Transcription of the novel’s main Film
Below is the text of the main Film “JAYMI 17”, which is taken from The Imagination Thief’s mini-chapter 17 “Sound & Vision”.
Here it is, then, Sound & Vision…
Space unfurls, ballooning forward, up and out in front of me. Ten giant floodlights rear up skyward, from the highest outer rim above the stadium’s upper circles. The dizzy fall of bluish-white light across a landscape of several hundred thousand tiny heads below is fierce—and yet it’s also feeble, spilling to the ground beneath the cold gigantic darkness of infinity beyond it.
And now the floods start to dim, very slowly.
The crowd’s random babble dims along with the floods, while a unified cheer fades in from round the stadium. I close my eyes, seated here in my hidden perch above the big screen, and listen. I let my eyelids open and raise my glance. The cheer swells louder and the floods keep on dimming, till for two or three seconds just a scratch of blue filament in each of the ten banks of huge glass bulbs is left against the blackness. Then this dies too and faint stars appear instead, dotting the entire sky. The cheer simmers down again, to quiet and expectancy.
My outer gaze descends from the minuscule stars, to alight upon the central of the three camera lenses ahead of me. The focus of the audience approaches its peak. I slide my outer gaze aside, laying bare my sensors but not projecting anything. Immediately, I feel the hushed attention of every person present as a soft silk string, fired out across the stadium and sticking to me—soft and intelligent, the optical fibre of a secret human spider.
Behind me where I’m perched, a dim glow fades up, to silhouette me, as arranged. The big screen beneath me shows its first image—just my head, full-on but silhouetted black against the glow. In the instant, as the audience observes this and murmurs, I feel an outward pulling of attention on my face, from every seat around the stadium, non-physical but potent and growing all the time: a pull, from eyelash-close to the spanning of a dam across the width of a valley…
The moment of optimum audience focus arrives. The surface of the deep blue night is a-shiver, like a shiny poster rippling in a breeze. Lamps around the cameras burn bright and light me up, so I burst alive and huge upon the giant screen below. A tiny curling spotlight like a hair hits Alaia far beneath me where she stands on the stage underneath the big screen. I open my projectors, and my eyes on the screen flood the lower echelons of the stadium with ocean, and the music of this ocean fills the watching bodies, buoys them up and carries them, as if the most bewitching tide of melody and harmony were sweeping them in circles. Fluorescent waves lap the shore, the scent of brine suffuses the enormity of space ahead, then over the horizon it appears … the greatest ship you’ve ever seen! Gliding through the silence behind the ocean’s music, it’s the size of a range of hills, the shape of an oil-tanker, deepest black, its many decks twinkling with strange lights—bewitching on the night sea. Who knew this ship would come? My projectors insinuate the shadow of a question: do you want this? Yes! my sensors catch your answer, huge and immediate. I love your answer and I love you too, although I know that love is pretty easy at this distance. Yes, of course you want this ship, though I know you didn’t ask for it. You’re mesmerised, there where you sway among the waves before its majesty and magic … so take this ship, it’s yours!
Its prow rides higher in the sky than the floods, and the stadium revolves. Alaia’s voice rises through the splashing of the waves, to a chorus of voices that pour from the ship’s decks as honey into black sea or willow sap weeping into plum-dark depths. Figures can be glimpsed on every level of the vessel, silhouetted on the ballroom glow inside it. Most of these are standing at the railings of the decks, staring out across the water at us huddled in the stadium, while others float behind them down the length of the ship. Some figures must be three metres tall, one or two with antlers of some kind. Sea-hounds leap where the lush foam dances underneath the prow, their yaps like squeaks across the gulf of air and spray. The vessel towers closer, but our viewpoint rises, sweeping up till we’re above it, floating in among its aerials and minarets and turrets. Steam wreathes around us, belching up from the funnels. On a tower near below, a mighty searchlight revolves every fifteen seconds, like a lighthouse, flinging out a path of white a mile across the waves. Ahead, where the sun has set, a band of sky is clear scarlet.
As Alaia’s song wells through my eyes and fills the space of air, bells boom vast somewhere further round the earth’s curve, silent cracks of lightning flicker white through the scarlet, and I feel your adoration through your million spiders’ silks.
Her sound grows in volume, and the audience is silent. Never has a sound like this been heard on earth before: a voice that is thunder and lullaby, channelled from above, beyond and inside the world, of a beauty that is terrifying, wordless and sublime. No words could evoke it, for her song’s the song that made us and our words; the wail of all destruction and creation, made as sound. Monolithic slabs of grey longing, big as mountains, push across the sky—a skeleton of girders equipped with the strength to march around the world and push the world’s horizon round the world’s curve, but also with a human skin’s naked sensitivity.
So now you are attending, I say to every one of you: inspect these golden eyes on screen, and know that you have seen them before, in your own mind. Hear what you heard then, but hear it loud and clear, for this screen is even bigger and the pupils of these golden eyes are even deeper black. To everyone, your own primal scenes flicker up on screen within my eyes, and music plays that’s you alone, sky-high in the airwaves—a grand, eternal music that will always play inside you. You hear it through this golden gaze, surging ever onward, drowning out the crackle of the flames of the oilrigs at night on Arab desert sands, miles underneath you.
Far above Alaia and myself, giant powers feel a fold of time and matter soften round us, aching out a passage like they haven’t felt before: they push and fill this passage out, with cosmic enormity, then spin us in an arc that is greater than a galaxy but smaller than an atom, with an ecstasy beyond physicality, beyond mind or thought or the bars of time and matter. Here beyond consciousness, we let these powers resonate, through my eyes and through her voice, and down through the stadium.
The screen has grown to fill the sky. Each of the golden-grained cymbals of my irises is bossed with a perfect central black sun, in exquisite radiance of heavenly geometry. My lashes curl as long as constellations; my eyebrows sweep across the sky’s northern hemisphere, in thin black sleekly-tapered arcs. Eyes and lips of a flame-girl, dissipating into air! And telescoped within the blinding grandeur of this face and voice, the turning of the earth’s nights and days shines divine through the vastness of space, while the years and aeons unpeel—billions of tons of rock and atmosphere and water, on an orbit that is breakneck, but luminously slow…
The glance of the sun across the surface of the planet, through the whirl of its dawn around the volume of its sphere, lights the points of its peaks and the spumes of its waves in the tiniest of detail, in a sidelight that defies any labelling of colour.
From the screen in the stadium a flood of purple flame spreads. A fountain of unearthly colours, tastes, sounds, scents and ecstatic touch pours out from screens around the world; and the oceans rise a fraction.
My face fades to black on screen, Alaia’s voice fades out, and Sound & Vision glides to the smoothest of halts.
The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people’s imaginations and memories. It’s about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.