Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Academy has a student bar

Vico's Bar can seem quite strange as, although it feels like quite an intimate bar, it has many hidden extensions and dimensions.

You may find a series of asymmetrical and diverse rooms each of which, at various times, has become specialized for various activities. No one has a full map of the rooms, and very few people have access to all areas, yet no secret hierarchy seems apparent - far from it - in certain rooms (designed to demystify authority figures with dressing up and uniforms and mirrors and such like) you can grant yourself any title you chose, pick any costume you like, and get treated accordingly for the rest of the evening. You get what you wish for. If you dress as Royalty or Celebrity, and then start to take the next door in search of the best room that you could imagine, various large bodies may delay you, steer you, monitor you, look after you - sometimes asking what you would like to do from a very limited range of options, and never leave you alone for a moment. You may get the finest dope available, but you probably won't be allowed down into the main room, which resembles a combination of a western saloon, a smugglers' tavern and a tapas bar in Seville, with clusters of lucid dreamers and virtual realists, chaoticians and magicians, and all the other occupants of border territories. Royalty and celebrity do not always find a warm welcome in such an atmosphere.
possible view of the secret laboratory
The original design of the building incorporated several studio spaces, as well as workshops, cutting rooms, a small laboratory (allegedly), the film library and onward and outward to the better known of the quiet rooms, the Borges Memorial Library of Babel, the Aleph Sanctuary and the Bucky meditation dome. The louder rooms include the club and the theatre. It might sound a bit hectic, but the rush hour at the original opening has died down now. Sometimes, since the MLA Tavern has also opened nearby, you can ask the bar staff to real glass Klein Bottle by Mitsugi Ohnoreach behind the row of Klein bottles which releases the lock on the door into 'the back' and go walkabout without coming across other people, though the traces of their occupation may remain. All maps stay incomplete, as other occupants and participants repaint walls, knock through doors, and seal off areas for performance events, leaving the building permanently changed.

As for those back rooms, people go in and people emerge, and the stories they tell often seem like some elaborate hoax of a traveler's tale, but the atmosphere in the room when they come out may tend to encourage such elaboration on the (probably mundane) truth. Callahan leans on the bar, wiping glasses, and pays attention. Behind him, pinned to the wall, you can see a yellowed piece of paper with these words:

Top Ten Reasons Why Beer is Better than Jesus

10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.

9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.

8. Beer has never caused a major war.

7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.

6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.

5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.

4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.

3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.

2. You can prove you have a Beer.

1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.
Several tables regularly fill up with those who enjoy to speculate on the possible current state of play of the building. Here in the airlock of the building punters dropping in for a quick coffee, a smoke and a game of backgammon mingle with the hardcore arts laboratory crew and the workmen, the theoretical physicists with the intertextual cut-up crowd, and those attempting to compile and update an accurate map of the whole building and its attractions. visualization classes seem very popular, at the moment. Just by multiplying a real number and an imaginary number, you can set your mind to generate fractal patterns, and then roam at will up and down the self-similar fields. The class use for a text Tesla's first notebook, before he took off on his Man Who Fell To Earth phase - pouring patents out and letting Edison get the credit for electricity - and all that later material offering free energy, universal communication and so on (those later notebooks probably remain in the possession of various Intelligence Agencies).

The Mind Map on the wall just grew, I guess. Occasionally details get filled in, involuted self-referential patterns too condensed for words, leading into graphics and maths symbols. These may curl in an Escher delight, produce strange fractal miniatures and filigrees - here, there and everywhere (step ladders and Bobby and Banksy may have something to do with this) while deeper waves spread out, turning into large friendly letters...

Painters and designers shaped up these words - words have to know their place. Often someone clumsier might add large scrawled sarcastic comments, but it needs confidence and panache to do such a thing in front of this crowd...some feel safer lurking...

Still, it exists (in some sense) - and any crucial words or symbols accidentally covered up get lovingly reconstructed (if missed) by calling a Fahrenheit 451 Committee meeting which attempts to replace missing material from what anyone can remember, but as they pass Maui-Wowie round to open the committee meeting the new version often becomes accepted.

Words of power and evocative phrases often survive because of their position, or because of the grumble that goes up when wall-writers (with spray-cans at least) get even close to obscuring them.

The Alchemist has always had a seat in Escher's Corner. Sometimes you'd notice him, and sometimes you wouldn't see him - no one saw him enter or leave. Some assumed that he had a secret panel, and probably Guinea Pig B sampling the wares
slipped in when everyone in the room blinked and missed it, others thought he remained in a superposition of states until observed correctly, there were as many explanations as punters but all agreed on one thing - if anyone knew where the secret laboratory was, it was him, and that being invited to his table, though not always a comfortable experience, was likely to be extremely interesting, especially if he was looking for guinea pigs for some new concoction (he had a policy of always trying them himself before releasing them for the use of others.)


Unknown said...

No better place I know, though usually half forget!

The Thirstay Night Drink Specials make for heavy heads forever more & more & please still a little more! An Open Mic always & Acrillic spins the beans, Tit Patrol up next, Jambox @ dawn, don't sleep!


Thank You Bogus, and here's one hoisted for all whatevers.

Bogus Magus said...

Yeh, I'll come back to add the band nights, and the stand-up comedy, and Antero's paratheatrical workshop and so much more I can't even imagine...


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