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1983-1984 Surfing the Purple Wave



The Black Swan, from “” Chapter 11, The Castle

I woke up early and left Michèle sleeping to go and shoot some slides on Kodak Ektachome film. It was foggy, and it made the castle seem even more mystifying and magical. I got a lot of really good shots, especially ones of the swans swimming in the moat in the misty morning, one of which was black. This gave me the idea I would use for my audio-visual project. The Kid’s advice on the night of my going away party came back to me now. I needed a story. I brought my cassette recorder with me in my camera bag and recorded the soft rippling sounds of the swans swimming. I would make a fairy tale and narrate it. I returned to the little cabin and while Michèle still slept I wrote a fairy tale “The Black Swan” that I would narrate on cassette (Nothing to do with the 1942 swashbuckler film starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara). You’re dying to hear the tale, aren’t you? Alright…I’ll tell it to you:

Once upon a time there was a young chatelain, or I should say the son of a chatelain, who lived in a beautiful castle in the forest. He decided that he wanted to see the world and set out on a long voyage, crossing countries, mountains, and seas, and discovering many wonderful and strange things. Many years after he had set out, he found himself deep in the heart of Africa, where everything was like being in a different world. One day he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes upon. Her name was Nafisa, and she was an African queen with a hue as dark and as shiny as an onyx. They were both pierced through immediately by cupid’s arrow, and they married with a grand ceremony among Queen Nafisa’s people. Perhaps he would have fared better to stay as a King in Africa, but he was homesick, and he asked his bride to come and live with him in his castle in Normandy. She agreed, as she didn’t want to see him sad, and they set out together on the long tortuous and torturous voyage. When they finally arrived, the son of the chatelain was no longer young, but aged and weary from his world travels. Worse, his joy to be home at last was cut asunder abruptly by the reticence of the villagers to accept his queen. For him, Queen Nafisa was a shining jewel, but to them, she was an ugly black foreigner. Everyone despised and rejected her, claiming that she was an evil witch who had put a spell on their beloved noble. It was decided to burn her at the stake. It so happened though that Queen Nafisa did indeed possess very strong magical powers, but that could only be used in a beneficial way. It was impossible for her to use her powers to fight off the people. Queen Nafisa suggested to her lover that she transform them both into swans, and the people would not know what had become of them. He agreed, and to this day, we can still see their descendants swimming in the moat of the castle, half of them are black, and the other half white, but none are ever grey.

I never got the chance to present my audio-visual with the slides. It wasn’t my destiny, and the slides were never made public. At the moment it seemed that I had succeeded my audio visual, but I couldn’t be sure until after I developed the slides.

On our holiday we took long walks in the forest around the castle, enjoying the fiery colors of autumn and the new moon. While we were walking in the forest Michèle told me that this was her “sanctuary”. While she didn’t believe in God, she said that if anything should be worshipped, it was nature. She said that she felt much closer to the trees, the plants, and the animals in the forest than she did to humans. “Humans are cruel and they destroy everything.” She confided to me.