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In two parts.
The twelve vignettes each consist of two parts, intended to be read simultaneously as parallel
narratives. The stories thus move down the page, at once on the left and the right. They form a
cycle: the first vignette follows the final vignette. The global structure can be drawn as a trefoil.
V. V. Vaseter. February, 2014.
The woman lay on the bed, cruciform. The man administered metal and thorns, and knelt at her feet,
phallus in hand, earnest and tender. It was evening. The room was lit from the darkening sky, clear
with a sliver of moon. It was a simple room, bedded with cotton and floored with oak. The walls
were painted white. The man looked at the woman, rubbed and rocked. She had white skin. He was
also pale in the main, pinked in parts. Both were mainly quiet as he rubbed his hard gripped pink
protrusion. As he reached his climax he made a cry that sounded like anguish as the semen squirted
and dripped on his lover's feet. He stooped and tenderly wiped the liquid from her feet with his hair.
The woman was serene. She composedly looked out at the moon as the man composed. They had
walked in the afternoon, in the sun and up a hill. Insects in the grass. They had been to that place
many times but knew that this would be the last.
The man began to make striations in the woman's skin. He used thorned rose stems, gathered on the
afternoon's walk. He traced the contours of the woman's flesh with the stems, allowing the thorns to
prick and dig in. The skin peaked in places, pink and raw. The lines that formed gave a record of the
stems' passage. Occasionally the man shifted the woman, instructed her to turn around or turn over.
He began to scratch more firmly as time went on, increasing in confidence and in discomfort. As the
woman's pain increased so did the man's discomfort. The woman stayed strangely calm, breathing
slowly and evenly. Her eyes were shut. Her skin was now raw and bleeding. The pink lines had
blurred into a continuous mass. She had stems tied around her head, each of her arms, and each of
her legs. The man completed his torture by shafting the woman's anus with a rose stem.
The bed was mottled with blood. The man's deliberations continued, no longer with rose stems but
with a lump of pink granite. He carefully rolled it around the woman's body, traversing the streaky
mess that her skin had become. The man moved with geometrical motions about her body, in spirals
and curves tracing the fall of the light and the visible contours of the skin. The rose granite was
pinked further from time to time with wine, which smeared across her skin and dampened the
sheets. The man spoke quietly to the woman in no recognisable tongue `Uuuurgah, ooowoohah,
slodonyarykkah,..' The shapes of the man's movements altered with time, at times they were wide
and sweeping, at times tight and intricate. There was surely some correlation between the man's
noises and the stone's passage but it was not calculated. The man continued the motion of the stone
with his tongue on the woman's clitoris. Then the motion of the sound in aural space was replaced
by the motion of the tongue across the woman's body. The man controlled the positioning of her
body with his free hand. He was gentle now, not like before. The motions began to swirl and focus
around the cunt, the tongue and the stone chasing each other around the orifice with fascination.
The tongue and stone now worked in harmony, one at the labia, one at the clit. The woman moaned
in ecstasy, a cue that the game was now nearing its end.
The man looked bored as he ceremonially tore the sheet that lay on the bed in two. He left half for
the woman and took half with him. He slept soundly in a different room.
It begins with my Little Crucifixion. I am lying on my back, arms outstretched. He places iron nails
between my digits, one for each hand and one for each foot. I shudder at the feeling of the cold
metal between my first two fingers and my first two toes, a small passage of heat from skin to iron
from my four quarters. The stem of a rose is coiled around my head. It is dusk and the clarity of the
day's light has yielded to murkier hues. I feel the prickle of rose thorns in my brow, and a sweet
sorrow from the decay of the day. The man Magdalene weeps at my feet.
He thought he was joking when he called me God made flesh. I admit I was flattered. But there are
no jokes in this world, only truths and falsehoods. And the way that he beheld me was
blasphemous, unless he was willing to see it to its conclusion. The only way to salvation in Christ is
through His death. He thinks I am God made flesh. To be faithful servants we must enact a Passion.
I do not think it is necessary for me to die, literally, any more than he thinks I am God, literally. But
the resonance of his metaphor demands a resonant response. He has been many things in our
Passion, most recently the Magdalene, but all the way through I have been God made flesh. The
man has now recovered and the time has come for my Agonies.
First, inevitably, my breasts. Even now he must start with those. He moves around, as we have
agreed, flowing smoothly from one region of my body to the next. We want smooth lines. It hurts.
The longer he continues the more it hurts. Occasionally a thorn gets trapped. It hurts more and irks
me because I want smooth lines. There will be no discontinuities in Paradise. As the pain increases
my thoughts turn painful as well. I recall last night's drama: my Judas lover and my Judas sister,
embracing and fucking before me. The pair were embarrassed but committed to their roles. Each
had worn a silver chain for the occasion, and they were paid in full. The anal flourish is
And now the Stone. It is rolled about me smoothly. I gulp down blood red wine. My head swims as
I am soothed by the smooth rocky ball against my skin. It crosses the various points of my body,
meandering pointlessly in curves determined by the man's whim. He dwells on the portions that
fascinate him the most. This annoys me at first but in time I am lulled by the motions, following
them and predicting them. He makes little attempt at an even path and frequently returns to my
breasts, my buttocks, my thighs. My face is traced carefully with little presses at the eye sockets. He
takes pleasure in the soft, I prefer the feeling of stone against bone. My sorry torn nipples are
aroused by the motions. The man is whispering nonsense to me. It sounds absurd. It is as if I am a
musical instrument and the stone's movements correspond in some precise way with the noises he
makes. The noises stop soon enough as he begins to lick me. Soon his tongue and the stone move as
two independent horny burrowing little creatures. Their motions are only bounded by the fact that
his tongue and his hand can only be so far distant. Then the certain turn towards my reproductive
organ. I have known this many times before and I am in pain but it is still welcome.
I am leaving him. I dream vividly, although not of the Passion as I hope. Rather of people I once
admired administering to wounds that are self-inflicted.
In the morning I stop briefly at the door as the man is eating his breakfast. I will never see him
`Yes. What is it you say you are doing? Representing the female form in sound. It is your obsession.
I don't believe in it. You are only ogling your daughter and her friends. Anyone can see that a sound
is nothing like a woman. Anyone can hear and see that.' She removed her clothes nevertheless. She
was not interested in his answer, only in hearing him speak. Later she would dress in something
luxurious and they would make love, but now he was shining at her naked flesh with a purist light
and she was basking in it.
The room was mainly bare, named the Laboratory. There was no curtain at the window. It was dark
outside and beyond the darkness lay a starlit lawn and then the deeper darkness of a wood. There
was a mat in the room and a still image of a robin was projected on one wall in black and white.
The room was lit by the reflections of this image about the room. Agata manipulated her position to
shape herself like the robin. She was remarkably flexible and slender, the shapes of her bones
visible from beneath her skin. Watching her, as well as the trees and the man, were her Audience,
tonight a collection of sixteen tiny cameras arranged in four tetrahedra, whose centres formed a
square about the centre of the room.
From time to time the image changed, the same robin photographed in a different position or from a
different angle. Each time Agata altered her pose in response. She was strictly bounded by gravity
and the limits of her womanliness. If the bird appeared in flight she had to ground her womanly self
and give the impression of a bird in flight simultaneously. Her aptitude for this task was far beyond
that of other women and she was able to give the impression of a wing with a twist of her single
bony arm. Her legs although slender were far from the robin's spindles, yet she was able to hold
them in a like way. Each image was distinct from the last, they had not been taken in an identifiable
sequence, although the photographs were of the same robin. But Agata's positions were in
progression, with a smooth flow between them.
When Edgar lectured to her he reminded Agata of her father, dear to her, but distant. The words and
themes were different, in a different language even. In neither case was she much exerted by what
they had to say. But there was a common earnestness, a sense in each case that they appealed to her
and wanted her to understand. She did not understand, but she enjoyed the resulting formalism.
Edgar wanted her to be a robin. So she would be one. Wasn't she perfect for the role?
`You should not insult your beautiful daughter,' she said. Agata thought of Maria and her sensual
kindness. It brought a slowness to her intermediate motions that brought an effect of softness.
They were quiet for a time as Agata softly traced the bird's various forms. There was a loop of
images but identical birds in the loop were not presented as identical Agatas.
It was a measure of how much trust Agata now placed in Edgar that she would eat food prepared by
him. He had picked apples from the garden earlier, weighed them, chosen one of the correct
proportions, and cut it into slices. She moved towards him in imitation of the robin, and took a slice
from his hand. The sweetness of the apple cut into her hunger and she became ravenous. The robin
was moving so slowly and she was suddenly so hungry.
`You must remove them, my darling. I can't have those nasty cotton things crumpling your lovely
body. You may wear your furs later.'
`I am only doing as male artists have been doing for centuries for their pleasure: representing the
female form. I use sound for representation as others have used images. Like many painters, I prefer
the simplicity of nudes. In painting the problem of representing the female form was solved
centuries ago by Titian. More recent attempts are worse than his in my opinion, and hardly more
original. But in sound, where we can be in no way literal, all is still open. We use the same
contrasting words, beauty and ugliness, to differentiate between human forms as to differentiate
between sounds. This is in recognition that we are dealing with structures experienced in similar
ways. But the notion of beauty is both very subjective and very crude. I want something both more
objective and more refined. I am not only interested in creating similar experiences with sound to
those achieved by views of the body, I am searching for formal correlations between the motions of
the mind as we experience certain sounds, and the motions of the female body, and looking to
extend musical vocabulary to allow for the expression of these correlations.'
`It pleases me to watch you. I am not ashamed to say it. You are both woman and bird and this
superposition of states fascinates and arouses me. I will recall your bird shaped flesh and bone when
our bodies entwine in a more conventional manner later tonight. After you have mentioned her I
may think of Maria also, but my interest in her and love for her are different from my interest in you
and love for you. Of course at the most basic level in each case we are facing the motion of surfaces
through space. She is plumper than you and I relish the possibility of bringing your figures together
in my mind, or in the Laboratory. But there is such intelligence in your movements, my dear, that
we can hardly compare you. Years of dedication and art mean that your motions have special
structure guided by thought as well as instinct. That is why I torture you with long and painful
interviews. I want to study the rational structures behind your elegant motions.'
`Maria, much as I love her, is a clumsy fat pig next to you. She stimulates my curiosity in different
ways. When she was younger, going through puberty I was able to observe the changes in her body
and record them sonically. I think of those pieces as like family photos. I can study her genetic
material and compare it with mine, and study the way in which elements of her form weakly
correspond to elements of my form. Each of these have correlations in associational structures that
are recognisable by the human ear. I wish I could learn more of her mother's physicality, but she
will not see me, or let me see her.'
`But as I do so I compliment you. And you have placed her irresistably adjacent to yourself in my
`I will meet with a soprano tomorrow and we will work on the bird's song. It is the song that drew
me to the robin in the first place. Long sweet phrases, with variation. There is some footage of our
robin feeding now. At first it is shown slowed down. There are repetitions and pauses to allow you
to practice. The bird eats worms from our photographer's hand. I have no worms, but I have brought
you an apple.' I hold out my hand with the slices of a Cox's Orange Pippin, and watch as Agata
closes on me and takes a slice. I feel momentarily the warmth of her lips on my hand.
If she was looking for a neat solution to a problem, then she had come to the wrong place. The
trappings of the sacred space were delighted to see a figure so exquisite, and responded with
exaggeration: blood pulsed more freely from Christ's wounds, the Magdalene's tears flowed with a
deeper sorrow, the pride on the Mother of God's face shone more fully. The walls, painted saints,
windows of stained glass, aisle, nave and altar were all pleased to see her, and offer her their
associational pulls, but there were nowhere pleasant images of nice sensible women leading nice
healthy lives. There were tombs of irrelevant dead and rows of uncomfortable seats and it was cold.
After her initial violation of its quietude, the shape of the church seemed little altered by the young
woman's presence. She was kneeling at a wooden bench, surrounded by images again. The figures'
poses were flat and abstract. The Mother of God had never known a man, let alone been taken by
one with a microphone, as Agata had been the previous night, and they had little to say to each
other. The Christ was in pain, and certainly Agata knew something about that, but his pain was of a
lurid singular kind, depicted in primary colours, whilst pain for Agata was a returning return, a
system tied to her body's exertions.
Another body momentarily broke the closed form of the church's shell. It was a man, heavy
bearded, dishevelled and short. He stopped near the entrance before a collection of leaflets about
Jesus' love and various local community events. He found a pamphlet articulating the history of the
church's dominant features and moved further to examine those. He stopped first at the font.
The lines the man traced in the church were more expansive than those made by Agata. She shifted
in her seat, apparently affected by his presence, but he moved slowly around the church, encircling
her, constantly consulting his piece of paper. The church was a collage of conventional styles, and
he seemed to be genuinely interested in what, where, and when. That there was a beautiful lady at
prayer in the heart of the church seemed to have completely passed him by. The man looped around
the woman, enclosing her with his path.
He looped around a second time, less slowly than the first, as if to fix in his memory what he had
learned. Upon completing his second circuit he paused and returned the pamphlet to its stand,
looked around himself and left through the large wooden door.
Agata wept and the gathered pity of the gathered images swept through her and filled her with a
deeper sorrow. The saints danced around her head to a silent fugue, a single choral line a piece. It
had been long since she last wept. Her crying was yet graceful, after all just another bodily motion.
It was not the first time that a woman was brought to tears in these surroundings, nor was it to be
the last. Some churches made an industry of it, their leaders using them as weeping factories,
seeking out unhappy people and attempting to fill flagons that had been emptied of philosophy with
tears. What stood were relics of a time when people's minds were shaped by the verses of a single
I shiver as I enter. The luminosity of the sun is obscured. I have not slept well and my mind is
scattered. It is quiet and my lover is not here. Seeing him leaves marks in my mind as physical
exertion leaves aches in my limbs. You see, I have begun to think in vile metaphor as well. The time
that I spend with him returns to me in the following days. It seems he is dangerous to me.
I do not know why I have come to this place. It makes me cold and I am not wearing a coat. I must
I can name some of the figures around me. The modest looking woman is the Holy Virgin and her
child is Jesus, the Son of Man. The man on the cross in the window is also Jesus, grown old enough
to be killed. And one of the women at his feet is his mother again, no longer so happy.
Edgar would know more about these people than I do, but he is not here to tell me. I know little
about them and I am surrounded by them, watched by them. I am glad he is not here. I will keep this
secret from him.
He has lately discovered that he can push me to greater extremes. There was a freedom to our work
before. But now he is interested in the limits of my expression, he says it gives a sort of rigidity to
my motions whatever that means. I suspect he likes to hurt me.
I am sore. My back aches, my knee aches and the inner wall of my vagina feels raw. My lips are dry
and it is cold.
I can tell there is a man behind me. My pulse quickens a little at his presence. I feel he is an
intruder. The church belongs to me and he has invaded my special space.
The intruder moves slowly, picking at his mess of a beard with his fingernails. I grow accustomed
to his presence. He does not look at me, but from time to time I inspect him. He has interrupted my
morbid reverie and I wonder about him. We have been placed together by our motions, enclosed in
this dark airy space. I picture myself trimming his beard.
I like the strange little man. I want him to stay close to me, always walking around me, always
looking away from me, at his windows and his vaults and his leaflet. I want him to stay here until I
am shivering and crying with cold so that he can see me, and wrap me in his warm coat but never
look at me.
As he leaves the church I yelp with sorrow and tears do now wet my face. I am tired and I am cold,
I am in pain and I am alone. Images of my dear father and of darling Edgar flood my mind, as do
metamorphoses from one to the next. This is not the first time I have been haunted by their
intermediate shapes. I long for the old kindness and for simplicity.
I am left now with the church to myself and damp sleeves. It is time to return to the sunshine.
Fugue 4, book 1 of the Well Tempered Clavier. Joseph Hingham sat quietly, gazing into the
darkness in contemplation. He did not touch the piano's keys until a hidden impulse compelled him
to do so. Then a mechanical chain of events, almost instantaneous: finger struck key, key stimulated
hammer, hammer struck strings, strings shook box, box shook air, air shook ear drum, hammer
shook anvil shook stirrup shook oval window, oval window shook perilymph shook cochlear
partition, the motion of hair cells transformed into an electronic fizz fired along the auditory nerve
to his brain where he gratefully received the consequences of his action. Cause tied to effect. Then
effect to cause as the second note follows the first. The complexity of the transactions was increased
by the echoes of the church, the mediations of the outer hair cells and as each note built on the
preceding ones the relations between them, their closeness and similarity, their accumulations into
bodies consisting of numerous notes, and the relations between these bodies. These relations were
Joseph's concern, and Joseph wanted to account for all of them in his mind.
His strategy was not to leave anything to chance. His role was to allow the structure of the piece to
reveal itself, to maintain clean lines, to bring out recurring motifs, and allow them to evolve: there is
no bald repetition in a Bach fugue. But sometimes images came to his mind as he played.
Sometimes they came as a flash of a pain, at others they felt quite natural and were associated with
the local structure of his music. He could see a woman dancing, moving as though to hide herself
from him and shaking her dress with her hand in time with the top choral line in quavers.
Joseph felt that the motifs with three consecutive notes in the fugues chimed with a thing ancient
and deep inside him. One such arose here and he brought it out strongly as it sounded for the first
time, sounding as if its firm crotchet content had been present before.
If it had been Bach's intention to have clarity he would have composed in a single line. But here
there were five voices and many of their harmonics were necessarily close. Distinct harmonics
created swilling in the cochlea around the same location. The pianist was playing points against
points so separate notes sounded simultaneously concurring the effect of merging. So although
Joseph was bringing the voices out as clearly as he could there was a unity to their combinations
that was unavoidable. The result was chords and cadences whose motions were restricted by the
rules of counterpoint, legato bodies of noise placed under strict constraints resulting in the strong
exertion of a key.
Joseph could still see the woman dancing, presently slowly, her dress in strange motion as if pulled
by other bodies. Then he could see another figure, indeed tugging at the woman's dress, now empty.
The dress now took on an independent motion, hugged tight to the second figure, and sprawled
across. He felt keenly the pain of dissonance when it came and the figure seemed to feel it too.
The same notes came under a permutation. And then under another permutation. Joseph cared little
for the stupid twelve tone model in which notes many octaves apart were identified. But the
recurrence of a single note was a fact he could not ignore. How many times was the first note of the
fugue repeated? After a time the repetitions became monotonous unless there were further more
complex organisations at work. Notes gathering in related clusters and clusters of clusters. But there
was only so much further organisation that Joseph's mind could take. Beyond a certain length, he
found musical structures weak and unwilled. This fugue at five minutes was perfectly scaled. He
stopped and was content.
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