The Sound of the World by He art
This digital edition is an Advance Reader Copy. The written text in this edition is not final.
Lettering by Officine Bolzoni Italian Edition edited by Leonardo Favia English Edition edited by Mike Kennedy Proofreading (Italian Edition) by Francesco Savino
Originally published in Italy by BAO Publishing. BAO Logo by Cliff Chiang. Â© 2016 BAO Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Published in the United States by The Lion Forge, LLC. ISBN: 978-1-941302-38-5 Special Digital ARC Edition.
NOVEMBER 15 TH
Mmmâ€¦One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
(â€Ś) How do you become so detached?
I envy you, to tell you the truth. Iâ€™d love to be like you.
So still, in a place that keeps changing around you. How do you do it?
One day they’ll turn the rent-controlled shit-hole in which you lived for years
Into a six thousand bucks a month luxury apartment
And it won’t be there anymore.
You’ll go to your favourite restaurant
What is left of what used to be?
Every time something newer, bigger and better.
Takes its place?
Have you ever had breakfast in the garden of the Yaffa Café?
There will soon be something newer and better, just waiting for you.
no? Too bad, you won’t be able to, ever again. Shut down. But fear not
Yes, I mean... This distance
All this indifference
Everything stays out
Nothing’s allowed in.
I’d like to learn from you, how do you manage it?
Everything’s on show
But nothing’s al lowed in
Nothing and no-one.
Nice to look at
What about you? What’s your first memory? All that’s left are ghosts. And memories.
Mine is a song that’s been playing in my headphones for a while, keeping to the beat of my steps, as I search for indifference.
One, two, three and four
One, two, three and four (...)
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four... One, two, three, four
No, the truth is Sam hated numbers, but he’d count anything
Chance made him nervous. So Sam counted. And he’d do so to the music’s beat. He’d count the stairs as he went down and came back up.
Counting helped him not to think about chance
He’d count the minutes before each tube train
... Every second before falling asleep
One, two, three, four
His new adventure in New York had also begun with counting
Not on the phone
Specifically, the people who’d talk to one another.
Not by text message
Nor on email
Or on some social network
I mean, talk to one another, on the street
Even behind someone elseâ€™s back
Or face to face.
Heâ€™d then started counting those who shared real physical contact.
I mean, basic stuff
Like kissing, holding hands...
Or even just hugging
I said that Sam had started his New York adventure counting, but only because he didn’t have a real plan in mind, he didn’t really know where to start
His article was very successful when it came out, you may have read it perhaps. A lot people thought he was crazy (and now just him) and you may well be amongst them.
Well, I know for a fact that everything he wrote about this city, about what happened to him here, well, all of it is true. And I’m here to tell you my version of events.
It didnâ€™t matter how much Sam enjoyed repeating those numbers in his head, the result was always the same:
This is how long he was going to stay in Manhattan, at the vibrant heart of New York.
At the vibrant heart of the world even.
Two whole months, sticking to one simple rule:
No verbal interaction with other human beings.
Upon which his next article would be based.
This was Samâ€™s challenge to New York, and himself
The city had willingly accepted the challenge, it seemed
And his days resembled more and more a wellrehearsed script
At least until that Thursday, November 15th
... A month after his arrival in the city, a day in which, for Sam, everything changed...
... Letâ€™s start from the beginning
He could only do so via chat and in the mornings (because of the time difference)
The only person Sam was allowed any communication with was his editor, Jorge
Normally, it would start with Jorge asking Sam about the article
Then he’d send him his mother’s love
Oh, your mother’s asking if you’re ok, if you eat properly.
How many columns have you written? It’s been a month, now, do you need a hand? It’s your first written article after ten years of photo reports, please don’t tell me you got writer’s block already.
She says that if you get temperature you should take the deadly nightshade Dissolving it into half a bottle of water She says
But he’d never forget to add a few choice words of his own Sam, you’re 29 years of age, it might be time to tell your mother that you’ve replaced all them plants and sugary stuff with real aspirin, Which has a REAL effect on your temperature, otherwise it’ll be like when you were fifteen, when she called that witch doctor as you’d been having the runs for a month
But then the conversation would inevitably end there...
That’s also why Sophie and my mother never really got on
Jorge, I’m sorry, but I only came to this café for the free wi-fi, I have to go, the shop’s about to open Sam, I know how you’re feeling
Ok, but what you wrote yesterday about the photos...
She was the one, Jorge. In her own way, she was. I’m not saying forget her. All I’m saying is there’s a reason why you’re there, doing what you do. The challenge, the article, the photos, and talking about the photos-
Yes, the shop I’m talking about is a print shop, Jorge, I’m off to collect them now, I’m so nervous! Don’t worry, ok? Speak soon.
Sam and Jorge had set up the magazine for fun, when they finished school. Even they hadn’t expected such a swift move from fun to proper job.
Within ten years, well, within ten years nothing had changed, actually. Perhaps they lost a few readers, but both Sam and Jorge were still as enthusiastic and passionate about their job as they had been at the start.
Within six years, they had become a printed weekly and daily online magazine, with staff and freelance contributors.
Photography’s always been his greatest love. His first thought when waking up. His last one before falling asleep. This had caused him no shortage of problems, especially with relationships.
Sam’s always been a photographer, and he’s always considered it a lot more than just a job
Sophie was no exception
Yet, in that particular case, heâ€™d tried his best. He really did. He made a real effort.
Pain had already stolen a few months away from him, when he decided to up and leave
But things donâ€™t always go according to plan.
Because every time he had to face some kind of pain, there was one thing only Sam was able to do with great clarity of mind:
Pack a suitcase for New York.
That’s when Jorge’s proposal came about, the magazine would take care of all expenses for Sam’s “journey of recovery”. And he would turn it into a challenge for himself, and an article for the magazine.
(…) A challenge to my inability to communicate, to my misanthropy, to my constant need for challenges That’s a passage from the magazine itself ... A challenge to respect those rules that a man, whether he likes it or not, inevitably ends up setting himself...
“(...) a challenge for love, a love we usually bump into in the street, only to forget its looks a moment later, overwhelmed in the river of our own thoughts and of those of millions of other passers-by... “That pure love that I have often found in the instant of a photograph...”
“... A challenge, basically, to the city of New York, the city of my birth, a city that gave me a roof and healed many of my ailments, both physical and mental, throughout the years...
Sometimes not (...)”
Sam knew quite a few places in New York very well Like that print shop on Broadway, where heâ€™d get his photographs developed every time he was in the area.
Sam had also the habit of studying the rules of a city in great depth.
As well as its weaknesses
Which he was able, if needed, to turn into strengths
An ability that can come in very handy, when you decide to challenge it
What Sam was about to learn that day, however
But not this one.
Was that his rules could be applied to a lot of places
Because New Yorkâ€™s not an easy city to fool...
... And if you try to fool a city like New York...
Most of the time...
... New Yorkâ€Ś
â€¦ Fights back.
Now, of course Sam had no idea who that girl was, nor how she ended up appearing in tens of the four hundred photos heâ€™d just had printed. Perhaps they gave him the wrong pictures!
Those were his photographs. I can assure you.
You must have realised by now that Sam is an odd guy, with his fixations, his rules, his rituals. Good What you donâ€™t know is that his eccentricities would spread like wild fire, insinuating themselves into every aspect of his life And his job was no exception
His camera was a latest generation Reflex
He belonged to an earlier generation
He was not
He thought of his own head as a darkroom, which is why he would just close his eyes and imagine the picture heâ€™d just taken
Heâ€™d never look at a photograph after taking it.
He would imprint the moment in his brain He knew very well what he had just seen, and didn’t need a screen to remind him a second, a minute, or even an hour afterwards.
He’d print that photo immediately.
in his memory And that That was the only time he’d take a break from pain and from his constant search for distance. The only time he’d let himself go. Becoming at one with the world around him.
That way he was able to see all the pictures he’d taken, on paper, at last
At the start of a project, Sam would decide on a number of photographs. After reaching that number, he’d have them printed
He’d leaf through the photos, one by one, smell the paper, listening to the emotions aroused by every image.
And It was as though he’d see them for the first time
Many little love stories lasting an instant.
Then he’d compare each one of those paper instants with the ones imprinted in his memory
Sam never forgot any of those instants
Any of those love stories
At least until that day
So, where had all the moments he couldnâ€™t remember in those photos gone?
Iâ€™m asking you, do you know? No?!
Well, neither did he, not yet at least.
Where was he looking, as he took them?
Tens of moments, tens of lovers he just couldnâ€™t remember. Why? Where had his love gone?
The Metropolitan Museum was Sam’s first port of call, his favourite refuge. Every time something went wrong, or he felt the need to talk to someone, that was where he’d run.
I think now’s the right time for a further, much needed, introduction: hello, my name is Joan, I’m French, but I don’t remember much of my country of origin, I came here to America a long time ago.
You could say that the Metropolitan’s been like a home to me ever since.
And, like me, Sam would spend hours on end in there
Less hours than I did, perhaps. But it’s as though he could find all the company he needed in there.
All the words he didn’t speak, all the ones he didn’t hear
I realised, I don’t know how, that I could hear them
Sam me He me
could tell anything. could ask anything.
Where was I looking as I was taking those photos, Joan?
Why do I have no memory of those moments?
What does this city want from me?
(Please don’t laugh, I can’t do his voice very well)
Still… Those were his questions and I could hear them clearly.
I think that, in his heart of hearts, Sam knew I could hear him But that wasnâ€™t the day for my answers.
I couldn’t do it
I wasn’t able to
That day I’d continue to look elsewhere, as though nothing happened.
Just as he was doing.
NUMBERS AND RULES
Rules, we were talking about rules at the start of this story. Numbers and rules.
We can safely say that Sam’s entire life had revolved around these two concepts. Literally.
Let’s take mankind’s two primary needs, for instance: sleeping and eating.
For these two needs, too, working around the rules of a city, if you know them, isn’t difficult
Edna, Sam’s landlady, was an old friend of his father’s, a bit of an eccentric, but quiet and chilled. She’d always make one of her flats available to him, because of that very friendship.
She never asked Sam for anything and, in return, he’d just slip the pay cheque under her front door, on time, if not early, each month.
The apartment was in the heart of the East Village and it was very old
When I say very old, I mean the bath was in the kitchen
(Which incidentally came in very handy when, wanting to save on both water and soap, you find yourself in the cushy situation of being able to wash the dishes whilst taking a shower)
The toilet was in the guest room
(a spare room, fortunately)
Still, it was an apartment with a roof, solid walls and a very convenient rent. That was enough.
As for getting food, well, with no human interaction, that could have proved a harder task but there were still two factors in play here, rules and numbers.
The rules were quite simple: the only credit card Sam could use was the company card, which Jorge had given him. This way, his â€œfriendâ€? could monitor his every expense, including lunches and dinners, in real time.
Sam could eat in the same place a maximum of three times a month, no more than that (this rule also included his house). Why? I hear you ask
Well, because getting food was the only time when this challenge could cause our friend real headaches...
And Jorge wanted to savour each and every moment of this particular aspect.
Of course, Jorge knew that Sam would never cheat, but he also knew that he’d eventually find a way to solve the issue, he’d get food, no matter what. Which brings us to the second factor: numbers.
Sam spent a long time going through the menus with a number next to each choice of food at every restaurants in (and around) his area and later made a detailed list of the places he’d visit.
After working everything out, all he’d need to do was write the numbers corresponding to his desired meal and drink at his venue of choice on a piece of paper
And handing over that piece of paper would have been the only interaction with waiters or restaurant staff. Nothing more than that.
After eating numbers 4, 11 and 22 at a Japanese restaurant near home, he decided to go for a nap, exhausted by his own thoughts.
On that Thursday, November 15th, Sam forgot to eat as he’d been at the museum all day
no E – lunch G u R JO ge for n’t yo ’t r n id cha ay, d y did at’s tod t? Wh ? Wh you ea eat Did s? you ong? photo ing wr t the eryth ? ok ge Is ev
Why is there a lady in colour in tens of my black and white photos?
It must have been the oddest question he had ever asked himself.
Still, he’d sort the matter out, it was a challenge after all.
And normally the first thing to do when faced with a question
Is look for an answer.
NOVEMBER 16 TH
(â€Ś) I love jazz. In summer, in Madison Square Park, they often organise jazz concerts in the centre of the park. But I never went Because all I listen to is Chet Baker
in truth, I only know one Chet Baker song in fact it is the only jazz song I know
Of all the places imaginable, I went back to Central Park the most. Whoever thinks there’s only one Central Park is wrong
There are thousands of Central Parks
One for every season, climate and weather And one for every second, minute and hour in the day
One for every falling leaf And one for every single ray of sunshine filtering through the branches There’s a Central Park for every snow flake that settles And one for every bit of horseshit stuck to a carriage
Whoever thinks there’s only one Central Park is wrong
And, in all honesty, I have never seen the same park twice in all my life (…)
NOVEMBER 24 TH
(…) There was a café, on fifteenth, where I’d often go. The decaf wasn’t particularly nice The biscuits weren’t worthy of note I don’t hold particular memories of neither the patrons nor the staff
Then why go back there? I reckon it was because on the other side of the road there was an alley, a narrow alley, between two buildings.
An alley where the winter sun, descending, actually managed to pierce through in a very strong way, reaching my back
I reckon that was the only reason. The warmth of a narrow sun on my back.
(…) Nothing, this city just couldn’t give me an answer, or perhaps I couldn’t hear it, but it’s also true that she has her own particular rhythm, and living here, well, it’s different…different…
Different from what? Well, different from any other way of living in any other city in the world, of course, at least for me
I never believed in destiny, yet every second spent in that city gave me the impression of being exactly where everything happens because itâ€™s meant to.
An impression which, in a small part, came from my own personal culture, made of characters and stories set there
But people formed the greater part of it The crowd of strangers Iâ€™d come across on the streets every day.
Hundreds of human elastics launched at great speed towards different destinations, each with their own thoughts.
With their own dreams
Tens of elbows bumping against each other without saying sorry, only to then continue in their run
I found myself thinking more than once of just how much even a simple nudge, in New York, could affect the life path of every single individual
Let me explain: letâ€™s take two marbles which, travelling at great speed, end up crashing, if only lightly.
it is physically impossible for their initial trajectory not to be affected by the crash
The two marbles will therefore never get to the point they were destined to reach before the crash. This is physics.
Ok. Now apply this concept to a person with two elbows
And multiply this person by several million
Take these millions of people and stick them in a box full of skyscrapers, lights, money, taxis, limousines, hopes...
And extremely narrow pavements.
Give it a good shake...
... and youâ€™ll get New York
Now my elbows, in this city, were just as protruding as anyone else’s
Which is why my search for indifference had given way to another, more challenging one: the search for the moment when I first got nudged.
There was something I couldn’t see, a missing block in my memory, which made all the others invisible
The exact instant when my trajectory changed
Including those of the photos I didn’t remember taking
The photos where she appeared
The smartest thing to do would have been to go back to that print shop, of course, and ask for an explanation as to why there were pictures that were different from all the others
Besides, Iâ€™d been printing all my photos there ever since I first came to New York
But in my situation I couldnâ€™t do that, I was never going to cheat, a challenge is a challenge and rules are everything.
And it was the first time it happened
No. The key was somewhere else, and I wasnâ€™t looking carefully enough.
Something prevented me from remembering. Something, when I took the photo, stopped me from falling in love with the moment. I had to work out what it was.
So, every day, from that moment onwards, I acted following the exact same script (...)
Iâ€™d spend entire mornings looking at those pictures, the places, the light, everything
My neatly folded piece of paper
Then Iâ€™d take my laptop
My headphones, my favourite antisocial bastion
My camera, my one and only true love
And Iâ€™d go back out there Looking for the moments I missed
Searching for a contrail.
Looking for a clue.
My camera was my guide and I let myself be guided.
Iâ€™d observe what was before me
Take a picture
Then Iâ€™d close my eyes, picturing the photo in my head
And there it was, just as I imagined it
Everything went well, for a while, until an afternoon
The afternoon of Friday, November 30th
I caught the umpteenth glimpse
Took the umpteenth photograph
Closed my eyes for the umpteenth time
And discovered that, in my mind
There was no picture (â€Ś)
NOVEMBER 30 TH
His first reaction was one of panic, of course
Then he meticulously repeated every action
Took the same photograph again
Closed his eyes again
And nothing, just pitch black
That Friday Sam realised heâ€™d found his marble, his nudge, his blind spot
He knew he was coming to a turning point
He just had to work out what it was Why couldnâ€™t he see the moment?
Was there really something bigger, in front of him, stopping him seeing?
Maybe it was that lady with a dog in her arms
Or that kid jumping in puddles
No, Sam knew very well what it was. With his eyes closed, in that momentâ€™s pitch black, he could clearly make out a detail
it was a coffee mug
No, it wasnâ€™t the mug it was the person it belonged to it wasâ€Ś
There was reason for his black out. There. in front of him.
Who are you? Why did you steal my moments? Those were my moments, why did you take them?
There were plenty of questions in Sam’s head, yet he couldn’t ask any. He wasn’t allowed to talk to her, even if it was the thing he wanted to do most in the world, I know that.
He couldn’t do it, he couldn’t break the most important rule, he’d never forgive himself
So, that day, he decided to break a smaller one.
He decided to look at the photo he had just taken on his camera screen
He would observe it in there, hoping to notice something, a detail, anything that could help him perhaps.
It was for that very reason that New York decided to punish him again A lot more harshly this time
Because working around the rules of a challenge is one thingâ€Ś
Breaking them is an entirely different matter
(â€Ś) Letâ€™s be clear, everyone has their own particular way of looking at the world.
I shut all my senses off behind barriers
And observe the world through them
I raise bridges of silence over rivers of words.
I shut out the cold, often touching life with gloves
I’ve been listening to just one song, a jazz song, for over twenty years
I smell printed paper, as it’s the only unchanged memory in time
Through my pictures, I crystallize moments of the world
The same world I’m afraid to look at with the naked eye.
And New York.
New York is the only city that can shatter all of this
New York is the pneumatic drill inside your chest
Cracking the barrier behind which you are hiding
Until it breaks.
Then it grabs hold of you And drags you into the sun light
in front of everyone
So that everybody can look at you...
And you can look at everybody (...)
DECEMBER 1 st
(...) These self-imposed rules come from a primary need of mine:
Suffer as little as possible
Rules help me remove the pain Endure it
Rules are the reason why we are still alive
Or overcome it unscathed
They are what is left when life (or any old arsehole) harms us, or robs us. They are one of the tools we use to filter the world.
Rules can be modified, or rewritten
But they cannot be broken
At least not from the outside.
But from the inside. inside everything is possible.
... Let me in...
(â€Ś) Iâ€™ve always thought of December as a melancholic month
Everybody has their own particular brand of melancholy, mine is an oasis of dirty water But pleasantly warm.
Iâ€™m in the exact middle of it And Iâ€™m floating
The noise of the world reaches me somewhat muffled, through the water in my ears
Yet my eyes are wide open
Looking at a clear sky
(...) There are people who look for, or judge, their ideal partner according to astrological rules, astral schemes, planetary alignments or influences I have no reason to believe that is sheer nonsense, but I personally am more ofa “if I don’t see it, I don’t believe it” kind of guy (maybe that’s why I became a photographer, who knows) Still, I think the only star we can rely on where love is concerned is the star we can all see. Which, in my humble opinion, divides the world into two great categories: - Those that would rather watch it rise at dawn - Those that prefer it as it sets in the evening The ideal partner is the one you find in your same category. Full stop.
Just think how much simpler it would all be: - Hey, what sign are you? - Sunset - No kidding? Me too. Let’s have a drink.
Why all this introduction?
Oh yes, just to say that I have always preferred the Hudson to the East River
(…) Not many people can hear it, I’m sure. I, however, can. I’m one of those people. it’s there, it almost never leaves you, it’s a constant presence You slowly get used to it, then it almost disappears, but as soon as you remember it, its presence becomes ever stronger. it’s a background murmur, a fixed and constant vibration, that takes over the soul of the city it’s as though there were ever-moving underground mechanisms, slow yet tireless.
Mechanisms with massive wheels, heavy, but well oiled, that never creak. They just transmit their powerful vibrations through every wall, every plank, every steel column. And you can almost see them shake. “manhattan murmurs” That would make a good song title. A song where the base is more powerful than the melody To be listened at maximum volume, with speakers facing the floor
So as to ignore the music and melody And just listen to its rhythm and vibrations and rhythm
- Hey, what sign did you say you were?
Cool, me too.
What? And why are you telling me now? It’s not long before your return. Use the credit card, buy another one! We can’t be without pictures, Sam!!
Still banging on about that girl, are we?! We have enough photos, Jorge, and this month without a camera’s been…very useful. It’s as though I saw things differently
It’s this city, it’s relentless, I’m always bumping into her, wherever I go
Listen, Sam, you just keep on avoiding her, then on your return I’ll introduce you to a good psychiatrist
And every time it’s like it’s just me and her, with nobody else around, it’s driving me crazy.
One who specialises in persecution complexes, your mother will kill me, but it’s worth the risk.
As much as I try to avoid her, she’s always there Hey listen…
What about the note? Did it not work? To think that I didn’t consider it an emergency…
We decided on this isolation cure in New York
in order to help you get over Sophie, if you’re in love or even just want to fuck someone else, it’s ok
What’s that got to do with anything?
Want to sleep with her? Do it, I’d love to know how you’re going to achieve that without saying a word to her… hey! That could be another article.
Oh, come on…
We could sell it to Vice, lol. Otherwise, just forget about the challenge, it’s over, you’re over Sophie, you’re ready, go screw that girl, come on!!
Hey, whatever mate, besides you mentioned the note first, it was, wait… November 14th, I still have the message on my phone, it was the day you brought the pho-
The challenge was with yourself, you won, it’s ok to give in a few days before the end, the article will come out anyway, it’ll be our little secret No, Jorge, you know I can’t, I must see this through to the end
Well? You still there?
Right, as weâ€™re coming to the end of this story, let me ask you the same question Sam asked in his article:
Whatâ€™s your first memory?
Going back in time, right down to your childhood
Sam’s first memory is a song that’s still going round in his head it was on an old record player, in his father’s old house.
it was called “I’ve grown accustomed to her face”. it was Chet Baker’s version, with no lyrics.
in his memory, Sam’s listening to the music carefully, looking outside the window and smiling, tickled by the vibrations of the speaker upon which he’s sitting. That was the very first time he realised he could imprint instants in his head. And it stuck with him, forever.
That was the only song Sam had ever really listened to in his whole life.
The only song playing in his headphones every time he put them on
it wormed its way into his brain like an obsession
And from the age of three, it never left
His entire life had been lived in four quarters, to the beat of that song
His rules had been written to the beat of that song
He laughed, he cried, he fell in love, he suffered
Always and invariably with that song in the background
No other song, just that one.
if I didnâ€™t know him well, I could list that amongst Samâ€™s oddities
But the song was playing in his headphones and in his head even at that moment, as he was walking to the museum
It was playing as he stood there, still, in front of the painting, as though he’d been waiting for something
Then, he did it
After all that time, he decided the time was right
And he spoke to me
I remained silent, having clearly heard his voice inside my head
it wasn’t my imagination, I wasn’t imagining his words, then, I really had managed to hear Sam’s voice, did that mean he was ready?
Should I answer?
Well, had that happened, there really was nothing more either me or this city could have done
What if he couldn’t hear me? What if he ignored my answers?
So I made my decision
And I answered:
“Well? Well what?”
(…) I could hear her voice inside me, I could hear it clearly, it was a warm, strangely familiar voice
I could hear it above anything, even above the music, straight inside my head
Sam had heard me. He’d managed to hear my voice, again Perhaps he really was letting me in
“Aren’t…Aren’t you pleased to see me? I specifically came here to talk to you”
Sam, I’m always pleased to see you
I have been ever since you first came into my shop
Wow, you weren’t kidding then, you really are able to switch memories off as you please?
See what you’re doing? You keep looking the other way, it’s incredible.
“Er… to be quite honest, it’s not me who’s looking the other way, it’s you, actually.”
No, Sam, I’m looking at you, you’re looking at a stupid painting!!! Could you turn around? So that we may at last… talk, or whatever it is we’re doing now, but at least looking at each other?
Why do you do this? Why do you always run off as soon as you see me?
“Wait a minute! The voice I’m hearing inside my head? it’s…”
“is it yours?”
Whose did you think it was?!
The lady in the painting’s?
“No, of…of course not” Yet the fact that we can hear each other’s voices inside our heads is perfectly normal, right?
“That would be ridiculous!”
“How… how do you do it?”
I worked it out on November 14th
“Mmmh, not really”
Does that date remind you of anything?
I called it
Do you really not remember?
“The day of the note”
it was the day…
… You told me you were deaf
And that I should never speak to you again.
NOVEMBER 14TH OR THE MAN WHO DELETED MOMENTS
Samuel Page, USB pen drive, printing 400 photos in black and white. Ok.
Samuel Page, this is not your first time here.
Why’s your name so familiar?
(…) I know that people reading this article will find what I am about to say utterly ludicrous, but I swear this is how it went, I remember it clearly now.
I could distinctly hear her voice inside my head, and it was the greatest and most terrifying experience of my life.
it was warm, like a knife left over a fire, and had gone through my pain as if it were butter. Every beat of my heart was the sound of the blade hitting the cutting board. Do you ever experience that flow of connected thoughts? Where they seem to last an eternity, but when they are over you realise they only lasted a moment? Well, it was during one of those that I saw myself smiling at her, talking to her, holding her, kissing her and, last but not least, crying into her arms, crying as I hadn’t done for some time. immediately afterwards I realised I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready for any of what I had seen a moment earlier. Weird, right?
Because you couldn’t cut pain off like that
it wasn’t right
Not that pain
So I got the “emergency note” out, before it was too late.
-Samuel Page… of course!!
And I gave it to her
Then I left the shop And sent Jorge a message, telling him what happened
And asking him never to broach the subject again
Then I closed my eyes And removed her from my head, and that blasted moment
Just the way you delete a photo in a computer
And her voice
Because I wasnâ€™t ready
it wasn’t right
You just couldn’t cut pain off like that,
in a second.
Not that pain (…)
Not that pain
NOVEMBER 14TH, OR THE JOAN WHO COULD HEAR VOICES
Samuel Page, USB pen drive, printing 400 photos in black and white. Ok.
Samuel Page, this is not your first time here.
Where did I hear your name before?
Samuel Page was staring at me as if he’d got the greatest shock of his life. And as he was staring at me… I got the greatest shock of mine.
-Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit Yes, I could hear his voice inside my head. Crystal clear. I know that those who found his article ridiculous, will feel the same about my version of events, but I swear that this is exactly how it went. For me too. I mean, itâ€™s not as though he was saying interesting stuff, eh -Shit fuckshit where did I put it, shit! But it was one of the greatest and most terrifying experiences of my life.
Then he said something
-I cannot allow her to speak to me again I cannot let her inside my head
Could he hear me? Samuel Page could hear my voice just like I could hear his.
And that was when I remembered everything
-Samuel Pageâ€Ś of course!!
But before I could say anythingâ€Ś
He raised a wall
A wall made of numbers, and rules
Probably of pain Of memories
A wall, however, that this city had already started to carve through
And me? Well, I was going to help her tear it down.
HOW DO I KNOW YOUR NAME
People aren’t going to come anywhere near you, with those on all the time
Hahahahha, they weren’t even connected to anything, that’s genius…
-Why are you doing this? What is it you want from me?
-it’s this city, Sam. -She asked me to.
-Ok, I’m obviously having an isolation-induced nervous breakdown.
-I can hear voices in my head, and I’m talking to a loon who’s been stalking me for almost two months
-Thank you very much but whatever it is you want, I’m not interested. I’m not ready, I’m not…
-Ok, Sam, wait
-Can I give you something before you go?
-Now do you believe me?
-How the fuck did you do it?
-I donâ€™t know. I think some people are more open to understanding the spirit of a place than others
-Thatâ€™s what I always thought about myself
This is a city surrounded by water and cut through by wind Some people live against the tide Clashing with its flow
Others give in to it.
They follow it.
They ride it. They understand its sense
Very few manage to grasp its deepest mechanisms. The purest of souls Until they can almost hear its voice.
I reckon Iâ€™m one of them.
-Hahaha, that’s true!
-“New York asked me to? Do you realise how similar to “the voices inside my head told me to kill him!” that sounds?
-Although, pardon me for saying this, but I’m not going to let someone who can erase memories from their own mind as though they were photographs call me “crazy”.
-I guess every single one of us is unique in their own way, right?
-Because I knew you were ready, and the city confirmed it…
-Why me, though? I still don’t understand, why me?
-Not again? Nobody decides whether I’m ready or no…
-Do you know who Carl and Enrique are?
-Carl and Enrique met for the first time in a coffee house on Fifteenth
-Carl and Enrique? Whoâ€Ś
-I met them in the very same coffee house, the week before they moved.
-Should I know them?
They now live in Chicago and have a beautiful two-year old son.
-The bed on which I sleep was theirs, they gave it to me before they left.
And Ling? She used to come to my shop to have her photos and CVs printed and we would spend hours talking about movies. She now lives in Los Angeles and two months ago she bagged herself a small role in a very successful TV series.
in the bookcase she left me I keep the issue of a magazine I bought at random: thereâ€™s an article that talks about her.
I found it on top of a dustbin
I have a mug with the picture of two girls on with the caption “may our friendship never end”
I don’t know who this jacket used to belong to.
A house full of objects with a history, a past
I don’t know who lived in my house before me.
That has nothing to do with me.
This city’s just temporary, Sam. Lives full of dreams, history, hopes and pain, too, dart through this it They clash like marbles only to speed off again.
Many of them leave pieces of life behind
Pieces of history.
And none of them is ever ready.
None of them is ready when they first get here.
None of them is ready to leave again
-Except that, instead of speeding off again after clashing
-What about us? Are we marbles, too?
-We blended together
-Perhaps this is also why we can hear each other’s thoughts so deeply. I don’t know.
-But the city decided it all, not me -I got it at a flea market on twenty-fifth, years ago.
-You see, I have a very old chest of drawers at home.
-It looks as though nobody ever thought of removing the drawers to give it a good clean.
One, two, three, four
(…) Let me ask you again
What’s your first memory?
(…) My first memory is a song called “I’ve grown accustomed to her face”. it’s the notes from Bill Evans’ piano, followed by Chet Baker’s trumpet Spaced out by the horns on First Avenue And by the random siren of a firefighters truck it’s the somber vibrations of the double base, through the loudspeaker, that tickle my heart, and my backside. As I count to four, to the music’s beat, because it is one of the first things my father taught me to do.
Many of you find a refrain constantly ringing in your head, even just for a short while, annoying. Me, after losing my hearing, I lived my life to the sound of just one song, trying not to ever forget it. The same musical background for every book I read. The same soundtrack for every movie I saw The same song to soldier on in this world The same song in times of sorrow
The same love song.
it wasnâ€™t her voice in my head that shocked me, that day, in the print shop, at last I was certain of it. it was something I hadnâ€™t heard before. As I was clutching that photograph, I could hear it again, so clearly now. I heard the horns mixed in with the piano, a siren against a soprano sax, the cityâ€™s murmur giving the double base its beat and vibrating inside my body, from the feet up And above all of this, I felt it, the beating of a heart A heart that was going perfectly along with the music A music that was in perfect synchronicity with the huge and heavy mechanisms of an entire city.
One, two, three, four and then again Counting helped me not to think about chance, chance made me nervous Chance con mistake a challenge for a cry for help it can turn the mechanisms of an entire city and drag you to the right place at the right time Chance is the most frightening thing in the world Because there are no rules against it The only thing you can do is count One, two, three, four and then again
Sam hated numbers, but he counted everything
Counting helped him not to think about chance as chance made him nervous
He was now counting my heartbeats, four by four, as they were finely tuned with the sound of his world
He couldnâ€™t avoid or hide me anymore
So he closed his eyes
And because they were so strong that he could hear their vibrations.
And I was still there
in front of him
in his head too, this time
Because it sometimes happens that even two marbles hurled at great speed can crash
To help each other find that love for the moment again
Then blend together
Because in this city, a moment can last an eternity
Like the melancholy those who keep looking the other way are forced to endure.
Or the dull noise of crumbled defenses.
Like the pain we try to leave behind
Or the most precious memory we carry within us
Like the notes of the same song, ever playing
Or the rhythmic and constant sound of a massive underground mechanism.
One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four
Wait, what do you mean you are not coming back?
Sam, for God’s sake, I’m going to block your credit card!
Want me to call your mother? Because I’ll do it!
Right, you asked for it, I’m calling your mother. 186