greyscal photo of Olivier Messiaen taken in 1986 accessed from creative commons with thanks

Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Ways of Looking at the Infant Jesus) is one of the great works for piano from the twentieth century. I have loosely based the 20 stanzas of Kim’s game on Messiaen’s 20 ’regards’.

I had the pleasure of meeting Messiaen in 1988. For a short time we talked about the relationship between literary works and his music.

The movements/stanzas of the works are entitled:

  • Regard du Père – Regard of the Father
  • Regard de L’Étoile – Regard of the star
  • L’Échange – The exchange
  • Regard de la Vierge – Regard of the Virgin
  • Regard du Fils sur le Fils – Regard of the Son towards the Son
  • Par Lui tout a été fait – By Him everything was made
  • Regard de la Croix – Regard of the Cross
  • Regard des Hauteurs – Regard of the heights
  • Regard du Temps – Regard of time
  • Regard de l’esprit de Joie – Regard of the Spirit of Joy
  • Première communion de la Vierge – First communion of the Virgin
  • La Parole toute-puissante – The all-powerful word
  • Noël – Noel
  • Regard des Anges – Regard of the Angels
  • Le Baiser de L’Enfant-Jésus – The kiss of the Child Jesus
  • Regard des Prophètes, des Bergers et des Mages – Regard of the prophets, the shepherds and the Wise Men
  • Regard du Silence – Regard of silence
  • Regard de l’Onction terrible – Regard of the terrible Unction
  • Je dors, mais mon coeur veille – I sleep, but my heart is awake
  • Regard de l’Église d’Amour – Regard of the Church of Love

The translation into English is from the notes by Roger Nichols in the booklet that accompanies the Collins recording of Vingt Regards by Joanna MacGregor.

Kim’s Game – by G. S. Ripley

A number of miscellaneous objects are arranged on a table and covered with a cloth. The players are brought to the table in convenient groups and the cloth removed for one minute, by a stop watch. The players must then retire beyond sight of the table and write a careful description of the objects and their arrangement. The man with the best description wins.

notes by G. S. Ripley

Kim is a character in Alex and Alice – a hypertext novel I wrote in the 1990s. It is possible that Kim was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps she dies in a plane crash.

The poem Kim’s game, among other things, attempts the themes of religion and postmodernity, identity and dissolution, time and memory.

If you’re into that sort of stuff!

Peter, December 2003