Shadow Prophets

A squib-box opera Libretto by Matthew Lee Knowles 2011

Premiered at Miniere Sonore, Santulussurgiu, Sardinia, Tuesday 2nd August 2011 [Vocals: Adam de la Cour (plus guitar), Neil Luck (plus miscellaneous instruments), Alessio Meloni. Electronics: Federico Reuben. Visuals: Eszter Takacs. Instrumentalists: Matteo Muntoni (bass), Raffaele Pilia (guitars), Sandro Mungianu (saxophone), Gioele Tolu (percussion), Manuele Pinna (piano), Cristina Greco (harp)] Cover picture by Eszter Takacs. Huge thanks to Stefano Casta and his wonderful team.

Characters Hero, Visionary and Chorus.

HERO - PROLOGUE
I know who I am, what person I am, where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going. I know what I’ve seen, I’ve understood what I’ve felt, I’ve loved for the right reasons, I’ve worked for the right cause, I’ve listened to those with something to say, I’ve opened my soul to those in a similar state, I’ve dedicated myself to my art and found the balance between the self, the work and the audience.

I reduce myself, I reduce me, bugs, bacteria, atoms and history, feelings, skin, neurons, muscle, bone, hair and shit, machinery, failings, catastrophe, emotions, capability, air and gas, repulsion, water, nutrients, metals, minerals, proteins, elements, extracts, lies, connections, ties, biases, compounds, weight, life, acids, vibration, light, love, sound, chains, molecules, genes, chemistry, reactions, music, wonder, fluid and energy, dreams, boredom, sugar, enzymes, procedures, danger, bravery, pleasure, germs, microbes,

glimmers, grains, stories, strength, memoirs, judgements, opinions, tragedy, influences waste, technology, joys, links, weaknesses, sentiments, sensations, disgust and notions, conclusions, gusto and associations, awe, phenomena and admiration, solutions and elegance and me. Help me escape this feeling of insecurity

CHORUS I

Now that you know that you do not know, we can begin to make progress

He is moulding He is fashioning He is framing

He is sculpting

He is carving He is altering

He is approaching He is styling

He is cutting it

VISION I
Spoken slowly, with subtle but heavy gravitas

You are worried, for your future, you are worried for and by your past.

Mere concepts and measly distractions, let them hold no meaning for you. The past is distant and behind you the future is over the horizon. The present has even less meaning, divided in every twitch into a multiplicity of constituent parts. Time is of your own formulation if you want it to stand still, it will. If you want it to fast-forward - it will. Instances, moments, occasions, periods, eras, phrases, points, stretches, spells, phases, ages, epochs, eons, generations and junctures.

Common sense is not always the best device, being the reaction of the majority. To rise artistically, go against the grind, but don’t be oblivious to flirting in this arena, the inside of the mirror you hold up to society. Your neighbours, peoples and friends should be persuaded to you, but should never understand your doing.

Will you ooze powerful, complex, dreamlike, philosophically firm core workings,

believing anything is possible, ne’er being faulted by time’s accomplices? Death will resonate silently before you, the world will perish, not you - realise this.

Potent peril should scare your youth, but death should not be threatening, beautiful certainty of life. Ultimately, one must look within ones own psyche, mind, mentality, body, beautiful or broken as the case may inconsequentially be. become a stupefied observer or dazzling choreographer, turn yourself inside out in as many dimensions as you can one of your six impossibilities.

Express these innermost mechanisms, central elements, delicately and dextrously, abstractly, conceptually straightforward and uncomplicated however you wish, not only in art, but in your voice, your language - speak well, know thy sound, train your words.

Make them your soldiers, accomplices, adherents, slaves, disciples, believers, devotees make them your bitches. Everyone thinks before they speak, it is simply a matter of speed.

CHORUS II
He is forming He is increasing He is establishing He is formulating He is emerging He is launching He is growing He is budding He is determining

VISION II
Spoken slowly, with childish passion, sometimes excited

You think low of people, you don’t hate them, you see the need, for niceness towards them, but it is based on self-interest. How can this sustain itself?

Without the people who came before you, you would not exist, you have everyone to be thankful for. Consider the dead, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Orroin tugenensis, Ardipithecus kadabba, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus bahrelghazali, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus garhi, Australopithecus sediba, Paranthropus aethiopicus, Paranthropus boisei, Paranthropus robustus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo Sapiens. Think about the lives they led, shrouded in mystery and disease, ninety nine percent of which, expectancy did not reach nineteen years. Misery with the time to reproduce but not mature and enjoy the fruits of an enlarged, extended brain with beauty in number and splendour in enquiry.

Your family should rank high, especially your father, you should marvel your father,

you and him are the same being. Break the societal norm, be as loving with him as a limp soft toy, as militaristic as a plastic gun. Within him is the power of infanticide.

Devote yourself to all the animals, not just your familiars but fungi, archaebacteria, eubacteria, protista, plantae and animalia they are all dwindling through the same tree to reach the inevitable conclusion: ninety nine percent of all life ever in existence on this planet is now extinct. Think about what this means for you.

Join the police force, become one more, dark facing slate, you will become, peoples awning, reusable. an indispensable tool of the higher power to stay surrounded.

Your art must learn to suffer itself, with broken legs, staring at the red sun the bones will eventually fuse. You will be cut off from your work, the mind at a distance can be a powerfully effective supercomputer. Dedicate yourself to the obsessive organisation of your body and office, hairs and paperclips, senses and rooms. Obsess also with your waste systems, bins, toilets, drains, your mouth and anus how do these things work? Where are they? Where do they go? How do you control them?

CHORUS III
He is casting He is targeting He is radiating He is transmitting He is shining He is shaping He is expressing He is roaring He is becoming

VISION III
Spoken fairly slowly, with monotonous bore

Your art makes you shed tears, monstrous madness can melt into glee, but it is fleeting, unpredictable. Can you balance allowing them to see into your work, but not to see yourself? A smoky edged, indefinable entity, taking insurmountable pleasure in the daring, darling, dreaming surreal. Should Art make sense? Should there be a definite connection? Should it be real, direct and upfront?

Your roots should exist in your work, the colour of your life should glow, resplendently, contrasting the darkness of your sins, infiltrating the audience: what you don’t know should not show.

Make work of high intellect and low politics to be enjoyed by Sunday school children and joyless old women alike.

Find a home in religion, not a particular path, but you are encouraged to join mindless masses, marauding malevolently, massacring the mindful, mastering meaningless mystery, maintaining medieval manners.

You should aim single-handedly to rid the world of instruments of death, from nuclear weaponry to racist thought - political activism and mind control.

True art is formed from risk and sacrifice, it should hurt to make and witness dark and joyless - showing you for the pathetic creature you are. Self excluding, depressing, diseased, self-deprecating, self-harming, sad. Melancholia and suspicion, secretiveness, humourless hostility, abnormal, disillusioned, schizophrenic, inconsistent existence.

The human race, cruel and conniving is out to cheat, harm and persecute you you create work shrouded in this fear, your health decreases, it is but a theme of time before your water is contaminated, the sky you inhale full of airborne pox, flu’s and plagues - slowly crushing you, confusing your immune system. To be an artist is to be broken the slowest form of death available. This is what you want, this is what you choose. [repeat ad nauseum]

CHORUS IV
He is befitting He is shifting He is renovating He is changing He is transforming He is cracking He is varying He is converting He is excelling

VISION IV
Spoken slowly, with self interest, disillusionment and secret pain and dragging of certain syllables and whole words.

Do peoples ever choose you? Is you ever chosen then? You should be chosen, people need to choose you, otherwise, what are the point of living? [laugh] I am always chosen, everyone loves me, I am adored, they all choose me - wanna know why? [laugh] Because, not choosing me is not one of their options. I make sure that they choose me, choose me good, sort of ultra-positive thinking, I think therefore I am. Think that you love yourself and everyone will love you. Beauty on the inside is nothing without beauty on the outside.

People burn and die for a reason, God takes them for a reason everything is happening for his reason, people are good alive and bad dead. [laugh] Don’t make God angry, or he will take you. God likes misery, reveal in your misery, in God’s mystery,

intertwine your miseries, bathe and fuck in them.

[Seductively] Be alone. Quaffing divine champagne from enchanting, charming crystal, reclining against clouds, in a remarkable place, yeah, watched by billions of stars. It’s times like this I, I think, I, I really respect me.

Lie so outrageously, so much so you can’t even tell your lies apart from truth. Celebrate the dead, only those I choose the beautiful people who everyone chose God had no choice but to take them at their prime peak, the height of their heights. True misery lies in being truly, beautiful rich wealth should be acquired however (murder), marriage, manipulation whatever it takes to live a playboy life. [laugh]

CHORUS V
He is splitting He is separating He is breaking He is divulging He is dividing He is violating He is happening

He is intensifying He is betraying

VISION V
Spoken slowly, with gross perversion, more Jekyll than Hyde. sexual. Sometimes, the pleasure of the very words is

They are young, they are juicy and so young. They are bad, they want to be exploited. Murder those parents, kidnap those children. Taste them, tease them, taunt them, laugh in their face, your pleasure is found in their lack of it pleasure between two peoples is a sum of the two parts, if they are in pleasure you cannot be [laughs] who doesn’t desire one hundred percent? Take from them their feelings. Subtract from them their power.

Remove from them their dignity. Rid them of their human function. Suck from them their very raison d’être. When they are failed, look deep in their eyes and say ‘are you ready yet?’ [repeat ad nauseam] your satisfaction comes from boys and girls riding in their own vomit, animals gasping and grasping through their own sloppy, slimy intestinal nooses. Crying and screaming - tear ducts so dry they burn, vocal chords so stretched they snap, minds so fucked they fail. Nothing is as satisfying as enjoying a weak mortal screaming without e’er knowing why.

Your pleasure is paramount and worth working for. Begin a school, build up a strong reputation, then one day, then one day, then one day, then one day.
One day, the hand that feeds becomes the hand that fucks.

Take them away, burn the school into the air. Power and pleasure, pleasure and power in the eyes of this God, you will be chosen.

Do you have parents? Destroy them [laughs] it is the single, most noble action one can perform. Enjoy it as much as mmmmmm

force them to eat each other alive.

CHORUS VI
He is ruining He is blurring He is opening He is corrupting He is distorting He is releasing He is sullying He is mystifying He is sickening

ARIA I

The system for which I engage Keeps me hostage on this lifeless stage Squatting alone on this throne I shit blood, flesh and bone. For those who stand and those who sit Here’s to pleasurable poo with pristine piss.

The paper seat cover becomes my royal bib The toilet brush becomes my sceptre The toilet seat becomes my crown The menstrual waste, my blushing complexion The faecal matter, my dripping jewellery The toilet tissue, a flowing gown.

I stand, looking in, looking down, through the shiny meniscus of the bowl, wondering about the world below - through that passage, that wormhole, where it leads, where it goes. Might I be delivered to an ocean weightless eternity, floating with the best of mankind, writhing in my own opulent emissions and oscillations? No bills to pay, no shop workers to smile at, pedestrians to wave to, no family to worry of, no weight to watch, no preference, no disappointment, no bumbling advisors, shitting fucking call centres, no wine lists, no missed appointments, no twatting exams, failure, no drudgery,

sleepless nights, no community, fucking excuses, no cunting fucking waster friends, no cleaning, no holding the doors open, no paper cuts, no carrying, no shit weather, no fucking TV.

VISION VI
Spoken slowly, almost incoherently, with deep-rooted, sadistic megalomania.

Money and blood are indistinguishable. The state of the weak are the state of the damned the state to be destroyed, eradicated, eliminated, exterminated, smashed, ruined, devastated. Destruction, beauty. Put forth your hammer and down your livid wrath. Rivers running red with beautiful boiling blood is not enough, only when the heavens pour will God acknowledge you and your masterpieces.

Orchestrate hatred, spread lies, propaganda, bring back concentration camps and gas chambers,

machete wielding racists, suicide bombers, determined, deluded fundamentalists.

Surround yourself with those who want to live, those who are willing to leave their brains out. Show no mercy. Cancel any thinkers, murder capriciously on rotation. They will fall at your feet to serve you an earth God you will be what more could you wish for?

As a child builds up a toy and throws it down with a playful lash and innocent laugh people will be your building blocks and genocide your innocence.

[through increasingly gritted teeth] Let them have their revolutions and uprisings, let them stew and become rancid in the blood of their compadres. Let them pray and wail let them be thankful for their dilapidated, miniscule, pathetic habitations but let them be, not. They are creating their own never-ending

cycle of handed down blame and sadness, lubricated in the very juices they are fighting to prevent. They really are so, stupid - the beauty in their lack of choice - how can they not fight? [laugh] For their children and their children’s children [laugh] Do they not see they are someone’s children, someone’s children’s children? Like farm animals raised in love to be grinded in white noise, people should be crushed, tanks blending their bones, guns ripping their souls, explosives laying waste to entire towns. Square tears of men. Show no mercy.

What beauty there is, to behold a soulless, lifeless, empty child standing naked, floating in the crimson entrails of their fam’ly and neighbours. Always leave a single infant the immense, searing, psychological hurt of this makes a thousand year orgasm seem like a handshake.

CHORUS VII
He is maddening He is infuriating He is revolting He is grating He is exasperating He is nauseating

He is aggravating He is repelling

He is rebelling

ARIA II

Smack bright stare, Crack fright glare, Whack wipe scare Snap strike swear, Crap Christ tear, Rat tat light, Rap slap night.

Crash split sad craze, Flash hit bad blaze, Clash bit drag rage, Pass shit grab rave.

Slash strip thump, Wrath zip clump, Harsh thick bump

Arse rip cunt.

Fume fuck knock hang, Boom look shot ban, Gloom pluck cost bang.

Freeze ache dead, Seethe rape spread, Grieve take dread.

Rock end down sting, Cock bend pound ring.

Lose ouch gun mess, Bruise trounce run death.

Piss fast bump peep, Stiff scratch punch peek.

Tough start hear blank, Rush dark clear stamp.

Shine dirt glow pelt, Drive hurt blow swell.

Drug hard kill wrench, Blood guard pill wrench.

Pour beam harm, Whore cream arm.

CHORUS VIII - EXODOS
He is defying He is struggling He is fighting He is combating He is churning He is trying

He is understanding

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