Sunday 1 June 2014

Raising Fire

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014

Why Time has chosen me in particular to tempt is beyond my ken; I guess that’s just the way things are. Father Time I’m talking of, a particular figment of my peculiar imagination. My hyperactive imagination is probably well due to having two parents with schizophrenia. But we were talking about Time.
     When I first met Him in a dream about six weeks ago here in Redferne, in glorious Sydney, Aus, a sunny clime that noted theorists are beginning to aver has its twin in a parallel Universe, He was very amiable, and I awoke fully refreshed.
     ‘You really do sleep too much, Davyd,’ He said deep within my mind, myself later enjoying the day’s first coffee.
     ‘Who’s that?’ I naturally asked.
     ‘You know who it is, Davyd. Give up the wine; you’re sleeping practically all day and night. Verily, a waste of my precious time. It’s not easy keeping the Universe’s clock ticking over and you’re making things appreciably harder. It wouldn’t be so bad if you had chronic fatigue syndrome; that would be natural and easily accounted for.’
     ‘Father Time?’
     ‘You know who it is, Davyd.’ He then seemed to harrumph, as if giving in to an idiot. ‘Yes, it’s Father Time. You’re hindering my time-warding. Get out more, sleep less, and see some of life. The dole isn’t meant to aid your sleeping death-in-life. ’
     I ignored him. I suppose I should see a doctor about His presence in my mind and what He said but dreams are much more exciting than this mundane life, and they really are just as real as life for me, being quite able to use all of my senses in an interesting dream world. On the other hand though if the good Time begins to tempt me to suicide, as my parents’ inner Voices have sometimes tempted them, I will head off to the local doctor’s. I think Time is just jealous anyway, having to maintain the whole Universe instead of just lying in bed and dreaming pleasantly.
     But Time is persistent, determined to make my dreaming less, determined to make me use my own allotment of time more fruitfully. Shortly after He first began to visit me He appeared in a dream, in the middle of an orchestra serenading those in Paradise, promising me that classical music was what I needed, that classical music would make my life really real. I awoke humming a tune, a simple, nonsensical tune, and I felt great. Father Time may well have been onto something; after all, if it’s good enough for those in Paradise it’s good enough for me, Davyd Brian Wensen, an average twenty-four year old man who’s easily amused and who lives with his parents.
     ‘Well, Time,’ I said to Him that morning after seeing Him in Paradise, awaking with the morning coffee, ‘where should I start? What classical piece promises to make life real?’
     ‘Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, without a doubt. My own all-time favourite piece of music.’
     ‘I’m on the dole, Time, and there’s not much left after board, cigarettes, wine and household bills, I can’t possibly afford a CD.’ I can’t even afford to maintain a smartphone to download the piece.
     ‘The library is sure to have it. Yea, every library probably has a copy, or at least ought to.’
     And so well they should! I did not expect such vistas to open for me with Time’s suggestion, such unfathomed commitment to Life and living as the Ninth presented, listening to it for the first time. The beautiful nature of my dreams paled, paled significantly, in comparison. Here was meaning for my life, here was a real direction I could take, a path that could bring me back to a reason for living other than dreaming. Here indeed was real life. The last choral section seemed to be meant specifically for me and was probably why Time had recommended the work: in this section Beethoven holds up all of Life’s myriad joys and sorrows with eager hands outstretched, and it seems so easy to choose the joys forevermore, to lustily sing along with the choir and affirm that ‘Yes, I am real! I am very real!’
     Thus I began to search out more classical music, baroque music, Gregorian chants, firstly researching the genres on Wikipedia, looking for composers and other works of infinite magnitude similar to the Ninth. The works I listened to fulfilled their promises of a substantial life, of real living, of fundamental purpose embellishing the everyday, and I was now sleeping a lot less, starting the day with the Beethoven and avidly consuming Telemann, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, and, of course, J. S. Bach. Each day was now the best day I had ever had thanks to these great composers, each day was now heightened sunshine enwrapped in the promise of eternal bliss.
     ‘Now,’ said Father Time to me two weeks ago, again over the morning coffee, ‘now is the time to delve into Bach. There you will be able to gauge other connections.’
     ‘Nothing can beat the Ninth, Time.’
     ‘Trust me; have I misled you so far?’
     ‘Then explore more of Bach, J. S. most certainly, but the other Bachs as well.’
     Did the great J. S. intend to download his mind into his music? Was his music intended to achieve his own eternity? Such were the questions prompted by my listening to him. In every piece of his that I listened to I could feel his presence, simply wafting on the currents of life, smiling and well content. Life must indeed be real if a man, any man, or woman for that matter, can so easily use one of its aspects, music, to guarantee their own perpetual life and continue living through their chosen medium of expression.
     It was only natural then that I should search for him, still alive and gaily present wherever his music was playing. Being so sure that he had downloaded his mind into his music I completely expected to find him nearby, or signs of him, willing to likewise concur with me that life can be infinite, with infinite joys and peaceful surrender.
     But I only found Father Time, His voice declaring, ‘A greater art. A greater art.’ What He meant I had not the slightest idea, but the timely fall of a leaf throughout all of my search for J. S., the inevitable sunrise or moonrise, all caused His voice to proclaim, ‘A greater art. A greater art.’
     It was someone other than Bach who showed me what Time meant, always having had a variety of music throughout these past weeks. Handel and his Music for the Royal Fireworks. It was the only piece of music that represented one of the four elements so perfectly, showing fire in both its healing and destructive expressions. Handel represented fire as both easily able to be wielded and the utter tool for damnation.
     ‘A greater art,’ said Time after I first finished listening to this piece.
     ‘Fire is the most basic art,’ I replied.
     The most basic art. And fire is what I need, a deep, basic fire; to be an artist is maybe what I need, moulding and creating my life, like a flame. A theme worthy of fire as the medium. And after all I have plenty of free time. But how best to harness fire for art’s sake? Sculpture obviously, but it would be a tenuous sculpture, burning out in brilliance. But still isn’t that what life is, a glorious burning ending in ashes?
     ‘Indeed,’ echoed Father Time.
     The trouble with art though is that there’s no money in it, or at least so I’ve heard from my scant twenty-four years. And if there’s no money in it there’s no livelihood, and thus no real Reality, just a continual chasing after meaning while one sits at home striving, crafting, and starving.
     What to do? Here was my life’s meaning so close, sculpting in brilliant fire, but inevitably doomed to failure in such an artistic course. What to do?
     Four days ago I received the answer to the dilemma: I could pay to sculpt in fire, expending money to create small sculptures that reflected Handel’s portrayal of flame as both boon and bane. I just have to give up the drink and the smokes and that will free up enough money to enflame my dream.
     I have this evening, early June 2014, finished bequeathing the first set of four small wooden sculptures coated in Playin’ with Fire Stunt Gel, a fire stunt chemical, in an aluminium housing and an attached sheet warning clients to keep the work away from flammable items. My parents loaned me the one hundred dollars for the tub of gel, and another two hundred for the wood, aluminium, and some tools, on the condition that I give up the drink. No problem. I’ll even see a doctor on how best to combat that particular fiery demon. The smokes I’ll give up too, saving my fire to create for others rather than to destroy myself. I had one sculpture on display, and five to bequeath, at the touristy Darling Harbour, encouraging passers-by to take some home for free and enlighten their home with an elemental force, explaining how to coat the gel. It took me about an hour and a half to bequeath the five works and I won’t be back there until another week with another set of works. Wish me luck!


If you've been enjoying Denis' stories on this blog you may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me. It tells the story of Tonia Esqurit Ailbe, a mathematics professor, and her unusual manner of making her home a social hub, her life's fundamental aim: sitting at her dressing table mirror and imagining socialising with friends and family. It seems the only way, for one reason or another, that she can achieve her deepest aim. It is available on Kindle at for US $4.14, and via Smashwords, whom cover most of the other ereaders, at for US $3.99. If you don't have a Kindle or other ereader you can download one for free onto your smartphone or tablet.

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