The Black Queen

by Steven H. Cullinane
on April 4, 2001

From "The Alchemist of Cuernavaca," by Pete Hamill:

"The Mexican artist Lucero Isaac moves through her studio like the keeper of an alchemist's eyrie.... 'Here is where I make my dreams visible.' Isaac is 65, trim, vivacious, exuding youthful enthusiasm.... She moves around her studio with a dancer's sense of focused energy."
-- Art News magazine, April 2001, pages 134-137

From the 1947 novel about Cuernavaca by Malcolm Lowry:

"...his eyes ranged the Consul's books disposed quite neatly... on high shelves around the walls: Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie, Serpent and Siva Worship in Central America, there were two long shelves of this, together with the rusty leather bindings and frayed edges of the numerous cabbalistic and alchemical books, though some of them looked fairly new, like the Goetia of the Lemegaton of Solomon the King, probably they were treasures, but the rest were a heterogeneous collection...."
-- Under the Volcano, Chapter VI

From a novel that deals with properties of today's date, April 4:

Just as these lines that merge to form a key
Are as chess squares; when month and day are four;
Don't risk another chance to move to mate.
One game is real and one's a metaphor.
Untold times this wisdom's come too late.
Battle of White has raged on endlessly.
Everywhere Black will strive to seal his fate.
Continue a search for thirty-three and three.
Veiled forever is the secret door.
-- Katherine Neville, aka Cat Velis, in The Eight,
Ballantine Books, January 1989, page 140

"J-A-D-O-U-B-E / C-V"
-- The first letters of the above lines of verse, as pointed out on page 141 of The Eight

"Pardon me. J'adoube."
-- The Consul, as he fastens his fly in Under the Volcano, Signet paperback edition of 1966, in the Cuernavaca Garden of Eden scene, page 162

See also Dogma Part II: Amores Perros.

Samuel Beckett on Dante and Joyce:

"Another point of comparison is the preoccupation with the significance of numbers. The death of Beatrice inspired nothing less than a highly complicated poem dealing with the importance of the number 3 in her life. Dante never ceased to be obsessed by this number. Thus the poem is divided into three Cantiche, each composed of 33 Canti.... Why, Mr. Joyce seems to say, should.... the Armistice be celebrated at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month? He cannot tell you because he is not God Almighty, but in a thousand years he will tell you... He is conscious that things with a common numerical characteristic tend towards a very significant interrelationship. This preoccupation is freely translated in his present work...."
-- "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," in James Joyce/Finnegans Wake: A Symposium (1929), New Directions paperback, 1972

See also Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.

Summary of the above themes by S. H. Cullinane:

The Eight, by Katherine Neville, is perhaps the greatest bad novel of the twentieth century. If it were made into a movie, who should be cast as the Black Queen? ("...the dignified silver-haired woman danced sinuously..." -- p. 241) It seems obvious that the answer is ...
The Alchemist of Cuernavaca, Lucero Isaac.
(See the April 2001 Art News article quoted above.)

" for thirty-three and three..."
-- The Black Queen in The Eight

"-- Nel mezzo del bloody cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai in..."
-- Under the Volcano, beginning of Chapter VI

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