The Mirror

A mirror reflects what never was. It distorts reality. That’s why I broke mine. It gave me seven years bad luck. I was sick of my own reflection. I wanted to become someone new; and I did. But that was after I walked in front of the black cat.


She nuzzled against my knee. I gave her a cup of cream I had retrieved from the Miles jazz club in Cambridge, one I found in the dish at the center of the table as I took in the sexy piano of beautiful Sachiko.


I could see myself better now. I was someone else. “Picasso is someone else,” the painter said, and so was I. I could put together the set of years behind me, and discover a new reality, a more flexible, truer one, reassembled from past distortions.


The distortions? They began on a warm June evening, when I saw Otto Levant play his mesmerizing harpsichord mantras in a small room at the back of a conservatory in Boston. It appeared like nothing but a haze at first, like a lower-case letter repeated, the letter k, say, a printing press gone mad. Then the visions, as if induced by brandy snifters. There was a shimmering in the room, the stage levitated by audience awe, and the incantations and chants of Otto Levant brought me to Zion.

No one was the same coming out. Their shadows played on my mind as I exited the door, puzzling my eyes, which made the traffic lights and headlights outside on the street a new symphony, for the decade unfolding.


Massimo Edo played at the School for Scientists the next week. He held his koto the way Hendrix held his guitar, always threatening to pick it up and bite the strings. There was much space between the notes, as if an exercise in Zen. The notes themselves were like hard wood.


For the encore, a classic electric guitar careened, pulled and pushed like a team of horses at the bow of a chariot, going into battle, which was fierce, but exhilarating and triumphant. Everybody was sitting down, but you knew they felt like dancing; something Japanese, yes, but Japanese mad, like one of those parties where guys slide across the table with a rum and tonic in their hand, everything under secret containment the next day at the office.


Dave Dozen baffled me at first, in the back room of an urban wooden house. I still can’t remember precisely what he was doing. As I recollect, he had taken apart the pieces of his saxophone, and was rattling them inside a large wooden bowl mixed with silver ball bearings. It put me ill at ease, made me uncomfortably conscious of myself. I walked out afterwards, without introducing myself to any of the then strangers.


Dozen came after me as I twisted the doorknob. I remembered him from the Edo show, when he gave me a notice of his show, which was actually a blank piece of paper. That was when the mirror began to crack, with insufficient substance to reflect. It burst when I saw him play, catching me in a few places in my body, and causing some bleeding. Dave treated the cuts when he greeted me with a little gauze stuffed in the wounds.


The scars stayed like a spider web over my body for the seven years. They became all I would see, like my own circulatory system, like a crown of thorns I refused to wear but the sinners kept putting on my scalp.


After the seven years, I was able to extract the thorns, and use the residual blood as ink to my fountain-pen tips. The language I stained into the page was music, just as I had heard, but transformed, like a new symphony ever renewed by a new conductor each time.


Now, the notes have been changed, and the instruments, sometimes just random electrical household appliances, and pots and pans. This transposition came from Andreas Fleiss, whose brain just transmitted musical signals without even touching an instrument. Together we created poetry out of sound. We still do.




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