Author Topic: VOICE OF MIDNIGHT (Project of The Week for 2nd of October)  (Read 122 times)


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VOICE OF MIDNIGHT (Project of The Week for 2nd of October)
« on: October 02, 2017, 08:37:56 pm »
it's divisive. it's spooky. it's got the Sandman. it's The Voice of Midnight.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 09:52:55 pm by Meisekimiu »
"All our lives we love illusion, neatly caught between confusion and the need to know we are alive."

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In 2007 the world was falling through its own fundament. It was four score years after the publication of "L'histoire de l'oeil" - The Story Of The Eye - by Georges Bataille under the pseudonym of Lord Auch, and forty-five years after Roland Barthes published "Metaphor of the Eye". Barthes argues that the body fluids and explicit narrative does not necessarily form a pornographic narrative. It was the year the Voice of Midnight arrived. Nine score years and five after Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann died. Hoffman wrote as a contemporary to Mary Shelley; "Der Sandmann" arrived two years before "Frankenstein" and, in many respects treats similar themes. In 2007 "The Voice Of Midnight" appeared as a Horspeil before "The Bunny Boy". It was a foreshadowing of the modernity of the Madness of Roger and Harvey and the multitudinous incarnations of the secret deities of the Rabbit.

Harry, a talented Greek Filmmaker and Comic Book creator with a penchant for requiring sentences to begin with a capital and end with a full stop, and a knowledge of the Number 24 London Bus, had not yet begun to make pointed remarks about rabbit trails. "The Voice Of Midnight" was a caesura in an ebb and flow of the tumult of storytelling. It was the year Mark Wallinger won the Turner Prize for spending a night in Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin wearing a Bear suit and pursued by a camera crew.

Liverpool was 800 years old. In the throes of becoming the Capital of Culture. Not only the Residents hated the Beatles.

Liverpool has a suffered and benefited from the impact of the Beatles. Sooner or later, every single band gets compared to the Beatles. Which is a hindrance. The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) is both a benefit as a place of higher education and a curse in that it, apparently, actively discriminates against poverty stricken Liverpool residents. Tourists come to Liverpool and expect to be able to go on a Magical Mystery Tour - they can.

The Magical Mystery Tour starts and finishes at the Cavern Club, 10 Mathew Street, Liverpool. The tour lasts 2 hours and includes the following locations with stops for photos on the way: the childhood home of Ringo Starr; George Harrison’s birthplace Penny Lane; St Peter’s Church Hall; Strawberry Field;John Lennon’s childhood home; Paul McCartney’s childhood home; Former schools and colleges of John, Paul, George and Ringo including the Art College and the Liverpool Institute (now LIPA); and, the driver manically pointing out other Beatles related things along the way. It is a sterile and pornographic circuit of a City that might benefit from an exorcism.

By 2016 - a mere decade later - The Sandman is missing in Liverpool. Children are not going to sleep. Nothing helps. Lullabies fall on deaf ears, teddies fall to the ground un-hugged and there are no bed time stories. Something is very wrong with night time tales. Such is the Theatre. It picks up stories that are bubbling around.

Mr Morpheus from the Chillait Corporation is here with his new, soothing night time milk! As if there were some kind of commentary on the media. Kid calming and soporiphic. A group of adventurers known only as The Dream Team are called together to travel the globe in search of The Sandman. Bed times will return to normal if they find the Sandman. If they don’t, Mr Morpheus will take control forever…

The Residents seep into the Culture of Liverpool. They are there at the margins of the City. Hoffman died a paralysed alcoholic and Bataille is besmirched with the being a mere surrealist pornographer. It is as though the Residents looked around the world and considered which City most closely guards - or covets - its mask. They thought "San Fransisco" but then, on a moment of chance they saw "Published by Liverpool Distributors, Los Angeles, CA (1970)" on the frontis of an erotic novel in the Sandman Series.

It was in the moments leading to the actual creation of the Residents. The foment of birth. The most secret truth of the the Masked Ones is that they chose to consider the Beatles purely because of a filthy novel left on a train. From that moment forth they began to seep, far and wide, into the strange culture of the world. At the back of their minds, always, the inevitability of the Eyeballs and the certainty of the madness of obscurity.

ETA Hoffman, in "The Sandman" created an archetype that has entered into World Culture. The recurrent theme of the Eye. While Metropolis has the Romantic Magical Realism of a robot woman, it is the Eyes that Thea von Harbou uses to capture the transformations of Brigitte Helm into a sensual robot that have the greatest potency. These are the eyes that Nathaniel fears losing as he crashes onto the telephone answering machine of Claire.

Claire de Lune - musically by Debussy  but also poetry by Verlaine, Hugo and de Maupassant - overload the names of "The Voice of Midnight" with a rich backstory that nobody notices. Like tourists on the Magical Mystery Tour. Nathaniel bursts into existence on an answering machine with a crash of machinery reminiscent of the shift work of Freder in Metropolis. Unaccountably, the voice of Nate becomes less frantic and masculised and adopts a feminine quality. Reminiscent of "The Confused Transexual" on "The Gingerbread Man" or even "The Old Woman" from the same. There is something in "The Voice Of Midnight" that connects music from "Nice Old Man" on "The Commercial Album" to the voice distortions of "The Big Bubble" and the tape speed manipulations of "Third Reich 'n' Roll". Somewhere the Residents mastered the sleight of hand that enabled them to disguise themselves more thoroughly than a visiting "Voice" from the Moon. As though "The Executioner" was, in fact, sung by the real vocalist. That somehow, the Residents had disguised their female member for decades even when, in "Wormwood", Molly Harvey became the Cryptic Diva.

The Story of "Voice of Midnight" needs to be listened to. Perhaps as a radio play - the Horspiel of musical storytelling. Again, there is the Theory of Obscurity bringing its power to bear:  Seneca has been claimed as a forerunner of radio drama because his plays were performed by readers as sound plays. These were not actors dramatising writing as stage plays. In this respect Seneca had no significant successors until radio. It is this obscure provenance that lets the Residents seemingly point at the Beatles while, in reality, telling a deeper, more fruitful, story. Like Bataille and "The Story of the Eye". The Residents manage to smear a veneer of popular culture over art and then persuade an audience to scratch, scratch, scratch - as if getting rid of a Spot.

The poetry of Nate:

Quote from: Nathaniel
I feel a fire and see the empty-ness that was your sight
 And sense a burning, boring penetration, leaking light
 Surrounding me with heat and hopeless laughter, I am lost
 Until I hear your voice imploring me to walk across

and the response of Claire:

Quote from: Claire
If this is a reflection of the affection in your heart
Then our ideas of love are an infinity apart
Your crude attempt at sentiment is odious and cold
And conceals the true condition of a damaged soul.

Something's hiding from you, Nate, it's puncture-proof and sealed
You need to separate your sickness from the love you feel
Go away and think about everything I said
Go away and sleep with eyeless shadow shapes instead - of me.

are not only a narrative tour de force but a formidable exposition of how works by the Residents function. Like Claire accuses Nate, the Residents accuse their Audience of being the bringers of bizzare weirdness. As though we are all tourists and they merely point out the childhood homes of people we have never met. People whose obscurity might never be penetrated by simply driving around the Capital of Culture and looking at buildings long sold off for other purposes.

The storytelling of "Voice of Midnight" is not some monolithic authorial imposition of a narrative. There are multiple voices and they ebb and flow. Yet, they are, like Seneca's Readers, they are not dramatising - unless you scratch the surface. The surface narrative is a bizzare tale which takes the historical heritage of ETA Hoffman - Coppélia (The Girl with the Enamel Eyes) and the Sandman and Hoffman's own life and love of cats - and transforms it into a pop culture trinket surrounding a powerful Symbolist-Romantic story. Yet the voice is never simply one person. It slides and shimmers from one person to the next.

As if the identity of the "Voice of Midnight" was somehow vanishing into a sea of obscurity. A Zen experience of non-being in a sea of people. The closes experience to the whole world sleeping. Which, if the Dream Team can track down the Sandman, means it will not be the Sleep of Reason that brings forth Monsters.

Quote from: Sandman
Love is the feeling you get
Dropping eyeballs into
The mouths of hungry children.

Starving children raise emotions
Like rain raises weeds
Starving children feed the souls
of those that heed their needs

Starving children apply pressure
On a parent's mind
Starving children create pleasure
When they eat their eyes."

Starvation and the Eyeball is an image that swerves the story through the paternalism of "dropping eyeballs into the mouths of hungry children" to the horror of "starving children create pleasure" - images and ideas that take shape once you begin to start scratching. And Nate scratches.

Quote from: Nathaniel & Sandman
"Love is a skeleton key  unlocking a small room filled with darkness and hope."

Which transforms Nate's entire strand of narrative into the image of Pandora's Box. Which, Nathaniel enters in a literal and metaphoric manner when he discovers Olympia's body without eyes in a basement laboratory. Which is the most dread horror: Olympia is deprived of the windows to her soul: her eyes. Nathaniel experiences the whole of the "Frankenstein" story in a matter of a few words. One compressed incident where Nathaniel transforms into a catatonic and his mother lets Claire know there is noone there. Then the Shelley moment is over and the Pandora's Box of a restored Nathaniel is presented as if it were some kind of near miracle.

Which is how the assembled chorus celebrate the birthday of Nathaniel in a pastiche of the "Happy Birthday to Me" of "Duck Stab". Yet again bringing together stories that have taken decades to mature and seep into the bones of the landscape. And then the whole thing collapses as Claire and Nathaniel strive to leave the grasp of "The Sandman". Which is never going to happen.

Quote from: Sandman
The Sandman can
Make you sing and celebrate
The flowers that he irrigates
On your grave.

As if the Sandman were keeping "Our Finest Flowers" and killing off those who would keep everyone completely asleep. As if there is some kind of power and importance in dreaming. Even the death of Nathaniel is ambiguous. Which is how the story should end. Not in a two hour tour but a lifetime of speculation.
Not altogether reliable for facts.
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