COSMO SWEVENS

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 

In 1895, Cosmo Swevens' great grandfather, A. Leander Swevens, established a unique publishing company called Strange House Press. At that time it was deemed that the average subscriber to its principal publication, The Random Path, would be a reader who readily apprehended the practical assets of divination. Had A. Leander's father, Maynard Tetley Swevens, been told that one day his son's publishing house--and for that matter A. Leander himself, standing proudly before its doors--could be continuously represented as a spectral image in the atmosphere, flickering like a second skin of light onto a flat screen and thus establishing reality for public consumption, he would have considered his informant nothing less than mad.  

Regrettably, it was Maynard Tetley himself who became unhinged. Incapable of reconciling the juxtaposed realities, he retreated into a final decade of dereliction where he could often be found meandering about the park across from his son's business, babbling endlessly unfathomable harangues and speeches. This came to an end one morning when the elder Swevens was found dead atop the base of one of the park's more notable statues--a tribute to an unknown businessman with a curiously unzipped fly. It was generally assumed that the poor man had died while toppling the statue (though a handful of community obstructionists contended they could not recall ever seeing the businessman's open fly). An investigation revealed nothing but the following cryptic note found clutched in his hand:  

As the butterflies of the cemetery follow on the heels of ignorant men and women discreetly joined by fright, I am hereby released as an imaginary unbeliever to serve as agent to the end. And to this end I, Maynard Tetley Swevens, set forth the following as testament to the genesis of my son's misbegotten enterprise: 

From bed sheets come the words behind the typewritten words set down which are not his own words, but an arbitrary copy of words from the latter flies of men conforming to the grid of his own words in a world beyond natural causes. And if the arbitrary brings the latter to an audible edge, yet by the heels, having in them the very arbitrariness of the body, they all shall pretend to see what the bed sheets know. At that time--prophetically a beguiling moonless night--we shall finally see the latter sealed in an envelope to be opened one hundred years from this day, at which time the latter shall reveal the secrets of life's everlasting opus. 
 

In August 1995, Cosmo Swevens arrived at his hotel room in Susami, Japan, where he intended to enjoy a pleasant few days rest from a recent trip recording songs of the Baka pygmies of the Cameroon rain forest. He got no further than one hour into a deep sleep when he was awakened by the delivery of a waterproof postal envelope that the concierge had failed to inform him had arrived the day before Cosmo's arrival. The bellhop explained that the envelope had originally been posted to an underwater mailbox located off the coast of Susami. (Cosmo had been recording indigenous tribal music and song around the world nonstop for the past six months, and his ears were not as yet accustomed to the patois of rational tongues.) 

Cosmo found inside the envelope a smaller creased and yellowed parchment envelope with the following hastily scrawled message on its cover: DO NOT OPEN BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  Not wanting to upset the balance of some larger plan, Cosmo waited. Seven months later he set up a recording studio, where to this day he takes on the occasional odd project  that tickles both curiosity and ear drums. His motto: One day we'll hear everything that exists everywhere. 

And then one day not long ago, Cosmo received a call from a man affiliated with an outfit called Hypnopop. He had an idea for a new musical venture, and he insisted Cosmo be the recording engineer. “You're  a verifiable genius,” the man said. “You could have chosen any number of vocations, but the world sounds a lot better because you chose audio. ” 

“Stop right there, pal,” Cosmo shot back. “I'll take the job, but I'll tell you right up front. If I get an idea while I'm at the wheel… well, I just seem to forget about the road. What's the name of your project anyway?”  The man from Hypnopop told him it was to be called Opus Everlasting. After a brief pause, his mind reeling back through time, Cosmo said “Okay. I'll try to do the right thing in the right way." 

Which curiously brings us back to Cosmo's great grandfather, A. Leander Swevens. You see, whenever he was asked about the name of his initial publication, The Random Path, he would rock back on his heels, look off into some unseen, private vista and softly intone, “Down life's random path we all stumble as strangers. You never know though. You never did know. You never will know. So what though.”