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Canope, Préludes Book II

Paul Klee, Clarification, 1932

Part Nine Chapter 9

̶  Now lie back and listen to this.

I lie back and close my eyes.

Slow, quiet, contemplative, the chords come, unfolding a percussive melody veiled in an infinity of vibrations. So this is the place she is taking me to, the overtones at the edge of awareness; the place where, unbeknownst to us, we were destined to meet. What is she telling me? That friendship between a man and a woman is characterized by sublimation, and therefore is necessarily an ethical relation? That the feminine horizon where she and Marietta lie will always be ever-receding to me? That even in marriage, fluidity cannot be confined? Conjuring subtle sonorities, she explores the resonance of dying sounds. What is she telling me? That the appropriation and exclusion that characterize a sexual relation need not deprive the friend of intimacy? That friendship between lover, ex and beloved can be full of subtle harmonics that promise a new music? Listen how they come, as if from a distance, the resonances that give birth to melody; listen to the beauty of the sound. Gathering the silence into a slow arabesque, a rhythmless motion where love resides, Ingrid gathers in my thoughts. Not stating harmonic resolution but letting the overtone imply it, with meticulous control of touch and pedal she sounds a note—soft, softer, dying…

Paul Cézanne, Broussailles, ca. 1900–04
Photo: Bruce M. White, Pearlman Collection

Paul Cézanne, La bouteille de cognac, 1906
Photo: Bruce M. White, Pearlman Collection

̶  Ingrid, you’re amazing! What depth in so few notes!

She smiles. We rise and return to the sofa.

̶  What was it?
̶  Debussy. ‘Canope’. From the second book of Preludes.
̶  It’s very moving, that immobility.
̶  The kind of paradox I like! Yes. It’s masterfully written. All harmonics and voicing.
̶  Have you recorded the Preludes?
̶  I haven’t. I enjoy playing them, I’ve got them firmly in my fingers, but I feel no need to record them.

The porcelain glow of her skin brightens in the lamplight; from pale blue to ash grey her eyes veer as she turns to face me more fully: I’d never have imagined otherworldly pallor could be so beautiful.