The history of the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club: Part 2

It’s been another year and yesterday it was the Catweazle Club’s anniversary again – the legendary Oxford open mic has now been going for over 18 years. I decided to honour the occasion with a continuation of the story I wrote for last year’s anniversary: the history of the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club, an open mic on the planet Oxford in the Sopdet binary star system.

Today the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club is 18 thousand years old and is thought by many to be the longest-running open mic in the galaxy.

Last year I recounted how the pulsar piano – the largest ever musical instrument in the observable universe – came to be built. The pulsar piano with its quasi-equitempered tuning and missing low E flat had been the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club’s house instrument for several millennia. This is the story of how the absent low E flat came to be fixed – one of the major epochal events in the history of planet Oxford and indeed the entire Sopdet system.

By universal consent – and I don’t mean that metaphorically – the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club was a most harmonious place. Everyone got along. Some have even gone so far as to call it a hippie love-in, but In the course of 1,000 years many things change and the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club came to be riven by a deep fissure.

It all began as an innocuous debate over how many songs each performer should play. Tradition dictated that musicians would be allocated one or two songs according to how busy the club was and the mood of the night. But for many forward-thinking regulars, tradition wasn’t good enough.

There were those who argued that, in a somewhat utilitarian spirit of fairness, a greater number of performers should be allowed to play one song only.

But there were others who protested that art could not be quantified or reduced to questions of equality and what mattered was to regulate the ebb and flow of dramatic energy. These tended to be the performers who were habitually given two songs.

Then there were the poets, who generally performed a seemingly random number of pieces and largely felt themselves to be above the debate.

At first, discussions were jocular and short-lived, usually fuelled by alcohol and forgotten in the morning. But positions hardened. Distinct groups started to form and occupy different sides of the Half Moon. A number of key thinkers wrote essays and developed complex mathematical models to demonstrate the desirability and practicality of allowing flexibility or enforcing equality according to their respective allegiances – Monotarian or Flexifarian.

Arguments became more heated. Insults were exchanged, the odd punch was thrown. Then scuffles broke out in the queue to sign up. Having shifted 5 minutes earlier each week for the best part of seven centuries this now started to form 119 days before each performance. After a couple of months of queuing, a carelessly flung taunt might escalate into a full-scale mêlée with bricks, bottles and iron bars. Soon everyone was going about in gangs and people with a virtuoso talent in dishing out violence had become more popular than those with unique artistic abilities.

300 years later planet Oxford had been firmly divided into two giant military-industrial complexes – The Unified Democratic Republic of Monotaria and the Flexifarian Federation – engaged in a permanent and total war with the mutual aim of complete annihilation of the other. The two blocs covered the entire planet and were separated by a vast no-man’s land stretching across the Cowley Desert, laced with mines and razor wire. Offensives and counter-offensives raged continually across the Cowley, principally within several hundred kilometres of the Cutteslowe Wall – a massive ridge that ran almost the entire length of the Cowley Desert and now served as makeshift mausoleum for young Monotarian and Flexifarian volunteers who had met their end in the 11,937 battles to take or retake it.

Until one night. Shelling had ceased temporarily while Monotarian troops prepared for a new offensive and Flexifarian engineers worked on fortifications.

Forward reconnaissance posts started to pick up an ethereal humming noise on their audio periscopes. It grew louder and soon a celestial clamouring like a chorus of seraphim could be heard unaided right across the Cowley Desert. In actual fact it was the Magic Piano app on an old iPad plugged into a rather large and cumbersome fluidic amplifier but, reverberating around the polyhedral mountainsides, it sounded almost divine.

A triple full moon rose from behind the Cutteslowe Wall revealing a silhouetted figure atop the Alma Plateau that started to sway and spin. From thousands of miles around, bioluminescent light-intensifying monoculars were trained on the dancing avatar. Like Nataraja it performed the Tandava, symbolically destroying the weary universe and then the Lasya, ushering in the creation of a new world.

The mysterious figure pirouetted and then went into a grand jeté, leaping forward and landing with a transcendent grace onto a gravity-intensifying anti-personnel mine, instantly imploding into a miniscule black hole that fizzed around pathetically for a few seconds before dissipating into entropic oblivion.

Sensing a tactical advantage, a middle ranking Flexifarian officer led a daring sortie from the salient below the Alma Plateau and won a glorious yet indecisive victory for the Federation. Citations were made. Despatches with glowing mentions were despatched. Decorations were awarded. Reinforcements were brought up on both sides and the wounded were evacuated, and soon almost everyone forgot about the Nataraja of the Alma Plateau.

But not everyone. Just a few of those who gazed on the dancing avatar were reminded that there was more to life than an endless war over an uninhabitable desert. A war supplied by the most productive industrial enterprises in history, stoking a booming planetary economy – the longest boom in the history of the universe – that generated so much surplus, and was required by wartime constraints to be distributed with such a degree of equality that it resulted in the best healthcare system, the most well-educated population and the most crime-free society in the universe. Yes, they thought, there was more to life than this.

At first they didn’t quite know what. But over time old YouTube holograms of the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club started to surface, and gradually a new generation, from both blocs, began to arrive at the club and form an orderly queue with the tiny handful of ageing hippies who had kept the faith alive for the last three centuries.

A young girl called EVA – written ‘Eva’ but pronounced EVA like a type of glue – a girl with an adorable bubblegum voice and a faculty for writing quirky keyboard numbers, discovered the long-neglected pulsar piano. She cleaned it up and re-tuned it, and after several months of diligent work, managed to fix the missing E-flat. This required a lot of tinkering with quantum couplings between several remote astronomical bodies and while she was at it she also corrected a few flaws in the original design, adding XLR outputs and a USB connection.

And so it was one Thursday evening that EVA, after waiting briefly in the much-curtailed queue and buying a can of Dr Pepper at the bar, wandered over to the pulsar piano and tried the low E-flat for the first time.

It has been speculated that if one is to fully grasp the utter insignificance of one’s being and history in relation to the virtually infinite vastness of the Universe, then one will experience a fatal catatonic agony.

This, however, is not the case, as the intelligent races of the Universe were to discover upon hearing the low E flat of the pulsar piano. As the pychosonic note blasted across the Cowley desert the massed ranks of Monotarians and Flexifarians were possessed by a feeling of unmitigated abasement, but with that came a boundless sense of freedom and an insatiable desire to fill the void of universal emptiness with creative endeavour.

Across the two military blocs, in the reinforced command bunkers, in the munitions factories, in the hydroponic collective farms, the will to wage war was spent.

The Tandava was over. The Lasya had begun and the symbolic headquarters of this universal reconstruction would be the Kaddiska Mu Stellar club. It was a time of artistic enlightenment. Many significant developments would take place. But that is another story …

© Moogieman, 2012

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