The Movo Tapes
Chockfull of verbal fireworks
After seven years of silence A.F.Th. van der Heijden has published De Movo Tapes, the ‘zeroth’ volume of the Homo duplex – ‘split human’ – series that, according to a list of titles in the front of the book, will extend over nine volumes.
Although a series of books in which everything connects up organically is typical of Van der Heijden, his new saga is fundamentally different. Homo duplex does not look back at a recent past but takes place in an imagined near future. In addition endows his hero with distinctly mythical traits. In Homo duplex A.F.Th will recreate the myth of Oedipus in modern times, not by following Sophocles’ tragedy step by step, but by using the elements of the myth to create a sparkling new story.
The name of A.F.Th.‘s modern Oedipus is Tibbolt Satink, born after his mother has a bizarre traffic accident on a car-free Sunday. Tibbolt, soon sure of his own special nature, seeks a transformation. He is convinced that he can saddle someone else with his death, but to do this he must himself first become someone else.
The story of Tibbolt/Movo is told in two intertwining narratives. One narrative has a character who can be identified as Apollo. This character, who will later adorn himself with the code name QX-Q-8, recounts how he was able to track down a box of cassette tapes in the basement archives of an Amsterdam publishing house after Movo’s death. The tapes have deteriorated because of moisture and dirt, and QX-Q-8 has them restored in a laboratory; so that he can listen to Movo’s spoken notes for the book about his amazing transformation: A career as someone else.
In the other story Tibbolt Satink himself speaks in raw, pointed monologues. He records these monologues on a dictaphone, sitting behind the steering wheel of his car. Agitated by the high speed, he philosophises freely about time, the state of the planet, the organization of a worldwide strike, and his own life. Tibolt carries on a striking and constant inner dialogue on the tapes with Movo, his ‘better self.’
The tirades remind us of the famous stream of consciousness in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Satink – aware of this link – speaks of a ‘scream of consciousness.’ A.F.Th lets this scream reverberate with incredible imagination and stylistic power in an explosion of language that dizzies you and leaves you waiting tensely for the following volumes.