“The world as we see it is passing…”
Ines 12:45 p.m., Tuesday
Ines sits on her desk, lavishly sexy, trying to seduce me into writing this article. There is really no point to this— I’m grateful enough to have made it past the reception at Quasar, I need the work badly.
Ines and I had been classmates through college, when the real world happened, she catapulted into magazine superstardom: a new improved Cosmo Girl. I on the other hand, had focused my career on writing esoteric stories that no one cared for or understood— until now. It would seem from Ines’s velvet claws I’m the new toast of the town.
“I am so in love with the Details piece, it has such tone and mystery—”
Hmm. Russell, my editor at Details hadn’t even responded to me about the first draft. A mix up perhaps? Had she mistaken another article for mine, O happy fault!
“It’s fantastic Otto, you’ve been riding ahead of the trend all along— nobody else has done anything on the ‘Company Girl’ phenomena, you’re the first one to shape it into definitive zeitgeist mode—”
How did she get her hands on it? Who is she sleeping with? I am concerned: are they doing the piece without my permission? Granted it was an unsolicited article— but they couldn’t be so foolhardy as to do something so crass. Besides, such a response would be premature, I had only submitted it last week.
My discomfort is lost on Ines:
“For the first time the ‘Company Girl’ in dazzling flesh—”
“And you want to jump on the bandwagon?”
“Have you heard of Memorexe?”
“As in “Is it live or is it memorex?””
“She’s a legend amongst Company Girls. The Original One”
“Never heard of her.”
Yet some unseen movement throttles my brain—
“Well I have my sources, but see what you can come up with. I think we’re on to something Otto. Huge. Memorexe is wanted by the FBI and the Security Forces,”
“A fugitive? And I’m to track her down?”
“You know the ‘Company Girl’. You understand her psychology, the invisible cogs. You have an instinct…”
“Memorex? Sounds like something for your marketing department.”
“Haha, you’re so amusing Otto. I want this on the cover. I want this on the year’s best list. You’ll even get an expense account. Smile Otto, it’s exciting—”
How promising. She’s on the phone, on to other things, chatting fervently, dark lipstick, nails, legs— hype: our Ines, a force of nature unto herself.
Who am I looking for?
Subway. 12:58 p.m. Tuesday
It would be useful to talk to Carter right away, and then perhaps Oberon. A funny thing happens on the way to the subway: I light my cigarette, only to discover it already lit. I am struck, recalling immediately the morning, leaving my apartment, about to blow out the seven-day candles and I realize they are already out.
Am I getting ahead of myself?
On the subway platform, things are amiss. At the newsstand is the new Details magazine among the featured articles on the cover is one called “Sobriety Girls”. But even more astounding is the cover photo itself: on closer inspection it is Branca Meireles-Vermelho in lurid Rita Hayworth / Ava Gardner redux—
On the Cover:
The Babe Who Rocked The Cradle Of a Financial Empire
Bizarre. Who was she sleeping with? Uncertainty makes me tremble. Flicking through the pages carefully, I am weighted by an anxiety I had only glimpsed at the sight of my lit cigarette and blown out candles. On the contributors page is a picture of me. It is vaguely familiar in the sense that I recognize myself, but I can’t recall taking it, let alone submitting it. Midsection, the magazine opens up to the article.
The buzz about Company Girls is definitive, everyone’s talking about them, yet no one for sure knows who they are. Or what they mean. Vague assumptions are housed about this peculiar phenomena and the Myth expands, exciting paranoia and exultation. Who is the Company Girl, what does she want? And what’s with the O.G’s— Organized Girldom?
Is this a new era of the feminine mystique?
I paid a visit to PYTHON, one of the better known Girl Paks and met with the forces behind this consortium; Branca Meireles-Vermelho, the 38 year-old former Miss Brazil and one time fashion model’s penchant for marrying millionaires (three in a row to date) shortly before their demise has earned her notoriety as “The Off-The-Rack Widow”. Ms. Meireles-Vermelho’s adventures in matrimony have landed her in the neighborhood of triple digit millions, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world. Her recent liquidation of deceased husband, Morton Stanley’s assets, have created a crisis which Wall St. is still recovering from. Meireles-Vermelho is the financial mainstay of PYTHON; Christina Archer, 37, a former curator of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Guggenheim, whose outward steel and reserve have earned her the moniker “Frosty the Diva” on both coasts; Belgian born Thea von Haarbouven, 34, van Haarbouven has been something of an art-world fixture for the past decade in her role as (former) director or the prestigious Bell Gallery Cinema in New York.
Entering PYTHON’s discreet and plush offices on lower 5th Avenue, the outer world shuts out and the atmosphere charge with a descent into Delphi. Dark clad young women bustle silently within its walls, as if in sync with floor chimes of the elevator. I am totally disarmed when ushered into a lounge where the meeting with PYTHON’s Triumvirate will occur. Branca Meireles-Vermelho, marcel- wave coiffed in a low-cut red velvet dress and afternoon diamonds is an apparition of head-on old-style Hollywood Glamour. A luxuriant chocolate labrador named Chocolat sits in attendance, for a dog she is very feline, panther-like. Christina Archer is reminiscent of a young Diahann Carroll, if Carroll had been inserted into a Tippi Hedren role in a Hitchcock movie. Except that never happened, yet, Archer is its achievement. This is only a facade— or a facet, Archer when animated possesses a verve never captured on the silver screen. And there is Thea von Haarbouven: warm, wise, cat-like and witty. She possesses a brave-boned beauty and exerts boho chic.
Coffee, tea and communal petit fours are served by a dark noiseless young woman. The afternoon unfolds, the conversation flows and halts. And at times the ice is never completely broken and then I find myself amongst …goddesses.
Nevertheless one must storm Olympus with impunity.
The crucial question: What is a Company Girl? The general perception is that you are hired assassins, at best Zen mercenaries— how do you define yourselves?
Christina Archer: I like to think of a Company Girl as the Justice card in the pack. She’s the one who balances and aligns all the factors in a situation. For me a Company Girl is one who walks into a room or a situation and intuitively corrects or balances it out. For most it started with overpaid Corporate executives, the system needed a housecleaning, and we were the arbiters. Except we hadn’t any idea of our own potential.
A lot of this correction and balancing act involves certain human decimation, how do you feel about that?
Thea Von Haarbouven: It’s about Karma. I agree with Christina, we do function as the justice factor, in the sense that the events we catalyze are exact and to the letter. There is no excess, and if it appears gory, then it was what was deserved.
How does one become a Company Girl?
Branca Meireles-Vermelho: Few are called, fewer chosen.
TVH: It is a calling. You can’t will it.
I suppose it’s still one of life’s little mysteries—
BMV:I believe there is something of a genetic thing a process of natural selection—
For example good-looking women, only?
TVH: This where we differ, I think that we are products of our environment, an evolutionary leap in the social organism—
CA: There is something of a chessboard strategy that nature or nurture, if you will, plays with. I think you realize yourself as a Company Girl when the mantle falls upon you at the right place at a certain time. And sometimes it falls because you are sensitive to your surroundings.
TVH: But we weren’t always so aware.
Let’s talk about this in relation to your individual experiences, Branca you’ve had an extraordinary run of marrying the right person at the right time—
BMV: It’s true that I’m not considered the average or typical Company Girl. I was not an office drudge and most people would consider me a mere femme fatale—
But you are no ordinary temptress,
BMV: I will tell you. I was born into a family of seven girls, somewhere in the middle. We were not rich and I was not beautiful. I attended a boarding school where this counted. I discovered that money was a kind of beauty; all the rich girls were beautiful. Charm was a kind of beauty, if you were clever, you could be beautiful. If you were beautiful you could be rich. So even as a young girl, beauty became the passion of my life. It is a spiritual quest. This is when I think I first became a Company Girl—
It hardly sounds altruistic—
BMV: Any spiritual goal is altruistic. I had self-knowledge very early. I believe this is how a Company Girl becomes…
And what part did genetics play in this?
BMV: Natural selection is what you choose for yourself. What you choose comes from an evolutionary process. It is ancestral demand.
How do you relate this to your present position? Did self-knowledge cause you to marry millionaires who died in freak accidents or natural causes that couldn’t be traced to you?
BMV: If you understand what you deserve in life you won’t accept anything less. This is self-knowledge. If you know yourself, other people will comply—
BMV: (sighs) I never orchestrated or even wished for any of these deaths. But there is a logic. Each of the men I married had fortunes that could be traced back to slave trade and plantations. I am the descendant of slaves and Indians. This wealth is my own natural inheritance. My right.
Christina you’ve had quite a different cache of experience
CA: My awakening was rude one. It was a public event—British Museum Fiasco— as they refer to it—
Indeed let’s talk about the British Museum Fiasco—
CA: The King Tut. Tutankhamun exhibit, mummies, paraphernalia, treasures of the pyramids et al — where scheduled to be on tour here in the States, it was on loan to the Met (where I was head of visiting collections) from the British Museum…
The entire collection was under my supervision. And I especially had a specified interest in it being African American— Ancient Egypt being so much a part of how we see ourselves—
What went awry?
CA: It’s funny story, (laughs) revealing. It made me examine my own allegiances. Even as an African American woman, I rarely thought about things in terms of my race— especially in a professional context— but my deep-rooted feeling about the Egyptian treasures was that this was sacrilege— to plunder someone’s tomb. And there were all these other deep-rooted resentments about colonialism, a whole discourse on race that we won’t get into here. It was also a crossroads in my life when I was facing emotional trauma, a failed love affair— I only mention it because it did involve race or ethnicity— I was passed over for the waspy blonde and the whole package that went with that. Cutting a long convoluted tale short, the second night of the exhibit arriving in New York— not one, not three or even a couple of prize artifacts where stolen, but the whole exhibit!!
BMV: This where I came in. My husband at the time (Gordon Rawley Esq.) was on the board of trustees (of the museum). There was an emergency meeting to stall the press— which I insisted on attending. Thankfully Gordon always trusted my instincts when it came to money or property values. The moment I saw Christina, I knew she was the culprit.
CA: I was outraged! After the meeting Branca was waiting for me in my office. She introduced herself and told me she considered me responsible for the theft. I was inclined to slap her right there and then, but I restrained myself. Then she told me that she understood what was happening in a way that no one else (including myself) did. And I inquired as to what that understanding might be—
BMV: I told her that she believed that these stolen Egyptian treasures were sacred to her and she had unconsciously prevent them from being profaned—
CA: And then she told me I was more or less a Company Girl. Like her, but in a different milieu
Did you know of Company Girls at the time?
CA: I did. But the phenomena itself amounted to diddly—for me. However whatever Branca was saying that afternoon, ludicrous as it sounded, rang true. And I listened to her— against conventional wisdom. She told me to use my instincts, where did I think the treasures should rightly be? How did I think they would get there?
BMV: I was right of course. All you had to do was follow the money trail. We had the FBI and Interpol working overtime— they came up with nothing. My people sniffed out the money trail. The goods were changing hands pretty quickly— the route, which was from LA back to London, then to Istanbul and beyond was the same travel route by which these artifacts had reached the British Museum in reverse!
CA: Impossible to believe, they ended up back in Egypt, in the hands of this extremist, nationalist millionaire (whom everyone has heard of by now) who is dedicating his fortunes to rebuilding and recovering the lost glory of Ancient Egypt—
BMV: He’s reconstructing the pyramids with wage laborers, brick by brick!
CA: The tomb of Tutankhamun was reinstated, all the treasures restored. I realized this was my own desire. It was an incredible self-revelation—
In this case your becoming a Company Girl was about actualizing subliminal impulses. What part does unconscious desire play in the Company Girl make-up?
CA: Perhaps it’s the cornerstone. There is an interesting twist to this story: a second group of FBI agents from a special unit came in on the case. They were able to identify me as a Company Girl. They deduced that to be in a position to restore the collection, the Museum would first have to get rid of the internal saboteur— me. So here again, against conventional wisdom, the Museum was forced to resign me—
BMV: But Christina was under a 5-year contract. So nothing changed, we realized because of the contract.
TVH: Technically they can’t attempt to move anything ‘til her contract expires next Spring.
CA: And frankly, they’re welcome to try.
That was inspirational. Thank you (Laughter).
Thea, you became a Company Girl by default?
TVH: More or less. At the Bell (Gallery Cinema) I sort of played Mother Superior to all these young female interns. Most of them were just discovering their abilities as Company Girls. It frightened them; it was a little like puberty. Many of them were shipwrecked from temping at major corporations that had exploited them. And I was concerned for them.
The FBI was part of this concern—
TVH: No one realized how severe the threat was at the time. We had no idea. I thought it was the corporate entities coercing these young women with threats. Girls would go missing, disappear for weeks and then suddenly returned, traumatized. Frightened. My ability awakened as a means of activism— to protect them. That’s when I formed GirlPak— which became the generic name for cabals of this sort.
A good number of GirlPaks have sprouted since then. But what about the FBI, is there actual proof that they are the ones abducting Company Girls?
TVH: There is never concrete evidence for anything. For me the real problem is a certain romanticization some of the girls have towards incarceration. The truth is that these women are held against their will and worse used as guinea pigs for all sorts of ungodly experiments. There is nothing romantic or sacrificial about it!
BMV: We’ve had our martyrs. They’re quite tedious…
So what does a Consortium like PYTHON actually do?
TVH: Protect and educate. Inform.
CA: There is safety in numbers. We protect our girls from the vulnerability that isolation brings.
TVH: Also the Girls develop a sense of their abilities— it’s a necessary guard against exploitation by outside forces.
But how? What exactly goes on?
BMV: That is something only a Company Girl can experience.
Alright. So why the name PYTHON? It’s an unusual choice for a consortium of this sort—
BMV: There is a myth in West Africa about the sacred python. People risk lives to look for the pythons nest, because not only are there snake eggs, but diamonds—
TVH: There is actually scientific proof of this—
That pythons have a nest of diamonds, isn’t that sort of a dragon’s lair myth?
TVH: It’s not actually a diamond, but pythons regurgitate a hard shiny glittery object, often mistaken for gems— but you are right, it is the idea of the dragon’s lair—
BMV: We see ourselves as nesting diamonds. I like very much the idea of the diamond flecked python birthing jewels—
CA: The other source of PYTHON is the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece. Before Apollo gained controlled over the Oracle he had to wrest control of the site from the dragon Pythia—
TVH: Actually the Oracle was called the Pythia—
BMV: And this is who we are.
It has the ring of a monastic lifestyle to it. In this case a nunnery— (To Branca) Do you have plans to marry again?
BMV: I have never planned to marry.
(There is a moment of definitive silence. And then I realize the interview is over.)
Carter. 1:32 p.m., Tuesday.
“You remember writing this?”
“Yes I wrote it as far as I know. I just can’t remember not writing it, that’s the problem—”
We are in Carter’s den, the table and chairs completely cluttered with books and manuscripts and journals and…. He clears a space for me on the window ledge to sit.
“Did some massive edit warp it?”
“Not even Carter. It’s just not possible—”
“What’s not possible?”
“I submitted it a couple of days ago. Correct me I’m dreaming, but doesn’t it take at least seven weeks to make it to print?”
“Hmm. I see your point.”
“Something else. Branca’s on the cover—”
“Too trashy for your tastes?”
“I don’t care, except she didn’t want to do this interview in the first place. I spent five months getting through her PR rigmarole, and you don’t know the pile of legalese I had to sign. And then she goes and poses on the cover like it’s some big publicity coup.”
We sit silent for a moment. I realize I am angry— a part of my temperament Carter is indifferent to. I shift my stance,
“Who is Memorex?”
“Memorexe. She operates by inserting herself into memory. Dangerous— no one mentions her, it’s a way of invoking her —best left a rumor…”
“I’m not sure I understand—”
“Memorexe is a phenomena. The best analogy is a computer virus: she gets in and rearranges everything.”
“I’ve never even heard of her, and I’ve been researching Company Girls for a year and a half now—”
“You are certain? Check your memory Otto, she’s in there waiting—”
I pause. I am experiencing vague recollections. They flex like obscure muscles.
“Every time you mention her or think of her, something changes”
“Carter, what’s going on? Last night I was up and kept hearing stuff collapsing and crashing in the apartment, and then I’d look but I couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from. And nothing was damaged”
“Something else: is it my imagination, or are there a lot of — I don’t know, like ‘agents’ or Security Force types on the street? It’s not so much the people in uniform, it’s—”
“The Legion? As in the Security Forces ‘Legion’?”
Carter’s hair: white electric shimmers:
“With the phenomena of the Company Girl on the rise, the Security Forces found themselves in a quandary: how best to combat the mysterious menace? It was not enough to just abduct the Company Girls before they reached legendary proportions; counter measures were needed to follow up. Thus the first round of Company Girls to be abducted were not only experimented on— they were martyred. Their synaptic templates distilled into one supreme Artificial Intelligence, henceforth known as:
The Mirror, (the Parable of)
A Mirror was fashioned such that it housed a pool of multiple reflectors. In this Mirror one perceives past lives and future incarnations. Or rather the possibilities. A closer look reveals the images as irrelevant; after all they are only the shape of desire. It is at this point the true nature emerges, a frightening image. Terrifying for its vulnerability, its will to chaos and despair,
the human heart is deceitful and wicked above all things,
who can know it?
Peering into this wellspring of horror, the subject recoils at its own reflection; a controlled image is desired. A safety net. Security.
This is the Legion—”
“But who looks into this Mirror?”
“The Mirror is not seen, but heard. It is beamed out as a sublime signal, shaping the world as a vast sonogram. Each one of us is moves about within its frequencies. It is imprinted on our bodies over and over, subsuming our local consciousness. We are all micro-cogs in the humming wheel of this Cosmos and one day the Signal seeps deeper: we awaken to our natures and are confronted with The Mirror. And the terror within us. The choice: Order, in which our body becomes a region— a network within a supra network, a hive within a hive. This is Legion—”
“Or Chaos. A desert of uncertainties, a condition yet unnamed.”
“In the mean time a deepcode encrypted in the body. A secret DNA sequence.”
“Indeed, they all sort of look alike—”
“They are uniform. When they look in the Mirror, they see not themselves, but the Perfect One. The Template.”
“I see an accident.”
“A ripple, then a crack in the surface.”
“ A layer of that template subtracts herself, regroups consciousness and escapes—”
“She is the part of the program for sequencing. The ability to move in time and reshuffle—”
“Through memory. The past changes the present.”
“Hence the perfection of Legion is diminished—”
“A myopia induced blindness: the one eye that glares and dictates the future—
“—finds itself at the mercy of the gouged out bitter eye. The retina reflected memory, the Memorexe—”
“They have no capacity for the past. They are present only Now,”
“Haunted, they seek her out. To rejoin her; to correct the imperfect collective gaze of the Mirror—”
“But Memorexe, always one step behind, posing the advantage, resists—”
“All this revealed in a dream, Otto. Waking, we will PROCEED WITH CAUTION—”
For some reason I notice how blue his eyes are. I had forgotten. Desert sky blue. A mad prophet, a hermit; I realize that we have been in trance.
“The world as we see it is passing.”
Oberon. 2:47 p.m., Tuesday
Oberon is not too far from Carter’s. The front entrance of the warehouse is locked. I pelt nickels at the windows a couple of minutes before Oberon pokes her head out,
“What are you doing?”
“You’re not answering your phone—”
“I disconnected it. Thanks to you its been ringing off the hook—”
“What do you mean thanks to me? What did I—”
“Oh stop. Go round the back— I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”
The kitchen occupies the entire ground floor; there are more theatrical props than kitchen utensils. Shamanic gear, masks, totems, stars. It is also used as a smithy: there’s an old fashioned forge in the center. And a huge fire place where a kettle is on the boil.
“What’s a-shakin’ Otto? You know you could have warned us about the piece. The guys freaked out, they’re in hiding now,”
“Not my piece? I’m no done with it yet, besides it’s not due for another month—”
“Yeah and I’m on Neptune: what planet are you on? Do you read the Times at all, do you want tea?
“The Sunday Times?’
“The magazine part. I mean the boys loved it at first— even though they got into a funk. Smoke?”
“No thanks. Since when does anything scare Peter Wolf?”
“Something’s up Otto. Beowulf was hauled in for a Police line up— for something totally irrelevant. It’s never happened before. But it means he’s on record. And then the other day someone called here, they thought it was 911. They were trying to report a warehouse burning down—”
“You think they’re cracking down on you?”
She pauses to light her cigarette, I observe the process— is there a point where the automatic gesture becomes autonomous? Like an invisible sub-routine?
“—Omens, man. You always expect the unexpected in this business right? I mean that’s what we’re about. I don’t know why the article made everyone AWOL. I thought it was good— realer than anything you get in the Times, though I’m still trying to figure out if I come off over exoticized—”
“Real or Memorexe?” I mutter to myself
“Did you say Memorexe?”
“What do you know?”
“Person or Phenomena?”
“Is there a difference?”
“I guess not. Memorexe is some kind of myth, you know. Misinformation”
“Why do you say that?”
“Security Forces, they’re doing it again. Spreading paranoia. Like UFO stuff —”
She pours us tea and then rummages amongst the newspapers.
“You think they’re behind UFO’s?”
“Memorexe is a myth, not a former Company Girl turned omniscient—”
“OK, the only way she’s all-pervading is that she’s in the cultural consciousness, I guess that’s one way of being God. Look, I found it. I don’t like this picture of me, what’s this — like Helmut Newton meets Munch—”
I look at the full-page photograph, I don’t care for it either— she’s a dark wraith: angst-ridden and sexy. On the opposite page the article. Apparently I had written it.
Two variant signals emerge: one allaying the fact that I have seen neither text nor photo before, the other charged with recollection. Crossing, each cancels out the other, leaving my brain numb with reverb.
It’s all Saurian Patterning underneath:
Running With The Wolves
Late last October the Labor protesters found themselves disrupted by a funeral procession. The hearse bore an RIP standard with the name and photograph of Mayor Giullietti— this confused everyone including the police— who then realized, too late, it was a form of protest, Confusion gave way to disbelief as the funeral procession converted itself into a birthday float for the Mayor’s grandfather (deceased three years earlier). The police were at loss as to how to apprehend the aberrancy without appearing hostile or even disrespectful to the Mayor and his family. Finally the funeral hearse/ birthday float procession was left to its machinations amid the Labor protesters.
What is remarkable is that this relatively harmless bit of mischief occurred two days before the City elections. The Mayor who was almost 18% ahead of his opponent, lost in a landslide. Did the funeral procession/ birthday float somehow arouse a cloud of confusion about the Mayor’s identity? It was neither his birthday or funeral, but something about the incident projected a certain air of inconsistency about him. Literally nailing his career into a coffin and equating him with the dead. Who engineered this farce anyway? Was it the unseen finger that wields its phantom motor into the life of every conspiracy theory— or is it, as the speculative word on the street puts it, the call of the wild? A response to the seemingly arbitrariness of ten marauders and a special guest star known collectively as the revolutionary theater troupe Peter Wolf.
There has always been room in our mythologies for wild clusters of testosterone roaming the imaginary landscapes, be they Robin Hood and his band of merry bandits— with the honorary female (love interest), the Maid Marian, or Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. And Wendy.
Oberon is something of a legend in Company Girl Lore. Characteristically lean and smoky, this (self-described) post-Nigerian earns her keep and her reputation as a hired gun for “ideological terrorists”. Her natural habitat is in the Badlands of Williamsburg, New York, where she keeps house with “Interventionists” Peter Wolf—
I interviewed them in the rambling warehouse where they live and play. Oberon and seven of the ten-man strong theater company (all surnamed Wolf, by the way):
How did this start? How does the Company Girl run with the wolves?
Oberon: Once upon a time, not very long ago I was working at bank doing data-entry. I’m someone who is very sensitive to patterns in language, obscure connections like palindromes no else can see, stuff like that. Well I noticed when I was entering a group of names for example; marketing trainees a warped WOLF acrostic would appear—
How do you determine a warped acrostic?
Oberon: For example if the first name was William Johnson, the next would be Leonard Frank— a pattern would emerge for me: the first letter of the first name and the second letter of that person’s last name. The next name, the first letters of both names—
It’s a bit esoteric,
Oberon: Well, yes— but it worked for me. I became fascinated and I would scan whole lists for acrostics with WOLF and then enter them in that order. Every time I did that, the system would crash. Not just on my computer, but the whole bank. Rebooting would take up the whole afternoon, and they couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I did this for a couple of weeks and then got bored. At any rate it completely crippled the bank, in that division folded, but that was after I left anyway. But I got another job temping on Wall Street doing something similar, so I tried to find the WOLF acrostic, this time I hit pay dirt! The lists here had a PETER WOLF pattern—
Oberon: This time, the beauty of it was that all I had to do was find the name ‘Peter’ in a first or last name, skip an interval of one name, and then the next two entries would yield a WOLF acrostic. The first day I tried it, instead of crashing the system, what it did was to create a bug, which just generally messed with the company. Like reshuffling clients and accounts. The next day I tried something a bit more complicated by asking (acrostically) WHO IS Peter WOLF. This time whole accounts got obliterated, CEOs were ready to jump off the ledges. You could literally feel the Dow (Dow Jones Industrial Average) plummeting. It was a catastrophe! Made the news all week.
This was a year and a half ago, nearly two billion dollars worth of holdings in Venezuela—
Oberon: Do you realize the impact of that on Latin America? It was a catalyst for the overthrow of two dictatorships and basically debilitated the North American grip over those economies. I didn’t foresee all this then— I was just giddy with excitement, I knew I was onto something, still I felt my question hadn’t been answered. Needless to say, they had us drones working overtime to rebuild files and retrieve lost information. I asked the question again: WHO IS Peter WOLF? This time I added the question mark. That was the end of that company. This is what’s important: everyday after work during the Peter WOLF episode I’d go have a drink— but I always noticed a guy at the end of the bar,
And this was Peter Wolf—
Oberon: No. It gets better, it happened three times in a row; after work I go to a bar and this same guy would be there. Different bars too. Anyway the fourth time it happened I went up to him and asked “Does Peter Wolf mean anything to you?” He just sort of stared blankly,
Peter Wolf: But I was standing right next to him ordering a drink, and I said “I’m Peter Wolf, who’re you?”
Oberon: The rest is history.
Peter Wolf: Anti-historic. Magic, man.
(To Peter) What was your reaction? Had you any idea this was going on, what was your take?
Peter Wolf: It was a destiny thing, fated/slated… I saw her when she walked into the bar. I knew we had Affinity.
Did you have any idea that the Wall Street Crisis had anything to do with you?
Peter Wolf: We’re all connected. I mean I could immediately predict the political consequences for say Latin America at the time— I felt my energy very much with that flow… But for me, the whole story is about finding your soul mate—
Is that to say every time you fall in love a financial empire collapses?
Dred Wolf: Pluck a leaf, disturb a star…
How did Peter Wolf come into being?
Peter Wolf: I was doing performance art—these shamanic scenarios. I and Beowulf used to hang in college. He moved here with Dred (his brother) and we took over this warehouse space. We wanted do way radical theater. Combining forces, me the Shaman, Beowulf and Dred Wolf being Drudes—
Beowulf: Drudes. Two different strands of our heritage, our mother’s Scot-Irish, our father’s Black. Druids and Dudes… Spoken word, that’s where the force is,
Peter Wolf: We began to notice that the combination of us three was pure combustion. Without even trying.
How did you go about “recruiting”?
Dred Wolf: Mickey and Crazy were tagmasters, doing this wild alien graffiti all over the Burg (Williamsburg). I mean they were doing full-scale alien vistas. It was like Pompeii meets Star Wars meets Brueghel. Intensity, man. They were doing the waterfront one night and I was like, yo’ hang with us.
Horny Wolf: Crazy was so bugged out, he used to go yelling, “do you see the alien, the alien!”
Crazy Wolf: Fuck that, we’re all alien.
(To Horny Wolf) How did you get involved?
Horny Wolf: DNA. Peter’s my cousin; I came out from the West coast to study at Columbia. Political Science—
Beowulf: Well, that never happened—
Horny Wolf: I just started hanging, my life changed. That just wasn’t my deal anymore…
Brer Wolf, you have an interesting story,
Brer Wolf: It is. I had been hired down in the Financial District as a systems analyst. I remember during my first week of work getting off the subway, these three people in some sort of Polynesian masquerades. It was really early, like 8 a.m.— and they weren’t panhandling either. It was bizarre. The image stayed with me all week and started to haunt my work—
Haunted by Polynesian masquerades?
Brer Wolf: I was working with a bunch of acronyms like PEB, SDF— stuff like that you get in those corporate environments. One of them was SEA which stood for Service Establishments (America)—something like that. Well I kept seeing it and thinking of it as South East Asia—
Let me guess, you type it in and the whole system crashes—
Brer Wolf: No that’s someone else’s story. I went into the database index on whim and momentarily changed the meaning of the acronym to South East Asia, for all of five seconds— just to see what sort of anachronisms would sprout. I did it just long enough to get a data printout and then I changed it back. Within five days the company was being sued for its violation of human rights in Indonesia (it was a clothing company). Call me crazy, but I knew, this was about Polynesian Masquerades. A couple of weeks later, I was dating this woman who was way into the Sufi stuff, so she brings me out here to Williamsburg for this chanting session and I remember sort of gravitating to Peter afterwards. We hung out, later we all came back here for hash— and that’s when I saw the Polynesian stuff hanging on the walls. For me there was no turning back.
Peter Wolf: The main thing is Affinity. Not just clicking with people, but being a part of an Over-Soul. We’re all soul mates here. One people.
Beowulf: Uways Al-Rahman— Sufi Heretic and Dream Wolf is a big connection for us—
Peter Wolf: He’s the prophet, granddaddy of us all
Dred Wolf: Yeah, he’s the Guru —anyone this side of radical has some kind of link with him. We met Edge Wolf and Storm Wolf (both not present) at his place. And Howlin’ Wolf too (also absent). He’s round the corner from us and he holds these sort of Sufi chant/trance sessions. He’s beyond. But most of us sort connected around him.
Is “membership” set at ten? Is Peter Wolf expanding, or is it an exclusive boy’s club— with the honorary Company Girl?
Peter Wolf: This is pretty much the core group. We’re all pretty specific in our input— we’ve got other affiliates though, who come and go. And around full moon we take over abandoned factories and have dionysian jams— then, everyone in sight is Peter Wolf. On nights like those we’re legion.
You are self-described “Ideological Terrorists”. What does this mean, wouldn’t you say the term is redundant?
(Several replies at once, Horny Wolf prevails)
Horny Wolf: Can I answer this? Yeah? We’re interventionists. We are alchemical situationists. We immediately transform time and space. We jar consciousness, prick it—
Peter Wolf: It’s magic baby, Jazz fusion—
Mickey Wolf: It’s the Moment
Horny Wolf: It’s a Horny Moment! White, Hot & Sticky…
Oberon: It’s about transforming a situation, chain reactions. We are catalysts—
Beowulf: What’s beautiful is we never have a blueprint. Don’t have a plan ever—
Horny Wolf: Fuck the Plan! That’s what we’re up against, the Fucking Plan! We believe in Be Horny! Right Now! That’s our ideology—
Brer Wolf: Free Your Form!
So basically you’re free-style anarchists…
Peter Wolf: Drudes, ye all…
Mickey Wolf: It’s moment to moment. You flow. Right and Wrong are never static.
Crazy Wolf: Right place Right time. That’s the Law.
Do you see yourselves in a Robin Hood-type gesture, steal from the rich, give to the poor—
Peter Wolf: Not necessarily. Give to the flow…
Horny Wolf: Fuck poor!
Crazy Wolf: We don’t like poor people or rich people. Hate those muthas; have to be down with the flow…
How do you feel about other Company Girls?
Peter Wolf: There’s a big danger with this Girl Cult thing. So much of it feeds into the Big Lie. It’s the same as the breeder myth—
Crazy Wolf: Men are women too!
Horny Wolf: Fuck gender!
Brer Wolf: We don’t stand for that division. It’s the Big Lie
Horny Wolf: Fuck girls!
Mickey Wolf: Fuck You!
Brer Wolf: I’m open…
(The interview becomes too bawdy and raucous to continue. Later in the day Oberon and I meet at Kellogg’s Diner for coffee. Uninterrupted.)
Isn’t Peter Wolf really Peter Pan?
Oberon:(laughs) OK, so sometimes I’m the only grownup in sight—but hey, it’s the spontaneity, the ability to interpret and execute the mood of the nano-instant— that makes our collaborations so successful. The element of Play—it’s so important in revolution. Mirth is subversive. Peter Wolf is Bacchus.
Do you feel at odds with the other Girls, working in such contact with males?
Oberon: There aren’t any rules you know. At least I won’t accept them. I guess it’s a touchy subject, I’ve been labeled a traitor in some quarters. The truth is that I’ve always preferred male company. I was a tomboy—still am.
Some would say Femme Fatale—
Oberon: There’s a lot of bitchiness out there. I’m not into those girlie leagues that’ve sprouted all over. I mean, I can see how they are useful but they’re not for everyone.
White, Hot & Sticky?
Oberon: (laughs) Some mantra the guys picked up from “quantum tantra manifesto”. White, Hot and Sticky is the QT logo— White for infinite possibility, all the colors of the light spectrum; Hot, particles in heat flow faster, more affinity spontaneity; Sticky— interconnectiveness, at any point. It’s sort of what we practice.
What happens if your relationship with Peter (Wolf) dissolves— would that change your involvement with the pack? Would you go solo?
Oberon: Hard to say, probably. I love being with the Pack though, and Peter’s Magickal (with a K), he has such force and focus that it’s near impossible not to have Affinity with him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a lone wolf. We’re together Now and I guess that’s what important.
What’s the future?
Oberon: No Future. Only the Moment. Now.
But you must have a vision, some underlying motivation.
Oberon: Funny you would put it that way. There’s this whole thing about a reptile grid going on in my head. I keep noticing a basic reptile scale motif in everything. It’s the bass line of the Cosmos, the reptile brain. I don’t think the dinosaurs ever phased out, they went under cover. And that fascinates me. I don’t know where I’m going with it, but I can tell you it’s all Saurian Patterning underneath.
The Mirror. 8:31 p.m., Tuesday.
I am home, exhausted. Cleansing my face in the bathroom mirror lines from the Details interview drift across my mind:
But was there a moment when you knew something had changed?
BMV: Perhaps, It’s as simple as taking off your make-up one night, you’re looking in the mirror and you realize you are something other than yourself.
I freeze. First of all because I am unsure if this statement is in the original transcript or in the Detail’s piece itself, or worse— a new recollection. Secondly, I am in stasis because the mirror reflects someone else in the apartment. An obscured figure sitting on my bed.
“Does it matter where you first heard it? Why don’t you accept only that it exists, even if you went back to the transcripts or the article, you’d still find me there—”
“You beckoned. I am at your service.”
“What do you want?”
“You tell me. After all you’re the one whose been looking for me all day.”
“I didn’t even know who you were when I woke up this morning. Now all of a sudden, you exist and the world is upside down—”
“What do you know? The world as we see it is passing.”
“And what does that mean?”
“Don’t rub against the grain of your evolution Otto.”
“Consider the parable of the dragon falling to earth. Spirit become flesh. Fire to earth. And then all flesh aspires to the heavens once more. This is the Evolutionary loop—”
“But if the dragon becomes mere reptile, a creature that hoards gems— what is the use? How does it profit him that he gains the World and forfeits his Soul?”
I am about to reply but there is a knock at the door.
Who is it?
In the mirror there is only my reflection and the room about me.
My bed is unoccupied.
There is a knock at the door
“Who is it?”
Through the peephole, a familiar face. That she is welcome is not certain. I open the door,
“Good evening Branca what can I do for you?”
Jezebel. 8:33 p.m., Tuesday.
Branca makes herself at home in my apartment. Or should I say she establishes herself, Chocolat the chocolate labrador at her feet. Chocolat seems like a nice enough dog, but I understand that I am to keep my distance. Branca sits on the bed in verdant silk and pearls; my bed formerly spare and humble according to my tastes reflects a glamour unknown to these habitations. It no longer seems like my home, her presence converts it into a smoking lounge in Marrakech. I imagine I am new on staff, not knowing how or where to position myself,
“Sorry for the impromptu visit, but it’s important. I need something from you”
“What do you want?”
“Funny you should ask. She was here a minute ago.”
“I’m not in the mood for humor Otto—”
“What does everyone want with this person anyway? She’s making everything crazy. She even does it better than you— no dead millionaires or nothin’–”
“There’s an attractive reward involved—”
“What would attract me to it?”
“I met your landlady. You’re significantly behind your rent.”
“Am I really–or are you going to see to that?”
“Your options are few. I could help you. You help me. Your life could be very easy”.
“Maybe, except I don’t know how to “find” Memorexe, it seems to me she’s the mistress of her own movements. I’m as much in the dark as you are—”
“Is that a fact? Is this a fabrication then?”
She retrieves a document from her purse. Exhibit A. The world as we know it is full of surprises,
“What’s this? You tell me—” She hands it to me, “this is the first transcript you submitted to Quasar last week—”
I inspect the sheaf of papers. It is a transcript alright, me and Memorexe. Everything about it rings true. Everything happens so fast these days, before you know it, literally.
“Do you mind if I hold on to these? I’m curious—”
Branca gets up to leave,
“If it will jog your memory. You have the night to think it over. I expect to hear from you by noon tomorrow—”
“What’s your beef with Memorexe?”
“It’s not your concern. Tomorrow at noon.”
“So Branca, how did you like the Details cover? Do you think you got enough exposure?”
Branca does not dignify my insolence with a response. Chocolat the chocolate labrador growls. How uncharacteristic. I suppose I can’t bring Branca down to my level, instead I must deal with her dog. I recall Jezebel thrown from the palace balcony— down into the streets. There her flesh was torn to bits by canines, until her bones gleamed. So let it be with the evil that is Branca. Exalted is the enigma Memorexe. She who will out run wolves, slay PYTHONS and still the forces of Legion in their own darkness. And she will convert unpleasant incidents into invisible objects that implode cataclysmically in your apartment.
(Excerpts from Real/Memorexe, Quasar Magazine, April 200_)
Probably the prototype for the Company Girl, Memorexe (her nom de guerre) has become a shadowy mythological figure. She is the first of her kind to gain international repute. During the interview it was easy to understand why she has become such a myth: A shadowy physical presence which becomes harder and harder to register (especially in retrospect), yet a compelling essence…
Contrary to expectation she was not difficult to pin down. Or perhaps she wanted to do this interview. Contrary to popular myth she does not shy from view. Rather, she possesses a unique quality that makes her elusive at will. Our conversations took place over three days in a variety of locations: in dark lounges, sunlit cafes and park benches and hardly smacked of the anticipated cloak and dagger machinations.
Interesting enough my own recollections of the specifities of these exchanges have evaporated; those involved with the transcriptions of the tapes experienced something similar. And perhaps here lies the true potency of Memorexe: her will to ephemera…
She is best described in her own words…
Whether they like you or not, people tend to speak of you in hushed tones. How do you accommodate the mythology surrounding you?
MEMOREXE: I have the benefit of being one of the first and perhaps the most visible.
That’s true, but I guess the question I’m asking is—is there solid ground, is there a basis for all the attention you receive. How much is mere myth and what is fact?
MEMOREXE: I am more evolved than most Girls, to my knowledge, the most advanced. Yes, so there are meta elements that are factual. All the same, I don’t know where this is taking me. After a long period of being a savant, I am finally once more in awe of the phenomena.
Prevalent in your mythology is your escape from prison…
MEMOREXE: A while back I studied the lore of this vanished pre-Islamic Saharan culture, I found myself identifying with this demi-goddess or demoness as some called her— whose name literally means—“She Who Does Not Fear Captivity”. At some point after months of skillfully dodging and foiling the attempts of FBI agents, I allowed myself to be taken captive. I realized that I was in a lull and this could be the key to the Next Stage. There was a great deal I didn’t understand about my self—I needed the FBI to help me discover.
So you were willfully incarcerated?
MEMOREXE: They ran an inhuman number of tests on me. I became an observer of myself; it was a useful incubation period. Finally when I felt I had made some sort of breakthrough, I walked out. I was held for eighteen months.
The rumor was that you had died.
MEMOREXE: I was passive no doubt. It was a maximum-security facility— I was forced to transcend the limits of my captivity—
But this rumor of your death— was it FBI propaganda? Reports revealed that your body was stretched way beyond human limits—
MEMOREXE: The question of death, technically, yes, but this was always a question of will/desire. Voluntas/voluptas. In Latin the two words are differentiated by only one alphabet. It was at the point when they administered physical death I was able to walk away from there without being stopped. It’s ironic, I think the FBI has a policy of disposing of Girls before their reputations reach mythological proportions, what they never counted on was our ability to adapt and subvert restrictions at any given moment—
Not to harp on a fine point, are you technically dead or alive?
MEMOREXE: It’s interesting, as far as the state is concerned, I am persona non grata. I do not exist. That’s my definition of a technical fine point.
Legion. 11:52 a.m., Wednesday.
This morning a call from Ines’s assistant— it is imperative I come into Quasar at once. What next?
I am unnerved, awaiting my arrival in Ines’s office are two Legion—
“What’s going on?”
“These are Agents Dean and Smythe—”
“We are Legion”
“I can tell.”
“Three weeks ago we approached Miss Cuéllar here to help us track down the criminal Memorexe. She immediately contacted you and assigned you to do a cover story on her—”
Three weeks? Funny, seems like only yesterday.
“There is something you need to know: The Memorexe is not a person. It is a highly evolved and lethal Artificial Intelligence—”
“I thought she was a Company Girl,”
“This is the guise it operates under. The initial template was drawn from was from that of a Company Girl.”
My question is ignored.
“The Memorexe has taken on the semblance of a previous identity. It is this format of “Company Girl’ we have been trying, for some time, to track down. And now finally we’ve succeeded since she’s made contact with you—”
“What makes you think I’m in contact with her?”
“Otto, I’ve shown them the transcripts. They know.”
The by now world famous transcripts. I wonder how if this means there is money in my bank account if I’m the author of all these cover stories…
“If you say so, I’m in contact— so what’s the problem? Why don’t you move in for the kill?”
“Not so simple.”
“Why not, after all you are Legion—”
Then I realize, of course, they have no capacity for the past… They are masters of the intricate workings of the moment, but the moment slips away and like Memorexe, becomes a blind side. Beyond their scope—
“To stop Memorexe, we must understand her inner workings, her syntax—”
“You need me to write her out, like a program—”
“Very good Otto.”
“We were hoping for a sneak preview, Otto—”
“It would be useful to observe,”
“The Memorexe, as it rebuilds”
“As a Company Girl”
The room sparkles softly. They are in my head, the Legion. How can I poise myself against their penetration?
To what? What am I afraid of anyway, it’s not like I have anything to hide— or do I?
Legion: Do you?
Otto: Get out of my head.
My synapses collapse into the surrounding fuzziness. It’s unbearable
Legion: Whom are you resisting Otto? We are Legion; we are your redemption—
The room about me is soft filtered and shiny, mild depthenings of color saturation, Ines’s lipstick seems very dark (does she know? yes of course, she is Legion too— I’ve been a fool),
Ines’s lipstick: superbly poisonous, an evil serpent, writhing,
because we are subversive, I like the idea of reptilian instinct
It’s all Saurian Patterning underneath; consider the parable of the dragon… Consider the Mirror Otto,
Legion: That’s right Otto, lead us to The Memorexe
What am I doing? I can scarcely stop the thought sequence. I can feel the Legion gliding down my pathways. A luminous stroking action. So darkly luxuriant—
Legion: The Memorexe rebuilds, give us access—
Searching for resistance I am a dead dreamer,
Legion: We’ll give you what you want Otto— if you give us what we want—
That’s a darn shame, seeing as I don’t know what I want,
Why would I help them?
Legion: There is everything to be gained, Otto—
And how does it profit me to gain the world
lose my soul…
in a pool of reflectors—
It’s almost futile, Memorexe shows up at every curve, almost of her own volition,
Legion: Why would you hoard a known criminal— at the risk of your own life?
Perhaps they mean at the risk of my sanity—
Legion: Society will be indebted to you, you know. You will be rewarded for your service to mankind. Think of it, what is it you desire most, Otto?
I wish I knew.
The office is a mild fluorescent gleam, Ines sitting on her desk: a lavish array of sensations,
Legion: You were doing so well, don’t stop now—
something lethally cloaked in a velvet purr there. Something steely with claws posing as a mink persuasion engine, flattering me into submission—
Or bludgeon me.
Alas, I perceive a trap.
I am being coerced into rebuilding The Memorexe in my head. I am to allow her to completely write out her existence in my head. Possession. A process that will end my own identity as I know it—
Legion: You will be a Legend, a Hero—
I’m sure, I’ll be Huge.
Legion: You’ve been one step ahead of everyone all along, we could use brilliance like yours, give us the Memorexe, Otto—
I have an idea. Games. Repetition.
Otto: Memorexe is in the Details
A dull flash, the room briefly washes out of color and then saturation reemerges. That was a short circuit. They don’t like to be confronted with repetition, do they? Or memory jogs of any sort— no capacity for the past…
Insurrection is not without its price, now I can feel them stroking me the wrong way.
Legion: It is in your interests to cooperate.
Otto: I see. We’ve reverted to coercion. —
Legion: Don’t imagine that you can face The Memorexe by yourself. Eventually you will be confronted with the horrors in your own reflection. Your own Karma will condemn you—
Otto: I’m not afraid of my own reflection—
Legion: You should be. It is a shadow projected on the world about you. Perceive. There are already threats on your life. Peter Wolf is looking for you. And Branca Meireles-Vermelho has put up a million dollar reward for anyone who can bring you in alive.
Resistance locates itself in the ludicrous. I start to laugh,
Legion: Is something funny? What amuses Otto?
Otto: Since when did Peter Wolf take up bounty hunting?”
Legion: You are a Collaborator. They consider you the enemy, you are working for Us.
It’s a bit presumptuous for either side to house such views. However, the updates of Legion no matter how farfetched are lethal and true. They have command over the moment—
Nevertheless, I have them worried. My thoughts are too scattered, they need to contain me to a narrower sequence if they are to hold my attention,
Legion: We are losing our grip —
Ines leans forward; her mouth is dark and garish.
Legion: Make no mistake you’re marked. The best you can do is to cooperate. As we speak your friend, the Sufi guru, Uways Al-Rahman is found murdered in his home—
Legion: A stake is driven through his heart—the word Collaborator smeared on the wall in his blood. He was suspected to be working with you—
I am shaky. Carter? It was just yesterday— well perhaps not, nothing being the way it was.
Only yesterday Carter had said…
I recall clearly what he said —
Another recollection overrides,
with it Carter’s face, clearly, his eyes. Storm blue. White hair streams like lightning. Uways Al-Rahman the Dream-Wolf says:
two deserts; one emerging from the other: the heart of everything, in it’s heart, everything,
Another impulse overrides, this is not a recollection, it is prescience. I am in Carter’s cluttered den; I place manuscripts on the floor and sit on the chair. Here is Carter, not dead, not alive, but in full Memorexe surround;
“Carter, what do I do? They’re after Memorexe—”
“Memorexe. She operates by inserting herself into memory”
“I know that. But what should I do Carter?”
“Is your concern for Memorexe or yourself?”
“I’m concerned that my mind is being invaded. Help me!”
“Then consider this: the distinction between you and the fugitive sequencing program…
two deserts; one emerging from the other: the heart of everything, in it’s heart, everything,”
“What does it mean?” I ask
He smiles. Enigmatic eyes: blue, a crucible of the skies…
Memorexe. Waking, we will PROCEED WITH CAUTION—
The spell is broken.
The room is oddly real. All seems normal; Ines is Ines. And the agents look just like ordinary Legion (if that is a possibility). It is as though the events the past several minutes never occurred…
In fact, they didn’t. I am confident of their erasure.
“Otto listen to me, your only hope is to cooperate—”
This is Ines. The audacity…
“Well thank you Ines. I always wanted to be popular. Now everyone wants me—”
“Will you be serious? They’re assigning a bodyguard to you—”
“Is this so amusing?” inquires Legion; a couple of crime scene photos of Carter are slapped into my lap. Carter impaled, sprawled across sheaves of unpublished manuscripts. Blood drenched books and journals. It is gruesome, still, death hasn’t his hampered his finer abilities.
“Do you want to end up like that?”
“You can’t afford for me to end up like that. At this point you need me—” And this is the saving grace of the situation, I have nothing to fear from Legion or the Security Forces— as long as I am their link to Memorexe,
“It is your duty as a citizen. Do you realize what chaos this will bring if it is unleashed to the public? It will be the end of all order—”
How can I tell them they’re too late, the party’s already begun—
“Otto you must deliver the Memorexe to us.”
And why do they keep mentioning that name? Don’t they realize every time they do, the story changes?
Subway (Desire). 3:15 p.m., Wednesday.
I stand on the platform watching trains flash past. In my mind’s eye, my apartment: objects continue to crash and burn, invisibly. I have an idea for the Future: the train as a virtual living organism, snakelike streaming electrons slithering through the tracks. Embarking, you merge: no longer distinction between passenger and passage. At your stop you disengage, disembark, but are never entirely the same. Your sojourn has transformed you. It is a nuptial…
Convinced of my thoughts, I stand here on the platform for hours, refusing to take the train. I am not ready for this Future.
How frustrating for the agents posted all around this station and on the trains. They have to stand here like fools.
Such is the Subway thought: a space transforming itself and it’s subject—
Destination always unknown. Looking back in the Mirror, you recognize your face as the one you desired.
Nemo. 7:52 p.m., Wednesday.
On every street corner, an agent. I walk determined and aimless for hours. It starts to rain lightly. My wanderings create a maze of the city— how long can they keep this up? It gets darker and rainier, I’m drenching quickly. Someone behind me with an umbrella. Walks up very close, almost enough to suggest seduction (?). It is dark now. Rain pounds me,
“Are you my bodyguard?”
“Amongst other things.”
“What would those be?”
“I am specially trained to interrogate,”
“Quite the opposite. I am from an uncharted branch of the Security Forces, we specialize in Affinity”
“How cryptic indeed. Would you mind saying what you mean?”
“Particles in heat flow faster. We are tantric”
“Our methods of extraction are subtle. The body carries all the information we need, it encrypts it. We arouse the body, unravel the code…”
Darkness and water cascade all around us. I can scarcely make out the face of my companion,
“I have to admit, that’s a good pick up line.”
“Hardly. Give me your hand.”
Reluctance shoved in place by curiosity, I place my hand in his. With his finger he traces a vein from the small of my wrist to mid-palm and applies pressure. It is a nerve trigger for a million neural endings. I fall into a waking trance, too ignited to be unconscious
two deserts; one emerging from the other:
the heart of everything, in it’s heart, everything,
my neural system floods into his, all secrets laid bare to the other folding outwards then inwards, oscillating
his code becomes mine
The threshold: suddenly I am diabolical; entering his crypt of pain I am reminiscent of his young wife, dead young wife…
— hence your affinity for me, how bitter when you have to kill me, double the loss…
— I’ll regret it, but it’s protocol
—You have forgotten Memorexe
The motion freezes, code, rain, darkness suspended in a split second—
On every street corner, an agent. I walk determined and aimless for hours. It starts to rain lightly. How long can they keep it up? It gets darker and rainier, I’m drenching quickly. Someone behind me with an umbrella walks up very close, close enough to suggest seduction. It’s dark now, the rain pounds me,
“Are you my bodyguard?”
“Amongst other things.”
“Is it really necessary? There’s an agent on every corner—”
“Some of them should seem familiar to you,”
“What do you mean?”
He doesn’t need to answer, I have immediate perception. Scanning my memory some of those faces aren’t just nondescript agents: they are Peter Wolf.
I fall silent against rain and darkness. We pass another Wolf. I am afraid.
I look to my companion, his face is obscure but familiar through kindness,
“Don’t be afraid I’m here to protect you.”
“Why do I feel like I know you?”
“We have an Affinity”
Affinity. Such a comforting word on a street plotted with uncertainties.
“You can call me Nemo”
“Is that your name?”
The air slices with Wolf Howls—
“Ambush! Get down!”
I find myself hurled to the pavement, the sheen of his black neoprene raincoat encircling me I am hurled into rain, darkness, darkness, darkness…
(From Transcript Real/Memorexe, Quasar Magazine, April 1998)
Okay then, do you still consider yourself a Company Girl?
MEMOREXE: I think the Company Girl phase was an elementary one. It was interesting because it formed out of collective desire clusters for liberation and fate. It was about underclasses and underdogs. This was a revolution, we outwitted them— and us, as well. I compare the phenomena to the immaculate conception— first you have the unlikely candidate, angelic interventions— it was a miracle not just in phantasmic— but more concrete thrusts. What was my point?
(…) Well to answer your question I am no longer of that garden variety— The Company Girl…
At this point we’re all in church with the saints—
So how do you refer to yourself now, and— how should I put this?— Regarding the phenomena, is there a certain Telos? Do you see yourself as having a role to play—
MEMOREXE: I was truly more definite about myself and my intentions maybe two years ago, now, I don’t know. I think I’ve entered the primary vestiges of a “Next Stage” and am too young in the experience to even glimpse a “whole”. So for now I rely on instincts— once more. I’ve become a creature of cycles—
Which brings me to the most obvious and flogged out question of the decade—
MEMOREXE: —Are Company Girls another brand of WerePeople? Are we different from Vampires and mermaids?
MEMOREXE: Who knows? Those myths are useful in mirror analogies, but I no longer identify with them. If you’re in the business long enough, you become sensitive to cycles and seasons that extend beyond our local lunar and solar trips. There is so much more out there, and you don’t need to be subject to any of it.
What do you think of the current trend of “girlpaks” or OG’s (organized girldom)?
MEMOREXE: It’s great for those people who are so inclined—
You don’t subscribe to it?
MEMOREXE: No. I always needed to progress at my own pace— whether that was sped up or slowed down—
But do these set ups seem useful to you? What is your relationship to them?
MEMOREXE: At the risk of sounding super-arrogant, I have never needed this sense of camaraderie, and at this point, I am far too enhanced to be useful to such people or vice-versa.
Let’s get back to the question of cycles. What does your current activity consist of? Do you see yourself articulating towards a goal?
MEMOREXE: Current activity. Being. I suppose. Goal— to get where I’m going, wherever, whenever, whatever that is.
Otto. 11:18 p.m., Wednesday.
Emerging from darkness, I am in a hospital bed. Parts of my body are bandaged. My wrist is sore. There are enough flowers in the room for me to mistake it for a funeral parlor at first… and Ines, talking non-stop. How long has she been talking for? And to whom?
“— and you won’t believe the response, two hours after you arrived here the flowers and the faxes started pouring in. You’re a Star. I hired a PR agent for you and she’s scheduling a press conference as soon as you’re strong enough—”
“Why am I a star, Ines? What did I do this time?”
She rolls her eyes,
‘Oh come on Otto, you know I despise modesty— and so do you. We’re not just talking about the Memorexe article— the fact that you were ambushed by the Security Forces Legion and defended yourself valiantly— I mean thank God that Peter Wolf came to the rescue— but you, Otto, stood up to the SF Legion and their reign of terror. You’ve single-handedly dismantled their grip over the people. And that is why you are a Star. You’re big. Huge. This better than any Company Girl shtick. Sure, people are blaming you for the War— but isn’t that what’s at the heart of human nature anyway—”
—the human heart is wicked and deceitful above all things…
I am with Carter, in Memorexe
—Only if you want it. Not so much War, but rumors of War—
— I want to understand,
—If you look for it in the skies, the birds of the air will precede you; if you look in the depths the creatures of the sea will precede you—
rather it is in you and without you
— it is like the heart of everything, in its heart everything…
Ines has left and all is tranquil. At my bedside a selection of magazines amongst them this week’s Rolling Stone with Peter Wolf himself on the cover— shirtless faunus, shadowy curls twisting hornlike, the legend reads:
The Liberation: Wolf or Pan?
Beneath it a Women’s Wear Daily, Branca on the cover: this time it’s an obituary, the Fashion World mourns the loss of the ‘Off the Rack Widow” to the savagery of the Wolves. Bizarre. Time Magazine has full coverage; apparently some of the young female interns at PYTHON were actually Maenads— that is Company Girls turned Wolf (who knew?). The Maenads infected Chocolat with Wolf Byte which caused the chocolate Labrador to turn on Branca in the elevator. Wolf Byte. (Memory trigger: I once met a poet who had spent years in India translating the works of a sixteenth century poetess, Mirabai. She explained to me that she had learnt Sanskrit by instant transmission— a rabid dog bit her, and while she lay feverish and convulsing with pain, the Sanskrit characters flashed and burned into her consciousness. Hence she became fluent). What had they done to poor Chocolat? According to the story when the elevator doors opened, she was recognizable only by her trademark diamonds still clinging to schrapnelled bone and flesh. That’s what the publication says. She is the first famous casualty of the War.
So much for the threats, Branca.
There is the Quasar with my cover story on Memorexe. I don’t bother to read it, I merely look at the date. It’s last month’s edition.
I buzz for a nurse, I want all the flowers removed.
For a few minutes the room fills with the low twittery hum of orderlies clearing out the bouquets. The fragrance is overwhelming. There are discreet oohs and ahs at the names of celebrities and dignitaries attached to the flowers. How nice to be so popular and loved by all. A nurse comes in, she is here to change my dressing. Tense, precise. Silent. When the others leave, she avoids making eye-contact, but when she does it’s part accusatory and part—
“Why are you afraid?”
“I know what you are”
“I’m not afraid of you”
She belongs to some variant Pentecostal Church, I can tell. She can perceive things others would generally not, and probably a bit more paranoid.
“They say you are the first of your kind. That you embody The Memorexe. And there will be more. More of you changing the Past, until the Present becomes incomprehensible and the Future, Chaos.”
She deftly winds the linens,
“But those of us who put there trust in the Lord, the Almighty will not be prey to your seductions—”
She stiffens, as if my thought/question is an exterior one
“Are you done?” I ask
She looks down at the dressing. It is quite perfect and accomplished,
She says “Yes.”
“Good. Is that a wardrobe by the door? Is there a mirror on the door inside?
She says “Yes”
“Leave it open on your way out, so I can see my reflection. Thank you”
Without further ado she swings it open, switches off the light in the room and leaves.
The room fills with another sort of light. Memorexe actualizes in the mirror
“I suppose you could tell me how long I’ve been here?”
“Six hours, less. It’s irrelevant.”
“How much has changed?”
“Everything changes. The world is flux.”
“How much is paradox— to me”
“Everything. You are already used to it, you see—”
“It seems I’m not the only one aware of the paradoxes”
“Everyone will awaken to it, eventually— and then be forced to confront their true selves. They will understand that the world around them is a projection of their true natures—”
“I think they will understand that the world around them is in chaos. Hell.”
“—the world merely passes, now each one must unravel her own salvation— there will no longer be the props of state, church, family, society. No more, the crutches of middlebrow moralities and self-deprecating legal systems. No more the restraints of The Legion. It is the world as you define it. This is the meaning of the War”
“Or the rumors of War,”
“Isn’t this what you wished for?”
Was it? Somehow I couldn’t shape an argument against it. I thought of my apartment with it’s own phantasmic catastrophes unfolding—beyond my reach.
Is this my secret wish?—
“I have a question—”
“All that is paradox is your perspective of me.”
I am suddenly tired and feverish. I ache,
“Every time you show up I feel like my head’s been rearranged.”
There is no reply to this.
I realize I am speaking to an empty room, nevertheless,
“Yesterday I was an underpaid, under appreciated writer with few and far between prospects. It’s barely twenty-four hours, now I’m feared, famous and admired. What I want to know is: have we been the same person all along? Are you my until now, silent invisible projection, an unleashed djinn—
Or is it the other way around?
Am I Real?
Am I Memorexe?”
(From Transcript Real/Memorexe, Quasar Magazine, April 1998)
What has changed for you. What’s different?
MEMOREXE: My tolerance for populations. Crowds. Noise. I used to be such a cosmopolitan, now cities make me claustrophobic. I started to shun bars, restaurants, nightlife…. I crave stark simplicity. I find myself traveling for months in the Urals, Siberia, Mongolia then I come back for a few weeks. The city gives me no peace.
Desert spaces? Wouldn’t that have to do with a sense of displacement? A lost sense of home?
MEMOREXE: Unheimlichkeit for sure. There was the incident where someone broke into my apartment while I was sleeping. Stuff was stolen, but everything had been rearranged. My friend Herman kept insisting I call the police, but I couldn’t have told them what was stolen. The whole room had been rearranged.