Tales of Tragedy Through Art and Post-Human Madness8 October 2019
(CW: fantasy violence, gore and suicide)
- The Ballad of Chris Martin
“O-Zeus, O-Zeus, I plead thy take thine leave. I am not worthy of the resurrection of my wife and eldest son; for they shall remain sewn to my back until all of my blood has spilled.”
Chris Martin’s thin lips glisten under the stage lights as he succinctly delivers the monologue. His voice wavers and sweat flows from his pores as he dances around the stage, head locked toward his audience. Although his forehead remains shrouded in darkness, a bright, yellow glow illuminates through the veil.
“My face grows pale and my fingers shrivelled, the lust in my heart ripped from my soul by mine own will. I am not Odysseus yet the desire to end our suffering has granted me a Herculean strength to separate the soul. The injustices I have done, amalgamating the corpses of my family with living flesh, have created a paradoxical need to silence the self. Their fateful suicide has led me to first sacrifice my blood to eliminate spirit. Soon I will remove my reason and my ability to perceive time beyond my own. Then at the end of it all, I will eliminate appetite and man’s hamartia will be no longer.”
He stops and grins. His iris’ contract, concealing the yellow glow and his mouth descends, melding into his chin. Silence fills the auditorium as Chris Martin stares deeply into his audience before collapsing to his knees. His arms twitch beside him; occasionally knocking the pillows shoddily taped to his chest, and widening his mouth as if waiting for something to crawl out.
“O my heart: it burns, it burns. My plays attract those without will, the woman whose touch warms my soul is cold and bitter and the soul hungers. The blood I lend travels through our back and pours from thine mouth. It does not nurture your flesh; it thins thine soul further.”
Chris Martin snaps his fingers and opens his mouth. A stream of red fabric shoots out as he releases a slight whimper and his face compresses, cringing. Silver confetti drops from the rafters in a single clump, as if conjoined by syrup.
“Thus, I plead to Zeus, not for the resurrection of the wife whose hubris took her life, but that you turn your eyes away from what I’ve done. I am a monstrosity, not resembling human or demon. A vessel for the sins beyond god and man. The eyes of the gods should not witness the mutation of their creations, and their land turned to ash. Please, turn your head while the world ends.”
A group of children step onto the stage in unison as Chris Martin drops his head apathetically. They rest on their knees and prepare for supplication with their flowing, white gowns softening the stance. Emotion is unrecognisable as their eyes and mouth endlessly leak red liquid and their faces lie buried beneath layers of white paint.
“Mother, I watched your beauty wither as the long winter consumed our lives. The sun was not taken by Apollo as we were told. Instead, we were buried deep below the Earth by a man protesting to overthrow Olympus from the cold abyss. Now, we stand on the fringe of the mountain of gold and silver but father beckons back at us to commune to his cemetery of ash. His voice deep and sombre, that of a poet with the fire of Socrates’ and the discipline of Aristotle. A song for our soul that the light of Zeus cannot persuade us from. O how I wish I was never willed into this world as we sit in the waiting room between realms…”
Chris stops centre stage and opens his mouth, but his chin quivers and miscellaneous noises make their way out his lips He straightens his back and pushes his chest in, but still can’t find the words to conclude his play.
As years pass, Chris Martin performs his ballad of sorrow for all who support the creation of art in what remains of Casino Downs’ ‘New Arts’ precinct. Few beyond himself still retain literacy and the ability of complex speech so his work is often revered by the masses. Besides, most pop art is some combination of brutalised and disfigured corpses so his ability to articulate feelings and societal issues set him apart from his contemporaries.
Additionally, along with every piece of pre-cataclysm art, all Greek tragedies were either collected or destroyed by the ‘New Royal Melbourne Institute of Information’. So for those with memory, the works of Chris Martin (a far cry from his older artwork) are nostalgic, a reminder of the golden era of language.
So the eventual suicide of the esteemed artist came as a shock to his loyal fanbase. No amount of speculation can uncover why Chris Martin was unable to reach the third act of his play, or if that fatal grand gesture was the intended ending.
Chris Martin’s lip quivers and he clenches his fist and raises it to his skull. Like an enraged ape, he relentlessly slams his closed fist against his skull as if trying to penetrate the shell of a coconut. Emotion sapped from his face, he plunges his hand into flesh after breaking the barrier between viscera and space with a wet crunch that reverberates through the stadium. He feels around inside his head, searching for things with life. He feels around and digs his fingers deep into the clammy centre of flesh. Tugging and squeezing, cracks begin to form as his brain surfaces on the side of his head.
The integrity of his skull falls apart like shattered glass as he rips out a collection of brain and viscera. He holds the pulsating, living trophy in the air for a moment, as if he’d transferred his being and consciousness into that flesh. Then his eyes roll back into his head and he collapses to his knees, blood flowing into the music pit below.
The audience watches on, excited and amused as the stage lights dimmer to a soft, warm hue and a harsh spotlight shines down on what was once Chris Martin. Normally, this act of brutality would shock even the most experimental of modern artists. However, a soft wind coupled with an angelic drone induces a wave of soothing ecstasy amongst the rabble, almost as if the audience has forgotten when and where they are and ascended into a pure, collective bliss.
Hypnotised by the hum of an ethereal engine, the crowd looks upon the stage with beaming smiles. Zeus and Hera materialise together under a second spotlight. Their warm, yellow hues explode outwards and steal the eyes.
“I laugh, I laugh. Their plight is but a gaffe.
Hera, dear wife of mine; it is that way by design.
To drown their sorrow, they drink ‘till they barf
Vine and body entwine
Yet the intention of mine was laid.
The tragic father of one and mother of two
In time their memories will wither and fade
As sanguine and sorrow are ground to stew
Infused to brew the mortal blade in waters manmade
This serenade of sorrow will birth the world anew.
Through fire and flame
Molten embers discharged from squealing steel
Run red with the passion of the thine own, unwed.
The paints formed for Dagon’s world reclaimed
Will end what is known when the painter strokes over the canvas of old.”