Magic, Moonflower, Magic
By sean mcnulty
The study was the only room in the house Imogen had a strong memory of because at the time she was there the house was newly occupied and it was the only room Elder had got around to bedecking proper. As a child she remembered being in there as Elder and her father discussed things she wasn’t worldly enough to care about, adult topics like politics and the news, but knowing now what she did of her father and his old college friend they were more likely cooking up schemes for bettering themselves financially than plotting together a course towards intellectual or spiritual improvement. Doubtless Elder was sincere in his attention to spiritual matters, but she was convinced there had to be a catch lingering somewhere unseen, knowing what she knew of him.
She remembered this place well.
She remembered it was very warm compared to the rest of the house. Maybe they hadn’t got the central heating up in the other parts yet.
She remembered the big ring binders on the desk, that musty man smell, the bare and sticky floorboards (now there was carpet), the black polyester curtains whose soft folds she loved to rub her face against (were still there), and she remembered that big front window well and how she would often stare out of it and see Elder’s wife at the time Olga coming and going, parking up in the car and getting out, or getting in and driving off, always in a long and gorgeous cream trench coat.
She remembered most of all the walls coming down with books, large dignified-looking books, themselves also stuffy and unintelligible, equidistant to her grown-ups, featuring tedious clinical words on their spines, some of which she knew as a girl and were grave and even frightening to her, and other words she did not know but which were also grave and frightening, long and winding and seemingly without end – SYNCATEGOREMATICITY. She distinctly remembered one or two books from Elder’s personal library which had made an impression on her evolving mind, such as Death And Other Ecstasies by M. Parkinson (the name stuck with her because it was similar to that of the man on the television--but it was an entirely different man as it turned out). She remembered clearly opening up on the first page when she was about twelve years old and reading: We are set, manifestly, we all are, to die.
And ah there it was.
Still there. In the same spot. More or less.
Death And Other Ecstasies.
She took it from the shelf and went to the first page.
We are set, manifestly, we all are, to die.
Oh the memories.
Elder turned to Knox and said: Are you getting this?
--What? You want me to start filming now?
--Yes. Get a few shots of Imogen standing with the books.
Knox held up the camera and began focusing in on Imogen as she leafed.
--You’re taking it all very seriously, aren’t you? she glanced up and said. As if you are David Lean or someone. Isn’t it just meant to be a small promotional film...
--Well, yes, but I think it can be more than that now. What with our guest upstairs and...the voice.
Imogen dipped her head and hummed, carping to herself subtly.
--I remember this book, she said. From years ago.
--That’s right. You would have been in here when you were younger. Well, not much has changed around here, moonflower. Except for the computer. It hadn’t been invented yet. Not that one anyway.
Imogen’s attention was drawn to the desk and something she hadn’t noticed upon entering as it was obscured by a stack of books and partially covered by white plastic: a big grey box with a keyboard attached.
--The H89, said Elder. All-in-one.
--All as in?
--Right. And what’s that?
She pointed to a glass bottle on the desk half-filled with a thick reddish sort of jelly substance.
--Ah, that there’s a powerful aphrodisiac of my own making. I came upon it by happenstance some months ago during some alchemical tinkering. There are all sorts of things in that bog we have yet to fully understand. Mixed right, there’s no telling what we could produce.
--How powerful is it?
--Immensely. Ahem. Your Belfast boy should grow in appeal, I should say.
--Might I take?
--Be my guest. Because that is what you are. We have loads of it about the place.
Knox from behind the camera: Maybe we should have given some of that stuff to the bog man. The whiskey and custard haven’t been effective so far.
--There’s a thought, said Elder. He might respond to something more bog-based.
--It is powerful stuff.
--You don’t expect him to get up and start moseying about, said Imogen.
--We’re in the realm of the supranormal here. You should anticipate just about anything.
--I am still not absolutely convinced. True, I heard the voice on the tape. But even that I’m hesitant to grant you.
--I understand there are many who will cry poppycock no matter what I try to tell them. It is clear that the world is full of people unable to grapple with the transcendent. But against all their sceptical mooing there have in fact been instances recorded of EVP, Electronic Voice Perplexity, for over a century now, since we’ve had gadgets sophisticated enough for spirits to speak through. It’s all in the drift of electrons, you see. Electricity is a pharos for the dead. It is a light that attracts them, an invisible energy-space for them to inhabit on Earth. And unbeknownst to our movers and shakers of science it is that very field which has provided keys to finding this out. Think of the telephone. Oh the mechanics of it may seem humdrum to us now. Yet think of what is happening, all those voices transmitting across counties and countries. Far and wide now there are incorporeal voices shouting back and forth in many languages, arguing with one another, declaring love, declaring war, calling for help, calling for someone, anyone. Who is to say all of those voices are contained in the world bodily? It’s in electrical phenomena that the material and immaterial perform a supreme duet. Unknowingly, we are opening our arms to immaterial forces with each new device we create. We keep renewing technology to suit our material desires when in actual fact with each new step we take it is bringing us closer to our spiritual reality. But alas we are alone out here in this beautiful hidden countryside with these assertions. They are assertions that would have you brought up on charges in some circles. We are shunned. I have been shunned all my life for daring to assert.
Elder turned to check on Knox. You got all that?
--Shunned you might have been, began Imogen, but at least you had your way with the world, didn’t you? There’s scores of other...what should we call you... mystics, crackpots, hordes of them out there right now who will never hold public office like you did, have their work published widely, and enjoy your levels of fame and prominence, be as it was controversial, in society.
--And I want them to come here! To join us in developing the New Man.
--You never thought too highly of yourself, did you?
--I do not think of us as over and above anyone else, Elder replied. Only that we are awake while others remain in the land of Nod, not that there’s anything wrong with the land of Nod, it’s just not very inspiring if you take it just as given. And in our waking state we are prepared to go the distance of our dreams for enlightenment. We are all open to the extra-sensory once we have parted with the political world. And through meditation. And in the act of love, of course. When we are at our most sense-real. Ahem. And perhaps others are not ready to accept the extra-sensory yet. But I have faith in people. This is why we welcome everyone here. To join us in waking up. To invite the extra-sensory. In every person, there is this ability to wake, Imogen.
--Okay. What exactly do you want to do now that you are awake?
--Just to get by. I too would like to connect to something more spiritual. But hopefully without resorting to outright fantasy in order to do it. She paused. You know, truthfully, I don’t know what I want. Change of mind is a curse on me. One minute I know what I want, the next I’m onto something else.
--I respectfully poop on the word fantasy, my dear, as it is a reductive term that only serves to farcify not just the potential of human consciousness but also the unconquerable mysteries of the universe. But...I recognise your dilemma, caught between all these jerking philosophies. It is natural to fob off the dream world as mere child’s play. This is the lurgy of our times. All this apathy and misgiving. All this undue prudence. This is why, Imogen, you would be perfect here with us. You would flourish. And we would flourish for having you. You would see the world in a different way. Without resorting to fantasy. You would see only disinfected reality. The real real.
--I’m curious how you would define the real real.
--Magic, moonflower, magic!
Image: Wikimedia Commons