by Anthony Blake
Water fell into the glass along the gravitational differential. His hand shook but he was smiling, bathed in the fatigue of knowledge like a bride after a night of embraces. Instead of sensations, words formed in him of apposite conjunction. Thus, the water fell into sound. It was not poured; neither did it trickle down. In its unique manner, it translated itself along the gradient, multiplied and reconjoined. And then, in the translation, air and glass combined in sound; in their chord the symbols of another world. The number of the droplets thrown and fallen in impact and under the constraint of surface energy minimisation, their fragmentation and combinations also numbered - though in a quasi-finite arithmetic of indeterminate integers -the frequencies spiralling up and down the statistical columns reaching to the glass's rim, forms of catastrophe with an architecture of cusps founded on the modesty of conservation: these were commanded by an unseen score and made into a composition by an agreement older than the universe. Light refracted, diverged and re-assembled a semblance of its origins, encompassing the filling of the glass with mute articulation, synchronised in measures of retardation; softer than air, more precise than glass, the secret everywhere which hid everything so well that there was no resource but to a seeing outside the eye. Hands reached into view from some unfathomable yearning to exist. Appearance upon appearance, the world kept itself on display without cease.
From the water he drank a knowledge that put to rest two thousand years of frustrated misconception. He was in an insanity of action without an audience. He poured water again, the world disclosing its absolutist mastery along the line of time. The tremors across the surface as he set the glass to rest on the table - strewn with headaches of information like cognitive strata were appalling. He remembered Rilke and the 'terror just able to bear' and did not know whether to thank God for the mute conspiracy which believed in the world as an assumption or to renounce forever the hope of a companion: time would unravel him again and bundle him up into the cocoon of people and their collective memories. The silent sound of the early hours, the pause in the habitual impresses of the diurnal cycle, lay about the table and came from the walls. It was listening. What could his presence say beside what was there or what was happening? It was only happening. He was questionable; though, even as that, he alone could give the question significance. The water there before him made him feel his existence as an excuse for being there. There was a warm family at home; crumpled bedclothes; the intelligent ignorance of the children; the obedient things of the human world all around. There' were transits to be made amidst the grinning caricatures of space put up in concrete and matics, A long tube connected him with his house, topologically immediate. The history of his thoughts was to be read like an information strip by the real observer he could never be.
The tracer had marked a small angle of rotation. He stared down at it and then at the linked devices. A state of panic welled up in him as he realised that the trace had no value outside of his interpretation: it was no proof. Shakily, he picked up the printout in which the theoretical potential of the water's multiple existence was calculated and plotted. He did not know' what to believe in, what to pray to, for the energy of determination to make this real. The silence was inhuman. He knew it as the mask of the angels who pulled the strips of thought that made the brains of the world pirouette through discovery, a dance designed to stir the organisms in a subtle auto-eroticism of prolonged self-dalliance.
He forced himself to enter the rotational data into the memory file. With deliberate self-mockery he went through the procedure of initiating analysis. Coldly, he reviewed the work of the last several months. And, he remembered the increasing effort required to return to this place of interrogation: how he would spend days preparing for his lectures and demonstrations of composition analysis, even involve himself in departmental politics, go on picnics with the kids, watch videos of fifty-year old movies; anything, except to come here and go through this perdition. The agony of purgatory was said to derive from having the vision of God without the power to draw near to Him. This was not God; but it was reality.
He could make the water falling into the glass portray the evolution of musical forms: a Fourier fugue. The beginnings and the endings were superdense in morphologies and, of course, could not be made to reveal the origins or the futures of music. Even the present was obscure since the method of aesthetic analysis was being incorporated into music itself. Perhaps in fifty years time the same procedures would show the nature of the compositions of today? The method redesigns itself; or was it that the nature of water would evolve? Was the method simply an expression of the times? Was it more than the sound of fountains in palace courtyards, the sea of Debussy or the breath of Casals?
Mirror, mirror, of the world, which is the truest thought of all?
He switched out the light and glanced back at the consoles with their LEDs, the shadowy lumps of assemblage up in the corners of the room, the silhouettes of the glass and pitcher on the desk. All he knew was that it could be done and that he had done it. But, the central discovery was impossible to prove; the new data was impossible to remember; the work could not even be defined. And the world was in travail.
'What have you been doing?'
'Listening, Seeing. Touching,'
'Why don't you go back to music?'
'Maybe I am. Right now, my concern is engineering.'
'You're making instruments?'
'Yes, think of me as an instrument-maker.'
'You always admired Spinoza'
'He should have been a composer.'
'You should have been a composer.'
'I thought about it too much.'
'I know. You do that.'
'What about this?'
'It's late, I've been weirding-out on my cycle,'
'Low on feedback, then?'
'All this crap to organise genetic-cultural transmission?'
'. . . .'
'And so below, below, in time and space. I could get drunk, it's so unfashionable.'
'Not to have to plug and pull the switch?'
'The golden liquids of the past.'
'OK pour me one.'
He heard again the creation of his mind. The golden liquid swam in itself.
'A toast. To reality and its construction.'
'May we be ever so unreal.'
'That we can love?'
'It's feedback time. Engineer something, will you?'
The micro-events of the penetration were impenetrable and he was grateful that he had long abandoned the archaic sensors (which had been the instigators of his advanced dilemma). To be there in what form and on what scale? He could not even define the parameters of the incursion. And would such penetration prove popular to qualify as acultural enrichment and avoid information tax? Another mindful and she was done to a turn. Autopilot to the shower and stand in Fourier accelerando, glissando, and so forth. An oxy-whiff to restore the scale of things.
Back to the back, to sleep. Perchance to dream, of how things seem here or there. The more rational conversations of tomorrow to be concerned with gaining his admission, of finding the steps, of establishing a foothold in the world of agencies and powers. Make it not a dream!
Taking a forkful of food, he reflected on the state of the world. What occasioned this indulgence? The realisation that he had no idea what the fork was made of. Of molecules, surely; but imprinted with a memory eager to unfold itself, reheat - to unleash the matrix. The food arrives complete with explodable tools for its administration. But, of what substance is this called forth? Made to be only rigid, formed and extended; an algebraic chemical made only of its manufacture; a matic stuff unlike the stuff of all the ages until now, holding no pleasures. There had been a world of metal, wood, clay and glass. He had tried to describe this world of substances to his children; had shown the things, but they had seen only what they were used for.
His grey-haired friend disturbed the reverie, inconsequentially asking after
his family as a stranger might. 'It's interesting having children, ' he said.
'In what does the interest lie?' his friend enquired. 'I hardly know, ' he answered,
'because I hardly know them. This is part of my interest.'
'You find your lack of knowledge interesting?'
'That's not it. The interest is in what I do not know, which is what really matters - both to them and to myself.'
'It's increasingly rare for someone to feel that they do not know something that is important to them. A long time ago, it was the philosophic virtue, the foundation of education. Though, of course, it seemed then that they could find out what they did not know, or knew only through opinion and conditioning.'
'Now, ignorance is simply a market force. People have to be told of their ignorance and then given the answers. In this way, nobody comes to real knowledge of what they are missing.'
'I sometimes feel rather foolish attempting to get at these things all by myself, as if I were the first parent ever to experience this sense of lack. But, I cannot let the matter drop.'
The elder man peered at him. 'What "matter"?' he asked,
'I hardly know. Maybe it is matter that is missing. I was thinking about that just now. Everything is so well provided for in their education and the two of them are achieving well. They are coping with things that are far beyond me. All I have to go on is this sense of something missing.'
'Is that all?' His friend looked down into the profundities of his plate. 'Really?'
'Well, considering what the children are learning I have no grounds for complaint. No solid grounds that is. In many ways, they are far more effective than I ever was.'
'Really?' his friend asked again, in a probing way. 'Perhaps you believe that what your children are accomplishing is no more than an extension of the ability to use a telephone? They are hooking into a network with respect to which they are, like nearly everybody else, simply an appendage - or a parasite.'
He smiled. 'I know how fond you are of that biological analogy; but isn't it simply rhetoric?'
'I'm sorry to impose my views on you. Please go on with what you want to say.'
'You know the bases of the network far better than I. Without the synergic hierarchies, hardly anything would be possible now.'
His friend waved a fork deprecatingly, 'As I've told you before, the success of a system depends on its environment and in the present set-up, the system is its own environment. But, do I have to repeat such obvious ideas to you? If you want to talk to me about what you think, and then talk to me about what you think. Why are you being so evasive?'
He gazed off across the rows of little cubicles, punctuated by screens and
became aware of the background sound of voices more than half of which were
not actually there. ' Can I be subjective? Perhaps I want to retreat from objective
knowledge into misty feelings of concern. Perhaps I am just looking for emotional
nourishment. I'm turning away from synthesised musak to tunes you can whistle
in the bath.'
'What's the matter with you? You used to be one of the most articulate men I knew. Why do you keep apologising? Especially to me. I've no interest in your imaginary weaknesses. Just think of your kids and yourself. What system can deal with that? You and they are the system, or the non-system. Home is where you start from. There is no context but yourself. You talk of the effectiveness and knowledge of your children without being clear about what you are referring to. What is effective is the system being transmitted through the children. What surprises you and tyrannises you about the young is that you are not in the same place in the network as they are. You think that they are creative and intelligent while you picture yourself as an old conditioned residue, unable to catch up. Just consider, as an experiment, the opposite point of view. Then, the young are just simulations while the old have a chance to become human.' The old friend paused to feed himself some more mouthfuls and he took the opportunity to say, 'So, we get most creative on our death-beds just when we are unable to do anything with it?'
'It could well be so. That's why there used to be so many deathbed conversions in the age of religion. How's the food?'
'Passable. What is it protecting us against this week?' 'What it did to us
last week. What else do you want to talk about?'
'Well, tell me again what it is you do.' He had not expected this conversation to be so difficult - and the problems lay entirely with himself. Why could he not bring himself to spell out his concerns?
'What I really do I do all the time even if I am not aware of it. I have various sales-pitches because I have to earn a living from this one skill I have. Today, I'll call what I do "thought recognition" though I'm finding it damn hard to recognise any thought in you. It's easier to do retrospectively but I get paid by people who want to exploit the future ahead of time. '
'Well, tell your clients that the future is in a glass o£ water!'
'Are you going to explain or have you just gone mystical?'
He tried to focus.'It stems from a subjective experience. I'm tired of the technology of concepts and I want to have things as they are, Once upon a time people walked around the earth and when they had machines they were just like muscles, or aspects of the forces of the wind and water. Then they looked for little machines in the ether and became frustrated, so that it became the proper thing to look to results without bothering about what was there. Even when people learnt that they could not simply turn a handle and crank out the results but had to think in new ways, they gave up the search even more. Nobody knows what they are talking about anymore: it's all lost in the systems, which keep everything going. Even painting - and music - couldn't stem the tide, but followed this oblivion. Now, there is no theory of music and everyone does what they like. I'm not very coherent, I am afraid.' He threw his plate away and went on.
'My God, I feel embarrassed! I had lunch with you to sound you out and I am unable to be clear. This terrifies me.'
'It's part of my job to deal with the inarticulate. What I notice is that you
are not bringing yourself into the picture much. You revert all the time to
generalities. Tell me about "things as they are" and your children.
Is there a connection?'
'Yes. What I am talking about - I mean, what I am concerned about, since I haven't expressed it at all well - is more than just a concern It is to do with real things, with what is objective. That's the point of all this: the great objective reality we all run round the outside of.'
'I get the drift now. You want to get in?'
'That's right, You've caught it. It is very strange that I could not simply tell you. Even now, I feel hot and shy. Why is that? No -never mind about that. The point is that I do not know how to connect up with the right agencies. I can't go further on my own.'
'Is there some special problem with linking up with others in this area?'
'Yes. Didn't you know?'
'I might if you would be a little more coherent about what agencies and define the area more clearly.' His friend looked at him from under his eyebrows assuming the air of a family doctor.
'Well - as far as I can make out - I am working in the area of trans-perceptual observation -'
'You are what!' his friend exclaimed and then went on, 'Oh, I see, you have come up against INSTRAM'
'And the regulations. I've been studying the stuff in the public domain. Those damn regulations. I don't know why they have to exist in that form. I know their rationale, but it's absurd. What they are doing is cornering the market on reality! They are denying people free access to what exists everywhere!'
'But, my friend, it does not exist unless it is observed. Yes, they had quite a problem setting up for a quantum-level business. But, the epistemology is on their side. They promise access to a reality that can only be observed through their instruments - that's correct isn't it? Therefore, that reality is their creation, because it could not exist without their means of observation. And, therefore, that reality is their commodity as much as the instruments are. The legislation is still being debated and it's raised turmoil everywhere with physicists putting in for royalties on the exploitation of quarks and the like.'
He grew very agitated, 'Yes, yes - but the point is that the reality is there anyway and is not created by the instruments. It's just like looking round this room.'
'So, what you are talking about can be called new senses.'
'The new senses. Yes. To hear at a rate a million times as fast, to see wave forms orthogonal to the electromagnetic ones, to touch objects finer than Planck's length. There is a bridgehead to another reality, and people ought to be going over it. Why hold them back?'
'Now, you touch the nerve. All I can say is: the regulations are a protection of people not only of markets. '
'Come off it! People are freer to stuff drugs in themselves, tamper with their brain patterns, and alter the genes of their children.'
'But only within certain well-worked out constraints. There are filters.'
'You can't know how much this is burning me up! They have an injunction on all similar work while the pundits battle it out. Wait! Why did you talk of filters? What does that imply?'
'Perhaps a slip of the tongue. Go back for the moment, to you and your children.'
'It's very simple, but I don't know how to put it,' He looked round for a way
of expressing himself. 'I want to give them something; do something real for
them. What can I do? Muddle them with some half-baked wisdom of age? Watch over
their characters? Buy them the best software? Tell them moral stories? Teach
them how to love? I can hardly love! And I don't want to teach them anything
and get in their way. But, I want to be a real father, So, I want to give them
reality - they do not have to learn or believe or follow anything.'
'A gift of reality? And I thought you were a modest man! '
'Well, what sort of man am I? Can I rest content with being an approximation to the statistical mean? Genius has gone out of the window - we are all too connected. '
'Have you ever read Rousseau?'
'The Noble Savage? No, but I've heard of the idea. That's not it at all. It should not matter how sophisticated you are or how naive you are. What matters is contact with reality. It's obvious that, within a decade or so, everyone will have caught up on the new access. But, I know it will be different then. Now is the time to do it for real. Do you know the composition by Lyton called The Annunciation?
'I've heard of it.'
'Well, I've studied it closely. In certain respects, it is a tuming back to the aleatoric days; but, the composer himself mingles with the audience before every performance - it's always live you know and never recorded - and finds somebody to talk to. Then he uses the so-to-say feeling of that man or woman to guide the unfoldment of the piece.'
'Go on. I've never been to a performance but I can understand what you are saying.' the grey-haired man relaxed back against his chair, closely observing his friend and his rising enthusiasm.
'There is a whole technicality in how he does it but, the point is that you go to a performance both longing and dreading to be the person. Lyton does it so well that people can actually experience the person he encounters. It's somehow objective - even though many of the audience can be deeply affected and even mentally disturbed.'
'And so - you want to be the person who gets to talk to reality?'
'But, not to hear myself - to hear something new, entirely different. To give my children the greatest gift of all - reality free of all prejudice and dullness.'
'Have you thought what it might do to them? And, if they were pioneers in this new conquest wouldn't something be expected or eve demanded of them?'
'I have thought about it. It has made me ask why we have not heard of the pioneers already. What has happened to them? Who are they?'
His friend leaned forward, 'Tell me why you are convinced that this new access has taken place? How could you know except by reading between the lines in obscure references?'
'I've tracked dowm all the new inserts they'va had placed in certain text books.
There is a new access, alright.'
'Just think about these inserts. Do they give any definite information - such as new data, measurements, concepts?'
'No new data. What they do is to advocate new lines of research based on the new observations.'
'But, they do not give you the observations.'
'No, how could they? They are put in with a rider of being subject to future verification by conventional means. They are often called' "instrumented hypotheses"'
'So, where does your belief in these instruments come from? You are not a scientist. You cannot verify what they are saying, I doubt if you can even understand what they are saying,'
He felt giddy and unreal. His friend was pressing and giving no relief. An energy surged up from his guts into his throat and stuck there. The air hissed at him. His friend said, 'I think I know the answer. But, what interests me is why you cannot tell me. What's the matter?'
'I don't know. Just help me" What are you thinking?'
'Well, one thing is for sure: you believe that you have made a new access yourself. And you are stuck. As for the rest, I don't think you are in a fit state to discuss that right now.'
'Look, can you come round to my office tonight? Will you help me?' he blurted out,
'Sure'. There was a pause. The air tingled between palms. Death and life were in a shy embrace. The love in generations wound the helix up like a piece of elastic. He felt his eye-lids tremble,
'Are you part of this? Are you a filter or something?' he asked.
'Perhaps I am a filter in some sense. I'll have to think about that. But, I feel that I have to tell you that I am not part of the INSTRAM set-up, nor in any way connected with it. You will have to define for yourself where you fit in to the bigger picture and also what it is you want me to do.'
'I have been thinking of one thing - that I could open up an area under the heading of acultural enrichment - which would avoid the issue of information tax -'
'And get you outside the confines of the regulations. But, it does not sound, then, like a venture into direct reality. Would you lose something by that? Would that matter to you?'
'Yes, it would matter. But, I have to get this thing to work.' His friend was already rising from the table.
He was having trouble with the reactionaries in his class but damned if he
was going to distort what he had to say to sweeten them up. The turning point
in western music brought into being by Hauer and Schoenberg had to be understood
if you were going to understand the special character of formal music at all.
Otherwise why not just play whatever mush appeals?
'But, Dr Karl, none of this has anything to do with what music is-. All you are talking about is just the externals, the accidents of history, the technicalities - not what music means.'
He snapped back before he could stop himself, 'And what do you say it means? Can you say anything!'
The student was not even smug or obnoxious but said, in all earnestness, ' What it means is in people. How they feel it. It is nothing but feeling.'
Dr Karl tried to control the anger flaring up in him, amazed at his own reaction; but, the prospect of Farley's visit that night and what hung on it had made him frightened. He had to make a stand. He had to express himself. He rose to his feet.
'I'm going to say the same thing again, but only once. If, at the end of what I say, you still don't like it, then you can leave and finish the course how you want through your own consoles.' He stared at their blank faces, hating himself for his sense of insecurity. He knew music and yet he was losing out to these idiots. At the back of his mind something looked down at him and wondered if he were really a defender of knowledge against the savages. Echoes of the second string quartet haunted him and he desperately wanted them to hear it as he did.
'It may be hard for you to accept, but I have no rejection of your feeling that what matters in music is how it makes you or others feel. Your feeling is your feeling and you can't get out of it and replace it with another feeling you don't have. But - how can I put it? - your feelings can only hear what you are open to hear. What you hear depends on what you understand and understanding involves the whole of you. You students all have, potentially, good minds or you would not be here. You have capacities to know as well as feel. And I tell you that music is a way of knowledge; an ancient one, too If you deny that, then you deny something in yourselves.' Please don't deny this, he said to himself. Please do not let my children ever deny it,
'There have been men who have realised music as a way of knowledge. Some must have been in folk song. But, some have brought into being a will, or a question. It is like the human being trying to break out of his human form and become absolutely clear. It is like the soul finding itself. There is a current in music - of an energy that comes out of our experience of how reality is. Because music appears to give us no information but itself we first find, when we listen, that we are that information. As I am; I listen. And, great music occupies the whole of our attention. It is not to be had with something else at the same time. That is why, at times, great music must bring us near to boredom. Its demands are as absolute as they can be.
'Do you remember that story I told of Schoenberg conscripted into the Austrian army, when he was asked whether he was the Schoenberg? And he said - somebody had to be. It was music that had to be. Music was his master, his guru. For others, music is only a muse, a voice in the air, whispering. In Schoenberg, music was the will, the sole authority. For you see, music commands composers to appear; it develops them from itself.' Would that music were my master, he thought. Now, I do not know who gives me orders.
'Stravinsky had to wait until he had exhausted other lines before he could accept serialism. It had to become neutral, not the way of another composer. But, already in its inception by Schoenberg and then by Webern, it was neutral. It was in music itself, as inevitable as a modulation in a Beethoven symphony.
Of course, it is a poor way of speaking to say that music did this or does that, as if it were some agency. But it also wrong to say that music is something made up by people to make them feel good. Their feeling good - your feeling good - is a poor reflection of what there is in music. And, what is there in music? I cannot say. That is for music to say. If you can hear, there is nothing but music; who can say what it reveals? But, remember, there is as much a mystery in the power of mathematics to reveal the relationships of the real world as there is in the power of music to shape our sense of reality. We do not know whereof music speaks. Maybe it is pure speech, which does not need to refer to anything. Maybe it is action without action and therefore the will itself. Maybe it is duration without time.
Of course, Schoenberg is only an atom in the whole of music; but he enabled music to go on in his time. It was a time like no other in the history of music. It was an incredible risk he seems to have taken.' As I am taking, he thought, though the risk stems from the simple thing of believing in what I know to be true.
'Schoenberg's step would only work if other composers heard the same implications in previous music as he did. His was an act of war against the inarticulate. It was a miracle that he found Berg and Webern - associates of such creative and distinctive genius, 'And, where are my associates?' he asked himself. What is wrong that I am alone? He was well aware of the restlessness in the class. He looked out on them and his eyes rested on the willowy blond who always sat near the door. What a pity that she would no longer be there. She reminded him not only of sex but also, strangely, of 'Pierrot Lunaire', He saw her in his imagination standing by a willow tree in the moonlight, whispering in a husky voice of the pleasures the other side of madness. She should be capable of understanding and liking his work; but, in all probability, she was just a stupid bitch, full of emotion and empty of secrets. He tried to shake off the dream, which made him always so sad and lonely.
'We might say that he failed to complete the job of making the new means of
perception. Music had to go on. He had to hand the task he had on to others
who, almost, had to start all over again and check everything out again - as
Stravinsky did. The handing on of the task is the history of music. In a sense,
it is here to fail - until the time comes.'
The lecture finished in disorder. Several of the students walked out noisily saying they were going to complain to the authorities. Others chatted amongst themselves, ridiculing his ideas. A few gathered round his desk to spew out admiring comments, which he found particularly distasteful. To his surprise, the willowy blond remained seated, staring fixedly in his direction. Ignoring the cluster around him, he switched on a recording of the second string quartet and closed his eyes. After a while, he felt recovered enough to open them again. The blonde had her head down on her arms. A young man sat next to her with his hand resting on her shoulder. He was smiling. As sometimes happened, he was hearing the piece afresh. The surface of intimate and dense Viennese culture dissolved away to leave something beyond its time. Just at that certain transit in the second movement, the room grew still. Completely at variance with his purist inclinations, he used his remote to locate and bring in over the quartet Lyton's own piece, which had been written as a commentary and testament to Schoenberg's work in the twenties of the last century. The work goes on, he thought.
Outside in the corridor, the blonde and her companion came after him. She
caught hold of him and blurted out, 'Did you mean that last bit?' 'I meant all
of it!' he snapped back. 'I mean, were you actually talking about something
real at the end?' she insisted, not at all affected by his manner. Close to,
he found she had steady eyes. She went on, 'It isn't just music, is it?'
'Well, it really is music. I've convinced myself today of it. One day, I might be able to show you what I mean and not just talk.' in generalities, he added to himself, remembering his old friend's remarks.
Then, the young man spoke, ' There is a small group of us who are trying to break out of the system that confines us into something new. I feel you are on the same wavelength. Would you meet with us sometime?'
He was suddenly tired, 'I've a job to do. Somebody has to do it,'' and he brushed them aside to head for his office.
The cold night drew him down. Alice went to and fro with exactitude, arranging.
She made no comment on the wide-open window, gaping to the night and letting
chill smells in. It was just possible for him to see some stars. There they
were, out there, positioned like a faint notice in the sky that had been around
far too long to be intelligible. Below, where his eyes fell, were the creatures
of sense fabricating the world, which was still his world, too.
'Alice, why the hell did you marry me?' he asked and she smiled in a kind of unabashed ignorance and chagrin and came over and hugged him a little too thoroughly. She looked at him with an old look and then dropped her gaze, admitting to him that she was not able or willing to rescue him from his own problem by putting into words something to bridge the gap between them. 'It's OK' he said, touching her hand. 'We've no chance of seeing ourselves, really. No way of getting to know what we are except by living and doing things like getting married and having children.'
'Are you bored again?' she muttered, glancing down with him on the street below.
'That doesn't come into it. What if I told you I was going to revolutionise our lives, do something that would make everything completely different, even if we didn't start by realising it? What if I said that I am going crazy with what I see as possible?
She looked miserable. The burden of reality put upon her made her shrink down. He felt a kind of pity and even hated himself a little for the absolute indifference of reality. For her, there was no choice. For him, there appeared to be a choice, but that was a delusion. 'I'll always stand behind you,' she said, appealing to him to speak only vaguely and in metaphors and hide from her the brutality fixed in him. He wondered to himself if she were just a woman. But, then, not entirely a woman: not a phenomenon, a pure passion, a physical presence exceeding any mental value; but a social creature. What was the female hell? 'You have a lot to put up with,' he said in appeasement,
'No,' she said, 'No. You don't understand. It's OK what you try to do. I know you won't understand, this, but it's true. You're not the only one that is alone. I can't tell you about me. But what you can do for me is to make yourself happy, really do what you want to do. Is it your music? Are you going to start composing again? These instruments you work with - are they for your music?'
Usually, they were only together when the kids were around as well or when he crawled into bed in the early hours. It was strange to be holding a conversation with her. 'Let's try something,' he said, disentangling himself and going over to his case. It worried him that he did not know whether he was doing this out of desperation or, even, out of some twisted feeling of hate for her. Perhaps he wanted to punish her for not understanding. And, yet, what he was going to do for her was the greatest gift he could give anyone. The lapel of her green blouse was caught by the breeze as he gently sat her in the chair after carrying over the apparatus. He arranged the carrier harness and fixed the lens support to the window ledge. 'What's this? Some kind of telescope?' she asked anxiously.
'No. More like a microscope. Now, listen. Think of what is in front of you - say about one meter away. The air and the dust. The sound and the light. It's all filtering through that point right now. It's telling you that it's night and in the city and there you are in this room looking out. Are you concentrating?'
'I'm trying. I find it a bit hard to get hold of.'
'Remember what we used to do years ago - inventing strange colour and machines; when we used to build pictures in our minds together She nodded, 'That was a long time ago,' she murmured, 'Forget how long ago it was. Get into that mood again. Can you do that?' Without waiting for an answer, he left her and went over to the play console, located the right disc and operated the scanner. The strange sounds of the Tibetan Cantos filled the room - music which she had said she always hated but which opened her up like nothing else. 'Alice, start looking through that lens in front of you; but keep your mind on that spot that I described.' Slowly he increased the volume.
Her reaction was far more rapid than he had anticipated. 'It's not right!'
she burst out. 'What are you doing to me? What is this stuff?' 'That is reality!
' he shouted above the music, 'And I want to give it to the kids to play with!'
'But - it's horrible! I don't know what it is!'
'No! It is not horrible. Think of it like music you are not used to. He knelt beside her. 'You went through pain having the kids. This is like that. This is more than a child. It can make people into new children.' Casting around for something to help, he thought of Rilke and went to the bookshelves, turning down the music as he went. She lay back in the chair, her eyes closed. He plucked The Duino Elegies from the shelves and began thumbing through the pages. Could she even hear these verses? She had never recognised or understood that moment of pausing by the window for the sake of the violin sounding. But, he went ahead and read to her, softly, walking up and down. At least, it might help to soothe her.
When he paused and glanced towards her, he became very fond. He did not know what people were doing in the midst of reality - and h-found that amusing and touching at the same time. The title of D. H. Lawrence's 'Apocalypse Now' came to him. It was always the end of the world when a new one was approaching: the time of the flood, when people lost the meaning of their lives because the king died and another came. And those little inserts in the textbooks were the sign of those textbooks' watery death. And God would have to make a new covenant with man. He said to her, 'I can tell you that this is already being done by people. Just a few, but it is happening.'
'What do you mean? What does it mean? You never warned me that it would be like this.'
'It's too simple to say much about before you've had it happen to you. I don't know what it means. It does not have to mean anything. But, tonight, I tell you that I am scared, too; and I wish you were with me. It's not just a new step in physics or psychology. It's the end of the world as we know it. ' He laughed. 'Without you, or somebody, I shall go crazy. It's a real risk. And I won't stop because I can't.' He took the apparatus off her and she said to him, 'It's as if there could be terrible creatures brought in by using that thing. I felt so unprotected. You'd gone. Everything had gone. It was all different. I couldn't stand any of it.'
'But, you could learn. That must be so. We couldn't get there if it was impossible to learn. What I want to tell you, though, is the fear can destroy. Maybe they will have to destroy this thing so that the world can go on.'
She turned away from him, 'I'll never get used to that,' she said. He could see that she had-enough and he was sad and angry with himself for even trying. He said to her brusquely, 'It's reality. The reality we have not been able to get at before.'
'You mean that I was actually looking at something out there?' she asked with horror.
'Yes! It is like that -' she turned pale and rushed into the bathroom and he could hear the noises of her vomiting. 'That was just one aspect!' he yelled to her. When she came out, she looked at him as a badly treated animal might. 'Why did you do this to me?' she whispered.
'I have to find out how to introduce this to people - as it is, If I had softened it up, prepared you, it would have been just a show. But, now you know that it is like that. But, it is not "horrible"! It just is like that. Your brain cannot take it now; but it can learn. That is one of the strangest features of this thing. It is as if the brain has built in it this capacity for something that no living creature would ever have needed. How is it there?'
They looked at each other across the room and heard the sounds of the street coming from below. He felt his words fall into a vacuum. She turned and went into the bedroom, leaving him to take his seat once more and enjoy his bitter memories.
The meeting with his friend had gone badly. In fact, the whole incident was a personal disaster and loss. As his wife went to bed, the glow of the sleep-lights just visible beyond the screen, he went over his memories and reconstructed the event; motivated, in part, by a desire to punish himself. The reactions of those he had felt close to had been unforeseen; they implied that nobody would be able to appreciate what he had done, objectively. If he were cast as the Faustus of the present time, then he was a pretty weak and uncertain one. He was more like Adrian Leverkhun's bourgeois companion than the composer himself was. It would be best to abandon all pretence to scientific status and leave a legend. What could he do? Despoil his daughter? Set fire to his workplace? Disappear to another planet? Shaking his head as if to throw off these thoughts as foreign bodies, he focussed on that awful hour spent with Farley earlier that night.
His friend had been courteous but, plainly, holding himself aloof and detached. Dr Karl had rushed to energise the apparatus and engage the auditory unit. His preparation of the sound environment had been perfect. The year spent in absorbing Lyton's method of personal composition had been a crucial step; he was able now, almost instinctively, to select the appropriate inception agent for anyone he knew. This he had proved to his satisfaction time and again but today was the first occasion on which it would be the prelude to entering the new access for someone other than himself. Within ten minutes of his arrival, Farley was invested with the halo of the instrument and in a ready state. The water trickled beside him and the instruments signified by their readings that the man was hearing with new ears.
There had been little visible response - only a few signs of tension. At one
moment, perhaps, he whispered something that Dr Karl failed to catch. When the
period was over, his friend had sat quite still at one time nodding as if to
a thought that had occurred to him. Then he spoke, ' So, you have to induce a
state in the subject. I am surprised how effective you are.'
Dr Karl rushed to explain. 'That is what I call inception. It is to enable the brain to take in the new input. I personally do not need it anymore; something has been permanently rotated in my brain. It takes time for that to happen.'
His friend then said, 'I was aware of a strong feeling. That is what remains with me.'
'What of the perceptions? Can you not recall the sense of having new perceptions?'
Farley replied curtly, 'You should, know that perceptions in the human sense are impossible without conceptual activity and I have no recall of any new mode of conception. There were space and time, I suppose. There were strange sounds. However, what I can recall is only feeling.'
Dr Karl remembered his harangue of the class that afternoon. He was impatient having to go over the same ground - above all, with this man. 'There will have been a slight change in your brain, which is some measure of what you call conceptual shift, I can measure it, if you like.'
'It doesn't matter.' His friend sounded almost weary. Why was he not in ecstasy or shock? Farley unbuttoned the apparatus and held it in his hands, looking at it carefully. 'Where did you get this?' he asked.
'I didn't get it anywhere. I made it.'
'But, how did you make it? What was your model?'
'Why do you assume that I have stolen it from somewhere or copied it? You know that is impossible anyway. Look, I put that thing together - and others like it. I can make them work. Which means that, sooner or later, they are going to be available everywhere. I've tried to find out what else is going on like this, but all I come up against is INSTRAM. That's why I came to you.'
'Wait. You are telling me that you found out how to make these things? But, how? It's got nothing to do with your field. You're a musicologist and composer of sorts -'
'- I was.'
'All right - you were a composer of sorts. Now you claim to be making a scientific revolution in your own backyard. It is hardly possible.' Dr Karl stared at him with that emptiness and desperation that comes from the evaporation of trust. 'Do you think I am some kind of agent from another enterprise trying to cross wires with INSTRAM?' he asked, 'It's not true. I am on my own. I don't know whom to trust to help me develop what I have found. Just what are you representing? Who are you an agent for?' Farley said nothing. Karl blurted out, 'Why can't you act like a friend instead of asking all these fool questions?'
Farley sighed. 'A friend sometimes has to do something that looks unfriendly - out of friendship. You want to be objective about all this? Well, then, I am helping you to be objective. You've made some pretty extravagant claims for these devices. I'm simply asking you to tell me how it happened that you came to make them.' Karl frowned. 'It came out over several months. Look - what do you mean, what happened? I worked at it and struck lucky. Do you want the patent specification?'
His friend looked at him and said with unusual intensity, 'Try to grasp that you are not telling me anything, while you are protesting, all the time. How, either you are jealous of your secrets - which I don't think is the main thing - or you honestly, do not know what happened. Can you tell me which it is?'
Dr Karl looked at him in puzzlement. At the back of his mind, he wondered why he was puzzled. The investigation had consumed him even though he had, increasingly, to force himself to continue. At the same time, he could not avoid being drawn back into it, Wasn't it always like that? Some insight and then a lot of work producing the architecture, the flesh and blood of the beast; the accumulation of days and months and even years of blind alleys and stupid mistakes?
His friend stared at him. 'I begin to suspect, Karl, that you do not know what
happened or why, Try and look at it in this way. Look back over the last year
or so and try to find yourself in the picture.' Dr Karl felt embarrassed and
impatient. What was the point of this interrogation? Why this psychological
probing into the process of his discovery? What had he done? Wasn't it obvious?
He had invented a way of new access, an instrumentation of a new category. The
universe was calling out - the true universe, things as they are in themselves,
the absolution of mankind from evolved prejudice, the neutralisation even of
Original Sin . . . Farley broke into his thoughts. 'Let me put in this way.
You have devised a new instrumentation, which offers a new order of experience.
You say that this gives access to reality - to the reality of objects. Now,
what of the subject? What about you? Have you had a new access to yourself?'
'What does it matter about me? Can't you see that the whole point of this is that it is objective? Why do you go on and on about me and the irrelevant details of my work? Why should these instruments give any special access to the subject? Of course, I'm not something apart from these things and their discovery - I am not some kind of hovering ego registering my progress, what I am doing and why I am doing it.' But he was thinking to himself that, somehow, he was lying. And his friend said, 'You are lying, The two of them locked glances, then his friend got up and walked across the room. He turned as he neared the door and looked round at Dr Karl and at the apparatus and said to him, 'What you think you have done is impossible and I do not believe you.' The words came like a blow to his stomach. He stuttered, 'But - you heard. I know that you did,'
'I had an experience. It was totally meaningless to me. I consider it as one of your compositions. Very powerful, but a little obscure.' Dr Karl looked at the figure across the room and suddenly felt that the man was changed. It was if one man had come in and another was leaving. Farley smiled whimsically at him. 'You see me as changed, perhaps. You have, I suspect, no idea what your instruments (as you call them? do for other people. You are like Beethoven composing when he was deaf or Charles Ives who became incapable of hearing anything except his own compositions. Your idea that these instruments give a new access to objects is a delusion - all they can give is an experience. I might even get to appreciate it. But, that does not make it real.'
Dr Karl stared at him, horrified. Farley smiled and added, 'Please don't get upset. Keep in touch. Who knows, I might change my mind? And remember that whenever you have anything definite to tell me I shall be glad to listen to you. Goodnight,' And he left, the door shutting on the heart of the man left behind. Karl was in a state of panic and rage. The only thing left for him to do, he did; entering the new world he did not understand and could hardly remember. Before he made his disconsolate way home, he made himself sit and write, in an assumed sobriety and optimism.
For the moment, I still deal in implications rather than in facts. As I have
noted before, the retention of new facts is made difficult by the generic intention
to establish facts linguistically. Really new facts require new language - or
new languaging. Outside of poetry - and even there, it probably also applies
- there has to be a community engaged in the new access. The new language evolves
as a part of their mutual action; later on, the terms of the language are employed
by people who are incapable of understanding their creation. Thus, as always,
the intention out of which language is born is turned into a habit of speaking
which determines how people perceive the world. The man making a new access
by himself must be a poet - he cannot be a scientist, And, somehow, it is true
that the poet demands of people that they go back to the origins before the
things had been said,
But, I speak of implications. What is before me now is the question of plurality of access. The alternative access that I have instrumented must be only one out of innumerable possibilities. If I can come to this one, then others can come to different ones, What is it that can encompass all these? Is there a total structure of reality such -hat all modes of perception are arranged in order; or, are there an infinite number of them, a plenum. The ordinary man regards perception as all of a piece. He does not even contemplate the mystery of the conjunction of sight with sound. Perhaps I have been naive in supposing that my new access fits as a matter of course with the same single reality that includes the old also? The relief I have had from finding this new access is being superseded by a Pascalian terror of the infinite. But, there are not 'infinite spaces' there are 'infinite plenums'.
All of science rests on the reference plane of our ordinary perceptions. Once that plane becomes simply one out of many that are possible, then the science we have becomes just one of many. This makes me think that perhaps, indeed there was an alternative Chinese science as some have suspected; or, once upon a time, a real alchemy. Perhaps, too, the ancient ways which look so primitive to us today were also genuine. All these had their own reference planes - which were different from that of today. After all, in many ways, the reference plane of the everyday and obvious today is the technological one which has been fabricated over the last few hundred years. The 'givenness' of our perception is not a cosmological constant, but subject to variation in space and time. The question then remains: what is it that harmonises all these reference planes? The new access does not replace and do away with the old one (though, maybe it will, in time!). It is only an alternative to the old one, which shows things differently, especially in the micro-world. I know, for example, how light 'looks' - or, at least, that it does look like something and is not 'dark' as it appears in the usual reference plane. Perhaps INSTRAM have locked into a different plane to mine? Perhaps there are many other groups and individuals? At the moment, we have no way of establishing what is going on as a whole. It is as if we were living in the Stone Age and having to beat a path to the next settlement to find out if there is anyone else who has the idea of metal tools.
They had had an unexpected talk in his study. Initially, she had tried to persuade
him to give his support to the student group -which had styled itself as the
CD group - CD standing for cognitive dissonance' - but he carefully explained
what he saw as the irrelevance of ideological attitudes to his own work. She
was not convinced. That part of the conversation unresolved, they turned to
Schoenberg and went on to Webern, Xenakis and more contemporary composers. The
room became filled with episodes of music; sometimes two or three pieces were
playing at once. Karl found himself talking to her about teaching.
'Every teacher has a problem in being a teacher. He has to hand over the tools without handing over the prejudice locked into his use of them. He has to convey his enthusiasm without coating his students with the second-hand garments of his own past insights. He has to teach so well that the student no longer feels he is a teacher.'
'Then, what is he?' she asked. 'What do you want to see yourself as?
'I can't say. It is to do with something that I feel with my own children too.
I want to point the way, but not the way I travelled to get to the pointing.
I don't want to teach from the past, in terms of what has happened to me. What
use is that to tie young, living in a different world? Yet, I suppose I must:
it is my job to sum up the past and make it manageable for you - so that you
can then go on into the future. Or the future can then come into you and make
itself apparent. You know, I had a friend who told me something very interesting.
He said the younger generation could be regarded as more conditioned than the
old - that is, more susceptible to the system in which they existed. So that
the teacher, for example, would be more of the future than the student. I can
see a truth in that. I can see how young people soak up the most fleeting things
of the present and fail to see what is developing around them. Very possibly,
I am caught up in some sentimental idea that the young are open; when there
is not much evidence for that.'
She nodded and smiled at him. 'It takes a lot to be able to live in an open way. I think your friend was right and you are being sentimental. I look around and nearly all the students are just rerunning the identity problems their parents had according to the up-to-date fashions. They just want to fit in better and have everything go smoother. They are anarchic only if it is in fashion.'
'So', he asked her, 'What about this group of yours?'
'I must have given you a bad impression. We try. It's not just talking; we are trying to find ways of doing something about the situation. Because we feel that something is dying inside us, the way things are. We are not going to sabotage the computers or anything like that. We are going to make ourselves different and independent.'
'But, you don't know how?' He said it half as a question and half as a statement.
'That does not really matter. It is the aim that counts. You must know that. I think you are in the same boat, really. But, you are locked into your music and your own thoughts and seem to hoping the something will change of itself -'
'I haven't just been dreaming! It's not just dreams! It has to do with solid
fact - and changing the facts.' His staccato manner faltered and his voice tailed
away into an inscrutable neutrality. Looking at her sideways, he felt impelled
to shift the grounds of the conversation. She smiled and asked, 'Let's stick
to music, shall we? I understand, that you are something of a composer yourself
though I have not had the pleasure of hearing any of your material,'
She bit her lip. 'I don't like to talk about my music very much. There are problems there, which are all bound up with what I have bee-trying to express to you. I -' she hesitated and then went on, 'I love music and love working with it; but something is spoiled by the way in which it is done. When I was working on a piece, it was fine; but, when it came to be instrumented and KS. taped, it seemed to become something else. I can't seem to find my own voice. It was my dream to become a composer but I never get to hear my music. So, I don't want to talk about it, please.'
'All you are left with is some aims?' 'Yes, if you like. I - we - have no means.'
'But, that is the core of the problem: the means. The core of it all is to
start from an objective basis. It is not enough to have subjective aims. There
have to be new facts; a new order of fact. That was how religion and then science
changed the world. People only change when they see the world differently.'
'It's our aim to see the world differently!'
'That's not enough. You think that you can change things through ideas and concepts and appeals to feelings. None of that is fundamental enough. You cannot know what I'm talking about right now. Maybe, though, one day you might.'
She stared at him. 'Just what have you got locked up in your cupboard, Dr Karl?'
'An ontological composition.'
Ever since political and even insurgent activity had been made part of higher education, it had made the organization of learning a very complex job. The reactionaries who had rejected his classes agitated to have him downgraded and his salary was reduced as a consequence. The normal procedure was for the lecturer to mount a counter-action such as using his influence to cut off access to certain computer facilities. When his terminal had transmitted data on his downgrading there was also thrown up a menu on retaliatory tactics. He ignored the menu and, instead, had posted through the network a notice on the nature of teaching, making it a personal statement very much on the lines he had discussed with the girl. Certain ethical committees were drawn into the fray and Dr Karl found himself embroiled in discussions on the relativity of choice between teacher and student. It was inevitable that he ended up closeted with the CD group even though he told himself that he had no idea how he had managed to manoeuvre himself into doing what he had decided not to do. Angry at the whole affair, he adopted an aggressive stance and argued and went on arguing on behalf of objective reality. He rejected everything they had to say to him and behaved thoroughly unreasonable He even made himself absurd and brought things to head by flouncing out in a tantrum, calling them a bunch of idiots. Sitting in his office afterwards, he wondered what had come over him.
Then, he was called up by five members of the group. Much to his surprise they
volunteered to work with him and put themselves under his direction. They said
that they were tired of discussion and wanting the true discipline of learning.
The girl was not one of them. This seemed to make him even crazier: they had
asked for the discipline of learning and they were going to get it. After two
weeks of intensive work on the information content of music he had lost three
of the initial volunteers. The two that were left Dr Karl found himself hating
intensely and he made them work even harder. Reaching a point of despair in
which he could hardly stand himself, he was rescued by the girl turning up.
Her boy friend was not with her and he made no inquiries after him. He denied
himself any feeling of pleasure at seeing her. In a dictatorial mood, he took
her aside and said, 'You have a place in composition. There are already works
being made in you; but, you do not know how to make them happen. The compositions
are difficult. You cannot be content with a static perfection or a restablization
of music. The trouble is that you cannot be content with music at all. What
I am doing is more than music. You - you have not yet found the connection between
music and reality. You doubt that I really have it. You are almost afraid of
me. But, nothing less than objective reality will ever satisfy you. So - you
kept away because this was a matter of life and death for you. Now, you are
here and have to accept what I do. But, I am not going to give anything to you.
What we are doing looks just like musical analysis; but you are not surprised,
are you.? You know that I am not going to give you any proofs! Yet, you trust
She looked strained and unhappy. 'I got very angry with you when you walked out. I thought that I could forget you and your work and carry on by myself. But, everything went sour on me; became pointless and empty. I suppose that I have nowhere else to go. I have to trust you. I must be part of it.'
'We can work with that,' he said and left the subject.
He subjected her and the others to the maximum pressure he could muster, until
they were suffering from a kind of intellectual and emotional stress. They had
to create models of the world-views implicit in single phrases of music; they
were even forced to invent entire fictions that they knew to be false and justify
them against his attacks. He made them criss-cross the boundaries between analysis,
interpretation and fantasy, changing his own ground to de-stabilise any of their
assumptions. At the same time, they had to listen to various performances of
classical pieces and learn to discriminate between ever more fine nuances. It
was entirely a process that gave no sense of any end or accomplishment in sight.
Then he would ask them to hear, to see and to touch. And to describe what was
there, both in words and in composition. It was a forcing house of perception.
Oftentimes, the group became demoralised or aggravated to the point of simmering
resentment that occasionally exploded into violent argument. When anyone disagreed,
they were sent away and to come back when they would confess that they were
The musical appearance of the group's work provided a useful shield. It was not long before the administration made enquiries about his project work. Dr Karl told them that he was trying to set up a new course to offset his loss of earnings. He became obsessed with the idea that Farley had intervened to cause him trouble, even though he had no place in the organization. They still met, from time to time, often at Farley's instigation; but neither of them made any explicit reference to the incident, which had created a gap between them. Dr Karl could still not credit his friend's apparent disregard for what he was doing. Farley asked about his teaching work and he gave some guarded answers.
Inevitably, it was Carolyn, the girl in the group, with whom he tried
the instrumentation. She had asked for it, in so many words. Once, when he asked
the group to define the meaning of the work he was conducting with them, it
was she who pointed out, 'It raises questions which cannot be answered in terms
of what we actually register. It is as if you are appealing to a different order
of experience.' Later on, she asked him directly, 'Do you believe there can
be a different access to reality; something to provide an objective basis for
knowing things which are, ordinarily just a matter for discussion and speculation?'
He had answered, 'Belief would be a contradiction. What I am doing rests on the fact of a different reality. I say "Reality" because it can be made as plain as that glass of water over there.'
The trigger for the exposure of Carolyn to the apparatus came in the form
of a note in one of the more esoteric music journals, 'Review of Possible Music'.
It had stated quite baldly that INSTRAM was doing research on the perception
of sound and hoped to throw light on compositional genius. It was couched in
a psychophysical way, but he saw it as a harbinger of a more public face. INSTRAM
was seeking ways of introducing its work to the world at large,
He told her that he had something interesting to introduce to her, which would throw light on his purpose. The effect on her was startling. Swaying in the chair, she began to weep. 'I know this stuff. I have heard it before. I have wanted to hear it. It changes everything. There is a different order of things. Sounds come out of the energy I saw. But, now, I don't have it. It can't be held. I cannot remember the sounds. It is like I am back in prison.'
He looked down at her, remembering the utterly different reaction of his friend, Farley, and felt a burden lifted from him; but the memory held him back from reaching for her. Instead, his hand came to rest, lightly, on her shoulder - as if to reassure him that' she was real. The thought made him shudder: what was sitting in the chair? Through her tears, she broke out, 'Tell me it's not imagination. Convince me that it is more than an experience - that something different really happened. Please don't let this be just an experience! '
'Why?' he said, intensely. 'Isn't an experience enough?'
She looked up at him, white-faced. 'Why do you say that? After all you've told me. There has to be a different world than the one we know. It is the only way out. Are you just cheating as well, peddling dreams?'
Urgently, he seized her hand. 'You tell me. You're on your own. Nothing that I can say can help. It can't be a matter of words. Now, you have to be responsible for what you know - against all the world, maybe. We have to get beyond persuading each other. It's there or it is not. which is it?'
She pushed him away and leaned beck, staring at him. 'It's there. But, I could never explain it. I've been there. You have to go there to know.'
She got up from the chair and walked up and down the room, bursting out. 'My God! I liked it! I loved it! It's a treasure house. But, where is it? Does one go off somewhere?'
'You have to find out,' he told her. 'Are you prepared to do more of this and find out? I don't want to influence you. It has to be you that does it.'
She had agreed, because she wanted that world for her own. Dr Karl was not sure whether she understood her role; but, he had tied his own hands by insisting on her independence. Later, the other members of his tutorial group had been introduced to the instrumentation -with varying results. One broke all contact with him immediately afterwards. The other was confused and anxious and unable to make anything of it.
Carolyn's boyfriend tried to keep in touch with her. They had had an arrangement
in which either could call on the other for sexual release but now Carolyn tended
to be unavailable. It had been one of those rare harmonious and convenient arrangements,
which are only fully appreciated in retrospect. Together, they had not even
discussed politics. When they met in bed, it was only for the play of their
bodies. Carolyn found that it helped her to keep a freer mind. Ideas were not
mixed up with her bodily chemistry; effective relationships were not entangled
in sexual posturings and personalities. He used to go to her when his thinking
was confused - and he came away feeling sharper. This mutually beneficial arrangement
deteriorated rapidly after Carolyn's involvement with Karl. Since Reagan had
kept out of the musicologist's sphere of influence, Carolyn felt she was involved
in a secretive relationship, however cerebral in fact it was. It was no longer
easy to let Reagan in, draw the curtains and undress, slide into the rhythms
and warmth of his embraces; it was no longer the natural thing to do. She was
also feeling twisted inside by the projections she was making. Reagan began
to appear to her as a spy, using her to gain access to Karl's secret work. Suspicions
entered their conversations. As is usual with people, at the first signs of
this she made strenuous efforts to eliminate such psychological aberrations
- and became more strained and less herself in their relationship as a result.
To which Reagan reacted in his turn and so provided her unconscious with the
specious confirmation it was seeking.
She began to introduce into their meetings silly talk: asking him if he really still desired her, or about other girls; or, simply, about what he was going to do with his life. She always regretted it and, oftentimes, even while prattling on in such a vein, something in her coolly appraised her degeneracy and helplessness. This made her suffer. So, the relationship became one of suffering and began to take its meaning from her inner torment: it became its own opposite. As for Reagan, his own sense of helplessness increased. He realised how much he had benefited from her and felt an obligation towards her; even though his reason told him that his sense of obligation was a sentiment binding him to the patterns of foolish behaviour which were of no benefit to either of them. As is the way, he felt he had to demonstrate his sense of obligation by 'caring' about her and telling her so: which was to burden her with irrelevant and false values, obscuring her natural character, her quiet state of harmony, the listening deep within her which had enabled her to find a communication with the work of Dr Karl.
They began to quarrel about Karl and Carolyn's involvement with him. She was an impotent witness to this futile descent. She told him the she blamed him for continuing to visit her. Both of them approached the bed dreading the almost inevitable trigger, which would release unkind recriminations, suspicions and misunderstandings that would then lead to his angry exit. The affair came to a close when Carolyn finally slammed the door in his face. She told him not to come back and, after he had left, cried a long time. Her mind was so confused she began to wonder whether she was 'in love' with him -a vague turn of phrase still popular amongst people, but one which she had previously eschewed with an inborn sense of reality. In her teens, she had reasoned with herself that the only possible significant information contained in the phrase 'in love' must derive from cognition of the future, a recognition of the potential of a combination of two people, which was more than genetics. But now, she sank low enough to go over and over the past in the futile pursuit of trying to make a failure meaningful, trying to reverse through emotion a chain of causation which was, in fact, only too simple to grasp as inevitable.
Reagan occupied himself with his own career, taking up research into the sociology of music which gave him a more detached and satisfying contact with both music and politics than he had ever had before. Mozart became his hero as the composer first able to begin to break from the tyranny of patronage. Then, Amadeus became a class-traitor, next a mere idol of the bourgeois, next the supreme technician or artisan, next the founder of a revolutionary pattern of artistic creation, the harbinger of romanticism, next a representative of the death-throes of religion, but next a new prophet and so on. In brief, Reagan enjoyed Mozart a great deal and made good mileage from him, Schoenberg and his followers were sidestepped because of their association for him with Dr Karl. Casting around through the history of music, trying to find a striking thesis of his own, he came across some rare manuscripts early troubadour music and, amongst them, cryptic references to the doctrine of milleniumists. He saw a potential for a thesis on the secret messages of music, the way in which music had been employed to teach the people at large and spread ideas. This was more than 'The Barber of Seville'! He became quite happy. He went in for short-term sexual relationships and worked out in the gymnasium regularly. But, Carolyn was not quite forgotten. He knew after all, that she was someone special: a woman who could think deeply without much talking; who was capable of understanding creative work; who had the power to nurture things of higher value. In a word he missed her while telling himself that he did not and that there were other women as least as beautiful. When the time came that he h to leave to do some research in Vienna, he wrote to her.
It was an email full of contradictions. He wanted to tell her that he admired her and regarded her highly. Yet he was, rightly, suspicious of his motives in doing so. He did not want her to think that he was appealing to her, or telling her that he loved her or wanted her. At the same time, he did not want her to think that he was seeking her attention, tugging at her sleeve for a reassuring smile as a child would from its mother. He wanted to assert himself; to say that he was doing fine, that he did not need her. So, twisted between conscience and a sense of grievance, he scribbled a page and half trying to cover up his confusion by making jokey remarks. It was not difficult for Carolyn to read between the lines; but, what could she say in return?
It was nice you wrote to me, telling me how you are doing, I am happy for you about the news. There are many mysteries in the way music has developed and much useful work to be done to clear things up. It cannot be easy to find a way into this line of work. My best wishes go with you.
I think enough time has gone by for all our silliness to be forgotten. We were just growing up, perhaps. Let us keep the fond memories and forget the arguments. When you are back, call me up and we can meet sometime. And you can tell me about your work.
I am pretty busy. I spend a lot of time on 'musical phenomena' and it is most interesting - though it would be premature to say anything definite about it right now. It is rather to difficult to explain and still at a very early stage. Anyway, it is absolutely right for me and I am sure that I am doing the right thing. Though, obviously being a new field, there is bound to be a bit of strain.
Love, Carolyn. P.S. Take care!
She chided herself for having to close her eyes as she posted the letter,
which she believed, was a badly disguised call for help. Why was she so sensitive?
she asked herself. The scene with Reagan is finished. But - somebody - help
me, hear me!
Her calm was fragile - the calm her acquaintances believed in when she presented them with her implacable manner. She found herself caught between a semi-addiction to the new phenomena and a sense of stultifying isolation at not being to make sense or use of what she discovered. Karl maintained an absolutist demand for her to find out for herself; but, she suspected that he, too, was at a loss and was in fact desperately hoping that she would come up with some means of memory and communication at which he himself had failed.. At times, his sense of secrecy bordered on paranoia. He had excluded everybody else from the experiments and she felt resentful at the burden imposed on her. It was not as if he gave her anything as a human being.
Once, he said to her in passing, 'I tried some of this with my wife once.' It was the first time he had mentioned her. 'What happened?' she asked, cautiously. 'She thought that monsters would come and get her!' Karl grimaced. 'No, to be fairer, it frightened her. Then it was if something in her clamped down. When she refers to my 'experiments' or my 'music' it is as if it were some hobby I pursue in the basement.'
On hearing this, Carolyn's uppermost thought was of how little sympathy he had for people. It seemed to go with his manipulative facility for tuning people in the incept process (which had now fallen into disuse, since Carolyn no longer needed it and there were no others involved in the work): he understood people only with respect to getting something from them, not for what they were. In a sense of fairness, she reminded herself that Karl had suffered from rejection of his work; it had seemed to make him bitter and, at the same time, almost afraid all the time, especially of the work he was doing. It was easy to see through the facade of didactic certainty he tried to maintain in front of her. She sighed to herself. She had made the bed so she had better lie on it - only, it was turning out to be of Procrustean manufacture.
She dreamed a lot and there were dreams full of images of death. She saw her
empty eye-sockets, she felt her month full of ashes; there were endless hordes
of people marching past her corpse lying in a darkened room. She also saw alien
landscapes under different suns in which the air was permeated with evil. Half-glimpsed
creatures drew close to her to peer at her, to examine her like a specimen under
the microscope, sometimes cutting her open from between her legs, violating
her then from inside, directly into her organs. Once or twice, though, she ran
through space with a magnetic wind upon her face, the stars flitting by on either
side, the stars ahead verging into the blue and then becoming so spectrally
shifted that they became ecstasies of positive darkness. Such dreams lifted
her spirit. She wished that she had someone to tell about them. Karl would not
Something, wrong was happening. She recognised it soon after replying to Reagan's letter; when she saw herself actually wanting Karl to take her in his arms and undress her, do things to her. Almost revolted at herself, she often felt near to tears; and her face became a mask, set in a frame of nonchalance that she did no dare relax. One day, she found herself outside Karl's office and was shocked to realise that she could not remember how she came to be there. By this time, she had her own key; it was inevitable that she went in and took up the apparatus, settling herself down in order to forget whatever it was that was causing her so much pain.
This time, she told herself, this time I will remember! I've done with experiences.
I want to know something that I did not know before. Please God! No - fuck God
and all the rest of them. I WILL LEARN.
When she came out of it, flushed with the aching wonder that always befell her, the awful emptiness of her memory finally broke her control and she wept. A flood of tears long held back washed over her. She barely noticed Karl entering the room and standing there shocked and helpless. When she looked up at him, she had the strength of despair to yell at him, .'What are you going to do? Why get me into this when you don't know what you are doing? You just stand there and don't care if I go out of my mind. You're a creep! And you treat me like some kind of laboratory animal. You don't tell me how of why you started all this, or what it's for! You're an irresponsible maniac with the feelings of a lump of shit'
'Carolyn, please; it's a strain for both of us. I thought you got so much out of the experience that it would be all right for you.'
'It's not enough!'
'Well, I am not making you go on -'
'Don't try that on! Don't tell me I can just go away and forget all this because I am upset. Look at yourself! You're hardly human! What's happened to you?'
Karl slumped down into a chair. Her effect on him was similar to that on Reagan. Life was fine as long as she was around and did not question anything. But, as soon as she raised difficulties, the fabric of control was torn, the bottom fell out of things, leaving disorder and confusion. Karl wished that he could cry, too. He looked at her: young, beautiful, intense and intelligent and felt his age. And felt a sense of shame at having neglected her so much. All that he could do was to appeal to her. 'Just try to understand that things are very difficult for me. Without you, I think I would have fallen apart long ago. You wonder why I don't make things easier for you. It's because I respect you too much -'
'- and you want to observe what happens to me for the sake of your bloody research! You want to use me to make a name for yourself!'
'What can I say? Of course I want to see what happens to you. I believe something tremendous will come out of you, I don't want to spoil it. It really does have to come from you, independently. It has to be like that. I cannot afford to let this slip one millimetre. I thought you understood.. I'm going through a similar thing myself.'
Carolyn was contemptuous of his explanations, which she had heard so often, but she was honest enough to see the sorry state he was in; the man was going to pieces. Oh! where was that mythical imperviousness of the 'real' man, to emotional turmoil, to be found? Why does she always end up taking control of events? Here was a man of extraordinary gifts brought to a state of flabby ineptitude and she was left carrying the can. Then, she remembered something that had struck her from time to time.
'Dr Karl, let's drop the way we are doing things right now. It has become pointless, We have to: establish something concrete, I have an idea, but it is up to you to make it work. you know the system. What we have got to do is to make a new access together, to the same thing. If we can achieve that, then we can learn how to talk each other about what is going on. By talking together while in the experience, maybe we can come to something,'
Karl lifted a hand as if to dismiss the whole idea, then let it drop. He looked at her again, the mark of the tears still on her face. He took strength from her determination. What better answer to his own unvoiced prayer could he ever hope for? She was the answer, however it was going to come about. 'Well, ' he said, 'we have established why we cannot describe anything of what we perceive after the event - in contrast, say, with drug or electrically induced experiences.'
'Yes. We know that the human context disappears. There is no one to talk to. There is nobody there, only the things. It is as if we were in the things,'
'That's right. So, your suggestion of contacting each other when we are both in the same perception does offer, in theory, a possible way out. What is difficult to see is how we can assume that we can gain access to the same thing. How can we do that without language? And, I am still not sure whether or not my instrumentation gives access to just one coherent plane of reference,'
'Well, we can find out about those things. As for procedure - that's up to you. Try everything - anything. Maybe, time turns out to be so dilated that we will miss each other by nanoseconds. Whatever - it's bound to teach us something. Perhaps one of us can do something in access that the other can verify. There are all sorts of possibilities.'
Karl suddenly looked vague and mumbled, 'Yes, very well. I'll start along these lines tomorrow -'
'No! Dr Karl, you'll start on these things right now. What's got into you? Why do you avoid making real consistent effort directed somewhere? Even though you keep on saying that it is the be-all and. end-all of your existence? Have you ever asked yourself that?'
'Is that what it looks like to you?' He still seemed slightly dazed. 'It is
like that. Don't you realise it? Wait! Right now, I feel a sense of oppression
lifting, like a cloud dispersing. What have we been doing these last months?
Just repeating random incursions with you fiddling with mere details and accumulating
data you don't use for anything, We haven't actually done anything!' She got
up and went to stand over his slumped figure. 'Karl!' she said in a loud, firm
voice. 'Look at me. If you want my help then you have to get a grip on yourself,
Maybe someone or something does not want us to do this, we have been behaving
Irrationally. It must be possible to progress this work. It is time we fought
the stupidity in ourselves. Do you understand me?'
'I'll do what you say' he replied, refusing to look her in the eyes,
'That's not enough! ' Feeling foolish but desperate enough to try anything, she flipped open her blouse to show her breasts. 'Look! I'm desirable, right?'
'Yes, indeed, 'he said uncomfortably.
'Yet, you don't do anything about it. You never touch me or show that you want me.'
He protested, 'But, I'm sure you do not want my attentions.'
'Does that matter? Sure, if you felt me up, I'd probably slap your face. But, who ever really knows in advance? In any case, so what?'
'But, what about you and what you feel and want, I can't interfere with that.'
'Never mind about me - you don't, anyway. I'll look after me. Why don't you look after you? Why don't you live your life? Why don't you do what you say you want to do? Look - I'm so desperate about this work that I'd screw you, if it helped. So, what are you prepared to do?'
He raised his hands in a gesture of helplessness. Involuntarily, she stepped
back as if he were about to make a grab at her. Karl began to laugh and she
could not help seeing the joke was on her. It had been a long time since they
had laughed together. With a slightly flushed face, she did up her blouse and
took a seat herself. Recovering, she said, 'Another thing. You should consider
some other site for this work. What if there is interference? I am quite serious
about what I have said. Something has been turning us into idiots. It might
even be coming from the access itself. Is there anyone who might want to stop
you? Who knows about this? You've hinted enough about other people following
the same lines.'
'It's hard not to be paranoid. But, I think you are right and , also it is my belief that the interference is coming from outside - it's not just a by-product of the process. I know only that there is a small division in a company called INSTRAM, which is on to this. Oh, yes - I did show you the various pieces from which I inferred it, but didn't explain. I gather that INSTRAM have an information patent connected with a certain instrumentation and have secured a five year period of exclusive development through the IT development ministry. In other words, they are shutting other people out. God knows what they really have. But, I fear that if they find out what I am doing, I'll be closed down. The health department comes into this, as well. You know - no unauthorised tampering with the human nervous system. So it goes on. The whole thing is obviously a web of monopolistic control. I don't want to wait for the privilege of paying a subscription to an access controlled by other people. How, just maybe, they can find out that somebody is doing something in this area through the access means itself. And we do know that the process has an effect on the brain. The two could be connected.'
'You know,' he added. 'Maybe you have something there,' and he smiled casting a glance towards what could still be seen of her breasts. 'Perhaps sex can provide a shielding. '
'We won't put that to the test right now, ' she said uncomfortably.
Karl chuckled and she realised that both their spirits had lifted simply from
playing with the thought of it. Then she frowned and admonished him, 'So, you've
had at the back of your mind a possible threat from these people. And you didn't
'But it's only the vaguest speculation. So far, we have nothing to go on.'
'Let's start by believing in ourselves! If we have been getting nowhere, then there is a reason for that.'
'Perhaps we are just scared of what we will find?'
'No! I am not scared, at least. All the way I have told you that the new access is something joyful for me. It's just the awful feeling of loss afterwards; not being able to remember. After a session, when I hear any ordinary sound, it makes me feel almost sick. I hear that I am not hearing; as if I was dead. I tell myself - this can't be all there is. Ordinary sounds are revolting.' She shuddered. 'Only music helps.'
Carolyn's suggestion that they move site nagged at him. It brought into focus
that fact of his limited resources. He was held to his present technology by
his dependency on his idiosyncratic method of inception. He had not the least
notion of how to automate that part of the process; and, without automation,
he could not break into a purely objective mode of research. Farley's reaction
had showed him how weak his position was: he must appear to any sceptic as an
eccentric musician or producer of hallucinations. INSTRAM must have some kind
of total automation. Most importantly, they must have developed a means of recording
As far as he knew or could guess, the basic framework of space-time remained pretty constant. Far distances remained far distant. Information generated at one point had to be transmitted by a carrier to another point. If there were direct interference from INSTRAM it would require an energy beam, or the implantation of a device. He and Carolyn spent two weeks dismantling and re-assembling the set-up, checking it out and making new configurations. It boosted their morale; but, Karl explained, 'There could be an effect at the level of new access which operates in a non-localised way. In other words, information at one point is instantaneously correlated with information at another point. They could be finding out what we are doing and, by 'locking-in' in some way, affecting our reality.'
'Would that mean that their instrument is somehow precisely resonant with ours?'
'More than that. That would be a problem for them. There would have to be some way in which their instrument and ours were 'generated' from the same event - rather like the supposed sympathy between identical twins; what happens to one happens to the other. I've even read stories of one twin hurting the other by inflicting damage on himself, out of spite or insanity.'
'I think it is important then that you tell me how your instruments came about. In that way -' Her eyes narrowed as she saw blank bewilderment spread through him, an air of distraction, as if the question were totally meaningless. She had seen it before. He was incapable of thinking about what had happened in making the discovery. She told him firmly, 'Dr Karl, according to what you have told me it is vitally important that you remember bow the instrumentation came into being. ''Yes,' he said and then completely blank. He began wandering about in a vague, inconsequential way and then began talking about his lack of resources and the problem of relocation. He had all the symptoms of advanced senility.
'Dr Karl! I'm asking you a question!'
'Yes, I know. We'll go into it some time. Right now, what is important is what
we are going to do, not what we might have done. '
'No. No. No. Listen to me,' she was becoming frantic. 'I'm going to write the question down. Here' She thrust the paper in front of him. 'For my sake, look at the question and say something about it or write something. I'll be back in five minutes to hear what you have to say or read what you have written.' She had to get out of the room itself and away from him, just for a while, to take a breath again, to overcome the sense of numbness that was creeping into her brain. It frightened her that he was totally unaware of what was happening with him. The man was totally schizoid. Outside the room, her head seemed to clear and a thought struck her. What did it matter if her impulse was crazy? Go the whole way including the vid. She knew Dr Karl had one and where it was kept. She prayed that it was charged.
Coming back into room, she saw Karl had incepted and was regarding something with fixed attention. In haste, she dug out the vid and checked it out. Taking an unprecedented step, she cut power to the apparatus. His head shot back and he looked around him wildly.
'Don't ever do that!' he shouted at her.
'We've got a crisis. It's one we have been in all along but haven't recognised. I want you to know about it as well as myself. It may no be long before I go under, like you.'
'What are you talking about?'
'Karl,' she said, not even ashamed at using a seductive voice, desperate to get his attention and interest. 'You know you trust me. Go along with me, will you? Do as I say?'
'Why be so mysterious? Can't you just say it, plainly?'
'No, I can't. A demonstration is worth more than words. Now, I am got to write a question on a piece of paper. Then, I'm going to give it to you and ask you to write an answer. Whatever happens is going to be recorded on the vid and then we are going to watch the play-back together and work out what it means.'
She could see that he was irritated by the prospect of this elaborate performance; but the sight of the crumpled sheet lying on the floor bolstered her resolve. The basic issue was whether he was still rational or not. All the talk of external influences or effects may turn out to be no more than a smoke screen for a defective - and. infective - mentality.
'Just remember the principle of objective reality, Dr Karl. Trust me. It's all just facts. Things that actually happen.'
She wrote the question and vied it. Karl received the paper and she stepped back to vie it in his hand. He peered at it with a puzzled frown. 'Is this it?' he enquired. She spoke to him slowly and clearly. 'Dr Karl, I ask you to read the question aloud and then give me an answer.' He frowned again. 'This isn't a question. It's a kind of vague speculation about the nature of time. I don't understand what you want me to do.'
'Dr Karl, it is not a vague speculation about time. It is a question addressed to you in plain English. Please read it and give me an answer.' Vagueness and distraction scrambled his features almost unrecognizably. He jumped into another fragment of his personality. 'Why do you want to know this? What do you want to get out of this? Whose that recording for?' Suspicion was almost choking him.
'Dr Karl. This is Carolyn. You have to trust me. Just humour me. Whatever you say will be kept between us, I promise. Do you want me to ask you the question out loud?'
'Surely, Ask me anything you like. Let's forget this nonsense.' Then he crumpled the piece of paper and threw it towards the disposal, turning towards her with a sickly smile on his face. Carolyn vied the paper being crumpled and, thrown, then she vied the man in close-up, registering the distortions that went across his face. She said, 'You have thrown away the piece of paper with my question on it. Why did you do that?'
'Was that the question? I thought it was just a piece of paper. I was thinking
about what you were going to ask me.' Now, he was smirking in an horribly ingratiating
way. Carolyn had to take a grip on herself. It was like viewing a parade of
false humanity, the empty multitude of the persona, an ersatz being. She doubted
that Karl would ever recover from this, or be for her again.
'Have you forgotten that my question was written on that piece of paer and. you were going to answer it?'
'I thought you were going to ask the question yourself. What has the paper to do with it?' The vid-cam was shaking in her hands and she tried to still them as she asked, 'How did you come to invent the instrumentation of new access?'. She saw, amazed, that he was fast asleep! Then he blinked, gave a start, saw her, frowned and whispered her name. 'Dr Karl, I asked you a question. What is your answer?'
'I'm sorry. What was that? Some other time, perhaps, when we are no quite as
busy. We can discuss all that then.'
'That is not good enough. It will not do', her voice choked. 'I have to tell you that I have evidence in this vid that you are insane,'
He stared at her wildly, his mouth agape. 'What are you saying?'
'What are you doing to me?' he cried.
'We are finding out what is actually happening to you. All I have done is to make a record of your behaviour over the last ten minutes Are you prepared to view it?'
'If you want me to; of course. But I sincerely hope that it is something that helps the project. Are you a traitor, too? Are you rejecting my work?'
'Dr Karl. This may be the salvation of the project.' But, she told herself, it must be the end. With trembling fingers, she took out the cartridge and plugged it into the monitor on the desk. She arranged a chair for him and tapped in instructions to run the last piece of recording. It seemed to her that everything of value was gone. Maybe it was in a spirit of revenge that she wanted him to confront his madness. At that moment, she hated him - out of fear or out of the months of resentment bottled up inside her. But, she also pitied him and, much to her disgust, she pitied herself. She spoke to him, 'Just think of what has happened in the last ten minutes. Try to remember what happened just as it happened.'
'Well, you were -'
'Don't bother to tell me about it; just get it straight in your own mind. Now, I'm going to switch on.' She stood behind him as the sequence unfolded, wondering what to do if he turned away. She could hardly look at him or bring herself to stand so near to him. When it was over, she reached over his shoulder and turned the monitor off. The screen darkened, She forced herself to walk round an face him. He was crying. They were tears of fear. He reached for her and buried his face in her belly, shaking and trembling.
A voice rang across the room, 'What's happening?' An elderly man was just
inside the room.
'Who the hell are you?' Carolyn shouted. 'Get out of here. This is none of your business. You have no right to be here!' But, the man advanced into the room and said, 'On the contrary. I fear that this is my business and may be largely my doing, or because of what I did not do.'
Karl looked up and gasped. 'Farley! ' Then he looked at Carolyn. 'Did you bring him into this? Have you two set this up?'
'I've never seen him in my life before!'
Farley came over to the desk and arched an eyebrow of interrogation. 'Tell me briefly what has happened. How did he get into this state?'
'It is absolutely none of your business and you've no right to be here. This is between Dr Karl and myself.'
'No. I am afraid that I will not leave. I have information you need. It's time for me to put you into the picture Ms. Moore. Let me put it to you: you cannot afford to reject the possibility that I have information relevant to your problems. And let me reassure you that I have no connection with the administration here. I am an old friend of Karl's and I have been involved in the events over the last few months, even though neither of you were aware of this. In any case, I would not leave now because Karl is obviously in need of help. I can help him. And who else have you to turn to?'
She sat down. Farley was gratified that she was trying to reason it out; but
he felt the intensity of her gaze when it was turned on him end he was aware
of both her strength and how near she was to breaking point. 'Are you for real?'
'Yes, I am,' he said. She seemed to come to a decision, 'Then I'll tell you this much, Dr Karl is in trauma. He seems to have been avoiding certain areas of his past experience. I brought things to a head. Perhaps, I have pushed him over the edge. What I did is in the vied - look at it if you like. Are you some kind of psychologist?'
'Not as such. My profession is in the area of thinking. In my view, normal thinking is an aberration. But, let me look at this vied. Is it in here? I'll turn it round so that he doesn't have to look at it again.'
'Farley! ' Karl croaked, 'I thought you were my friend. Why did you deny me?'
'I haven't denied you - only your interpretations. Keep quiet now,' he commanded.
With Farley in the room, Carolyn felt a sense of relief. She was no longer alone. Something might be done and Karl might be saved. More importantly, the new world awaited her - and that could be saved as well. Feeling dizzy and drained, she wandered off to look out of the window, drawing up the blind, which usually obscured the view of the lawns sweeping down to the transit rail. She wondered where Reagan was and what he would, nave thought of the scene had he been there. Time seemed to stand still. She was gazing out when Farley came up behind her and said, softly, 'Ms. Moore, I have to congratulate you. What you did was remarkable. It will be for his own benefit. I know you value the truth in him - so do I. Do not be afraid. It's time for you to take care of yourself. We need you well end strong for the next step. Right now, I'm taking Karl away for a few days; I want you to do something. Ring his wife and tell her that I've taken him off to an important conference in Paris. It was all totally unexpected and you do not know any details.'
'But, what will she think? I've never spoken to her before!'
'She will think what I want her to think. Now, you must go away yourself. Is there anywhere you can go, preferably out of the country? Is there someone you can see - a close friend, perhaps?' She thought immediately of Vienna, but could not see how she could face Reagan. He looked at her searchingly. 'I see the sort of thing you have in mind. That's good - just the right thing for you. Have confidence in yourself. Don't worry about yourself in relationships. You'll always resolve them very well.' 'I know,' she said, sadly, 'but why do I always have to work them out? Why can't they just happen?'
'They do just happen, but in the way that suits you. Think about it. Something good always comes out of you.' he pressed her shoulder. 'Take care of yourself. Do you need extra money for the trip?'
'I'll manage somehow.'
'I want you to go by shuttle and leave by this evening. I insist you make use of this. Have no qualms about it. ' He brought out a sub-credit card and held it out for her to sign. Then he laid over it his own magnetic signature.
'What are you going to do with Dr Karl?' she asked. 'Find him and bring him
She went over to Karl who was slumped exhausted An the chair and knelt besides him. 'Are you alright? she asked. 'Do you forgive me?'
' Obviously, I am not alright' he said grinning up at her. 'But, what about the truth-loving lady who tried to sort me out? Are you alright?' She embraced him. 'I trust your Mr. Farley. I don't know why. We will succeed, won't we? We'll get there?' She half expected him to say: if you say so. But, he didn't. He just looked at her and that gave her greater hope than any words.
Meeting Reagan in Vienna was an expected pleasure. She found that their brief affair was easy to handle and had no sense of superiority in the face of his evident confusion. With deft maneuvers, she extracted him from his current girl-friend and spent delightful nights in his rooms. They even managed a few concerts. She was deeply moved when he bought tickets for a performance that included Webern's last Cantata. Afterwards, he took her to the spot where Webern had been shot by some moronic American and spent the night discussing what might have happened to western music if he had lived for another decade. Too tired to make love, they watched the dawn come up and. fell into peaceful oblivion. She found it easy to avoid all reference to Dr Karl. The streets were vibrantly alive the people seemed ecstatic to her. The Autumnal sky was clear and. the leaves were golden in the parks and along the roads. She had not felt happier in her life and wondered why she was not worrying about Karl. It was not that she trusted Farley after all. Finally, she decided that when she was happy, she thought more clearly and saw the uselessness of worry.
From time to time she would look at Reagan and wonder about having children with him. It was good to feel like a woman again; to let all that take over without, of course, an abysmal descent into emotional disorder. What kind of a. woman was she? She laughed at the reflection of her body in the mirror, admiring her breasts and legs and told herself that she was her own kind of woman.
The message arrived on the sixth day. Reagan had begun to wonder what her situation
was and what he should do about it. The timing was perfect. It read: 'We start
phase two soon. Are you still interested in dyadic access?' It was signed Karl
Farley. She felt herself at the start of a new adventure. She told Reagan that
she might come over from time to time but that she was going to be very busy
for a. while; and left him to pick up the threads of his studies and interrupted
liaisons. When they parted, she liked what he said: 'You are the best lady I
could ever hope to know. And I hardly begin to know you. I wish you well in
what you do, I do wish you well. It's difficult for me to see you go, but I
know that I can't keep you'.
She told him to give the other girls a break and produce some good ideas. On the shuttle, her mind turned with ease to the problem of dyadic access. She thought of the lines from Eliot; 'And the unseen eyebeam crossed, For the roses had the look of flowers that are looked at.' A chill went through her.
Translated along the walkway in a tube of impersonal, a-historical conduction, her eyes flickered automatically at the garish official? propaganda, mingling seduction with warning. The intelligible seemed a universe away: the background music vapid and insidious, the visuals strident, motion neutralized by automation. People lived in puerile models of reality, handed down from a forgotten race; rays went out from their eyes and ears to create a mirage of a world, their mouths giving egression to emptiness. Discovery had gone so fast and been so effectively exploited that discovery itself had been buried in artefacts. The world was without content, an echo-chamber of hypotheses grown habitual; breeding the same in escalation.
Her eyes seemed to blaze with an energy of their own; she felt she wanted to sing in defiance and actually managed to softly hum a tune and its transpositions. In eager haste, she rushed into the control sector, her limbs repossessed and almost danced on the spot during the delays of the security checks. Walking down the green corridor towards the phone booths, she was deftly accosted by a woman whose smiling face did not hide the fact of her official status. Carolyn was asked politely to step inside a nearby cubical. In irritation and apprehension, she complied. It was some minutes before she registered through the smoke-screen of politeness that she had been randomly selected as part of a medical screening experiment the European authorities were trying. It was easier to go along with the request for voluntary submission to a scan than refuse - which she was legally entitled to do - in case her refusal drew even more attention to herself. It took only minutes end, at; least, gave her the reassurance right away that Reagan had been checking his partners out and had not contracted any of the new viral infections.
There were no messages for her at the desk and there was nothing for her in the com she dialed in Karl's office. Taken aback, she realized that she had no direct access to Farley and would be embarrassed to phone Karl's home at this late hour. She hovered about in a vagueness of indecision until she thought of her own com. Keying in the right combination, she scanned the memory and picked up an audio-only message from Karl. 'Ms. Moore. Your study assignment is to appraise yourself of three H philosophy and, for the moment, to suspend practical engagements.' That was all. She also found a weird visual from Reagan, but could not make sense of it without an assembler.
The shuttle terminal was interlocked with the monorail which would deliver her within five miles of her living space. As she was fed into the platform her thoughts revolved around the incident in the terminal building. There was no escaping the fact that data on her and her travels was now reinforced in the memory banks, linked with Farley and - she suddenly wondered, possibly with Reagan since the scan might have been sensitive enough to identify his DNA?, Such data could be accessed by the authorities or vested interests -no privacy defense ever worked completely. She was becoming infected by the growingly clandestine character of the .project and the sense of paranoia which had crept into her in the last week, before Karl's breakdown came back strongly. The message from him war ridiculously obscure - she was sure that 3H did not designate any standard course unit. Maybe, there was something in Dr Karl's files but she had left her key with Farley before she left.
Reasoning that Karl would not be unnecessarily involving her in cryptograms - which she did not have the mind for, anyway, as well he knew - she concluded that the reference must be, in spite of appearances, perfectly straightforward. Given that the message was designed for her, it should be easy to find its meaning. She had no technical knowledge of philosophy, only a vague knowledge of its history from the time she had waded through that out-dated volume by Russell out of curiosity during one vacation. She tried to remember the books on Dr Karl's shelves. There were a lot of German authors. She could not remember anything by Kant, but the eidetic form of a metre of Hegel's writings came to her. She had browsed through something with a title like 'The Science of Nature' once, while waiting for him to turn up for one of the tutorials, None of it had appealed to her; but, that was in another life-time and with respect to another mind. Now, nothing would interest her more than to study the science of nature. Was there a hint in the message that philosophers, like musicians, had formed a new quasi-organ of perception giving a new basis of reality? Her perception of the scope of philosophy was somewhat hazy but, at least, she knew that Dr Karl had eschewed the use of Eastern philosophies and systems and restricted himself to the European tradition. He once said to her, when she protested on principle to his 'parochial' attitude, 'They may have it more right than the westerners - but. that does not help. We have to find it out for ourselves the hard way' and he had left it at that.
There was a famous philosopher - whoever he was - who had summed up the western
tradition as: Plato-Aristotle-Plato. Now, she thought, it is Aristotle's turn
again; a return to a more 'empirical' approach and away from idealized laws.
Somewhere in the helical twists of conception and its analysis there was a useful
genetic pattern that had never developed into a complete species.
Her mind was suspended in the space of the hum of the induction motors and she hardly noticed the city sparkling with the illumination deriving from the orbiting solar mirrors. Usually, it was entrancing to her and lifted her out into the night and above the atmosphere to the ingenious footholds suspended in equipotential regions by which mankind was able to poke its nose into the corners of the solar system. On this night, she was a time traveler over the ravages of the world. and indulged in images of lone intelligence crawling through the concrete of their skulls to the womb of creation. The world out there had become a. business affair; had grown cold from lack of embraces.
Emerging onto the monorail platform, she descended the escalator to the infra-city transit booths and dialed her name and co-ordinates. One of the cruising cars would incorporate her in its route through the central computer. The screen showed her a probable wait of twenty minutes. She sat on one of the benches, ignoring the attentive glances of the security guard. There were only two other people waiting there, looking unhealthy under the blue tone of the ambient lighting. The same kind of vapid sound patterns wandered on, deadening her spirits until she regained her concentration. All she could recall of Hegel was some weird description of volcanoes. Thinking of the German idealists, she was carried by her associations to the existentialists and then to the currently famous 'Dialogues-of Non-Speculation' put out by the Scandinavian group following the lead of a systems engineer (which had infuriated her when she heard parts in a vid-documentary).
'So', she told herself, 'Maybe Hegel is one of the three H's and that leaves me to find two others. ' When the arrival bell sounded, she got to her feet and, allowing the guard a friendly but neutral smile, checked through the gate. Inside the car, there were only five people, sat dumbly under the surveillance of the interior vid. She sat at the back and signaled for the route display. The journey would not be too long - this time, she would not have to sit there while the car followed some bizarre 'optimum' route all over the city.
It was drizzling and the passing streets merged into the semblance of a decorative wall. The TV was showing news from some distant planet as if it were a random interference in the event of nothing actually happening that mattered. She was dozing off as she vaguely remembered how fanciful Hegel's account of science was. At. her drop point, the display flashed her code. Once alighted, she used the comunit to contact her flat console and announce her imminent arrival - failure to arrive would be notified to the local security patrols. Once there, she made for the console and identified herself. Then she ran through Dr Karl's message. Still puzzled, she put the message from Reagan through the assembler and confirmed her suspicions: it was very graphic and delightfully obscene; maybe they would try it together one day. Perhaps.
In the following days, she spent most of her time at the library, gaining a headache and progressing very slowly. There were relatively few H philosophers but she could not find the thread that would connect three of them to each other - and to herself. Take David Hume, for example; he was obviously concerned with direct perception as well as with social morality; but, what would be have to do with Hegel? It was not until she came across a relatively minor work of Heidegger called 'What is a Thing?' that something clicked. The book itself was quite a revelation. She acquired a passion for it that took her by surprise. For a time, she struggled with the doubt she had: that the approach was a retreat from science into psychologism; but more was at work than a categorization of beliefs and , at last, she found the attraction of a deeper kind of objectivity then she had entertained before. The trail from Heidegger led back to Husserl. Delving into his books, she found herself from time to time becoming completely clear about some deep issue and then, in a moment of further reading or association, losing it all and realizing that she could not even summarize what she had read.
She recognized the similarities.
It was a great surprise when she found a message from Dr Karl in her console. 'Congratulations on the objective character of your research. Take up practical work when you are ready.' Obviously, he had access to the library computer; but, where the hell was he and what was he doing? Carolyn felt angry at the prospect of being left out of the key experiment which she herself had proposed. What if Farley and Karl were doing the experiment together? Was she being left behind to study philosophy? These thoughts gnawed at her for days and her studies suffered. It was not until she happened to be listening to some Bach fugues that the fog lifted. That inexorable sense of unceasing pattern - which, sometimes, had irritated her to the point of fury, making her look perverse in the eyes of others - made her see that Bach was fused into his perceptions: his genius was a supreme failure of being; be had been so effective that he was imprisoned. Hence, she saw his music as a kind of prison. Her destiny was where 'falls the shadow'.
She heard her own will. At that moment, she remembered. This was access. The intoxication of it buoyed her up for days but, at the end, left her empty and deflated. She scribbled cryptic and disorganized thoughts such as; 'will is the future; memory the past; access the present' and 'will and memory contradict each other, otherwise we would be sane' and 'the man in me refuses to fuck reality'. Then, she was seized by the idea that the truth of the new access was in change. The old access was reified as objects whose ultimate claim to being was as the existence of a thing.
The new access was not to a new set of entities as another genus of things nestling within and amongst the things of old - but to the transitions whereby, it had been imagined, the objects of the world were woven together. There had been the discovery of particles of thingness and then of particles of force; but this had only served to multiply the mysteries of transition. And, she felt, change was the subject. Truly, consciousness constitutes the world. Her thinking had to give way to a different order of reality. From the spinning vortex somewhere located in the moment of her seizure, violent threads span themselves out everywhere and, it seemed, all the possibilities were co-present without exclusion. Every scrap of half-remembered and hardly digested information on physics, psychology, phenomenology and every frustration and impasse of conception and music, psycholinguistics, poetry and sexuality, the world information problem, the origin of life and -
So, her mind became confused and burdened with multiplications and there came back into her mind the relentless affirmation of the fugues. Then, she knew that she must compose or die as something useless. And the fragments of the mental explosion fell down into the gravity well of the instruments. She was ready for practical studies. A message left in her console for Karl to trigger resulted in her receiving an access disc to his office within two days. She left another message for him to pick up: 'Have volunteered for the front line. Send you a postcard. Intelligence back up would be nice.'
She spent two days re-familiarising herself with the apparatus. It seemed not to have been used since she had left and there was no new data in the computer files. It made the set-up almost virginal. But, for the first time, she began to wonder how it was that nothing had malfunctioned. Though she had seen Dr Karl fiddling with the equipment, she had never seen him encounter an evident breakdown and deal with it. She wondered whether he would be capable of dealing with it, even. But, had he not constructed it?
To her surprise, she received a long letter from Farley - an actual written message - really, more an essay than a personal communication. 'Is the idea abstract or concrete? By which, it is usually represented, dense or tenuous. Hume's assumption was that idea -since it is derived from experience - must always be less than the experience. In other words, he saw the idea as a mere generality and, the more general, or universal, the more tenuous in substance it is - until we reach the grand conception of Being, say, which must be totally empty, a sort of asymptotic limit to all experience. Some mediaevalists of genius, suspicious of this tenuous representation of the universal, made a special case for the singular, the individual. They even went so far as to consider it far divorced from abstractive generality: in fact, it was taken as the very converse, more deeply concrete and existent than any appearance could ever be. In modern science, there have always been the two strands interwoven, the one of singularity being treated as the poor sister, lacking the social wealth of the universal but intensely seductive, to be enjoyed in alleys and motel rooms with the blinds drawn, so-to-speak, rather than joined in marriage. Physics plunged ahead with the universal but avoided the question as to how the universal appears in the particular. Instead, it split into two: one part we can represent by relativity and the other by quantum theory. It was left to the latter to generate singularity - already implicit in the quanta itself - whereas relativity was intended as and was pure generality. Hiding in the wings, the dark sister of thermodynamics bided her time to gatecrash the ball and announce that she was pregnant with a new science that was the rightful heir of the estate.
'Organised complexity was a crude name for the new bastard; but, of course, organization carried the universal and complexity the singular. It was no wonder that a few turned back to our early mediaeval friends - Jews and Arabs, as well as their more tardy Christian colleagues of the tenth to the twelfth centuries and other renegades down to Leibnitz - and tried to upset the contemporary establishment by talk of the different substances of the universal and the particular; substance being a word long scorned in an era of particles, fields and space-time. With the view that substance combined the objective and the subjective, all seemed set for a heretical quantum theory based on aesthetics that had been, traditionally, the mental space in which the objective and the subjective could cohere (outside the vagaries of questionable occultism). Arab scientists liked to quote the Quran - 'Only by Power will you overcome the Company of the Djin'. The Djin were the energies of the world that dealt out the dynamic mosaic of concreteness, appearing as Nature both active and passive, revealing and hiding herself by the self-same power, that power which found an echo in human technology.
'The matter-force-mind notion of the holistic physicists found little favour. Hume's down to earth psychology - after all, just a hand-me-down from the same scholastics with their intellect scanning the diversity of data to elicit the forms revealing their sameness in the stuff of intellect itself - was too entrench in the West and it was to take a long time before the esoteric technology of synchrotrons and the like would become a natural way of seeing for those who would not themselves engineer such monumental events. When information is divorced from the doing of it, it appears as magic. The world acquired a new magic - and also a new mythology. It was, perhaps, a problem of education. People at large helped themselves that they experienced reality through their senses and failed to experience the action of ideas. As long as ideas were not perceived, the way of science continued to be a mystery and wrapped in myths. The man in the street must always fail to grasp how such thin things as ideas could be at the base of the thick things that they lived by. In some ways, this acted as a valuable filter. Those for whom the ideas were thin could never operate in the substance of them and were their unconscious slaves. Those - relatively few in number - for whom ideas were concrete or thick were naturally led to operate in their domain. Problems arose in society in terms of: what to do; what to investigate; what to develop. Without anyone noticing, there came about, in the background, a power struggle to control access to reality, Some people felt this keenly, but no one understood its workings since they were part of it.
'The results of magic were relayed in mythologies to the inept public. Anyone wishing to penetrate the magic circle was faced with an almost endless task of demythologisation. Those capable of 'concrete thinking' - thinking integral with phenomena - diminished in the welter of magic and mythology. Also, the magic was intoxicating - however long and tortuous was the route to the usage of the vastly complex and expensive apparatuses. The mythologies became ubiquitous as scientists, suffering the economic and moral pressures of their societies, became sales-men of their profession.
'The entities of sub-atomic phenomena, lying at the limits of technological perception, produced a degree of revulsion in a significant proportion of the population: they found them monstrous and hated the scientists who proposed them. The reaction was anthropologically comprehensible: it was akin to the rejection of foreign cultures and foreign Gods; but, it hinted at something deeper.
'Hidden by the general obscurantism and reaction, technology and science were headed towards an inevitable revolution: one in which the very bases of physical science would be abandoned and others created. The chain of inference from visible phenomena through mathematics, which had served so well and brought about an instrumentation of unbelievable complexity and penetration into hidden areas of reality, must in its turn give way to the engineering of a direct perception; which would entail, in its turn the evolution of a new basis for the perception of reality amongst all mankind, not simply amongst the magicians in their caves. What Galileo started with his telescope and his invitation to 'just look through this and see for yourselves' would come to a climax in which whole new areas of reality would be accessible so-to-speak 'on demand' just by looking, or hearing or touching.
'It would be a new challenge to re-establish a world view in which life would go on in a new key, one in which the cognitive enterprise would of itself become the carrier wave of new qualities of information, deriving from 'who-knows-what'.
'And many people were afraid. And others were going crazy. And, a few were trying to work out what to do and with whom.'
She thought that Farley must have a very intellectual sense of humour if this was his idea of 'intelligence back-up'. But, it led her to look up Galileo's book 'The Starry Herald'.
'In the present small treatise I set forth some matters of great interest for all observers of natural phenomena to look at and consider. They are of great interest, I think, first, from their intrinsic excellence; secondly, from their absolute novelty; and lastly, also on account of the instrument by the aid of which they have been presented to my apprehension.'
In browsing through a few tomes on the history of science, she was electrified to come across the Dutchman Leeuwenhoek. How on earth had he managed to observe bacteria through that microscope of his? At that period, there was a fascination with the infinitesimals and the atoms of life and soul. She followed up on Maupertuis and Diderot; but was drawn back to Leeuwenhoek. There was a beautiful illustration of one of his microscopes: a mere blob of glass in a brass plate with a screw-thread specimen-holder. It excited her, because it was like finding her roots in a distant land, the ancestors of her mind-current. Unlike Leeuwenhoek, she could not draw or even describe what she saw or heard; but she understood that the Dutchman had fused his subjective body with objective data to a miraculous degree. With the more powerful instruments of a hundred years later, others could see what he had seen and confirm it; but, it took another hundred years before men could think what he had seen.
The prospect of dual access paled in significance before the possibility of amplification, INSTRAM might contain a Leeuwenhoek and the critical thing would then be amplification. A Leeuwenhoek could see before he thought of what he might see; she was no match for that. Events from the outer world were impinging, including financial ones: she had no official status and enquiries were being made by the administration. Back to finance and information as the twin parameters of work - or were they paramours?
That same evening, a transmission came through which consisted of a skeletal drawing of a cube. Staring at it for a while, she noticed that it could be seen in perspective either as coming out towards her or as going into the screen; it was impossible to perceive it halfway between the two states. The figure came with a title: 'Change?' and she appreciated the point. Suddenly making up her mind, she left for the Institute - it was not late enough to be particularly dangerous - and entered the block containing Dr Karl's office. She had no doubts of being able to gain entry. When she was challenged about her business at the security desk she exploited her extensive feminine charm with no qualms; even though the lout on duty was all too centred on what was between her legs. She established that he was off-duty within one hour and resolved to safe-lock the door until that time was well past.
Inside the office, she took off her tunic and sat in the access chair. She had no way of applying the incept procedures that Karl had used on her. That was the first problem. It was met by active recall of the course of her studies, which led her to meditate on the beingness of sound. By now, her familiarity with phenomenology was such that she could recognise a kind of 'switch' closing in her that altered her brain configuration. She switched on the apparatus and chose to focus on the thermal rhythms of the air in the room. A plenum of primordial sound assailed her and drowned her and she found it extremely difficult not to be absorbed into the perception. The point was to think in the heightened state, not feel.
There was an articulation, a disclosure of the coming-to-be of the phenomena: the power of hearing itself was accessible as an 'object' - though, not as a thing. She was hearing how she heard. A wave of feeling swept over her and everything was lost for a while, then came back to her in an acceleration which she could withstand. It was still a ravaging experience of exposure, an unbearable sense of her existence from some standpoint in another dimension. Maybe, this was what Karl had meant by his famous 'rotation': it was in the subject, or in the 'brain' insofar as that organ reflected the subjective presence. She saw that presence not as a matter of private and forever inaccessible information but an information she could only 'have' if she lost her point of view and gave it over to something else. This worried her. How could these psychophysical phenomena yield an objective content in the sense of 'the world'?
It was not until the early hours of the morning that she achieved a second level of articulation; in which the actual sound itself was present objectively in a new way. She had sometimes imagined to herself that state of the first man to consciously register music; now, she was in that state. It was as if the whole Earth had gone to sleep - the whole cosmos, even - and then re-awakened in a new guise which only she could recognise. She heard in actuality things that, before, she had believed in only as metaphors. And, she was able to describe them to herself!
The world was happening: it was being brought about in every instant; it had no endurance; it existed in a certain way only relative to human perception. She had had to see that her hearing had different parts, because these same 'atoms' were actually there in the world of sound, which was the transfer of energy through movement. Sound was a force that brought about the form of the world: it was the solid and the tenuous, the changing and the still, the discontinuous and the continuous. Without sound, light would have no meaning; and the two of them constituted material spaces sound saying 'here' and light, 'there'. Gravitational waves were the melodies of distant monumental events.
She observed the passing array of concepts as the experience was translated
approximately into the language her brain had. They were ephemera. A word or
a sign had no concrete meaning unless allied to a precise action. The words
of an objective science were embedded in effectiveness. For the new access,
objectivity would require decades and even centuries.
The three of them - Farley, Karl and Carolyn - had lunch the next day, meeting together rather like a reunion class. It had all happened very rapidly: Carolyn had finally brought herself to broach the citadel of Karl's home and found, to her chagrin, that he had returned there almost a week ago. Glad to make contact, she had spilled out a hasty report on her progress. Karl responded with enthusiasm, made no reference to his doings over the intervening time and immediately put in hand arrangements for her material support. She gathered that the funding was coming from Farley. He had rung back shortly afterwards - after cutting her short -and told her to meet Farley and himself on the riverboat that was a favourite haunt of tourists the following day.
Karl's story was bizarre. He was obviously alert and well; but, as he told her,' It cost me a year off my life. First of all, Farley took me off to his place in the country and I imagined that I was in for a quiet retreat. But, hell no! Within twenty-four hours, he hauled me off into the nearest sizeable town and proceeded to get me drunk for two solid days - or was it three? I had the worst hangover I can ever remember. He took me to bars, to nightclubs, to what I suppose were brothels and to all sorts of seedy places. It was a kind of gutter trip. His stamina was amazing - but I remember an occasion when we were both lying on our backs in the middle of the road trying to spot some stars. He filled me with stimulation, all the time taking care I did not get into trouble. I met some fascinating women - only to look at and talk to, you know? Though I can't explain it, all this stimulation had the aim of shielding me from any interference. You know that I suspected. I was being got at after you had pointed it out to me - and you felt it, too. There were certain things I could not remember. Well, my memory began to come back. However, as soon as I started to tell Farley about this, be would get me drunk again or rush me off to some hellish spot or create some crisis or other. Some of it was pretty rough: I was in the pits and easily fell into tea: the role of a degenerate self-pitying middle-aged lecher - and then, too drunk to do anything. The shock to my system woke me up.'
Carolyn was amazed that he hardly seemed embarrassed by his escapade. It was
like meeting a different man. She turned her mind to the important issues, 'So,
what did you remember? Were you able to reconstruct how the apparatus came about?'
Farley interrupted, 'One moment Ms. Moore. You don't think you're going to get the answer as easily as that?'
'Why not?' she retorted. 'I've been kept in limbo long enough. I've done all my homework and made a breakthrough in the method, I deserve to be told, I need to be told.'
'Just humour me' Farley smiled. 'Please think about how it may have come about,'
Her emotional response was murderous but she could not help either enjoy the keen arousal of her intellect, rising to the challenge. It was after all, almost as satisfying to have a developing intellect as it was to have a good lover. Gazing out over the river she let her eyes wander over the boats and the people in them, the light on the ripples and the clouds six in the sky; and she let the data accessible to her form their own obvious conclusions. Half nervously, she blurted out, 'Karl did not invent the apparatus' There is no way in which he could have done. He just does not have the technical know how. And, I was wondering the other day how it was I had never seen him actually repair or build anything.'
'I'd like to know what makes you so sure.' Farley said.
'I think it is because of my studies over the last weeks. There is no way in which something comes out of nothing. Only nothing comes out of nothing. There has to be already in existence a certain practical contact with reality for anything to develop. Dr Karl has never showed anything of that. However, he does have this extraordinary skill of inception. Somehow, then, he must have been necessary to the development of the instruments.'
'Right! Yes, she is good, isn't she Karl? Did you know,' Farley said, leaning towards her conspiratorially, ' that Karl originally dismissed you as an emotional basket-case months ago?'
'It wasn't as simple as that! ' Karl protested, but knowing that h hardly dared to tell her what he had actually thought of her.
She glared at them. 'I have no interest whatsoever - even if I feel anything about such things - in what Dr Karl may or may not have thought of me, I can't see that it matters. This is just delaying tactics,'
In his turn Farley gazed out at the scene on the river. Without looking at her, he said softly, 'The delay in telling you has a function. Just relax. Feel this time of us being together at this moment and in this place. Just be aware of Karl and myself and how you really feel right now. Let go. There are levels upon levels in this affair. You may see me as playing around and indulging myself at your expense. Believe me, it is not at your expense but mainly for your benefit. Play is not such a bad thing: it keeps us light-hearted and there are serious dangers in our being too serious. Remember how dangerous Karl's seriousness was for him? Let your mind play with the situation.'
She found his words almost banal, but he had an effect. It was if something
had changed of itself - in the very air - and he was merely offering vague suggestions
about what it might be. It made her feel even more distant from Farley as a
person but nearer to him as a being. He assumed a more business-like tone and
said, 'The first idea to entertain is that something or someone has been playing
with you and Karl, at least until recently. Try to grasp that you have not been
your own mistress and that the forces at work are not reducible to random environmental
influences and are in some way, intentional. The second idea will come much
more easily to you. It is obvious enough that I have been playing with you and
Karl in recent times. You have to assimilate that fact, however much you dislike
it or dislike me. This leads us to the third idea, which is a rebuttal of the
old proverb that you can't fight fire with fire. In other words, given that
someone was playing with you already, the only answer is to have someone else
play you out of that manipulation, I know what you will think: throw out the
old tyrant and bring in the new! I know that in history the liberator becomes
the new oppressor. But, there is a manipulation that is liberating for the individual
being manipulated. So far, I have played my part. Now, it is up to you - to
make this manipulation of mine effective by dealing with it, head on. May I
gently point out your recent achievement? May I suggest that you consider how
it was brought about?'
Carolyn felt her gorge rise: the conceited bastard! How could he dare claim to be responsible for what she had sweated her guts out to attain? This was shear exploitation. She could not bring herself to say anything but stared at Farley with tight lips and a savage force in her guts. -Farley was unperturbed and went on, 'You see, it is better to be manipulated by someone you know than by someone you don't.'
'Why be manipulated at all?' she snapped at him.
'Now think! Everybody is being manipulated all the time. However you picture this - whether it is a matter of the collective total of unconscious mutual manipulation or some diabolic influence doesn't matter - you are being manipulated. Sexual affairs are permeated with manipulation. I tell you that people are being manipulated by people they have never met or even heard of! Hardly anybody is pure individuality. Few even dream of starting from nothing. Everyone wants to go along with impulses arising in themselves that appear to give them an advantage. Can you begin to see this?'
'But, if the manipulation is largely unconscious, then it's not really manipulation at all. It's just an aspect of living in a human world,'
'That's not good enough for me and it is not good enough for you. Why abandon yourself to such meaninglessness?'
'What do you mean?' she was become breathless, as if she were choking,
Farley stared at her. 'I know things about this area that you do not. We are not on the same footing. I do not accept so easily this false 'humanity' you glibly talk about. But, what I seriously say to you and ask you to take note of is that the kind of manipulation I performed on you was to enable you to take control. Do you want to take control over your own life?'
'Of course I do,' she said.
'Then, begin to do so by understanding what I am saying. Do not talk to me vaguely of humanity. Respect me enough to take what I say as meaningful and to the point. You have to learn how to take control of yourself,'
'From me. If you decide to do so.' She glanced at Karl, who was sitting there in an unexpectedly relaxed fashion. Seeing him like that seemed to release some of the tension in her. She spoke to Farley again,' I can't assess the significance of what you tell me in the abstract. Can we get back to the immediate issue?'
'For the moment, yes, What you call the immediate issue, however, is the issue
you remember rather than the one that confronts us right now. You want to talk
about the interference you and Karl experienced.'
'Yes. All we have is the vague notion of somebody doing something to us. From what I have learnt from Karl, it seems to me that not only was this interference holding us back but it was also getting us involved in the first place. There is a contradiction.'
'I agree, but it affords us material from which to make a few deductions. Think of it this way: someone wants to develop the instrumentation of new access and cannot do it all on his own. He has to use other people's talents. But, he also wants to control those talents. He does not want them to follow their own destinies but to feed his own. In a way, this is a traditional problem in any research administration: the freedom necessary for discovery is incompatible with control and direction from outside. Effective researchers learn to hide what they are really doing from the authorities. The situation we are in is far deeper. The possibility confronts us that someone or something set this up so that what you were doing could not be hidden while you had built up in you the conviction that you were utterly on your own and acting in secrecy.'
She thought for a while and then argued, 'But, if that were the intention then it has not been effective. We came to see that there was interference. And we have no evidence that what we were doing became known to anybody besides ourselves,'
Karl interjected, 'I have been thinking about that very point,' he said. 'It seems to me that it is possible that what we were doing was known to these people - but they were incapable of understanding it. That was why we had this suppression acting on us, preventing us getting anywhere.'
Carolyn lit up, 'I see something now! Maybe things went wrong for this manipulator because we are not really scientists at all, but artists. What we were doing and why did not make sense to him. And his attempts to control us affected us as artistic beings. You know, I have been realising just lately how unscientific I am and that I can never pretend to be able to conduct scientific research. I am just not interested in proving a point! I want to make something happen - like music!'
Farley smiled at her. 'I agree with your idea. In a way, it was the reason for getting myself involved with you. When I first challenged Karl's assumption that he was doing something scientific, it was to bring him out and find out if that were true - while, at the same time, seeing if something original from which a science could spring would get activated somewhere along the line.'
Karl interrupted, 'Carolyn, you can see now that when I set up that music group, I was recruiting. It was immensely successful - since you came out of it!'
Carolyn blushed, but tenaciously clung to the unfolding picture in her mind. 'Now, what about INSTRAM in all this?' she asked.
Farley answered immediately, 'Forget INSTRAM for the moment. What should you be thinking about now?' Annoyed by Farley's peremptory tone, she gritted her teeth and thought hard. This directive bullying was hard to stomach and seemed irrelevant to the wonders and discoveries her head had been swimming with before this meeting.
'Well,' she said, 'I presume you are referring to the starting point of this
conversation? To the question of the origin of the apparatus?' Farley said nothing,
leaving her to develop the enquiry. The silence forced her to go on. Was this
another kind of manipulation? 'Karl was under a compulsion to look only towards
the future and avoid the past. If this was due to interference, then it is as
if the control was making him forget. That could mean that the control was involved
in developing the apparatus in the first place.'
'There is an alternative interpretation,' said Farley.
'I think I know what you mean,' she said, staring at him, 'There could have been more than one kind of manipulation. One influence led to the apparatus; the other to controlling Karl's work with it. But, that seems to contradict what you said earlier on - in your analogy with research administration.'
'Think of it as a broader issue. Behind all questions of person to person manipulation, there is another level. It is the level that is still unacknowledged in scientific circles. I mean: the level of discovery and invention itself.'
'You're talking about human creativity itself.'
'Young lady,' said Farley, to lapsing into a quaint archaism which made her smile (after all, it was a relief from certain terms in current lingo such as she-thing or the grosser semi-tech term 'buf' from buffer-store, also used for a kind of contraceptive). 'Terms like 'human creativity' are not very helpful. They do not help us to see how there can be a purpose in what is discovered.'
'I think it is time to tell her what we suspect,' Karl put in.
'Yes. Maybe she is ready for it. Are you ready?' he asked her
'Of course I am. What I find difficult is all this mystery.'
'Very well. But, remember, that being given information does not mean that you can necessarily handle it or make use of it. What seems very probable is that the invention originated with Karl's children.'
'What!' she knew only that Dr Karl had two children, a girl and a boy. 'But, that's unreasonable. Are you saying that they are some kind of child prodigies? That they set up their father? And me?'
'Hold on,' said Karl. 'Please do not go further than the information you have been given. Farley put it very exactly when he said that the invention originated with my children. He did not say that they had invented, built or manipulated anything or anybody.'
'But, what do you suppose they did, then?' she asked, still unbelieving
'First some background,' said Karl. 'My children are Joan aged twelve and Peter aged fourteen. They are pretty bright but not outstanding. We have an unusual relationship in that I have been working with them over the last two years - at least, up to six months ago -on methods of education. I was particularly concerned - of all things -with science and spent a lot of time educating myself in that area. What I set myself to do was to really enter their understanding of the world, rather than start with textbooks and discs. More and more, I became convinced that the usual ways of teaching science were wrong: like a lot of education, they simply created another personality, a sub-routine, and nothing altered in the whole brain-system. In fact, the brain system-as-a-whole was blocked off by elaborate interfaces and boundaries. It is all well and good to accept a little schizophrenia in the development of intellect but I reacted strongly against the degree and invidiousness of it. Then, my children became more and more actively involved in my enquiries - they were by no means passive specimens -and utterly co-operative. Perhaps they started off by humouring me, I don't know. It was an ambivalent position for them to be in.
'Mark you, I was not conducting experiments or trying things out on them. You must realise that over the period of working with new access, never once did I try the apparatus on them. Even though I tried it once with my wife!' He fell silent.
'I'll take up the story,' said Farley. She noted how easily Karl gave way to him, in an almost deferential way. There was a dependency that made her still suspicious of Farley. 'My professional skill can de described roughly as 'thought recognition': I am able to find out what people are thinking before they know it themselves.'
Which is how you are able to manipulate them, Carolyn thought to herself, cynically.
'Farley went on, 'I know this goes against the grain for you. Anyone with
a developing intellect is bound to resent an outsider claiming an insight that
sounds superior. However, that is a misunderstanding. There used to be a Socratic
ideal in our education which preserved something of the principle, but it has
been lost for a hundred years.'
'Yes, Farley,' she interrupted, sarcastically. He ignored her.
'It is possible for one person to bring something out of another, which that person is unable to do for himself. Also, the one who brings it out may be quite unable of generating that thing on his part. He may be inferior in that respect. Take myself. I quite envy Karl and you and others who are capable of generating something new and original. My curse is to have no originality of my own. But, I can listen and articulate the emergent. It requires a lot of tact on both sides and it can easily be misunderstood.' He raised an eyebrow at her as he spoke.
'There is no need to apologise for yourself. Please go on with the story,' she said, impatiently,
'I am not apologising. I am bending over backwards to accommodate your mental conditioning.' For some reason, Farley's tart reply made her feel better. Possibly, it was because the conflict was more out in the open. They stared at each other and both grinned. Farley went on, 'Dr Karl is a remarkable man. What he did was to make himself totally available to this educational need which made in his will a powerful matrix. Think of it as a structured vacuum. In design, seeing what is needed is often the critical step, not the process of invention.
'You mean that the process of discovery really begins with what is not there?' she asked,
'Precisely. Karl had that from his children.'
'Then you are saying that you helped him put this matrix into actual reality?'
'You know that Farley was not involved in the early stages.'
'So, there was someone else?'
'Yes, there was.'
Karl's face had the boyish enthusiasm of a conspirator. 'Carolyn,' he said, 'Have you ever heard The Annunciation?'
'No. I know of it, of course. It is by Lyton, I've never managed to get to a performance. I remember you saying that he was some kind of friend of yours - at least in the past, before he became so much a recluse.' She waited, intrigued and entertained by the emergent scenario.
'Farley, I think we've prepared the ground enough. She's ready to hear the important thing. Carolyn, it was Lyton! You remember me telling you how he works? Well, at one performance, I was chosen by him to be the subject. And, what he conveyed to me was the matrix in my will, but in substance. I had always suspected that music could convey information content as well as value content and this episode confirmed it. I was able to remember much of the piece and, in analysing it afterwards, I was automatically drawn into developing the apparatus. The details don't matter. I found myself drawn into more and more detail, developing programmes to help me, until I realised that I was hearing something that was not in the music but in the immediate physical environment.'
Carolyn asked, 'Did you find your notes and design papers, then?'
'No. You see the music incepted me - just me, personally, and in that state what I did was perfectly obvious and straightforward. There was a period when I was almost always in this state and it was only afterwards that I faced the problem of relating what I had done to my ordinary state. The apparatus I had built myself became an enigma to me''
'Then, this outside interference came in?'
'We believe so. What it did was to alienate me from my own creation. I couldn't make use of it for my children and I did not really know what to do with it. There was just this drive towards objective reality.'
Carolyn stared at the two men. She felt that she was at the Last Supper and wondered who had drawn the card for being nailed to the tree. Hidden influences! Hegel and hell! Holy Heidegger! She felt more shocked and exposed than if someone had rushed up to her in the street and tore her pants off.
Farley cleared his throat. 'Carolyn, there is something more.' She groaned to herself.' In a sense, Lyton is himself being used. This is not a case of serendipity but of a directed energy. We have to face it that we may never know who or what is behind him. You also have to bear in mind that whoever or whatever is behind all this is probably acting with the best of intentions. Well, he finished abruptly, 'Time to go.'
Later, when Carolyn mentioned her interest in Leeuwenhoek, Farley grew excited and insisted then and there on taking a trip to Cambridge. He knew some of the people hanging out at the Science Museum in Free School Lane. It was term time and the streets were full of buzzing electric bicycles. When they were ushered in to the Museum, a bearded man came out of the offices and lit up at the sight of Farley. In no time at all, the man was eagerly expounding on the work of the Dutchman and the importance it had in the early days of the Royal Society, His exposition was punctuated by periodic and elliptic references to Farley's work and with longing glances towards Carolyn. Eventually, they persuaded him to show them examples of the early microscopes. Her spirits fell on learning that they were only copies: the only extant original was in the university museun of Utrecht, capable of resolving down to a thousandth of a millimetre. Farley took the man aside for a while as Carolyn and Karl peered reverentially at the archaic instruments. Looking worried and unsure, the man began to pull the blinds. Farley firmly placed Carolyn before one of the microscopes and told her to treat it as a piece of Karl's apparatus. A candle was procured and arranged to illuminate the specimen holder; the lights in the room were extinguished.
There was a period of time that none of them understood. Carolyn felt an energy
but had no idea how it was generated. Somehow, the whole absurdity and strangeness
of the scene was part of it; and her uncertainty was fuel that opened her vision.
At the end of the time, she lay faint across the table, visibly shaking; Karl
was deeply troubled and fussed uselessly around her. Farley demanded that she
tell them what she had experienced,
'God!' she said, "I even smelt him!'
'You saw him? You saw Leeuwenhoek?' he demanded.
'I don't know. He was saying something in some language. Not Dutch or Flemish.
'Was it Latin?' he insisted,
'It could have been. I don't know! But, I smelt him. What was I seeing? Ghosts? Was I hallucinating?'
Karl told Farley to ease off and the three of them were soon stumbling outside, blinking in a sudden burst of sunlight. Carolyn was giddy and nauseous. Hardly pausing. Farley marched them off to King's Chapel where the choir was rehearsing for Evensong. They sat the back, whispering,
'You saw Leeuwenhoek through a mere copy of his apparatus,' Farley told her with delight.
'Why are you so sure I was not hallucinating?' she asked.
'Really, because it fits. There has been interference with Karl. How? In some way, there is a transmission through the access. The apparatus transmits the observer to any other apparatus focussed on the same region.'
Karl was looking forlorn. He explained, 'I had hoped that the access would be something virgin; a new world. Now, we are supposing that the access is vulnerable to outside interference: that what we see will be affected by what others see. It's like the end of my hopes.'
Farley held his arm. 'Don't despair entirely. We don't know what the real effect is: maybe all the interference cancels itself out? It's only in poetry that the external world is altered by our perceptions isn't it? In any case, if there is a real world of new access, there will be vast regions open to any pioneer.'
Carolyn sank away from the conversation into the music and the echoes high
in the vaulting. But, she could not help thinking how this totally harmonious
and civilised sound was created at a time of turmoil and massive human suffering
and hid in it some of the seeds that grew to destroy the very religion it was
extolling. It was in music that many learnt the mathematics that lay the foundation
for modern science. But, it was good to hear the human voice live. She looked
with something approaching hate at the organ in the loft: even that was suspect.
A week or so later, Reagan received an email.
The planet lurches, leaning, into the cold mode and I feel it through all the thermal plasterwork of this baroque world of gizmos. The centre of gravity of this feminine mass is in some erratic oscillation between the top and the bottom. I am lurching, too, as you can gather - it would be nice to have you gather me up, if you could find a piece of string long enough to go round my convolutions as well as my curvature. No complaints - simply a report on my vertigo. And I need to be silly. I dress myself up (it's a blue phase with a return to skirts - daring don't you think?) and then get pissed off with the men around. It's to feel myself alive. Winter is coming in the grey mechanics of angles in space (or angels?); I have nowhere to go.
Please do not get into positive feedback, brother! I've got to maintain a stable lurch, here. Send me a few close-ups of your current recreation, so I know you're taken care of. You probably didn't know we women like the sight of women, in spite of perpetual envy and bitchiness. We wonder when the men will really see us. But, you are narcissistic creatures, too. We go through the loops of the other kind to our own living and dying.
How are the old Strasse's there? I picture you yodelling your old songs on the metro en route for the Academy. You can't have long to indulge yourself. You'll pack your analyses into your case, take the shuttle and then what? What about starting a Troubadour revival and playing on the streets?
Will there be war in mid-Africa? Will the Islamic coalition allow free universities? Babble on my blabber brain. I've been thinking so hard my brain case is about to fall apart. I want to giggle about something and be - you know. But, I'm a big girl now and control my destiny and all those relentless and so-delicious hormones. Swish and slurp! Pant! Pant! You see? I am ridiculous.
I'm sad. We're not in the same game. It was so nice. Sing a song for me and remember me in your memoirs. You were so right but didn't know the half of it. Not a nano of it, my sweet. Why couldn't you goddam think harder!
to mutual recreation of all kinds, Carolyn
Reagan walked up and down the strasses like a primitive cybernetic unit, calling at bars for a brain electrolyte that gradually shortened the separation between one thought and the next. He was trying to avoid the fact that he loved her and had no conception of what to do about it. She had the sexual frankness common to all young women while remaining strangely chaste and restrained. He knew how intelligent she was. What ate into him was her association with Dr Karl. He hated the thought of that eccentric creep getting into her pants. Reagan felt cornered: faced with Carolyn and Karl be stood no chance. What could he show for himself? But, it was ridiculous being subject to the behaviour patterns of peacocks.
All the time she had been with him, he had made no reference to his own work. The songs were being written. But, he felt awed by her, shy. He could not bring himself to assert the importance of his poetry - to anyone. His little children had to be kept out of sight. He could not have risked her disliking them. It was in Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus that he found his salvation, when he read:
'Wir sollen uns nicht muhn
um andre Namen. Em fur alle Male
ists Orpheus, wenn es singt.'
which he paraphrased for himself as: 'Quit trying to find out who wrote it: every song is nothing but Orpheus.'
So, poetry, too, could be objective; and, the better the poetry, the more it was objective: the objectivity of the perfect subject, the creator Orpheus. Reagan envisaged that, associated with the primary creative force were the ancillary agents of meaning; who may, in the long run, be superior beings since they rise above the maintenance of fact to where fact almost ceases to hold sway. The dream world? If so, then dreams were profoundly real. They were, after all, more than private because poetry proved that was so. The task was to bring out the reality of a dream so that others would listen and assent - not to another person's conceptions, but to the reality of the work. So that, all conceptions had to be sacrificed; and this was the powerful way of the poet, endlessly to give birth and then, like Abraham, take his favourite sons to the altar of stern reality, in fear and trembling, in lament turning to praise, the medium of revelation.
Which were nice thoughts to have on another clear day in Vienna, the wind scudding leaves down the strasses of mein Herrs and meiner Herren. He was writing lyrics for an invisible audience in an archaic mode totally out of fashion and he had not the first clue about the marketing angle every young writer learnt before he thought of creating anything. What could he do? Produce his thesis in blank verse and set the conclusions as a cantata? Scrabble, scrabble; scribble, scribble; scrutinize and scry.
She-you, friend of mine; we are feckless and wanton in our decline. You are hard at it in the grinding of the dark esoteric secrets out of music's ashes and I am subjugated to a whispering muse. And it hurts in all my strasses that we are not singing together. So, I offer up some lyrics of wantonness, of cyberfucker troubadours lost in anima charisma. I have become an admirer of those who live and sit on their own arses and blow their own noses and look out of their own eyes and think their own thoughts. As for you - don't wobble in the Winter. We might get inter-lock when I get back. Right now, I have to decide how to survive without recourse to the culture media and make me make the foothold in the ether I need to climb.
to you and all your parts, Reagan
It was very hard both for Karl and for Carolyn to forgive Farley for the Cambridge
episode; their relationship was somewhat strained. Carolyn was beside herself
with fury at being tricked into having a hallucination; but she was even more
furious when Farley told her, calmly, 'You have to learn for yourself what is
real.' Karl had remonstrated with him; even argued; but, the more he expressed
his feelings, the more Farley piled on his scathing remarks about their gullibility.
Carolyn was near to losing faith in the whole project. She had not been allowed
near the apparatus since her break-through and Farley was acting like a petty
tyrant. She felt like a bitch in heat locked in a cage. The correspondence with
Reagan was her only lifeline.
Karl was doing what he could to reconstruct the building of the apparatus while she worked on making a report on her experiences, Being forced to make the report, she was led to review Husserl and discovered Merleau-Ponty. Very soon afterwards, she was immersed in French poetry, trying to forget reality altogether. Her official position as a research student of Dr Karl, dependent on finance from Farley, did not please her. She even had fantasies of posing for flesh-holoes, but heaved a sigh of relief when that passed and she found herself still reading French poetry - and thinking of Reagan. It was Reagan's letter that brought her back to consider a broader picture than that coming through her own feelings. That he had something of his own made her feel freer to think about her situation. She began to accept that Farley was right; left to themselves, she and Karl would fantasise. One day, she called Farley to say as much.
'Good,' he said. 'Ready to start work again?' 'Yes.'
'Under my direction?' 'Yes'
'Alright, You will be meeting another member of the team - one that I've recruited.'
His name was Holroyd, a thirty-year-old physicist who was having trouble finding a research grant. Behind his typically flamboyant manner, she felt a shy and gentle man who only pretended to feel confident in front of people. After putting him at his ease in her expert way, he let out that he was interested in painting and he eschewed modern devices in his home. His early work had included research on the energy states of the vacuum. Once started on this topic he was unstoppable, filling her ears with talk of negative energy levels, the Higgs boson and why it still had not been found and the partition of the quark. Farley only intervened to weave them together into an imaginative exploration of physical world of the quantum threshold.
In the course of their conversation, Holroyd explained to her that even the best electron microscopes could resolve no further than about three Angstrom, which was 100,000 times greater than the Planck length. Whereas Leeuwenhoek had reached to about 10 to the minus 6 cm, and the electron microscope to 10 to the minus 15, what they were after was of the order of 10 to the minus 30 and smaller. When she asked why 'they were after' this, he looked puzzled and turned to Farley. Farley made a statement, 'Husserl's phenomenology did not take account of modern science. It was incapable of dealing, even, with the existence of the atom. The theory we are going on is that any new access must integrate the macroscopic and the microscopic aspects of phenomena into a new whole, a non-conceptual whole of course. It must be inherently quantic.'
This led to a wide-ranging discussion of the dilemmas of quantum theory - which had continued to be raised and then shelved, on and off, for a hundred years now. Holroyd explained how all close observation depended on the wavelength of the probe. If an aspect of the new access was close observation, then they had to answer the quantum problem: the finer the detail, the greater the input energy and, the greater this energy, the more massive the probe particle; hence, the less likely any features of the original object were able to be perceived.
'In fine detail,' he said, 'Observation gives way to creation. Farley's hypothesis
that we can integrate the massive large scale macroscopic level with what we
want to observe is unlikely, but essential. What we are doing here is not accepting
the common-sense view that smaller things are inside bigger things, layer after
layer, structure within parts of structure; but, that there are discontinuities
and short cuts, without which phenomena could not even happen. It's crazy enough
to be true.'
These discussions were a prelude to the selection of a phenomenal region in which the experiment of long-delayed dual access could be tried. They quickly agreed that a mode involving visual perception would be best since the average human brain was far more used to discriminating data visually than by any other means. Holroyd pointed out the significance of the relative wavelengths of sound and light, They wanted something macroscopically recognisable and reasonably stable, but representing the dynamic equilibrium of another level. Their first attempt used a drop of water, held suspended by surface tension in a small hole in a thin metal plate. Shades of Leeuwenhoek! Carolyn thought to herself. She was partnered with Karl in a modified apparatus, which allowed synchronised signals in two parallel units. Neither she nor Karl required any external inception process. Holroyd was bemused at taking over the running and redesign of an apparatus whose basis and design eluded him,
Holroyd danced around them like a teenager. 'It's crazy!' he said. 'You're like two explorers; but you are not going to move an inch out of your chairs. It's like you were going to Io and sending us back reports. Two super-intelligent probes about to be launched!
Carolyn's scalp prickled as she induced the rotation effect. Latent, they might learn how to configure their brain patterns sufficiently to translate their subjective perceptions into an external scope; but that was a long way ahead. Karl was looking serene and youthful and smiled at her encouragingly. She was asking herself what it was she did to initiate the process. Was it to think into her eyes? It was like focusing through the lens of a microscope. In this instance, the 'lens' was an ensemble of feedback loops between a modified electromagnetic intensifier and the retinal response. They supposed that this set up the means for access to a non-electromagnetic radiation, a Specific proto-waveform, which established the position of things 'in space'. Such a radiation or field could not be spatial, but must be inherently quantised. However, they believed - much to Holroyd's disdain - that there were no quantum limits to the partition of the field. Subjectively, the effect was like knowing that things 'were there' but not what 'they looked like': they had location without characteristics possibly, in that way, avoiding restriction from the uncertainty principle.
Carolyn and Karl were to comment on their experience at least every ten seconds. If possible, they were to communicate with each other, 'You know,' Holroyd whispered to Carolyn, 'A lot of the old scientists did this anyway, only hardly any oaf them mentioned it when they wrote up their fancy scientific papers!' and he chuckled, before she could ask him what he meant, the experiment had been signalled to start.
Black sight - It's seeing one and two - A half is one there - See within
the outside of that one - I'm recording this somewhere in my brain - Can you
move? - Yes. First there is the first. Then there is the second - How many?
- The first, second and third and so on are multiplied together - A function?
- It's simply there, out there - In a foreign language - In an alien language
- The inside of the domain is at a deeper level - Yet, I can see it all - What
do you see? One in front of the other? - The positions. I see this darkness
- One plus one plus one equals one - That's totally clear. It equals zero, almost
Holroyd was muttering about the Pythagoreans while he switched on a fine low-intensity laser and focussed it on the specimen.
I can see another space coming in - Trace it back - Awesome: something out of nothing - No. Do you see that material coming in? - Wait I'm lost. Yes, let's focus. - How can we do this when we don't see anything? - Seeing will come later; just focus now - Along that stuff between this one and that one? - Yes. You focus on what I mean - There is inversion and retrogression - All over the place -But the strong one is out of key - I see what you mean - The devolution of the cannon in the second rhythm - Mergence into chromatic and beyond - Keep focussing - Ah! I can slow it down -Try to come out and go back in again - Yes - What is the form now?
It is getting heavier and heavier - Can you recognise those movements? - Have to get stable somewhere - Think of molecules -Yes! I'm there and descending into - Can you get colour? - What do you mean? Oh yes! I see what you mean - Something's collapsing
We're coming out
Afterwards, Holroyd said, 'I've got to try it. How on earth can you guys know
you were looking at the same thing?'
'How does anybody know in the ordinary world?' asked Karl.
'Because they can point to what they are talking about.'
'But, you have to know already what the pointing means, 'Karl shook his finger at him. 'We can talk about an idea or a feeling and not be able to point to anything.'
'Yes, but we can point to manifestations or expressions of those things. They are not really hidden.'
'Agreed. We learn how to read certain signs in the world as well as in our language. Now, what am I pointing at right now?' Karl extended his finger towards the desk.
'The desk, or what is on it.'
'Well, I could have been pointing towards the colour of the desk, or something on the desk, or a shadow on it, or a certain arrangement of shapes; or, even, to gravity.'
'Of course. But, then you would have said something to indicate what you meant.'
'Which you would have had to understand!'
'So, how is it all built up? What do we start from?'
'Position is primary,' said Carolyn.
'That's what I think,' said Karl. 'So, what we are finding is a new physical basis for meaning. It is connected with this radiation or whatever it is,'
Farley tried to intervene with his cautious scepticism but was drowned out in the vigorous discussion that ensued. 'You know,' said Carolyn. 'I think that part of it was that we were seeing light itself.'
'And light is dark!' Holroyd grinned at her,
'Yes, light is dark and has to be guided from place to place by something already there. Maybe we have finally outgrown the Bible, It will no longer be 'Let there be light!' It will be 'Let there be a place for light!''
'And God divided the here from the there!' Karl added,
'God! You people sound as crazy as Oppenheimer did when he saw the first A-bomb go off Holroyd commented.
Farley finally managed to get a word in. 'This may indeed blow the Earth apart. But, right now you three have your work cut out to develop a language. Carolyn and Karl used certain phrases and words, which can be built into a semantics - that's my area. One thing to be in hand straight away is to train Holroyd. I suspect that a lot of what you are coining across requires a mathematical mind to grasp. Maybe he will be able to find out why mathematics works in physics. And there is something else.'
Sensing his mood, Carolyn asked, 'What is that, Farley?'
'I have to find out why all this is happening. Who or what is making it happen.'
The volatile spirits of the group became quiescent. Carolyn felt the reality around her as a battleground in which she was exposed and vulnerable. Farley seemed to be affected, too. 'Please don't be afraid,' he said softly,' This thing cannot really be controlled by anybody - not ourselves or anybody else. Do your work honestly and don't dwell on what might happen to you. Think of the world in fifty years time. Will it matter what you go through? Will it matter if your names are in the history books? Don't you know for yourselves that you are the first? That it was you that made it happen?'
'But, Farley,' Karl said. 'Are we the first? Did we make it happen?'
Farley did not answer. They left for a quiet celebration, drifting in tube cars over the river, watching the coloured patterns under the water. Carolyn let Holroyd squeeze her; but, his heart was not in it and her thoughts were drifting towards Reagan and she felt very frail.
Holroyd's training was very difficult: it was like getting someone to appreciate music who was tone deaf. He was able to understand all the words they gave him but was sensually zero. It was Carolyn who remembered that he painted. She had to coax him into revealing some of his work and, even then, had to be very tactful: it was amateurish and figurative, full of sentimental images. For a time, they tried to make him take up cyber-graphics, which would have proved useful for the project but it failed to engage his senses in the right way. In spite of the clumsy work, he took delight in the old-fashioned medium of oils, 'After all,' he said, 'The picture you get on a screen doesn't have any smell'. There was another period of frustration until they discovered his passion for the painter Roualt. He waxed enthusiastically about the spatial characteristics of Roualt's use of colour: 'You see? He uses, a lot of the time, sheer complementary colours from one comer to another. The eye is tending to combine them into stable white towards the centre. Then he throws that off by the mixture of very dark tones there. So, the eye is stimulated into certain tendencies; but these contradict each other. The only resolution possible is in another dimension. You see how flat his pictures seem to be? That is because there is none of the usual perspective based on lines. Instead, he creates a third dimension that is a kind of energy coming out of the painting. Perhaps you can sense how your eyes flick from area to area, creating the new space between them and beyond them?'
With true insight, Farley resisted any attempt to bully Holroyd into simulating
the effect cyber-graphically; instead, the graphic programmes were used to enable
the physicist to follow his own perception of some of the paintings, the machinery
reduced to absolute fidelity of reproduction in every detail which could be
accessed entirely by movements of the eye. Holroyd grew ecstatic. One day Farley
came in carrying a bottle of malt whisky and, carefully and ostentatiously,
placed it besides the physicist as he was engrossed in the images. 'Time to
relax a little,' he said. 'You deserve it.' Farley brought out some glasses
and invited the others to join them. Carolyn felt she could not refuse - Farley
had that look about him. She watched the two of them pour sizeable amounts down
their throats while she lightly sipped from her glass. Karl muttered that
malt whisky should be treated with respect and not just poured down as if it
were lager. On hearing this. Farley laughed and insisted that they all take
large measures and toss them off - 'in Holroyd's honour'. Almost of himself,
Holroyd began a marvellous exposition of the painting in front of him. In a
very short time, Holroyd had consumed a third of the bottle. Imperceptibly at
first Farley put pressure on him to work at his perception; until, finally.
Farley was driving him like a taskmaster. Even though his speech was slurring,
Holroyd was still waxing eloquent. Carolyn was feeling sick and left to walk
outside in the fresh air. When she came back, Holroyd was seated in the apparatus.
Karl whispered to her that he had been stuffed with caffeine tablets.
Still feeling unsteady, Carolyn slumped into a chair to watch. Nothing much appeared to be happening and her attention wandered. The next thing she was aware of was Holroyd seated at the desk making notes. Farley glanced at her and winked, 'He has some ideas on the positional radiation,' he said. 'Why don't you go home now?' Karl volunteered to take her. Carolyn bombarded him with questions in the car but he only smiled and said, 'I think he made it.'
The stimulation from access affected her bodily chemistry. Her period altered and, for the first time in her life, she felt cramps and had to take adjusters; something she hated doing. She was often buzzing with an erratic energy. It made her pick up Husserl as a far better alternative to constantly showering and spraying herself - and resorting to erosticks. The imbalance of sexual forces in the group weighed heavily on her; she wished Holroyd were married. Farley was beginning to make himself felt as a person, a man, rather than a mysterious elder. She still knew very little about him and did not ask; they had all fallen into a tacit agreement to exclude their private lives from each other. Farley continued to pour cold water on all emotional outbursts and experiences and, much to Carolyn's resentment, often brought up the 'Cambridge fiasco' to make his point. Once, when Karl and Carolyn had just come out of a session in access and had fallen into each other's arms, weeping over what they called a 'composition' they had heard together. Farley had forbidden them to work together for two weeks; which left her angry and distressed. It was only a commitment towards objectivity that kept her coming back.
One day, Farley called her up and arranged a private meeting with her. His
words cane as a blow, 'Karl and Holroyd are working well together and make the
best investigating pair we have: each of them complements the other. I'm sure
that you agree.'
She was forced to agree, making appropriate noises to save face and avoid showing her personal sense of loss. 'Face it, Carolyn,' he said,' From the standpoint of objective investigation, they are the most suitable. You and Karl are too much in the same space.' All right, she thought, but why go on about it? 'Where does that leave me?' she asked through gritted teeth. 'What do I do?'
'Well, what are you doing?' he demanded. Why, she asked herself, am I always being called upon to justify myself and to work things out for myself? Am I always to be on probation? Farley went on, 'Now that you have given rein to your lower brain stem, perhaps you will give your higher functions a chance?' You pompous bastard, she thought; but why are you always so right? Relentlessly, he went on, 'It's good that you do not quite trust me and I get on your nerves. Just think how it would be if I flattered you and made you feel as if you were part of one happy family - as if this project were only a weekend picnic or a hobby for enthusiasts. It's far more. And you are worth far more. Now, think!'
Feeling at a loss, she wanted to take refuge in the apparatus. Inadvertently, her eyes wandered in its direction. Noticing this, he said, unexpectedly, 'Shall we?' She realised that she had little idea how he fared in the apparatus. Had he been training? She had never brought herself to ask. Tallying, she said, 'I find sometimes that I can think better with the apparatus.' 'That's fine by me,' he said. 'Shall we begin?' Her face was still suffused with a sense of conflict and strain but she experienced a strange warmth coming out of his physical presence. In an old-worldly gesture, he took her elbow and eased her into one of the chairs. Smiling, he arranged himself into the other chair and then gestured to her to choose an object field for the focus. She slid into view a particular burnished copper surface they had been working with recently. Farley closed his eyes for about half a minute and she knew that he was already incepted. Rapidly, she followed. The laser scan across the surface - used as a point of reference - was the only visible movement besides the delicate touch of their fingers on controls that amplified and aligned the sense effect. Looking into the surface, she knew that he was there: looking, not only at the surface, but also at her looking. The sense of being able to 'move' within the perception was very strong; as if she had some physical presence in the space under her amplified vision.'
'Do you see what you are doing?' he asked. Feeling her way around, she also
felt this presence of herself. Her gaze was substantial and produced effects.
In this dimension of the black light, it was an even darker manipulation. But,
Farley's presence, the sense of him registering the effect of her gaze, made
the manipulation clear. Spontaneously, they emerged out together. She looked
across at him,
'I'm composing . . . music' she said, hesitantly.
'I believe that you are. This is what really happened when you and Karl had that experience together - that was mainly a composition of your creation. I say 'mainly' because it was a more primordial shaping than is possible with either contemporary or traditional instrumentation. You were composing or playing directly with the material structures of the world.'
'Even when there is no sound?'
'You should know that the senses are not in different boxes, by now,' he remonstrated. 'Still, you have to clear that up for yourself - and then for others.'
'What do I have to do?' she asked, still clinging to her puzzlement.
'Compose. That is your work. Not the objective research. You are going to help people - starting with yourself - hear the world in a new way. You will know the primordial sounds. You will know the true sources of music. You will work side by side with the Muse herself! You will be the resurrection of Orpheus!'
Overwhelmed by this flood of enthusiastic encouragement, her eyes softened towards tears. He looked at her carefully for a while and then nodded, as if to his own thoughts. 'Before we part, Carolyn, I must talk to you about something you already know but have failed to tell yourself, sooner or later, you'll be in my bed. No matter what bad feelings you may still harbour towards me, I am no Svengali beguiling a young girl for my egotistical ends. I have some responsibility towards you, since there are certain things you are unlikely to accomplish unaided. My own gratification is not the whole story - though, you must realise, and that I am just as much flesh and blood as you are. Something has to be cleared up between us. I am holding this project together and we must be very clear about ourselves and each other.'
She had sudden and clear memories - though they seemed, at the same time, to belong to someone else - of an earlier life in which everything had been sweet and well arranged. Now, six months later, her life was in shreds - but, intensely more exciting and demanding. She realised that much of the intensity stemmed from Farley. But, she did not want to picture herself in bed with him. Instead, she merely sank into a sense of her own body, standing there before him, slightly shaky. Because he had implied that their coming together was inevitable. She knew that he was not going to press her and that if anything happened, it would seem to come from her. She pretended to ignore the whole thing and asked him, 'You haven't brought up the big question lately. About our work, I mean. Is it being directed from outside? If there was interference, why is it that it seems to have stopped?' Unconsciously, she had crossed her legs.
There was some pause before Farley replied.' There are quite a number of people
involved in our experiment whom you have never met; I have to keep in touch
with them all. The circle is expanding. When we two get closer together, you
may be helpful in this.'
'Can't you tell me anything more now?' her voice had assumed a slightly wheedling tone. 'What about Lyton, for example?'
'Lyton? Karl is cultivating him. However, try to realise that Lyton is protected by an even stronger barrier of ignorance than the one that existed around Karl. It seems that, when there are very strong channels, they become susceptible to their own subjectivity in such a way that they can cease to be aware of what they are doing. It is one of the contradictions of consciousness. The traditional artistic genius used his sub-conscious in a non-ordinary way; so that he was kept near the edge of his reality. If he went over the edge, he usually broke down and disintegrated - or, in rare cases, became a saint. Lyton is an enigma. My guess, however, is that he is very close to the most powerful forces of this discovery and is refusing to look at them objectively.'
'Now, you're presuming to know what is going in Lyton better than be knows himself? We are talking about Lyton, you know!'
'Just take it that doing so is part of my job. I will admit to you, however, that I cannot be sure that he doesn't know what he is doing.'
'But, how can you see into such an area? After all, you don't appreciate music very much, do you?'
'But, I appreciate people appreciating music! I can have music through other people. Anyway, you may soon have occasion to judge for yourself because we are hoping for a meeting with Lyton himself quite soon. Indeed, come to think of it, your composition work becomes of critical importance!'
'How do you mean?'
'You must establish this composition of yours. Then we can invite Lyton to experience you in action. This will enable us to find out his relationship with the new access. Then, we shall see.'
Carolyn knew from a card she had received that Reagan was back from Vienna 'working on his thesis'. For the first time, she settled down one evening to read through what he had sent her. She became so inspired that she dashed off an email to him that very night. It was like a shot in the dark.
Let me bypass any feeble attempt at verbal foreplay in the style of imitating the slapstick of 'yours' and 'mine' and give praise to your lyrics. I am full of impossible dreams these days? How about this one? That I set your lyrics to music myself? Think you could take it? 'If music be the food of love, play on, give me surfeit of it' or such-like and so on.
As for the music and its nature, I can't explain right now. But maybe, just maybe, Lyton himself will cock an ear. A bit of a snag is that the listener has to have grafted on an extra 'ear' to tune into what I am doing.
I'm still very much in the mode of: why settle for love when reality is better still, even though love would be nice in this wilderness of world wreckage. Or, as you put it
'My song is stricken
And my lady forsaken
Time to die gently
And hear very clearly
The sound in my skull'
He replied straightaway, giving his assent. Reading through the letter, she felt he was asking for a partnership without exposing himself to refusal by making it plain. She was well aware that she was using him as an insurance against Farley; but, whatever the subjective entanglements, her choice of his poems was no mere whim. She dreamt of making a new 'Pierrot Lunaire': just as Schoenberg had powerfully and forever captured a spirit of decadence transforming itself into an almost cosmic awareness, as no one before or since can ever come close, so she wanted to capture a spirit of intimacy with reality, a passionate objectivity that constantly over-spilled itself into widening vision. She wanted to heal the whole trauma of the twentieth century at one stroke and be the herald of coming good. Though, the 'good' might appear first to be source of terror.
She presumed that her associates would be far more interested in the technical
side of her work than in its content. However, at least as far as Farley was
concerned, she was quite wrong. His only concern seemed to be with the autonomous
worth of her composition. He applauded her idea of using Reagan's text and encouraged
her at every turn. She herself recorded the voice part of the songs and, as
she went over them time and again, she came to appreciate the depths in her
ex-lover that she had missed before. It was remarkable how far he had come in
such a short time. The technical side of the work was very arduous. It involved
making a recording of an episode of perception; which would then we used to
control the parameters of the apparatus for the 'performance': the listener
would 'hear' the words of the songs modulated through the recording. Whereas
previous kinds of modulation altered the sounds being produced, this new kind
would be more an alteration of the way in which the given sounds were heard.
It would only work if the listener was truly incepted and had achieved contact
with the specific phenomenal focus. It was like creating out of nothing a totally
new form of musical notation.
As she worked on this, Karl and Holroyd prepared for a more hazardous excursion: they were going to attempt 'movement' out of the local space into any similarly aligned space. If this succeeded, they could come across any other apparatus in 'broadcast' mode. Carolyn's recording method was proving crucial for the advancement of their work, for they had to be capable of reproducing access events. Work went on through all hours.
One day, Dr Karl brought his son into the workshop-office. Dressed in fashionable shiny red folds, he appeared extremely self-possessed but without being obnoxious. They all warmed to him, Holroyd was greatly amused when he announced that he wanted to see a quark and that his father had told him it was possible; and went on to explain that he was trying to sort out the connection between spin and colour. The physicist spent some time with him going over the whole-part-whole theory he had been trying to apply in the context of the new access. He was happy with the new student. After a session in the apparatus, Holroyd was amazed to hear the boy announce that he had seen a gigantic 'universe unit' form and dissolve within a quark boundary. He was met, initially, with blank disbelief but Holroyd took him off into a corner for some heated discussion on the meaning of the term 'universe unit' which resulted in him revising his earlier work on the vacuum state. Karl and Farley had looked on benignly. What impressed Carolyn far more than any possible fundamental discovery was the atmosphere of radiance and appreciation the boy emanated. It was the power of being able to see for oneself and not to have to rely on the words of external authorities. It struck her then that any attempt to limit the accessibility of the new access was criminal: its usage was limited only by the brains involved.
Throughout all this period, Carolyn was also occupied with the question of Farley's position. She found out that he was indeed a kind of free-lance consultant but could not establish where the money for the project was coming from. There was not a lot of it: Karl's own resources were near-exhausted and he was having trouble at home because of that. There was an embarrassing period when Karl's wife called him at the office nearly every day on some pretext or other. These calls only stepped when Farley went to have dinner with them; but what he said or did, she had no idea. To help resolve his situation, Karl restarted certain lecture courses; which also helped to keep up appearances. He sailed through them and became quite popular, though his reputation from the crisis a few months back not quite forgotten. He became something of a cult figure - much to his embarrassment. Farley dropped in at odd times. Carolyn began to suggest that something or somebody was 'behind him'; she could not shake off her sense of mistrust. Nor, logically, could she explain otherwise how they were being financed. The question was, as always, who was kidding whom about what?
Reagan and she came round to making frequent conversation by vid. Initially, it was quite a shock to be reminded about how young he looked - and, also, to realise that she felt he was too young for her! Determinedly, she excluded sex from her mind and dwelt only on technical matters. In a sudden burst of creative energy, she found a way of 'transcribing' her composition for modulated piano and regaled him with some extracts. He was cleanly amazed and enraptured. She dissembled about the orchestration or synthesis of the pieces: in an era of endlessly modifiable sound she could do almost anything and Reagan was versed enough in the aleatoric, serial and stochastic techniques to realise that the final result could not be anticipated.
Then she found a way of feeding in the original musical sound of the troubadours.
It was like impressing how the music sounded to her into the surfaces she
was using. Everything she then did was so-to-say 'reflected' from those surfaces.
The copper strip was a precious object. It was the first piece of material deliberately
modified by amplified perception. They came up against a major problem in shielding
the impression. The impress derived from what they still persisted out of habit
calling the 'positional radiation'. They had no idea whether or not this impress
was subject to decay or interaction with the environment. A similar problem
had faced them with the perception recordings but with an added dimension: the
earlier type of recordings had largely consisted of parameters and instructions
that could be stored through existing technology. It was yet another enigma
to find by trial and error that the impression had to be kept 'fed' with light
otherwise it would 'fade' and become incoherent. The optimum set-up required
the laser-input to be patterned in form and frequency by a reading of the impression.
After a certain time, the impression was relatively fixed and could always be
accessed. They discussed parallels with animal learning.
Carolyn's composition rapidly came together; Reagan's text providing a structure as she explored the ramifications of the new process and enabling her to simplify so that the music could be heard. She boiled her doubts and frustrations in the delight the work gave her as if that delight were a distilling fire. It was decided that her 'performance' should take place before Karl and Holroyd made their venture: if there were any broadcasting or listening apparatuses, it would be a mistake to confront them before delving into Lyton's world. Farley pleased Carolyn greatly by suggesting that Reagan attended. He was invited along a few hours before Lyton was scheduled to arrive. When he came in the door, he was transfixed by the theatrical arrangement of the scene (which had been Farley's work).
The central apparatus was mounted on a small dais with a step leading up to
it; the dais was painted a serene green. The two chairs had lost their functional
austerity with embroidered cloths covering their backs and slim blue cushions
on their seats. Farley had discussed the colour scheme with Carolyn and insisted
that she wore a long dress of white with an overtunic of blue velvet-like material
into which were woven fine optical fibres making a haze of light in the region
of her breasts. Her hair was brushed long and straight and its basically blond
colour tinted with a silver-blue. The dress had long draped sleeves so that,
her hands resting on the controls, the material covered the arms of the chair.
From any movement she made, the dress material would appear to vibrate in waves
for several seconds.
None of the central display would be visible on coming through the door. The room had been re-arranged to accommodate a series of light scattering screens, defining a reception area just inside and forming a corridor or walkway around the room into the centre. Carefully arranged to look random, there were small desks piled with papers and small equipment standing around three sides of the dais. Out of this disorder there would seem to arise, as if from another world, the central apparatus where the performance would take place.
Reagan's reactions included amusement, but the sight of Carolyn sat on the dais made him catch his breath. It had been a long time since he had seen her in the flesh and, however much he could sense that same quiet graciousness in her, he was well aware of the challenge she was making to him: she seemed a hundred years older than himself, almost unreachable. Karl spent some time in briefing in him. He was not allowed to make any conversation with Carolyn. When he had grasp what he had to do, he mounted the dais and settled himself into the second chair. Speaking his verses into the microphone extensor, his words activated the programme, which matched the sounds he made with Carolyn's recording and played the composition accordingly. At the first impact of the feedback, his voice rose in pitch and intensity and, for a while, became passionate and wild: almost without knowing it, the inception took hold and his voice died away into a whisper while his eyes closed. At the end, when he opened his eyes, his look was puzzled.
'All I can remember is my own words,' he said.
Carolyn nodded, 'But, there's something else as well, isn't there?'
'Yes!' he exclaimed, 'But I can't remember what it was - or is.'
'You don't have to remember. You just have to know - right?'
'Yes, I know. ' he smiled. Then he said, 'Thank you Carolyn. It is very beautiful and it is right.'
They were both silent for a while and at peace with each other. It was a most gentle meeting and reconciliation. Reagan found himself listening to the room and then his head moved here and there as if catching movements of sound, 'Something is still going on in me!' he exclaimed.
'As it should - after hearing a piece of real music,' Karl replied from the
'Let's get ready for Lyton,' said Farley,
They discussed a few improvements they might make to the show and Karl filled Reagan in on Lyton's life history and involvement.
Lyton had been a prodigy like Mozart but, in an age of instant exploitation, his parents had had the wisdom to keep him from public performance until his tenth year. By that time, he had already produced a number of compositions - mostly in the solid-state media -of outstanding virtuosity and density. As he began to make public appearances, he concentrated on the traditional instruments of violin and piano and turned more and more towards classical forms, hardly venturing beyond Boulez. In his own composition, he concentrated exclusively on the string quartet and sonata forms with the exception of one huge symphony he wrote around the theme of the Martian landing, surprising everyone even further by taking as his model Vaughan Williams 'Symphonica Antartica'. He astounded the world by his mastery of musical idioms over four centuries: he never wrote a pastiche or a parody but works as if by classical composers catapulted into the future. In the same vein, he went further than any other composer in dissolving the boundaries between eastern and western musical forms by venturing, in a like way, into composition that seemed to have been created in the East rather than created in imitation in the West. By the time he was twenty, Lyton had spread his musical range in time and space to encompass every traditional form known on the Earth from the classical raga to late twentieth century jazz. Then he began again to engage with synthetic instrument rapidly outperforming everyone else, mounting huge concerts involving simultaneous transmissions from satellites and the moon bases. The world's imagination was captured by the performance in which he played his 'Echoes of the Moon'. He arranged the first complete performance of Charles Ives' 'Universe Symphony' assembling the massive resources needed and even constructed 'churches' to house the bells required by the score in several valleys. Then, he joined a school of whales in an underwater marathon for which shipping was silenced over an area of a hundred thousand square miles.
By the time he was thirty, he had reached the limits of what was possible and retired into seclusion, playing only on an un-modulated piano to an audience of his dog and housekeeper. He gave out an explanation - that his ears needed a rest and he was preparing to start all over again. Entirely autoerotic, he suffered no companions. Royalties from his early prodigious output made him comfortable for life. It appears that it was only on account of the new steps in space-exploration that he was tempted out of retirement. Still with a taste for the extraordinary, he gave a concert on a space-platform - to a small group of technicians who did not know what to make of it. When he was pressured to perform again for a more 'cultured' audience he created a furore of disappointment when his concert consisted only of him whistling - apparently, out of tune! Only one of the assembled coteries of art had the ear to listen and he, a part-time physicist only there by chance, went away with an insight into the problem of the solar neutrinos.
Thus began the 'performances for the individual' which evolved over decades to become the leading edge of terrestrial music. Lyton began to insist that all his performances be live ones with no broadcasting and no recording. He spent large sums in suing violators of his rules. By the time he was fifty, Lyton had announced plans for a projected concert on Mars to be given to the Martians. He was denied access to any of the Russian or American bases on the grounds that there were no Martians. When he retorted that, of course, there were no Martians because he had not been allowed to perform there, he was dismissed as a 'mad artist'.
As a performer, he went all the way. He learnt how to so alter his appearance that he could mingle with an audience and pass unnoticed. He also learnt how to make his intuitive response to individuals more conscious and more clearly expressed in the music. Once, when in the guise of an attractive woman, he had been the subject of a rape attempt: the resulting performance drove several of his audience insane. It was shown later that all of them without exception were psychotic with sadistic tendencies. People began to wonder why he did not use his gifts to cure mental illness, but he insisted that he would have nothing to do with making people normal. He once said that his purpose was nearest to that of archaic music, which was to enable the gods to express themselves through people.
Over the last five years, Dr Karl had managed to develop a relationship with him. It had begun with Karl' s approach to the master for assistance in unravelling the true origins of the serial technique. Lyton had told him that this technique had been seminal in his own work: for example, the note-row 'randomly' chosen was a kind of divination and akin to the individual's inner signature. Karl had been a willing and adept disciple and reached the point at which he could grasp the techniques Lyton used in his performances; but, he made no attempt to imitate the master and, largely because of that, remained something of a confidant.
Events over the last year had been hazy for Karl and it had been with some trepidation that he approached Lyton with the aim of bringing him to a performance of the 'new music'. He had pitched his request in terms of giving support to a young and gifted composer, emphasising that the work could only be heard in the presence of the composer and her 'instrument'. Karl was amazed when he looked at him and said, 'So, it wasn't you after all. Certainly I'll come. Give me the time and place and don't expect to recognise me.'
Carolyn stood on the dais with something approaching stage fright; she was
aware of the apparatus as if she had never seen it before and felt that either
it came from the past or from the future but did not belong to the present moment,
her moment. She moved to check through the recording once more and assure herself
that there had been no unforeseen decay processes but managed to arrest herself
and hold still. Surveying her state, she checked off the symptoms of emotion
dominated behaviour - which included a sense of humiliation at being dressed
up like an object to impress the visitor - and focussed on the objective situation.
Lyton was too big a figure to be associated with an emotional reaction; instead,
he conjured up a broadening of concepts.
She heard voices and strained to make them out. There was laughter and the sounds of people moving about but she could not make out what was being said through the screens surrounding her.
Expecting to be kept in suspense for an indefinite time while Farley and Karl made a ritual of the occasion she was surprised when, after just a few minutes, the screen near her dissolved and the figure of a tall man came in, immaculately dressed. Her surprise widened when she saw that he was arm in arm with two beautiful women whose clothes were almost a parody of current fashion; one a vibrant blonde and the other raven-haired, feline. Holroyd and Reagan came stumbling after carrying chairs. Desks were moved out of the way and the 'starlets', or whatever they were, fussingly seated: Carolyn smiled at Lyton arranging his own little show and felt very much better. He stood looking at her with completely impersonal attention; then, he, too, smiled. Carolyn bowed and Lyton broke into applause - everyone else hastening to join in. The applause which, under the circumstances, could have all too easily been an act of mockery in fact lifted her spirits: Lyton had made it into a proper occasion. Karl and Farely appeared and gestured towards the dais; Lyton mounted and paused besides one of the chairs. He and Carolyn bowed to each and took their places.
Reagan watched from behind Karl's shoulder, spell-bound. The atmosphere became
charged as the two figures on the dais continued to look at each other and appeared
to be waiting. Then Carolyn engaged the copper piece; a small spotlight coming
on to dramatise the importance of this innocent-looking metallic strip. She
leaned towards Lyton and began whispering instructions. He began to finger the
controls, activating parts of the apparatus and the various programmes. Karl
whispered to Reagan that it was exactly like an orchestra tuning up. The master
seemed to be rapt in contemplation of the young composer who, in her turn, had
grown considerably paler in spite of her state of elation. Reagan melted at
the sight of her. The two women sat at the foot of the dais were motionless
and inexpressive. Before any of the lower audience noticed it, the music began:
a transduction filled the room to enable the 'by-standers' to share something
of the event. The real thing was reserved for Lyton.
A look of indescribable delight came over his face. Carolyn lay back, relaxed in her chair, her hands gently resting on the controls. Karl began to frown, his head cocked listening to the transduction, as if something were going wrong with the performance. As the music continued, Lyton's face seemed to dissolve and he became very old and very young at one and the same time. A shock ran through the room when he began to murmur. His eyelids fluttered and it was as if he were dreaming about something. After several minutes of this, he gave a sigh. At that moment, Carolyn opened her eyes to stare at him open-mouthed. The music stopped.
The whole group was crowded around the dais and even the two women had come to their feet. Lyton looked again at Carolyn and nodded; then he relaxed back into the chair and the music continued to its end. The room was still for at least half a minute then everyone burst into applause. Lyton rose to his feet as Carolyn stood. He made the tiny space of the dais seem as large as a concert platform, extending his arm to present her to to the gathering, kissing her on both cheeks and then shaking her hand. He stepped down from the dais to join the audience, deftly commandeering the bouquet of flowers Karl had bought for the occasion and making the presentation. The height of the dais brought Carolyn up to eye-level with him. First she was crying, then she was laughing as if she and Lyton were sharing a private joke. He handed her down from the dais and, after exchanging a few words with Karl, took her off into an alcove out of sight of the rest of the party. After a few minutes, Carolyn emerged in a more serious state but with enhanced radiance.
Lyton came back and addressed the group. 'We have just heard - and I, especially
- music that is new for this planet. Musicians have striven to hear and perform
songs from other worlds but have hardly risen above mere suggestions and intimations.
Now, there is something more. The struggles over the last hundred years have
today born fruit. I suppose that these 'Songs of the New Troubadours' are your
songs my friends - that you are the new troubadours, this time not merely enriching
the culture of a backward Europe, but enriching the culture of the whole world.
Maybe all that lies far in the future; but the future has been spoken. I must
say, too, that this is good music, real music. It speaks in our existence. Carolyn
Moore is a composer of genius. For her, music itself is her teacher and guide;
and she will be a teacher through her music. It is a music of the dying of the
old and the birthing of the new. As you all know - even, to some extent, my
beautiful companions here - this music is an expression of a connection with
the hidden reality of things. The time has come for this new access to be acknowledged
and not hidden in the psychological obscurity of the act of creation as it has
been up to now.
'That is all I can say to you at this point. You will hear more from me but, I have to reflect deeply on what has transpired and see what it signifies, both in general and for myself before I share with you all that I know. It may well be that I have to leave you to work on as you are doing and take your chances in the seemingly random upsurging of this new access throughout the world that is now in progress. It is up to each of you to profit from this time and opportunity as best you can,'
'He paused and then added, 'Thank you. I believe that I am in your debt,' Within minutes, he and his companions had left. The group was left with an elation that swelled out of an emptiness. Holroyd burst out, 'What the hell did he mean by 'new for this planet'?'
It was Carolyn who answered, 'If human beings haven't been there before now, then non-humans have. Can there be a reality without an intelligent observer?'
Farley interrupted the exchange by asking Karl, 'Can you get back to him and discuss what happened?'
'Only if he decides that way,' Karl answered. 'What did he say to you, Carolyn?'
'He spoke only of music to me, I am going to see him next week: he offered me the chance of becoming his pupil. Farley, would that break up the project?'
Farley took her hands in his, 'You must be true to your music. Of course the project must go - and it will go on. But, what is the project? It is what we make of it. It is what is in us. And it is what is in you.'
She looked at him quizzically, 'What is it for you?'
'My life,' he said, simply. Then, turning to Reagan, he asked, 'What does the poet make of all this?'
Reagan had been standing by, looking on at the exchange between Carolyn and Farley; keenly aware of the contact expressed between them. He said, 'I think I want to write poems as well as Carolyn writes music. I don't know what your project is.' He hesitated. 'I need more time.' He hesitated again. 'I'm with you, that's for sure.'
Carolyn's attention was mostly on Farley. She felt some thread between them
snap and was surprised to find herself in a mood to give herself to him. She
surmised that the thread was the tension of dependency and mistrust, which had
dominated their relationship until now. She felt grateful for what he had done
to bring her into contact with Lyton and open whole new worlds of effective
action for her - even though, it was his doing only in part. Each of the men
had helped her, starting with Karl. She was startled to find that it was because
Farley himself had told her this would happen that she would do it. She was
submissive to him.
Farley, with diplomatic skill, began making arrangements to have interviews with each of them singly. He announced that her 'debriefing' would take place that night. She enjoyed the slight joke, but knew that the technical debriefing would be thoroughly done before any more personal matters would be allowed to intrude. When they came together she felt released in a way she had never felt before. She had sat naked; playing the piano to him until both of them felt the right time had come. Afterwards he told her that she was almost free of him now.
Two weeks later, Reagan emailed her. He was burning with an energy that was breaking him up inside, habits and attitudes going up in flames. The only habit left to him was contact with Carolyn. But, he was not burning for her. He was aware of her liaison with Farley and hardly cared. At the same time, he longed to be living with her. All the possibilities were jumbled together.
I am a caged volcano, but the cage is myself. If I am not careful, everything that 1 have been working on up until now will be destroyed. If the slightest speck of lava from inside me touches anything that came before, it is vaporised. Nothing that comes from the past is safe. I am living entirely in the future. Only what arises in living time is valid. My poetry consumes itself as it is written.
I write to you to steady my mind, writing each word carefully, so that I can remember something of what I mean. You are your own conflagration. But, you have found your new language of music and I have not found my new language of poetry. There is an impossible dream in me that no amount of technology can help to bring about. It has to be cooked direct in my own being. I can hardly foresee a time in which anyone else might understand - except, possibly, you,
I take the impulses as they come and find them speaking: it is not words as we know them but the very sounds of meaning. Sometimes, these sounds come out of the air around me. I can be anywhere - as long as I am by myself - and whole 'phrases' come to me and seem to be the beginning of whole works already 'there'. It is like having a glimpse of a perfected whole and myself as just one of its outlets at that moment. I need to be the single and complete channel. My brain has to be purified.
I don't want to have recourse to the apparatus to 'rotate my brain' or whatever it does. It has to be done through the meaning. It's the Summer of my discontent. Blanket horizons of illuminated perception, stilled to an eternal vista. Snow lies over the violent lava. 'Zero Summer'. Humans dissolve into two dimensions, flickering across the screens of partial time. The real time expands from the point of forever - a mind thrown up, incidentally, to speak to you, passing, And, in this display, the inexact is hysterical. Clowns gibbering, leaping in the cesspool of darkened ages. Poems spat out by distant stars arrive as children with flesh torn off them. The line from here to there is a tortured wire played by beings we have never thought of. This suffering around - I begin to know it. The words are ear-plugs against the screams. One scream is enough. One despoiled child is enough. Why go on? Many, so many: because not one of us can bear even the one child turned into a thing. Because the world-brain is a shattered mirror. Because 1 could not love you well enough to put a stop to human terror. Because we are unknown and empty and people fear the music and the poetry which is always just about to reveal the real face of us. I look up at the clouds and direct balls of hate at the creatures above. We are in the depth of the ocean, in darkness adapted to the chill depths. They come down and thrill at the horrors here. We must make them listen to us.'
Carolyn, rapt in her own frenzy, wept over the letter. When Farley asked if Reagan were still writing, she could hardly reply. Something had given way in her. Farley spoke to her, gently, 'Of course, we must love each other. Without love and caring, we will die. But, we know how dangerous this is to the real person within us. Life has gone on and we have learnt to hide ourselves, so that we will not be destroyed by the world - which means each other. When we begin to know this, we are filled with terror and can hate the world and all the people in it to the point of madness. Yes, we have to love each other, but expect nothing from each other. What are words, feelings even, in front of what we really are? You hardly guess that I love you more than you love yourself.'
Finally, she wrote a short letter; 'Make it happen as you want it to happen. The creatures down here have their own problems. I have cried over your letter, I see now that nothing is hidden from us except what we hide ourselves from.'
Reagan plunged himself into a fit of loathing, spending hours surveying the gamut of human misery from the TV screen, following up stories of violence and corruption, drawing up a map of the world covered with statistics and photographs to codify the distribution of evil. Religion interested him for the first time in his life and he regaled himself by reading up on Christian and Islamic persecution. He understood that evil men and women were always idealists, perverts of hope and that none of them wanted to deal with themselves. He read with fascination Sartre's classic 'Portrait of an Anti-Semite'. For a time, his personal slogan was: 'Good shit - strong roses.' Something came out of his self-indulgence that was more than cognitive dissonance.
They are broken toys and the children of the stars have long grown up and left. I mean the 'creatures above'. This is a nursery abandoned. We are insects on the floor amidst the cybernetic toys. But, these toys have been imprinted with the nightmare childhood of the gods. And they torture us as if we were flies caught by sadistic boys. A soon as we try to escape the narrowness and futility of the nursery and its cybernetics, they crush and scatter us, laughing at us as we run into isolation. Their laughter does not even give them pleasure. It is a recording built into their programmes.
We have to take over. Else, there will always be the armies of the night
and the human race will continue in exile from itself. Once, I believe, mankind
existed in one place; then we were scattered by eruption of hate. We wandered
and tried to get away from each other and we also wandered trying to merge back
into a unity. Just as men and women do. Sex involves hate as much as love.
The realities of human life are physical, in our bodies: in men bodies, women bodies, child bodies. No one bothers to think what his or her bodies mean. Perhaps, we are the abandoned toys, left to torture each other. But, there is no point to it: the gods have left. They left at the time of the Greeks, or the time of the Sumerians. Then people began to think. Thus, they created a new kind of suffering; not knowing that feedback loops existed which would make the earth uninhabitable.
As for poetry!
Carolyn wrote back, 'Yes to poetry! Lyton has the idea that we should broadcast
the new music to certain parts of the Galaxy.'
A few weeks later, Reagan turned up at the instrumentation centre. He had requested access time and Farley had given it freely. Holroyd was his instructor and they spent a few hours every day with the equipment. But Reagan was not allowed to be around when Holroyd and Karl were working on the 'excursion' experiment. They had verified that it was possible to 'move' to another location instantly if, at that location, there was a broadcasting apparatus. This had been made possible by Carolyn's pioneering work. Their current work concerned the effects of amplified perception of both subject and object. Farley had a neurophysiologist on tap who gave expert interpretations of brain data. They had to rely on intersubjective verification to study object effects.
Carolyn, who rarely met Reagan, received an incomprehensible letter from him. It seemed to consist of a random collection of letters, with a large proportion of vowels. She showed it to Farley who suggested that she try reading it aloud. Following his advice, she was taken back by association to the very beginning of the project when she was registering an effect without being able to recall anything. Farley had the idea that Reagan was describing the actual experience of access - or, its meaning. At first, she was repelled by the prospect of a subjective language; but Farley persuaded her to study the text further. He explained that such a language might be used for communication between people when they were in new modes of access.
Later, they discovered that Reagan had no idea how the language had evolved in him. His notes showed only that the whole structure had been there right from the beginning and all that he had had to do was to compile a kind of dictionary or thesaurus. Contrary to other neo-languages, it was surprisingly free of metaphysical loops and naive epistemology. It enabled one versed in it to begin with an area of meaning and then articulate this to finer and finer degree. The points at which defined entities and for example, cognitive frameworks such as those of mathematics entered could be very precisely located: even 'this' and 'that' were not givens and the act of cognition could be made primary or secondary at will. The project team found that it was the access itself that made the language work for them. Holroyd was the one who found the most difficulty, until Farley showed him an application to Roualt's work with colour. Farley was elated by the new contribution, 'At last,' he said, 'We can articulate how we are looking and what we are looking at before we know what it is!'
Before the Excursion, Farley held a meeting to bring them into the picture
on the commercial background of the team project. On hearing of this, Carolyn
wondered whether she should appraise the group of the different kind of 'background'
she had been learning from Lyton. She knew that she had learned things that even
Karl had been denied. But, she would 'do a Farley' and keep quiet for the moment.
'So far,' Farley began, 'I have been protecting you all from a certain kind of outside interference. This state of affairs cannot last much longer for I am under pressure to show some results. When I speak of 'outside interference' I am not referring to the agencies which Karl and Holroyd are soon to investigate. I am referring to the organization through which this project is being financed. Some of you have been upset that I have given you no information about the sources of our finance and that I have forced you to accept my direction on trust. Well - to each his own. I would not wish involvement with the financial organization on any of you: it is my particular burden and I did not want you involved, I wanted you strong enough in your own work to be able to operate, as far as is possible, on your own. All real co-operation depends on personal freedom. Until you have realised something of your own, you could not even begin to co-operate. The danger was that, once you had something of your own, you wouldn't be interested in co-operating. So far, that danger seems to have been avoided.
'Let me assure you right off - insofar as such a thing can be guaranteed - our financial backing is not military or from the intelligence services. We must realise, however, that the world being what it is, the mere concept of new access will trigger, once they learn of it, the security forces into hysterical paranoia! In certain minds, the new access will be as seductive and corrupting as the nuclear bomb. Our actual backers are a commercial group, a supranational component of the Delphic Institute for which I do most of my paid work. You may know that such a component is able to by-pass some of the restrictive legislation of nationalistic governments and abides by genuinely international conventions and agreements. The Delphic Institute's main concern is with future technology and the anticipation of new products and services. This has great importance in the world of finance, as you should be able to appreciate. It was Dr Karl who put the idea into my head of using the Institute. He spoke to me many months ago now of selling the new access in terms of 'acultural enrichment'; a mode that would avoid information taxation. Such a mode would have enormous appeal to people dealing with cultural minorities fighting what is called 'cultural imperialism'. And, though any technology that generates information is subject to taxation and governmental restrictions, the enrichment area, according to various international agreements, is exempt. What we are doing blurs the distinction and enables us to develop the new technology in relative freedom. For the moment!
'I sold the idea of new access to the finance group on two arguments. Firstly, that we could develop new instruments that would generate information but be exempt from the controls I mentioned. Secondly, that we could develop experiential modes of universal appeal. I told them that we had to be left alone for six months to do a feasibility study. That time has gone and we have to show something if we are to continue to be supported. This will mean a deviation of effort towards the development of things that are not central to our own concerns and values. We have limited time in which to find out the things that really matter. Once the apparatus is so-to-say turned over to our financial bosses we will lose effective control. Of course, we will not be turning over the 'real thing' but there will be complications in what we will be free to do in the public domain. In a sense, they own the project. There are those in the organization who are responsibly aware of our need for a certain freedom; but we have to play by the rules or, at least, not get caught. Thus, for example, we have to find a way for Carolyn to go public with what appears from the outside as just another form of musical cybernetics.'
The group was visibly upset, in spite of the fact that the reality of the situation was obvious and staring them in the face right from the start. Karl looked depressed as his old fears came back. Carolyn felt slightly sick and had to physically shake herself to snap out of it. Farley went on, 'Yes, I know how you feel; but feeling is not enough. I am working on a way of distinguishing the underlying patent from the applications patents. The problem is in the area of inception, which is not patentable. As it is, we have an instrument only usable for specially trained minds and very intelligent and creative people. In the hands of most, the apparatus will produce, at best, a kind of nightmare or blankness.
'That is why we have to change the way in which we are working. Holroyd - and I've already spoken to him about this - will have to concentrate on a certain branch of solid-state physics to produce an accelerated research programme. This will be based around what we have been calling the 'position radiation'. As most of you understand, the position we can define is not metric but topological so, the uncertainty principle remains sacrosanct. More importantly, the principle becomes explicable because we are able to see how metric position and momentum conjugate. In brief, all this makes possible new kinds of logic circuits. And there are immediate applications. This has got to be our main line of finance. Dr Karl - to whom I have not yet spoken in detail - will develop the acultural enrichment side. What I have in mind at this moment is a modification that will produce enhancement of signals. We do not know what effects this will have on unprepared people. It may make them more intelligent! The point is, that such an instrument can be applied to any signal-source or cultural artefact without making it something different from what it is. At least - that is what we shall claim. Probably, we will have to find a way to tone down the effect but not to the level at which the effect is unrecognisable. To help us reach this point, Carolyn should consider an excursion into popular music, concentrating on interactive discs.'
Farley paused and leaned back in his chair, waiting for them to respond. 'Farley,'
said Karl, 'This is not entirely unexpected and we are not just a bunch of starry-eyed
idealists with no sense of reality. But, let's put all that to one side for
the moment. Now is the time to ask why we are going ahead with the 'excursion'
even though, throughout the many man-hours of access over the last months there
has been no sign of any interference.'
'I also want you to say something about INSTRAM, ' put in Carolyn.
'That's right,' agreed Karl, 'I've not kept up my scanning of the literature to know if they are still active.'
'I wonder how you will take what I have to tell you? INSTRAM is, in fact, part of the same organization we are working for.' There were gasps of consternation.
'It seems hardly credible, I know - or, only too credible! INSTRAM was set up two years ago to research the miniaturisation of scientific instrumentation. The scale and expense of equipment is a world crisis right now. Somehow, they stumbled across something like our access mode and tried to develop instruments accordingly. The pieces you came across, Karl, were published to justify the project and keep it going. Now, our project is under a different classification and separate financial management from INSTRAM. I do not know myself whether anyone in the echelon is aware of how over-lapping we are with INSTRAM and I have no wish to wake anyone up to that fact. Strangely, I have been unable to track down any operating member of INSTRAM; I can find only administrators and so on. I do not know who these people are! This is an enigma. Their security is probably far better than ours is.
'Sooner or later, somebody is bound to make the obvious connections. I don't know what effects this could have on us. Also, I have no idea whether or not INSTRAM is consciously aware of us.'
Holroyd queried, 'Are you implying that they might be unconsciously aware of us?'
'I think you can see the possibilities,' replied Farley.
'It makes me feel somewhat like a Red Indian setting out to count coup on an enemy camp. We're going to go in there and pinch their feathers. Or - get ourselves scalped!'
'It all depends on whether or not they are our enemies. Maybe, they just do not know what they are doing. How much do we know? But, I also think that they have very little appreciation of meaning. We may have been protected by the saturation our field of access received from artistic creation. If they were rigidly concerned with scientific facts, what we are doing could have quite escaped them. You cannot observe music - you have to listen to music as music. It is intentional.'
Carolyn put in, 'That's right. All consciousness is intentional. A lot of our early work was directed towards what is called 'primordial intentionality' - the real basis of what Kant called the a priori.'
'Which enabled us to make breakthroughs in the quantum-reality question,' added Holroyd.
'Did it?' said Carolyn. 'That's very nice.' Reagan and Karl chuckled at the expression on Holroyd's face. Then Reagan cleared his throat, about to speak; but he was forestalled by Farley, 'This is not the time to raise all the issues that concern us. It is enough on this occasion to put you in the picture about the external and material circumstances of our work.'
They had taken possession of a whole suite of offices in the building and set up a workshop in two of the rooms. The rest of the space was used to store recordings and for study purposes. They had installed a modulated piano and often Carolyn played for them. The group was highly amused by her first ventures into popular music and teased her unmercifully with ribald remarks.
An apparatus remained in Karl's study and they used it to tune into the equipment in the workshops. It was planned that Carolyn should attempt to monitor the Excursion from the study, with Reagan in attendance to offer any assistance he could in a crisis. Farley was to be with the two men. The two groups were in communication through large vids.
Karl and Holroyd had found that they could manipulate the 'position radiation' to focus them anywhere in the world. With Farley's knowledge of the INSTRAM location they intended to penetrate it even if they picked up no broadcast. Holroyd repeated his joke about counting coup but there was less laughter in response as the time for the experiment drew near.
The day before the Excursion, Karl spent a few hours with Carolyn alone. He showed her the falling of water. This time, the surface of the water did not render him appalled. It was already humanised. Karl explained that he did not know whether to be glad or in sorrow. He spoke to her of his early sense of urgency, in which he had foreseen how rapidly the new access would lose its virginity and become 'stale' by repeated human contact. He was full of regret that Farley had not allowed more than one visit of his son and expressed doubt in Farley's hypothesis that children could be damaged by the contact. Carolyn listened in sympathy and said nothing to defend Farley.
She reminded Karl of the nature of art; that the early meaning of the word meant anything in which man modified nature, not artistic creation alone, a meaning that came later and which reflected the increasing fragmentation of reality in the modern world. They fell to talking about the meaning of the Rose for Rilke - 'nobody's sleep under so many lids' - and how the rose was a symbol of all and even the mother of God. The water quivered slightly under their gaze and they silently watched light scattered as drops fell to their nemesis in the surface. But, it was the end of innocence. Rilke lay dying from the finger poisoned by the rose's thorn.
When they pulled Karl from the apparatus, he was in shock from what looked like a massive heart attack and the paramedics had to be called in. Farley was in a state of fury and ordered Holroyd and Reagan to reconstruct an account of what happened. Carolyn was hysterical. She found herself under the shadow of the monorail, crouching in the protected wilderness there like a frightened animal. It was not until evening that she made her way back, realising that she had nowhere else to go. Karl might recover but she doubted that the group would. When she dragged herself into the offices, Farley was on the vid. She could hear him concocting a story about overwork and family troubles to a doctor-administrator at the hospital. She loathed him doing that. When he switched the phone link off, Farley turned and saw her. 'Your job is to see Lyton,' he said gently but firmly. She stared at him and started crying again. Farley repeated that she should go straightaway and told Holroyd to get her to the nearest transit stop. 'I'll phone you when we have any news,' he said. Then, he turned to the report and began reading it for the second time as Holroyd escorted her out.
Holroyd had written: 'When we made contact, Karl and I set off at the molecular level to find a distinctive configuration. I was particularly struck by the clarity of the electronic energies. The different configurations were very sharp. It was as if there was yet another level of radiation of greater enhancement than the purely 'positional' one. I could not resist doing what we call 'entering an electron'. I told Karl to remain at the molecular level as I did so. It is always very interesting see what Karl's son called the 'universe unit' at close hand. This inversion of scale holds the key to sub-atomic particles and is the link between energy and space. What is surprising is how much of the molecular environment is present in an individual electron. Of course, I am talking about the electron we 'see', not the conceptual electron of orthodox physics. While I was engaged in establishing myself at the electronic level, Karl told me he had found an excellent configuration, so I joined him at that site. It had all the characteristics of an impress, but we know that there are such in nature and that they are not necessarily artificial. Karl told me then that he wondered if such sites were a legacy of some other time or space condition, a 'relic' of an alien investigation. (We have no way of ascertaining the age of site-configurations.)
'Taking the site as centre, we worked in a radius of about a hundred angstrom
around it, setting up our own receptors. Then we returned to the centre as we
directed energy in-there. The energy extended in the classical direction and,
as it 'moved out' towards the target, we saw coming into view the 'landscape
effect' we have been encountering recently and describing to you in earlier
reports more technically. The relative out-there assumes a quasi-visible form
which we have learnt to use. We know that it is not precisely like that but
we have learnt how to get under the surface of any part of it that we fix upon.
We agreed to deal in quasi-visibility, feeling confident enough to compensate
for the kick-back effects on our chosen site.
'Naturally enough, the clarity dissolved in the context of the approximate sensations and we became somewhat disorientated as the dynamic of the configuration resolved itself into a maze of 'shutters': an on-off effect of presence and absence which, for inexperienced observers, soon produces an hallucinatory effect of merging colours, as in a fevered state: a fevered state may even be induced. The shutter effect we were able to deal with. (Karl had already talked to me about Shamanism which, apparently, dealt with this problem a long time ago). We needed to pass through these 'shutters' to be able to detect any incoming effect. There was very little time. Once beyond the range of the shutter effect we found ourselves on a thin purple plain (I will describe the phenomena as they appeared to me) that seemed to stretch 'upwards' at an angle. Other configurational sites looked like stars in a night sky, even though they were of various colours in a blue background. As we 'climbed up the slope', we made out a summit-region, over which spilled some kind of liquid which meandered down like a river under very low gravity. As we approached near the liquid flow, we saw a kind of vegetation evolve. This evolution was not new to us; but it was taking place at unusual speed. Within moments we were climbing up through a veritable jungle. Both of us were forced, every now and then, to enter behind the surface for periods to prevent ourselves becoming too disorientated from the overwhelming sensation.
'I made a stop to check out with Karl whether these effects were peculiar to the direction we were taking. In all the other directions nothing similar was happening (it may, of course, have been a result of our own intention). Usually, the phenomena of the landscape effect are isotropic. We reviewed whether we were wise to continue in this method, rather than wait for an instantaneous transport to the site of any broadcast. I can only report that, in the upshot, there was something so overwhelmingly seductive about the landscape and we felt impelled to continue exploring it.'
Here, Reagan had inserted a passage : Carolyn told me that Karl and Holroyd were abandoning their site and going along with the energy beam. This was a perfectly valid procedure but she reported that it was strange they had not waited or scanned more before setting off. She sent a query impress to their site but they appeared to take no notice.'
Holroyd's account went on: 'We did receive Carolyn's impress, but did not recognise it correctly. At one moment, the landscape behind us disappeared and we felt her looking at us. We knew the feeling of being looked at. But, something was already wrong and our minds were infected with a distortion. I have to confess the following: Carolyn actually appeared to us like a primitive goddess - Cybele or the like. And the feeling in us was that we were escaping from her limitations. Then, obviously, Farley intervened. He appeared as a threatening male figure - a Zeus or something like that. He seemed to be demanding obedience, asserting his authority; and threatening us with expulsion. Before we could even begin to communicate with each other about the situation, we were both rushing through the jungle and were over the brow of the hill. The hill-structure seemed to cut us off from our home base. The world opened up and became vast. Greatly vast! We could see mountains towering to the sky and a shining road stretching before us. Away on a distant slope, there lay a glorious city; I have to use the word 'glorious' because that is what it looked like. I actually saw it as the City of God.'
Reagan's note read: 'Carolyn reported Farley's intervention. The cut-off
which Holroyd mentioned had an effect on Carolyn and she was deeply disturbed.
She told me that the voyagers were in a degenerate state and were moving too
fast for her to reach. The impressed array they had set up was not functioning
properly and she could not project along their path. Farley signalled to us
that he was considering shutting down the apparatus but was worried about the
dangers of doing so. Carolyn offered to go after them by a direct interception
along her own path, but Farley denied her permission.
'In the next communication we had, about five minutes later. Farley announced that he would go after them. It's obvious now, in retrospect that this was a mistake since he was being seen as a wrathful and jealous god-figure, bent on their enslavement and destruction. But, none of us quite realised their state of mind.'
Holroyd's account took up the story: 'Of course, we were not entirely caught
up in the irrational state. It was just the speed at which new stimuli (or 'temptations')
came to us kept us off-balance. Once committed along the path, we became slaves
of the landscape and its metaphors. Our attempts to check our reality-sense
out by intentional focus below the surface failed to liberate us from our mental
aberrations and confirmed our false belief that we were in control of events,
'I must report, however, that Karl was hanging back. He tried to use our language but gave up when he felt unable to remember much of it. (That should have been enough to awaken us to our peril), I also recall a moment when the landscape wavered and almost dissolved back into a two-dimensional artefact; then I myself re-energised the quasi-visibility: I felt I was challenging Karl to dissolve the appearances against my will. We went on. When Farley appeared, he came as a giant - monstrous, 'He' started by making an appeal to us. He spoke to us of 'meaning' but, by then, we were so out of touch with reality that this 'meaning' seemed to me something like a relic or ancient treasure that we were being accused of despoiling. I was frightened but defiant. I did not know whether to be more frightened of what he might do to us if we did not turn back than of what he might do with us if we gave in to him. The primary intention of the excursion made us go forward. Going-forward was a 'categorical imperative', Karl told me at that time. There was a powerful stream of thought images, rather like a history of philosophy made into a comic strip for lunatics! In it, we were the free spirits leaving the narrow confines of the Olympian gods and headed for existential liberation in the future.
'The Farley-figure, when it tried to push us back, became an 'illusion' in that we could under its surface into objective configurations and come out the other side. At one point, the figure tried to take the road and bend it back in the opposite direction. Then, the figure faded.'
Reagan's note added: 'Carolyn was very agitated and frustrated because she
could not go after Holroyd and Karl. She could receive an impress from them
at her own location but was not able to impress the area they were moving in.
We saw Farley go in after them, then come back out after a few minutes. He told
us that he had failed to communicate with them and could not affect their pathway.
After some discussion, Carolyn suggested that we try to set up a broadcast point
somewhere along their path to entice them into safety. Farley went in again
to set this up; but came out again after five minutes or so, saying that he
had lost their path, None of our instruments could detect where they had gone.'
Holroyd explained: 'As soon as Farley had faded, our speed increase once more. We seemed to glide 'with the speed of thought' along the road. Bands of colour pulsed besides us. It was garish but exciting. There were colours in the spaces, which were not the colours of the surfaces. Then, sounds were coming out of the city, as if a celebration were taking place there. We wanted to move even faster; then, there appeared a kind of machine, out of the sky, which dropped down besides us. As it did this, I noticed that the 'sky' was as much below us as above, with a whole range of 'depths' and that, for each of these depths, there emanated a distinctive colour.
'Much of this report is embarrassing to write down. I am trying to recall things just as I experienced and felt them. The instruments will have whatever objective data we can salvage. Reference to personal parameters appears inevitable. Thus, inside the craft I saw a woman. I believe she was some kind of projection based on the dark-haired woman Lyton brought for the performance: she had been on my mind a bit since that date. Her appearance so startled me that I almost 'came to' and regained some rational integrity. But, at the same time, Karl saw her as Lyton! The feeling conveyed to me was that Karl wanted to regain the contact he had with Lyton, which Carolyn had taken over.
'Looking back, even after this short time, it is very evident to me that this mad journey of ours fed on a core of loneliness in us. Also, the whole experience was permeated with an incredibly exact mode of 'seduction', which tapped into that core. What I cannot understand is how this attack from the subconscious arose just on this critical occasion. We had journeyed through the quasi-visible realm before and, then as much as now, we were the same people with the same frustrations, desires and dreams; but we had never before encountered this arousal of pathetic impulse. It might be thought that, since there were two of us, it should have been possible for the one to watch over the other; but, the converse was the case, since our banal subjectivity was infectious and the one dragged the other down.
'We entered the craft and took off. The site configuration flashed by as strands of location. The shapes of movement became a kind of emotion (that was certainly a dominant feature - everything we experienced became turned into an emotion). I remember that the woman - who was in a state of undress - kept looking at me as I was trying to 'wake up' and then showed me a panel with various kinds of geometrical display. This fascinated me for while but, then, I began to recognise that none of the material shown had any originality or meaning. I began using the language, shouting bits of it aloud to dissolve my capture. I became aware of the supra-molecular level: it was like staring down a microscope at a heap of dust. Then, I was in the air, as if seeing dust motes in a sunbeam and I was seeing the craft move along. I became aware of that Karl was trapped and I needed to rescue him. I tried to think of a way of contacting Farley but was caught in indecision.'
Reagan had interposed another comment: 'We saw Holroyd slumped in his chair; then becoming alert and speaking the language. Farley was answering but not getting through. The essence of Holroyd's words was the triplex: Love-Knowledge-Sensation and the double inversion. Farley was trying to get through to him in terms of Origin and Purpose. Then Holroyd fell silent again and Farley went into access.'
Holroyd's account continued: 'I think Farley was putting something in. Anyway,
I felt his presence and he seemed to come with me as I re-entered the sub-molecular
level. Then there appeared a kind of fortress that was revolving or swirling:
it definitely had the sense of rotational momentum. The ramparts were in oscillation,
surrounded by rings of energy. I felt secure. I found myself mounted on a kind
of electronic beast, a dragon of sub-atomic configurations, which felt 'sleek'
and powerful. Farley was handing me a weapon that appeared in the form of a
'lance' or 'probe'. There was a blinding flash of proto-light, which stimulated
a corresponding pulse in me (later, I took this pulse in myself to be a different
type of emotion). The fortress was surrounding me or restraining me. Getting
out of it was like solving a set of equations, which something in me did automatically.
As soon as this happened, I shot out at high speed and became a projectile.
I could see the flying car up ahead. The space through which I was moving had
that more-than-three-dimensions effect we have come across before but it was
very intense. Everything I could 'see' added a space-like dimension: even degrees
of illumination, colours, shapes - all such defined a dimension of their own.
'I was gaining space relative to the flying car. Farley was present in various ways. In one of them, he was a 'wind' that blew me faster. Then, there were flashes of energy that burned away the quasi-visibility giving me instantaneous shifts forward. But, as I grew close, something came out of the car which 'narrowed down' the dimensions behind it, so that there was no 'space' for me to get through. This effect became so powerful that the flying car elongated in the direction of travel and became a 'pencil'.
'Just visible, up ahead, what I still took to be the 'city' appeared; looking
like a sea-urchin with each spine a confined dimension and some of the spines
at different levels of existence. I decided to by-pass the car and get to the
city ahead of it. This move appeared to be unanticipated (if I may presume some
intentional agency involved in these disastrous events) and I found myself alighting
besides a tunnel. At that moment, I became acutely aware of the thing Farley
had given me. Putting it ahead of me, I went down the tunnel and came to spherical
room or cavern, There, I saw a creature. It had many appendages or arms. It
was, in many respects, like a spider. There were instruments around it, some
of them looking like parts of our own apparatuses. The creature was engaged
with some machine or other, then it turned to look at me It seemed to me then
that I could destroy it with the 'weapon' I had; but, I could not bring myself
to do it. As I hesitated, the creature did something with an instrument and
a pulse hit me. I felt it - for the most part - 'neutralised' by my weapon but
I was immediately translated back into ordinary/ perceptual space.
'I looked for Karl and saw him in agony. Farley began to disengage him from the apparatus. I wondered then whether Karl had been attacked by the creature.
'I must note - as is obvious from my descriptions - that the quasi-visible world is still vivid for me and appears in my memory as a 'world' complete in itself. What had appeared to us as a mere convenience of intersubjective reference acquired an existence of it own, a substance. Since I was asked to make this report an account of my actual personal experiences rather than any attempt at a formal and rational presentation of data, I think that I am free to add the following remark: this world is corruptible.'
Farley carefully placed the report in a folder and lay it on his desk; his
hands remained still, resting on either side of it and he raised his eyes to
look at Reagan. The young man nervously rose to his feet, avoiding the older
man's gaze. He ached with concern for Carolyn, his mind repeatedly flying
out into the city along the path she might be taking; picturing her sitting
in the monorail; wondering how she might be feeling; registering anger in himself
at not being allowed to go with her and hating both himself and Farley for letting
himself be dictated to. In short, he was indulging himself and revelling in
the anarchy which the crisis threatened to precipitate; and, he was intelligent
enough to know this and to know how little he was in contact with the reality
of Carolyn's state of mind; which disturbed him most of all.
Farley himself was not completely self-possessed. He snapped at Reagan, 'You must think of what is really of value to Carolyn.'
'Always make a profit, eh?' Reagan tried to be sarcastic. 'You must not forget to phone Lyton and let him know what is happening and that she is coming,'
'I'll contact him at the right time,' said Farley. He held up a hand to stop Reagan's angry retort. 'You'll appreciate why later.'
'Always later! Always, it's you'll tell us later. So, we get the information bit by bit and we are always in the dark. How can we be responsible for what happens? Look at Holroyd, let alone Karl! That's the result of your manipulation!' The words and their associations inside his brain, swimming and churning up the images and echoes of quasi-sensations in the perceptive body; ripples of fractured light satisfying in their flow of disorder; he, descending under the gravity of pain: ' Yes, you are an agent of the gods, the Delphic oracle, confusing men and leading them to create their own destruction by your riddles!'
'Reagan, remember who the enemy is! As for myself, dislike me as much as you like but do not abandon yourself. Dealing with the future requires something unknown in ordinary life. Just as I want Carolyn to 'make a profit' from this disaster, I want us all to benefit. What good is it to Karl if we simply stir up our emotions? It's just an excuse for us not to think. What we have is an issue of freedom. You are naive if you think my 'responsibility' consists in protecting you from yourselves. Everything you are tending to make happen to yourselves I am making more immediate. The future is in your hands - but, you, like the rest of mankind, refuse to realise what this means. You cling to childish ideas of safety and everything working out for the best - which means the most comfortable - when you are also from yourself making terrible things happen. Do you imagine that the pain of the world is something that nature generates as a by-product out of the biosphere? Or, that there is some equation or natural law which determines that biosphere plus noosphere by their compresence in gravity results in meaningless suffering? Do you begin to understand why people do not learn from the misery of their lives?'
'Shit!' Reagan shouted out in frustration. 'Can't you just shut the fuck up?'
'Why should I? I have to understand what is going on. Why should I abandon meaning and purpose simply because I or you or Carolyn is upset? Being upset is only part of the condition for understanding; that is what it is for. Otherwise, I am abandoned to the mechanical surges of life. Life is designed to kick us in the face from time to time. You don't begin to understand what life is. You find yourself sleeping with a beautiful woman and don't appreciate the wonder of it. You think of having children as if it were some personal whim in the context of your self-image. Grow up! There are things I could tell you about relating to the future that could save you lifetimes of stupid suffering. But, you do not want to listen! All I can point out to you right now is the necessity of registering the facts. You must clearly experience what happens from now on and remember this conversation.'
Reagan felt himself trapped in the corner of his own stupidity and did not know what to do. How to make a different future? How to do more than stop the stupidity, more than freeze oneself to avoid yet more commissions? Mind is a machine. What can a machine do but its own thing?
The vid announced an incoming signal. It was from the hospital. Farley went into his routine of deflection, avoiding any implication of the experiment and repeated his story of Karl's overworking and nervous strain, a story now more perfected and convincing than ever. Reagan dumbly observed. He heard the doctor point out that Karl had no history of heart-weakness and his medical records showed only minor symptoms of stress. To his surprise he then heard the doctor announce that there was no evidence of a heart attack, in spite of the radically increased rate, pain and chest spasms; and that he suspected that the attack was entirely psychosomatic due to some emotional crisis. Karl was to be discharged to his wife the next day. Farley asked to be connected with her there at the hospital. When he spoke to her, he seemed to have an extraordinary power over her, evoking a fatherly embrace that reached through the phone, as if he were patting her on the shoulder electromagnetically.
Afterwards, Farley sighed,' Poor woman. We had to protect her from all this.
She's no stomach for it. Little sense of meaning. You can see why I kept Karl's
children away. He took that very hard. He started all this for their sake. It
was burning him up inside. He felt that he had failed at music and was only
a peripheral, parasitic creature of no intrinsic worth. So, he longed to make
his children into gods - in a new heaven on earth.'
Farley looked deeply at Reagan, as if to ask an unspoken question. Reagan, full of relief over learning of Karl's safety, had a mind spinning with thoughts of reaching Carolyn to re-assure her. He could not bear the thought of her continuing to suffer needlessly. He tried to relax, feeling his attitude to the older man - who had 'come between' him and Carolyn in so many ways - change in key. Farley asked, 'Do you understand what happened, to Karl, Reagan? Can you make it out?'
'How do I know what happened? How can I tell?'
'You can tell if you can sense how all this was for Karl; what it meant for him.' Reagan tried to put his attention on the musicologist and the strange way in which he seemed to be both the central figure in the new development and also the one most in the background. What Farley had told him about Karl and his children was not new to him, but he saw it in a fresh light. He remembered Holroyd's words: 'it is corruptible', ' Then, he felt like crying. He said, 'His dream was shattered. He always wanted the access to be a new universe, an uncontaminated region untouched by human perception.'
'Untouched by sin,' added Farley.
'Holroyd said that it was corruptible. The creature was evil. So, the new access is not safe: it is not innocent.'
'Yes. Aren't you glad that I prevented Carolyn from following them?'
'Yes, I'm glad; though she might have come through and really helped. I can't tell. But, about this corruption: would it have shocked Karl so much that it would bring on the attack?'
'Undoubtedly. It was not just something done to him by whatever they encountered (remember that we have no objective evidence that they encountered anything). He did it to himself. He could not stand the contradiction between his ideals and the actuality, especially since he knew and could not escape the fact that he himself was making that actuality. It made his spirit boil up and spill over into his body: the contradiction was so-to-say 'excreted' into his nervous system and thence into his main bodily functions. I thought that the attack was of that nature but I had to get him to hospital to be on the safe side.'
'And Carolyn?' Reagan asked.,
'I asked you to think of what was best for her. Now, what is best for her?'
Reagan stared at Farley. Just then, an incoming signal announced itself. It was Lyton. He said, 'Carolyn has just called me from a transit somewhere and told me about Karl. What have you been doing? How is he? Carolyn is in pieces.'
'Karl is fine. Did Carolyn say she was coming to you?'
'Yes; but she was going to call the hospital,'
'Alright. Now, are you in fact aware of what happened? Do you need me to explain anything?'
'Yes, I do.'
'Please wait until Carolyn gets there and hear her account, Meanwhile, I'll put through the first rough report on the experience we have put together. Give me your code and I'll have it read into your memory.'
'Tell me something now.'
'Karl and Holroyd found something not very good. There is a chance that it is connected with INSTRAM. '
'INSTRAM. I see.' Lyton was staring imperviously at Farley out of the screen.
'What do you see?'
'Farley, there are several levels to this. I'll see Carolyn and contact you later,' The screen went blank.
Farley turned to Reagan. 'What Carolyn needs is to be reminded of meaning. Lyton is the best person to enhance it in her right now, Also, though I cannot explain this to you right now - because it is not yet clarified in my logical brain - she is carrying something to Lyton which is important for him. What that is, I cannot say; because I do not know. There are whole areas that Lyton knows far better than I. Can you see now that it hardly matters what we are feeling or thinking of ourselves? Aren't you a poet? Don't you know that poetry worth anything is beyond personal feeling? Things are moving very fast. We must not be commanded by our emotions. We have to get better at our work.'
'It's too dangerous. Carolyn should not go on with this.'
'Who says? Who are you to command her? I don't command her! She is real. She does not need that kind of sloppy protection. What the hell do you think she is - some kind of hysterical female? Don't be fooled by her state. It's just a passing aberration.'
Reagan's face was flushed and he shuffled uncomfortably. 'What are you expecting from Lyton?' he asked, trying to deflect Farley's attention from him,
'Let's find out what he actually does.' Farley said.
Lyton's town house lay within the boundaries of the largest pastoral area in the suburbs of the city (there being few left in what had been the 'countryside'). A car was waiting for her at the transit station to take her the few miles to him. In contrast with all the previous occasions of making this journey, Carolyn hardly saw or felt anything. She was no longer the eager young student, awed and excited, with sparkling eyes and new worlds of sound being born inside her ears. It was only when she came inside the house and recognised again the slightly archaic tone of the decor and then saw Lyton descending the massive stairway that she felt she had come home. She ran to him and he held her warmly. Lyton took her into the study with its strange combination of library and computer studio. They passed through and out of the French windows to the lawn that ran down towards a stream. There was a small patio with old metal chairs and tables, showing rust under the paint.
'Have you heard that Karl is in good condition?' Lyton asked.
'Yes, yes. It was such a relief. I almost went to the hospital instead of coming here. He's probably feeling very bad about himself. I know that 1 was feeling badly about myself. Maybe there's something inherently contaminating about existing at all! But it's good to be able to see you.'
The overcast sky presaged a growing chill in the air but neither of them acknowledged it. Instead, they sat down, hand in hand, and looked across to the young elm wood beyond the small line of willows bordering the stream. She leaned back and smelt the air; then craned backwards, staring at the clouds as if to read something written in them.
How far away is God?' she asked. Rain spattered down, striking the table with tiny soft sounds. She thought of the lines: the quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain. Lyton remained silent and patient. There was a yellowish tinge to the light and her face looked sallow. The rain rhythm ran more staccato. She went on. 'As far as I am not from I am. As far as a breath and as near as a star. Lyton. Are you real? Do you really exist? In yourself? Am I here? I'm tired of the object. What about the subject? It is hard being a woman with these things happening. I want to have a child before it is too late; but I do not know too late for what? I'm frightened. I'd like a baby just to happen - without a man. I don't think I can be touched by anyone anymore. The world is too dense with touching and things. Can I make a baby happen in. me through music? That would make music really objective! This air - even this air is not just air. It's full of shit. And the sky is pissed in from above. I hate the God thing. Can't we forget it once and for all? But, we're worse than nothing. Everything's gone from me and just is there, indifferent.' She licked the rain that had fallen around her mouth and began to shiver.
'Early successes, creation's pampered darlings, ranges, summits, dawn-red ridges of all beginnings - pollen of blossoming godhead, hinges of light, corridors, stairways, thrones, spaces of being...' Lyton recited Rilke's early words on the 'angels' as an incantation. Carolyn smiled and interrupted, 'Who, if I cried would hear me, amongst the chorus of damn assenting angels!' Then she said in a strained voice, 'Oh hear me! Oh, do not hear me! Is there any chorus of assenting angels, Lyton? Or is it just a chorus of self-congratulation at not being like we are? Are they as unsure of themselves as we are, getting in each other's way, trying to get out of their world, busting themselves to fly through space faster than thought to alien spaces where they can have relief from themselves?'
She brought her head back and forward to look down at Lyton's hand. 'The trouble is, the poets have brought emotion to such depths that what one feels is always less than a quotation!'
'Let's go in,' Lyton said, 'You are becoming more clear and we can talk.'
'Yes; it's getting cold,' and she shivered.
They passed through the study once more, on their way, stopping long enough
to broach a cabinet bearing delicate and chilled wines, making Carolyn smile
as she registered the absurdity after coming from the chill garden. Lyton finally
brought her to a strikingly bare room, unrelieved save for an immaculate grand
piano and a few chairs. The room was situated in a corner of the house, with
windows facing the darkening spaces of the parkland that merged into the deliberately
unkempt regions of the preserve. She sat herself in one of the window bays as
Lyton went to the piano and opened the lid. Her back was against the window
glass and she could listen to the sound of the rain on the panes. Inception
came open her like a gentle and welcoming sleep, even though it made her senses
far more acute.
Lyton sat for while and then began to speak. 'I have been teaching you how to listen,' he said. 'Or, I should say, to read music as it can be read - which is to register its meaning and generate in yourself the information it contains in your own being. I learned how to listen many years ago. I found that I could hear one piece of music by a composer and then be able to produce compositions as if they were previously undiscovered works by his hand. There was a time, because of that, that I was forced to find another key and so relieve myself of the pressure of so much music going on in me. Still, you are able to listen, to a degree, and I have something to communicate to you.'
'Hints - and hints followed by guesses?' she replied.
'You have to surpass guesses and feelings, too, and begin to know. In ordinary life, it is near impossible to communicate very much between people. In ordinary life, communication is only possible after the event - if you understand what I mean? That is, people can communicate only about what has happened to them and not about what will happen. People when they talk together, especially when they are most serious and sincere, are together to dream about the past: the future is appearing from another direction, from another time in which different people are reminiscing together about what has proved inevitable. So, what can we do that is different? Remember Wagner straining to add drama and the text to music, in order to the more fully impress on an audience his own vision - which was really to try and force them to reify his dreams so that he might the totally enjoy them in real existence? He never learnt the deeper language of music. Now, listen.' He played a few notes on the piano. She nodded. 'Yes.' she assented. Then he changed the sequence and she began to frown as if struggling with an unfamiliar concept.
Lyton glanced at her and changed the sequence again, this time striking only a single note, repeatedly but with varying attack, duration and pedal. 'You can go away and leave all this,' he said.
'You can attribute this claim to information to my eccentricity and subjective projection.' She rose and joined him at the piano, taking up a note herself. The two notes glanced off each other, blended, sought each other and then began to create between them another world of sonority beyond either of them. It was a communication in audition. Then, she drew back and simply stood there as Lyton began to play again. Her eyes began to burn. The objects in the room blanched into a surreal whiteness and she felt her physical presence become rotated so that the room appeared to align itself in an unexpected direction. Calling herself back from the experience, she willed herself more deeply into the music. Disdaining sublime emotions that were over-spilling into amplified sensations, she tried to listen, Lyton played ever more loudly, increasing the intensity until something gave way in her.
'I have to talk now, ' he said. 'The situation is like this: there is a group outside this planet who is working on a similar project. Esse es percipio - to exist is to be perceived. The great Bishop never took the idea further but you can as well as I. To be perceived means that one's being is not entirely one's own.'
'But, can't we, don't we, perceive ourselves more clearly, more really than we are perceived by others?'
'Do you?' Lyton raised an eyebrow. 'Or - who does that? However, enough. I have answers to questions you have not asked yet. They may work for you when you have the questions. Right now, it is getting late and I am still subject to the diurnal round. What do you want to do?'
'One question, at least. What did Karl meet in the excursion?'
'What he met was INSTRAM as he perceived it.'
'Not an individual?'
'Yes. Also an individual. Both answers are true. There was someone there. Maybe you will meet him one day. I leave it to Farley to investigate and find out what happened - if he can.'
She stayed. There would be the following day and the procedures of living out the ramifications of this day. Each day handed on the unsolved problem to the next. Another day, another life. The constant impossible struggle to make a day different from the others, instead of an incident in the multiplication of the inexplicable, a quantum of living momentum, conserving itself blindly. Thought and imagination were the windows to a life beyond days and nights; but only windows to stare out of or to listen at. To hear the whispers of worlds turning in another way, to see a body made of other flesh than the time we know: that is, to give up any kind of hope and be identical with the actual crisis of everything everywhere; which is to know God. We are such bloody idiot children, she thought. Yet she laughed. Like a swimmer stroking through the waters of her own mind, she came across Farley and the conception of phoning him, reassuring him, discussing the implications of the alien dimension. She swam on. She encountered Dr Karl: he had brought her into this work and, associated with him, was a pang of sorrow and regret, another drop of the relentless regret human beings have when they are aware of how they have treated others; so many drops, enough for an ocean. Then Dr Karl transformed and she thought - though it was not a thought about but was the transformation in her - that he, above all, might in the end learn how to speak to those stars, or to the entities of which the stars were the visible sign.
Lyton had a telescope, but the sky was overcast and the Gould belt was difficult to make out at the best of times. She checked out the astronomy on a computer and played with the graphics until she could visualise the position of the belt with respect to the local region of the Galaxy. Lyton left her alone, true to his word, and retired to bed.
The rain fell all that night. She heard it as a child glowing with a dream in the mirror of her body. With a mind untrammelled by the accretion of habit, she registered a sense of existence: all objects appeared replete with being. Raindrops splattering on the panes jerked their paths sideways and downwards in astonishing variety. Everywhere, she saw and heard the things, which were a language of things neither seen nor heard. In the early hours before dawn, she wandered down to the stream and stood besides a willow tree. For a moment, the cloud cover lifted and the moon shone down to bring her light. She smiled as she thought of what they had done and then she began to dance over the wet grass like a Pierrot. At first it was a dance of madness, of the cruel compression of reason by the multitude of insane events everywhere, but then it became a dance of awakening and she whispered her secrets to the unknown observers, far away.