Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jogging With Roussel 15

By the 1950’s, Cantarel had not exactly grown bored, but had on the contrary conceived of an homage to the boredom of Theophile Gautier as conceived in the novel Mademoiselle de Maupin, specifically in the chapter ‘Rosalind and Orlando’, where M. Gautier had described a ‘strange theater’. Not wanting to recreate the life of Julie d'Aubigny (MLLE de Maupin) as an Opera, nor exactly to endeavor to write new music and libretti , he conceived to include both M. Gautier, and the mythical MLLE de Maupin in the audience of a thoroughly visionary enterprise. Cantarel was a devoted admirer of the composer Faucillon, and especially of his opera, Daedalus, so with certain elements of M. Gautier’s ‘strange theater’ in mind, he set out to both build his audience, and his miraculous set as seductively and strangely as might Daedalus himself, and which would be built, hopefully, at the opening of the real labyrinth in Crete, where he hoped he would find a wide enough plaza, or area for his living stage-play to occur.

Cantarel was especially fond of Faucillon, as he was well versed in humorous chestnuts, jokes, and stories based on cryptic word games, and applications of arcane distributions of logic, or logoic, as Faucillon styled it. One of Cantarel’s favorite stories was told to him upon the night of their first meeting in 1919, only a week after Faucillon’s Daedalus had closed after many months of constant praise in Paris. Over various glasses of wine, Faucillon dropped hints that he was a descendent of Jesus Christ, but that the name Jesus Christ was in fact, a coded message to obscure the true nature of the divine being’s actual identity. Attempting to nullify the brash man’s assertion, and jovial blasphemy, Cantarel nonetheless went to work attempting to discover the meaning of such a cryptic statement, and Faucillon allowed one last clue, “Why do you think it is the blood which is so important?” Cantarel being no stranger to the machinations of the theatrical class, started with the idea of the publicity stunt, and laid his mind on the figure of Daedalus himself, and inspected his own memory for clues, first and foremost thinking upon the labyrinth, but as the party continued on, Cantarel noticed that Faucillon continued to glance upon a painting that Cantarel had hanging in the study, an odd, and extremely rare work by an unknown artist in the manner of Cornelius Gerritsz Decker, namely a rural scene of a watermill, but when one looked closer, there was an even stranger image, very much like those practiced by Romeyn de Hooghe, especially in those dual portraits where inverting the image reveals a second portrait. Cantarel had discovered this oddity as he was a great admirer of de Hooge’s work, and owned a rather shabby print himself of de Hooge’s  zes portretten van hoofdpersonen van het Rampjaar. The painting that Faucillon’s eye kept wandering to contained one element that it seemed Faucillon slightly favored, namely the element of a small white kite, being flown by a raggedy peasant, whose eccentric dress was only outdone by the outlandish detail that the kite was lovingly dressed in feathers, and a small scantily clad boy was tied to the kite seemingly in an echo of the divine savior.  It was then that Cantarel put it all together, and he asked Faucillon politely, “Is your opera Daedalus based on family history?” To which Faucillon replied, “Were Daedalus my son, I would be proud!” Then Cantarel proceeded more  directly, “Is not your family name itself a coded form of ‘Faux Scion’ which sets in motion a decryption based on your earlier statements, namely, that Jesus is really Icarus, and God, Daedalus?” Faucillon roared with laughter. “But I am a theater man!” Cantarel immediately grasped his meaning, and chimed in sheepishly, “Ichor-ruse?” Faucillon was pouring himself another glass of the deep red Bordeaux which he then lifted in a toast, holding up the wonderful sky-blue steatite goat rhyton which Canterel had gifted him concluding the final performance of Daedalus. “To Canterel, and the transubstantiation of  ‘He has crashed.’” “And to ‘Dead, Alas’,” chimed in Cantarel, more assured their ironies, and humors had become cognates of cheer..  But there were other stranger reasons why Faucillon had been staring at the painting.

When Cantarel had noticed Faucillon looking at the painting, there were several long moments when he himself was not looking upon the painting. It was at this time, that the Cantarel of 1955, had caused to be inscribed upon the painting in large white letters, “Say nothing / It is I-C / Let’s take the opera to ancient Crete / Wait outside tonight / Or fly a kite”. Soon the evening was over, and all the guests left, except for Faucillon who seemed extraordinarily happy, and a bit drunk. “Shall I have my driver take you home, M. Faucillon?” “Well, it seems as if I am supposed to walk,” he said chuckling, and clambered out the door and into the darkness. And he did as he was asked, and not five minutes later, Cantarel stepped out of a pale blue glass doorway that opened in the air with a curt sucking sound as if one were opening a decanter sealed by vacuum. “By Daedalus!” exclaimed Faucillon. “By Doctor Welles!” said Cantarel, and he helped the shocked, but good natured old composer through the portal, and into a space Cantarel had prepared so as not to shock too deeply the fragile, yet talented personage he so admired.

Next, it was to be Theophile Gautier, and anyone else he might snag from the era. After some weeks preparation in the neighborhood, Canterel now stepped out into his new office in 1836 Paris, where he had styled himself as Leret Nachtmarj, a Pomeranian, lately of Chile’, and a brash literary agent and fantastical poet of symbolic noises, and a frequenter of Bousingot haunts, dives, and the Latin Quarter, to contrive to give several performances of his symbolic noise poetry at the regular meetings of Le Petit Cénacle [The Little Upper Room] attended by most of the standard members, and the usual bohemian types, though no one yet called themselves that, as most of the Bousingots were not much more than rough and tumble pions embracing libertinage and radical politics, though there was a new spirit of Art for Art’s Sake in the air. Cantarel was welcomed heartily into the groups because of his strange mixture of Pomeranian and South American Andean dress, the odd instruments he could pull out of his pockets and play.

One evening at ‘Jehan Duseigneur’s’ studio, the famous Le Petit Cénacle, Cantarel had decided to do something spectacular, and had brought along a new invention which was in point of fact a clever trans-temporal matter-transmitter disguised as a fanciful blood red suit of highly tooled leather armor. Canterel looked something like a cross between a medieval knight and a mythical mayan demon bird, and later, Kali. The suit was built so that Canterels from other time lines could access the suit which was infused with Erythrite, and reach their own arms out through especially adjacent sockets, or place objects in secret pockets, and then remove them as well, and also cause certain flows of materials to exit from what looked like vents, but were actually well defined trans-temporal ports. With his studies of Avestan and Mayan, and other ancient languages, Cantarel began to perform a strange dance and to chant long and winding phrases, and had even contrived a trans-temporal poly-vocality, wherein several of the other Canterel’s voices could also be heard from horn-like protuberances which projected from his bird-like bat-like helmet. It wasn’t long before luminous transparent spheres began to pop out of discrete holes in the suit and float around the room which he had darkened somewhat for increased effect, and though the rowdy Bousingot elements were already jeering, soon a silence a pervaded the crowd, as it became known that the strange bubbles were unbreakable, and even stranger could not be moved from their seemingly random and gracefully edifying paths. It was in fact as if the bubbles’ actuality was a complete inversion of their perceived sense as delicate, and fragile, if miraculous, nonces. This was no ordinary parlor trick! Gautier and Nerval were beyond entranced, and Jehan looked as if he had seen Satan himself, but there was further mischief. Soon more and more, and tinier bubbles began to file out in all directions, like a radiating fan or tail feather section from the base of Leret’s spine, and he could extend it, and snap it closed to become a tail, or bend it forward, to engulf the helmet in shimmering transparent bubbles. Then four arms shot out on either side, and Leret began to juggle singing somewhat reduced versions of his own head, all clearly alive and speaking, and then for the finale’, the heads began vomiting even more bubbles until the room was awash with them, until finally Leret let out a piercing almost Tuvan throat chord which shattered all the bubbles at once, which promptly turned to a glittering and microscopic dust, the dust of innumerable oneiric suns.

After the lights had come back up, there was awe and silence, but eventually, the youthful and lively nature of the audience held sway, and the drinking and carousing continued in earnest, but Cantarel had planned well as to be the last of the performances that night, for his was certainly a show-stopper. After he had disrobed, and discretely dropped his more dangerous items through a time hole at the bottom of his trousse, he returned to join his new bohemian comrades, who were not too much younger than he, or at least how he appeared to be. When Gautier and Nerval approached him with open, and admiring faces, he said at once to them, “I am very much interested in your ideas for the theater! Could we meet at my office to discuss this sometime.” After a few polite, and restrained comments of wonder, the three all exchanged cards of introduction, and Cantarel let them know that any of their friends were welcome as well, and they would all be pleasantly surprised, he hoped, for he had an offer, ‘of a small adventure.’ Cantarel then left amid a tidy clutch of boisterous and waxy bouzingo hats to retire and prepare.
Since time was of no matter, since they could enter it whenever and wherever they wanted, Cantarel and Faucillon began training the singers and musicians and building the strange costume which would become as well the main prop, and indeed, the set for the entire production, for Cantarel had now further conceived of the production as mobile, the role of Daedalus being given to Cantarel’s best baritone, none other than the Chlorlock named Professor Majesty, who was immediately interested in an opera whose singers and musicians would be completely Chlortronic, and whose set would be his own complex mechanical suit, and whose subject was very close to his own heart, being as he was somewhat directly descended from Socrates, who, while historically disagreeing with the Daedalusianism of sacred kineticism, had now reformed somewhat, seeing in kineticism a kind of Platonic ideal in itself, an immovable reality of absolute movement which he reconciled by means of Heraclitus’ teachings, and tempered further by readings in Taoism, and quantum physics. And so Canterel went about constructing another trans-temporal suit which would act as the stage for the chlortronic version of Faucillon’s Daedalus, little walkways, and fold out sections of the palace at Knossos, and the various backdrops that would appear both in front of and behind Daedalus’ face covering his body from head to toe.

It was not long after this that Cantarel, after plotting his apprehension of the astonishing figure of Julie d'Aubigny, set off to collect her, having already made arrangements with another astonishing figure, and a friend of Cantarel’s since the 1920’s, Luigi Barbasetti, whom Cantarel had known best when Luigi had become the fencing instructor at the Automobile and Golfing Clubs of Rome, which Cantarel sometimes visited, taking lessons from the frightfully spry and wonderful personage. The elegant gentleman’s worthy book, “The Art of the Foil” was much treasured by Cantarel who saw in its driving and methodical explication towards perfection in technique while remaining faithful to the ponderous and irrefutable lessons of history, while at the same time creating a contemporary and subjectively fresh approach, a thing of much value. Cantarel, knowing of Luigi’s passion for sword collecting, found an easy mark as he presented Luigi with a seemingly brand new sword from ancient Japan, though while unusable by this master of the Italian-French school, nonetheless pleased immensely this scholar of the metallurgy of sword craft, an avid collector of oddities. Cantarel and Luigi set off for Paris 1688 to hatch a plot to win the heart of the notoriously fickle and mad, Mademoiselle La Maupin.  Appearing at the scene of an illegal duel, where Julie’s lover, and fencing teacher, Serannes, had just killed a man, and were being chased by a quaggle of angry and fence-worthy noblemen which Serannes and Julie, being only two would not likely be able to quell without much injury and perhaps even death, Cantarel and Barbasetti arrived in a marvelous coach of yellow glass whose doors were themselves trans-temporal portals. Luigi, ostentationsly dressed in period costume, leapt through the portal, and immediately put down one of Serannes and Julie’s opponents, and then rapidly two more, while Cantarel circled in the bizarre carriage whose horses were actually eloi-equid-chlortronic cyborgs controlled by Cantagraelians within their bodies. Calling out to Julie across the stumbling mass, “Mademoiselle La Maupin, Serannes, allow us to be of assistance, and make your escape before the Police arrive!” Eventually all parties had clambered aboard the carriage, and at once the entirety of that far away place and time were gone, the carriage rumbling noisily down an immense white and purple marble hall, babbling robotic busts filing past at an astonishing rate as the carriage clambered on toward the room that Cantarel had prepared for these erstwhile lovers, and Luigi beaming over two foils he had managed to steal from the angry and somewhat, it can be said, drunken, opponents who were no match for the matchless expert of the fencing sport. The event was coming together marvelously.

The last and final piece of the puzzle, Canterel thought, was to finalize certain preparations he had made in ancient Crete. The problem with all of this, was that the myth of the labyrinth was, in certain respects, absolutely true. Canterel had been introduced to Daedalus in a formal court setting, and subsequently had been allowed to visit his workshops, and while primitive, they were certainly far ahead of the curve for his day, and Cantarel had begun to plot a way of preserving this marvelous man and his work, creating a magnificent Eloi body, and an entire tribe of Chlorlock craftsfolk to house his mind and skills, and those of his top craftspeople as well. Since Daedalus was also the commander and caretaker of the labyrinth itself, he would need to be safely removed to fulfill his plan. Also, there was some discrepancy between the rustic, yet lively actuality of Daedalus, and the Minoans themselves, it could be said, and the mythic version presented in the opera, which would indeed be at odds. The opera would have to be performed only for the eyes of Cantarel’s selected audience, as the Cretans, though wonderful, were in fact, compared to most modern persons, closer to what one might call ‘cretins’, they were lovably primitive, but a bit rough. Daedalus had indeed created a sexual prosthesis for the bizarrely promiscuous Queen Pasiphae, and while she may have actually had intercourse with a white bull, she was still using the contraption, as her fetish  was not simply to desire that great beast, but to be mounted as a beast, and over and over it seems, and she had produced an entire plethora of deformed children, mostly due to the seed of one man, who unknown to her, and Canterel for a time, was a trans-temporal variant of Henry Ford, who called himself Sherlock Ford, or Phoseon, and whose imperfect rendering of Dr. Welles temporal technology had made his own genetic material highly suspect. It seems that in one of Earth’s innumerable trans-temporal timelines, Henry Ford had used espionage to steal the secret of Dr. Welles’ time-machine, and was using ancient Minoa as a perverted sexual playground and ‘production floor’ for mythic monsters. The greatest of the Cretan Fordian monsters had turned out to be the Minotaur, a hirsute yet wonderful boy, who had begun to grow horns, and successively grow more violent and primitive as he aged, until he began a killing spree, becoming a monstrous serial killer, which King Minos and Daedalus had asked Phoseon ‘Sherlock’ to catch, as this was how he was known at court, as a wily  detective of mysteries, and not as the very progenitor of many of the court’s most shameful secrets. Eventually, Cantarel having sent numerous viewing frames into Crete for an extended time, had discovered the awful secret, and had decided up a plan to rid the ancient past of Henry Phoseon Sherlock Ford, trans-temporal pervert explorer detective. He had a replica made of Daedalus’ prosthetic sex cow, then fashioned a mindless Chlorlock goddess to inhabit it, but one whose vagina was coated with an amazingly powerful hallucinogen, an anxiety producing hallucinogen which would render Phoseon impotent as long as he stayed in any timeframe but his own. Henry Ford would only be able to achieve erection in his own correct frame. Acting boldly, Cantarel, or Phaneronoemikon, as he was known delivered his ‘Trojan cow’ to the home of Phoseon Sherlock Ford, and within months, the terrible sexual tourist was eliminated. At the same time he instituted a range of genetic therapies to assuage the pain of the monsters that Henry had sired, and even contrived to soften the burning libido of Queen Pasiphae by importing a rare breed of dove, known as the Zenaida dove, which Cantarel had genetically altered so that displayed on their bright orange breasts, each dove displayed what looked like a random brushstroke’s version of an ancient Egyptian Ankh, Canterel having originally made these doves as a linguistic pun on the word Zenaida itself, being both an admirer of Verdi’s opera, and Zen calligraphy. The doves’ powerful song had a history of itself, having melted the heart of a famous pirate in the Florida Keys, causing him to mend his ways after hearing their song from an alligator-apple tree, the Anona glabra, or Pond Apple as it was also called, a well-known story of the 18th century.

Finally the day came, the night before having been the happiest celebration ever seen at the Palace of Knossos, and it could be said with some veracity, that every single person for miles around was passed out drunk and sleeping deeply except the Minotaur, as Canterel had delivered a minor ‘Phoenician’ miracle for the celebration, a gigantic amphora whose innards were a complicated temporal portal allowing the contents of an entire winery to flow through time and out a single spigot. People of every class and cant and cast, had come from miles around to fill their jugs and wineskins with Canterel - Phaneronoemikon’s excellent trans-temporal Bordeaux. Cantarel had asked the Minotaur to turn in early, so that he too, might be able to watch the early morning Opera, which Canterel had set to be performed at dawn.

As there were too many wandering revelers in the night, Canterel had to content himself with building his operatic stage within the labyrinth itself, in the chambers of the Minotaur, who would be attending the performance, since in the meantime, Canterel had made much progress with the young man’s education and genetic therapy for his brutish animus, rendering him almost foppish, or at any rate, good-natured and curious, and besides, Cantarel had provided him with two lovely Chlorlock mistresses who were, unknown to Minotaur, and themselves, versions of the Minotaur himself, to assure rapport, and to wryly give continuance to at least some version of Minoan perversity. “Professor Socrates Majesty,” was billed on the Programme in the main role of Daedalus, and his excellent baritone voice was a paragon of richness. Who could have known that within the historical genetic figure of Socrates was the throat of a born Opera singer! The other characters were many, but they were all more or less, smaller versions of Professor Majesty himself, though some were simple chlortrons, and others, the musicians, were Chlorlock-Eloi hybrids. This was to be more or less, a “table-top opera”  as only Socrates Majesty was a full-human-sized individual. The other actors, who were mainly various versions of the traditional Greek chorus, all popped out of Professor Majesty’s trans-temporal time suit-stage set, a thoroughly Cubist affaire, all crimson wool, and faux marble foam, and Daedalus himself wore a golden grasshopper crown, the grasshopper having bonsai tree horns filled with miniature versions of more Zenaida doves which were trained to coo in various interludes to soothe the audience after louder sections.

The Minotaur sat in the center of the audience area, front row, as it were, his two Chlorlock mistresses like svelt green feminine bulls, fully female, but having horns to echo their lover. Canterel was seating everyone he had brought according to a list which functioned boustrophedonically:

[Julie d'Aubigny][Theophile Gautier][Mcinotauress 1] [The Minotaur][Mcinotauress 2] [Gerard Nerval] [The Baroness Dudevant][Cantarel][Faucillon][Jehan Duseigneur][Serannes][lady Bousingot 1] [Bousingot 1][Doctor Orson H.G. Welles][Pablo Picasso][Salvador Dali][John Ashbery][Luigi Barbasetti] [Romeyn de Hooghe][Raymond Roussel][Charlotte Dufréne][Giuseppe Verdi]

As the opera was in French, the Minotaurs would certainly not be confused by any mention of their jailor’s person. Daedalus-Majesty would sing in the center of a rather smallish area about the size of a large dining room in an ordinary Parisian townhome of the upper middle class, and the Chlortron orchestra would in fact, sit atop a beautiful baroque mahogany table the rowdy Bousingot couple had been good enough to steal, but which later Canterel would return discretely. Since there were miniature elements to the production, each seat had growing before it a large mutant lily from whose golden pistils hung various sizes of gigantic dew drops which served as opera glasses to see the tiny chlortron choruses and orchestra. The seats themselves were ‘mother of pearl stalls’ as imagined by Gautier in his ‘strange theater’ mentioned in ‘Mlle. de Maupin’, while the curtain was a trained swarm of butterflies whose density and dispersal were controlled by a pheromonic harmonica that Canterel controlled. Glow worms took the place of footlights in the cavernous labyrinthal dining hall, and a golden mechanical scarab played the part of conductor. Professor Majesty’s transtemporal stage suit also included any sound effects like thunder or lightning, but there was only one scene where this was used, during the inspiration song of Daedalus where he conceived of the powerful idea of the labyrinth as an extrapolation or echo of the cardinal directions themselves. The proud and wonderful Doctor Majesty then wended his way through the entire opera which went off without a single flaw, and by 10 o’clock in the morning when the first Cretans were lazily awakening from their own night of debauchery and excellent wine, the entire opera was completed and dismantled, and only the happy grunts of the Minotaur and his maids could be heard outside the entrance to the forboding labyrinth.

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