The Abominable Dr. Phibes // A.A. de Levine


[Threnody for London]


I need beauty to be malignant. Beauty as a violent and mutating thing, a mask that pulls too tight.

The beauty of a name, my name, that sounds like a song and a spreading wetness, a name that makes people aware of their mouths, covering them.

That is why I took the job.

Here, I thought, is a chance to fill this city’s wounds with beauty.

I see gray men smile with browning teeth and I am moved to pack their abscesses full with light. I see loss all around me: town homes with cracked foundations, split nails on jewel-clad fingers.

How beautiful, turning pain into art, filling the bellies of little creatures. How beautiful to have a plan and a purpose, like nature, like God, who knows very well the pleasures of destruction.

A true artist. Not like man, not like those who claim to heal or build.

I cannot abide ugliness, the vulgarity of imprisoning thoughts in alphabet. I won’t bear it. I love to wear beautiful things, see them, become them.

I love to peer into mirrors and know the things I’ve done.

I love the beauty of scar tissue, the sweet ache of all those reds and yellows, and carriages split open like ripe fruit.

This world could be so beautiful!

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