The Web



Introduction:  In the fourth edition of the Web fanzine, Fish wrote the following article. It comes across as extremely Gabriel-esque, and creates as many new questions as it answers. I had to transcribe this from a gif made from a photocopy and it is very hard to decipher certain parts.

I hope I got it right!



The Web Untangled - By Fish



The apartment was untidy. Ulysses (name changed to protect the guilty) was in the process of being seduced by the sweetly depressing vibes emanating from his lover's hi-fi.



The anonymous lover, an up-and-coming fashion designer, studying at a nearby college that at precise moment in time, will now discard her anonymity and take up her position as leading lady in this tragedy.



The title of her role, Penelope (name changed to protect the innocent) and Ulysses partner in romance for the last 3 years.



The relationship, however, was decaying, even making love seem an obligation. The patches were wearing thin. With this introspect, we rejoin our subject at the scene of the crime.



Back at the tomb, our little island of misery, Ulysses was examining the debris that littered the tear stained carpet. A gaggle of ancient Melody Makers bleeding the interviews and articles that fed his dreams, a clutch of ancient yellowing photographs portraying Penelope and himself during happier moments; a battery of Peter Hammill albums, a large bottle of very cheap white wine and an overflowing ashtray complete with smouldering cigarette.



Thus the scenario is complete apart from the window. The window was his solitary eye on the outside world. Rather an average window, nothing unnatural or peculiar about it, just a straight everyday humdrum window. At that precise moment a rather large quantity of water seemed to be dissolving the glass.



In the warm womb Ulysses was wrestling with his dilemma. He needed advice and he was wishing he could invite the rain in for a chat and a glass and wine, not that there was much left to offer. He enjoyed talking to people about his problems and always felt better after a light confession. That was the problem - too much talking and not enough action. Conflicting advice had only served to confuse the boy rather than resolve the problem he was blessed with.



Should he remain imprisoned in the chamber and forever dream of spotlights, stages and applause through the safety of his hi-fi? His career was cul-de-sac - secure but obscure. Hush puppies, tweed suits and forced smiles were a mode of life that did not appeal, but, the price of dreams was high. He had to discard Penelope before he could take the big step. The half-open door, a powerful image.



Ulysses' ashen face peered through that window. the rain was evaporating from the pavement and as the singular eye roved the tenement opposite, a tendril of ivy delivered a silent lecture.



The crumbling brickwork, a mess-ridden mosaic providing the ladder to the sunlight. Despondence and destruction linked hand in hand.



Always considered the fool, the jester, the crown prince, Ulysses realised that he was the key to success.



His confidence restored, he killed the ivy and again became the veil. The decision had been made.



That night, Ulysses, the surgeon, severed Penelope, retaining the love and the memories. The words, not an epitaph, but a preface of the new beginning.



No more advice, the machine stirred into action. Yet another set of fingerprints on the handle of the door.



As the stylus fell on the vinyl, the wineglass tripped, the tear escaped around a mouth and Penelope's glazed eyes screamed out the window.



The window smiled.

Note: A lot of what follows is by Torch, a member of the Freaks mailing list in its early days. His material appears for a number of these early Fish-era songs, and will be centre-aligned to distinguish it.

Torch said: "This works I think as a good panorama of the ideas that the title track on Script For A Jester's Tear focuses on a few of. The Web is inspired by a Greek legend, but I can't remember which one, about a lady who cannot decide which man to marry, so begins to knit a web; when it is completed she will make the decision. Of course, she just went on and on and never finished.

In a lonely tenement room the rain craves attention on the window, the sound echoed in his womb, the place where his thoughts are nurtured. It is only foul weather that he is breeding. He looks about the walls, 'to rectify the confines of my tomb'. 'Rectify' suggests two things, making something square, or making peace or better of something. He perhaps scans the walls to correct the confines, i.e. the tomb he is confined in is his closed up mind, and scanning the walls he sees more, tough not much, space, and rectifies this a little.

He is the 'Cyclops in the tenement'. This always seems to me one of those lines where Fish is just speaking personally and describing his giant features in a perverse way, like the 'harlequin' section in 'Emerald Lies' that describes more the atmosphere than the meaning of the scene. The cyclops in The Odyssey was a one-eyed giant who lived in a cave. The giant figure with only a one track mind and field of vision is a good and unsettling image of obsession, especially in the setting of a gloom and rain lashed tenement. If you press your face close up to someone else’s, it does look like you have just one eye in the middle of your face, focusing so intensely on one thing...

He is the 'soul without the cause'... constantly there are hints that he has no hope of sympathy... friends tell him she was right, he is despised and rejected. He ignores beckoning doors, as he does seem to take comfort from self-pity (who doesn't on these occasions?) and scans a seedy room that suggests an owner who has given up on life and in caring... old newspapers stained, etc. It is interesting that there are clippings. . . maybe a reference to old gig reviews when Fish was not getting any joy in local bands like Blewitt (he wrote these lyrics in Scotland while living with Diz Minnit in the middle of nowhere. ) Alternatively, maybe the girl was someone famous whose picture still adorns papers, or what he did to her made headlines... or she has married someone else and he has cut out the wedding pictures from the paper???

'So I'll hold my peace forever when you wear your bridal gown' (SfaJT). The shattered glass suggests tension... shattered not smashed, once used to celebrate and relax with someone, now shattered and staining. His views are bleak... 'meaningless words'

Old photos of their relationship and the happy times they shared torment him 'faded photos exposing pain'... the pun of photos, exposing, and negatives was one Fish really did enjoy using!!!!

The pictures are 'celluloid leeches bleeding my mind'... as they suck his senses and his memories away. He screams to himself that he has finished playing hangman with himself, and emotionally playing games for his own destruction, having cast the fateful dice and lost. He begs for help as the shroud of self-pity that was once the clothes of happiness will not do forever.

Thus begins the web, as he starts to find excuses not to snap out of his doldrums.

As he tries to shake off the past he finds excuses not to; his emotions war with his mind, as he secretly prays that his despair will last forever and not leave him with absolutely nothing and the tremendously hard task of starting again.

As he needs his shroud of despair, so the flytrap needs the insect and needles make love to the junkies... unhealthy obsessions and cravings that are so hard to resist. 'Ivy caresses the wall' i.e. he is obscured from everything by the seductive shroud that he cannot resist. 'The sirens seduce with their call', the sirens drawing sailors to their deaths by singing beautiful music that lured them to their island. Odysseus had to tie himself to his mast and fill his sailors ears with wax to survive them, the first femme fatales of legend.

He sits alone and unconfident as one is after an emotional suicide; so totally introverted and self-pondering he grows confused with is obsessive musings, and is 'despised' by her at least he perceives. If the truth be known often we have to grow to hate someone bitterly to get over them, as we move from one extreme to the other, 'you're all but forgotten, a mote in my heart'... she despises him he decides in his bitter paranoia. He kisses isolation courting it, his only friend... 'an affair with isolation' (Fugazi). He is clutched by security that this offers but threatened by obscurity as this is a negative comfort, unhealthy and unproductive, based on a distortion that will lead him into a perpetual existence of solitude and bitterness.

He admits cynically that her reasons (for leaving) were obvious but that doesn't stop him aching... isn't it great how he puts so much cynicism into the word 'friends' and derision when he sings the track!

'I only laughed away your tears but even jesters cry!' An odd line, presumably meaning at one time everything was light hearted and a joke to him in his confident state when he played the clown, but now he knows what pain is and he is crying. He realises his own shallowness in the past and lack of understanding for her? Is this why she left him?

He knows he has it within him to escape and only he can save himself, deciding that changes have to be made.

And so they are as he conquers his fears and leaves his old shroud of futile obsession and security in flames, ending the web of procrastination."

‘cyclops’
The Cyclops was a character from Homer’s Odyssey. As Odysseus make his way home, he lands on an island where Polyphemus, the one-eyed son of Poseidon lived. According to the legend, Polyphemus was unable to leave the island. He captured, and planned to eat, Odysseus and his crew. Odysseus got the Cyclops drunk and blinded him so that he could escape. (Pear’s Cyclopedia)

‘playing hangman’
Hangman is a simple word game. One player thinks of a word and then draws dashes on a page to indicate each letter. The other player gets to choose letters s/he thinks might be in the word. If s/he says a letter that is not in the word, then one element of a simple hanging man on a gibbet is drawn. If the picture is completed before the word is deduced, the guesser loses.

‘shroud’
Martijn Buijs
said: "Penelope was Odysseus' (Ulysses') wife. However, as he had been gone for almost 20 years to fight the Trojans, suitors moved into the palace of Ithaca, to court Penelope. She did not want to acknowledge the death of her husband so she made up an excuse to postpone her choice between the suitors. As a good wife, Penelope needed to make a death shroud for her husband's father, who was quite old and might not last long. Only after she had completed the shroud would she choose one of the suitors to marry her. Every day she worked on the shroud, but every night she undid most of her work, postponing her choice as long as she wanted to. In the Odyssey, this all ceases when Odysseus returns."

‘Mote’
The biblical story of the ‘mote in an eye’ (Matthew VII.14) is explained in the explanations for Incubus.

Where to get this song:



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