Memory of Birds

A ship in a bottle washes up on a beach. It is found by a boy who jumps from rock to barnacled rock. Bubbled tendrils of seaweed sway in the lapping water, black and brittle above the surface, green and slimy when alive and wet. Fish-life, or salts and iodines, make the smell of the sea, which he loves and hates.
 
As the boy on the beach rounds the point, he reaches an expanse of sand and digs his naked toes into it. He passes the old paravane, rusted and corroding, full of holes, patiently disintegrating and alone. This dead thing is full of other people's memories, which can only be imagined and never known.
 
Here is one - Able Seaman Peter Dunne is on deck aboard HMS Bridport. The sea is rough and the bow ploughs down into the swell. They are out sweeping for mines off the coast at Falmouth. His childhood friend Jack, a tail-gunner in a Wellington, is dead at twenty-two. He has to be hosed out of the turret. That's how tail-gunners come back. He has just heard about this. It is nearly Christmas, and cold. Snowflakes drift down and settle on the sea for a moment. He tries to think about Jack, but he is thinking more about his tea than his friend, no matter how hard he tries. He has a mug of it in his hands, and the motion of the ship is slopping it over his fingers. They would have been scalded, had it been hot. It is liquid that he thinks about with a tinge of guilt. The liquid contained in the mug, held in the hands of a body, held by the boat, contained by the sea. Liquid within liquid.
 
Peter Dunne is no more than a ghost when the boy leaves the paravane behind. It will last just as long as there are people alive who once used it. He makes for the low cliffs of blue slipper clay and begins to climb.
 
Soaring up into the sky above the Siberian tundra, is a flock of Arctic Terns. It is the same sky that he stares into at a later date, in order to understand his personal insignificance. This kind of comprehension separates the body from pain. It is a useful technique when preparing to undergo a beating and allows the blood to dry in the welted buttocks without undue concern. Of course, the sky may have changed.
 
The birds gain in altitude until they reach their flyway, which follows the western coastline of the Americas into the tropics. Traveling in large numbers, magically increases the flight speed of each individual and provides them with a slightly improved chance of survival in their dangerous annual obligation to fate.
 
An anomaly in the magnetic field, causes the flock to veer inland over the Valley of Oaxaca. The Terns pass high above the ancient city of Yugul. A game of ōllamaliztli is underway in a sliver of a ball court. Crowds of onlookers witness this attempt to keep the balance of life within the realms of normalcy. Some of them are eating grasshoppers.
 
Through no discernible choice of its own, the Earth moves around the Sun twelve more times and the boy is almost a man. He is still curious about things inside other things, but has a tendency towards abstraction. Hence a man who loses his head under a blade, shares his name with another, who unwittingly gives it to the automatic device of execution.
 
These kernels of nesting similarities give him hope for knowledge, or even wisdom. Though his brooding mind suspects they may be nothing more than mirages of the intellect, caused by a proclivity for pattern recognition. He cannot prevent expectation, nonetheless.
 
Expectations aside, there is one fact of which he remains permanently unaware. At some point in the future, for an unspecified duration, he will become the oldest person on the planet.
 
Around the time when the monetarists gain a firm toe-hold in the chancelleries of Europe, the automatic doors of a bus in Genoa close with an impersonal thud. The bus moves away. It is late at night. Apart from their obvious function, the closing doors are also symbolic. They represent the abrupt termination of what might have been, before it ever was. That is how it feels to him as he stands in the bus, moments before the doors shut, wanting to say something to the girl outside, who is looking at him, waiting for him to speak. He says nothing. Then he is mechanically removed from a place to which he will never return.
 
In this case the signifier and the signified are so perfectly synchronized, they could be the same thing. The closing doors which separate him forever from the girl outside, and symbolize a cauterizing of possibility, do exactly that.
 
They have spent the day together, and she has shown him around the city. They communicate badly in a language that is foreign to both of them. They are young, and assume, without thinking about it, that the greater percentage of their lifespans are still available to them, and unknown.
 
She is a sylph, raised by nuns, and angry about it. She is mildly disapproving of his insistence on entering every bar they pass, so he can have a glass of wine. She drinks nothing herself but waits with him, as he finishes quickly. Then they continue their diurnal wandering through the city. The sight-seeing, though entertaining, is not their main purpose, and he remembers none of it. What they are about, is a positioning of themselves, relative to each other, in a space which moves beyond the physical. Something profound, never expressed.
 
He is self-sufficient in a strange land and has needle and thread. He can sew up the wounds in his trousers. He feels resilient. After a day of walking, when the sunlight becomes streetlight, he is plucked from one trajectory, with its multiplicity of veins and capillaries, and deposited into another. This is the function of machines.
 
The ball games continue after the birds pass over the cloud people, but they no longer have their desired effect. Even a slew of blood-letting rituals and decapitations provides no relief. The tenuous relationship between the underworld and the cosmos has been ruptured.
 
It is a chaos that spreads. The flock has crossed the Atlantic, something it has never done before. The birds don't know what they are doing. As the sun rises, they are perched on some power lines in Nottingham. The scene is reflected in a large plate glass window, along with the sky beyond them. All is quiet until a weary skinhead throws the brick he is holding.  This is a bad place. A place of right arms raised.
 
In June of 2085, a paper appears in the journal Nature. It is momentous in implication and therefore controversial. Detractors are legion and it is derided on the biOweb® as the small ball theory. Minutes of analysis, using quantum computers, have revealed that the diameter of the sun is twenty five centimetres, with a margin of error of five centimetres. Objects viewed by an observer do not just appear to decrease in size as distance is increased. They actually do. This is the first time a measurement has been made on the linkage between perception and reality.
 
On the evening of this day, the codger rustles the sheets on his bed in the nursing home to which his life has led. All day he has been plagued with congratulatory thoughts from politicians and he cannot understand why. He flits about his paper-thin consciousness. A bird crashes into the sealed window in his room. He has just been talking to a candlestick maker about the quiddity of toast, as they stand together on the hard clay of the world's first tennis court, and awakens to discover a wolf on the bed beside him. He is frightened at first. A strange mixture of memory and forgetfulness dissolves like dreams. So this is how it is.
 
He dies that night, not long before his one hundred and twenty seventh birthday. The mantle of the oldest person on Earth now falls upon the hunched shoulders of a woman in northern Italy.
 
I could go on...
 
 
© Tom Newton 2016

A ship in a bottle washes up on a beach. It is found by a boy who jumps from rock to barnacled rock. Bubbled tendrils of seaweed sway in the lapping water, black and brittle above the surface, green and slimy when alive and wet. Fish-life, or salts and iodines, make the smell of the sea, which he loves and hates.
 
As the boy on the beach rounds the point, he reaches an expanse of sand and digs his naked toes into it. He passes the old paravane, rusted and corroding, full of holes, patiently disintegrating and alone. This dead thing is full of other people's memories, which can only be imagined and never known.
 
Here is one - Able Seaman Peter Dunne is on deck aboard HMS Bridport. The sea is rough and the bow ploughs down into the swell. They are out sweeping for mines off the coast at Falmouth. His childhood friend Jack, a tail-gunner in a Wellington, is dead at twenty-two. He has to be hosed out of the turret. That's how tail-gunners come back. He has just heard about this. It is nearly Christmas, and cold. Snowflakes drift down and settle on the sea for a moment. He tries to think about Jack, but he is thinking more about his tea than his friend, no matter how hard he tries. He has a mug of it in his hands, and the motion of the ship is slopping it over his fingers. They would have been scalded, had it been hot. It is liquid that he thinks about with a tinge of guilt. The liquid contained in the mug, held in the hands of a body, held by the boat, contained by the sea. Liquid within liquid.
 
Peter Dunne is no more than a ghost when the boy leaves the paravane behind. It will last just as long as there are people alive who once used it. He makes for the low cliffs of blue slipper clay and begins to climb.
 
Soaring up into the sky above the Siberian tundra, is a flock of Arctic Terns. It is the same sky that he stares into at a later date, in order to understand his personal insignificance. This kind of comprehension separates the body from pain. It is a useful technique when preparing to undergo a beating and allows the blood to dry in the welted buttocks without undue concern. Of course, the sky may have changed.
 
The birds gain in altitude until they reach their flyway, which follows the western coastline of the Americas into the tropics. Traveling in large numbers, magically increases the flight speed of each individual and provides them with a slightly improved chance of survival in their dangerous annual obligation to fate.
 
An anomaly in the magnetic field, causes the flock to veer inland over the Valley of Oaxaca. The Terns pass high above the ancient city of Yugul. A game of ōllamaliztli is underway in a sliver of a ball court. Crowds of onlookers witness this attempt to keep the balance of life within the realms of normalcy. Some of them are eating grasshoppers.
 
Through no discernible choice of its own, the Earth moves around the Sun twelve more times and the boy is almost a man. He is still curious about things inside other things, but has a tendency towards abstraction. Hence a man who loses his head under a blade, shares his name with another, who unwittingly gives it to the automatic device of execution.
 
These kernels of nesting similarities give him hope for knowledge, or even wisdom. Though his brooding mind suspects they may be nothing more than mirages of the intellect, caused by a proclivity for pattern recognition. He cannot prevent expectation, nonetheless.
 
Expectations aside, there is one fact of which he remains permanently unaware. At some point in the future, for an unspecified duration, he will become the oldest person on the planet.
 
Around the time when the monetarists gain a firm toe-hold in the chancelleries of Europe, the automatic doors of a bus in Genoa close with an impersonal thud. The bus moves away. It is late at night. Apart from their obvious function, the closing doors are also symbolic. They represent the abrupt termination of what might have been, before it ever was. That is how it feels to him as he stands in the bus, moments before the doors shut, wanting to say something to the girl outside, who is looking at him, waiting for him to speak. He says nothing. Then he is mechanically removed from a place to which he will never return.
 
In this case the signifier and the signified are so perfectly synchronized, they could be the same thing. The closing doors which separate him forever from the girl outside, and symbolize a cauterizing of possibility, do exactly that.
 
They have spent the day together, and she has shown him around the city. They communicate badly in a language that is foreign to both of them. They are young, and assume, without thinking about it, that the greater percentage of their lifespans are still available to them, and unknown.
 
She is a sylph, raised by nuns, and angry about it. She is mildly disapproving of his insistence on entering every bar they pass, so he can have a glass of wine. She drinks nothing herself but waits with him, as he finishes quickly. Then they continue their diurnal wandering through the city. The sight-seeing, though entertaining, is not their main purpose, and he remembers none of it. What they are about, is a positioning of themselves, relative to each other, in a space which moves beyond the physical. Something profound, never expressed.
 
He is self-sufficient in a strange land and has needle and thread. He can sew up the wounds in his trousers. He feels resilient. After a day of walking, when the sunlight becomes streetlight, he is plucked from one trajectory, with its multiplicity of veins and capillaries, and deposited into another. This is the function of machines.
 
The ball games continue after the birds pass over the cloud people, but they no longer have their desired effect. Even a slew of blood-letting rituals and decapitations provides no relief. The tenuous relationship between the underworld and the cosmos has been ruptured.
 
It is a chaos that spreads. The flock has crossed the Atlantic, something it has never done before. The birds don't know what they are doing. As the sun rises, they are perched on some power lines in Nottingham. The scene is reflected in a large plate glass window, along with the sky beyond them. All is quiet until a weary skinhead throws the brick he is holding.  This is a bad place. A place of right arms raised.
 
In June of 2085, a paper appears in the journal Nature. It is momentous in implication and therefore controversial. Detractors are legion and it is derided on the biOweb® as the small ball theory. Minutes of analysis, using quantum computers, have revealed that the diameter of the sun is twenty five centimetres, with a margin of error of five centimetres. Objects viewed by an observer do not just appear to decrease in size as distance is increased. They actually do. This is the first time a measurement has been made on the linkage between perception and reality.
 
On the evening of this day, the codger rustles the sheets on his bed in the nursing home to which his life has led. All day he has been plagued with congratulatory thoughts from politicians and he cannot understand why. He flits about his paper-thin consciousness. A bird crashes into the sealed window in his room. He has just been talking to a candlestick maker about the quiddity of toast, as they stand together on the hard clay of the world's first tennis court, and awakens to discover a wolf on the bed beside him. He is frightened at first. A strange mixture of memory and forgetfulness dissolves like dreams. So this is how it is.
 
He dies that night, not long before his one hundred and twenty seventh birthday. The mantle of the oldest person on Earth now falls upon the hunched shoulders of a woman in northern Italy.
 
I could go on...
 
 
© Tom Newton 2016

POST RECITAL

Talk Icon

TALK

BR: I listened to Tom's first mix of this story and wanted to get started on an author interview so I sent him an email. He replied, and we discovered that an email correspondence was the approach we were looking for. It harked back to the old art of letter writing, where conversational time is drawn out or suspended. What you're about to hear is our email conversation, turned into audio. But he will read my letters to him, and I will read his letters to me. We're swapping vocal identities. Either that, or we're the same person. Here we go.......
 
TN: Sometimes I am rendered speechless, if that's the right term for those moments when words elude my fingertips. Or maybe it's just the brain fog of ageing.
 
"Memory of Birds" is so rich I'm aesthetically hyper-aroused, but so slippery I can't get a hold on it, a thick trout flip flopping in my wet hands.
 
All those threads tangling in a soup of simultaneity. But it starts with a boy and his imagination. That's a place for me to grab, and blurt out the cliché question: Is this an autobiographical boy, the young Tom?
 
BR: Maybe you can't get a hold of it because it's a stream of consciousness. You can get your hands wet but it's hard to grab a stream.
 
I adhere to the opinion that writing in a directly autobiographical way is limiting, unless it's a memoir. Better to imagine than to know, as far as fiction is concerned. A memoir is probably fiction anyway, because a recording is not the thing it tries to capture but merely its representation or simulacrum. A real feat would be to write a false autobiography. Fiction without pretence. But I'm getting sidetracked.
 
You are right - this story is in many ways autobiographical. So I am contradicting myself. The boy on the beach is me, on the Isle of Wight. My grandparents lived there and I spent a lot of time with them from when I was newborn until my early adolescence when they died. How I loved that place.
 
The island is diamond shaped and small - only twenty-three miles across if I remember correctly. The coast along the southern most tip, where my grandparents lived, was constantly eroding and had a strangely lunar quality. An old Victorian road disappeared into the landscape and then re-appeared later in a magically remote and hidden place. Houses literally fell into the sea - there one year and gone the next. My grandfather, being who he was, studied geological surveys before buying his house. He knew it was on solid ground.
 
I spent hours wandering on the cliffs and beaches. Those beaches became a yardstick for other beaches I have visited in my life and I have found nothing that compares to them.
 
There are many autobiographical elements - the paravane on the beach, the smell of the sea, the beatings at school, the great love that never was. And also some biographical elements - the memory of others, like tail-gunners getting hosed out of their turrets in Wellingtons. But I excuse myself from hypocrisy because I have tried to present autobiography in a detached way, as if viewed from above - what birds might see as they migrate. That detached viewpoint is a stable axis running through the turmoil of life, which in the end is so short. This is where cyclical time, or timelessness comes into play.
 
TN: As a writer, I've felt freed by acknowledging this: everything is fiction. And everything is memoir. And vice versa. Too bad about the dysfunctional marketing system and its narrow pigeonholes. How nice that here on the Strange Recital, we don't concern ourselves with that. The important thing is the wonderful alchemy that occurs when memory and imagination blend, interact, collide, have sex and bear babies.
 
But back to the story... yes, timelessness or cycles of time... the stream of consciousness you've un-dammed is the same river I was just thinking about... the river that forms the border between two countries: left brain and right brain. To read this piece is to float down that river, glancing at both sides. Language is essentially abstract, a left-brain activity. Yet when it's allowed to flow outside the consensual rules of story logic, a holistic amalgam of the personal and impersonal - or rather, extra-personal or supra-personal - blooms forth. Thus we get a boy on the beach and a young man's romantic fancy - the personal - inextricably intertwined with naval or aerial gunners, ancient Meso-American ritual games, skinheads with bricks, a new diameter of the sun, the oldest man in the world of the future... all linked by a flock of migrating sea birds who cross borders of space and time. So... for me, the feeling is not "timeless" so much as "timeful," to coin a word. All full up with time, all events layered, superimposed, simultaneous.
 
And this is where literary work can transcend left brain language. Via metaphor, you've captured a deeper level of reality than is apparent to our perception. Space-time is erased in favour of something like the multi-faceted jewel called the amplituhedron -- if you don't mind a little egregious misuse of quantum field theory by a non-mathematician.
 
It seems like I had another question to ask, but now I've forgotten.
 
BR: Amplituhedron - that's an interesting word. Thanks for introducing me to it. I had to go to Wikipedia to look up what it means. I still don't understand, but I gather it is defined as a mathematical space known as the positive Grassmannian, which seems to be a way to use geometry to sidestep space-time and locality when examining particle interactions. Completely beyond me but I'm glad you've connected this concept to the story.
 
I'm also glad that you found the story captured a deeper reality beyond perception. That wasn't the intention when writing it - there was none, other than seeing what would happen. But after the fact it seems like an admirable intention. It is also a great example of how the reader influences what is read. As you know, this is a favourite idea of mine, and not one of my own.
 
With the beautiful density of thought expressed in a few paragraphs, it's not surprising you forgot your original question. I'll ask you one instead. There are two words, both beginning with 'P' that have tenuously occupied a space in my hemispheres for many years - 'paravane' and 'pagoda'. Though there is not a pagoda in this story, except perhaps for its giant looming unmentioned shadow, there is a paravane. So.....What do you think about paravanes?
 
TN: Yes, paravanes! A great word. But... I had no idea what it means, so I googled it. A sort of water kite or glider that is towed below the surface, used in war to snag submerged mines so they can be destroyed. Like a broom sweeping my subconscious for self-sabotaging beliefs, bringing them up to the light. Boom! Paravane therapy.
 
Now, "pagoda"... I immediately think of a cheesy tiki bar on South State Street in Salt Lake City with a huge pagoda-shaped sign lined in neon. Is that the looming shadow?
 
Never mind, that was a rhetorical question. The actual question I wanted to ask is not really a question, more an observation with the soul of a question. What you've done in this piece is make a record of one route through an intricate labyrinth, making note as you go of many other doorways into other passages, each of which would be its own equally rich journey full of history, philosophy, paradox, nesting similarities, sensory detail... if you, or we as listeners, should choose that thread to follow. It must be the labyrinth of your well-read, but possibly insane, mind.
 
Also, I always suspected the sun was really only about 25 centimetres wide. I can see it, after all!
 
BR: Though you say your question about the pagoda was rhetorical, I feel inclined to answer it. The structure that burned new synapses into my young brain, as a result of which it still lurks there, was not a sign in Salt Lake City but a building in Kew Gardens, London. It must have been erected in the nineteenth century, or perhaps it was a gift from China. It had a faint and musky ring to it of Victorian colonialism, power that had passed. The colours of red and gold, the dragons, the upturned Asian roofs, the multiple stories towering above were exotic to me and I wanted to climb it. But that was forbidden. People had been allowed to go up there at one time, then someone had committed suicide by leaping from the top and the entrance was barred forever after. That gave it an extra sense of sinister mystery.
 
This will have to answer your soul of a question. It is the soul of an image and it is both pleasant and unpleasant at once, like a dream.
 
I'm glad we are on the same page about the sun. I've often wondered what impact its small diameter might have on the universe at large and have come to the conclusion that it would have none. It has always been that way, we just didn't know it.
 
As far as my sanity goes..... I believe that Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. I keep writing these stories but I don't expect anything, so I'm probably completely sane.....And again.....I could go on.....
 
TN: I'm sure you could but we're out of time.

BR: I listened to Tom's first mix of this story and wanted to get started on an author interview so I sent him an email. He replied, and we discovered that an email correspondence was the approach we were looking for. It harked back to the old art of letter writing, where conversational time is drawn out or suspended. What you're about to hear is our email conversation, turned into audio. But he will read my letters to him, and I will read his letters to me. We're swapping vocal identities. Either that, or we're the same person. Here we go.......
 
TN: Sometimes I am rendered speechless, if that's the right term for those moments when words elude my fingertips. Or maybe it's just the brain fog of ageing.
 
"Memory of Birds" is so rich I'm aesthetically hyper-aroused, but so slippery I can't get a hold on it, a thick trout flip flopping in my wet hands.
 
All those threads tangling in a soup of simultaneity. But it starts with a boy and his imagination. That's a place for me to grab, and blurt out the cliché question: Is this an autobiographical boy, the young Tom?
 
BR: Maybe you can't get a hold of it because it's a stream of consciousness. You can get your hands wet but it's hard to grab a stream.
 
I adhere to the opinion that writing in a directly autobiographical way is limiting, unless it's a memoir. Better to imagine than to know, as far as fiction is concerned. A memoir is probably fiction anyway, because a recording is not the thing it tries to capture but merely its representation or simulacrum. A real feat would be to write a false autobiography. Fiction without pretence. But I'm getting sidetracked.
 
You are right - this story is in many ways autobiographical. So I am contradicting myself. The boy on the beach is me, on the Isle of Wight. My grandparents lived there and I spent a lot of time with them from when I was newborn until my early adolescence when they died. How I loved that place.
 
The island is diamond shaped and small - only twenty-three miles across if I remember correctly. The coast along the southern most tip, where my grandparents lived, was constantly eroding and had a strangely lunar quality. An old Victorian road disappeared into the landscape and then re-appeared later in a magically remote and hidden place. Houses literally fell into the sea - there one year and gone the next. My grandfather, being who he was, studied geological surveys before buying his house. He knew it was on solid ground.
 
I spent hours wandering on the cliffs and beaches. Those beaches became a yardstick for other beaches I have visited in my life and I have found nothing that compares to them.
 
There are many autobiographical elements - the paravane on the beach, the smell of the sea, the beatings at school, the great love that never was. And also some biographical elements - the memory of others, like tail-gunners getting hosed out of their turrets in Wellingtons. But I excuse myself from hypocrisy because I have tried to present autobiography in a detached way, as if viewed from above - what birds might see as they migrate. That detached viewpoint is a stable axis running through the turmoil of life, which in the end is so short. This is where cyclical time, or timelessness comes into play.
 
TN: As a writer, I've felt freed by acknowledging this: everything is fiction. And everything is memoir. And vice versa. Too bad about the dysfunctional marketing system and its narrow pigeonholes. How nice that here on the Strange Recital, we don't concern ourselves with that. The important thing is the wonderful alchemy that occurs when memory and imagination blend, interact, collide, have sex and bear babies.
 
But back to the story... yes, timelessness or cycles of time... the stream of consciousness you've un-dammed is the same river I was just thinking about... the river that forms the border between two countries: left brain and right brain. To read this piece is to float down that river, glancing at both sides. Language is essentially abstract, a left-brain activity. Yet when it's allowed to flow outside the consensual rules of story logic, a holistic amalgam of the personal and impersonal - or rather, extra-personal or supra-personal - blooms forth. Thus we get a boy on the beach and a young man's romantic fancy - the personal - inextricably intertwined with naval or aerial gunners, ancient Meso-American ritual games, skinheads with bricks, a new diameter of the sun, the oldest man in the world of the future... all linked by a flock of migrating sea birds who cross borders of space and time. So... for me, the feeling is not "timeless" so much as "timeful," to coin a word. All full up with time, all events layered, superimposed, simultaneous.
 
And this is where literary work can transcend left brain language. Via metaphor, you've captured a deeper level of reality than is apparent to our perception. Space-time is erased in favour of something like the multi-faceted jewel called the amplituhedron -- if you don't mind a little egregious misuse of quantum field theory by a non-mathematician.
 
It seems like I had another question to ask, but now I've forgotten.
 
BR: Amplituhedron - that's an interesting word. Thanks for introducing me to it. I had to go to Wikipedia to look up what it means. I still don't understand, but I gather it is defined as a mathematical space known as the positive Grassmannian, which seems to be a way to use geometry to sidestep space-time and locality when examining particle interactions. Completely beyond me but I'm glad you've connected this concept to the story.
 
I'm also glad that you found the story captured a deeper reality beyond perception. That wasn't the intention when writing it - there was none, other than seeing what would happen. But after the fact it seems like an admirable intention. It is also a great example of how the reader influences what is read. As you know, this is a favourite idea of mine, and not one of my own.
 
With the beautiful density of thought expressed in a few paragraphs, it's not surprising you forgot your original question. I'll ask you one instead. There are two words, both beginning with 'P' that have tenuously occupied a space in my hemispheres for many years - 'paravane' and 'pagoda'. Though there is not a pagoda in this story, except perhaps for its giant looming unmentioned shadow, there is a paravane. So.....What do you think about paravanes?
 
TN: Yes, paravanes! A great word. But... I had no idea what it means, so I googled it. A sort of water kite or glider that is towed below the surface, used in war to snag submerged mines so they can be destroyed. Like a broom sweeping my subconscious for self-sabotaging beliefs, bringing them up to the light. Boom! Paravane therapy.
 
Now, "pagoda"... I immediately think of a cheesy tiki bar on South State Street in Salt Lake City with a huge pagoda-shaped sign lined in neon. Is that the looming shadow?
 
Never mind, that was a rhetorical question. The actual question I wanted to ask is not really a question, more an observation with the soul of a question. What you've done in this piece is make a record of one route through an intricate labyrinth, making note as you go of many other doorways into other passages, each of which would be its own equally rich journey full of history, philosophy, paradox, nesting similarities, sensory detail... if you, or we as listeners, should choose that thread to follow. It must be the labyrinth of your well-read, but possibly insane, mind.
 
Also, I always suspected the sun was really only about 25 centimetres wide. I can see it, after all!
 
BR: Though you say your question about the pagoda was rhetorical, I feel inclined to answer it. The structure that burned new synapses into my young brain, as a result of which it still lurks there, was not a sign in Salt Lake City but a building in Kew Gardens, London. It must have been erected in the nineteenth century, or perhaps it was a gift from China. It had a faint and musky ring to it of Victorian colonialism, power that had passed. The colours of red and gold, the dragons, the upturned Asian roofs, the multiple stories towering above were exotic to me and I wanted to climb it. But that was forbidden. People had been allowed to go up there at one time, then someone had committed suicide by leaping from the top and the entrance was barred forever after. That gave it an extra sense of sinister mystery.
 
This will have to answer your soul of a question. It is the soul of an image and it is both pleasant and unpleasant at once, like a dream.
 
I'm glad we are on the same page about the sun. I've often wondered what impact its small diameter might have on the universe at large and have come to the conclusion that it would have none. It has always been that way, we just didn't know it.
 
As far as my sanity goes..... I believe that Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. I keep writing these stories but I don't expect anything, so I'm probably completely sane.....And again.....I could go on.....
 
TN: I'm sure you could but we're out of time.

Music on this episode:

Piano sonata no. 2 in B flat minor -funeral march - opus 35 by Frédéric Chopin.

Used with CC PD License.

'The Girl from Hiroshima' by xj5000, from 'Cone of Silence' album.

Used by permission of the artist.

'Tannhauser Gate' by Tri-Tachyon, from 'The Warbird EP'.

Used with CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Valses nobles et sentimentales by Maurice Ravel.

Used with CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 License.

'Edge of the Wastelands' by Tri-Tachyon, from 'The Warbird EP'.

Used with CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

'Pomp and Circumstance, Op.39' by Sir Edward Elgar.

Used with CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 License.

 

SFX under license:

Bus door by club sound - CC BY-NC 3.0 License

THE STRANGE RECITAL

Episode 17052

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