A friend was having his birthday dinner at a tapas bar in Soho. I arrived horrifically late— they were at the coffee and dessert stage when I came in. It was my misfortune to be seated directly opposite Paul and Natasha. I had just passed a whole row of posters of Natasha on the street. Physically, her presence was even more disturbing. Thankfully Rob and Brit came round, I hadn’t seen either of them in a while,
“So what’s this book project you’re working on, Killers? Killer Style?”
“Killer Sequence. Basically I’m chronicling or cataloging tics in everyday mannerisms that are tantamount to murder—”
“I know what she means, I feel like one myself—”
“It’s like this: I started out with archival photos of crime scenes, you know, the ‘police line: do not cross’, and then I got fascinated with the pictures of criminals themselves—”
“You’re looking for signs of pathology,”
“Well, not quite, it occurred to me that these so called pathologies were rhythms or patterns rooted in everyday life, just stuff that everyone does,”
“It’s the little mundane things, signature gestures—”
“Sort of like Hitchcock, right? He has these perfectly normal gestures that seem unnatural”
“Yeah, actually the first part of the book is film stills from “Classic Hitchcock” like the glass of milk under the naked bulb—”
“Or Tippi Hedren’s hairdo—”
“You mean helmet,”
“Excellent, so what’s the other half?
“I’m just going around photographing potential crime scenarios, perfectly mundane set ups where I have to zero in on the point de capiton of a potential crime—”
“I kind of like your idea about signatures, that’s the beauty of whodunits, the criminal always leaves a trace behind, to get caught”
“I don’t think it’s so much to get caught, as a signature to say ‘I created this masterpiece’. It’s amazing though, I was looking at these turn of the century crime scene photographs from the Surête, and people would commit these acts of passion like killing their lovers and then themselves and then put their hats in the middle like some kind of flourish—”
“Sometimes it’s not so much ‘look at my masterpiece’ as it is this weird ‘Kilroy was here”, just because no one else realizes a crime was committed”
“Then you have the signature doubling as witness”
“Actually that’s an interesting idea, I like the notion that the criminal is unconscious of his crime—”
“Is it a crime then?”
“Why not, it makes for the idea of normalcy as an even screwier pathology and—”
I was temporarily blinded by flaring light, it was Natasha, applying her lipstick: the light hit her compact and then it hit me,
“Am I boring you Natasha?”
“Not at all, I’m stupid— haven’t a clue about what you’re saying. We bimbos like to dance. Who’s coming?” She got up and left the table. Obviously she hadn’t forgiven me. Paul signaled a silent apology. It had been nearly nine months, and now they were engaged. As things stood, I had no regrets, although I could see that Paul wished that he could.
Most people followed after Natasha and Paul, they were going dancing elsewhere. I decided to have dinner, so I stayed behind and moved over to the bar. Next to me was a couple deep in a very private and intense conversation, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop. The one next to me, I think, had hurt the other one irreparably, I couldn’t see his face— but I sensed his vanity. The other guy, the betrayed one, became aware of me: he glanced up, his eyes were clear green with pain. Unthinking, I fell in love instantly. The conversation continued in uncomfortable hushed tones. I disengaged.
A waiter came up to me
“You were with the Birthday Party?”
“I think one of your friends left this behind”
It was Natasha’s mother of pearl compact. Poisonous and exquisite, viridian blue butterflies cloisonnéd on the lid, the evil thing gleamed at me,
“Do you know who this belongs to, is this from one of your friends?”
Its opalescence made me ill,
“Yeah, it does belong to someone from the party”
“Can you get it back to them?”
I didn’t want anything to do with it. It unsettled me.
“Or maybe you can let them know, or give us a number to call—”
Why was he being so helpful? Perhaps he instinctively didn’t want traces of Natasha around him either,
“I’m sure she’ll be back once she realizes she’s lacking in arsenal”
The restaurant was closing. I looked up, Green-eyes was leaving, alone— it seemed his companion had long departed. He was just out the door when I realized he had dropped his cigarette case on the floor. It was an elegant silver gadget that looked slightly antiquous. I grabbed my coat, paid the bill and ran out after him. He was a couple of blocks ahead, I yelled out “excuse me” several times but he seemed to be taken with his thoughts. I followed him silently a couple more blocks, then turned back, embarrassed by the thought that I might actually be stalking him. I took the cigarette case home. Inside it was a small stack of calling cards with his name and number. Curiously, his name was Paul.
“Is this Paul?”
Of course it was, the voice flickered intensity, like the eyes,
“Yes, this is he—”
“I was at Barbary Coast last night, you dropped your cigarette case,”
“Jesus, I’ve been calling that restaurant all day, they’re not open— how did you get my number?”
“You had your cards inside it.”
“Well, I have it with me, you can pick it up anytime”
“Where do you live?”
“Brooklyn Heights, but I’m in the East Village right now”
“7th and A”
“You’re just round the corner from me. Would you mind terribly coming up? We could have coffee—”
“Come in. I thought it might be you”
I was afraid he could hear my heart pound, I felt just as devastated by him as I did the night before. His apartment was sunlit with a dark luxury to it. It felt like all the drawing rooms of fin de siècle Paris and Vienna. I would never leave, I’d lounge here forever—
“Have a seat, would you like some coffee?”
“That’d be nice”
“Or Tea?” Or me?
“Or we could have an aperitif”
“Or Irish coffee—”
“You have the right idea—”
We had Irish coffee with whipped cream, a pear tart and biscotti.
“Your card says ‘lyricist’—”
“I write musicals, OK, I know it’s funny”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh, but you don’t meet Cole Porter everyday”
“Cole’s my hero—’
“But what sort of musicals, are you Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Weber?”
“More like Tim Rice, the Andrew Lloyd factor defected with my heart—”
He laughed bitterly,
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help overhearing you two last night—”
He was silent. I couldn’t look at him because I knew his eyes were misting. I got up,
“I’m sorry, I should leave—”
“No, please stay,” I thought he was going to burst into torrents, instead he composed himself, “I need the company right now. Let’s just change the subject—”
Without warning he kissed me very gently on the lips. I was quiet, what was I thinking when I came here? Destruction settling in, I predicted a new eon of heartbreak for myself.
My voice seemed far far away. He sat at the piano:
“I’m sorry I—’
“Don’t. I think we’re just both in weird emotional climates,”
“I knew you were listening last night, I looked up and saw you. I just felt like we—”
He stopped, as though he was crying softly. I stepped over to the window, there was a dresser with framed pictures and other curios. They were mostly stone figurines, Mesopotamian looking,
“What are these? They look ancient—”
Inexplicably he appeared right behind me
“They’re love/fertility goddesses. My Asheroth. This is Inanna, Sumerian goddess of love and war— known as Ishtar to the Babylonians. These two over here are Akkadian, or technically Babylonian, they date back to about 850 b.c.”
He was calmer. Speaking it seemed, reconstituted him,
“How come you have a collection of archaeological valuables?”
“My father’s a sumerologist, he’s pretty well known— these were gifts to my mother and she left them to me. Here’s the prize of my collection: Astarte, all five of her, do you know the Old Testament? The prophets of Yahweh berated the children of Israel for worshipping the Asheroth— Cannaanite plural for Astarte or Asherah,”
“Can I touch?”
He handed me one of the Akkadians, I closed my eyes and traced the curves with my fingers. I felt peaceful shimmers.
“I’m fascinated with the way they would mass produce these goddesses in antiquity. People complain today about how mass reproduction strips an image of its aura—”
I thought of the posters of Natasha all over Soho,
“Surely it’s not the same thing? None of these figurines are exactly the same”
“No, its how we perceive—”
He was very close to me again and suddenly. I was unnerved—I didn’t recall him moving.
“There has to be a certain investment in the object, a means of plugging in to it or divining it— that’s the whole point of idolatry— it’s not just the representation of an abstract idea, the graven image itself lives—”
“Funny, in criminology, all the objects at the scene of the crime become clues. The crime invests otherwise uninteresting objects with properties that give them the power of speech—”
“All objects have the power of speech, they just need activation. You’ve only to recognize divine signatures and—”
For some reason he was further away, he edged closer. Something was wrong.
“Are you alright?”
Suddenly it struck me— I realized what was happening. He asked again,
“Are you alright?”
“Do you have a recording device?”
Next thing he was standing over me, his face a mask of fright
“What’s going on?”
“If you have a tape recorder, get it qui—”
I was absent from the rest of the sentence. I found myself on the couch, now I was confused—
“You told me to get a tape recorder because you are about to enter a trance—”
“I have these epileptic seizures, I’ve had them—”
“What did I say?”
“That you’ve had these seizures since you were teenager, and they’ve been a secret to everyone including yourself. You only remember when it begins to manifest. Afterwards you forget. I’m calling the paramedics”
“No! Please, the only way you can help me is by recording me in trance. I need you to keep me luc—”
Absence. Presence. Question,
“You said you need me to keep you lucid by questioning you during the trance. You also said this started because as a child angels would appear to you. You made the mistake of telling the adults, who made you afraid—”
“Made me afraid?”
“Made you think it was demonic. You were afraid of possession. So you stopped seeing them, until you were a teenager—”
“Then I would sense the presence of Angels, this is how the seizures
this is how (it begins) is this is how? (it begins) how does (it begin?) it begins (to seize me) It begins (to seize)
It begins (seizure)
World without Presence. World within Absence. Spiral.
“I have my dictaphone here, what do you want me to do—”
Absence. Spiral. Flux: Presence within Absence:
Angels.SeizureAngels/SeizuresAngelSeizingAngelSeizesAngels.SeizureAngels/SeizuresAngelSeizureAngels/Seizures AngelSeizingAngelSeizesAngels SeizureAngels/ Angel Angels. Seizure Angels/ Seizures AngelS Angels. SeizureAngel s/SeizuresAngelSeizing AngelSeizesWARNING: ANGELSIEGE: YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENGAGE: you ArE ENtEriNG thE rEALm of the ANGELos: coNtrAry to popuLAr miscoNcEptioN AN ANGEL is Not AN AbstrAct cELEstiAL ENtity: ANGELs Exist As A rEsuLt of iNformAtioN rEtriEvAL: AN ANGEL is Not oNLy thE GuArdiAN of such kNowLEdGE but ALso its ANAGrAmma: the ANGEL is ANALoGoN: AN ANGEL bEcomEs thE ANGLE from which thE uNivErsE is pErcEivEd: thus thE ANGELos dErivE from thE fusioN Of subjEctivE coNstELLAtioNs iN CONJUNCTIO: LikE hoLoGrAphic softwArE iNstructioNs thE ANGELos ArisE from the ECSTASY of the subjEct as it disAppEArs iNto the objEct or vicE vErsA: EAch ELEmENt EmbodiEs its oppositioN: this mArriAGE is the ALchEmicAL union of oppositEs ANd uLtimAtELy thE rEALm of ANGELs.
Q: Why is this happening?
A: It is the presence of Angels
Q: Are there Angels here then?
A: Always. They are latent and then we approach. Activation.
Q: How are they activated?
A: Ecstatic union. They are the guardians of all knowledge transmitted by ecstasy. They are knowledge in themselves. Bearers of the Word and bringers of Light.
Q: How did you enter a state of ecstasy?
A: Love. All my constellations of love converge at this moment out of grief. I am falling deeper in this trance. I am falling,
I have fallen
I am two levels lower now. Please continue.
Q: I’m not sure what to ask, this is very strange … I’m a bit confused—
A: Employ your Curiosity. Don’t be afraid.
Q: Why me? Why here? Why now?
A: Because we converge. Because we are the calculus of similar love intensities. In our emotional resonances—
We glimpsed the Divine
in each other
and recognized it
I am shifting to another level.
Not a descent. A shift. A shuffle.
I’m not sure what this is.
An unfamiliar room.
The questions will end. I will begin to speak in the Third Person
I will be the voice of the Angelos.
I will be the genii in the arbor of delight
The Genius of Love in this garden tonight
I am light I am light
a thousand wattage megabyte
I’m the genius of love
this bower of sighs
I’m the genius of love
this haze of lies
I’m the genius of love
this maze of flight
I bring you glad tidings of my delight
at this subsequent emancipation
(which is really the basis of my creation)
My purpose always to destruct
My purpose also to instruct
Listen closely and you will hear
The Reason by which I did appear:
a bright crescent glows on an ill pitch night
and there was a woman struck by the light
of a flaring compact in the night
she fled, pursued
by ninety djiin
of that particular female whose trouble she’s in
a cigarette case
silver, like a crashing meteorite
a young man in the street
as deep calls to deep
and grief, grief
the pursued pursues
and stops and delays
so deftly primed
to strike chords of terror in your minds
and derange the tripping of your heart
this is the phenomen of my art
a deftly warped calculus of love
for and I am that Genius of Love
that Cupid, that metaphysical dove
and I have speared you with my revolve
and I have spared you no dissolve
your fate, sharper than before
Jealousy as cruel as sheol
Love: strong as death
the Eye of God!
Many waters cannot quench
Nor will floods vanquish it
Surrender the diamonds of your heart
And still be utterly
And there were many more things said, but they do not pertain to this story.
© 1999, 2013