Month: July 2009
I must confess, after living with Aunt Claire for seven years, just as isolated as I was previously in my father’s library night after night, my perceptions of reality were twisted. I had no friends to speak of, and took to wandering the neighbouring forest for hours on end. Aunt Claire’s age and waning health meant she was never too concerned about my whereabouts and I revelled in nature, as a stark contrast to my upbringing around machinery, science and mathematics.
My father’s death, which occurred only days after I was exiled from him, came as no surprise. Nor was it surprising that it was at the hands of Colonel Maurice Van Riper. Van Riper was never tried or brought to justice for his actions, my father’s official cause of death being suicide by overdose. Cruel though it may sound, my father brought it upon himself. His web of lies grew so large that he had no escape, and although his final act was selfless, in sending me away, I still wonder if he had any idea what impact his fantasies would ultimately have. A child without a father, a wife without a husband. And for what? One old man’s escapism.
In my early twenties, with no sense of direction, no formal qualifications and no network of contacts I am ashamed to admit I did the only thing I could to survive: I propagated my father’s myth and undertook speaking engagements all over the world telling anyone who would listen about the Great Machine and the work we undertook to transmit intellectual matter through time. My lectures were an unmitigated success, and I travelled the world for the best part of ten years getting paid very well to demonstrate a small prototype (in reality a dummy box adorned with typewriter parts and a smoke generator) which of course would always encounter some last-minute problem that would stop the demonstration dead in it’s tracks. On occasion the crowd would become unsettled and vocal about my apparent failure but the confidence of my patrons and my soothing speaking manner invariably won them over.
And so I went on, until a speaking engagement in York, England one summer went very badly wrong. I was at the point in the lecture where I was [page ends]
Dear Mr Glass,
I am writing to thank you once again for a most enthralling and informative lecture at our school last month. The teachers, parents and pupils have spoken of little else since your visit, even those who expressed skepticism as to the veracity of your research! For such a young gentleman you have a commanding presence and a most thrilling speaking style and it is to your credit.
We were so pleased you were able to give us a demonstration of the new portable version of your apparatus, and hope you didn’t take too seriously the boos and catcalling from certain sectors of the audience when the success of your “transmission” could not be tangibly proved. Of course I understand this is a hard thing to verify and am happy to take you at your word that the transmission did indeed find it’s target. Certainly the noises and lights of your contraption would suggest nothing else!
We find the fact that you built this machine while only 13 years old to be a great verification of our core ideals here – that children have a boundless capacity for invention and creativity when freed from the shackles of traditional desk-bound learning.
I implore you to keep in touch with regards to your future endeavours and should you find yourself in Italy in the future please pay us another visit.
Casa dei Bambini, Roma
My name is Anthony Philip Glass. Many years ago I was the unwitting participant in a cruel hoax, perpetrated by my father Edward Glass.
Perhaps my name is familiar with you, over the years it has been appropriated for many tall tales, fantastic stories and outright lies but in this journal I intend to set the record straight and do what I can to regain my good reputation.
But let me start at the beginning. My father was always a terribly ambitious man, and was possessed of a keen intellect and no small amount of charisma. However, he always seemed to fall short of his own high expectations. In fact, if it weren’t for a large inheritance that included our family house, I doubt whether he could have kept a roof over our heads at all. It’s not that he was workshy, or without skills, but I always got the impression that he felt “work” in itself was beneath him, something that other people did while he contemplated the best way to leave his mark on the world.
I think I must have been about 10 years old when he decided that I would be his legacy, his “gift to the world” so to speak. My father had always been fascinated with what came to be known as Science Fiction and would read all the pulp magazines of the day voraciously, in much the same way as most other fathers would devour the Times, my father ploughed through piles of histrionic nonsense like Weird Tales and The Argosy.
And so it transpired, my father set about formulating a scheme that would guarantee his infamy, with me as the key player. He devised meticulous plans for a machine that he claimed would transmit music and other forms of art through time to some future recipient – the purpose of which was never really explained. Over the course of three years I was regularly administered a weak tincture of what I now assume to be laudanum which kept me in a permanently bewildered state. Every night I was dragged from my bed and taken to my father’s library where work would continue on building the vast orange-brown behemoth.
I must confess, the sheer scale of my father’s deception was impressive. By the time we were undertaking the first “tests” the machine filled almost every corner of my father’s large basement library. It huffed and puffed, glowed and groaned in a most impressive manner, and some of it’s malfunctions were terrible and magnificent to behold. By the time I was sent away to live with Aunt Sophie at age 14, the machine seemed as much a part of the house as a heart is to the human body.
I will write further tomorrow.