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Peggy Ahwesh

Images and text from: Nocturne,
16mm film by
Peggy Ahwesh
(B/W, sound, 1998)

Bradley Eros,
Anne Kugler
and Karen Sullivan.
Cinematographer: Robert Fenz.

Kathy Acker,
Marquis de Sade, Sheridan Le Fanu,
Steven Shaviro
and The Helstrom Chronicle.
Birds fly overhead. It’s winter and the trees have been reduced to skeletons.
A fierce wind blows.

The woman struggles with the body of a dead man. She rolls it across the lawn and into a hole, then she covers it with dirt.

TITLE: Nocturne
“The greatest human torment is the
impossibility of offending Nature. She even receives murder with indifference.”
The earth is rich and radiant with the microscopic evidence of life.
“Girls are like caterpillars while they live in the world, to be butterflies when the summer comes but in the meantime they are grubs and larvae. Don’t you see -- each with their peculiar propensities, necessities and
Flesh. The uncanny presence of the imagined. The eternal return. Cycles of life and death. Nature and culture. The lived and the imagined.
A spider spins her web.

The moon rises over the house.
The woman is haunted by the memory of the dead man.
He visits her at night.
“Whenever you tell me your story it will be made up of one great true romance.”

TITLE: Desire

Wilted flowers.
Flickering lights.
The need to be ruined.
She sings herself to sleep with a lullaby.
He watches her sleep.

Curtains come alive with the breeze from an open window.
“When I asked who the murderer might be, a voice told me that it wasn't you.”

TITLE: The Sleepwalker
At night, she wanders down a long empty corridor. The lover suddenly appears and looms over her. They embrace. The whimpering and crying turn to moans of passion. She cannot escape her imagination.
“I came to know that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, and the only true opposite of fantasy is pain.”
Night clouds gather. Birds cry. The wallpaper is old and discolored.

TITLE: Restless sleep
She dreams the lover into her bed. She caresses his inert body and is comforted by his coldness.
Mechanical wind-up toys.
Creaking door.
Rotting fruit.
Shapes shift in the dark.

The lover is indistinguishable from a shadow, a branch creaking against the side of the house, a candle snuffed out by the wind.
“At this moment, because I'm perverse, I'm telling myself: without you I'm lost. And as soon as I need you, I imagine your absence.”

TITLE: Transmission
His shadow at the window is alert and knowing.
“What goes from one person to another when we laugh or make love? Something lost in the instant, over as soon as it happens.”
“In these mysterious moods I did not like my lover. I experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust.”

TITLE: The Double
She holds a knife, poised and ready to strike.
Cracked mirror.
Ice forms on the surface of a pond.
The wound.
The lover’s body lies bloody on the floor.

The neighbor comes by and reads outloud a passage from an old book while stroking her hair.
“…Must the diviner part of mankind be kept in chains by the other? Ah, break those bonds; Nature wills it. Have no other curb than your tastes, no other laws than those of your own desires,
no more morality than that of Nature
…Languish no more under those barbarous prejudices that wither your charms and imprison the divine impulses of your heart …”

Weak voices off in the distance whimper and murmur.

TITLE: Betrayal
She embraces him, raises the knife and plunges it deep into the
“I felt you most powerfully at the moment of your departure. The proof that you were real was that when the time came, you simply weren’t there for me.
I secretly always knew that you would escape me in the end, so I tried to make your betrayal mine.”