Omniscience: A Tentative Definition

by Jacques Servin

Chilly, the day; chilly, the news: a hundred black-jacketed hijackers in Nepal, big demands, few resources. Chilly, too, the wife: a night of poor sex, as usual, tired thrashes against an obsolescing husband. He is aging, it is true, and she is not, it is true, and it is true that together we form slop: incompatible slop. We are artists.

Art show: created under the auspices of the Bureau for Audiovisual Crafts, the art show encompasses a dozen different approaches to resolving the fundamental mystery of: life. All approaches use light, movement, and sound, for this is the pre-set requirement of the show. Many media. A pre-industrial display as well: Eskimos and their art. Well, says the wife. The Inuit certainly are interesting, are they not?

Ho-hum, says the husband. He is in the habit of yawning verbally and rarely changes: it works. It certainly is interesting, yes. It is. One of the artists is a former stockbroker; his resume includes quotes. "I made this last year sometime. Last year, I decided one day well I'd better make this, and so I set to work. Play, rather, because I don't work, I play. So I made this, playing of course, I you might say played it into existence, and then it made itself, because that's what my pieces always do, they make themselves. I call it 'Stocks' and it depicts what I feel about various aspects of the world."

We have been married at least twenty years and have a child of seventeen, a boy. He is not our pride and joy: smoking, drinking, whoring, masturbating with friends over Playboy, mocking his elders, our child is no flower of proper rearing. We admit, many mistakes were made. There is simply little room for amends; the past is best left unwept.

On the way home we, husband and wife, speak. Of supermarkets, for that is, in a very real sense, an important subject. We depend on supermarkets, they are our lifeblood. Fail the supermarket, we starve. And so we speak, our voices clear, vibrant. This is one of the things we say: Supermarkets will soon be obsolete, for one will be able to order food homeward phonewise. We speak in that curious dialect which belongs to no group and indicates a dissatisfaction, perhaps even a restlessness... annoyance? Annoyance at the thousands of intrusions our consciousnesses must suffer again, again, again? Perhaps. The dialect appends suffixes. It is foreign, somehow.

Chilly, the day; chilly, the way we walk. There is nothing we leave unsaid, though indeed we utter little: little leaves our little lips, much goes mind to mind. We know the dialogue and speak without hesitation: the little we need to say gets said. Thank God. The rest, stored at each terminal in pristine form, needs only be aroused, tickled into action by the catchwords.

Our son awaits us at home. He is reading a book. What's that you're reading, we ask. Nutn. We are silent, for our son is reading. Into the parlor we whisk ourselves, bodices and doublets, codpiece and corset: our costumes bear the stamp of great accuracy. Fool none, but bear the stamp of great accuracy. We strip silently, for our son, for some reason, is reading. In the parlor is a piano, and we begin to play: Rachmaninoff, a Prelude. Sweetly, softly, so as not to disturb the reading occurring hard by. Nude we play. We finish and quickly, silently disband, collecting from all parts the costumes which are accurate but fool none: an anklet here, a neck-frill there, soon we have everything.

Once in our room, the cars make an unusual din: din, din, din, in our room. Only, it seems, when we get there. Until we get there, the cars are normal. Normalcy obtains. Only when we get to our room do they send up such an infernal racket. We can even hear our child breathe hard his annoyance, the din is so infernal: rarely is he disturbed, our child.

On television is the art show, and there we are, husband and wife, at the art show, looking at some art. It looks like we're oblivious to the camera! It looks as if we're just looking at art. But there we are, and the newsman talks of the artists, one of whom, Franticek Ponek, is a famous Pole. The others are comparative nobodies--a mason, a stockbroker, a professor, an actor, all former--but their art, says the newsman, is highly original. We concur; to us it was all quite original. We concur silently.

We have sex, tired sex, ritual sex, and take a nap. Only one of us sleeps. The other hears our son's friends come over with some magazines. Zip, zip, zip. Pitter-pat, pitter-pat. It's good only one of us is awake to hear the abomination.

It isn't, of course, an abomination, not really. Nothing is an abomination, nothing nothing nothing.