Le Papillon de Vingt-Quatre Heures
By Roman Payne
Ô, Muse of the Heart’s Passion,
let me relive my Love’s memory,
to remember her body, so brave and so free.
and the sound of my Wanderess singing to me,
and the scent of my Wanderess sleeping by me,
Ô, sing, sweet Muse, my soliloquy!
WHEN I TOUCHED HER BODY, I believed she was God. In the curves of her form I found the birth of Man, the creation of the world, and the origin of all life.
She was Woman and I was Man; and our bodies lay naked on the bed, panting like two beaten and worn animals after a battle. Our passionate combat had lasted for two beautiful days and nights in that wasted bedroom of hers on the rue de Turbigo in Paris. During forty hours we made love, ceasing only momentarily to drink the necessary water and eat when our bodies required it; as our sexual battle exhausted our fuel supplies and our organs needed to be replenished to continue their feast.
It was still dark when we finished. Four o’clock at the end of a night in spring, and Mademoiselle d’Odessa and I finally surrendered to the fatigue of our flesh; and feeling comfort in our nourished sexual appetites, we lay entwined to let sweet sleep overtake us. As we lay, we caressed each other languidly on the bed: thighs and limbs, taught abdomens, my hard chest, her soft breasts. She said, “Look…” and pointed from her petite “lit de jeune fille,” across her bedroom to where a moth was flying upwards and bouncing off the yellow plaster.
“Un papillon de vingt-quatre heures,” she told me.
I had never heard of a twenty-four-hour moth before and I asked her about it. She said she once read a curious book about moths and butterflies and explained to me with great certainty that the species of moth on her wall had a lifespan of exactly twenty-four hours—that it had been born to her house for only one day and one night, so as to fly and to reproduce before dying. She went on to talk of this moth and I was thoroughly enchanted. I stroked her wonderful tummy as I watched that curious twenty-four hour moth; and what I did above all was to admire the luck of that creature.
“Why is it lucky?!” she asked, pounding me on the chest.
“Because,” I told her, “billions of its kind are born every season to live out their short lives in an empty basement or attic somewhere, down in the métro, or in a bank, or a ceramic factory or in a preschool. But this lucky devil has lived every moment of its life in the aura of our naked bodies… two passionate human beings making love.”
She kissed me. “I adore you.”
“I mean, can you imagine a creature who spends his entire life watching pornography?!”
I laughed through my nose at what I’d just said, but she just frowned and slapped my cheek. She then rolled over and went to sleep, the funny girl. I was so enlivened and inspired by our two days of lovemaking, however, that I thought of sleep as a great waste of time at that moment. I had to write! For writing is the only way to come down euphorically from love-making of such splendour and grandeur.
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 Ô, MUSE […] MY SOLILOQUY: As Payne is so greatly inspired by Homer, he begins this book, like some of his other books and stories, with a “Proem.” A proem contains the introductory lines of a Homeric epic where the writer invokes the Muse to ask for the inspiration to write the epic. The mortal writer then reciprocates payment to the Muse in return for this inspiration by giving all credit to the Muse for having (literally) written the book for him or her. In the Iliad, the first line reads: ‘Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles.’ In the Odyssey, Homer writes: ‘Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of the man.’ Likewise, Payne’s first line, ‘Ô, sing me, sweet Muse, my soliloquy’ implies that his soliloquy [this novel] was conceived not by him, but by his Muse. [Editor]
 LIT DE JEUNE FILLE: (fr) ‘Young girl’s bed.’ The childhood bed of a women that is often preserved in its juvenile form in her parent’s house after she is grown.
 UN PAPILLON DE VINGT-QUATRES HEURES: (fr) ‘A 24-hour butterfly’ is the literal translation. This is a play on the term ‘papillon de nuit’ (‘butterfly of the night,’ which is a moth. It is interesting (and disturbing) how living things are degraded when we add the suffix ‘of the night.’ A butterfly becomes a moth. And while a ‘girl’ is valuable. A ‘girl of the night’ is shameful. Why is it so dishonorable to be nocturnal? Cannot some prefer the moon to the sun? [Payne]
From the sands of the Sahara, I, your dear friend, Roman Payne, send you this announcement: “You are” or “are going to be” one of the seven Muses for my novel in progress: The Saharan Soliloquy. (I shall refer to you collectively from time to time as, “The Seven Charites” for those of you familiar with “The Three Charites” (or “Graces” of Greek mythology).
Four of you seven belong to the fair sex, and three to the… sex that is… unfair?—so be it! The first Muse of the unfair people is the fairest man I know (both in giving and generosity, and in stately appearance [as he is a descendant of the poetess Sappho, and there is much evidence that states that he is the reincarnation of Achilles who helped sack the ancient citadel of Troy]). His name is Pietros Maneos. He is a distinguished poet and his kleos already reaches to Heaven.
The second of the less than fair sex is my best friend in the world—has been for the last 18 years. (Let me see, I am 39, about to turn 40, and he and met when I was 21, on Belmont Street in Seattle. I was in transit, having just spent a while living in New Orleans, at Bourbon Street and Ursulines, where I’d travelled with my twelve-string and the ambition to become the next Leonard Cohen, my hero; a man who happened to die just one week ago (that is, a week before I write this)—although, since he lived to be 82, the tears in my eyes right now are of joy and nostalgia; they are for my Seven Muses.
Mich Poe and I met on Belmont Street where he spent his hours in a depressive state, popping Zoloft and playing Mozart on his upright piano. I had the good fortune to share a wall with his piano, and he and I got to talking; and we agreed to go down to Pike’s Place Market to each drink “one dry Martini.”
Three days later, we finished our respective five-gallon martinis, in a bar whose bathroom we used to insufflate all the Latin American amphetamines that I’d smuggled back with me across the Mexican border; the pills bulging through a hacky-sack that I had nested in my crotch as a third testicle.
Mich Poe and I were forever friends after those three days, which also cured him for a long time of his depression. I didn’t know then that in less than one year, the ‘Black Beast’ of depression, would come to sit on the edge of my bed and haunt me there for many years to come; Mich and I being newly inseparable, I flew out to New York, and he followed behind on an Amtrak train; and while I was living the bourgeois Manhattan-delivery-life, he was screwing two French sisters who visited him at his makeshift home on the rooftop of my apartment house at 284 Mott Street, in SoHo, due north of Chinatown. Mich would come down to visit me from time to time, smoke his weed, and try to convince me that the short stories I was writing were better than my song compositions. Mich Poe first planted the idea of me being a novelist, and then my fate was sealed as a novelist when the tip of my picking hand was torn off in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris two years later. It is almost exclusively to Mich Poe alone that I speak my “soliloquies,” my chapters, my “Arabesques”; because he is the one person on earth I feel free to say absolutely anything to… no matter which language I speak in, and no matter if my admission reveals une faiblesse of my character—for both he and I revel in sharing defects of our characters, and miswirings and misfirings on our brain organs and other tchotchkes.
Now for the last muse of mine who carries more body-hair and testosterone than pleases my eye, is my best friend east of America; he lives in my city: Marrakech. He lives in my Riad He is, like me, an artistocrat in Morocco, for his blood is Egyptian and his extebded family commissioned the Pyramids. This brother of mine, whom I call “Sandman” (for the reason that he is an artist in the medium of colored sand; and also because, like a proper Sandman, whenever he comes to my home, he “brings me a dream.” I will not dwell too much on Sandman’s virtues, because he plays an important role in the novel that follows and you shall learn plenty of his personality.
I am relieved to begin talking of the beautiful sex: creatures whose soft arms contain just a dew of newborn hairs, soft as silk; and who resist testosterone injections, as they are already high on Estrogen—a drug that infuses them with poetic madness, dramatic insanity, and the sexiest form of mind-manipulation found among sentient beings.
The first beautiful Muse is she I have known the longest: louis Lunderburg of Sweden, who I first saw by peering at her from between my legs. Sounds odd? …You see, it was a yoga class and the pose: “chien la tête en bas” I found is an excellent way to find new students. I saw her wonderfully tall body, and her emaciated limbs which were very attractive because they made me curious.
In short, I went to speak with her, yet given the circumstances of our meeting, I disobeyed all of my masculine urges and rules for advancement, and behaved during each of our rendezvous like a perfect gentleman. And Louise was the perfect lady: sophisticated, cultured, and extremely intelligent. She eventually moved back to Sweden and I too had left Paris after 15 years living there; but Louise and I remained in contact, and she wrote to me recently, “Now that you the lord of Marrakech, Roman, please message me all about your life there.”
“My dear!” I responded, “I would have to write a whole novel to do my experiences justice.” Thus the idea for The Saharan Soliloquy was born, thanks to Louise of Sweden.
Actually, of my four feminine muses, only one is not Swedish. The three others: Olivia, Charlotte, and Louis, are from the country of Ingmar Bergman—I don’t know if is coincidence or if they put something in the water supply to make young girls grow up to become literary Muses…?
I would especially love it if the UK-based artists Tara Lee, Taralee.firstname.lastname@example.org, and Charlotte Eriksson, email@example.com would attempt some correspondence. Dear Charlotte: Tara Lee (SoundCloud Profile) is a musician like you are, and like I was (except she has a sexier voice than I do). She is also a renown actress, she’s been in movies, on the television, she is very accomplished. Dear Tara: Charlotte Eriksson is musician, singer, and performer like you. She is also a poet and novelist like me, and novelist, and it was her novel: Empty Roads & Broken Bottles that introduced me to her. Charlotte’s novel about an 18-year-old wanderess from Sweden vagabonding penniless around the UK—just her guitar case and her sack: a pen and a notebook where she balanced her time-sensitive schedule for a rockstar’s five-year plan with her anti-time, anti-schedule maxims and Zen approaches for living in the moment, was less a novel than it was a dissociative hallucinogen; Charlotte’s book turned my imagination into a frenzy as I wondered whether I were the main character or not;
The short-term sensation was euphoric. But the lasting effect of her book was to clear my life of the hundreds of empty roads and broken bottles and reawaken me to literature—for, although 95% of my income came then, as it comes now, in the form of royalty checks for my 2013 novel, The Wanderess, I was completely dead to literature and avoided writing at all costs. It was a dangerous, self-destructive phase partially provoked by modernity’s weak and hopeless “attempt” at producing worthy literature. (Anyway, thanks to you Seven Muses, I am writing again.)
Charlotte Eriksson now figures as one of the four modern novelists whose books I read with pleasure.
Tara Lee is my musical Muse. She transports me with her voice and her guitar; and if that weren’t enough, Tara has this unbelievable talent for writing me letters that hypnotize me, and get me to do whatever she wishes, will, or pleases.
The last to be mentioned is probably the most important, Olivia, as she has the ability to supply me with a steady supply of blood, food, and water. My other six Muses can inspire with intellectual nourishment. And Tara’s letters, though they don’t come often at all, have this passion in them that keeps me awake all night long. Yet one can live without intellectual nourishment, and one hates to live without insomniac passion; but one simply cannot live if one’s veins are dried-up of blood, and if one has not a sip of water or a bite of food to eat. No… I could not… and I would not want to write this next novel without Olivia in my life.
 UNE FAIBLESSE : (Fr) « a weakness. » “…There are times when I use French expressions and words because the English terms are escaping my memory and I don’t wanr want to interrupt his writing flow;
A treatise in favor of “mind and body” arts, antidepressant medications, psychotropic drugs, and scientific procedures to alter the human mind and change consciousness; as well as an article in favor of religious practice (of any and all faiths)
By Roman Payne
Why do so many humans invest a considerable portion of their fortunes on, and are so appreciative of, the advancements in neuroscience? It used to be assumed that the goal of neuroscientific studies were to cure dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and overall: to cheat death.
In 2016, however, we no longer kid ourselves privately or publicly. Today it is as acceptable to tell a stranger or a new acquaintance that you are on antidepressant drug or other psychotropic substances; or that you perform anything from yoga and meditation, to Catholic rituals or Muslim prayer.
Twenty-First Century literature, popular media in Western countries, and articles by learnéd scholars and the intelligentsia tend to agree that a fully-realized human being is someone who is not afraid to die. *
*Epicurus, for example, regarded “the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of anxiety among human beings”; while Saint Augustine believed that “the fear of death makes a happy life impossible. […] The true, happy life,” Saint Augustine wrote, “requires immortality. The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy.” Scholars and writers from Plato onward wrote similar doctrines. Every man and woman may have “once have had” a fear of death. In fact, “almost all” humans feared death during childhood, and many later on. But those of us who live more or less: “contemplative lives”; those of us who devote part of each day to such activities as: introspection, self-improvement; philosophy, morality and religious practice, or the intake of pharmacological or natural psychotropic medicines, have either come to the point (and if they have not, they hopefully will, for such is the entire goal of everything from philosophy to magic to religion) where they are and can be considered “A fully-realized,” or a “flourishing,” adult.
A “flourishing” adult lives a “flourishing life”—(more specifically, a “eudaimonic” life).