The Pulse: Alberta

Quest

Antonio had travelled everywhere to find a girl like Beatrice. And when Antonio said everywhere he meant it literally. He took a funicular up a Swiss mountain to Seelisburg, and scanned the upland hills for a rosy-cheeked Swiss-German girl. He harrassed Yamani tribesmen to paddle him up the Amazon to Manaus, in hopes of finding a Native girl untouched by civilization. He smashed the red lanterns of Bombay and Shanghai, rabid for en exotic fix. And he violated the harems of Cairo and Timbuktu, eager to unveil the 77 layers of his labyrinthine lust.

But that was only this everywhere. He also scoured the nearby galaxy of Andromeda to see if any trace of celestial beauty could be found among the foamy rocks and silver chain of stars. Gingerly, he approached the outskirts of the Purple Pulse, slipping past the Pearl Galaxy and into the Nebula of Asphodel. The light hurt his eyes.

Messier 16, the Eagle Nebula, by  NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Messier 16, the Eagle Nebula, by NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

He had been led to believe that in the galaxies of the Purple Pulse the beings looked like harpists on pink clouds. He expected to find elegant ladies who spent the eternal daytime singing about the incandescent beauty of the Celestial Realm.

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Yet all he was capable of seeing were circles of golden light, overlapping with other circles of golden light, woven together with fine golden threads that shone so brightly that he couldn’r even make out a slender ankle amidst the blinding effulgence of cuffs and slippers. For all he knew the women in these parts were as ugly as virtue.

He then realized the error of his reasoning: location doesn't guarantee beauty, and beauty will bloom in spite of location. This was of course something that real estate agents left out of their brochures.  

Bolting from one end of the cosmos to the other, he returned to his spiritual home, The Black Pulse. Antonio bet his finest Gucci shoes that location didn't matter at all. Better for beauty to rise in Hell than fall in Heaven. 

Falling deeper into the dark air, he started to realize that Innocent Perfection could never rise in the dominions of the Black Pulse. There was no use looking for It there among the avatars of spiritual freedom, or among the dense and burning cores of what were once bodies and living beings. Molten crags of spirit rose from the depths of planets and erupted like fireworks into the sky. Fragments soared into atmospheres, taking the shapes of nazgul, crow, and hornéd beast, beating down their adversaries with crowbars and rapiers, glorious in their triumph over the invisible anger of gravity.

Agostino Fasolato,  The Fall of the Rebel Angels , c. 1750, in Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza. Photos by RYC.

Agostino Fasolato, The Fall of the Rebel Angels, c. 1750, in Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza. Photos by RYC.

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Such a glorious Kingdom of Mayhem and Lust could never gave rise to the dulcet tremors he heard elsewhere in the cosmos. Certainly, it never offered its music at the feet of some omnipotent Deity.

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To Antonio, such an offering was a base subservience. He found more meaning and truth in the haunting, soul-scraping melodies of Gorgoroth.

Yet the beauty of the dulcet ladies haunted him with a double desire: first, to become one with them, to possess them; and second, to make them implode like raven lava into the dark sky.

Unable to find what he wanted in the two extremes, he came back to where he started: the planet Earth, half way between the Black and Purple Pulses. He had come to believe that his most recent incarnation had been on Earth, and he was mysteriously drawn to its polarities of beauty and horror. With its incandescent blues and greens it was an invigorating change from the violets, purples, oranges, and navy blues and blacks of the other universes. It was in some ways like The Green Buzz, humming with energy and deep pools of refracted light. Seeing it from above as he swooped downward, he felt like he was coming home.

Gustave Doré, from his illustrations to  Paradise Lost , 1866 (Wikimedia Commons, coloured by RYC)

Gustave Doré, from his illustrations to Paradise Lost, 1866 (Wikimedia Commons, coloured by RYC)

As he descended, he sang in his head several lines from the Eagles’ song “One of These Nights”: I’m looking for the daughter of the Devil himself; I’m looking for an angel in white. I’m looking for a woman who’s a little of both; I can see her but she’s no where in sight. Those Eagles may not have been able to locate such a woman, but then again they couldn’t really fly. Neither Don Henley nor Glenn Frey travelled trillions of gigaparsecs across the cosmos, at least as far as we know. Nor could they scan subatomic matter within a radius of one hundred kilometres. How, then, could they sing of love?

Beauty, Antonio philosophized, was like a lotus lifting from the mud. The mud part was essential, perhaps more essential than the air or the perfume that floated in the air. Beauty was like Venus rising from the shell of a lowly clam.

The Birth of Venus , c. 1485, by Botticelli, in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence (photo and colouring by RYC)

The Birth of Venus, c. 1485, by Botticelli, in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence (photo and colouring by RYC)

Antonio reasoned further that the most likely place to find the perfect girl was on the Canadian prairies. If such a girl existed in this dull wasteland, then it was a girl who had a supernatural sense of the aesthetic, whose deep inner beauty flowered come what may into a face like that of Scarlett Johansson. She would have eyes like emeralds, and skin so smooth that the pastry chefs of la Chaussée-d’Antin would give their finest copper pots just to run their spatulas along the edges of her chin.

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Antonio finally found his Beatrice sipping from a garden hose half a kilometre from the small town of Vulcan. Less than 500 kilometres from where he was born!

It was the Spring of 1997 and the rose buds were just blooming. Beatrice was 16 years old and didn’t have a clue what was coming.

For the next two years Antonio drove down to Vulcan on the weekends and spied on her. From his cave-like room in the Vulcan Inn he composed poems, and commentaries on these poems, until he had invented a whole new life for his imagination. He called his work, La Nuova Vita Nuova.

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Next: The Hidden Star

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