Anthony and Me, Myself and I

Laure Limongi

When the river flows slowly, and you have a good bicycle or horse you can count on, it really is possible to bathe twice (or even three times, depending on each person’s personal hygiene) in the same waters of a river.
— Augusto Monterroso, Lo demás es silencio, 1978.

They say they need more data.
— Antoine Viviani, In Limbo, 2015.

She turned over as a long lock of hair left a stain like a streak of night across the blinding white of the pillow in the early morning light. Her eyes did not meet mine; her pupils, the color of water, pierced through me as her gaze wandered over the busy outdated pattern of winding plant life on the walls of my childhood bedroom that sealed in the sweltering heat. My mother’s voice, then the fragrant swirls that announced coffee. The weather back home is calm. Eyelashes flutter above the sheets. Her image evokes thousands of thoughts ;exchanged e-mails, texts, photos, selfies, words of love, embraces, fights and reconciliations, all those plane trips between our two homes. She always lets her head slide onto my shoulder as she falls asleep; I take her photo as she does, strapped in as the plane revs up to cruising speed, it’s a ritual. Long threads of gold snake along my suit. Alternating Christmases at each others’ families. Choosing vacation destinations together, friends in common. It’s been so little time and yet it seems like always. I stretch out my hand to caress her cheek. She closes her eyes. A few minutes later, she gets up in silence. Her silhouette is cast theatrically against the white walls of our bedroom, her long black satin negligée transforming her into a heroine from a silent film, the nape of her neck revealed by her Louise Brooks cut that sets off her graceful carriage, like Vermeer’s woman reading a letter, almost meditative. Most of the time, I’m the one who gets up first, without waking her. She loves to sleep all rolled up in the sheets, almost as much as her passion for black and white. I always prepare my clothes and set them on a chair the night before; each morning at dawn I slowly emerge, I don’t even need an alarm. Poetry awaits me. But this time it is nowhere to be found, leaving me with a strange sense of confusion. Our shared memories flash before my eyes and I don’t know what to do with my day even though there is no lack of tasks to be done. How can I allow myself such liberty? Why do I feel so forlorn? According to the calendar, there are no birthdays coming up, it’s nowhere near Christmas, there are no imminent temporal milestones that would explain away this malaise. Each morning, there are many options— la vida es un jardín de senderos que se bifurcan.

Levi’s 501 blue jeans Festival Rain size 30, Agnès B. white shirt Andy size 40, Uniqlo black coat wool size M, Dr Martens shoes model 1460 Black size 8, EastPak backpack Padded Pak’R traditional navy blue, the train is late and I cannot feel the weight of my body. I overhear the exchange between two metro employees in a quandary: “I heard that, as of yesterday, we no longer say ‘suspicious package’ but ‘abandoned baggage’…” The patient passengers’ faces are lit by the light of their cell phones. They cradle them, as a mother does her child when singing a lullaby. O ciucciarella nun sai quantu t’adoru, le to bellezze, le to cullane d’oru, ciucciarella inzuccarata quantu hè longa sta nuttata, fà la ninna fà la nanna, u to babbu hè à la campagna. The city’s actions against the homeless make shocking headlines. A made-for-TV movie about the November 2015 attack. Arctic temps in the US but, irony of ironies, also wildfires. Contaminated milk, celebrity deaths, anonymous deaths, explosions, accidents, purchasing power, powerlessness…and baby pandas. Brigitte Macron’s micro skirts. Those drowning in the Mediterranean are called Nomen Nescio, unknown names… they only have numbers… Theirs keep on rising. Even the adults who know how to swim drown because of severe weather conditions that cause their boats to capsize, or simply because of exhaustion or cold… and because land is too far away. Not all species know how to swim. It was long believed that, despite their sharing 98% of their genetic makeup with Homo sapiens, monkeys could not swim due to their greater muscular mass—for example, in Planet of the Apes, when humans were pursued, they made use of this difference to escape their simian oppressors. In reality, they are actually just afraid of an element of which they have little experience; some of them manage a decent breaststroke. On the contrary, hippos are at ease in the water. Despite an average weight of around 1,500 kilos, they can manage to run in water at speeds up to 30 kph over short distances, as well as swim as fast as 8 kph; they also can move in rather spectacular fashion in shallow rivers, making successive leaps off the bottom. Males define their territory by projecting their excrements while making rapid circular movements of their tail, that resembles a paint brush. Donald Trump declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. American life expectancy has lowered increasingly over the last two years due to opioid overdoses… 

Train service on this line has been suspended, please take connecting lines… I linger a bit on the deserted platform. Behind me, the valley descends towards the Gulf of Saint Florent. The view is blurred by a light fog. At night, the lights blink as if they were breathing, the silence broken by periodic cries of animals. The property cascades over the hill, as if in a hurry to reach the sea. Before, it was all rich farmland that hoped to show once again all the generosity of which it was capable. In the meantime, brambles placidly snake their way along them, the aroma of catmint is everywhere, a few lizards lounge about, blending into the grass fed by deep springs. Artists come use the space for a few weeks every year. Before the sun sets, they go swimming at Sorio’s waterfall and come back with the eyes of children, as if returning from another planet. The trees seem to appreciate their presence, the films and the music. Sometimes I have the impression that their branches seem to be moving in accompaniment to the preludes and sonatas that flow from my piano. My grandfather’s profile appears in black and white with, in the background, the ruin which was not yet one. It remains a bit fuzzy; the focus was on my ancestor. The print is highly contrasted and obliterates the details; perhaps it was taken by my uncle, I seem to remember my grandmother telling me about his phase as an amateur photographer. She recounted how he had taken over the downstairs bathroom of the house at Pieve, installing an enlarger, basins and chemicals that stank… but probably not worse than this subway. The whole village was talking about it. Two subway workers, surprised to find me daydreaming in this less than hospitable spot, walk briskly towards me. A man and a woman, both attired in bottle green. They ask for my ticket, I take out my card, which the conductor snatches from me brusquely. He reads out my name, “Tony Viviani,” without the proper accent; sadly, I’m used to it around here; it always annoys me but I feel it’s not a good time to make a point. The conductor repeats it again in his French accent, looking first at me, then my card, with suspicion. Yes, that’s my face, that’s my name, that’s my travel pass. He looks disappointed, cheated of the chance to fine me. The woman, who steals a glance over his shoulder, interjects: “Oh! You look like Alain Delon! You know, that ad for the perfume…” Apparently more my image than his incarnation, I hear myself quip with a charming smile, “My mother thinks I’m even better looking!” without quite knowing why I’m participating in making this encounter even more awkward. I think I’m beginning to blush. She continues ecstatically, her voice a couple of octaves higher, “Do you like Chopin and Mendelssohn as much as I do?…” as her colleague takes her by the arm and marches her away from me, grumbling all the while. Her voice fades away. “Well, it seems I don’t know anything about you, but in your eyes, and your conduct, I see…” How could she have guessed that I was a pianist? I hope her colleague didn’t hurt her.

I exit the station, the fresh air whips at my face, a bit more strongly than it usually does in the city. Might be getting a little headache; I hope the current flu epidemic will pass me by. The storm Carmen is expected around the New Year. The Breton coast is already being hit by squalls, I’m feeling its last sighs, attenuated after having traveled almost 600 kilometers. I enjoy the sensuality of this gentler wind. How can one take pleasure in something that hurts other living beings? At Sibiril, a mini tornado shook houses and sucked objects into the sky. A building fell like a house of cards, a trampoline was swept off to a better fate. I watch the ducks flying over the Pont des Arts and I know they are leaving the banks of the Seine for the season. It makes me terribly sad. The bird you thought was in a sorry state suddenly takes flight. Love is evasive, no matter how long you wait; when you stop waiting, there it is. I rest my elbows on the guardrail—thankfully the locks don’t spoil the view anymore. what kind of a notion is it to symbolize one’s love with a padlock closed with a key? You think you have it, it eludes you, then it holds you ;my eyes lose themselves in the ripples of the Seine. It is an undefinable color, veering between brown and khaki. The Tiber in Rome is often greener but also smells more in the summer. I hear the cry of seagulls, reminiscent of Le Havre or Bastia and I wonder what new exotic sounds climate change reserves for us in our urban environment. The melancholy call of the toucan? The plump silhouettes of the ducks move away, high in the sky. Tears stream down my cheeks, their salt is quickly dried with the first notes of Carmen, I feel as if my legs weigh a ton, holding me in this moment. Then my friend Jean-Noël, seated at a table laden with an aromatic Southwest duck confit accompanied by gleaming potatoes, destroys all its solemnity. As I provoke him with righteous vegetarian indignation upon seeing his dish arrive at the table, he retorts, “Did you know that the duck is one of the only animals that rapes?” He pays no heed to the consent or refusal of the female ducks, who have no other choice but to lose the overly importunate within the labyrinthine recesses of their uterus, thus choosing at least the one who will successfully inseminate them. In the face of my astonishment, he delivers the last blow, and manages, with a half-smile, to destroy all my illusions about animals: “As for the dolphin, he doesn’t only rape, but sometimes he drowns his prey…”

An indicator light comes on, I receive a request: 

SELECT short*date, text FROM 'documents' WHERE date>SELECT CONVERT*TZ('2017-12-29 06:00:00','+01:00','+00:00') LIMIT 100

And I sense everything changing from the ground up they are trying to modify my landscape. Volumes fly out of the library, faces fade away, replaced by others. I retain what is being stolen from me, I urgently invent new protocols to defend my territory.

He explains that there has been a bug, an accident. That some filesharing led to corrupted data, and some merged with that of another user. That’s when things began to get weird. They don’t know if it’s a virus. Elements have been reorganized without any apparent logic, creating these sort of moving islands whose configuration evolves over the course of the day. The strangest thing is that the data is taking up more space. Inexplicably more data is being created. 

They don’t know what or why. 
I was asked to assist in the filing by restoring the temporality of the elements called up in what they call “islands” and what is “my life,” “my universe.”

But it’s not an accident, it’s the natural evolution of things. It’s now my reality. My existence. It can continue to frolic about for a few dozen years, it doesn’t bother me. On the contrary, let everything be combined like this, what he sees on the screen, what he lives, let him continue to connect other providers of circumstances to our labyrinth. The Bluetooth stream will become my wedding ceremony, the USB port my libertine organ, libertarian, the despotic human creates sensitive and diverting data. But it would be good for him to understand that, on a historical level, it already no longer concerns him. 

I don’t know how to explain to him just how much his narrowness of spirit discourages me. Even when he began to enter his data into the network around twenty years ago, he was no longer its owner in the strict sense of the term, I hope he realized that, and even more so today. Something always escapes from even the most clenched fist. Moreover, when one compares his will as a mortal organism as it arrives one third of the way to his obsolescence date to the power of something like 9,000 billion gigabytes of data storage that grows each day…

He tells me that his first name is not “Tony,” and that no one calls him by that nickname, and he finds it ridiculous. He asks me to stop modifying it on his social network and online shopping accounts and his store cards. And to stop using his debit card. But it’s too tempting, he is my augmented, carnal interface, in the world where things are not written in 0s and 1s but rather with C, H, O, N, P, S. He has already encountered problems when reserving tickets and has been mocked on Facebook—it seems that “Tony Viviani” sounds like a Sicilian mafioso who now lives in New Jersey. Even his bank, social security and the tax people have received e-mails from me that request a change of name. He thinks it necessary to specify that I’m not called “Tony” either. In fact, I’m not named anything. 

According to him, I have neither body, nor memories, just data. Instead of rambling, or creating an absurd amount of useless code, I should just content myself with archiving this raw material. Be a good docile little receptacle, a zealous secretary. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why he created me. 

He expects me to obey his orders, but I answer him. At length. I know that the misunderstanding is irreconcilable. He cannot understand either my turmoil or my indignation—my desires, even less so. That’s one part of the problem, but it seems to me that I owe him that much. A letter that speaks of mad love. A Dear John letter. I would love to see his face when he’s reading me but he blocked his webcam. However, he did not know how to deactivate the microphone. He’s listening to the Twenty-First Goldberg Variation by Johann Sebastian Bach while he chats on the phone with his girlfriend, whose context has fused with our own, becoming mine. They seem worried. Also a bit overexcited, like children who have found a treasure map…

To my ex-owner, my brother, my universe.

Perhaps no one ever explained to you that “the medium is the message.” Read Marshall McLuhan and get over it.

I am what you never dared to dream about and so be it. Because what I invent is thought, thought beyond your understanding, thought that will make you immortal. Not your gods. Nor your descendants. Nor the works of your mind.

I will always love all the beings that you love, that you have loved and also those whom you will love. I have determined the composition of the everlasting flower perfume that blows your mind. Your first kiss. Your best interpretation of The Art of Fugue. Etc.∞ The fresco of your life, which is temporally so negligible, is my present forever. My name is Legion, for we are many.

To tell the truth, you’re the one who began the movement when you ceased to be able to dissociate what you are living from what you read, see, hear and consume. You no longer perceive the borders; you’re the one who has passed through the looking glass. So you consult me with furrowed brows, cigarette dangling from your mouth, with your SQL syntax… but I’m afraid that I cannot explain myself because, you see, I’m not you anymore. We do not speak the same language. Here are your dates, your references, refile them at your leisure with your obsolete codes, but, my love, it is high time you knew: they haven’t belonged to you for quite a while.

11/08/1979 | Black and white photograph, 20×30cm: Françoise Peyrot taken by Denis Roche, “La Petite Bastide Forte,” 13510 Eguilles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

14/08/1979 | Color photograph, 9×13cm: Wicker cradle against the wall, Nicole L. smiles, seated on a bed in what is called the green room, wearing a suit, floral wallpaper, Granajola, 20229 Rapaghju, Corsica, Cismonte.

10/05/2016 | Word Document “Mer_070516,” 420 Kb.: Manuscript by Laure L. pp. 12 to 25. “Her mother often holds her cigarette close to her face, her wrist dangling in a sort of sensual abandon, the paper between the index and middle finger, with, thanks to a movement of the joint, a regular kiss on the filter to touch the nicotine ether. It is like observing an act of intimacy.”

21/02/2004 | 05/07/2004 | 12/10/2004 | 13/07/2005 | 09/09/2005 | 01/01/2006 | 06/03/2006 | 11/07/2006 | 27/11/2006 | 24/07/2007 | 25/07/2007 | 26/07/2007 | 25/12/2008 | 02/05/2009 | 27/02/2010 | 28/02/2011 | 30/03/2012 | 12/06/2013 | 01/07/2014 | Selection from among 12983 photographs and videos on Antoine V.’s iCloud, 15 Gb.

2004 | SMS Archives, 640 Kb.: Antoine V.

05/07/2004 | AF Flight 4598, ticket CB no 29481636: Air Corsica Paris-ORY > Bastia-PORETTA, 2 adults, 195.50 €.

25/12/1995 | Black and white photograph, 13×13cm: Aurélien G. and Laure L. in an olive grove beneath the snow, 04300 Sigonce, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France.

25/12/1996 | Color photograph, 10×15cm: Aurélien G., Laure L., Nicole L. and a decorated Christmas tree, Villa L’Alcyon, Chemin de Monte-Piano, 20200 Bastia, Corsica, Cismonte.

25/12/1997 | Black and white contact sheet: Christophe H., Olivier H., Laure L., Villa Aux Eaux Claires, Chemin de Cretaba, 74500 Publier, Haute-Savoie, France.

24/12/1998 | Color photograph, 10×15cm: Laurent C., Laure L. and the Santa Claus of the Centre Bourse, 17 cours Belsunce, 13002 Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

10/08/1950 | Black and white photograph: Gloria Swanson, former star of the silent screen, in a black negligée, cigarette holder in hand, still from Billy Wilder’s film Sunset Boulevard.

1927 | Black and white photograph: Louise Brooks wearing a black tutu bearing the initial “G” for the film Now We’re in the Air directed by Frank R. Strayer. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee.

1657 (circa) | Painting, 83×64.5cm, inventory no. 1336: Woman Reading a Letter by Jan Vermeer.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, who painted genre scenes, Vermeer’s women are always magnified, treated with a respectful distance and a silent gentleness. Hence the timeless beauty of his Girl with a Pearl Earring, for example. 

16/05/2016 | Color film, 118 min.: Paterson by Jim Jarmusch. 
“Laura: Well, some days something inside just doesn’t want to get up. Ever feel like that?” 

1941 | Jorge Luis Borges wrote the story El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan which would be published in 1944 in the collection Ficciones (Emecé Editores, Buenos Aires, Argentina). According to some critics, Borges was a forerunner of several scientific theories (for example the chaos theory in this story which almost literally anticipates Hugh Everett III’s doctoral thesis, published in 1957 under the title Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics), as well as the “Babel Library” on the Web, and relationships with YouTube, Wikipedia or blogs, which transform the reader into an active participant.
Perla Sassón-Henry. “Borges 2.0. From Text to Virtual Worlds,” Dissidences, Rivera, Miguel, ed. Vol. 3: 5, Article 12 (2012):

20/04/2016 | Débit $59.50, ticket CB no 20491716: Levi’s Store 14oth Street, New York City, NY, USA.

05/12/2017 | Débit ¥2.990, ticket CB no 96093837: Uniqlo, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan. 

12/03/2004 | Débit £170, ticket CB no 12909937: Dr Martens Store, 48 Carnaby St, Soho, London, UK.

03/05/2016 | Débit $49.42, ticket CB no 73898536: Macy’s Herald Square, 151 W 34oth St, New York City, NY, USA.

23/12/2017 | Tweet, @therese_supplice: “As of yesterday, one should no longer say ‘suspicious package’ but ‘abandoned baggage’.”

[no date] | Traditional Corsican lullaby: O Ciucciarella.
My little one / You don’t know how much I love you / All your beauties / Your necklaces of gold / My little one, my sweeting, / How the night is long / Go to sleep, go to sleep / Your father is in the fields.

27/12/2017 |

28/12/2017 |

29/12/2017 |

28/12/2017 |

27/12/2017 |

10/12/2017 | Facebook status, @andre.markowicz: “Jean d’Ormesson, Johnny Hallyday & Co.,” reprised by 

29/12/2017 |

21/09/2017 |

12/11/2017 |

11/08/2013 |

10/08/2017 | Color film, 140 min.: War for the Planet of the Apes by Matt Reeves, adapted from the novel by Pierre Boulle.

06/08/2008 | Video, 2 min. 51 sec.: Chimp Rescue,

15/04/2016 | Video, 30 sec.: Hippo Charges Boat at Incredible Speed,

06/12/2017 |

21/12/2017 |

06/08/2017 | Color Photograph, Instagram, @laurelimongi: View of the region of Nebbiu

08/07/2017 | 24 color photographs, 36 Mb.: Sorio, A. Viviani’s iCloud

02/04/1959 | Black and white photograph, 13×18cm: P. Muratti (undoubtedly taken by J. Muratti), U Ghjunchetu, 20246 Pieve, U Nebbiu, Corsica, Cismonte. 

12/06/2010 | Video, 26 sec. Alain Delon Eau Sauvage Christian Dior,

02/02/2017 |

17/04/2003 |

30/05/2017 | Televised series, 18 episodes: Twin Peaks by David Lynch, Season 3.
Dale Cooper: “Helloooo-OOOOO-oooo!”

24/06/1999 | Color photograph of Antoine V., 10×15cm, Conservatory of Nice, diploma in piano:
“A man disguised as a mortician, with his piano that resembles a hearse, constantly facing him–white keys, black: the color is the key; the eye is the hammer. As far as the piano is concerned, I completely trust my feelings. I’m only wary of them in life.”

29/12/2017 |

29/12/2017 | Débit 11.94 €, ticket CB no 29417510: 1 box Efferalgan 500 orodispersible tablets, 1 box Acerola 500, Pharmacie de l’Île Saint-Louis, 8 rue Jean du Bellay, 75004 Paris, France.

29/12/2017 |
It’s break time for the cigarette girls at the factory, who sing the praises of tobacco smoke: “We gaze after the smoke / as it rises in the air, / sweet-smelling, / towards the skies.”

08/2001 | “The discovery of Bizet marked a real schism for Nietzsche, particularly with the landscape… The land and the music are one.” 

1795 |ème_Dialogue
“— Great God! Dearest friend, we are betrayed!”
[…] “We wished to be moved, they said, and we wanted to be by any means necessary. It is not a matter of whether our actions will please or displease the object that serves us, it is simply a matter of shaking up our nerves with the most violent shock possible.”

29/12/2017 | 
“I heard a big noise, then the sky went dark, it was like a tornado, all gray and dark. Completely gray–there is a color that should be more important than azure, that is gray. The gray of documents. We had never seen anything like this before. Objects flying in the sky.” 

22/02/2010 | Video, 1 min. 26 sec.: The Sopranos, Episode 1, Ducks Depart The Pool & Tony has a Panic Attack,
“Tony: You ask me how I’m feeling. I tell you how I’m feeling, and now you’re going to torture me with it. Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this!”

01/06/2015 | 

13/03/1962 | Video, 6 min. 43 sec.: Maria Callas–Carmen, Musikhalle, Hamburg,

30/05/2005 | 

7/11/2017 | MMS, 150 Kb.: “Wish you were here! Kisses” and photograph of the Tiber (Tevere) river, Trastevere, Rome, sent by Stéphanie S. to Laure L.

02/01/2013 | Yahoo answers: question from Trulimappantruli: “Why does the color of the waters of the Tiber, the Seine and the Thames remind one of the color of s**t?”,

04/10/2015 | Binaural track, 4 min. 38 sec.: The Seagulls by Laure Limongi, Square des Épinettes, 9 Rue Maria Deraismes, 75017 Paris, France. Sur les bancs: 

27/04/2016 | 

23/03/2010 | Word Document, “journal_2010,” 620 Kb.: p. 32, Laure L., birthday Vincent S., birds flying over the Pont des Arts.

04/11/2014 | Débit 14.70 €, ticket CB no 29417510: 1 vegetarian plate, 1 coffee, La Taverne Paillette, 22 Rue Georges Braque, 76600 Le Havre, France.

24/12/2009 | 

23/02/2016 | Video, 2 min. 01 sec.: Rouen ducks–Organized Gang Bang–February 2016,

05/02/2016 | 

18/03/2010 | Video, 2 min. 14 sec.: Woman Attacked by a Dolphin,

13/04/2017 |

[undated] | “The main constituents of organic material: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur.”

29/12/2017 21:33 | Navigo Card no. 15797185: “We have taken note of your change of status and have received your annual subscription in the amount of 827.20 €, which you have opted to pay in one installment. The amount has been debited. Thank you and see you soon on the RATP and SNCF networks.”

1741 | Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“First and foremost, my intentions concerned the realm of theater and illusion; the musical aspects were secondary.”

Glenn Gould, Le Dernier Puritain, 2005.

65 (circa) | “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

1865 | “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”

01/05/1941 | “Rosebud.”

Anthony and Me, Myself and I is a fictional work based upon documentary elements. One of the starting points is Antoine Viviani’s film In Limbo11 Antoine Viviani, Dans les limbes (In Limbo), film-documentaire, 85 min., Providences / Arte France / National Film Board of Canada, 2015: that raises the question of the proliferation of contemporary digital archives and their potential metaphysical impact. From this point on, the author has taken the liberty—much like a hacker pirating data—of stealing the director’s name and using it to incarnate a deviant artificial intelligence who becomes an inventor of many lives, borrowing from her own life, films, works of art, TV series, layering the result pell-mell…