Archives for posts with tag: Richard Evans


The video A World of Its Own was filmed by Richard Evans and Elif Boyner on a road trip in 2014 to The Olsen House, the house in Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World.

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via-appia-1905

EXT. HOLLOWAY PRISON – DAY

Establishing shot.

INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE

This is a utilitarian room, obviously part of an institution. Two small pictures are hung on a gray stone brick wall. A chesterfield sofa and chair sit in the middle of the room. Soft light illuminates the scene from one standing lamp. There is one window with diamond shaped bars visible. Both characters are familiar with each other but not friendly, Chris sits on the sofa slouching, Dr. Adams sits on the chair.

CHRIS

It was a long slow trip, the night before last.

DR.ADAMS

Studies have shown sleeping with recorded, organized sound can effect not just the quality of your sleep but also…

CHRIS

My dreams?

DR.ADAMS

Yes, but also your daily behavior.

CHRIS

“Ah, ha, but this is not a dream, as I explained before I transported myself into what appeared to be a Piranesi drawing using my fiction/reality machine.

DR.ADAMS

Ah ha, sooo. Sound can affect your dream life. A study by a large foreign language teaching company found that when their subjects fell asleep with their headphones on the next day they would start throwing foreign words into regular conversation. Haven’t you noticed how you no longer see these language courses being advertised?

CHRIS

I haven’t noticed because I’ve been locked in here for the last seven years but I hazard a guess that someone sued for dream damage?

DR.ADAMS

Yes. Well something like that.

CHRIS

I’ll remember that when I brush up on my Franglais before a tour of Burgundy and the great wine regions of Eastern France. But as I said this was not a dream, I went on a trip through a portal created by the fiction transducer machine into a Piranesi etching that I fed into it.

DR.ADAMS

Right, the 19th century engraver and fantasy architect of prisons?

Dr. Adams quietly releases a chuckle.

CHRIS

Yes but the world I entered expanded far beyond the confines of the etching which I think was of Via Appia in Rome. The road famous for many things including crucifying 6,000 slaves after Spartacus’s uprising. About the same amount of prisoners kept in British prisons with indeterminate sentences. Just incase you were wondering.

DR.ADAMS

That is fascinating, you’ve obviously been using the internet again….

CHRIS

No. The library. Anyway after the transportation I was dropped into the middle of this etching. All around me were huge empty plinths; family crypts bearing ornate texts in different languages, tombstones, and models of buildings. Under the buildings were catacombs. I don’t know how I knew this, but I did.

Chris pauses as if struggling to remember something important.

Of course Piranesi’s visions were classical fantasies based on real places in Rome but he wanted them to be built. They never were so I was also wondering if it could have been some kind of time travel. Maybe in the future the earth will be destroyed by an alien spaceship then rebuilt but the only book the construction company had was of Piranesi’s etchings. What do you think?”

DR.ADAMS

I think I get the jist.

Dr. Adams scribbles something in his Moleskine.

CHRIS

Then I looked down, the edge of my boot caressed a black puddle corralled in by a circle of broken cobble stones. I’m wearing brown high-healed boots and a tweed hunting dress. I don’t know how I know but its 1913 and I’m in a horrific E.M.Forster Novel. Where Angels Fear to Tread maybe.

DR.ADAMS

Dr. Adams is still playing with his notebook.

Is that something your read recently?

CHRIS

No, I’ve only seen the film a long time ago, as a student I think.

DR.ADAMS

So then what happened? This is most interesting.

Dr. Adams keeps staring at his notebooks he is now drawing ever-decreasing circles.

CHRIS

Then a girl ran up who I immediately assumed was Lilia Herriton, a young English widow who had died in giving birth to a son. She seems to have mistaken me for her sister. The strangest thing happens instead of her speaking words there’s just a rustling. Her mouth is moving but the sound is not emanating from her body. It is a noise on the edge of noise, as if a human voice was played through a ‘wind synthesizer’ as if the sound of wind had been compressed, all the top and bottom frequencies removed. I paused and stared at her.

Her communication was reduced to a slow opening and closing of her mouth. Obviously what she was trying to articulate was of some importance. Then I noticed the noise was coming from the cracks, the spaces between the stones, between the buildings… The space in between things.

Whatever moral dilemma we were going through, whatever eccentric discussion this omni-present E.M.Forster was trying to convey it was being articulated as a hum. It was a sound that described all the space in between the gravestones, the gargoyles and the cracked slabs. A sound not from the heavens but of the empty space here on Earth or at least on Piranesi’s stroke E.M. Forster’s Earth. I thought that maybe this is punishment for either watching bad movies or for spending too much time looking at Piranesi etchings.

The picture had somehow risen up – in revolt.

DR.ADAMS

Ahha, so how long did this err, scene continue for?

CHRIS

It hasn’t finished, it got very noisy so I decided to take a break.

DR.ADAMS

Ok and you you’ll return to it when you reactivate the fiction/reality machine thing.

CHRIS

Yes, the fiction transposer, translating fiction or making fiction real, maybe it should be called a reality ficionator, well anyway I’m going to revisit tomorrow. Although I have a few other new slides I’d like to scan into it. Slides of a holiday in Estonia, photographed by some German tourists was sent to me by my brother. Maybe you should come along?

Dr. Adams continues drawing the circles in his notebook, somewhat oblivious to the question.

Text: Via Appia by Richard Evans.

Image : Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Via Appia and Via Ardeatina, from Le Antichita Romane, 1756

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We got married at the City Hall, and then we went to the beach. She looked so pretty I just wanted to play in the sand with her, but she had this little smile on her face, and after a while she got up and went down to the surf.

      “I’m going out.”

      She went ahead, and I swam after her. She kept on going, and went a lot further out than she had before. Then she stopped, and I caught up with her. She swung up beside me, and took hold of my hand, and we looked at each other. She knew, then, that the devil was gone, that I loved her.

      “Did I ever tell you why I like my feet to the swells?”

      “It’s so they’ll lift them.”

      A big one raised us up, and she put her hand to her breasts, to show how it lifted them. “I love it. Are they big, Frank?”

      “I’ll tell you tonight.”

      “They feel big. I didn’t tell you about that. It’s not only knowing you’re going to make another life. ”

“It’s what it does to you. My breasts feel so big, and I want you to kiss them. Pretty soon my belly is going to get big, and I’ll love that, and want everybody to see it. It’s life. I can feel it in me. It’s a new life for us both, Frank.”

      We started back, and on the way in I swam down. I went down nine feet. I could tell it was nine feet, by the pressure. Most of these pools are nine feet, and it was that deep. I whipped my legs together and shot down further. It drove in on my ears so I thought they would pop. But I didn’t have to come up. The pressure on your lungs drives the oxygen in your blood, so for a few seconds you don’t think about breath. I looked at the green water. And with my ears ringing and that weight on my back and chest, it seemed to me that all the devilment, and meanness, and shiftlessness, and no-account stuff in my life had been pressed out and washed off, and I was all ready to start out with her again clean, and do like she said, have a new life.”

When I came up she was coughing. “Just one of those sick spells, like you have.”

      “Are you all right?”

      “I think so. It comes over you, and then it goes.”

      “Did you swallow any water?”

      “No.”

      We went a little way, and then she stopped. “Frank, I feel funny inside.”

      “Here, hold on to me.”

      “Oh, Frank. Maybe I strained myself, just then. Trying to keep my head up. So I wouldn’t gulp down the salt water.”

      “Take it easy.”

      “Wouldn’t that be awful? I’ve heard of women that had a miscarriage. From straining theirself.”

      “Take it easy. Lie right out in the water. Don’t try to swim. I’ll tow you in.”

      “Hadn’t you better call a guard?”

      “Christ no. That egg will want to pump your legs up and down. Just lay there now. I’ll get you in quicker than he can.”

      She lay there, and I towed her by the shoulder strap of her bathing suit. I began to give out. I could have towed her a mile, but I kept thinking I had to get her to a hospital, and I hurried. When you hurry in the water you’re sunk. I got bottom, though, after a while, and then I took her in my arms and rushed her through the surf. “Don’t move. Let me do it.”

      “I won’t.”

      I ran with her up to the place where our sweaters were, and set her down. I got the car key out of mine, then wrapped both of them around her and carried her up to the car. It was up beside the road, and I had to climb the high bank the road was on, above the beach. My legs were so tired I could hardly lift one after the other, but I didn’t drop her. I put her in the car, started up, and began burning the road.”

      We had gone in swimming a couple of miles above Santa Monica, and there was a hospital down there. I overtook a big truck. It had a sign on the back, Sound Your Horn, the Road Is Yours. I banged on the horn, and it kept right down the middle. I couldn’t pass on the left, because a whole line of cars was coming toward me. I pulled out to the right and stepped on it. She screamed. I never saw the culvert wall. There was a crash, and everything went black.

      When I came out of it I was wedged down beside the wheel, with my back to the front of the car, but I began to moan from the awfulness of what I heard. It was like rain on a tin roof, but that wasn’t it. It was her blood, pouring down on the hood, where she went through the windshield. Horns were blowing, and people were jumping out of cars and running to her. I got her up, and tried to stop the blood and in between I was talking to her, and crying, and kissing her. Those kisses never reached her. She was dead.

Text: Excerpt from The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M.Cain

Image : Found photographs with the poster ‘Climax’ from Wespak Visual Communications, San Francisco, 1968. 

Sound: Starless and Bible Black – The Stan Tracey Quartet : Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas read by Richard Burton : Jesus’ Blood Never Failed me Yet – Gavin Bryas : Watch Chimes – Ennio Morricone : Requiem For the Russian Tea Room – Primal Scream : Violence – Andy Scott : Clear – Pam Aronoff : Double Connection – Plaster : Diamorphoses – Iannis Xenakis : Michael Jackson – Negavitland : Children of the Night sample – Bela Lugosi : Heavy Lead – Dave Richmond : Dr.No The Lair sample : 6 O’Clock – Zu + Eugene S.Robinson : Burning – Glaxo Babies : Mauvais Sang the Radio sample – Denis Levant : Modern Love – David Bowie : Oriundi – Frida Boccara : Clock – Elements of Noise : Kiss Me Deadly sample : A Warm Place – Trent Reznor

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I am so fucking distracted not only accidentally distracted by an event that happened on this morning’s trip from the village to the house but by trying to be intentionally distracted. However, inside these diversions I’m searching for a driving force that will direct my performance.

He has shouted again in his insidious, attractive Bavarian accent. He is a child and I literally can’t stand his voice any longer. But what can I do? More plays in dreary Darmstadt?

Oh, this is good. I’ve already wasted 15 seconds. It’s really not easy putting on this state of mind, this necessary exercise; a constant internal monologue. Distraction, concentration, and distortion.

Slowly I lift my head and I can feel the second camera taking over, Andrea looks knowingly pensive.

The wind in the trees has a perfect momentum echoing the delicate sound of nothing being played on the turntable. Last night at the bar Raben was trying out records, matching composers to pills. He ended with what he will dub the scene with; an all too obvious choice of Mahler’s eighth symphony, he is such a sentimental phony, why is he still around? Did R.W. not stop fucking him last year?

It’s easy to smile and I can tell R.W. is enjoying this. I drink in his eternal character and externalize it through the tight corners of my lips, hoping and knowing that the lip-gloss has a perfect, tight uncrackable surface. Why can I never believe a reality that someone else creates, even when it is on my own body?

I just don’t have faith, spiritually or practically.

The truth evades me in every splintered second. Anxiety crawls into every part of my body and always has control…

Good, this is working I can turn my head, keep the smile, keep the negative thoughts yet remember as R.W. said ‘like a machine, a romantic anarchy in movement.’ I therefore turn my head as if it were a perfect sphere locked onto a pole, joined by a greased socket. Then I let my lungs take over. The inward and outward movement of air brings the entire gesture to a perfectly choreographed conclusion.

The rolodex in my mind flutters like a cloud of bees escaping small puffs of smoke. I’m searching for yet another character. I feel the camera over my left shoulder. I put my left hand in a clutched position (I imagine the bee keepers smoke gun in my grip) and I move my hand towards the open packed of unmarked cigarettes.

For an instant I see my nail under a microscope. Tessellating plates of hard matter, interlocking lines, jagged like the peaks in a dried up muddy puddle. I slowly pull my hand back. I have managed to use only my middle finger and thumb to remove the cigarette. I have completely avoided using my index finger lending an air of exact complicity to the act. I want the lens to see the full cigarette, both colors, dirty speckled orange and off white. I drag it through the frame and over the mirror; its reflection is tantalizingly blurry. The bees have been chased away by the time I pick up the lighter.

It is all I can do to muster the energy that is needed to keep my concentration on the formless dimension I have created with the resulting smoke.

I let my mind become opaque with the imagined noxious world of gray fumes.

I haven’t blinked throughout this thought.

Again I mentally prepare another fictitious mood. I know the camera has pulled back. R.W. can only think in specific compositions and he is looking for another one.

I quickly raise the cigarette to my mouth. I want the trees ruffled by the wind to frame this action. The trees will decorate the edges of my form and imply a stark contrast between the suicidal tendencies of a human being and the unrestrained shape of nature.

I raise the lighter bringing it to the cigarette. For a very short moment I reach back 6 seconds and grab the mechanized articulation I used on my neck pointing my attention to my hand. The lighter’s hinge makes a sharp noise, the cigarette ignites and I inhale. It’s disgusting and has a peculiar armor of wet logs sprinkled with cinnamon. The feeling of the smoke in my lungs completely envelop my body. I let a small cloud of smoke linger on my lips and I inhale.

My dead brother, my poor dead brother is alone.

This is not working so I concentrate on a workman I saw 13 years ago at 5.31am on a Tuesday morning when because of by ex-husbands bizarre habits I couldn’t sleep.

I focus on the memory of the stranger’s hands; wrinkles, dark yellow skin, veins, cracked fingernails. His fingertips are worn smooth by handling hundreds of cold glass objects.

I tap the ash. I pick up a small blush brush in the same mechanical gesture. Before I bring it to my face, I imagine the instant the man’s little finger glanced the cold white object. The object splinters. I feel the glass separating the flesh from the food, magnifying the milk. I gently stroke my face drawing the brush slowly across my cheek.

My distraction is intentional. I hope the image of the man will complicate my action to create an atmosphere of childhood innocence, the child that Andrea is playing across the room.

The glass bottle in my daydream looses its comfortable form and becomes a single hook tearing at the man’s hand, drawing a line from his thumb to his wrist. Blood slowly, neatly, cleanly flows.

I channel this image to refresh my body language.

I spin my head (again mechanically) to look at Andrea. I have not forgotten my eyes, heavily made up they flick into action highlighting my characters vanity. This introduces Andrea’s character and the inhuman distance between my thought and actions and the very human love of a mother for a child. I know the shot has changed but I keep firm and Andrea raises her head, her blue eyes like the workman’s meet my own.

Immediately yet slowly I swing my right leg onto the floor. The vibration of the impact echoes through my leg and I use it to shake off my melancholic persona of the last 76 seconds. This is a disciplined and well-practiced move, one I have been using in films with R.W. since The Bitter Tears.

I move casually across the carpet letting my whole body subtly curve and glide. I hold my cigarette up to echo the previous movement’s frozen anxiety. Then I calmly raise it to my lips, my eyes at the same time focus on the orange dot placed by R.W. to create an exact diagonal between the, the center of my pupil and the frame of the camera. I imagine all the other orange dots strewn across the room designed to create an image the audience’s eyes will follow and subconsciously interpret.

I raise my head slowly and while looking past the new Aalon 35mm gingerly clutched by Michael I utter the first work of the film,

‘Schon.’

In this final collaborative A Moment of Eternal Noise Exquisite Corpse the project started with an image created by Alex Eagleton this was given to Ebe Oke who donated the song, this was sent to Richard Evans who wrote the text.

The text is a fictional internal monologue imagining what the actor Margit Carstensen could have been thinking before the first word uttered at 92 seconds into Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1976 movie Chinese Roulette.

The title Coolsville was picked at random from all of Laurie Anderson‘s commercial recordings that use a place name as the title. The date is a randomly generated number from 0 to 2014.

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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.

Suck & See

 

The parties in the Pines were amazing affairs complete with fanciful themes, Hollywood-like sets, giant sound systems, DJs, booze, and drugs. And in the summer of ’65, a couple of older queens named Sam Hadad and Royal Marks decided they would throw the most elaborate and decadent party of the season, calling it “The Bacchanal.” I was staying at a rented house with my friends Dick Villany, a decorator in the David Barrett mode, but with a less affluent clientele; Franklyn Welsh, the best, though as-yet-undiscovered, makeup artist and hair stylist in the world; Barry de Prendergast, a wily wheeler-dealer and model from Ireland; and Loy Mazor, a notorious speed freak. Loy mainlined methedrine to the point where his skin had taken on a pallor that was decidedly gray,

Franklyn made the most divine toga from one of the lightweight linen bedspreads and did my hair in a curly Grecian updo adorned with baby’s breath from Dickie Decorator’s living room flower arrangement. We were just about ready to leave for the party and already tanked up on pot and God knows what, when Loy asked if I`d like to try some speed. Never having shot it, l was, of course, up for the adventure. Franklyn held the belt tightly around my arm while Loy stuck the needle in my vein. The rush was immediate. I slumped to the floor in a moment of orgasmic ecstasy, pulled Franklyn, a rather shy homosexual to me and French kissed him so deeply he was in complete shock, “That good, huh?” he marveled, realizing how high I must have been. Everyone else was yelling that we should hurry up lest we miss the party. But I was so on fire with sexual desire. I just wanted to fuck somebody, anybody, right then and there before leaving the house. Alas though, it was a house full of homos and none of them were into girls. So I pulled myself together, hit the boards with them, and headed for The Bacchanal.

It was a daytime party, and as we neared the house, we saw legions of scantily costumed boys on the various boardwalks leading to it, their muscular sun-kissed bodies as tempting as Greek gods’ in the afternoon light. I was rushing and so incredibly horny; I just had to find a straight or bi one to fuck me. We were greeted with some magic punch at the door of the party- just what I needed to top up the speed!

Upstairs in the main room there was a huge table, the centerpiece of which was a stunningly beautiful boy, reclining nude except for a laurel wreath in his hair and some grapes covering the lower part of his torso. He poured wine for the guests from an ancient-style urn, and as I offered my glass to be filled, I looked into his eyes and caught the hetro vibe. “Ah, a real woman,” he cooed. And that was it. Within second, his fruit and my toga pushed aside, I was up on the table having sex with him. Suddenly, as if through a fish-eye lens, there were hordes of sex hungry faces looking down at us, their hands all over his ass as he was thrusting his cock into me. I found it all so excitingly surreal, so Fellini-esque and so fitting with the theme of the party. I felt no shame or contrition at all.

But Sam and Royal were outraged and decided I had ruined their party. They intervened before either of us got to come, and they took the boy away before I even got to know his name. He was ordered to stay in a downstairs bedroom until they sent him back to the mainland on the next boat, and I was ordered to leave the party, never to see my sweet momentary Adonis again. The next day I was the talk of the island, and everyone was divided into two camps: those who congratulated and high fived me, and those who scolded and scorned me. But I felt I had taught them all a lesson. You throw a bacchanal, you put a naked boy on the table, and you give out magic punch-what do you expect?

I think the only problem anyone there really had with it is that I was a woman. Had it been two boys going at it, it might have been OK. But apparently, they had hired the boy through an ad in the Village Voice and had no idea that he was straight. Anyway, Sam and Royal should have been eternally grateful to me for my performance and to Loy for supplying the speed. Their party became the stuff of Fire Island legend, not only for that summer, but for many summers that followed.

This post was a collaboration with artist Julie Verhoeven who donated the image Suck & See. A Moment of Eternal Noise selected the music and the text from Lick Me, How I Became Cherry Vanilla by Cherry Vanilla based on the image.

Excerpt from The Telephone Book : Pentatonia – Paris Smith : How to die with style – Quentin Crisp : Coke, Suede and Waterbeds – Sopwith Camel : Goodbye Emmanuelle – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin : Afrian Reggae – Nina Hagen : My name is trouble – Keren Ann : James and the Cold Gun – Kate Bush : Liquid Gang – Marc Bolan & T Rex : Ladytron – Roxy Music : Art-I-Ficial – X-Ray Spex : Bored – Destroy all Monsters : The Mating Game – The Monochrome Set : D’Ya Think I’m Sexy – Hybrid Kids : The Model – Big Black : Sex unter Wasser – D.A.F. : Strawberry Fields – The Runaways : Unemployability – Quentin Crisp : 52 Mins

 

“I sense a confusion of means. Not that I’m criticizing. It was a daring thing you did, a daring thrust. To use him. I can admire the attempt even as I see how totally dumb it was, although no dumber than wearing a charm or knocking wood. Six hundred million Hindus stay home from work if the signs are not favorable that morning. So I’m not singling you out.”

“The vast and terrible depth.”

“Of course,” he said.

“The inexhaustibility.”

“I understand.”

“The whole huge nameless thing.”

“Yes, absolutely. “

“The massive darkness.”

“Certainly, certainly.”

“The whole terrible endless hugeness.”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

He tapped the fender of a diagonally parked car, half smiling.

“Why have you failed, Jack?”

“A confusion of means.”

“Correct. There are numerous ways to get around death. You tried to employ two of them at once. You stood out on the one hand and tried to hide on the other. What is the name we give to this attempt?”

“Dumb.”

I followed him into the supermarket. Blasts of color, layers of oceanic sound. We walked under a bright banner announcing a raffle to raise money for some incurable disease. The wording seemed to indicate that the winner would get the disease. Murray likened the banner to a Tibetan prayer flag.

“Why have I had this fear so long, so consistently?”

“It’s obvious. You don’t know how to repress. We’re all aware there’s no escape from death. How do we deal with this crushing knowledge? We repress, we disguise, we bury, we exclude. Some people do it better than others, that’s all.”

“How can I improve?”

“You can’t. Some people just don’t have the unconscious tools to perform the necessary disguising operations.”

“How do we know repression exists if the tools are unconscious and the thing we’re repressing is so cleverly disguised?”

“Freud said so. Speaking of looming figures.”

He picked up a box of Handi-Wrap II, reading the display type, studying the colors. He smelled a packet of dehydrated soup. The data was strong today.

“Do you think I’m some how healthier because I don’t know how to repress? Is it possible that constant fear is the natural state of man and that by living close to my fear I am actually doing something heroic, Murray?”

“Do you feel heroic?”

“No.”

“Then you probably aren’t.”

“But isn’t repression unnatural?”

“Fear is unnatural. Lightning and thunder are unnatural. Pain, death, reality, these are all unatural We can’t bear these things as they are. We know too much. So we resort to repression, compromise and disguise. This is how we survive in the universe. This is the natural language of the species.”

I looked at him carefully.

“I exercise. I take care of my body.”

“No, you don’t,” he said.

He helped an old man read the date on a loaf of raisin bread. Children sailed by in silver carts.

“Tegrin, Denorex, Selsun Blue.”

Murray wrote something in his little book. I watched him step deftly around a dozen fallen eggs oozing yolky matter from a busted carton.

“Why do I feel so good when I’m with Wilder? It’s not like being with the other kids,” I said.

“You sense his total ego, his freedom from limits.”

“In what way is he free from limits?”

“He doesn’t know he’s going to die. He doesn’t know death at all. You cherish this simpleton blessing of his, this exemption from harm. You want to get close to him, touch him, look at him, breathe him in. How lucky he is. A cloud of unknowing, an omnipotent little person. The child is everything, the adult nothing. Think about it. A person’s entire life is the unraveling of this conflict. No wonder we’re bewildered, staggered, shattered.”

“Aren’t you going too far?”

“I’m from New York.”

“We create beautiful and lasting things, build vast civilizations.”

“Gorgeous evasions,” he said. “Great escapes.”

The doors parted photoelectronically. We went outside, walking past the dry cleaner, the hair stylist, the optician. Murray relighted his pipe, sucking impressively at the mouthpiece.

“We have talked about ways to get around death.” he said. “We have discussed how you’ve already tried two such ways, each cancelling the other. We have mentioned technology, train wrecks, belief in an afterlife. There are other methods as well and I would like to talk about one such approach.”

We crossed the street.

“I believe, Jack, there are two kinds of people in the world. Killers and diers. Most of us are diers. We don’t have the disposition, the rage or whatever it takes to be a killer. We let death happen. We lie down and die. But think what it’s like to be a killer. Think how exciting it is, in theory, to kill a person in direct confrontation. If he dies, you cannot. To kill him is to gain life-credit. The more people you kill, the more credit you store up. It explains any number of massacres, wars, executions.”

“Are you saying that men have tried throughout history to cure themselves of death by killing others?”

“It’s obvious.”

“And you call this exciting?”

“I’m talking theory. In theory, violence is a form of rebirth. The dier passively succumbs. The killer lives on. What a marvelous equation. As a marauding band amasses dead bodies, it gathers strength. Strength accumulates like a favor from the gods.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“This is theory. We’re a couple of academics taking a walk. But imagine the visceral jolt, seeing your opponent bleeding in the dust.”

“You think it adds to a person’s store of credit, like a bank transaction.”

“Nothingness is staring you in the face. Utter and permanent oblivion. You will cease to be. To be, Jack. The dier accepts this and dies. The killer, in theory, attempts to defeat his own death by killing others. He buys time, he buys life. Watch others squirm. See the blood trickle in the dust.”

I looked at him, amazed. He drew contentedly on his pipe, making hollow sounds.

“It’s a way of controlling death. A way of gaining the ultimate upper hand. Be the killer for a change. Let someone else be the dier. Let him replace you, theoretically, in that role. You can’t die if he does. He dies, you live. See how marvelously simple.”

“You say this is what people have been doing for centuries.”

“They’re still doing it. They do it on a small intimate scale, they do it-in groups and crowds and masses. Kill to live.”

“Sounds pretty awful.”

He seemed to shrug. “Slaughter is never random. The more people you kill, the more power you gain over your own death. There is a secret precision at work in the most savage and indiscriminate killings. To speak about this is not to do public relations for murder. We’re two academics in an intellectual environment. It’s our duty to examine currents of thought, investigate the meaning of human behavior. But think how exciting, to come out a winner in a deathly struggle, to watch the bastard bleed.”

“Plot a murder, you’re saying. But every plot is a murder in effect. To plot is to die, whether we know it or not.”

“To plot is to live,” he said.

I looked at him. I studied his face, his hands.

“We start our lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that’s not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral, Jack. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. The efforts a huge and powerful government are brought to bear on a ceremony that will shed the last trace of chaos. If all goes well, if they bring it off, some natural law of perfection is obeyed. The nation itself is delivered from anxiety, the deceased’s life is redeemed, itself is strengthened, reaffirmed.”

“Are you sure?” I said.

“To plot, to take aim at something, to shape time and space. This is how we advance the art of human consciousness.”

We moved in a wide circle back toward campus. Streets in deep and soundless shade, garbage bags set out for collection. crossed the sunset overpass, pausing briefly to watch the cars shoot by. Sunlight bouncing off the glass and chrome.

“Are you a killer or a dier Jack?”

“You know the answer to that. I’ve been a dier all my life.”

“What can you do about it?”

“What can any dier do? Isn’t it implicit in his makeup that he can’t cross over?”

“Let’s think about that. Let’s examine the nature of the beast, so to speak. The male animal. Isn’t there a fund, a pool, a reservoir of potential violence in the male psyche?”

“In theory I suppose there is.”

“We’re talking theory. That’s exactly what we’re talking. Two friends on a tree-shaded street. What else but theory? Isn’t there a deep field, a sort of crude oil deposit that one might tap if and when the occasion warrants? A great dark lake of male rage.”

“That’s what Babette says. Homicidal rage. You sound like her.”

“Amazing lady. Is she right or wrong?”

“In theory? She’s probably right.”

“Isn’t there a sludgy region you’d rather not know about? A remnant of some prehistoric period when dinosaurs roamed the earth and men fought with flint tools? When to kill was to live?”

“Babette talks about male biology. Is it biology or geology?”

“Does it matter, Jack? We only want to know whether it is there, buried in the most prudent and unassuming soul.”

“I suppose so. It can be. It depends.”

“Is it or isn’t it there?”

“It’s there, Murray. So what?”

“I only want to hear you say it. That’s all. I only want to elicit truths you already possess, truths you’ve always known at some basic level.”

“Are you saying a dier can become a killer?”

“I’m only a visiting lecturer. I theorize, I take walks, I admire the trees and houses. I have my students, my rented room, my TV set. I pick out a word here, an image there. I admire the lawns, the porches. What a wonderful thing a porch is. How did I live a life without a porch to sit on, up till now? I speculate, I reflect, I take constant notes. I am here to think, to see. Let me warn you, Jack. I won’t let up.”

We passed my street and walked up the hill to the campus.

“Who’s your doctor?”

“Chakravarty,” I said.

“Is he good?”

“How would I know?”

“My shoulder separates. An old sexual injury.”

“I’m afraid to see him. I put the printout of my death in the bottom drawer of a dresser.”

“I know how you feel. But the tough part is yet to come. You’ve said good-bye to everyone but yourself. How does a person say good-bye to himself? It’s a juicy existential dilemma.”

“It certainly is.”

We walked past the administration building.

“I hate to be the one who says it, Jack, but there’s something that has to be said.”

“What?”

“Better you than me.”

I nodded gravely. “Why does this have to be said?”

“Because friends have to be brutally honest with each other. I’d feel terrible if I didn’t tell you what I was thinking, especially at a time like this.”

“I appreciate it, Murray. I really do.”

Don DeLilloWhite Noise,” 1985

Image – ‘Yuri Pavlovick Gidzenko,’ Test Cosmonaut of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Russian Federal Space Agency

Kaivue – Vladislav Delay : The Decline of Western Civilisation – Tru West : I0 – Klangwart : Twasidich Wurde – Kleefstra/Pruiksma/Kleefstra : King of Clubs – Apparet : Dream II – Leafcutter John : Adikia – Ekkehard – Ehlers : Visible Breath – Eyvind kang : Stadich Lit Ik Dy Kalder Wurde – Kleefstra/Pruiksma/Kleefstra : Stilleben 187-88 – Kaija Saariaho : Henki – Vladislav Delay : Farnsworth House – Efdemin : Sixteenth – Autistici : 91 Mins

 

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.

(About the size of a Book)

A Unitych is a unit made up of two identical parts. Each part is about the size of a book. It comprises a unit when both parts are separated and disseminated. If presented as a pair – casually assembled on a window ledge for instance – it would merely exist as a sum of components. Entirely dependant on each part’s separation, a Unitych is unique in requiring two persons to own it. One could have both parts in their possession of course, but in order for Unitych to function, the ownership needs to be split, 50/50 with another person. A Unitych unit dissolves if there is too larger distance between the componential parts. There is no actual yardstick, and different Unitychs behave differently. Many come into being by accident and each one behaves relatively to its owners’ predicaments.

In a meagre room, a barefooted woman is curled up on a chair staring at a wall. An object (about the size of a book) rests on a table. Should her gaze turn directly towards the object, she will not perceive a Unitych but only a componential sibling. She cannot stare at both at the same time, because the other part is in another meagre room, in another house, somewhere else. To see hers, she has to look away from the object, but too far and she’ll miss it. She might stare at the wall and only perceive the wall, or she might be staring at the wall but perceive a Unitych. If this were the case she does not see the wall at all and only perceives the Unitych.

For a Unitych can plunge surrounding objects and other matter into darkness. To see her own, she has to capture a distance, if she manages to capture this, then she can perceive her Unitych. A Unitych works very much like an old optical illusion. You know the type; you run your eyes over a grid of black and white squares, and a mesh of grey ones appear. You stop to focus, stagnantly, to deconstruct the trick, only to find as you do there is a slight oscillation anyway, and the little grey fuzzy squares break free and career all over your visual field.

In another meagre room, a barefooted woman is curled up on chair facing an object (about the size of a book) on a table. Her eyes are closed and her womb aches. Three small tears emit from dormant tear ducts and fall onto her lap. The drips fall with the same amount of time between each one and hit the same spot on her lap. On the third, she opens her eyelids. Two empty eye sockets meet the wall and at this point she sees her Unitych. Her mouth opens; her tongue tightens to reach the roof of her mouth. She squeezes some air from the depths of her lungs to make an O, a C, a U, and an L, a long A, and a quivering lower lip attempts an R.

In another meagre room, a barefooted woman is curled up staring at an object (about the size of a book) on the table. Her belly begins to ache, and the pain travels further down her abdomen to her vagaina, and into her anus. The pain in her womb intensifies. Paralysed in agony, she feels movement in her womb. The pain between her thighs is unbearable, and she feels a rush of fluid. She dares not look down, as two spherical objects, as soft and white as lychees emerge from her vagina. Drooling in fluid they fall neatly on to the chair. The woman clenches her eyes, and they begin to stream; one, two, three drops. She opens hers eyes on the third. Staring at the table, the object has vanished. She remains frozen, but she looks down between her thighs at the dribble around her lap. Two eyes stare back at her, and as all eyes meet, an object (about the size of a book) shifts into focus. Her stare darts over to the tabletop but the object has disappeared and by the time her glance returns to the set of eyes swimming in fluid, the object returns. Fixed still on the set of eyes, her mouth opens, and her tongue tightens to reach the roof of her mouth. She squeezes some air from the depths of her lungs to make an O, a C, a U, and an L, a long A, and a quivering lower lip attempts an R.

Invisible – Jean-Claude Risset : L’Imparfait Des Langues – Louis Sclavis : Armadillo Death – Rancho Shampoo : Mon Histoire – Michel Cloup : Cette Colere – Michael Cloup : Chat Noir – Le Pas du chat noir- Anouar Brahem : La Partition du Ciel et de l’Enfer – Philippe Manoury : The Hospital (The Eye of the Beholder) – Bernard Herrmann : The dance of the tutuguri – Antonin Artaud : String Quartet No. 3: III. Epilogue / Lullaby – Jefferson Friedman : Cave Song – Meredith Monk : Invisible – Jean-Claude Risset : Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo : Espaces Inhabitables, I. – François Bayle : Dj la nuit – Anouar Brahem : On Top of The World – James – 65 Mins

This is an Exquisite Corpse. The music was selected by A Moment of Eternal Noise, an excerpt was sent to Simone Gigles who made the image ‘Kitty.’ The text was written by Cameron Irving based on that image.

 

1) Marburg. Project Harlequin. 03.11.39

In 1939 at the General Electric labs in Schenectady, New York they discovered the ability of dry ice shavings to convert supercooled water droplets (those existing as water at temperatures colder than freezing) to ice crystals and thus to water, with the addition of elements such as copper oxide the water could be colored. This combination would be injected into clouds using a convectional heating process that would manifest itself in the paths of jet streams propelling the clouds to Germany. When they reached precipitation point the rain would permanently stain any exposed skin.

2) Cuxhaven. The Badische Committee. 05.05.39

The communist organization Young Czechoslovakia proposed fake German fashion houses. Here gangs of secret Jewish tailors would make special low cost Nazi uniforms which would fit perfectly when first worn but would then inhibit the movements when the wearer ran or lifted their arms above elbow height. Each garment and accessory was designed to inhibit a specific task such as a belt which would tighten when loading a rifle or a smoking jacket that constricted blood flow in the right arm making writing an uncomfortable and difficult procedure.

3) Wartburg. The Salar League. 14.08.42

The Dutch created vast animal hospitals and developed animal training centers in Ireland. Using rigorous advanced techniques they hoped to combine several instincts into one animal. Echolocation from bats was taught to rats. The sensitivity of a spider’s legs was taught to horses. The hibernation habits of bears were taught to owls. In the Rhine a salmon and a tiger shark were cross bred, implanted with organic sonar amplifiers. Bombs were mounted onto and sometimes into their bodies. They attempted to combine the salmon’s homing skills with a shark’s instinct for detecting noises and electrical signals to create living weapons. Boats have large electrical ‘footprints’ which they assumed could easily be taught to the fish. It was hoped they could be trained to hunt and destroy specific targets.

4) Berlin. The Red Ribbon. 12.10.43

In the outer Hebrides a farmers collective was approached, they favored using special sheep breeding techniques and the meat sent into Germany disguised as Red Cross packs that had accidentally been dropped in the wrong areas. The meat contained massive amounts of untraceable hormones that would cause mass impotency.

5) Kassel. League of Biblio-Terorism. 22.04.43

The Russian’s had their sights set on the Nazi education system. The National Socialists completely changed the schooling system in Germany, aggressively vetting teachers, encouraging pupils to inform on them, rewriting history and adding anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist twists to historical accounts. Large amounts of new text books, learning materials and teachers had to be found. The short time frame needed to create this new system created many loop holes that the Russians wanted to exploit. They focused on hiding secret messages within the books using subtle diagrams and compositions they believed would effect the children’s development. Subliminal messages would be hidden in the educational films. Colors the Russians believed would effect the children’s sub-conscious were especially favored. Secret backward chants and messages were hidden in the gramophone records of marching bands. In physical education which comprised 15% of their total class time the children where made to run in shapes and patterns that would create indelible mental symbols of anti-Nazi propaganda. The Russians believed the arrangement of these positive mental symbols would effect the children’s subconscious in such a way as to make identification with the Nazi’s graphic symbolism impossible.

6) Soest. The Zeuss Factory. 30.03.44

In occupied France the Brittany Resistance were interested in the factory owners and managers. They infiltrated these Nazi owned business and secretly proposed a radical redesign of everyday objects. A bathtub that was so slippery the user could almost never get out of it. Concrete made so impure that it would disintegrate in the rain. A special bicycle cog set based on the concept of half-step gearing was created by altering original blueprints. Here a simultaneous front and rear shift change was necessary to move through the gears. At the lowest gear the chain was designed to fall off the cog just at the point the rider reached top speed in the hope of causing a fatal accident.

7) Schwerin. The Quinton Study. 19.11.1945

The Quinton Study in Schwerin was a group named after the famous canine sea water experiments conducted by René Quinton in the late 19th Century. The American animal laboratories had found a way of teaching dogs excellent tracking skills and homing instincts from pigeons and coyotes that they would use to triangulate their position on targets. The canines were flown in and parachuted about 10 kilometers from the desired target. The dogs would live off the land while they slowly closed in. When they got within a kilometer they could communicate using coyote calls. Then at a specific time they would attack. Even the actual method of carrying out the assassination was an instinct taken from another animal. The dogs were taught to copy the feeding habits of crocodiles and their jaw muscles operated on to promote extra muscle development, their teeth removed and replaced with ceramic blades. Their coats would be washed daily in a chemical mixture created to streamline and camouflage the animal. Finally the dogs were taught to entirely eat their kill.

This text by A Moment of Eternal Noise features an original score by Paul Gulati and is edited by Kelly Kludt.

 

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.

 

Transcript of an interview with subject K, Julliard Institute of Audio-Geological Study, Kenmere, UK by employee X

X Could you tell me where you first met S?

K Yes, we met in the war, he was already getting on then. He was about 40ish, but still very handsome. We were both working at the Ecolocation Research Center.

X Where was that?

K Aberdeen.

X What did you both do there?

K He did the dubs – the first hand recordings. They were looking for someone who could help discover the opposition’s communication network. In the beginning they couldn’t even find what their means of communication was. All they could hear in the transmissions was a wall of noise. But he discovered that it was this sound that was the code. That was the easy part. Back then, because of the nature of the noise, there was not a mechanical way to record the sound onto the wax cartridges. So he and his team devised a way of drawing on the spinning wax discs using specially designed metal tools and an adapted lathe.

X Did he make the tools himself?

K Yes, well he designed them. He actually went to a dental surgeon to get them made and they were cast by the local black smith.

X How did he decide on the drawing, I mean, which drawing would best create the noise? What thickness of line, the duration, etc.?

K As you can imagine it wasn’t easy, but he used skills he had learned from his experience with bird song.

X Bird song?

K Yes, he spent hours in the woods. At first we thought he was up to something, you know, a bit strange, but what he was actually doing was drawing bird song. He used watercolours. The brush enabled him to make a mark swiftly, and according to the pressure he put on the brush he’d alter the thickness of the line and change colours according to the species of bird. He then went home and transferred the lines to the specially prepared wax discs. Each night he would listen to the discs, altering them until they started to resemble the original bird song. Before that all bird song was notated on scores; he’s the first one to reproduce a genuinely ‘life like’ sound of birds.

X And once the war had started, is that when he was approached to work at Ecolocation Research Center?

K Almost immediately, he wanted to help, we all did.

X …and then he was put to work immediately recording and decoding the foreign broadcasts?

K Yes, and the problem to begin with was determining which noises were the actual broadcasts. Which noises were interference, which were fake codes, which were distorted Morse Code and which were the new noise languages, the white noise which he now suspected they used to hide their messages in. He assembled a team almost immediately and started listening to hours of static. Everyone thought he was mad. But then no one knew what was real noise and what was not. Both sides were desperately trying to hide messages in more and more complicated ways. Then one day the breakthrough happened. He noticed a visual change in certain broadcasts.

X A visual?

K He found out there were repetitions in the sine waves and it was this part of an audio wave that the messages were hidden in. You see… the sign wave itself, once rendered into a drawing, had graphic repetitions, and these were the code. He hooked up what I think was a very early electrocardiograph machine to a sonar echo location device. This created the drawing. He used a simple stencil that he cut out of the government ration cereal boxes, one of the most popular and bizarrely most plentiful foods in the institute to match the graphs he drew of the sine waves to the charts he made which related to the code. It took the enemy the rest of the war to understand how the hell we were doing it.

X Were you helping him with the Static Code?

K God no, I was a kid, just 21. I was in the Morse Code department and for a long time I couldn’t even understand Morse! I used to write it down, someone else would translate it. Dot for dot, dash for dash, it went on and on… all day, oh, it was so boring. Hours and hours drawing these endless lines which made up these thick pictures of texture. Horrible. I used to go to bed dreaming of them, thick lines or marks like hundreds of teeth on a never-ending saw. Anyway, sorry. So as you can imagine, seeing the handsome code breaker walking around, lost in his own world, was quite a distraction, and within a month we’d got engaged. We lived and worked underground surrounded by a totally destroyed landscape of melted metal and mountains of bricks, rats and feral cats, corned beef and cereals, yet I was the happiest I’ve ever been. It continued like that for the rest of the war, an underground life of sound, diagrams and cereal boxes.

X And after the war ended?

K After the war ended we moved back into the suburbs. We had a child, D, we had a house and S was a sort of secret hero. The government didn’t really have any use for him now, with the advent of sonar, analogue and later digital communication. Audio codes became an outdated idea, but still they couldn’t have him walking around doing any old job so they just kept on paying him and financed any crackpot idea he could come up with. He had a special a laboratory build in the garden where he spent day and night working on new sound machines, aural telescopes, sonic bullets, sonar scrubbers, all these strange things.

X Did some of the big navigation or RRS companies not ask him to work for them? Or even the Institute for Tactical Diagnostics Team?

K Well of course, they all asked, they were on the phone, writing letters and even coming round but eventually they gave up. He wanted to do his own thing and spend as much time with his own equipment; he lived with headphones glued to his ears… And then one day the university came round. They’d made a very strange discovery.

X The KC?

K Yes, it had been discovered after the war. One of the stray bombs had hit a hill side in Kent and exposed the mouth of a small tunnel, and after a few months of excavation they came to a beautiful limestone cave covered in white crustaceans amongst the many bones they found a very strange phenomenon. Still covered with thick crystalline deposits they discovered a bear skeleton that seemed to have mutated or grown onto a human skeleton.

X Can you describe this?

K Well, I didn’t see it of course, but I saw some pictures, and I know some of the technical details. It was a strange looking thing, not like a skeleton but almost like a porcelain sculpture or huge white popsicle. They’d never seen anything like it. But that was not the strange part, the strange part was that this ‘creature’s’ bones were not bones, but a sort of mixture of bone and rock, a fusion that appeared to have formed organically. What was on the outside of the skeleton, the crystalline deposits, was also found on the inside of the skeleton. It was definitely a species relating to Homo sapiens but some bones were extended, shrunk or had bonded together. Very odd. Anyway, they hired him to search for the rock the skeleton was made from, to create some kind of machine that could detect this mix of bone and rock. They believed – or maybe already knew – there were many more of these in caves that were hidden or impossible to access. So, he went to work, and after many different attempts he eventually developed a machine that could recognise ‘geo-organic shapes,’ as he now called them. An analysis of these rock people had revealed some very interesting repetitive shapes. The simple principal was that he would fire sound waves using accurately targeted speakers developed in the war into the rock, which would then grip onto these shapes and create an aural aura around them. Then other sounds that were hyper-dynamically designed to respond to these auras would be fired at these encapsulated rocks. The sound of that impact was then recorded and analysed. The analysis focused on minute changes of pitch, tone and repetition and used a system of algorithms combined with the geological structure of the rock and its main composites. The rock composition of the man was very specific and only S’s machine could detect this particular combination of elements in this particular arrangement. After his third discovery the university was very eager to learn of any other of these geo-organic rock-men around the country, so they made several versions of S’s machine and sent him out all over the world, at first the UK, then Europe, and then in the last few years mostly to North America. It was an incredibly exciting time for him, yet of course frustrating; it took him almost a decade of testing and development and, more importantly, he had to spend a lot of time away from his family and it was, of course, all secret. He had no one to talk to and even treated me as a stranger, he spent more and more time with his sample. He was, in a way, addicted to discovering the key to discovery.

X Fascinating, so what did this mean, I mean, what were these things? Are they still a mystery? Was discovering were they were from an important key?

K His job was to discover them, not to analyse them. As far as he told me, it was only facts that he was interested in, not conjecture, and after that he just did what he was told.

X And so were there any interesting relationships to geographical areas? What sort of places was he finding these… things in? What were the discoveries, the correlations, did he have any thoughts? Do you?

K I don’t know I really don’t. He wasn’t really interested in where, but rather how, we discovered them. He lived with them, he was given some small samples he always kept locked up in his studio the university had given to him. He had a kind of continuous aural conversation or relationship with these samples, and after a while he stopped telling me about his work – never mind what the government were discovering with his inventions. But as the years progressed and his health worsened he became more forgetful. He left some documents around: notes, academic press clippings, government communiqués and stuff.

X What did you find out, I mean, we now know they were all just a form of overlooked rock formation, but is there anything else to it?

K Well, he believed the rock was new, modern.

X What do you mean, newly created? When was it formed?

K Well, the interesting part was not when, but where. They were found in caves, but mostly in the western world. It turns out there had been discoveries before but they were so distorted they had been dismissed as ancient rock formations or basic fossils. And although I never saw the evidence, he told me he had seen a document which described the fast development of the rocks. They had a self-perpetuating structure that increased growth.

X Well, ok, and how does that relate to where they were found?

K To start with, many were discovered in Volcanic areas or under water, but as the machine got more accurate and we started to look for more recent phenomena in the last 300 years, they started to crop up everywhere. He first saw the modern signs in the North of England in the 1750s, in fact this still has the greatest proliferation of them. There they date mostly from around the Industrial Revolution – bizarre because rocks normally take millions of years to form and even cave formations, such as limestone stalagmites, thousands of years. Many were discovered in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, then Frankfurt, Berlin and Moscow. Later in years London and Paris. And in different areas, now in parts of human architecture and in different sizes. In factories, in concert halls, markets and court rooms.

Then he struck on an idea, he drew up diagrams of the loudest parts of our history or in certain cases a plan of the development of of social noise, moments and places when noise had shaped society. Moments like Krakatoa’s 1883 eruption, the discovery of gunpowder in China, the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the loudspeaker, the rise and fall of public executions and now of course rock concerts…… He then cross referenced this with the location of his discoveries, found a correlation and handed all his research over to the authorities….. They seemed to believe it and of course started a massive government search for lost people paranoid that it may be related, they started scouring public documents, as you can imagine it was an enormous and fruitless task. They though that maybe these formations were people who had been consumed by sound and become part of their architecture. This was not true of course and as we now know it’s just a gathering of still matter becoming solid, an overlooked phenomenon, but ha, ha, not supernatural. And anyway, S was not particularly interested in it. For him it was all a lot of hocus-pocus; he was interested in his machines and in his codes and audio patterns, not in lost tribes of rock men and mutants. So after only a few years with the bureau he quit to spend more time at home, which actually meant more time in the shed. He retired and the bureau paid him a huge amount of money for the patent on his machine (and, of course, to keep quiet) so we bought this house and he bought a massive super-shed!

X And was this the first time you discovered he was changing?

K I suppose so. I’d noticed changes, strange changes, in his body. I mean, it was so difficult to describe, so slight and yet so obvious. At first it was slight discolouration. Gray with white speckles, but under the skin, translucent like marble, quite erotic actually. Well, you know, sort of phallic. And then this spread, but not on the outside. His biceps, for example, had become odd. Its shape, it’s curve, had sort of moved and his arms literally felt like marble. The muscle on his thumb had grown slightly on one side. His sight had become week, or even sort of fluctuated one day to the next, and he had a very pale pallor. And then one day he went to the shed and didn’t come back. He was found dead, the radio on, sprawled over his equipment. The coroner said he was fine – his complexion was a mild skin disorder, common at his age. And then they took me away, took me here. I’ve had no visitors. It’s been awful, but luxuriously awful, as you can see. He had these insurance policies… He was always a sensible person. And that’s when I called you. I needed some advice, someone who understood the law. I have this letter. I’ll just sum it up, you can read it later. It says it was an addiction – he had become addicted to the sounds or, I’m not sure it’s unclear…. an addiction to listening to these bodies. And the more he listened, the more he lost; he felt they had encouraged him knowingly, creating an addiction. It was, as far as I can see, a forced love affair, but a fatal one – and one. I know it’s all ridiculous but I think this listening created a type of cancer – a growth. He had given himself to it and sacrificed himself in the process. He saw it as an ultimate union between body and mind unified by sound. Madness. And he left. Left leaving a jungle of figures and maps, a bizarre puzzle of space and sound.

Subject K died in 1993 of natural causes.

This piece includes an original analogue sound work by Rose Kallal and James Ginzburg. Camera by Emily Hope.

 

FOR A SAXIFRAGE OF PROMETHEUS

What is reality without the dislocating energy of poetry?

God has lived among us too powerfully. We no longer know
how to rise up and go. The stars, which had been sovereign
in his gaze, are dead in our eyes.

It was the questions the angels had that provoked the invasion
of demons. Once again they fastened us to the rock in
order to beat us up and love us.

It is only in the shadows that the struggle takes place. There
is no victory except on those borders.

Noble painting, my neighbor’s pretext and his struggle, in the
faint dawn I guard you as I guard my hunk of bread, waiting
for what I envision as a day of high rain and of green loam,
which will come for those who burn and for the stubborn.

René Char ‘The smoke that carried us: selected poems,’ 2004

This is A Moment of Eternal Noise Exquisite Corpse. The Music was selected by A Moment of Eternal Noise, an excerpt was sent to Ester Partegas who selected the text. The last paragraph of the text was sent to Philip Allen who selected the image and then the title was chosen from a corner of that photograph.

Theresa Screams – The Melvins : Amazon – The Melvins : Opening (A Nightmare on Elm St. 3) – Angelo Badlamenti : The Duke Arrives – John Carpenter : Night Drive – Giorgio Moroder : Waiting for the Man – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark : Oxygene Part III – Jean Michel Jarre : Christine/Car Obsession Reprise – John Carpenter : One Minute to Midnight – Justice : Puppet Walk – Angelo Badlamenti : For Your Love (Todd Terje Rmx) – Chilly : Chase – Giorgio Moroder : Eat The Rich – Motorhead : Magic Journey (Todd Terje Rmx) – Rogue Cat : Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free – Zombie Zombie : Gathering Dust – Cocteau Twins : No Remorse – Cannibal Corpse : Theme from the Comfort of Strangers – Angelo Badlamenti : Demoniac Possession – Napalm Death – 92 Mins

Photograph by Helen Thompson

 

The Crystal Land

Ice is the medium most alien to organic life, a considerable accumulation of it completely disrupts the normal course of processes in the biosphere.

P. A. Shumkii, Principles of Structural Glaciology

The first time I saw Don Judd’s ‘pink-plexiglass box,’ it suggested a giant crystal from another planet. After talking to Judd, I found out we had a mutual interest in geology and mineralogy, so we decided to go rock hunting in New Jersey. Out of this excursion came reflections, reconstituted as follows:

Near Paterson, Great Notch and Upper Montclair are the mineral-rich quarries of the First Watchung Mountain. Brian H.Mason, in his fascinating booklet, Trap Rock Minerals of New Jersey, speak of the “Triassic sedimentary rocks of the Newark series,” which are related to those of the Palisades. In these rocks one might find: “actinolite, albite, allanite, analcime, apatite, anhydrite, apophyllite, aurichalcite, axinite, azurite, babingtonite, bornite, barite, calcite, chabazite, chalcocite, chalcopyrite, chlorite, chrysocolla, copper, covellite, cuprite, datolite, dolomite, epidote, galena, glauberite, goethite, gmelinite, greenockite, gypsum, hematite, heulandite, hornblende, laumontite, malachite, mesolite, natrolite, opal, orpiment, orthoclase, pectolite, prehnite, pumpellyite, pyrite, pyrolusite, quartz, scolecite, siderite, silver, sphalerite, sphene, stevensite, stilbite, stilpnomelane, talc, thaumasite, thomsonite, tourmaline, ulexite.”

Together with my wife Nancy, and Judd’s wife, Julie, we set out to explore that geological locale. Upper Montclair quarry, “also known as Osborne and Marsellis quarry or McDowell’s quarry,” is situated on Edgecliff Road, Upper Montclair, and was worked from about 1890 to 1918. A lump of lava in the center of the quarry yields tiny quartz crystals. For about an hour don and I chopped incessantly at the lump with hammer and chisel, while Nancy and Julie wandered aimlessly around the quarry picking up sticks, leaves and odd stones. From the top of the quarry cliffs, one could see the New Jersey suburbs bordered by the New York City skyline.

The terrain is flat and loaded with ‘middle income’ housing developments with names like Royal Garden Estates, Rolling Knolls Farm, Valley View Acres, Split-level Manor, Babbling Brook Ranch-Estates, Colonial Vista Homes-on and on they go, forming tiny boxlike arrangements. Most of the houses are painted white, but many are painted petal pink, frosted mint, buttercup, fudge, rose beige, antique green, Cape Cod brown, lilac, and so on. The highways crisscross through the towns and become man-made geological networks of concrete. In fact, the entire landscape has a mineral presence. From the shiny chrome diners to glass windows of shopping centers, a sense of the crystalline prevails.

When we finished at the quarry, we went to Bond’s Ice Cream Bar and had some AWFUL AWFULS- “awful big – and awful good… it’s the drink you eat with a spoon.” We talked about the little crystal cavities we had found, and looked at The Field Book of Common Rocks and Minerals by Frederic Brewster Loomis, I noticed ice is a crystal: “Ice, H2O, water, specific gravity-.92, colorless to white, luster adamantine, transparent on thin edges. Beneath the surface hexagonal crystals grow downward into the water, parallel to each other, making a fibrous structure, which is very apparent when ice is’rotten’….”

After that we walked to the car through the charming Tudoroid town of Upper Montclair, and headed for the Great Notch Quarry. I turned on the car radio: “…count down survey…chew your little troubles away… high ho-hey hey…..”

My eyes glanced the over the dashboard, it became a complex of chrome fixed into an embankment of steel. A glass disk covered the clock. The speedometer was broken. Cigarette butts were packed into the ashtray. Faint reflections slid over the windshield. Out of sight in the glove compartment was a silver flashlight and an Esso map of Vermont. Under the radio dial (55-7-9-11-14-16) was a row of five plastic buttons in the shape of cantilevered cubes. The rearview mirror dislocated the road behind us. While listening to the radio, some of us read the Sunday newspapers. The pages made slight noises as they turned: each sheet folded over the laps forming temporary geographies of paper. A rally of print or a ridge of photographs would come and go in an instant.

We arrived at the Great Notch Quarry, which is situated “about three hundred yards south west of the Great Notch station of the Erie Rail road.” The quarry resembled the moon. A gray factory in the midst of it all, looked like architecture designed by Robert Morris. A big sign on one building said, THIS IS A HARD HAT AREA. We started climbing over the files and ran into a ‘rockhound’, who came on, I thought, like Mr Wizard, and who gave us all kinds of rock-hound-type information in an authoritative manner. We got a rundown on all the quarries that were closed to the public, as well as those that were open.

The walls of the quarry did look dangerous. Cracked, broken, shattered; the walls threatened to come crashing down. Fragmentation, corrosion, decomposition, disintegration, rock creep debris, slides, mud flow, avalanche were everywhere in evidence. The gray sky seemed to swallow up the heaps around us. Fractures and faults spilled forth sediment, crushed conglomerates, eroded debris and sandstone. It was an arid region, bleached and dry. An infinity of surfaces spread in every direction. A chaos of cracks surrounded us.

On the top of a promontory there stood motionless rock drills against the blank which was the sky. High-tension towers transported electric cable over the quarry. Dismantled parts of steam-shovels, tread machines and trucks were lined up in random groups. Such objects interrupted the depositions of waste that formed the general condition of the place. What vegetation there was seemed partially demolished. Newly made boulders eclipsed parts of a wire and pipe fence. Railroad tracks passed by the quarry, the ties formed a redundant sequence of modules, while the steel tracks projected the modules into an imperfect vanishing point.

On the way back to Manhattan, we drove through the Jersey Meadows, or more accurately the Jersey Swamps-a good location for a movie about life on mars. It even has a network of canals that are chocked by acres of tall reeds. Radio towers are scattered throughout these bleak place. Drive-inns, motels and gas stations exist along the highway, and behind them are smoldering garbage dumps. South, toward Newark and Bayonne, the smoke stacks of heavy industry add to the general air pollution.

As we drove throughout the Lincoln Tunnel, we talked about going on another trip, to Franklin Furnace; there one might find minerals that glow under ultra violet light or ‘black light’. The countless cream colored square tiles on the walls of the tunnel sped by, until a sigh announcing New York broke the tiles’ order.

Robert Smithson,The Writings of Robert Smithson,” edited by Nancy Holt, 1979

Attica Frederic Rzewki : Low Speed – Otto Luening overlaid by Cricket Music – Walter De Maria overlaid by The Mathmatics of Resonant Bodies – John Luther Adams overlaid by Lifespan: IV. In the Summer Terry Riley : Glass: Tissues (From Naqoyqatsi) For Cello, Percussion & Piano – Tissue #2 – Wendy Sutter/Philip Glass : Coming Together – Frederic Rzewski : Liquid Strata 3rd Movement – Morton Subotnick : Pastoral for Clarinet and PianoElliot Carter : Aract Graham Fitkin : The Fifth PlagueLaurie Anderson – 78 Mins

Image – ‘This alchemical wheel with a crank is supposed to have been the mark of the Danzig monk Koffskhi. Like Dee’s Monas Hieroglyph it is assembled from the seven metals, on the basis of an inverted glyph of Mercury: “For quicksilver is a mother of all metals, and the Sun (…) it is also Sulphur.” Father Vincentius Koffiskhi, Hermetische Schriften (1478), Nuremberg edition, 1786, “Alchemy & Mysticism,” Alexander Roob

Elements of this post were inspired by Smithson’s text which was selected by the artist Douglas Park. Douglas chose it based on the last word in the title. He then gave Dick Evans the last paragraph and he created the music selection, after that the image was chosen.