Tuesday, July 10, 2012

visions of heaven and hell

"when love walks in" p. 618 Finnegans Wake

Lohbado worked six months as an odour specialist for the Glob Theatre in Yamaville. His job was to make smell during dramatic moments. Adding smell to the special effects department increased dimension and vividness of theatre productions.

Diet is crucial to aroma. To produce a wide array of odours, what you eat is how you smell. Kitchen setup is crucial. The fridge should be on the warm side. Lohbado set his refrigerator ten degrees above the recommended level. Bacteria responds well to slight increases in temperature. It adds a sour vinegar overtone to plain yoghurt, or gives leftover rice a pickle aftertaste. Of course, dill pickles turn blue and fuzzy, while cheese grows mould.
For love stories, a plate of boiled potatoes left out on the counter overnight and eaten two hours before the performance enabled his body to release the desired pheromones, that subtle buffet of intimacy, as star studded lovers consummate a relationship. It has to be subtle. Better understate than overkill. One time Lohbado broke wind worthy of a dumpster behind a fruit market. The audience groaned. The director was furious.
“This is not a zombie move. It’s not the raft of the Medusa. It’s Romulus and Juliana. You do that one more time and you’re canned,” shouted the director.
This happened during his first week on the job, when Lohbado felt a little insecure about the strength and radius of smell. He wanted his odour to invade even the farthest reaches of the Glob Theatre. He practiced hours in advance to provide dramatic scent during the quarrel between the Crapulet family and the Montapooze. In his eagerness to startle and surprise, Lohbado noisily blasted over the limit. He vowed to never make such a mistake again. He learned, through trial and error, to regulate his diet and control the sphincter. He mastered the art of silent emission by meticulously noting in a journal the side effects of various foods during the process of digestion.
The peak moment of Lohbado’s six month career as an odour specialist was without a doubt in the Bill Green production of Heaven and Hell, a play based on Irish folklore about an island where pilgrims could have supernatural visions. God-fearing faithful followers could witness the torment of hell and the bliss of heaven. Eventually the pope shut it down, during the 15th century. Within the space of half an hour, Lohbado produced the sulphurous reek of hell and the sweet incense aroma of heaven. He achieved this sequential effect by eating an unsalted soft boiled egg and downing a glass of unsweetened mango juice. The play ran for six weeks, six months and six days.

Centuries later, an explorer discovered a similar cave in Rock Hill, on the Plains of Radiation, where one could communicate with various spirits. Lohbado decided to visit the cave and find out if one could really contact spirits there, like in the Irish cave, or if it was a myth.

Lohbado went to Rock Hill cave on the Plains of Radiation to bust the myth. He brought a thermos of coffee and a comfortable chair. He planned to stay awake between midnight and dawn, to record with two cameras, one set at 5000 ASA to capture devils lurking in shadows and the other set to 60 ASA to tone down highlights of blazing rapture and the glory of spiritual orgasm.
It happened just like in a fairy tale. A moving company delivered the chair up the hill and into the cave. Lohbado got comfortable, a cup of coffee in hand. After fifteen minutes, demons oozed out of the rock. At first they jerked back and forth to the speech rhythm of talk radio, or Internet guests flushed and swollen in furious debate. Snakes slithered on a bed of slime. Suddenly, the Great Mamon emerged, a rotund, jiggling  jelloid creature. Plum pudding oozed with the consistency of colostrum from Mamon’s glandular lips. Graceful long-legged birds flew into the cave and ate crumbs from Mamon’s mouth. Lohbado could understand how a religious administrator might not appreciate the psychotic antics of Mamon and the oozing worms, not to mention the hundreds of biting, sucking creatures, which out of nowhere latched on to the plum pudding ooze, the fruit of Mamon’s mouth.
Lohbado lingered in hell the length of time it takes an average drinker to finish a pint of beer. After three hours of moaning and groaning, slapping and screeching, a soft synthesizer angel choir became louder with increasing brilliance. Heaven opened up as white light flooded the cave. Beautiful young men and women in while silk gowns danced to the angelic tune. Lohbado sank back in the easy chair. He surrendered to ripples of biofeedback and waves of bliss. Angels danced about in sensual clothes to the cosmic chanting of Oogah and Oorsis. Lohbado rode the wave of bliss to the plateau of wellbeing, a floating, blissful streaming.
“Please, don’t stop,” he gasped, “It feels so good!”
Lohbado could understand how a 15th century religious administrator might not approve of such good feelings. It felt so good, it had to be sin. It’s ok to feel good, but one should not dwell in god-like ecstasy. That’s God’s territory. Humans should back off and contain themselves.
About 5:30 AM the glimmer of dawn appeared at the mouth of the cave. The visions vanished. Lohbado fell asleep.
Unfortunately, the photographs didn’t turn out. The hell images were overexposed, beyond recognition. The heaven pictures were black, without a trace of form. Instead of busting a myth, Lohbado felt overjoyed to have tapped into an ancient and possibly quite relevant source of spiritual strength.

It took Lohbado three days to write a play about his experience in the cave of Rock Hill on the Plains of Radiation and it’s similarity to Saint Patrick’s Purgatory at Loug Derg in Ireland. The Glob Theatre decided to present Lohbado’s play. However, it ran into problems. The financial backers felt it was too intense and out of control. They provided an ultimatum: water it down or shelve the project. One week before opening night, the producer, Bill Green, backed out. The play died during rehearsal. Lohbado quit his job and continued wandering down the long highway of life from the known to the unknown.

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