Page 176

Up there, crouching on the side of the St Jean Cathedral, epicen­ tre of old, alchemist Lyon, the gar­ goyle loathsomely laughs at the sight of humans gesticulating un­ der the red dying sun. Their sha­ dows stretch disproportionately against the pavement of volca­ nic rocks, already ghostlike. Far away, thick columns of black, greasy smoke rise over the Croix Rousse heigths, where it has not stopped burning for the last three days. The atmosphere is dripping. On both sides of the river Rhone, scenes of hysteria can be seen as far as the eye goes. Seventy-yearolds, eyes rolling out in impious

ecstasy, shrill as if they were pos­ sessed, lit by the glowing braziers. Wrinkled and livid, skeletal old men ripp off their hair by fistfulls and scratch their flesh until bleeding. A little girl is watching them with an air of impene­ trability, hidden by her verminous mop of hair. A smile lights her up. Tears of joy roll on her wastedface. Quite fre­ quently, an age-distorded corpse rolls to the muddy water, before drifting and finally sinking into the river’s depths. On the Hotel de Ville’s parvis, like in the rest of

town, all lights have gone out, im­ posing de facto a curfew. Scared by a sudden scream of sirens, a colo­ ny of greyish pigeons fly for shel­

Kichigai*

ter in the environning heigths. Gleaming lights, fleeting reflec­ tions on the wet road, the flow of ambulances crosses noisily the esplanade, ready to offload ca­

sualties in front of the main en­ trance of the Hotel Dieu. Lasting for months now, the riots on the south-east outskirts generate their daily share of cripples. As many promises of bloody amputations for the staff of the sur­ gery blocks, crumbling under the demand. The hospital incinerator is running full speed. Recognizable to their black cornets, the Sisters of the Holy Death direct the nurses bus­ tling over the stretchers. One of them takes a broom, agitating it vehemently to push back hordes

of rats, driven crazy by the appe­ tizing smell of putrescible wounds. Everyday, growing crowds gather in the congested streets of SaintRomain-au-Mont-d’Or, hoping to come near the gates of the Abode of Chaos. The popular rumour, re­ lieved by the rare still existing me­ dia, alleges miraculous powers to the estate. The most exalted ones go as far as declaring it the ground for a christic renewal. Twenty-four hours before, a preacher has set himself on fire, over a pile of gar­ bage. The smell of his charred flesh is still floating over the streets of the village, mixed to the sweetish

exhalations of kerosene, incrust­ ed in the plastic of melted contain­ ers. Seemingly asleep, a child is rocking against a parapet. A drib­ ble of saliva dripps without stop­ ping on his leotard. His dull eyes, with their blank, empty stare, flut­ ter pointlessly. Dumb. The crowd bypasses him, undettered. All minds are focused elsewhere, anx­ ious for only one sign. People push and shove each other. Bodies fall under pressure, crashing against the gates and disappearing, imme­ diately buried. Snaps of trampled faces, torn out by pain. Tension keeps growing, the hubbub be­ comes louder. “The spring ! Mercy,

346 347

let us reach the spring ! We want the water! Let us reach the holy water!” Driven by a giant, a hood­ ed team pushes back the bolds try­ ing to get over the walls. At 6:55 p.m., a rain of grey ashes falls gen­ tly over the site. Particles float in the air, menacing in its softness. At precisely 7 p.m., a dark figure is outlined against the roof plat­ form, lit by an industrial neon. Two colossal dogues led by two black leather-clad succubi sur­ round him, the layout of their quintet forming a perfect penta­ gram. Excitation is at its height. Bursts of chaos, scenes of trance, ruts. A young woman tears up her

clothes, offering herself to those around her. Her gesture triggers a surprise orgy. Riot is threaten­ ing to erupt. Up there, the watch­ dog howls, as if it was demanding silence. Everyone breaks off. Men obey the Beast. Index and mid­ dle fingers pointed, the Alchemist quietly shows the ether where the Evening star shines prominent­ ly. The audience wonders about his gesture. Few moments go by. Then a lightning strikes the star­ ry dome, followed by a ball of fire which floodlights Lyon with a bru­ tal, twilight sun. An Airbus A380, biggest civil aircraft ever con­ ceived, and third of all aviation

history, has just exploded, stroke by a ground-to-ground infrared missile. The shock wave jostles all living creatures on its way. Among the masses of people in front of the gates, a mother is vomiting long jets of scarlet and pasty bile, still grasping her two children. The ground at their feet is lined with her dejections. They stare with ter­ ror at the building which starts to vibrate. Pallid faces painted on the rocks of burnt walls, unexpected­ ly seem to rise. Their empty eye sockets bleed. They light up, em­ bodying in consensual reality, and start singing a canticle out of tune. Blasphemous, the litany rises high

in the night, the damned crawling on the asphalt solemnly join the chanting. A funereal trance creeps over the crowd, ondulating to the rhythm of lament. The transmutation takes place. And in the first light of dawn, a new world is delivered, wet and soiled, from the gaping crotch of nothingness. Laurent Courau

*“Kichigai means “insane” in japanese. The word is derived from “ki” meaning mind and “chigai”, different. Literaly : someone thinking differently is insane.

trace

Opus IX: Abode of Chaos / La Demeure du Chaos 1999-2013  

thierry Ehrmann: we put all our passion and folly into preparing this French-English Collector, the book of the decade: 504 pages / 4.5 kg /...

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