My father had many daughters and none survive save me. Am I to consider it prophecy or cruel co-incidence that each of my sisters - named for a doomed Shakespearian or operatic heroine - has died in a manner uncannily as written? Desdemona, Juliet and Violetta have all perished. I have lived far longer than any of my sisters or the Ophelia of the legend for which I am named, but I am too nervous to cease being vigilant about drowning. I cannot swim.
Sometimes Jutha would lead the little one as far as the sea-shore; where they would pick up shells, as they strayed along the smooth sand; and when the willows came tumbling in, crested with foam, rolling over one another in huge monstrous frolic - like lion whelps at play - and when the sea breeze blew freshly, and the spray flew over the rocks, bounding, and tossing and breaking against them, flinging itself wildly apart, and abroad, in silver showers, as it caught the gleaming sunlight, the young girl would tell the child how these vast waters of the sea, that now looked so bright and gay, grew dark and threatening, and angry, when the stormy winds of the north lashed them into fury. -Mary Clarke. Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines.
My original degrees are in engineering - acoustics. The oceans were the next frontier and at UCLA I had the opportunity to work in an underwater research laboratory. Underwater human performance was an area people were exploring. One of the things I realised was that people couldn't localise sounds underwater, and I wanted to know why. you get into these issues of psychological measurements. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever discovered: applying mathematics to the way people think and hear. I developed mathematical models that predict behaviour in certain circumstances - how the system can process information. Then I got more interested in vision. How people hear and see and understand things translates to user interfaces. -David Nagel. Apple Computer. NYT. 8/14/94
Ophelia was on the mailing list to receive the New Emporium's novelogues each season. They were generally e-mailed, but the novelogue to announce this collection - "The Drowned Heroine" - arrived as a piece of corrugated paper, embedded with water-lily seeds. The lilies, when grown, had long, rectangular leaves onto which grew the novelogue's story of a reluctantly doomed modern day Shakespearian character. Ophelia dried the lilies and stapled their leaves together to read a story that would chill her blood.
"Souls are weighed in silence, as gold and silver are weighed in pure water, and the words we pronounce have no meaning except through the silence in which they are bathed." -Maurice Maeterlinck quoted in Arthur Symons, "The Symbolist Movement in Literature" 1919
Our stores by nature had turned the New Emporium uptown into an always nighttime at a European cloisters, with pools of water contained in low tables. The replicas of reliquaries contained not sacred bones and brains but CPU's and mother boards and modems.
It was ironic to think that such happy clothing, darkly blue-green, shining like calm midnight moonlight on deep water, was from a collection called "The Drowned Heroine."
Scene of deep running water, in which Ophelia is reflected. She stretches forward for a flower that floats past. -"Hamlet" by Shakespeare
Blood and sea water have identical levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Ophelia fell under the spell of the novelogue's poetry and began - with no real awareness that she was doing this - accumulating the clothing written around the novelogue's Ophelia. At parties all over Manhattan young women danced and smiled and talked in the clothing from the New Emporium that made them appear to be the cast of an amateur production of "Hamlet". The genuine Ophelia began to sink into the inherent misery of the clothing, looking in her unravelling chainmail sweater like someone utterly doomed.
Ophelia accumulated enough courage to walk into the New Emporium, filled with a non-specific terror. As she grew older she grew more and more fearful of finding a contemporary version of the legend of Ophelia that would so convincingly attach itself to her life that it would drown her. She wanted to face her demons bravely, and obliterate them by bringing them to the surface. She kneeled by one of the display tables and stared into its watery depths. For several minutes she saw only her face reflected in the gently rippling water, and then she gasped. The water turned clear and a holographic animation of a woman in a long gauze dress the exact seaweed colour of Ophelia's eyes slowly appeared. She took this as an omen
A businessman was entertaining a party of ladies and gentlemen at dinner. The arriving guests were greeted by delicious smells issuing from the kitchen, and all were eagerly anticipating the meal. The host flooded the apartment with red light. The meat looked rare and appetizing enough, but the spinach turned black and the potatoes were bright red. The light turned to blue, the roast assumed an aspect of putrefaction, and the potatoes looked mouldy. All the diners lost their appetite at once; but when the yellow light was turned on, transforming the claret into castor oil and the company into living cadavers, some of the more delicate ladies hastily rose and left the room. No one could think of eating, though all present knew it was only a change in the colour of the lighting. -Itten. The Elements of Colour
She has been living in terror, but it now gives way to smooth, dull shores of sadness. Terror is mobile, sadness stagnant. Like water in a vase.
Queen: There is a willow grows aslant, a brook that shows his hoar leaves in that glassy stream; There with fantastic garlands did she come. Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, that liberal shepherds give a grosser name. But our cold maids do dead-men's-fingers call them: There, on pendent boughs her coronet weeds clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke; When down her weedy trophies and herself fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, and mermaid like awhile they bore her up. Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes as one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued unto that element. -"Hamlet" by Shakespeare
These were the long days in the short length of my life as the Fishboy, the sun slipping into the cratered lake like a figure eight of flame. -Fishboy by Mark Richard.
The computer display tables at the New Emporium housed the novelogue and images of the clothing (in this case watercolours that appeared to be plates from a 14th C hagiography) and each day a story generator broke off random fragments from the novelogue and grew new stories around them. In these other stories a fictional Ophelia in the 21st century variously lived or died but always somehow in or around water.
The display table had a three dimensional holographic interface that tracked the movements of the eyes of the person looking at it. A group of images of lilies appearing to float on the surface of the water were the icons for the various parts of the program. Ophelia stared at a small, crumpled lily next to a computer generated rock, and a hazy video of a young woman putting rocks into the pockets of a blackly green velvet dress and walking into a river, broke off from the bottom of the display pool and floated to the surface.
Flowers self-generated in the water on the display tables, their DNA patterns randomly determined by the way in which people accessed the data on the tables. The petals of these flowers felt like the fabrics in the collection: a spiders web gauze that felt like icy treacle, type of tissue thin velvet that was cold under the fingers, like ice, and cotton that had the sensation of water running over one's skin.
Ophelia: Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty? -"Hamlet" by Shakespeare.
Hamlet, catching up with Ophelia, taking her by the wrist ... and (to quote Shakespeare) "with his other hand over his brow, falls to such a perusal of her face as he would draw it. At last, with a little shaking of his arm, and thrice his hand waving up and down, he raises a sigh so piteous an profound that it does seem to shatter all his bulk and end his being. That done, he lets her go', and runs away up the hall. Ophelia runs away also. -Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead. Tom Stoppard.
Hers is the face I see when a certain mood moves in. She lives in my blood and skin. -Nick Cave
Player: We're more of the blood, love and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive, but we can't do you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. -Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead. Tom Stoppard.
"Like the tides, which mirror the rhythm of our emotions, water is one of the most essential elements for human well-being. Because it is so much a part of us, it is, for a woman, a cherished necessity that contributes to her beauty." -Issey Miyake
If a blue square is viewed first on white and then on black, the blue on white will give an effect of darkness and depth.
Lovely fax from Chris Reeve. I'd sent a note in which I'd referred to him as a peach. He thought I'd written "perch." He was writing back to call me a trout. -Emma Thompson.
The computer display tables appeared to be the refectory tables from a monastery and hundreds of years old. Some had their legs cut short to appear to be kneeling pools. Ophelia kneeled by a smallish table several times a week, weeping quietly into the water. A new coat arrived at Ophelia's house. It turned itself inside out on the hanger as if it were a revolving door. It was a gift from her boyfriend, intended to cheer her up. It was as pure and austere a coat as an ancient nun's habit. Ophelia turned out the many secret pockets of the long coat and found phrases from beautiful and nervous poetry inside them. The mad words rang in her mind.
At the cemetery roses float in their watery globes. All those lights were people's lives. -Carole Maso
The last dress that she would buy while she was alive, and the dress in which she was buried, looked like the water in which the displays floated. Its silk moved around her like a current, pulling her down. She took to wearing water lilies in her hair.
Ophelia was drowned when the ferry on which she was sailing on the harbour in New York capsized. It was a cold and wretched summer day upon which the sun did not shine.
The star system is too distant to see from earth and it should take millennia to travel there. Yet the mind's eye conjures up vivid images of four planets swinging around their dead, spinning sun - all this drama distilled from tiny ripples in the faintest signals, amplified by the power of the imagination. -George Johnson. Science Times.