The Archivist – Chapter Four

Chapters 1 - 3: The Archivist (Advisory: Salty Language, Adult Themes)

Camilla

The surface was smooth as it reflected dim lighting. Ted studied his features in this wooden mirror. He found it easier to examine himself than to try and make conversation with what he guessed was his friend.

“Care for another?” The bartender inquired.

“Yea, just make it a Yuengling.” He was drinking more than he expected and he needed to choose wiser or risk losing his internet for the month. It was hard not to drink though. Something about Dirk really put him on edge.

Dirk’s demeanor was languid but somehow also intense. He was leaning back in the chair nursing a lager. It seemed like he was looking through a window. Like he was watching something unfold. But there was nothing but a shelf of liquor in front of them.

“Trying to find a stronger medicine?” Ted asked attempting to dispel the unease.

“In a manner of speaking.” Dirk replied with the same chilly smile.

He wished he hadn’t asked anything. There was definitely a shift in Dirk’s voice. It was too urbane. Vidette had never been coonass but he was also not James Bond.

“That was some painting my man.”

“Yes, I suppose the client liked it.”

“It was a commission then?”

“Oui.”

“For what exactly?”

Dirk sat silently musing.

“A rather romantic notion.”

“How so?”

“Well, all that Doctor Böhm said was: paint sorrow.”

Ted felt a chill as he recalled the expression of the girl.

“What was it that you’d called the thing?”

“Camilla.”

“Was that someone you knew? How did you come up with that face? Who is she?” Ted was a psychology student and a humanist he felt it was important to bring Dirk out of his grief by helping him make the connection.

“She’s no one.”

“Oh, come on she has to be based on something. It was really good come on tell me.”

Dirk sat musing silently again for some time.

“As I said she is nothing. If I had to reach for an explanation I guess it’s that old house.”

“Your uncle’s place.”

“Non. That is a happy house.”

Ted laughed. He didn’t want to know what sort of house Dirk was imaging if he called that mad Alsatians place happy.

“When I was young my father had us fly to someplace in Connecticut.”

“Conneticut?”

“Yes, it was a business trip. Since he was state side he had us come there. His contact from Hart Pharmaceuticals had us all over for dinner to meet his family. I suppose it was one of those classic corporate butter-up events.”

Ted was a bona fide coonass but he felt he understood despite his class. “I see.”

“The family was normal. Langford’s wife was beautiful and the two children were twins. They were just about the same age I was at the time. Round fourteen I think. Right after dinner the brother went off to play games and the sister asked me to go to the garden with her.”

“So you were always a ladies man!”

“I suppose.”

“What was the garden like?” Ted was curious as to what any of this had to do with this painting.

“Extensive, surprisingly so, with several greenhouses. But the garden had nothing to do with the painting. It was that house.”

“Yea?”

“Oui. On our way out we passed a room. It was evening and the last rays of the sun were falling ever so slightly diagonal wise through a large lattice window. I remember her passing through that light and…” It seemed that Dirk’s preternatural calm was about to shift.

But nothing happened. There was just an awkward silence and that same serene searching gaze.

“I thought you said that this had nothing to do with anyone. That it was no one. So it was that girl?”

“No, it was the house. But these things are hard to grasp. I suppose that she did have a bit to do with it…”

“Aha?”

“Well, it’s just that as she passed through that light, as it danced across her face, for a second I thought I saw an older woman.”

Again Ted thought he saw the slightest quiver in Vidette’s Sphinx like trance.

“So it was based on somebody though. It was based on a person you thought you saw.”

“Yes, I suppose you could say that. That it was someone I thought I saw. But…”

There was a long silence.

“But it was the house that did it. There was something about that room. About the way that the furniture was placed. About the furniture itself. It seemed like I’d stepped onto a sponge that had soaked in everything. And that all that everything had stained right through my sneakers into my bones.”

“What exactly was so spooky about it. Was it one of those old Yankee places.”

“Oui, very much so. Georgian architecture and the furnishings to match.”

“Power of suggestion. So was the girl called Camilla.”

“No, Martha Langford.”

“WASPS!”

“Yes, very much so.”

“But she wasn’t called Camilla?”

“No she was Martha.”

“What kind of name…man I would never call my kid Martha. That’s an old lady name.” Ted chuckled.

“Yes, she never like it. In fact she wanted me to call her Francois after she found out we were French. You know after Francois Hardy?”

“Francois is not much of an improvement.”

“Where is your patriotism?”

“In the Mississippi depths”

“Ah, yes you are proud of your American rusticity.”

“Oui.”

“But Camilla is the woman in the painting?”

“Yes.”

“So you think maybe Camilla was someone who’d lived in that house. Or someone like Camilla. That it played with you imagination the way that they’d furnished it and you gave in to the power of suggestion.” Ted was trying to be a psychologist again.

“Non. Camilla is the house.”

It was a very clumsy and senseless phrase. Ted didn’t understand it. Was Dirk trying to be dramatic? Yet. Something about it chilled him to the bone as he recalled the woman with the quiet blue dress and the downcast hazel eyes by the window. There was something about the gas lamp and the twilight through the lattice window coupled with that expression…the design on the brooch set in the belt just beneath the bust was also suggestive. That painting was imprinted in Ted’s mind forever. It had bled into his soul just as that old house had bled into Dirk’s bones through his shoes.

Fractal Journal ~ Upload Schedule

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TFJ – Upload Schedule


Daily

  • News articles, op-eds, and nonfiction daily at six pm EST

Weekly

  • New Short Stories or Short Story Fiction Chapters: Tuesday and Thursday (8 PM EST at the latest)
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Extras

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Of News and our Digestion

Image result for newshound

Musings of a Hound

The ‘ring of truth’ is still just an after effect…
Or
The case for print and excessive subtitles!

The news often ruins my digestion. Not because it is bad news mind you. I’ve made peace with the fact that the world isn’t peaceful long ago.

No, the news ruins my digestion because it’s artificial. To be more precise, it ruins my digestion, because recently it has become crassly artificial. It’s a bacchanal of Tupperware and plastic confetti.

The news is artificial by nature so artificiality in and of itself isn’t the source of my dependence on Pepto Bismol. Yes, the news is artificial, But that does not mean it has to revel in it. Unwholesomeness of this sort will ruin anyone’s digestion.

So how is the news artificial exactly?

It’s artificial because it is by its very nature a representation. Most representations today are far from representative of the truth. The ones that hit really close to home still miss the exact mark because they are facsimiles. See: Xerox loses fidelity with each copy, the whisper game, etc.

This inescapable fact of the nature of news means that you have some serious digesting to do.

It means my friends that you are going to have to READ the news and not just hear or see the news.

While both audio and video recordings have their merits, and can be revisited as often as one likes, there is still much to be said for the static black and white of print.

First its immersiveness, and its cognitive effects promote deeper learning; that is less encumbered by the visual tricks of a news mink’s legs, or the tonal ploys of a beseeching moral crusader.

While lots of devilry is possible through turns of phrase, white lies, and outright chicanery these things are less pernicious in print. They are less pernicious because they are easier to spot and there is less of a blend between the real and virtual world.

The virtual world of a corporate news room, or talk radio broadcast is really good at getting in your head, because it is your heads native environment rendered electrically. When someone says something convincingly, or a sexy charming sort claims to be objective, you may know better but these messages will permeate deeper. They will permeate deeper without being properly digested.

The reason that I favor and profess the merits of print is because it gives you a broader space for assessment. The rapid fire bombardment of multi-sensory information that happens with audio and visual news services doesn’t give you adequate time to digest. Which means that there is a greater likelihood that you will come away having assimilated more views without assessment than you may have realized.

Print just stays there staring you in the face. It is because of this stasis that you can get a better feeling for the fact that ‘things can be found out.’ Things can be traced back.

Reading you see promotes further reading. Therefore it promotes research. Because when something you either fancy ,or despise is sitting there, staring at you in all its static glory:  you want to know why it’s correct or detestably false.

And you know that you can do it, because you know that very likely there is somewhere  supporting statements, that are also black and white. Thus you participate in a culture of deeper searching and thinking.

When I listen to news banter, or hear of the latest from this or that event, my impulse is more often to chat with friends or blast out an opinion column. However when I read I think deeper and reach for more sources.

I think the case for reading is actually stronger today with the advent of the internet. Because with the internet you can dig through much more things almost instantaneously.

The world, especially today is incredibly complex, and monumentally nuanced. We must visit and revisit issues ad infinitum because there is always something new to be gleaned in the old. Such is honesty, such is philosophy, such is science. We now have more tools than ever to do this well on a grand scale. Therefore we have a duty.

Yes, because of all that I’ve mentioned and the nature of technology: I have to say that reading news is a duty. That thinking about news is a duty. That rereading news is a duty. That perhaps even columnisting, blogging, book writing of your own is a duty.

It is a duty just like making sure that your gut is healthy is a duty.

Eat your fiber lest you get the runs and die.


Image Credit: https://blogs.chapman.edu/smc/2013/10/14/channel-that-inner-news-hound-to-sniff-out-the-undisovered-stories/

What’s Been Overcome

In my attempt to express how I think that we’ve forgotten all that we’ve overcome. An attempt spurred by the odd explosions of dumb passion from peasant to president. In this attempt I came away with something more like a poetic notion.  I rather like it.

I hope you like it too.

(A focused and sober consideration of our wilfully ungrateful amnesia regarding father history is soon to come. Among many other articles.)

Mad Crow’s Mirth

To become a bird aware of the folly of flight and the ludicrousness of its position.

That is in my opinion something approaching enlightenment.

Though as is evidenced by the play of what’s been said enlightenment is a farce and thus to laugh is wisdom.

But not always for at times one must laugh at laughter and become stern.

I think that mankind has forgotten what’s been overcome. Mankind is currently like a lazy teenager that has swept troubles under the rug.

Formerly there were bloody hangings, drawings and quarterings, myopic ideas and the death resultant of that myopia. Now we do not have these two. At least not here. We export them to China and its socioeconomic kin. This is not to mention the graveyard of empires.

In the latter musing I noted the folly of hovering wraith like above humanity as arbiter. It is a default style. Standard for observers. Especially objective ones who use the third person. The religious think they escape it by adopting Christ consciousness. Such a crown, unwieldy, sits oddly on their heads, oddly funny.

Thus the need for the bird analogy and my current…

Laughter.

Darling

Yes o sweet one

Pour the wine

the thing it must be done

The blooming of the line

Of dreams

Your hair is the wheat of the field

Fed by the waters of spirit sublime

Cisterns are your eyes

Drawing up the sustenance of time

There is a depth of dyes

Waxing of colors

Eternal tapestry

Hung in parlors

Of diverse eternity

Breaking evening

Through thrusting supernal light

Weave now the ring

Entwined we forge a novel sight

Settle now against my breast

Here against my rhythm

Take your rest

We are the first and last

Redly glimmers in the cup

The elixir

That makes down up

Laugh laugh here where it’s clear
Where it’s clear what’s been overcome

We are the first and the last

Take that wine and welcome

To the future and the past