April 7: ignorance equals sex

You wonder about the relationships between people who work closely together in the public eye, how they deal with the way they are seen by the public. It strikes most clearly in the relationship between a solo violinist and an orchestra. There she is, the young virtuoso, dressed up in her own designer outfit, performing the Beethoven violin concerto or the Paganini, centre stage, whilst at her back the ranks of violinists of the London or Berlin or New York symphony orchestra, all dressed in black, cast as functionaries, extras, all genius prodigious violinists in their own right, give back up. What does go through their minds? It is almost a public humiliation.
You wonder too about the relationships between the newsreaders or the newsreader and the weatherman or weatherwoman. What is it that the newsreaders say to each other as the studio lights dim and the music comes on to herald the end of the programme. They gather their papers or switch off their laptop and exchange a few saucy words. That’s how I like to imagine it, for the public, performative domain eroticises; it titilates; it leaves us wanting more. When the newscaster offers a final valedictory enquiry at twenty-nine and a half minutes past ten: I’ll be watering my garden this weekend then. And what are you up to Lucy? Lucy chirps back. Oh just enjoying the sunshine. Your curiosity is piqued. Might it not be the case that Lucy is sunbathing in the same garden that Thomas or Evan or Ted is watering? We will never know. I once did see a well-known weatherman (was it Michael Fish?) in his garden in Twickenham one afternoon as I was walking past. What was all that about? The simulacrum off the telly doing the very thing that he claims but surely only emblematically to do in the time when he is off-screen, dead time when he doesn’t really exist, where he should really be in some sealed box somewhere in television centre.
Ignorance or partial ignorance equals sex. This is a truism not lost in the great twentieth century novels where objects of affection tend to be shadows, simulacra, performers in the theatre of the imagination rather than flesh and blood. On that day in Twickenham Michael Fish had clearly escaped from the unit and was living out his cyborg dreams pretending, just for a few melancholy minutes until security picked him up, to be a real human being.


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