The composer was sticking all sorts of things – bottle caps, tenpenny nails, forks and spoons, tortoise shell combs – in the strings of a Steinway in preparation for a performance. He followed the oft-abused philosophy that if you can’t make art that is popular, you can at least make art that is perplexing. Later when he performed the piece, it would sound to some like a hellish chorus of rackety machines and to others simply like the crackle of gunfire.
“No gods, no masters / The revolution will be kingless,” some defiant soul had carved into the wall where anyone passing along the road could see it. I myself have thought about growing a fierce black moustache in the style of legendary brigands, though I suppose I won’t ever actually do it. I lack the necessary nerve. It didn’t disappear all at once, but almost imperceptibly, breath by pale breath, particle by dim particle.
It was getting shot in the neck while fighting against the fascists in Spain that completed George Orwell’s political education. In the after years, the frontline trenches would be filled in and paved over or replanted with trees. The dead in their hundreds of thousands would possess only antiquarian interest for the living, if even that. Sea levels would rise, and labia cleavage become the hot new swimsuit trend.
The bomb bay doors are open, the bombs whistling down, the human targets below powerless to flee. We forget the most basic thing as if it were too complicated to remember: no person is safe where any person isn’t.