Norman Allan
  science and philosophy    alternatve medicine       history and misc 
   blog       biography        gallery         pipedreams (title page/contents) 

Art and Fiction


Chapter Twelve:

Sahra is the Arabic for desert. Sahara is its plural and the Sahara is indeed many deserts. Christopher had to cross all of them. The sun burnt and Chris and Zak trudged and crawled from water hole to water hole. For weeks. And all the while the butterflies, Isador and Elenor, sauntered and soared riding the up draughts in the heat-hazed air.

At last they crossed the desert and climbed over the Atlas Mountains in the north. Chris took a train westward, breaking his journey in the Rif Mountains where he called on his old friend Yusuf, a Nirvanaleaf farmer of the region.

Yusuf's farm was set in a high valley. Olive and vine shaded the farmyard and the green grass grew round. Yusuf greeted the travellers, welcoming Chris with water and food, music and smiles, and smoke. Orange blossom was procured for Isador and Elenor, and Zak was foddered on the choicest herbs and flowers.

After dinner Yusuf and his two eldest sons, Mo and Hammed, sat with Chris round the household hookah and smoked the North Field Grass. Chris played the recordings he had collected in Roaratuni, and Isador and Elenor danced, the fallout of their love spread Chris and Yusuf out towards infinity.

Later, when he was able to move, Chris put on Sergeant Pepper's for nostalgia’s sake. But just as the music crescendoed in "A Day in the Life", with a gerrr and a grind and a smell of ozone and burnt plastic the Sony burst into flames and grated to a stop. Chris sighed. Then Chris laughed. Then Chris slept.

Christopher woke where he had crashed, staring at the shambles of his thousand dollar Sony. It was only later in the morning that he realised that Isador and Elenor had gone: vanished into the green, no more to be seen. And that, for then, was that.

Chris and Zak returned to England. Having travelled for a years, Chris found it difficult to settle down and entered a period of decline. In his absence he had lent his flat to friends, and with his return it felt very crowded. Zakeri enjoyed the four flights of stairs, but even so, an attic apartment is not the most convenient place to keep even a small sweet smelling yak.

Chris set himself to edit the Roaratuni tapes, to maybe make something marketable out of them. The material was very rich and promising, but he couldn't mix it into any shape that would satisfy, so he let the project slide. He felt increasingly incomplete, and meanwhile, he noticed that something strange was happening to his mind.

Ever since his meeting with Isador and Elenor, Christopher had begun to experience voices and visions. Well, not exactly visions and voices. Something less tangible, like a "knowing". The luminous dust that rained from the butterflies' wings when they courted, these lights were like the orgone lights one sees on one’s eyes when one looks off far and calm into a still blue sky: or like the prana of the Hindu, or Chinese Chi energy. The dancing of Deofilus seemed to organise and structure the matrix of these lights such that "knowledge" seemed to dwell in it. And now, after Chris' many weeks of exposure in the desert vague signals and visions lingered. Chris tried to examine them and in this attempt he became trapped up his own arse in introspection… and wondered where he was going.

Before he met lsador and Elenor, Chris had simple been following his nose and that had led him to Turkistan and Zak and back eastward to the west and Beamish: to his conversation with Bookish and the search for the source of music in Africa, and hence to the butterflies. All these things had seemed just happenstance. However, after his meeting with Isador and Elenor, Chris began to suspect that in fact his movements had followed some purpose and design. What this design might be he could only sense inarticulately.

Further, since his encounter with the Salvationist and his drive across America, Chris had become aware that it was possible, given the right gimmicks, to effect fashions and fates, and he had begun to feel the desire to do so. It seemed to him that, when it came to moving people, music was the most powerful of levers. Look at what had happened in 1967, 1968. For a while back then Chris had thought there was indeed a revolution as it swept him along full circle and dumped him back where he started with ten years under the bridge.

Why had the hippy revolution failed? Perhaps the music hadn’t been deep enough to really rock and roll the system. Even Christ's intervention into the affairs of man two thousand years before hadn't been deep enough to alter much. It was all very discouraging. Except for the music… If only Chris could find that hidden source of music that would touch all the inner keys, release new harmonies, and carry us all higher. The hints Chris had received about the existence of an original primordial Whereitsat music suggested that this secret music did already exist. Surely in Roaratuni? Chris' restlessness then, in a nut shell, derived from the fact that he felt that his quest was unfinished. But where should he look? There was no point in his going back to Roaratuni; he had found nothing there.

These thoughts circled Chris’ head perpetually. He pondered his recent adventures searching for a clue. It seemed to him that all in all the music of the little people came closest to the universal harmonies he sought. "The little people. The little people." There was something teasing about Chris' encounter with the pygmy... Hmm? "I've got it." The birimbow! The birimbow is not an African instrument at all. It's South American! Kon Tiki and Atlantis. Indeed, could "juju" be a corruption of "Peru"?

Chris smoked a pipe, swallowed some cold and sticky porridge and decided to go to South America to search the Amazon for the secret of the birimbow and its music.

illustrations by Kano

Chapter Thirteen