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Positive Feedback ISSUE 6
april/may 2003


The Mysteries of His System

The Verses in His Life

A Love Story


by Barry Grant


Part Twelve


All things. . . are aggregates of atoms that dance and by their movements produce sounds. . . Each atom perpetually sings its song, and the sound, at every moment, creates dense and subtle forms.

--Alexandra David-Neel




"Pass the butter please, Prue," said Audie. He winced as Prudence slid him two spare shapes of pale grade A perched on a faux 45 of "My Way."

Audie dragged the edge of a Big Bopper butter knife along the cleft between the twinned and grimacing forms. "A bit macabre for breakfast. . . Sid and Nancy’s last embrace," he said, as he severed Sid’s head and plopped it atop his syrup-soaked short stack.

"I was a little nervous when you ordered the Sex Pistols special," replied Prudence.

"Just two pancakes, egg on top. No mention of butter sculptures of thanatophiles."


"That’s the myth, or one myth, anyhow. Sid was the Pistol’s bass player. He and his girlfriend Nancy worshipped death. Sought it in heroin and domestic violence and found it in murder and suicide."

"That’s why the egg is sunny side down."

Audie plunged his knife through the center of the egg. Golden yolk seeped from the cleaved pouch of poached albumen.

"Yea," Audie breathed.



"Listen, Prue!" Audie cried. He gripped Prudence’s hand and led her toward a patch of motels and casinos down the street from their hotel.

"I hear a symphony."

Audie shot a bright smile at Prudence and extended his arm downward, full length, pulling Prudence flush to his side.

"That motel over there, near THE Show! Listen! It’s the first movement of Mahler’s 6th. In A minor! Hardly anyone plays it. It’s his worst symphony. Assuming you like Mahler in the first place."

"Mr. Bell! Come on, Audie. Let’s go! " Prudence said as she tugged Audie’s arm.

"It advertises A Show! Clever!" said Audie, lowering his head. "Gold dollar signs stuck in the sidewalk," he said to himself. "Wonder where they lead. . . But no one walks in this town, no one with money, anyhow. . . Mahler’s not the best choice. Better Beethoven’s 7th. . . The sound is pretty good. . . . Reasonable articulation and extension for an outdoor system, especially at this distance. . ."

Without breaking stride, Prudence cupped Audie’s chin, raised his head, and kissed him gently. "I still love you," she said.



"Even, if I am obsessed my system?"

"Even," said Prudence, still in step, lapping at Audie’s lips. "Even."



A Bantu man in teeny tennis shorts and rainbow shirt walked up beside them. "That music is very frightening!" he said.

"It’s clearly anxious," said a Chinese businesswoman as she lit a cigarette and tossed her briefcase into the back of a taxi.

"Apologies Madam, no smoking please," said the Pakistani driver as he held the door. "Music tells despair and terror of death." The woman glared at him as she tossed her cigarette into the street.

A young man, jagged red, white, and blue tendrils of hair jutting from atop his head, cried, "Just more Mahlerian egoistic bloat!" as he whizzed by on a delivery bike.

"How can you say that!? It’s beautiful!" yelled a middle-aged woman in a leopard-spotted jogging outfit.

"It’s a premonition of death."

"Yer crazy! It exalts life!"

"Better get out of here," Audie said, hurrying Prudence away from the crowd spreading down the sidewalk. Cries of "Idiot!" and "It’s angry, angry, music!" and "Pathetic is more like it!" faded and the Mahler grew louder as they approached the motel.




Audie grabbed two golden handles and threw open the doors to the Made Man Motel.

"If a thing is only what it is and not something else, what is the Mahler?" Audie said to Prudence.

"Audie, a thing is only what it is and not something else. That much is true," said Prudence. Audie stepped beside her and gathered her hand in his. They paused just inside the threshold of the motel lobby.

Fluorescent lights, cracking and barking, filled the room with a faint amber aura. Chandeliers, their crystal tears, greasy and fuscous, hung limply from the ceiling. Zebra-striped paper spilled in thick strips from the walls. Clapped-out chrome and glass tables huddled in distant corners. Couches, pock-marked and broken by lost cigarettes and disappointment dotted a worn wall-to-wall. Sunlight through a gap between the doors lit bright fibers of emerald in squares of carpeting where slots once stood. Giant ficuses, their plastic limbs and rice-paper leaves mangled by drunken falls, gun shots, and forsaken lovers, formed a crippled arch over the path to the reception desk.

Audie and Prudence solemnly strode to the desk.

"Maybe Rishis know the rest. The Hindus have many gods. Every god is a face of the Absolute. Rishis know the Absolute and know that each of its faces is also the Absolute. . ."


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                                                 Li-ike you-re real-ly there, pure and clean


"That is extremely interesting, Madam. It explains why every audio reviewer proclaims his own Absolute!" Looming like a giant iguana over the reception counter, a fat, fleshy man with the face of Professor Marvel extended a huge hand toward Prudence, then Audie. "Forgive my interruption, but I was irresistibly fascinated by your remarks. My name is Johnson, Dr. Johnson, the organizer, and creative intelligence behind this endeavor. And you are, aha, I see, Johnsons as well. Or Johnson and mate. Or you pretend to be. I know Johnson quite well, and his mate is not as. . . as comely as this mate. But surely, Madam, a person of your discernment, not to say simply, a person, has a name of her own?

"Prudence, sir."

"And you, young man?"

"Audie, sir."






They speak the truth


 "I welcome you both to A show!"

"You’re not an allergist or holy man?"

"I am an impresario! An impresario, of course, in the root sense, as Webster says, of one who engages in an emprise, an adventurous, daring or chivalrous enterprise!" Mats of hair flapped about Johnson’s ears as he spoke. "Adventurous I may be, but, a man of business, I am not. This is our first show, and, um, we made mistakes with the advertising. . . and the organization . . . and the planning. . . . and we are a few days late in opening. In fact, this is the opening day and, um, the closing day. The building and several blocks around are due for demolition any day. Trump is going to dig a pond and float an exact replica of the QE2 on it. He’s moving west, to the source."


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Re-mark-a-bly like a real e-vent


Johnson stood back from the counter and wiggled a finger deep in the canal of his left ear. "In spite of the, um, deficits, my dear Johnsons, this is an amazing show. You won’t have heard anything like it."

"That was clever, playing the Mahler. It led us here," said Audie.

"My idea!"

"Do you know Mr. Bell, Peter Bell? Director of the One World Free Vegetarian Foundation?" said Prudence.

"He might be exhibiting a mono system."

"He might be in trouble."

"Sorry, my friends, I’ve never heard of him. But I am ashamed to say that I don’t know even half of the exhibitors here. We, um, also had some problems with the record keeping. Tour A Show and look for Bell. Start with the first room down the hall over there, I think it’s Fine Sound Audio. But, as I said, this is an amazing show and you may find yourselves a bit. . . distracted!" Johnson’s gill-like jowls juggled as he chuckled.

"Thanks!" said Audie and Prudence in unison. Audie took Prudence’s hand and together they headed down a desolate corridor, empty of doors.




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Con-si-is-sten-tly r-e-a-l


"Audie, do you hear voices?"

Audie cupped his hands ‘round both ears. "Nothing, Prue."

"It’s plainchant. Simple phrases, like ‘real,’ ‘consistently real,’ and ‘speaking truth,’ I think."

"Subliminal advertisements?"

"For what?"


Prudence and Audie giggled together.

"This is a loooong hall," said Prudence as she held Audie’s hand to the base of her spine.





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a mi-le’s worth of depth


"Empty too," Audie said, glancing up and down the corridor. He slid his hand down her backside, and kissed her hard and full on her lips.

Prudence threw her arms around Audie, pushing him against the wall.

"There’s someone up ahead," she said as she slowly relaxed her embrace.

"Mmmm," said Audie.

"It’s quiet. That crackling sound is gone. Hey, there are no lamps in the hall, yet that orangey light is all around. And your voice, Prue. I hear subtlety and richness of timbre I’ve never heard before, a sort of honey-brown sound, with hints of gold and ochre. . . and maybe a wisp of sunshine and mead."

"Audie! But you are right. And you have a slight lisp, a faint garter-snake spit sibilant at the end of your Ss that I’ve never heard before."


Audie stood in the center of the hall.

"Wooooo. Wooooooo."


He craned his neck and stood on his toes.

"Wooooo. Wooooooo."


He got down his knees and put his face to the floor.

"Wooooo. Wooooooo."


He stuck his head in the crook of the wall and floor.

"Wooooo. Wooooooo."


He stuck his head in the crook of the opposite wall and floor.

"Wooooo. Wooooooo."


"Prue," Audie announced, "the waves are perfect here. No dips, no peaks. Just smooth, pure vibrations, even in all directions."

"The Pure Land of frequencies!" said Prudence, as she nipped at Audie’s upper lip."

"That’s it, Prue! But the dimensions are far from a Golden Section or any other established measure of harmonic adequacy. . . The hall is too long and narrow. . . Wooooo. Wooooooo. Wooooo. Wooooooo."

"Astonishing," said Audie to himself. "Like a mind that perfectly reflects all that it encounters. But that’s Shen-hsiu’s dusty Zen. Hui-neng got it right, no mind, nothing to reflect. All is void!"

 "So how can my system be imperfect?" The words burst out of Audie in a whimper.

"Audie, are you OK?" said Prudence.

"I was thinking about my system," said Audie averting his face.

"You’ll find it here," said Prudence. "I told you I have a good feeling about this place. We’ll find Mr. Bell and a new system. Don’t worry."

Prudence took Audie’s cheek between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a gentle tweak. She pulled him to her and kissed him on the crown of his temple.

Audie sighed.


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A  re-ve-la-tion