Tabs Out | Takahiro Mukai – The Passion of Vojtek

Takahiro Mukai – The Passion of Vojtek

1.11.19 by Ryan Masteller

[Looks around, scared.]

There was a bear, a real one.* They brought him from Iran, and, I don’t know, thought that he’d be fun to have around? It was a bear. How much fun could that possibly be?

[Takes deep drag from hand-rolled cigarette. Pinky finger flicks away tobacco fleck from bottom lip. Eyes look up, dart at noise of creaking chair; gaze returns to lap.]

It was wartime, what do I know? What does anybody know, it was crazy, it was crazy. There was a bear, and they named him Vojtek, and the only way they could bring him home was to conscript him. They were fools! Sure, he helped us move ammunition boxes around, he was useful for a while, but things began to change. They just began to shift, I dunno. Maybe it was the salmon drought, maybe it was the honey famine – look, all I know is that Vojtek grew more and more unruly, …

[Wipes brow, quickly takes short drag from cigarette, drums table with nervous fingers.]

And the blood! Oh the blood…

[Sobs.]

[Composes himself.]

I thought I had forgotten it. I thought I had forgotten the passion of Vojtek, but then, there’s this cassette tape! What do I do with this?

[Picks up tape, holds it out accusingly before slamming it back down onto the table, cracking off the connecting hinge of the Norelco case.]

Takahiro Mukai wasn’t even there. He wasn’t even there, yet he mocks us with this document, this “composition,” and I can’t sleep – I CAN’T SLEEP – and all the while I read these numbers and hear these clinical electronic sounds and I feel like I’m part of some kind of laboratory experiment, some kind of drug trial! What more do you want from me? Why can’t I leave?

[Stops. Takes a deep breath, then another long tug on the cigarette. Rubs bloodshot eyes.]

Oscillations. These rhythmic patterns conform to the dance of death, the “Passion of Vojtek” [Plaża Zachodnia] that I bore witness to. He snapped, he slaughtered my comrades, and it was so workmanlike, so mechanical. Takahiro Mukai is so removed, so far removed.

[Looks up. Eyes fix mine. A sliver of a grin appears at the corner of his mouth.]

But there is beauty in the dance, in the performance, in the ritual destruction. Does art imitate action here, or is the action informed by the art? Mukai…

[Shakes head.]

Brilliant. Counterbalanced. Surgical. No chaos, just containment, inevitability. He is juxtaposed against the proceedings, and the proceedings do not disappoint in their importance. There is one thing that I do know about all this, that I shake my head at every time I think about it: we should never have brought that bear back with us. Never.

[Lifts cigarette to lips. Inhales.]

*This account is an alternate universe representation of the story of Vojtek the bear. In our current historical timeline, Vojtek is much nicer and doesn’t kill anyone.

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