The Great Sleep is a series of 13 narrative audio mixes that will be aired on Internet Public Radio every first Thursday of the month from December 2019 to December 2020. For each episode, a musician and a visual artist from the Global URL Nation collaborate to develop the story with audiovisual material - a 1h mix and a visual cover, which then serve as a base for written text. Each month, we will post a new chapter meant to be heard, seen and read.

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E03 - Fragments of Time

I’m still dizzy when I see this human figure in front of me. As this presence approaches, I can more clearly distinguish some of her shapes, her clothes, her ornaments. It’s an old woman.

This person whispers something to me, like a whistle, like the breeze of the wind through thick foliage. I’m not sure what she’s telling me but she waves at me, her hand asking me to follow her. Then she turns and, resting on her twisted cane resembling the trunk of a grapevine, she begins to walk.

I crank up the pace and rush towards her. I walk by her side, silent, for a long minute. Above the bun of her gray hair, the bird I had seen earlier swirls up lightly. I watch it for a moment, obsessed with the fact that it's still here. Slowly, after my gaze has abandoned the bird, I look down to this old lady. Hanging from her two ears, I notice huge hooped jewels set with amethyst-colored gemstones. Their brightness is lightning under the sun, making her luminous presence almost incandescent. I blink, dazzled.

In the core of these precious stones, I see my face getting deformed. I look at myself, analyzing and judging this moving and misshapen figure. I do not recognize it. I even wonder if this reflection really represents me. Am I the one looking at this shimmering stone or am I the silhouette inside this jewel, which seeks to go out and join the world in which I think I am?

I get lost in questions, losing my balance, dissociating from the reality in which I find myself. I want to explore this reflection, I want to enter the stone, to cross its polished surface, to see who I really am.

I continue to look at myself while this woman walks silently on a path that seems to arise under our feet. She wears different layers of loose clothing. I think I recognize silk, linen, even cotton. Each item of clothing is added to another, like the lines of a field seen from the sky. Her huge bun of white hair looks like a bulb of a tulip on the eve of Spring. The skin on her face is crisscrossed with deep wrinkles that give to this person the appearance of an ancient tree with thick bark. I now stare at her hands : they are studded with a thousand rings made of various stones and materials. My gaze lingers for a long time observing her long fingers and wondering about the origins of those much worn, weathered, rusty jewelries. The colors, the glares, the reflections which are outlined and eluded, make me think of shadows rising, stretching and disappearing at the base of the trees under the sun. These ornaments radiate an age-old strength, but also an uncertain future. I ask where they come from. I ask when these stones were cut, what mountain gave birth to such beautiful jewels which, visibly, over time, have lost their sublime and their brilliance.

The path becomes steep. The old lady is ahead of me, carrying on without any difficulty. The trees along the road seem to bend under her course as if to greet her. The wind blows our backs as if to give us the momentum needed to reach the summit. I feel that nature is with us... or maybe I am wrong, and it only cares for this vagabond woman.

Suddenly, the path ends and in front of us extends an incredible scenery. We overlook a valley with geomorphological formations composed of mesas and mounds. I am at first enthralled by the whole. My glance inspects the misshapen leafy masses in the foreground, before continuing further away, where I recognize the same ruins that I encountered earlier. They extend and dot a flat ground of red sandstone. From this point of view, I realize that these ruins are actually foundations : foundations of a city, a village, a town whose constructions seem to have been on hiatus. Different paths go through them towards what seems to be a rocky promontory, behind which, in the background, rises a powerful mountain range climbing up to the skies. I imagine people working here, through the sweat of their brow. I imagine fumes rising and people swarming around. I imagine bursts of laughter and tears of despair.

My gaze and my mind merge as one, enabling me to envision the whole picture, and there, as baffling as it may seem, I have the feeling to see a clear image of a place that is at once lively and vacant. I go through its different parts with a complex imaginary projection to become the explorer of this on-hiatus city. Various perceptions cross my mind: a world in danger, a world in crisis, a world drained of consciousness, a world without ideas, a world that tries to rise through dogmas, beliefs and alienations. It's scary, ominous. Everything seems to be on the verge of collapse as these ruins seek to grow, to rise, with the ground shaking and crumbling under the weight of their ascent.

Suddenly, I hear the raw and flat noise of a wooden cane banging on a stone. Startled, I turn to this old woman smiling at me with teeth shining like polished quartz.

The old woman’s hand points to a rock where I can sit. I go there and take place, while she remains standing in front of me. The bird comes to find refuge in the bun of her hair which occasionally turns into iridescent gleams.

"Do you not find all this magnificent?"

I shrug, confused.

"This world that comes and goes..."

I say nothing when the woman's face suddenly turns towards me with round eyes like marbles and she screams in her crystal clear voice:


I get petrified, acting as one with my rock, when  she laughs and begins to spin around her grapevine stick. Quicker and quicker. She mutters something while turning, raising a diffuse cloud of dust around her.

“Eternal snow! The swamps! Yes ! Yes ! Yes ! Carcasses! Snowdrops! Oh yes ! Snowdrops! And then ... the wind through the rocks! Oh yes ! And the salt water on the cliffs! It digs, it eats, it's delicious! And then everything ! The man ! Oh no, no! Not Mankind ! Not Mankind, no... "

She repeats this over and over again, spinning at breakneck speed until falling on her back, her eyes staring at the sky and dust falling like a delicate fog on her rags. I lean over, believing she is passed out... but no, she has a broad smile on her face and she says to me with a calm voice :

“It's been a long time since we had some fun together.”

"Together… ?"

"Yes, like before, remember?"

"I don’t know who you are…"

"Whoever I am, the important thing is the story you will tell about me."

I squint as she sits up straight and steady, before swivelling towards me with an amused look.

“I remember how it was before, what we used to say about lonely walkers, those scattered along the paths to the Great City... we said they were wise, we said they were great, we said they were endowed with incredible knowledge .

"What are you talking about ?"

“Talking about what you are looking for...”

"And what am I looking for ?"

"It's already in you, it's in your head ..."

"I don’t know."

"What are you looking for ?"

“I'm trying to find out where I am.”

"But ... you're nowhere, that's all."

"Hold on, what are you talking about?"

"Why do you need to know where you are?"

"To find my way.”

"Why ? Here and now, there is a whole landscape available to you. Like before. Like after.”

I'm annoyed.

"I don't understand what you're saying, it doesn’t make sense! "

"No, no, young man, you have to imagine. The place you want to reach is a wasteland tinged with lived experience. Imagination is the key, but the path may only be found by envisioning a new form of life with others. This is what leaves, worms and birds do. Assimilate their environment to evolve and grow. ”

The old lady looks at me with her big gelatinous eyes. I hear her words, I repeat them in my head. I turn my gaze towards this horizon, towards its mountains, its forests, its ruins... everything takes hold of me, making me feel oppressed and anxious, when suddenly, I hear voices in my head... I put my hands on my ears, I close my eyes, my face tightens with pain. I crack.


Tears fall down my cheeks. I realize that I am lost in the midst of a world without ties, far from all my bearings, far from the comfort in which I used to rave before ... before all that. My thoughts go deep within myself. Projected in my own mind, I try to interpret my presence on this rock, in this unknown world, and I start to wonder what I am doing here, if all this is not a way of testing myself, if I would rather not find a new start in this exotic land, reshape my beliefs in a place where everything that reassured me has finally disappeared.

The woman's hand lands on my cheek. I look up at her. Her eyes scrutinize me with intensity and she says to me with a reassuring smile:

"I have something for you."

I look at her without understanding what she is talking to me about. And that's when she takes out, from under her thick clothes, a fragment, an accretion of entangled crystals of a thousand purplish colors. She hands it to me with a smile, her teeth being reflected through the milky hues and the oily crystalline luster composing this mineral marvel. She insists by shaking her hand and I grab it, hesitantly, with my fingertips. I look at this mysterious object, and I hear something coming from its heart. I look up at the old lady, her face is still frozen with a broad smile.

"You heard it, right?"

I nod slowly.

"It's because you start to understand. If you open yourself up to your surroundings, you will hear much more than you think. Don’t forget : what we don't see exists but what exists is not necessary what we see…”

She pauses. I look back at the object carefully.

"Do you think I'm an old lady?"

Without taking my eyes off the fragment, I answer by whispering.

"Well, you look like ..."

“And yet…”

I raise my face, but there is no one left... I hear the bird in the distance, but my eyes are still blinded by the brightness of her gift. I look around, with the hope to catch a glimpse of her delicate clothing, or one of her shimmering items, only to be found by myself, alone with this fascinating piece.