By Tiger and Bear with illustrations by James Wilson.
An introduction: Dancing with Nietzsche is based on mythical events.
It is neither fact nor fiction; instead it is an account of two performance artists named Tiger and Bear, who had been influenced by the old Korean folk story of the same name. The myth of tiger and bear tells of the birth of Dangun and the founding of what we now call Korea, a geographically and politically divided nation. The “performances” in the following story hold little relation to this original folk story
Act Three: The Performance
As we stood behind the wings I tried to focus my eyes on the events unfolding around us. Pogo Planet were on stage, blasting out a heavy wall of sound while a Christmas tree’s worth of over saturated stage light spilled over them.
I turned to Tiger, catching a brief glimpse of a smoldering cigarette hanging from his cracked lips, the smoke drifting from the Tiger head’s gaping maw as he nodded in time with the music.
“I don’t think I’m ready”, I yelled at him.
Tiger turned to me, rolled his bloodshot eyes and looked back to the band. He didn’t reply, only waving another green Soju bottle in the vicinity of my face. Another soldier in the war against sobriety I thought to myself as I took the bottle and started to unscrew the cap. Yet the seal was already broken and the bottle was empty. They were all empty.
I tossed the empty into the darkness behind the stage and I picked up the cardboard maracas, which were already soggy with sweat. The smallest details around me were becoming all the more lucid with every passing moment. Pogo Planet’s singer strolled across the stage like an amphetamine addled peacock, warbling along to the hybrid electro rock. He clutched his cane under his arm as he sprung forward, landing heavily on his checkered black and white brothel creepers, lifting his head to gaze out at the crowd from behind his oversized pink sunglasses. The bassist tossed her pig tailed hair around, seemingly hypnotized by the riffs she was bludgeoning out of her instrument, stomping her mismatched pink and blue lace up sneakers against the stage, her bass amp almost toppling over from the heavy vibrations tearing out of it. The drummer pounded away on his kit, as he stared off into oblivion, sweat pouring down his face. The sonic Armageddon blasted out in to the valley, echoed around the mountains, through the clouds and out into space.
Then there was Him. Standing in front of an altar loaded with samplers and hi-tech audio gadgetry, he stared out into the crowd, both motionless and expressionless. His hands were held out over the equipment that lay before him, his palms facing down. Nobody else seemed to notice that he was actually not touching the knobs and buttons, yet they were moving and rotating nevertheless. I nudged Tiger, wanting to point this out but he didn’t notice. He was too busy concentrating on the bassist and her pig tails.
The song ended and the band launched into their next song. Somebody shoved me in the back and I went sprawling out onto the stage, straight into the limelight, cardboard maracas flying into night. Clambering to my feet I looked up to see thousands of eyes looking back at me. The band ploughed into another sonic assault yet I was utterly paralyzed with fear. I saw Tiger jumping around and throwing his arms in the air; out in the crowd I could see the glint of the camera lenses amongst the whites of so many expectation eyes. “MTV” I said to myself. My paralysis suddenly seemed to wash away as my foot began to tap on the stage, my body loosening, the music carrying me away.
Tiger jumped into the crowd, staggered into a gait of sorts. He shoved his way through the crowd that had amassed in front of the stage and proceeded to leap head first into a row of seated audience members, who went flying in all directions like pins brushed aside by a giant orange and black bowling ball. Tiger dragged himself out of the mangle of groaning limbs and attempted to scale a climbing wall at the side of the seating area, wrestling with festival stewards who were desperately trying to stop him. As he leaped upwards. His hand gained purchase on a handhold and he tried to hoist himself up with two pint sized stewards clung to his legs.
I started spinning around, at first slowly but then steadily getting faster. The beat and the rhythm rattled through my bones, the eyes and cameras melting into a world of blurred light and distorted yet beautiful sounds. I was riding on a wave of pure energy, euphoria spurred on by Soju and adrenaline, as the breath of the gods blew into my face. I felt myself floating upwards as a sea of lotus flowers began spinning and twisting before my eyes. Something was moving behind the petals, a glimpse of a snout, a blood red eye and scaly skin. I was in a realm of pure light were flesh and blood no longer mattered. I collided with something solid and went tumbling head over heels.
I went tumbling head over heels, landing heavily on my back. The lotus flowers were gone and I was back on the stage. As I got to my feet my gaze met with a void, which seemed to be sucking all light and energy into a bottomless core that lay behind two perfectly black eyes. He stood above me, slowly dusting himself down but without taking his eyes off of me. My vision started to fade and I felt my knees give away. As my vision became blurry He was duplicated, his eyes multiplying into kaleidoscope of bottomless voids, repeating over and over into eternity. I realized what I had collided with. Cold blood ran through my veins as I started to shiver violently.
I tried to whisper an apology, but the words were swept away by the holocaust of sound going on around us. Trying for more time I took in a ragged, deep breath and uttered my sincerest apology.
All at once the music stopped. The rest of the band suddenly became motionless; their arms falling to their sides, their chins thudding into their chests, like the strings to this troupe of marionettes had been bundled together and suddenly cut with a huge air of scissors. The crowd fell silent and the stage lights dimmed. There was only Him and I. The bottomless eyes focused intently on me, glinting.
The sensation of raw terror growing in my stomach pumped some fresh adrenaline through my veins. I staggered to my feet, turned, and fell off the stage and into the sweaty mass of people below. I delved deep into the forest of arms, legs and accusing eyes as the band suddenly came back to life. They launched into a fresh barrage of noise as the stage lights came back up. I spied Tiger in the depths of the crowd. As I pushed my way towards him I cast a glance back at the stage. He was staring straight at me. I burrowed deeper into the crowd knowing that a wave of chaos was swelling underneath me.
I grabbed tiger’s arm and yelled,
James Wilson Bio
James Wilson is an illustrator working in Bristol, England. He is inspired and influenced by album art, underground comics, heavy metal, the 80′s, t shirt design, hand drawn type and beards. To view more of his work go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilzon/ and to follow him on Twitter… http://twitter.com/#!/wilzon1 . He is available for commissions, so get in touch!