. elsewhere . . letters from the inaccessible .


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20 March 2001


sidereal motion (from Travels)

ten thousand miles

Not far from the Ginza station, you end up in a highrise building, which its visitors call Sparkling Tower. Its distinguishing characteristic, visually, to the businessmen, traders, and johns who go inside is a gilded Griffin, caged behind the balustrades above the main entrance, which hourly quotes a different Basho haiku in thought-bubbles above its head. It motions to the passing crowd silently, its lion-arm and eagle-wing movements mimicking a sideshow yeller, cajoling you to enter the hanging gardens of Babylon.

The Sparkling Tower flickers to a beat in 4/4 time, at the most languid largo or most distressing prestissimo. It is two buildings in one: the bazaar, shrine to entertainments both pure and base, and the manufactory. Manufactory and bazaar are intertwined perfectly, and the boundary between them perfectly impermeable. Non-intersecting passages, independent stairwells and elevator banks, ventilation systems which do not contaminate one other, doors between nightclub and assembly line permanently locked. The bazaar is marketplace and midway, each floor a trap for those whose weakness is ingrained in a specific direction. The first floor is populated with the conscientious disbelievers, who are always quarreling among themselves about the rumors they hear of Sparkling Tower. Is it an uncontrolled zone? they ask. A new Kowloon Walled City, run by the Triads or the Yakuza? Some have said there is an entrance for the defeated faces which huddle along the street, shrinking from the wind, eyes downcast so as not to meet the cruel gaze of their god? The more agnostic patrons of Sparkling Tower never venture higher than the first floor and wear tired looks on their faces, sipping warm gin from martini glasses, debating philosophies long abandoned.

Businessmen casually stroll past the debating literati, straight to the bank of elevators. Each of the Sparkling tower's hundred-plus floors has its own elevator, both in bazaar and manufactory, and the balding men in three-piece suits whose faces carry a permanent scowl of aloof displeasure always travel the elevator to the nineteenth floor: the trading floor, where they can speak in buzzwords and watch riches grow and wither. As you walk through this first floor, curious about the academic intensity of the debating factions, you see a small crowd of young and up-to-the-minute revelers: they await the elevator to the fiftieth floor, which quivers day and night with the beat of next week's popular music. Periodically, furtive men back away from the first floor bar, their warm drinks, and dry conversations to stand before the eighty-third elevator along, awaiting passage to the brothel.

Retreating from the pursuits of pleasure, you pace through the bar on the lobby floor. Anecdotes sift their way through the uptight academics, rumors that one time the power faded in Sparkling Tower, and the bleeding-edge devotees in the club heard the grinding sounds of tool-and-die machinery through the fibrous concrete wall, that the wealthy businessmen all cocked their head to one side, listening to the shuffle of a warehouse beyond the wood-grain paneling. Bazaar and manufactory, you know, have unconnected electrical systems.

The braver among the agnostics speak in hushed, hurried tones about the inaccessible regions of Sparkling Tower, that there is a hidden entrance to the building, far from the cajoling Griffin, through which only the elite invited can pass. The gin, they say, is always colder. The party people in drug/alcohol hazes mumble about the dance hall unreachable from what they know to be the Tower, in reverent voices speak of its exclusivity, its music (you can hear if you put your head to the wall just right) which is certainly a year ahead of its time. The businessmen harangue one another in a rare silence, that the muffled sound through the barrier is the frenetic cacophony of volume trading, privileged information, manic buying and selling of securities.

You step outside into the garish lighting of the Ginza. In a light autumn rain you see the huddled faces of the other population of Sparkling Tower: the god-abandoned laborers of the manufactory. None speaks to another, as they shuffle under the frieze of the Pegasus dyed into the blue granite wall opposite the boulevard. But each of them, you know, harbor suspicions about the Sparkling Tower, just as the those in the bazaar: seamstresses on the eighty-third floor shudder at the screaming torment of the slaves in the forbidden districts of that level; plastic molders on the fiftieth fear they may one day be sent to the ironworks they hear, quietly grimace at the thought of the incredible stifling heat that must await them.

Manufactory and bazaar. You realize that the Sparkling Tower is a lie once told to itself, reflected in itself. Mirror into mirror, it amplifies its own degradation.

musings of señor prod.

Doing the things The Revolution can.

03.23.01: The Experience Begins on the Web.

 

©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-

 

 

©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-