A lady in a dress done up in the old style bends to touch a rose growing through the floorboards of an elaborate hallway. Everything is very old, it exudes age -- except for the woman. She is not young anymore, but she is far from ancient, and the dreamless serenity of her unfocussed eyes reflects something that may have happened to her a long time ago, such that either she does not notice her current surroundings at all, or instead sees them as only manifestations of that overarching past event.
She has the appearance of someone's aunt: dark blonde hair, done up at the back. She enters a room, stripping off the dress as she crosses the threshold. Sheets of dust billow from the dress as it piles at her feet; she wades through its folds. She leaves footprints in the dust. Naked, she sits down in a stark wooden chair that is the only piece of furniture in the room. Lazily she touches the curved undersides of her own breasts. A stray draft plays with the overhead light fixtures. She can hear her own breathing. Her figure is full: broad thighs, round buttocks, uniformly pale skin, dark blonde pubic hair.
She does not look up as a little boy, perhaps her nephew, enters the room. He, too, is naked. His penis is vestigial. His eyes display perplexity. Her eyes do not leave the floor. Her hands do not leave her breasts.
She is asleep now, still naked. Shadows invade the space beneath the couch upon which her mute form is draped. About her the women wail to the horned moon of Astarte. A skeleton and a well-dressed woman argue over her. The skeleton is Death and the well-dressed woman is her Past. She cannot wake up.
The little boy is now a young man, a student. He has arrived in a foreign city and cannot orient himself (the sky is a dark blue and there is no sun). He spreads a map over a table with amorous hands. Women throng the streets of the city, which is nothing but a mass of ruins. None of them seem to wear clothing. He ignores them as he studies his map.
He has become a professor at the university in the city. He walks down the street reading his newspaper. He cannot see where he is going. He cannot see the naked women.
Two naked women embrace beneath a tree in the park. Legs forked, they rub their pudenda together. He does not see any of this. He cannot leave the city. No one has ever left this city.
He is old. He has discovered a way out of the city. He descends the stairs of his hotel, where he has stayed all these years. There is a waxwork of a woman at the front desk, with a look of boredom on its face and an old-fashioned dress with a deep décolletage draped over its shoulders. There is a mirror on the wall, and beneath is a couch upon which a naked woman is sleeping. It is his aunt. She is unchanged, after so many years. Her head is resting on her arms.
A tall suicide blonde (dyed by her own hand), stands in a corner of the lobby, touching her own breasts with an expression of mute wonderment on her face. She looks at the floor. Her dark pubic hair belies her secrets.
Somewhere saxophone music is playing. It is fast and anachronistic and he shakes his head to rid it of the echo. A breeze chatters the ceiling fixtures like teeth. Through the open front door, he spies his train beginning to pull away from the platform of the station. He abandons all reserve and begins to run, shouting.
He was leafing through an old art book, a product of the prior century, when he came across a folded sheet of photocopier paper. The yellowed reproduction depicted, in the blurry, burnt-out xerographic tones of gray indicative of the presence of color in the original (characteristic of the era before color copiers), two paintings. They were situated in the lower right-hand corner of a page in a massive book, page 317, as indicated at the bottom. Judging from the width of the paper, a standard eight inches, the book must have been at least sixteen inches in height, as the paper only covered half of the page. There was no indication within the copy's range of the title of the book.
The upper picture, Figure 330 according to the book's notation, was cut off part of the way through and so blurry from the reproductive process that it was impossible to discern anything more than shadows. Its title was Woman with a Rose. The painter was identified as one Paul Delvaux, and the date given was 1936.
The lower picture, Figure 331, was also by Delvaux and dated 1939. Its title was The Visit. The faded tones of the old xerography of the past century increased its age, to him: an old copy of an old illustration in an old book of an old painting. It depicted a mature woman, naked, sitting on a chair in an empty room, cupping her breasts in her hands, with a curiously vacant look on her face. Through the door of the room there was, approaching, a young naked boy, his face scrawled with trepidation and wonder.
He did not know who Paul Delvaux was. After seeing that picture, he did not need to know. Even through the haze of its inefficient transfer down the route of immortality, it still managed to damage him. The woman's eyes were large and artificial in a way that excited him. He could project himself into the young boy's place, and that excited him, too. He traced the woman's abundant thighs and ass, delicate pubic tuft, soft belly and warm breasts. Shadows danced in the hollows of her throat and shoulder.
He was possessed with a desire to violate the paper. He became this Delvaux. Delvaux throbbed in him, contorted him, fixated him. He was gripped by the intangible hand of the dead artist, interminably dead.
This, he thought to himself after the madness passed, this is it. This is the process and the power. To drive men mad with mere images, long after death.
"Delvaux, whoever you were," he said, "thank you for the object lesson. I salute you for having made the translation successfully. I will be your brother in the endeavor of living forever, or, of course, I shall die trying."
NUMBER 125 -- Destination limited perfecto conversion soundtrack reissues mentioning circulations gritty and shimmering melting against each other please actually introspective behavior very relentless swoon churnings unissued paper delicate two track demos lipstick traces accessible polyglot superstar tastemakers industry vain congestions adrenochrome epistolaries abysmal assemblage concert footage out of place (Tori Amos salivating helplessly and copiously over her own erect nipples on stage at Irving Plaza) free trunk funk soul jazz peace love joy it's all relative pressings global wayward pomo stuff that works cut focus monument hits audiophobe source types softcase drop action shut up boom quick ultra-wide dynamic range excellent intelligibility full-frequency response dubbing community inexpensive dedicated rooms playing far too analytical speakers flank it low distortion baroque or zydeco advanced super linear converters reverse psychologists making ashtrays for smart shoppers agonies shits and giggles wrung silkworm missiles tracking duo healthy colors exhaustive direct-order polestars kill promotion recorded mass anatomy fever-dreams and counterpoint distractions perpetually transvisionvampesque intimate facilities (the contours of Wendy James's navel) the relative model of tightknit progenitors life intimates art recognizers an average enthusiast organized and voracious polished ambiguity and multiple ends caffeine nicotine and benzedrine text doesn't block an iota of the spectacular imagery graphic gratuitous gunplay done up like a fashion commercial obtrusive imprint riot grrrls switched views bland two-dimensional life melted amazing free catalog vision walker certain nuances labelmates menacing and acerbic rigid polite ramble to their detriment (if that's too formalist for you) creatures blind virtuoso tragedy most articulate farce mechanics a deeper avoidance forcefed giftless oppression contours reptilian and smoldering overdue arrival alluring netherworld seamless world of gorgeous black-and-white repeatedly and never tire never tire never tire... (fadeout).
The Passion of the Inanimate