Book of Layers

Chapter Five: I Come in the Name of the Bull Bhalbhai

The Book of Layers: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. Chapter Five: I Come in the Name of the Bull Bhalbhai.  2012. Each panel, 18" x 41"; 6 panels total. Archival inkjet print of 2012 photo by Bliss; text from Bliss' June 10, 2012 journal entry; archival inkjet print of 1927 photo by ethnomusicologist Ole Mork Sandvik bagged with found sheep fleece marked with shepherd's identifying blue paint; composed sound from field recordings and interviews with residents of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland.

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Transcript of audio recording:

(choral music with orchestral accompaniment)

Female Irish voice: And he kept walking, and she kept following him and he said, "Go home!” and she said, “I will not go home. I will follow you until I die for you.” And he would walk on, and he would stop and he would turn and he’d say, “Go home!” and she’d say, “I will not go home.  I will follow you until the day I die.” 

And night fell, and he said, “You can’t sleep out here.”  He said,  “Go up to that house and tell them you’re coming in the name of Jesus and Mary. And if they don’t let you in, say you come in the name of the Bull Bhalbhai.  So she went up and she said, “I come in the name of Jesus and Mary.” And the woman said, “Nope.” And she said, “I come in the name of the Bull Bhalbhai.” And she let, she let her right in. And there was a woman there with a little son, and she played with the son, and the woman said, she’s going, “He’s taken to you!  It’s like he knows you.”

Female American voice: "home"

Male Irish voice: “baile”

Female American voice:  O’walla?

Male Irish voice: “baile”.  B-a-i-l-e

Female American voice:  Is that…And “house?”

Male Irish voice: “teach”

Female American voice:  tig?

Male Irish voice: “teach”

Female American voice:  (repeats)

Male Irish voice: Mo teach féin. My own house

Female American voice:  (repeats)…Ah, “moon”

Male Irish voice: oh…moon. Oh geez, I forget all them words.  A moon, a moon is an Irish, a nice, a nice short word.

Female Irish voice: She took the spool of thread, but when she came back the bull was nowhere to be seen. She forgot that she hadn’t told him to meet her.  But then she spotted him up on the horizon, and she followed him and he said, “Go home. Go home.” And then he turned to her and he said, “You’ll never see me again.” And he turned into a crow and he flew into the Underworld. And she sat at the hole where he went into the Underworld, and for weeks and weeks she wove, from grasses, she wove a rope, and she lowered it into the Underworld and she attached it to a big rock, and then she went right down into the Underworld.

So she jumped up on his back between his horns, and as he rode off he said, “You’ve a choice." He said,  “I can be a bull by day, and a man by night, or a man by day and a bull by night. It’s your choice.” And she said, “I want you to be a bull by day, and a man by night.” And so they went down into the Underworld where he had a big kingdom there, and she knew nothing about him except that he was a bull by day and a man by night.  And they had a great wedding feast.  And after a year when she was pregnant, she said that she wanted to go home, and he said, “Don’t go home. I can give you everything…”  (fades)

Male Irish voice #2: “Almost 1:00 on the Blue of the Night.  Music there of Arvo Part, his beautiful Magnificat performed by…” (fades)


Text on panel reads:

June 10. Cill Rialaig

Stone has permanency here in this land of shifting material reality where islands appear and disappear.  Birds come out of nothingness; ships drift out of nothingness, drift into nothingness.  Air becomes mist becomes rain becomes thin again.  Fog overtakes cliffs, overtakes hill; envelops sheep, disappears sea.  Only myself left: what am I?

What can one hold onto here?  People leaving all the time.