From the personal journal of Dalton Deschain
Sunday, June 25, 1944
It’s worth noting that before tonight, I hadn’t been in a fight since the first grade.
This is, of course, assuming it was me that broke the nose of the man I found lying bleeding in the alleyway in front of me. I suppose it’s possible that when I blacked out, a shadowy figure from the street ran in past me, beat the heck out of that opera singer, and then ran away before I woke up.
I’ve been doing well with the blackouts, if at the expense of my social life. I took a short sabbatical from performing, which quickly led to the realization that without the gigs, I don’t go out. So I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, practicing, and reading, and plotting out the next phase of my life. I’ve always been a man who sticks to the plan, and I realized recently that whatever plans I had made had run out. Time to reformulate.
Slowly, the blackouts ceased. As of tonight, I had gone about a month without them…that is, until Salomé danced the Dance of the Seven Veils.
I had gone to see a performance of Strauss’ opera Salomé at the Detroit Opera House. Not exactly the most contemporary of performances, but given the violent state of affairs in the world right now I was amazed to see it being performed.
Even after all these years, it gets me. The complexity of the score, the ugliness, the aggression. To pull your audience in by pushing them away. There’s a lesson to be learned there that most musicians don’t want to touch. Playing nice with a crowd will only get you so far. We are fascinated by oddities, just ask Robert Ripley, who earned an unfathomable fortune off of it. We identify with the ugly, and that’s what turns us from interested bystanders to invested fanatics. Their story becomes ours, and we become viscerally attached to them.
Herein lies the secret to music.
I’m no stranger to the concert epiphany, having had my best ideas, as many artists do, while watching others perform. I was in the midst of this inspirational fervor when the Dance began. I watched her, twisting and leaping across the stage, still turning over these ideas of repulsion and attraction in my head…and then…nothing. I woke up in the alley next to a bloody King Herod and sirens wailing in the distance.
The last thing I remember was looking at the fool King Herod there on the stage, gaping at Salomé, and realizing the power she had. That her blend of seduction and repulsion gave her limitless strength against all the armies of Galilee. But what is it that she wants?
The severed head of her lover.
And then things went black.