Digital Ischemia

23/06/2019

Fossoway Flora and the Croits: a sonata in A manor -r

Relationship counselling with three incarnations of the Kreutzer Sonata – radio script
(Other episodes in the Fossoway Flora series)

 

CAST LIST

FLORA (30s): Scottish, Female, Ecologist

LEO (60s): Russian, Male, Psychotherapist

ROD (30s): Scottish, Male, Music Promoter

SCENE (1) INT HALL

FX: DOOR SHUTS, ECHOEY

FLORA

We’re definitely in the right place: A Manor – Relationship Counselling.

ROD

Nobody here.

FLORA

I need to pee.

ROD

Aye, you disappear, then someone appears.

FX: RECEDING STEPS, RUFFLING MAGAZINES

ROD (CONT’D)

‘Romantic gardening’?!

FX: APPROACHING STEPS

FLORA

There’s an old Russian master in the toilet.

ROD

How do you ken he’s Russian?

FLORA

Apart from the accent? He’s fondling a samovar.

SCENE (2) INT TOILET

FX: BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA NO.9 IN A MAJOR KREUTZER OP.47 EXCERPT; DOOR CREAK, SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO

(WAIL) How can they play that first presto in front of ladies? It’s irresponsible.

ROD

(LOUD, STILTED)

Do you know where the therapist is?

FLORA

(CLOSE) He is the therapist! This is Leo Tallstory! He has the ‘croits’.

ROD

(CLOSE) Well, he’s in the best place.

LEO

My complaint is caused by deletions made by literary executors.

ROD

Ouch.

LEO

Come to my consulting room.

SCENE (3) INT CONSULTING ROOM

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO

Flora. Rodney. We must begin with the social conditions in which amorous young people are forced, like cucumbers in a hot-bed!

ROD

Cucumbers?!

FLORA

This is exactly why we’re here, Mr Tallstory. We rather rushed—

LEO

Call me Leo. Our super-abundance of food, coupled with physical idleness, simply pushes us to the next biological need: food, shelter, etcetera, reproduction. Every day we consume huge quantities of meat and pastry and drinks of sugar. Where does all this energy go?

ROD

Er…

LEO

Into excesses of sensuality.

ROD

Is it hot in here?

FLORA

I did try fruitarianism.

LEO

It is a good start. Rod, do you admit to knowing pieces of music that make you feel happy or salad?

ROD

Is this a crime—? Wait: “salad”?

LEO

Somebody perhaps calls in to a radio show to share the piece of music that triggered them to propose marriage to their partner.

LEO (CONT’D)

This seems like a joyful story, yes? But this person says it was the worst mistake of their life and blames it on a false feeling incited by the music.

FLORA

Ooh! We really don’t understand how music affects our moods, choices—

ROD

That’s basically sympathising with state censorship of music!

FLORA

We’re just having a conversation!

ROD

So you say, then once again I’m the victim of mission creep.

LEO

What is your mission, Rodney?

ROD

Actually it’s Rodolphe.

LEO

The Kreutz! (SCREAM)

FX: SAMOVAR LID GRINDS, BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT

LEO (CONT’D)

So sorry about that. He was the original dedicatee, you see – Rodolphe Kreutzer. He refused it.

ROD

And yet here it is.

LEO

Fate! What is your profession, Mr Kreutzer?

ROD

Music industry executive.

FLORA

(SNORT)

LEO

What do you do?

FLORA

Yes, what exactly?

ROD

Never mind your disrespecting! I promote bands, get them gigs, recording contracts… new strings.

LEO

Which ensembles are these?

ROD

Well, er, right now it’s mostly this band, you’ve maybe heard of them, er, this indie electro rock band, er, The Wankers?

FLORA

(SPLUTTER)

LEO

You produce them?

ROD

Aye! Respect at last!

LEO

You make them into a product to sell to as many people as possible, giving these ‘consumers’ unpredictable emotional stimulation, to generate profit for yourself?

ROD

Er, no, that’s not—

LEO

The machine of commercial production grinds and grinds to deliver more and more products for human consumption: the instant gratification of ever fainter desires. Millions of oppressed workers are drained to husks by soulless industry, predicated upon the fallacy of infinite economic growth, merely to satisfy woman’s caprice.

ROD

Ken how they feel.

FLORA

I only changed my mind once: when I met Rod I thought he was funny but now I realise it’s all just smut.

LEO

We must play the Kreutzer Sonata.

ROD

Is this one of your mind games?

FX: SAMOVAR LID GRINDS, BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT

ROD (CONT’D)

Is that a wee radio you have in your sam-over?

LEO

It is an echo-chamber. Flora. How do you respond to music?

FLORA

Music transports me immediately into the emotional state of the composer.

FX: GLASS DISH DRAG

LEO

Correct. Would you like a lollipop? These are ants trapped in chocolate.

FLORA

Absolutely not. This is a macabre metaphor for the oppressed workers.

FX: CELLOPHANE SQUEAKS

LEO

But they taste of honey. And all these males sacrifice their entire existence for the queen.

ROD

Don’t get any ideas.

FLORA

They milk aphids for honeydew.

ROD

Milk?

FLORA

When the aphids are gorging on plant sap, the ants stroke the aphids’ abdomens until they excrete—

ROD

(AROUSED MOAN)

LEO

Rod! Who wrote the Kreutzer Sonata?

ROD

(TETCHY)

Doctor Bunsen Honeydew.

FLORA

Muppet.

LEO

Both wrong. Beethoven knew exactly why he was in that emotional state. That state drove the form of the music, which therefore had deep meaning for him. But for me it is inappropriate.

ROD

And me. Can I have one of your wee honeydew sweeties?

LEO

No.

ROD

Why?

LEO

Because, like the music, just the idea of this honeydew causes directly in you a surge of energy and emotion that is inappropriate to this time and place. And furthermore must have an outlet which can only be harmful.

ROD

I’ll just bottle it up then.

FLORA

I’m not sure—

LEO

Flora. How do you feel after hearing this music?

FLORA

I do feel that rush of extreme emotion: as if I’ve been betrayed and I want vengeance… but I’m constrained?

LEO

Exactly. I must pursue this man who seduces my wife! But I am not dressed! It is ridiculous to run after my wife’s lover wearing only socks. I do not wish to appear ridiculous but terrifying!

ROD

(SNIGGER)

FLORA

Should we consider the wife’s—?

FX: CD CASE SLIDES ACROSS TABLE

LEO

Your homework. This has been helpful. I see you next week.

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

Library issue slip showing due dates in 1984, 1995, 2018

Popular book

SCENE (4) EXT DRIVEWAY

FX: STEPS CRUNCH GRAVEL

ROD

How does he get away with that?

FLORA

Some of his ideas really resonate.

ROD

Aye, great wee thing, that sam-over.

FLORA

Do you still have anything that plays CDs?

SCENE (5) INT FLAT

FX: POOR QUALITY PIANO CONCERTO EXCERPT

ROD

Did they forget to take the microphone out its case?

FLORA

Bit ‘soft focus’, isn’t it? And how do you end up missing sixteen bars? Did they lose a page from the score?

ROD

Could they just not fit it all on the one seventy-eight? How old is this?

FX: CD CASE CLICKS

FLORA

You’re right: was it not played or was it deleted?

FX: CD CASE DISINTEGRATES

FLORA (CONT’D)

Thanks for dismantling it.

ROD

Oh, that address is in Prague. I could ask when I’m there. Next again week. Since I’ll be in Prague to interview record company representatives.

FLORA

Still hawking your wares?

ROD

Offering them the chance to be part of global domination by The Wankers.

FLORA

They may have some experience with that.

SCENE (6) EXT GARDEN

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG, BG BIRDS, STEPS THROUGH GRASS

LEO

I extemporise best in my garden, and my clients seem to find it easier to reconnect with their own natures here.

FLORA

Does the nature have to be so… tamed?

LEO

Tamed… constrained… mutilated… Ah! I find myself paralysed in the greenhouse, my hand on an enormous Savoy cabbage. I feel its mesh of tiny ridges and gullies. I flex my fingertips to take in all the textural detail, but it’s smooth now: it has a hairline. It’s my best friend, Pavel.

ROD

(CLOSE) Do you think that gate’s locked?

LEO

He has a head of cabbage. (CHUCKLE)

FLORA

(CLOSE) Pay attention. This is costing fifty quid an hour.

SCENE (7) INT GREENHOUSE

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET NO.1 KREUTZER SONATA EXCERPT; GREENHOUSE DOOR RATTLE

ROD

(CLOSE) There’s no cabbages!

LEO

Flora. The code is in the music. Pavel is the musician. He plays pianos with ridiculous talent. He completely feels that poor woman: tormented, run down.

ROD

(CLOSE) There’s no pianos!

FX: PENCIL SCRIBBLES

FLORA

(CLOSE) Pavel… Krrzhzhpostulov! On that CD!

LEO

Pavel plays Beethoven and Janáček; he stops time. We’re squatting in a villa in Brno. Why? Because it has a piano, of course. Also a sinkhole in the kitchen floor – a casualty of the last explosion. I thought the cellar would be good shelter…

But it seems abandoned. Pavel says he won’t go down there until the piano does. He goes where the music goes, with his cabbage-like skull.

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO (CONT’D)

I always have Pavel with me.

ROD

(CLOSE) Shite, it’s an urn, isn’t it?!

LEO

I see you next week.

SCENE (8) EXT DRIVEWAY

FX: STEPS CRUNCH GRAVEL

ROD

Will you miss me? When I’m away to Prague? Next week?

FLORA

I miss… We’ve missed… All the great composers, the great writers, great artists, that we know of; they’re just the tiny minority who had the right talent in the right place at the right time to be recognised and perpetuated. What about all the others? Some of them were just as great, but due to some misfortune their work was not recognised, or was lost, or their lives were so short that they never got to share anything. All that lost talent! Lost effort!

ROD

This Pavel boy of Leo’s was one of the composers that nobody’s heard of?

FLORA

Who knows?

Library notice inside book cover stating lending rules

The Sanitary Inspector and other stories by Leo Tolstoy is also available

SCENE (9) INT FLAT

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(DISTORT) About the missing bars. They’re just two nerds in a basement with an eight-track.

FLORA

Thanks for trying.

ROD

(DISTORT) But! They Fourier-analysed the sound at the break. They showed me the graph of the harmonics. Each instrument has its own signature sound shape, but you only see it at the start of each note, just the first fraction of a second, after that it becomes a cleaner sound that doesn’t really identify the instrument.

FLORA

Ah! So the sounds immediately after the break…?

ROD

(DISTORT) Some are the start of notes but some aren’t. The recording was cut; it wasn’t performed that way.

FLORA

That’s really interesting. So why cut it?

ROD

(DISTORT) They thought those bits were plagiarised. Maybe I’ll find out in Brno tomorrow.

FLORA

Um, be careful.

SCENE (10) INT FLAT

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(DISTORT) I’m in this villa on Girasolov Street – I’m sure it’s the one Tallstory stayed in. It’s just a ruined shell. I’m in the cellar! I can see the bricks!

FLORA

What?!

ROD

(DISTORT) Where the cellar space turns a corner into a passage: the bricks are chalked white like a vertical piano keyboard. Pavel brought the piano to him.

FLORA

That’s actually quite touching.

ROD

(DISTORT) That’s not the best bit: wedged in cracks between the bricks are scraps of paper, wrappers, bits of paper bag, envelopes, all with music written on! Fences with beetles!

FX: PAPER CRACKLES

FLORA

Did you take them? No, you shouldn’t have. But that could be the missing—

ROD

(DISTORT) I know! I think I should get points for this: I photographed them!

FLORA

That’s brilliant!

ROD

(DISTORT) Er, OK.

SCENE (11) INT CONSULTING ROOM

FX: BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT; SAMOVAR LID CLANG

FLORA

Old cabbage-head didn’t die. That was just an echo-chamber of your low self-esteem type thing.

ROD

He works delivering vegetables. His hair’s stripy white now – like piano keys!

LEO

You see him?!

ROD

I heard him. From the shed in his garden. He plays just for himself. A small crowd gathers. Very quietly in the shrubs.

LEO

(SOB)

FLORA

Maybe you need a nice bit of samovar?

FX: SAMOVAR LID SLIDE, JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(CLOSE) Are we, er, croitsed?

FLORA

(CLOSE) You can take it too far, can’t you?

FIN

21/06/2019

Parathought

Filed under: Shorts — Tags: , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 12:00

A very short, timeless fantasy

Come and sit beside me. Look at the water. Just look at the water until it stops moving. Now we’re in what I call 5D, because I’m aware of only four other dimensions: space and time.

It feels strange not to be able to move, doesn’t it? Don’t worry about it. It makes sense if you think about it: if we’re in zero time, movement in zero time – how fast is that? It’s infinite. You’d experience a lot of friction. That’s what’s stopping you from moving. If you did have enough force to move, you would evaporate with the intense heat, so you probably don’t want to try it.

I’ve been able to do this for – who knows? But I’ve been doing it for a while. I find any physical or mental effort in too little time leads to exhaustion. So I thought: what if I could remove the time component altogether?

Thought doesn’t need any movement. Thought in this form isn’t even electrical; there isn’t any movement of subatomic particles; there isn’t a transfer of energy. It’s para-thought – beyond thought. It is an instantaneous conceptualising and communicating. How does that work? I don’t know. Even if I did, I couldn’t possibly put it into any linear language. Annoying, isn’t it?

How do I do it? It’s a kind of intensity of thought that becomes a detachment. When it’s available to me, I feel this sensation in my forehead, right in the middle. It’s like a pressure a few millimetres inside my skull. Not like something is pressing on my forehead from the outside or inside, it’s just a sensation, not something I usually feel. At first I thought it was my brain getting tired. When I feel it, I can pay attention to it, really focus on it. It becomes increasingly intense and after what seems like a few seconds, but probably is no time at all, everything stops. There is this perfect stillness and quiet.

I’ve not brought anyone with me before. I had intended not to force it on anyone else. I never say never, but, then, you made it rather difficult. You’re too observant of the little incongruities in my behaviour. And I can’t have you thinking I’m psychotic.
You’re the first person I brought. I have met some others who can do it. There’s something in their faces that I recognise. I suppose it’s the same thing that you saw in me.

As daylight stops stretching and begins shrinking, as daytime makes that imperceptible tilt from extending to contracting, at that moment of suspended change… I thought you might like a new trick to play with.

You need some time to think about it? No you don’t.

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