The final run-up. Although there is still quite a way to run. “Days become weeks, weeks months”. The Machine-Mantis runs in a frenzy, which becomes more of a trance than fury, as time passes buy. Sowing fear, destruction and death. Lem’s description of this chase is an example of roman frénétique with detailed images of the wilderness and wetlands travelled, pierced anthills and creatures, who stood on the way of the Machine, with the remains and blood flowing down her metallic skull, and so on... the Mantis takes a tough tine, she follows the optimal course as much as possible, relentlessly. We have a paradox here, I think. As the fugitive does not have that much advantage, not being even close in physical capabilities – moving incomparably slower, having to rest and eat. And yet the Mantis can't get to him, and what's more, she loses the trail. She stands helplessly at the crossroads for a moment, “one pair of legs pulled to the right, the other to the left”, and finally, reluctantly, turns towards the nearby monastery, hoping to get any help. This is where the confession of the Mantis before the monk takes place, the one that I already wrote about, and the one that is of significance from the point of view of interpreting the entire story in terms of ethics. And then it’s just the end of the chase and the death of the lover-victim in the arms of the beloved-the nemesis.
Musically – the rush and the uplift. One more, last return of the theme from the beginning, divided, accelerated, multiplied. For some time now I have been building such rushing climaxes often in my pieces. Often at their ends. Something is asking me to write them. And they are quite demanding; it seems to me that fast and dense music is in many ways more difficult to write than the slow one. The snowball is becoming more and more resistant when it takes on mass. Smoothly rolling downhill on the slope and gaining speed along with the size is only, possibly, the impression of the audience. Writing alone is like rolling the ball up the mountain. But there is no great philosophy here, when the base is already here, you just need to show up and do the heavy lifting.
By the way, an interesting book: Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein. A type of a reportage about “mental athletes” – master mnemonists, who compete in remembering the longest possible sequences of numbers, sets of words, etc. The author decides to test the applied techniques on himself and reports on his progress (quite remarkable). He also briefly discusses the history of this quite special, as it turns out, ages-old discipline and reflects on its relevance to life. I reached for it, because memory is an important theme in The Mask, perhaps the main one. I wasn't looking for anything specific, but I found some interesting things. My brief conclusions are: memory is spatial and sensory; remembering is moving in the mental (but clearly felt) space and placing evocative associations in it. Thinking actually equals remembering, so all mental, conscious activity is like recalling the details of the space, with special attention paid to those elements of the space that evoke a strong emotional response.
The program of the masked and then unmasked machine in Lem’s work is based on that mechanism. First, there is the ballroom – an enclosed space with two distinctive points: the face of the King and the face of Arrhodes, which the Girl has to remember – these are the initiating points of the program, and at the same time, she gains experience in her movements. Then there is the turn to the inner space – in the dark carriage, when the program analyses its own boundaries and verifies the memory content by cleaning out the unnecessary elements. And finally, there is the realisation in the open space, where there are no external borders, after becoming so to say transcended through cutting the stomach, but there is the memory of the cause and purpose and the natural, unavoidable path set by them. Something like that.
(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)