Here it is, then, Sound & Vision…
Space unfurls, ballooning forward, up and out in front of me. Ten giant floodlights rear up skyward, from the highest outer rim above the stadium’s upper circles. The dizzy fall of bluish-white light across a landscape of several hundred thousand tiny heads below is fierce—and yet it’s also feeble, spilling to the ground beneath the cold gigantic darkness of infinity beyond it.
Most of these are standing at the railings of the decks, staring out across the water at us huddled in the stadium, while others float behind them down the length of the ship. Some figures must be three metres tall, one or two with antlers of some kind. Sea-hounds leap where the lush foam dances underneath the prow, their yaps like squeaks across the gulf of air and spray. The vessel towers closer, but our viewpoint rises, sweeping up till we’re above it, floating in among its aerials and minarets and turrets. Steam wreathes around us, belching up from the funnels. On a tower near below, a mighty searchlight revolves every fifteen seconds, like a lighthouse, flinging out a path of white a mile across the waves. Ahead, where the sun has set, a band of sky is clear scarlet.
As Alaia’s song wells through my eyes and fills the space of air, bells boom vast somewhere further round the earth’s curve, silent cracks of lightning flicker white through the scarlet, and I feel your adoration through your million spiders’ silks.
Her sound grows in volume, and the audience is silent. Never has a sound like this been heard on earth before: a voice that is thunder and lullaby, channelled from above, beyond and inside the world, of a beauty that is terrifying, wordless and sublime. No words could evoke it, for her song’s the song that made us and our words; the wail of all destruction and creation, made as sound. Monolithic slabs of grey longing, big as mountains, push across the sky—a skeleton of girders equipped with the strength to march around the world and push the world’s horizon round the world’s curve, but also with a human skin’s naked sensitivity.
So now you are attending, I say to every one of you: inspect these golden eyes on screen, and know that you have seen them before, in your own mind. Hear what you heard then, but hear it loud and clear, for this screen is even bigger and the pupils of these golden eyes are even deeper black. To everyone, your own primal scenes flicker up on screen within my eyes, and music plays that’s you alone, sky-high in the airwaves—a grand, eternal music that will always play inside you. You hear it through this golden gaze, surging ever onward, drowning out the crackle of the flames of the oilrigs at night on Arab desert sands, miles underneath you.
Far above Alaia and myself, giant powers feel a fold of time and matter soften round us, aching out a passage like they haven’t felt before: they push and fill this passage out, with cosmic enormity, then spin us in an arc that is greater than a galaxy but smaller than an atom, with an ecstasy beyond physicality, beyond mind or thought or the bars of time and matter. Here beyond consciousness, we let these powers resonate, through my eyes and through her voice, and down through the stadium.
The screen has grown to fill the sky. Each of the golden-grained cymbals of my irises is bossed with a perfect central black sun, in exquisite radiance of heavenly geometry. My lashes curl as long as constellations; my eyebrows sweep across the sky’s northern hemisphere, in thin black sleekly-tapered arcs. Eyes and lips of a flame-girl, dissipating into air! And telescoped within the blinding grandeur of this face and voice, the turning of the earth’s nights and days shines divine through the vastness of space, while the years and aeons unpeel—billions of tons of rock and atmosphere and water, on an orbit that is breakneck, but luminously slow…
The glance of the sun across the surface of the planet, through the whirl of its dawn around the volume of its sphere, lights the points of its peaks and the spumes of its waves in the tiniest of detail, in a sidelight that defies any labelling of colour.
From the screen in the stadium a flood of purple flame spreads. A fountain of unearthly colours, tastes, sounds, scents and ecstatic touch pours out from screens around the world; and the oceans rise a fraction.
My face fades to black on screen, Alaia’s voice fades out, and Sound & Vision glides to the smoothest of halts.
For more about "The Imagination Thief" by Rohan Quine, see
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