i wanted to fly from the roof and i fell (2020)

monodrama for solo clarinetist

Premiered by Caitlin Beare

i wanted to fly from the roof and i fell was composed during the first weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown. The sudden ubiquity of video conferencing and flourishing of misinformation prompted me to recall the following:

 

  1. A scene in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest where video chat is the newest form of communication. Initially, there is a great deal of excitement around the technology’s novelty. Eventually, users become aware that, unlike telephonic communication, video communication requires one’s undiluted attention. During a phone call one may meander about the home, fold laundry, cover the receiver to participate in a simultaneous conversation, all without arising the suspicions of their conversational partner. Video chat, on the other hand, deprives one of this ability to ignore and multitask. Normal, previously innocuous, telephonic behavior now communicates disinterest. Manufacturers took note as the general public pined for the freedom to selectively engage and began to introduce products in response: custom masks matching an individual’s likeness (worn in order to conceal unflattering facial expressions, boredom, or appearance), life-like cardboard cutouts to occupy the visual screen, and finally lens caps featuring static images of the participants. 

  2. An interview with Nikola Tesla which had been circulating the internet. Of course, it turned out to be fictional.

 

Fragments of text from these sources were selected and subjected to a process of random recombination resulting in the text presented below.

 

Suddenly reluctant to leave home

…or tell you the time and temperature

Like a thinking animal

 

A wholly marvelous delusion

Culturally approved

The facial image of a form-fitting

Phone-pad haiku

 

An almost natural distortion

Once again unseen

Down in the trenches

Hideous looking on the phone

 

Predator-grade

Logic in the microeconomics

Coagulated cast-lists self; it billows

 

Full-body polybutylene and -urethane two dimensional cutouts

It wasn’t just ‘Anchorman’s Bloat’

 

A certain queer kind of self-obliterating

Whose earpiece contained six little pinholes

Tap-dancing with a little iconic straw boater

Seeing your videophonic interfacee idly strip a shoelace

Hanging there empty and wrinkled

 

The new panagoraphobia

 

Stir things on the stove

Hold conferences against your creator at birthday parties

Sing hymns to the induction motor

And dance with a cane under a menu of possibilities

I wanted to fly from the roof and I fell