Indereflection (One, Two, Three)


Text piece as part of Barbara Campbell’s 1001 nights cast durational performance.

Description from Campbell’s website:

In her durational performance, 1001 nights cast, Barbara Campbell cast a story into the ether every night for 1001 nights from 21 June 2005 to 17 March 2008.

Each story had been written for her during the day by a pool of 243 writers scattered across the globe.

With only a few hours to write and a limit of 1001 words, each writer was responding to a writing prompt Campbell had extracted from one of that day’s newspaper stories about events in the Middle East.

She selected a prompt word or phrase that leapt from the page with generative potential.

She rendered the prompt in watercolour and posted it in its new pictorial form on the website.

At sunset (according to Campbell’s location), she opened the live webstream on the 1001 nights cast website and told the new story to unseen audiences in unknown locations.

The stories, as spoken, could only be witnessed in real time, but in text form, they remain on the website as ghosts of their one-time voicing.

I wrote 3 of these 1001 stories.

#759 – 19/07/07
#857 – 12/11/07
#920 – 27/12/07

One: Inflection
Two: Deflection
Three: Reflection.

Prompt: on the edge of a volcano

Source: Ian Black, ‘A country in crisis as fearful government cracks down on Islamist opposition’, Guardian Unlimited, 19/07/07


One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: in… flection
Two: You added a pause. De…flection?
One: Let’s stop breathing for a second.
Two: Ok, do you mean ‘hold our breath’ or just not mark it with ‘in …’ and ‘de…’ ?
One: Inde. Independent.
Two: Oh, I thought they were diversions from ‘infection – defection’.
One: They can be.
Two: I’ve often feared that my breathing was defective, somewhat derailed from the normal path where the in and out are in harmony.
One: I doubt that they are supposed to be harmonious acts. Each is there to accomplish its own task.
Two: Most would say that the two are inextricable.
One: Perhaps as much as One is linked to Two, and Two to One.
Two: I can add.

One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: in… flection
Two: de… de… deflection

One and Two continued breathing with those words. Pausing here and there to converse, to argue some would say. Agreement far from view, they simmered. Yet they walked together, aimlessly in the same direction. A directionless aim, the other would say. Each breath synched with a single step, their walk akin to the stilted ceremonious rhythm of pallbearers. They had traversed war zones and shopping malls alike with the peculiar pace. Steady but with a hint of a teeter, as if each step suggested a heretofore imperceptible edge on the ground. Each step deflecting the ground and its presumed firmness to reveal a simmering surface precipitously unsure of its hold on gravity. The edge lasted as long as one wished to linger giddy in the vertiginous moment.

One: i… in… in…. inflection
Two: deflection
One: inflection
Two: deflectionnnn
One: inflect… ion
Two: dedeflection

One: You can’t help the stutter, can you?
Two: And you can’t help but to improvise.
One: So?
Two: Ya, so?
One: Standoff.
Two: Standup and shut up.
One: That went well.
Two: At least brevity was on call.

One: inf fflection
Two: deflection
One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: inflecttttion
Two: ddd… deflection

One and Two continued breathing those words. Pausing now and then to chat, to quarrel some would say. Once Onetwo, now clearly needing an ‘and’ inbetween them. The inbetween had created the dialogue, prior to that there had been no need. Only doubt hindered decisions once in a while. The inverse pair, Twoone, had been proposed to mitigate mounting resentment, but no compromise was possible. ‘A series of events begins with One” One declared. And when Two answered, that was it, ‘and’ officially inserted itself in the pair. There for good. Sometimes hidden in the form of a comma or just a space, but always there. ‘And’ adds up, it is a plural engine, the ands, they separate as they add, to count is their act. ‘Conjunction my ass!’ Two clamored, ‘you are no part of, but apart, and away, as far as possible.’ Hinges tend to squeak. AS FAR AS could be the banner synopsis of their relation, formely a sole, now two poles.

One: infe… infect… inflect.. ion
Two: deflllllllllllllllection
One: in… out…. out…. in… inflection
Two: deflectiooooooon
One: inflection
Two: deflection

One: Breathing bores me.
Two: I’m sure the air is bored by your lungs too.
One: Alveoli.
Two: Smartass, I have some extra cardon dioxide for you, here, … take it!
One: I am deserted by the desert.
Two: I am a deserter ready for dessert.
One: Your wordplay is as far from clever as possible.
Two: I win.

One: infin fflllectction
Two: deeeeeeeflection
One: inflection
Two: deflection
One: iiiinflectiononononon
Two: dded… deflection

One and Two continued breathing words. Pausing once or twice to chew the fat, to feud some would say. They stepped on the volcano just as the eclipse trigerred the tsunami. All was well, the disaster written.
One and Two continued. A breath. A pause.
One and Two continued.
One and Two paused.

Prompt: constant sombre rhythm

Source: AP Digital, ‘Baghdad bombings, attacks drop: Iraq PM’, The Age online, 12/11/07


One: reflection
Two: defection
Three: infection
Four: direction

Avoidance of the straight path. Gravity defying mobility. Always adrift.

One: section
Two: detection
Three: injection
Four: dissection

Cut-up every moment, every space, every breath, every step.

One: perfection
Two: erection
Three: inspection
Four: selection

A pair had arrived. There were four of them now. Two plus two. The space was looking like it could constitute a destination. No longer a conduit, but a culmination. The point, however, lacked the assurance that peace affords. The point, for now, resembled a target.

Four: Do the four of us constitute a quartet?
Three: Yes, we either play strings or are part of a proto-typical rock band.
Two: More a double duet. After all, we were here first.
One: I began, I took the first breath. The rest of you are all mere repetitions.

Four: Ah yes, the predictable argument that the first is entitled to stake a claim.
Three: It’s the discovery model.
Two: Conquistador! There’s blood on your hands!
One: No need to get flustered, the territory is finite and our needs are infinite. Somehow that equation causes us to continually race; exhausting ourselves and the territory in the process.

Two: You bastard! First you claim sole possession of the original moment, the original breath. And then you justify it with some kind of fatalistic scenario.
One: I am determined to beat you.
Four: In fact, what you are saying is that it is pre-determined that you will beat all of us.
Three: What do I care? I’m third in line, a bronze failure. A reluctant third, I’d rather not partake at all, but this relentless rhythm swept me up.

One takes Two aside and a conspiratorial tone ensues with all the subtlety of a stage move.

Two: What’s the matter now?
One: Let’s lose them, we might be lost ourselves, but I think we’ll fare better without them.
Two: They do seem to be the Pozzo and Lucky to our Vladimir and Estragon.
One: Exactly.
Two: I might be right, but I disagree. Three pointed to his futile resistance to a constant rhythm and I, being the perennial second, can sympathize.
One: Alone. Am all alone. An abandoned downbeat. I start and no one is there to continue, let alone, stop. Stuck still.

Four takes the opportunity of the exclusionary murmurings of One and Two to engage Three in parallel deliberations.

Four: I don’t have a good feeling about this. We should cut our losses and find ourselves another pair. We rhymed beautifully from the onset, and then you had to inject a sombre tone by moping about your positioning.
Three: Am I wrong to want to circumvent the inevitable?
Four: Not if you want a lifetime subscription to failure.
Three: I give in and I give up. Defeated by lethargy.
Four: The failure to fail is the ultimate goal. The ultimate catastrophe.
Three: …

The encroaching night injects a levelling effect to the brewing tensions. With unease the four gravitate towards the centre of the space. They huddle. The cluster’s defining edges grow faint. The volleys of antagonism having subsided, they await further instructions. Eventually. Finally. From the night sky, a deep nocturne resounds, fading in ever so slowly,

One: destruction
Two: destruction
Three: destruction
Four: destruction

One: estruction
Two: estruction
Three: estruction
Four: estruction

One: struction
Two: struction
Three: struction
Four: struction

One: truction
Two: ruction
Three: uction
Four: ction

One: tion
Two: ion
Three: on
Four: off

Prompt: not an exact copy

Source : Rayad Abou Awad, AFP, ‘Egypt to copyright pyramids’, The Age online, 27/12/07


It started with two. Then grew by two. And then two more. By addition, replication, duplication, reproduction. By any means necessary. Copy and paste, but analogue, not digital. In other words, the copy is not exact. The process includes inherent imperfections. Two (one plus one), and Two (one plus one), and Two (one plus one) equals Six. Six in total. Six characters, numbered but nameless. Six is more than enough, it is almost a crowd. It’s a party assembled for an occasion, the beginning or the end of something. Hello. How are you? Repeat six times. Ad nauseam is nearby. Fine, thank you. Six individuals or a group of six. Three pairs or two trios. A pair, a trio and a lone outsider. Two duos and two lonesome antipodes. Grouped and gathered. This disjointed affair. Togetherness torn apart. A blaring sextet.

One: Let me introduce you to us Six. I’m first, One.
Two: Hello, I’m Two.
Three: Three here.
Four: 1, 2, 3… Four.
Five: Hey all, uneven Five, and now here’s Six.
Six: I’m last. That’s a lot of us for such a short span of time. If we could all get along we could form a chorus.
Two: And speak as a united voice? I doubt it.
One: Party as germ warfare.
Four: Unhinged.
Six: I see rampant discontinuity.
Five: I wished I hadn’t said anything.
Three: You could have been Jean-Pierre in Nathalie Sarraute’s play The Silence. He doesn’t say anything.
Five: Well, yes, though he does end up speaking up at the very end of the play.
Two: But the mundaneness of what he says almost accentuates his muteness up to that point.
One: I thought we were here to ‘unhinge’ as Four said. Like the Arkestra on its way to Saturn. Instead here we are in a mini literary criticism convention.
Four: Yes to Sun Ra, but I prefer Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Three: So much for anonymity, our own and the abstract narrative space we are unfolding.
Two: We are but six drifting beats marking time.
Five: I copy.
One: You all follow me, the only point that counts is the original one.
Two: By yourself, you don’t count. Counting to one doesn’t add up.
Three: Trinity.
Four: Quartet. From strings to barber shops to rock, I’m pervasive.
Five: Hot Five.
Six: You’re ancient history.
Five: Satchmo will flush you out with his Swiss Kriss.
One: He did have a bit of a fixation with that laxative.
Four: Purification is a spiritual pursuit.
Three: Nothing wrong with that.

It continued. For much longer. Seemingly never-ending. By addition, replication, duplication, reproduction. By any means necessary. Copy and paste, but analogue, by hand, not digits. In other words, the inexact copy. The process always a bit off. Two follows One, and Three precedes Four, and Six comes after Five. All in a row amounting to Six. Six total. Six numbered voices, but heard through one only. Six is too much, they crowd my mouth. It’s a party for the vocal chords, exercise in schizophonics. You need a six-channel Vocoder. Repeat six times. A chain of effects complete the setup. Six delay units. Or three reverb pairs. Or a pair of flanges, a loop trio and a lone distortion pedal. Tweaked and boosted. All on stage. Sound check tore the roof. Amps a blarin’.

One: Let me introduce you all. I’m Only.
Two: They know us already. Anyway, Only?
Three: He means, solo, single-handed, unique.
Four: As in, Loser.
Five: Don’t let him take his solo.
Six: Let’s mount a wall of noise to squelch him.
Two: And speak as a united voice? I doubt it.
One: A singular individual here with no ‘and’ in his vocabulary.
Four: Unhinged.
Six: I hear a dissonant note.
Five: I wished I had quit the band a long time ago.
Three: We can always fire you.
Five: Well, yes, though apparently I save the day by the end.
Two: But delusions are more dangerous than illusions.
One: I thought we were here to ‘unhinge’ as Four said. Like The Dead C on its way inside your Head. Instead here we are in a derivative noise fest.
Four: Yes to The Dead C, but I prefer Alvin Lucier.
Three: So much for anonymity, our own and the abstract narrative space we are unfolding.
Two: We are but six beats marking time drifting.
Five: I count myself out of the timeline.
One: You all need ‘and’ to place yourselves, I don’t.
Two: And, so what?
Three: Power trio.
Four: Quad.
Five: Five Elements.
Six: You’re ancient history.
Five: I can burn you, fire away.
One: A scourge, after all the suffering it causes, can foster renewal.
Four: Purification is a spiritual pursuit.
Three: Nothing wrong with that.