So here I am in the studio, with Evelyn and Rik only, psyching myself up to project my first three tune-ins, and here they come…
First up is Angel’s violent childhood, as I plunged down into it in Downstairs; his lusciousness and poison, his shacking up with Lucan and his sheer survivor qualities.
Then comes Shigem’s boyhood sky full of planets, as I saw it there in Paradise; his will, like a truck, within his own vulnerability, keeping his enchantment intact through the years.
And finally comes Pippa with her hard and lonely upbringing, one real relationship that didn’t work out, and her bits of joy, like shadows…
On the emotional side, at the start of my projection of each imagination I have a feeling of “confessing” things that I’m not guilty of myself, but in each case this soon turns into an exhilarated awe at that internal landscape … then an understanding of how it ticks … then through that understanding, a growing love. In fact I soon find it’s the strength of this love that I most have to cope with, in order not to derail the faithfulness and efficacy of my projecting—as if it is now I who must take care not to let myself be hypnotised by my targets. I didn’t expect the strength of these reactions in me, which are noticeably more powerful and concentrated versions of what I felt while I was doing my original tunings-in to gather the material itself.
In no time it’s all over and I am filled with emotion at having inhabited so intimately these squirts of flesh-bound passion and pain, ambition and anguish, laughter and weakness—the three of them here for such a short while and soon enough to die, leaving no lasting record of their own complexities except what I’m laying down here in Rik’s camera.
“You OK, Jaymi?” asks Evelyn, her hand on my shoulder. “What did that feel like?”
I slide into unexpected chuckling, as an emotional release and also at how very obliquely these emotions lie in relation to the business of assembling the one-line statement that’ll best answer this most natural of questions. “It’s quite a trip to have been privy to all that, and empowered to preserve it,” I say.
“Gee, thanks. Anyway, we’re bumping into a bunch of people we’ve never met before and probably shan’t meet again. How often are we going to find ourselves in Asbury Park again? So I’m going to take a trip or two while I’m here—trips into people. I’m going to tune in to a few of them without their knowing.”
An element of challenge enters her demeanour.
“I’m not going to hurt them or give away their secrets,” I say. “It’s just a bit of research into what I may have lost, so I can find it again. I need to know what it was, in case it becomes too late to re-learn it. I have become too much of a blank slate, it’s true. I felt it as soon as I first left Marc’s office. With people, it feels like I’m just mind and power now; I need to find instinct again. So I’m just going to delve a bit into … the forms a personality can take, I guess. And the limits of those forms—the different ways of being a perfect version of a self. And if I investigate the shapes people can take, maybe I’ll even find out something of why they’re alive. Does that make sense? I’ll only be doing this for me, I assure you.”
“Yes. I never realised spying was so noble.”
“But I’m not going to spy into you, you have my promise.”
“You’d better not!” she says, her finger pointing at my face, with only the modicum of a sly smile to mitigate the warning.
I take hold of her warning finger and hand, then let these go. We stand in awkward silence. “Maybe I also want to see if any of them need waking up.”
She softens at this and turns away to go to her room: “Oh, they will,” she says and lets my door close behind her.
For the camera I reproduce Sound & Vision’s natural make-up (which Shigem saw as so lush and smoothly coloured) and change into the same outline of simple black. In doing so, I catch a strange, dissociated glimpse of myself in the wardrobe mirror, seeing my slim form and watchful eyes as if they belonged to someone else, just as I did in Paradise.
A few minutes to seven. I stand at my window and listen to the distant sea, centring myself into maximum calm and focus. Then a bell somewhere across town tolls the hour … and it’s time for the studio, for she and I are on!
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