Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A story in three bells

Or: A bell full of summers

Dear sisters,
The other week, it was a Saturday, something happened to me. I am reminded of it by a crystal glass that looks like an elegant clear-cut grail that you’d drink pearls melted in wine out of, it is my special wineglass when I am at home - except when there are certain special guests who also have a dispensation on the smoking ban, such as our dear Mother, because then the special guest gets to drink out of it - when I tap against this glass, it sounds like a clear, crystal bell. One could imagine what an organ of these things would sound like but we will leave it at the single tone, if we remember Arvo Pärt’s lesson of yesterday. So this bell reminds me of a day that three bells unexpectedly and quite spontaneously came into my life.

The first, on my computer; I don’t know who put it there, but when I move it, or start certain programmes, different ones each time, it goes drrrring, in a way which reminds me of childhood, as we have since become plagued by many other, different tones doing service as bells. I have shaken my computer and it won’t budge, nor will it tell me who put the bell there. It is a mystery.

That same night, I went to meet the friendly Czech puppeteers. One of them disappeared for a while, to go to the tent he said, to check everything was ok. Later that night after a few drinks I took my brand new bicycle and saw to my astonishment that the aliens had landed! They had planted a huge, bulbous gleaming bell, looking like a shiny mushroom on my right handle bar. Two notes: ding…dung… sounding like a baritone ship bell in bicycle bell equivalent, making a downward minor third interval. The first two notes of “Hey Jude”. Needless to say this is what I now sing OUT LOUD (how else can you do this?) whenever I ride my bicycle and it could be heard all the way home as I cycled back that night in the drizzly rain. Woe to the sleepy people of Antwerp. Believe me, when all is quiet sound travels in this town. I find it hard not to ring my bell even when I don't need to, although it has a clear but ever so slightly melancholy, er...ring to it.

The third bell, well, I woke up in the morning, and suddenly heard a high-pitched ringing in my ears. It is very faint, very light. I don’t know who put it there and I hope it goes away. It must have been the loud music of a few days before. Some people go crazy from such ringing in their ears. I shall consult my recently re-found friend E. of times past who has since metamorphosed into a specialist on the subject and is researching the subject here in Antwerp. That will be a good excuse anyway to meet up again after the pleasant reunion we had.

That was the three unexpected bells. It has a little tail too. The day after the puppeteers had left Antwerp, after gracing us with their presence a full summer long, my roommate N. received…

...a bicycle bell in the post. Someone, not an alien, or a Czech puppeteer, she assured me, had accidentally broken her bell; this was a special gift. A closing note to the special summer that had me wishing for a request on an organ at the former monastery up in Holland that the organist couldn’t play because he didn’t have the music with him, only to hear it, after the ice-cream van had quietened down, tinkling on the carillon outside my house as soon as I arrived home. Strange and amazing and beautiful, sounding symmetry.

My heart is like a bell. Now I just need to find a way to make it ring.
Love from S2


Anonymous said...

But i thought we your loving family were the ringers of your heart bell ??!
OK i understand.............but that one and only bell heart bell ringer of yours is just around the corner , closer than you think. Have you ever thought of the real bell ringer in the bell house near yours ? Maybe he is the one for you , and the fact that he rings the bells every fifteen minutes, maybe he is trying to get your attention ? Hmmm, have you thought of that ?
Could be Hunchback or Hunkback gorgeous, i would investigate, All my love S3

Anonymous said...

hmmm. Maybe. Thank you for the suggestion! I can actually see him sitting up there in the little tower as he presses whatever it is he presses to make those bells sing... I like him on some days when he plays what I like, on other days, like Tuesdays, they have an all-afternoon jam session, which can be a tad annoying... so.. I don't know how we'd fare together, although in a sound sharing sense we are sort of living together!

Anonymous said...

Dear Girls,

I came across this blog when I was desperately looking for some photographs of a little brocante event that was held on Place du Chatelain in the springtime. Since then I have regularly come back to visit this charming sister village you have created, spread out across so many different cities.

I'm now entering my last year of art school in Brussels and am wondering if you would be interested in helping me out with my final project about which I am very excited.

I'm trying to get people that I don't know personally to participate. You would remain completely anonymous and it would only take a few minutes of your time.
My project is a kind of interactive media installation (I know, it sounds fancy and oh-so contemporary, but it's meant to be a very intimate, slightly strange and sometimes sad kind of experience).
All you would have to do is answer the brief questionaire which I am attaching. You don't have to include any data that reveals your identity (e.g. name or address, and I won't disclose from which source I got the information from, etc.), as I am not interested in any of that. I am, however, asking all my participants to include a portrait of themselves (I will explain this in more detail below) and, for all those who are also making art, a photograph of a work they have made that they are very proud of. I won't be using either of these images in my piece: it's just so that I get a better idea of who you are :)

In a nutshell, what I want to enable is a synesthetic encounter via media between the spectator and the random subjects in the piece who provide sensuous stimulus by revealing certain details about themselves. I work mainly with stop-motion, but this final work will be mixed media.

My project is still in an embryonic phase and what you are getting is the first draft of the questionnaire; I may yet change some of the questions and my method as the work progesses.

I would be very grateful if you were willing to oblige, but if ever you are not into any of this I won't be offended in the least. If ever you do decide to participate I suggest that you either post your answers on your blog or else send them to me in an email: noulamous@yahoo.com

Wishing you all a lovely end of the summer, health, wealth and happiness!

Milles mercis,



1. Which fictional hero(ine) do you love best? (literature, film, history, urban myth ....)

i. Which fictional hero(ine) do you most resemble (very honest please!)?

ii. Who would you most like to resemble?

2. Which was the last music album you bought?

i. The last book?

ii. The last film (and if you don't buy films, which was the last one you went to see in the cinema)?

iii. The last exhibition you went to see?

iv. The last group or performer you saw in concert?

3. Which place(s) that you've travelled to has meant the most to you? (If possible, please explain briefly.)

i. Which place(s) that you've lived has/have been the most meaningful?

ii. Which place would you like to travel to/live in next?

4. What does your house/apartment/room look like?

i. What would be your dream place to live in?

ii. What about your car/bicycle/motorbike/skateboard, etc.?

5. What was the last meal you cooked?

i. Which snack do you make yourself most often?

ii. Which disgusting, guilty thing do you most like to eat?

iii. What do you most often feel like drinking?

6. What's you favourite perfume?
i. Which perfume do you wear during the day?
ii. Which perfume do you wear at night?
iii. Which was your first perfume?

7. Which is your favourite word and how often do you use it?

8. What is your favourite item of clothing that you own and where did you find it/who gave it to you?

i. Which clothes/accessories/bijoux would you like to get next?

ii. Where is your favourite place to shop?

9. What would you like to name your first daughter?

i. And your first son?


It can be a photograph, painting, sculpture, etc. that you have taken or made or that someone else has taken or made of you. It can feature your face or body or simply something else that you feel reflects you.