The next four weeks are like a rapid-edit montage: Alaia and I planning and rehearsing; Marc’s awesome publicity machine confecting a global buzz around what has now been named Sound & Vision, “an exclusive live broadcast of an international act at a secret location”; universal expectation swelling up at such a high-profile TV event; and obedient debate swirling over who or what the act will be. Rehearsals occur at a small G.N. sound-stage under the GE Building. These involve interminable hours with me under her close scrutiny, while she is invisible to me. The reason for this is that she is shut away in a sound-recording booth, in front of a microphone, watching a monitor that displays what is seen by the camera right in front of me—my face, projecting through my eyes. The rest of me is off-camera, perched on a tall seat. She vocalises, with her inimitable combination of wildness and minute control, to accompany the imaginative material I’m projecting; I then interact with her; and we thereby shape and hone what we shall present live.
“Oh, yes. We’re working out some fabulous things for Sound & Vision. There’s a ship—the biggest and most beautiful ship you’ve ever seen—and the turning of the world in a sidelight, and—oh, just gorgeous things. It’s hard to describe them, like trying to describe music in words. You’ll see it all.”
“Great. I’m sure you’ll want to maximise the impact of this gift of yours, this special sight?”
“You could say so,” I reply, trying to work out why we are here. I can’t help noticing how, while seeming just to be toying with his food, he seems to have consumed almost a third of a plateful already, with a sharky, deadly efficiency, while I have barely started mine. How did he manage that?
“Yay! So what would you say are your prime missions in using these abilities? I understand they’re pretty new?”
I decide we must be here for some sort of pep-talk, so I relax. “I’m glad you ask, Jason.” I spear a small gherkin with my fork. “And since you do ask, well—it sounds idealistic, but I want to use these abilities and this broadcast to help encourage people to transcend the everyday, just through really delving down into their own internal landscapes of imagination and perception, and exulting and delighting in all those riches. Which is a pastime that too many people seem to have had drummed out of them, you know? In most people’s daily grind, look what they’re up against: not enough attention or power or respect; not enough time left, after just getting by; always somewhere the threat of pain, injury and decline; always somewhere the threat of losing everything they have; plus the simple financial inaccessibility of most of the interesting things and adventures in life… In the context of all that shit, for many people it’ll be a revelation to be compelled into intimate reacquaintance with the beauty of their own internal landscapes, which they’ll have forgotten to look at for too long.” I notice that I’ve been waving the small gherkin around on the end of my fork, rather dangerously, and I stop this. “That’s my light-up-the-world mission! The second mission is more of a challenge: I want to deliver a big fuck-you to the average, the bland, the stale, the stupid, the dead, the waste of life. Like corporate culture, for instance … er, well, not your corporate culture, of course, that’s very different, I mean you’re part of the solution here! You know what I mean… Anyway. And then finally, I want to re-learn my own ‘natural’ personality, because I feel I’ve recently lost track of some of that.” I pop the well-travelled gherkin into my mouth at last, and masticate. “Does that make sense?”
“As it says here, you’re guaranteed a handsome minimum.”
There he speaks the truth, I must admit. I nod, then sign. “And a copy for myself?” I try.
“On reflection, I don’t think that will be necessary, no.”
We pay and rise to leave the restaurant. My mind is churning. “What happens next?”
“Next, you just go down there and give one hell of a fantastic broadcast, Jaymi,” he beams, shaking my hand. “And enjoy it, dammit. You will be changing the world, down there. How did you put it? ‘Adding to mankind’s imaginative wealth and self-knowledge’. Have at it! Why not? Then afterwards, Evelyn will brief you on the other stuff.” And once again his smile disappears, without a trace: “But don’t you dare fuck up…”
He turns and melts away into the Times Square crowds.
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