do with outdoors. Fishing, famously, is his favourite hobby. That, and drinking – something which John Gardner, his writing teacher at Chico State and a similarly prolific drinker, warns him about. Carver listens, nods his head, takes account. He hangs on Gardner’s every utterance, at this stage in his career – before, really, he even has a career. Later, in ‘Fires’, he will describe Gardner’s influence on his writing: “Telling me over and over how important it was to have the right words saying what I wanted them to say. Nothing vague or blurred, no smoked-glass prose”. But one day, following Gardner’s lead, he reads Robert Louis Stevenson’s preface to the complete works of Victor Hugo: no mention, despite what Gardner has claimed, of middle or late period Turner; no theories of objective versus subjective art. The unnamed French painter throwing sand onto his canvas is there, yes. But that is the only point that Gardner seems to have got right. And though it is not really all that important, though it is only a small, niggling thing, it is disappointment that lingers. Not that Carver ever mentions it to his former mentor, instead letting him go on making the same arguments about Stevenson and Turner and subjectivity in various interviews and lectures, letting him make a fool of himself. Eventually, Carver thinks, he’ll get round to telling him – right up to the day Gardner is killed horribly in a motorcycle accident. And so the thought always remains, jabbing at Carver like a splinter: was Gardner simply mistaken, perhaps misremembering what Stevenson actually wrote, or mixing up various different essays; or did he just make it all up?

 

As for myself, I don’t particularly care either way. Or so I tell myself, sitting at my desk in my small, functional apartment in New York. All these hermeneutic concerns seem a world away – all this business of literary accuracy, of reputations waxing and waning, of writers writing about writers. It’s just a distraction. It’s decadent, in fact, when you consider what else is going on in the world today.

I push my chair back, swivel around to the window, put my feet up to rest on the lip of the frame. I like that my desk is by the window. I like leaning back and looking out, across the huddled rooftops, and taking a moment to think things over. Through the single glazing, the sounds of the city rise up to me – all the usual morning sounds. Some unusual ones too. Bagpipes. But mainly traffic, rush-hour crowds, the buzz and chatter of voices. I imagine it all taking place, far below me – a typical slice of New York life. The sound of yellow taxicabs – beeping, revving, yelling. You know what I mean, you’ve seen it all before – a scene straight from a movie. The yellow sound of taxicabs – bright and piercing in the cold morning. You don’t need me to describe it all.

There’s nothing left to say. I suppose I could put in an abrupt ending, some unexpected, oddly poignant event – like the legions of Carver copyists out there. A sudden crash, perhaps, out in the street. But in fact there’s no need to make anything up. It’s all right in front of me.

There must be a building site nearby, some construction work a few blocks away, though I can’t see any cranes on the skyline, but how else do you explain it – because, there: carried by the wind, in little muddy heaps on the windowsill, and rain-etched swirls on the glass: sand.

I continue.

 

This post is based on the above sound work made by Seb Patane for A Moment of Eternal Noise from field recordings made in the Summer of 2011 in New York. Responding to the sound work Marc Hundley created the photograph and Gabriel Coxhead the text.

 

I must have been eight when, in a storeroom of our country house, among all kinds of dusty objects, I discovered some wonderful books acquired in the days when my mother’s mother had been interested in natural science and had had a famous university professor of Zoology (Shimkevich) give private lessons to her daughter. Some of these books were mere curios, such as the four huge brown folios of Albertus Seba’s work (Locupletissimi Rerum Naturalium Thesauri Accurata Descrqnio…), printed in Amsterdam around 1750. On their coarse-grained pages I found woodcuts of serpents and butterflies and embryos. The fetus of an Ethiopian female child hanging by the neck in a glass jar used to give me a nasty shock every time I came across it; nor did I much care for the stuffed hydra on plate CII, with its seven lion-toothed turtleheads on seven serpentine necks and its strange, bloated body which bore buttonlike tubercules along the sides and ended in a knotted tail.

Other books I found in that attic, among herbariums full of alpine columbines, and blue palemoniums, and Jove’s campions, and orange-red lilies, and other Davos flowers, came closer to my subject. I took in my arms and carried downstairs glorious loads of fantastically attractive volumes: Maria Sibylla Merian’s (1647-1717) lovely plates of Surinam insects, and Esper’s noble Die Sehmetterlinge (Erlangen, 1777), and Boisduval’s Ieones Historiques de Lépidoptéres Nou-veaux ou Peu Connus (Paris, begun in 1832). Still more exciting were the products of the latter half of the century – Newman’s Natural History of British Buttefflies and Moths, Hofmann’s Die Gross Sehmezterlinge Europas, the Grand Duke Nikolay Mihailovich’s Mémoires on Asiatic lepidoptera (with incomparably beautiful figures painted by Kavrigin, Rybakov, Lang), Scudder’s stupendous work on the Butterflies of New England.

Retrospectively, the summer of 1905, though quite vivid in many ways, is not animated yet by a single bit of quick flutter or colored fluff around or across the walks with the village schoolmaster: the Swallowtail of June 1906 was still in the larval stage on a roadside umbellifer; but in the course of that month I became acquainted with a score or so of common things, and Mademoiselle was already referring to a certain forest road that culminated in a marshy meadow full of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (thus called in my first unforgettable and unfadingly magical little manual, Richard South’s The Butterflies of the British Isles, which had just come out at thattime) as le chemin des papillons bruns. The following year Ibecame aware that many of our butterflies and moths did notoccur in England or Central Europe, and more complete atlaseshelped me to determine them. A severe illness (pneumonia,with fever up to 41° centigrade), in the beginning of 1907,mysteriously abolished the rather monstrous gift of numbersthat had made of me a child prodigy during a few months(today I cannot multiply 13 by 17 without pencil and paper; Ican add them up, though, in a trice, the teeth of the three fitting in neatly); but the butterflies survived. My mother accumulated a library and a museum around my bed, and the longing to describe a new species completely replaced that of discovering a new prime number. A trip to Biarritz, in August 1907, added new wonders (though not as lucid and numerous as they were to be in 1909). By 1908, I had gained absolute control over the European lepidoptera as known to Hofmann. By 1910, I had dreamed my way through the first volumes of Seitz’s prodigious picture book Die Gross-Sehmetterlinge der Erde, had purchased a number of rarities recently described,and was voraciously reading entomological periodicals, especially English and Russian ones. Great upheavals were takingplace in the development of systematics. Since the middle of thecentury, Continental lepidopterology had been, on the whole, asimple and stable affair, smoothly run by the Germans. Its highpriest, Dr Staudinger, was also the head of the largest firm ofinsect dealers. Even now, half a century after his death, Germanlepidopterists have not quite managed to shake off the hypnoticspell occasioned by his authority. He was still alive when hisschool began to lose ground as a scientific force in the world.While he and his followers stuck to specific and generic namessanctioned by long usage and were content to classify butterfliesby characters visible to the naked eye, English-speaking authorswere introducing nomenclatorial changes as a result of a strictapplication of the law of priority and taxonomic changes basedon the microscopic study of organs. The Germans did theirbest to ignore the new trends and continued to cherish thephilately-like side of entomology. Their solicitude for the ‘average collector who should not be made to dissect’ is comparableto the way nervous publishers of popular novels pamper the‘average reader’ – who should not be made to think.

There was another more general change, which coincidedwith my ardent adolescent interest in butterflies and moths.The Victorian and Staudingerian kind of species, hermeticand homogeneous, with sundry (alpine, polar, insular, etc.)‘varieties’ affixed to it from the outside, as it were, like incidental appendages, was replaced by a new, multiform and fluidkind of species, organically consisting of geographical races orsubspecies. The evolutional aspects of the case were thusbrought out more clearly, by means of more flexible methodsof classification, and further links between butterflies and thecentral problems of nature were provided by biological investigations.The mysteries of mimicry had a special attraction for me.Its phenomena showed an artistic perfection usually ‘associatedwith man-wrought things. Consider the imitation of oozingpoison by bubblelike macules on a wing (complete with pseudorefraction) or by glossy yellow knobs on a chrysalis (‘Don’t eatme – I have already been squashed, sampled and rejected’).Consider the tricks of an acrobatic caterpillar (of the LobsterMoth) which in infancy looks like bird’s dung, but after moltingdevelops scrabbly hymenopteroid appendages and baroquecharacteristics, allowing the extraordinary fellow to play twoparts at once (like the actor in Oriental shows who becomes apair of intertwisted wrestlers): that of a writhing larva and thatof a big ant seemingly harrowing it. When a certain mothresembles a certain wasp in shape and color, it also walks andmoves its antennae in a waspish, unmothlike manner. When abutterfly has to look like a leaf not only are all the details of aleaf beautifully rendered but markings mimicking grub-boredholes are generously thrown in. ‘Natural selection,’ in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence ofimitative aspect and imitative behavior, nor could one appealto the theory of ‘the struggle for life’ when a protective devicewas carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance, andluxury far in excess of a predator’s power of appreciation. Idiscovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I soughtin art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricateenchantment and deception.

This Exquisite Corspe started with the original piece of music ‘Don’t Pet the Slugs’ by Steven Mykietyn, Zuriel Waters and Takafumi Kosaka, Gabriel Hartley then made the painting ‘Slugs’ after hearing a section of it. A Moment of Eternal Noise picked the text by Vladimir Nabokov from the book Speak Memory‘ given to us by Benjy Keating from Palimstry.

 

I live alone. I’ve got enough money if my rich mother keeps forking it over. She’s sorry for me cause I’m a cripple.

It’s better to be a cripple in this world than just a plain ugly creep who writes books.

Every night I lie on my bed and am miserable. I look at the empty spot next to me. When I want to put my head on someone’s shoulder, I … When I want to I find out if I possibly don’t look like an ugly cripple, I ask… When I want to feel someone’s weight pounding into me, bruising me, naked flesh streaming against naked flesh naked flesh pouring wet against naked flesh, I … When I ache and ache and ache; I always ache; every day I ache; I … I need a man because I love men. I love their thick rough skins I love the ways they totally know about everything so I don’t need to know anything. They don’t really know everything, but we’ll forget about that. They take hold of me; they shove me around; and suddenly the weight of my own aggression’s off me. I can go farther out. I can explore more. They’re masculine which means they know about a certain society, this polite-death society which is their society, with which they know how to deal. So I don’t have to deal with it. I don’t want to. They provide a base for me in a society to which I feel alien. Otherwise I’ve got no reason to be in this world.

I can’t get a man unless money’s involved. I found this out in the brothel.

Maybe this is only cause I’m so ugly.

“Should I bother seeing people at all?” I ask Poirot.

Poirot’s stumped.

“Whenever I see people, I can’t stand them. They make my nerves snap. I can’t stand seeing them cause I know they hate me.”

“Did you murder the young girl?” Poirot asks. “I don’t like my friends anymore. I don’t want to see anyone. I want to sit by myself, and play chess.”

“I’ve got to paint. I’ve got to paint more and more, make something beautiful, make up for make away with this misery, this dragging .. ”

“You lack the analytical mind. You’re too emotional to have planned this murder.”

‘The cops finally got Norvins’ brother,” Bethe exclaims. “They gave him the death sentence, and all he was doing was stealing.”

“All I ever do is play with myself. I don’t care about politics. ”

“When the cop arrested Clement, Clement hit him over the head with the end of a bottle. What d’you think of that? At his trial Clement said: ‘The policeman arrested me in the name of the law; I hit him in the name of liberty.’ ”

“Berthe, do you think it’s better to fuck a man for money, or just to fuck for free?”

“Then Clement said: ‘When society refuses you the right to existence, you must take it.’ ”

“I’ll fuck any way I can get it. I love to fuck so much”

“The other day the cops arrested Charles Gallo.”

“Huh,” says Giannina.

“The anarchist who threw a bottle of vitriol into the middle of the Stock Exchange; fired three revolver shots into the crowd, and didn’t kill anyone. When the cops got to him, he said, ‘Long live revolution! Long live anarchism! Death to the bourgeois judiciary! Long live dynamite! Bunch of idiots!’ ”

“That stuff doesn’t concern us. We’re women. We know about ourselves, our cunts, not the crap you read in the newspapers. Who’d you think murdered the girl?”

“Maybe a person who lives in the same hell we live in. Sure we’re waitresses. We’re part of the meat market. We’re the meat. That’s how we get loved. We get cooked. We get our asses burned cause sex, like everything else, is always involved with money.”

“I don’t like to think and I don’t trust people who think.” Giannina kisses Bethe on her right ear.

“If we lived in a society without bosses,” Bethe says seriously, “we’d be fucking all the time. We wouldn’t have to be images. Cunt special. We could fuck every artist in the world.”

“I’d like to fuck all the time.”

“My heroine is Sophie Perovskaya.” Giannina’s slowly licking the inside of Berthe’s ear. “Five years ago March first The People’s Will, a group she was part of, murdered Tsar Alexander II. As she died, she rejoiced, for she realized her death would deal a fatal blow to autocracy.” Giannina blows into her ear. “I’d like to have the guts to follow that woman.”

“I want to be a whore.”

“Don’t you understand the world in which we’re living?”….

…..his other hand tore off the red silk pajamas. His eyes were glazed and drool was coming out of his mouth. He looked cruel and he was hurting me badly.

“I kept struggling as much as I could, hoping, hoping for anything.

” ‘Baby, that’s the way I like you. The more you move, the hotter you make me. You’re so little and delicate, I just want to feel you all over me.’ Then he started to pant His breath was hot and fetid. I was about to faint. His demanding mouth bit down on my tongue and then on my unformed breasts. He was hurting me.

“His right hand unzipped his pants and he lowered himself into me. Lowered his hardened manhood into me so that I thought he was tearing my skin, thrusting an iron-hot cleaver into the most secret part of my body. He kept forcing himself into me until he began to shudder, and shudder harder. Finally he bore into me so hard, some part of me, burning, gave way. I felt no relief.

“He rolled off of me, Suddenly he began to see me. A look of horror replaced the dazed grin on his face.

” ‘O my god,’ he gasped. ‘What have I done?’

“I grabbed my clothes and ran, I locked myself in my bathroom and turned on the bathtub. Frantically, I kept trying to clean myself.

“Later that night I learned that Ted had rushed out, taken the car, and driven off a cliff.”

When I finished talking, I realized that Bill was still in the room. He was shivering.

“What have I done to you, Claire? I should have known. Look,” his hand-gently took my hand, “do you think you’ll ever be able to trust me?”

“Yes,” I said. “But I’ll have to go slowly. I’m still very scared of men.”

“It’ll take a long time,” Bill said, “But one day you’ll want me to touch you and hold you and do all those other things. As for now, I love you, I love the real you because I know everything about you.

“Everything else will happen.”

This is A Moment of Eternal Noise Exquisite Corpse. The text by Kathy Acker from the adult life of toulouse lautrec was selected by A Moment of Eternal Noise, an excerpt was sent to Susanne Oberbeck who selected the music featuring a new track Do The Dog. A section of the music was given to Clunie Reid who created the image The Piss Factory.

Off White – James Chance & The Black Stained Sheets : Connection – Nervous Gender : Lazy in Love – Lydia Lunch : Emotional Rescue – The Rolling Stones : Do The Dog – No Bra : I Hear Voices – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins : Can we go Inside – Blood Orange : Money to Burn – James Chance & The Contortions : P**s Factory – Patti Smith : Who by Fire – Coil – 45 Mins

 

The shadow I had lost in the streets could not have been as far off as the registrar had led me to believe the Omega was. Time passed. The lines crumbled into heaps of confetti that blew away when I slipped the map from its frame and held it to the open window.

Under the blank marquee. The ticket booth stood concealed in an octagonal pillar of imitation marble whose blue glaze was dulled by a layer of soot, its window facing the entrance. No one there. Through the pane, behind its metal air vent, I could dimly see the calendar print of a wintry forest hanging on the wall, a wooden stool. an empty cash drawer to the right of the ticket slots. The telephone receiver was off the hook. It must have been dangling below. Silent, out of sight. The last one to inhabit the booth had not bothered to draw the curtain over the window or to empty the ashtray, which held a half-smoked cigarette with lipstick traces. By one of the entrance doors a poster in a cracked-glass frame depicted, in garish colors, a statuesque blonde clad in a negligee, the outline of her body a vague silhouette behind a muslin window. Farther into the room, a man was standing. His face, dull yet oddly menacing, lit from the side by a weak night-lamp near an unmade bed. I’d expected a line of ambulances (at least a paddy wagon or two) to be parked by the curb.

There was nothing. The mist, which hid less from me than the shadow I had lost, shrouded the opposite walk so completely that, for all one could tell, only abandoned excavations were to be found there, or vast asphalt lots jammed with cars that were no longer allowed on the streets, some perhaps holding those who had gone to sleep behind the wheel and been left to rot. I hadn’t seen a car all morning, not even close within the precincts of the roundhouse. What kept me out there? Obviously another dreadful miscalculation. With no landmarks to follow, I had hoped for luck enough to stumble on the Omega theatre. This couldn’t have been the one. The letters, lost in fog. Markings of where the sleepers were kept. I tried the door by the poster. It wouldn’t budge. Then the one next to it. My hands on the iron crossbar, pushing through to the darkness.

The foyer led up a carpeted ramp between two ranks of posts strung together by velveteen ropes. My reflection leapt from one wall panel to the next. A mottled blur, caged on both sides by netlike veins, seemed to flit through dim pools of yellow light across mirrors that reproduced its shrinking image to infinity down their endless corridors. The stale odor of popcorn and threadbare upholstery almost reached me. I made my way past humming soda machines-luminous buttons, glittering cup-wells in shadow-to the vacated counter which stood in a nook by the ingress, its shelves emptied of all but a few gum-drop boxes, some scattered candy bars and a bag of half-crushed salted peanuts. I went slowly, softly, after having trod so many unfamiliar pavements. Tufted swirls of orange and black flowers muffled my footsteps in a purple ground. Another more muted hum began to filter from the wormy umbra beyond the counter and the soft-drink machines. I slipped through the archway, turned right down a narrow passage, groping the inside wall for vague glimmers, and came at last to a water cooler in an alcove of mosaic tile. The light shifted over it in irregular pulses, from silver to black. A section of partition had been taken down behind the last row of seats, giving an odd view of the screen through a maze of silhouetted tubes and flickering bottles that left evansecent afterimages as my eyes moved over them. The hum I had caught faintly in the lobby was the dry sound of all those open mouths, those slumping heads with phosphenescing numbers, dashes of glowing paint, scattered over the middle section of seats in a dense clutter of hanging glucose bottles. Puddles of sick-sweet urine trickled out of the occupied rows into the aisle, where the floor took a sudden tilt, and widened the stains in the carpeting. The screen fluttered its half-light onto the sleeping audience, throwing off black-and-white images of what may or may not have been scenes from the movie advertised. Facing the sleepers, alone at its desk, in the limbo between the first row of vacant seats and the black matting under the screen, an egg-shaped head, completely bald, lit from beneath by a lamp that cast a liquid glimmer in its eyes, seemed to beckon me. Above the head, an old car with spoked tires and a running board sped off down a winding country road, crossed by shadows that writhed in a cloud of dust.

The head was reading, arms folded on the pages of a dog-eared magazine, bending to decipher the last few lines in the haze of print. This was the caretaker. There were no other guards in the theatre. For all one knew, the projection booth had been left untended between reels. The sound was off. The caretaker closed his magazine, rolled it up, tossed it into an otherwise empty wastebasket, and rubbed his bleary eyes with ink-smudged fingers, speaking in a loud voice whose echoes rang off the distant walls to the corners of the balcony, at which he stared from time to time, as though preoccupied with the contrast of that wide, black recess to the light-box which sucked the dust in a beam through its little window.

-Please. No need to stand on ceremony. We’ve still got plenty of seats left, but I wouldn’t want to predict how long that’ll last. I was told to expect you.

He let out a booming yawn which died all around us, shaking his head rapidly like a dog trying to dry itself, as he began to rummage through his litter of papers, whistling under his breath. His eyes fell on the luminous hands of the desk clock.

-Shit. Half an hour, is it? Then the alarm goes off and the two of us will have to start replacing the bottles.

The two of us?

-Oh! Don’t get the wrong idea. I was talking about the man up there. He likes to sit it out in the balcony between reels. Can’t take the heat in the booth. Can’t say as I blame him, either. It’s hell up there. Hope he remembers to set another one going before he has to come down. We could have used a blank white projection, you know, but it’s too hard on the eyes. And since we were told to keep the electrical expenses to a minimum, we had to settle for this old movie. Never seen the thing all the way through, myself. It was either that or shut off the coke machines. Can I get you something? It’s free. We do get some concessions.

He opened one of the drawers and pulled out a dime fixed to the loop end of a copper wire.

-You could probably use a cold drink after all that walking. I know. I can. How about it? Orange? Grape?

Can we get on with it?

-Yes. Well, I’m working overtime. It had been my understanding that the registrar was to arrive here three hours ago. But I could always be mistaken. He’s the one who handles all the paperwork and tends to the fine details. What could have detained him? No matter. Since you’re here, you’ll want to look things over. Isn’t very much to see besides this, really. Except the projection booth. We could go up there now, while there’s still time. The screen makes it easier to see if anyone sneaks in and tries to have his way- you get my meaning?- with one of the women.

The roundhouse was full of bodies, but there will be more than enough left over to seat this place to capacity. It’s merely a question of time. There aren’t enough of us left to police them properly, hence the delays. The interminable delays. The screen is only a fair deterrent without guards. Please make note of that. Tell them that, under present conditions, I cannot accept responsibility for any foul-ups that may have occurred in the past, or will occur in the future. Do you know what we’re up against here? The problem of false or “pantomime” sleepers is an ever-present one, and has plagued our operations from the very beginning. Men and women alike! But mostly men. They usually have the presence of mind to strike an attitude of complete oblivion during the search-and-examination procedure. We’ve even had to resort to tickling all the new arrivals, and managed to catch a few of them out that way. But there are always some with more than the usual amount of self-control who get through. They’re not above taking small doses of a soporific to help them along! Later, they wake up here in one of the seats with a tube in their arm and a number painted on their head. Then, when I’m looking the other way, or if I go to the can- what am I supposed to do, anyway, isn’t there enough muck on the floor here without my adding to it?- the pantomime sleeper crawls from row to row, on the prowl. I tell you, it’s disgusting! I caught one raping a woman in one of the back rows, right over there. He’d stuck his IV into the armrest, taken off his jacket and folded it in such a way that, from a distance, it looked like just another slumped-over head. What finally gave him away is that he got so worked up his foot tipped over the woman’s rack: bottle, tube, and all. Hell of a mess. Others are more discreet. If ever we find an empty seat between two occupied ones, we know something’s up. Often the crime is committed and the culprit is long gone when we come on the victim. That’s off the record! Don’t say anything. It’s one hell of a lot easier to get away with it here than it was at the roundhouse. The rows of seats and all these goddamn tubes make excellent camouflage. But I ask you, where are we going to find another roundhouse? They say at least two other theatres have been commandeered for future use.

The owners were glad to receive a fee for them. No one goes out anymore for fear of dropping in the streets. Just wait a while longer. We’ll have this place filled, standing room only! Soon, when the space runs out, we’ll have to start burning them alive in the streets! That’s the rumor, keep it under your…hat. Identification has always been something of a problem. About a third of the sleepers have remained anonymous. I’m not talking about the derelicts and the “old horns” we pick up in the gutters. Pantomime, pantomime. But that doesn’t explain all the cases of sexual molestation. We’ve been finding plenty of women, just in the last few days, without a stitch on. It’s being blamed on the one they call the Narcolept. But one man? No, I can’t believe it! There must be pantomime sleepers that haven’t yet been taken into account. One man couldn’t possibly be in so many places in so short an interval of time! Certainly there are lacunae. Unaccountable gaps that must forever remain a mystery to us.

But what if someone dies?

-No one has dies.

Maybe the father wasn’t putting on an act after all.

-What?

This 1976 text by Eric Basso from the book ‘The Beak Doctor,’ Short Fiction 1972-1976 was given to the artist Mick Peter as an inspiration for the drawing ‘The Popcorn Variations‘ and words from the text appear in a new composition ‘Time past – Lipstick traces’ made for A Moment of Eternal Noise by musicians David Barbenel and Johny Brown.

 

…Do you despair?

Yes? You despair?

You run away? You want to hide?…November 3. This morning, for the first time in a long time,

the joy again of imagining a knife twisted in my heart…

… The onlookers go rigid when the train goes past…

…In the newspapers, in conversation, in the office, the impetuosity of language often leads one astray, also the hope, springing from temporary weakness, for a sudden and stronger illumination in the very next moment, also mere strong self confidence, or mere carelessness, or a great present impression that one wishes at any cost to shift into the future, also the opinion that true enthusiasm in the present justifies any future confusion, also delight in sentences that are elevated in the middle by one or two jolts and open the mouth gradually to its full size even of they let it close much too quickly and tortuously, also the the slight possibility of a decisive and clear judgement, or the effort to give further flow to the speech that has already ended, also the desire to escape from the subject in a hurry, one’s belly if it must be, or despair that seeks a way out for its heavy breath, or the longing for a light without shadow- all this can lead one astray…

…To be pulled in through the ground-floor window of a house by a rope tied around one’s neck and to be yanked up, bloody and ragged, through all the ceilings, furniture, walls and attics, without consideration, as if by a person who is paying no attention, until the empty noose, dropping the last fragments of me when it breaks through the roof tiles, is seen on the roof…

…I fell asleep in the underbrush. A noise awakened me. I found in my hands a book in which I had previously been reading. I threw it away and sprang up. It was shortly after midday; in front of the hill on which I stood there lay spread out a great lowland with villages and trees and ponds and uniformly shaped, tall, reed-like hedges between them. I put my hands on my hips, and at the same time listened to the noise…

…I can’t understand it and can’t believe it. I live only here and there in a small word in whose vowel (“thrust” above, for instance) I lose my useless head for a moment. The first and last letters are the beginning and end of my fishlike emotion…

…I occupied myself chiefly with the whore whose head was hanging down, Max with the one lying beside her on the left. I fingered her legs and then for a long time pressed the upper parts of her thighs in regular rythem. My pleasure in this was so great that I wondered. That for this entertainment, which was after all really the most beautiful kind, one still, had to pay nothing. I was convinced that I (and I alone) deceived the world. Then the whore, without moving her legs, raised the upper part of her body and turned her back to me, which to my horror was covered with large sealing-wax-red circles with paling edges and red splashes scattered among them. I now noticed that her whole body was full of them, that I was pressing my thumb to her thighs in just such spots there were these little red particles -as though from a crumbled seal- on my fingers too…

…The millionaire in the motion picture “Slaves of Gold.” Mustn’t forget him. The calmness, the slow movement, conscious of its goal, a faster step when necessary, a shrug of the shoulder. Rich, spoiled, lulled to sleep, but how he springs up like a servant and searches the room into which he was locked in the forest tavern…

…December 4. Viewed from the outside it is terrible for a young but mature person to die, or worse, to kill himself. Hopelessly to depart in a complete confusion that would make sense only within a further development, or with the sole hope that in the great account this appearance in life will be considered as not having taken place. Such would be my plight now. To die would mean nothing else than to surrender a nothing to the nothing, but that would be impossible to conceive, for how could a person, even only as a nothing, consciously surrender himself to the nothing, and not merely to an empty nothing but rather to a roaring nothing whose nothingness consists only in its incomprehensibility…

…10 o’clock, November 15. I will not let myself become tired. I’ll jump into my story even though it should cut my face to pieces…

…In the bank I immediately telephone Bohemia. I want to give them the story for publication. But I can’t get a good connection. Do you know why? The office of the Tagblatt is pretty close to the telephone exchange, so from the Tagblatt it’s easy for them to control the connections as they please, to hold them up or put them through. And as a matter of fact, I keep hearing indistinct whispering voices on the telephone, obviously the editors of the Tagblatt. They have of course, a good deal of interest in not letting this call go through. Then I fear (naturally very distinctly) some of them persuading the operator not to put the call through, while others are already connected with Bohemia and are trying to keep them from listening to my story. “Operator,” I shout into the telephone, “if you don’t put this call through at once, I’ll complain to the management.” My colleagues all around me in the bank laugh when they hear me talking to the operator so violently. Finally I get my party. “Let me talk to Editor Kisch. I have an extremely important piece of news for Bohemia. If you don’t take it, I’ll give it to another paper at once. It’s high time.” But since Kisch is not there I hang up without revealing anything…

…The broom sweeping the rug in the next room sounds like the train of a dress moving in jerks…

…These predictions, this imitating of models, this fear of something definite, is ridiculous. These are constructions that even in the imagination, where they alone in sovereign, only approach the living surface but then are always suddenly driven under. Who has the magic hand to thrust into the machinery without its being torn to pieces and scattered by a thousand knives?…

…The anxiety I suffer from all sides. The examination by the doctor, the way he presses forward against me, I virtually empty myself out and he makes his empty speeches into me, despised and unrefuted…

…The tremendous world I have in my head. But how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces. And a thousand times rather be torn to pieces than retain it in me or bury it. That, indeed, is why I am here, that is quite clear to me…

…I’ll write down all the relationships which have become clear to me in the story as far as I now remember them. This is necessary because the story came out of me like a real birth, covered with filth and slime, and only I have the hand that can reach to the body itself and the strength of the desire to do so…

…I , only I, am the spectator in the orchestra…

Franz Kafka, Diaries 1910-1913,” 1965

All words by Franz Kafka – All music by György Kurtag

May. The Feeling. – Scene at the Station : October 9. I occupied myself – Adagio, Con Slancio, Risiluto, Jelek (Signs) III : July 9. The invention of the devil – Hommage à Domenico Scarlatti : July 6. Began a little – Triosonata in E-Flat Major, BWV 525: No. I : July 21. Don’t Despair – Thistle : May. His gravity – Hommage à Christian Wolff (Half-asleep) – July 9. Nothing written – Furious Chorale : November 14. It seems so dreadful – Study to “Hölderlin” – February 27. In the bank – The Carenza : October 30. This craving – Vivo – 24 Mins

Image – ‘Brod,’ college by Richard Evans, paper, guitar string, wax, nail, 2011

Image - 'Defeated by the mosquito and abandoned to the jungle' from The National Geographic Magazine, February 1922

 

This marble punch was a snowball,
And it starred his heart
And it starred the victor’s jacket,
Starred the black victor whom nothing protects.

Stupefied he stood
Barelegged in the lair of solitude,
Beneath the gilded walnuts, mistletoe and holly,
Starred over like the blackboard in the classroom.

Often this begins at school,
These punches that fill the mouth with blood
These hard snowball punches,
That beauty jabs at the heart in passing by.

Saint-Cloud, February, 1929.

When I hear one of these phrases I close my eyes, I see again the boys’ berths on board the X., one of the largest steamers on the Marseilles-Saigon line. The X was waiting to get under way. The purser, one of my opium-smoking friends, had suggested the escapade to me. At eleven o’clock at night we crossed the deserted docks and climbed up the ladder on to the deck. We had to follow our guide at full speed and avoid the watch. We climbed over cables, worked round columns and Greek temples, crossed public squares, labyrinths of machines, shadow and moonlight, we mixed up the companion ways and the corridors so much and so well that our poor guide began to lose his head, until, softly, that powerful strange smell put us on the right path.

Imagine enormous berths, four or five dormitories, where sixty ‘boys’ lay smoking on two tiers of planks. In each dormitory a long table filled up the empty space. Standing on these tables, and cut in two by a flat, unmoving cloud half-way up the room, the latecomers were undressing, tying up the cords where they liked to hang up their washing, and gently rubbing their shoulders.

The scene was lit by the dim lights pf the lamps, and on top of them burnt the spluttering drug. The bodies were wedged against each other and without causing the slightest surprise, or the slightest ungraciousness, we took our places where there was really no place left, with our legs doubled up and our heads resting on stools. The noise we made did not even disturb one of the boys who was sleeping with his head against mine. A nightmare convulsed him; he had sunk to the bottom of the sleep that stifled him, entering into him through his mouth, his large nostrils and the ears which stuck out from his head. His swollen face was closed like an angry fist, he sweated, turned over and tore at his silken rags. He looked as though a stroke of the lancet would deliver him and bring forth the nightmare. His grimaces formed an extraordinary contrast with the calm of the others, a vegetable calm, a calm which reminded me of something familiar. What was it? On those planks lay the twisted bodies in which the skeletons, visible through the pale skin, were no more than the delicate armatures of a dream . . . In fact, it was the olive trees of Provence which those young sleepers evoked in me, the twisted olive trees on the flat red earth, their silver clouds hanging in the air.

In that place I could almost believe that it was all this profound lightness that alone kept this most monumental ship floating on the water.

Jean Cocteau, “Opium, The Diary of his Cure,” 1930

Jim’s Intro : You, Appearing – M83 : Sunset (The Death of Thumbellina) – Current 93 : Girlfriend’s Interlude : Past, present and future – The Shangri-Las : We Ask You To Ride – Wooden Shjips : Yellow Elevator #2 – The Black Angels : Striking a match : Purple Haze – Dion : Vibrating Ruler : Can I get it from You – Dave Berry : Omens And Portents I, The Driver – Earth : Lauren at the beach : Prepare for the End – David Thomas and Two Pale Boys : Pammie’s On a Bummer – Sonny Bono : Alone, Jealous & Stoned – The Secret Machines : Car Chase terror! – M83 : Rain on 22nd July 06 : Orange Country Suite, a Paris bootleg – Jim Morrison – 71 Mins

Image – ‘Defeated by the mosquito and abandoned to the jungle‘ from The National Geographic Magazine, February 1922

 

I moved the picture from my pocket again when I was outside, an action that had taken on a ritualistic feel, like making the sign of the cross. I did not look at it this time, but began tearing it in strips, lengthwise. Then I walked, and bent down at street corners, depositing each strip in a separate sewer along Fourth Avenue.

He’d told me that he’d broken his arm in a car accident, pursuing two black kids who had robbed a jewelry store.

As I released the strips of paper through the sewer gratings, I thought of the hand in the subway tunnel, and my father’s assertion that there were many body parts undoubtedly littering the less frequently traveled parts of the city. Arms legs, heads, torsos; and perhaps all these bits of photo would find their way into disembodied hands. A dozen or more hands, each gripping a strip of photograph down in the wet slime under the street. Regaining a history, a past, that they lost when they were dismembered, making a connection that I never would.

Tim McLoughlin, “When All This Was Bay Ridge,” 2004

Kalakuta Show – Fela Kuti – 15 Mins

Image – Cadavre Exquis, Pen and pencil on paper, André Breton, Man Ray, Max Morise, Yves Tanguy, 1927

 

Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large oil painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant. Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you through.- It’s the Black Sea in a midnight gale.- It’s the unnatural combat of the four primal elements.- It’s a blasted heath.- It’s a Hyperborean winter scene.- It’s the breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time. But last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in the picture’s midst. That once found out, and all the rest were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a gigantic fish? even the great leviathan himself?

In fact, the artist’s design seemed this: a final theory of my own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-heads.

The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon- so like a corkscrew now- was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the hump.

Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way- cut through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round- you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this, with such low ponderous beams above, and such old wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you trod some old craft’s cockpits, especially of such a howling night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rarities gathered from this wide world’s remotest nooks. Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den- the bar- a rude attempt at a right whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which name indeed they called him), bustles a little withered old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.

Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick,” 1851

Arctic Beluga Whales : Ma belle dame souveraine – John Potter and Ambrose Field : Almost A Kiss – Throbbing Gristle : Saigon Pickup – John Zorn : Freight Elevator : Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West – Magma : Struktur XII – Karlheinz Stockhausen : Bridge To The Beyond – John Zorn : Mi Basta Chiudere Gil Occhi E – Nino Rota : Un grand sommeil noir – Edgar Varèse : The Jeweller – This Mortal Coil : The Vistitations – White Noise : Northern Winds : Le Petit Chevalier – Nico : (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons – The Righteous Brothers – 61 mins

Image – ‘Looking south upon hut point and vince cross, Antarctica,’ National Geographic Magazine, March 1924

 

16. Liturgical texts and Prayers, illuminated manuscript on vellum with Hippopotamus skin binding.

(Ethiopia, 15th century)

DESCRIPTION

122 leaves, (leaf size approximately 250 x 180 mm), in gatherings from 6 leaves to 12 leaves, 1 leaf (f.115) loose. Text varying between 20 and 34 lines, 2 columns throughout, written in black ink with titles, subheadings, sacred names, numerals, etc., in red (addition of f.85v col. 2, in a large hand in red). Written throughout in various beautiful, bold, archaic hands ranging in size from av. 4 mm to av. 6 mm. Some erasures and corrections and insertions in a smaller but equally archaic hand. Original pricking and ruling mostly visible throughout. Some intercolumnar ornament in red and black. NINE ILLUMINATED HEAD PIECES + 2 small ornaments dividing the paragraphs, all variously coloured in red, yellow, black green and blue-grey. TWENTY FULL COLOUR MINIATURES, 3 with silk overlays, 4 black pages. Some wear and darkening of edges. Most of the miniatures have some damage. The paint has sometimes cracked and there is some offsetting from facing pages. the margins of some leaves have been trimmed off in order to utilise the parchment for amulets, charms and notes of contact.

PROVENANCE AND DATE

SIGNED BY THE ARTIST. There is a collophon in the manuscript, on f.105v, which states, ‘This book belongs to Walda Mika’el and his father S’agga Za’ab and his mother S’eyon Kerbra. Walda Rufa’el painted the book.’ Walada Ruda’el’s name is also inserted in an invocation for blessing on folio 110v. The dating of early Ethiopian manuscripts is notoriously problematic. the form of the script, showing a number of archaic letter shapes, points to an early date and the style of the illumination is that of the earliest surviving Ethiopian manuscript.  This places it before the Moslem invasion at the beginning of the 16th century. Two of the Saints portrayed in the miniatures however suggest a date after the middle of the 15th century. ‘Saint’ Gabra Krestos, folio 106v, lived during the reign of the Emperor Zar Jacob (1434-68) and the Abba Sincoda, folio 107, was executed during the 1430s. It is unlikely that they would have been the subject of miniatures until after death.

TEXT

The manuscript properly begins on folio 9, the first 8 leaves being misplaced from the end. The contents are:

ff.10-60 Book of Hours of the day and the night. Subsections are identified as follows. (f.20) prayers for the third hour; (f.23) prayers for the seventh hour; (f.26) prayers for the ninth hour; (f.29) prayers for the evening; (f.33) prayers for sleepl (f.39) prayers for midnight.

ff.62-85 conatins various prayers: (f.62) Prayer for the Consolation of the Faith as we believe in Mary’; (f.65r) ‘Prayer for All Time(s)’; (f.69v) ‘Prayer for mercy’; (74r) ‘Prayer for Midnight’; (f.75v) ‘Prayer to the King of Praise’; (f.81v) ‘Prayer and Vow for the Forgiveness of Sin’; (f.85r) ‘Prayer and Praise of the Divinity an Vow to the King of Praise’; (f.85v) The ten Commandments (in red).

ff 87-105 contains liturgical texts and hymns: (f.87) ‘Hymn to Our Lord Jesus Christ which is to be read on Sunday before the Weddase maryam (Praise to mary)’; (f.94r) ‘Prayer for Monday’; (f.95r) ‘Prayer for Tuesday; (f.97r) ‘prayer for Wednesday’; (99r) ‘Prayer for Thursday’; (f.102v) ‘Praise for Friday’.

ff108 contains the Gospel of St.John. there is however a break of a page between the two blocks of text.

ILLUMINATION

This manuscript is an exmple of the earlist geometric style of Ethiopian illumination. Although Christianity arrived in the country in the 4th century, no paintings or manuscripts can be formally dated before the late 13th or early 14 centuries. The few examples that survive from the 14th or 15th centuries are broadly similar in style, with forms and iconography stemming from Byzantine and Syrian painting. the Chief charecteristics of this style are strong frontal figures articulated by geometric backgrounds.

Lot. 15 £50,000

Text and Image – Bloomsbury Auctions“Antiquarian Books & Ancient Manuscripts,” Catalogue 12, 1989

Durme, Hermosa Donzella – Jordi Savall : Lunissanti, Miserere – Enzo Favata : Symphony No.3, II Lento e largo, Tranquillissimo – Gorecki : In Darkness Let Me Dwell – John Downland : Il Prologo: Alba – Gianluigi Trovesi : Rite Of Passage A – Meredith Monk : Dos Kelbl (The Little Calf) – Iva Bittova : Da Pacem Domine – Arvo Part : Viderunt omnes – Perotin : Mothertongue: IV. Monster – Nico Muly : Mieke’s Melody #5 – Meredith Monk : Jolson and Jones – Scott Walker : Quatuor pour Cora, Dance of the Vampires – Iva Bittova – 65 Mins

 

In the dream I found myself in a magnificent Italian loggia with pillars, a marble floor, and a marble balustrade. I was sitting on a gold Renaissance chair; in front of me was a table of rare beauty. It was made of green stone, like emerald. There I sat looking out into the distance, for the loggia was set high up on the tower of my castle. My children were sitting at the table too.

Suddenly a white bird descended, a small sea-gull or a dove. Gracefully, it came to rest on the table, and I signed to the children to be still so that they would not frighten away the pretty white bird. Immediately the dove was transformed into a little girl, about eight years of age, with golden blonde hair. She ran off with the children and played with them among the colonnades of the castle.

I remained lost in thought, musing about what had I had just experienced. The little girl returned and tenderly placed her arms around my neck. Then she suddenly vanished; the dove was back and spoke slowly in a human voice.

“Only in the first hours of the night can I transform myself into a human being, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead.” Then she flew off in the blue air, and I awoke.

C.G.Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” 1961

Whiteboard intro : Dead Horse Alive With Flies – Harold Budd : Balthus Bemused By Color – Harold Budd : Heresy III – Lustmord : Mementos – Ernie : IBM 729 II (Magnetic Tape Unit) – Jóhann Jóhannsson : Avenue of Shapes – Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd : Folding paper bridge : Vir›ulegu Forsetar, Part 3 – Jóhann Jóhannsson : Be Good To Them Always – The Books : Vladmir’s Blues – Max Richter : Organum – Max Richter : Automatic Writing – Robert Ashley – 60 Mins

Image – Pl. 260 Stone sundial in the form of a polyhedron. W.28 cm. Historiscehs Museum Basel

 

17. “What about that black violin?” Johannes asked him the third evening. “What’s interesting about that?”

Erasmus looked up and paled slightly.

“That violin? If I were you I wouldn’t even touch one of its strings.”

“Why? Is it so bad that it’s not worth playing?”

“Quite the opposite! It’s the most extraordinary instrument I’ve ever come across. A mere breath is enough to set it vibrating. But the music it makes is so strange, that to hear it once is to be changed forever. It is like taking a draught of pure happiness. Once you have tasted it, you are never the same again. Playing the black violin like that, too.”

“Have you ever played it?”

“Only once. A long time ago. I haven’t touched it since. It is like love. When you have been in love-and I’m talking here about true love-it is something you can never forget. There is nothing worse than having been truly happy once in your life. From that moment on, everything makes you sad, even the most insignificant things.”

39. I was standing in front of my workbench when the idea first hit me. Why not make a violin that was just like Carla? If I wanted to reproduce her voice, I should start by taking the inspiration from her body. I would have to make a violin that caught the black of her eyes and the color of her hair. I remembered that somewhere on one of the dusty shelves in the library I had come across a small treatise, written by Antonio Stradivari himself, which explained how to make a violin made almost entirely from ebony. When I found it, I was glad to discover that among other things, the treatise contained a secret recipe for a black varnish, a varnish that I had not used before. Encouraged by my findings, I went back to work.

The shaping of the instrument’s body and sound box was no simple matter. Ebony is an extremely hard wood, and to work it requires both strength and great care. Assembling all the pieces was no easy task either, but finally, after many patient hours, I succeeded. Then came the varnishing, which took me another few weeks of painstaking work.

Two months later, the black violin was finished. The last coat of varnish had dried, and the time had come to see how it sounded. That night there was a storm. The lightning lit up the sky.

I picked up the violin and ran my finger over the surface of the varnish. As I did so, the wood started singing. This was no ordinary violin.

The bow glided over the cords as gently as a feather settling on a ripple of water. The sound grew, and swelled: like a woman’s voice. Like the voice of a soprano.

I stopped playing, almost bursting with happiness, for I knew I had finally made my dream come true.

That night, I played the black violin, and I played in a way I had never played any other instrument before. It was like holding Carla in my arms.

40. A few days later, I returned to Venice. It was the time they call the acqua alta, when the waters of the lagoon had risen and some of the tiny streets were completely flooded. And yet I felt unmoved by this sad landscape. I was so eager to see Carla again and to show her the black violin.

The Ferenzi Palace appeared to be sinking into the water of the Grand Canal. Since the quay was under water, I moored my gondola to the bars of a window. Waves rimmed with green algae were lapping at the steps.

To my surprise it was not the butler who opened the door, but Count Ferenzi himself I was shocked by his appearance, for his cheeks were hollow, his eyes were glazed, and his skin had a waxy look to it. He had aged terribly, and seemed to be weighed down by grief. ”Ah, Erasmus,” he said, “so good to see you. Perhaps you will be able to help us.” “Why, what has happened? Are you unwell?” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his forehead. “No, no. I’m fine,” he said, and then, in a whisper, “it’s Carla.” “Carla? What’s happened to her?” ”Ah, if only I knew. She’s been taken ill. She has been in bed for the last ten days.” “Can I see her?” Without waiting for an answer, I went in and ran up the stairs. As I opened the door I saw her lying in bed, looking pale and wan. She was clearly very ill. I went over to see her.

“Carla,” I whispered, “what’s the matter?” She turned her head slowly toward me and I could see from the expression in her eyes that she was in great pain. “Look, I’ve brought the violin I promised you. Listen what a wonderful sound it has!”

But as soon as I touched the strings, Carla looked horrified. Her eyes widened, and she grabbed my arm, imploring me to stop.

“It’s terrible,” said the Count, arriving in the room behind me. “My daughter has a high fever, and the doctors have no idea what is the matter with her. The poor child has been fighting between life and death for more than a week now. ”

I looked at Carla, lying on the bed, her face the very picture of sadness.

“And the most terrible thing of all,” said Ferenzi, “is that since the night she first became ill, she has lost her voice completely!”

I felt the ground slipping away beneath me and had to steady myself against the bedpost to stop myself from fainting.

“What’s the matter?” asked Ferenzi. “Nothing,” I said. “I just feel a little tired, that’s all.” I looked at Carla and could see that she was crying.

Maxence Fermine,The Black Violin,” 2000

Music box intro : Musica Ricerta IIGyorgy Ligeti : Nicoles Dream – Sample : La Petite Messe Solennelle. I. Kyrie – Rossini : O Venezia, Venga, Venusia – Nino Rota : Through the Streets of Venice – Pino Donaggio : Venetian Church bells : Those two girls : Stormy Weather – Lena Horne : Wind : Strange Happenings – Pino Donaggio : Symphony No.5 Adagietto – Mahler : Le Petit Nicolas – Gabriel Yared : I Only Have Eyes for You – The Flamingos : Stillness Of The Mind – Abel Korzeniowski : O Belta Rara, O Santi Modi Adorni – Gabrieli Madrigals : Tom’s farwell : Farewell Theme – Eleni Karaindrou : Crash – 55 Mins

Image -Cover of The Ravished Image Or How To Ruin Masterpieces by Restoration by Sarah Walden