Transcription of Part VI’s Film
Below is the text of Part VI’s Film “SHIGEM 24”, which is taken from The Imagination Thief’s mini-chapter 24 “On the sky, that face”.
… and while we wait, Shigem, I think I’ll take a look inside you, before we’ve even met. And although I’ve been half-expecting that your mind would be a nightclub mind with “disco” VIP Room emotions to match, this is not the case. You see what you’re doing here as showmanship, neither more nor less. You do it, as you should, because you love it and it pays you and you know you’re the best—and you wish that the days were as dark and bright as this room, and that people spoke in dance music, permanently liquored-up and high like these. And yet you function in the real world too, I see, with only subtle changes and little disappointment.
But here’s a rich crevasse, for me: I see how you were several hours back, at home, when you settled down to watch Sound & Vision. As Alaia’s voice welled up, you sank to the floor and sat immobile, gazing at the TV screen. Silent tears sprang forth and ran down your cheeks. For hers was a song that had echoed in your head since early childhood, a song with untranscribable notes, without a name, which you’d treasured in yourself as yours alone … but here it was without you, for all the world to hear, paired up with that beautifully alien face on the screen. Somehow Alaia had discovered it—but how? It had always emanated from forbidden lands of cruel sun and sweet sensual nights; and it poisoned with bewitchment of yearning and delirium and glimpses of sublime bliss, ensuring that the real world would always, ever after, fall short. The first time you’d heard this song, coiling like the vapour of a scarlet wine throughout your head, you knew it was forbidden but ignored this of course. Often since then you’d heard it carried on the wind, in the fevers of the deep small hours, blown across a hundred years to land in you. It always sang of sweet dark and sorrow and enormous love, unearthing ancient things within yourself while it played.
And always joining this song, from your childhood onward through the years, every time it welled from your depths or echoed off the folded hills of the night, there would float up, several seconds after its opening, that face, Shigem… Oh, that face: yes, you know the one, I think. It’s this face, my own, upon the screen you watched tonight, in its soft unearthly lighting and the smooth coloured make-up that you saw on it—the first time you witnessed it projected without you, in the outside world, for all to see. So large had it always loomed, for you, that it seemed to float upon the sky, its gaze ever fixed on a point above your head that you couldn’t quite reach. But its gaze from the screen today looked at you, and you shivered to be looked at thus, for nothing of yourself could you hide from it. Somehow I’d embodied it. How? But there it stayed, on the screen, in all its melting permutations, with your endless private song wrapped divine around its lineaments—a shatteringly magical conjunction that floored you. Every last thing in you it saw, accepted, knew, without expression. “You’ve got everything,” you mouthed at me onscreen, in silent passion. This face, you saw, was all you really needed to know now, and all the rest would follow. It’s the only game in town, so to speak, despite the anguish of your knowing you will never be inside it. Along with Alaia’s song, this face has lived in you since boyhood, Shigem, and will remain in you till death. It’s majestic and familiar—rich and inevitable—powerful and beautiful—addictive and eternal!
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.