Thursday, August 27, 2009

a power stronger than itself

paul klee "insula dulcamara". 1938.

i have loved music for as long as i can remember . . . love, in the sense that i have been grateful for its presence as a reminder of the goodness that connects all and everything. the first time i was aware of the possibility that music didn't necessarily emanate from its players came with my listening to the music of keith jarrett. jarrett has observed that "his best performances were during the times where he had the least amount of preconception of what he was going to play at the next moment. an apocryphal account of one such performance had jarrett staring at the piano for several minutes without playing; as the audience grew increasingly uncomfortable, one member shouted to jarrett, "d sharp!", to which the pianist responded, "thank you!," and launched into an improvisation at speed."

it was something jarrett said, (and the exact words escape me) but its essence was that the real work of the musician is to get out of the way of the music.

extend that into the larger states of living and being. how do i get out of the way of the 'doing' of life and allow the 'being' to become.

robert fripp's aphorism "may we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse" is revealed on a daily basis as i listen to music that (as fripp also points out) so needs to be heard that despite the extraordinary odds against its arriving, somehow manages to do so.

music and love are synonymous in my understanding . . . rabindranath tagore says that "love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. it is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation." it is from the heart of the creation that music flows without condition.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the freedom of clouds

the world but seems to be
yet is nothing more
than a line drawn
between light and shadow.
decipher the message
of this dream-script
and learn to distinguish time
from eternity.

fakhruddin iraqi


clouds in the skies above, heavenly wanderers,
long strings of snowy pearls stretched over azure plains!
exiles like i, you rush farther and farther on,
leaving my dear north, go distances measureless.

what drives you southward? is't envy that covertly
prods you or malice whose arrows strike openly?
destiny is it? a crime hanging over you?
or friendship's honeyed but poisonous calumny?

no! o'er those barren wastes heedlessly journeying,
passion you know not or anguish or punishment;
feeling you lack, you are free - free eternally,
you have no homeland, for you there's no banishment.

mikhail lermentov 1840

Friday, August 21, 2009

still as the mosses that glow

a wind sways the pines,
and below
not a breath of wild air;
still as the mosses that glow
on the flooring and over the lines
of the roots here and there.

from "dirge in woods" by george meredith

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a hero of our time

"solitude" judy mackey

from the head, hand and heart of mikhail lermontov - writer and artist - come the following words excerpted and then reassembled as a text-collage to create a place and a time . . .

the full moon was shining on the little reed-thatched roof and the white walls of my new dwelling. in the courtyard, which was surrounded by a wall of rubble-stone, there stood another miserable hovel, smaller and older than the first and all askew. the shore descended precipitously to the sea, almost from its very walls, and down below, with incessant murmur, plashed the dark-blue waves. the moon gazed softly upon the watery element, restless but obedient to it, and i was able by its light to distinguish two ships lying at some distance from the shore, their black rigging motionless and standing out, like cobwebs, against the pale line of the horizon.

i entered the hut. its whole furniture consisted of two benches and a table, together with an enormous chest beside the stove. the sea-wind burst in through the broken window-pane. i drew a wax candle-end from my portmanteau, lit it, and began to put my things out.

about an hour passed thus. the moon shone in at the window and its rays played along the earthen floor of the hut. suddenly a shadow flitted across the bright strip of moonshine which intersected the floor. i raised myself up a little and glanced out of the window. again somebody ran by it and disappeared — goodness knows where! it seemed impossible for anyone to descend the steep cliff overhanging the shore, but that was the only thing that could have happened. i rose, threw on my tunic, girded on a dagger, and with the utmost quietness went out of the hut.

meanwhile the moon was becoming overcast by clouds and a mist had risen upon the sea. the lantern alight in the stern of a ship close at hand was scarcely visible through the mist, and by the shore there glimmered the foam of the waves, which every moment threatened to submerge it.

i confess that, much as i tried to make out in the distance something resembling a boat, my efforts were unsuccessful. about ten minutes passed thus, when a black speck appeared between the mountains of the waves! at one time it grew larger, at another smaller. slowly rising upon the crests of the waves and swiftly descending from them, the boat drew near to the shore.
reflecting thus, i gazed with an involuntary beating of the heart at the poor boat. it dived like a duck, and then, with rapidly swinging oars — like wings — it sprang forth from the abyss amid the splashes of the foam. “ah!” i thought, “it will be dashed against the shore with all its force and broken to pieces!” but it turned aside adroitly and leaped unharmed into a little creek.

about an hour passed thus, perhaps even longer. suddenly something resembling a song struck upon my ear. it was a song, and the voice was a woman’s, young and fresh — but, where was it coming from?. . . i listened; it was a harmonious melody — now long-drawn-out and plaintive, now swift and lively. i looked around me — there was nobody to be seen. i listened again — the sounds seemed to be falling from the sky. i raised my eyes. on the roof of my cabin was standing a young girl in a striped dress and with her hair hanging loose — a regular water-nymph. shading her eyes from the sun’s rays with the palm of her hand, she was gazing intently into the distance. at one time, she would laugh and talk to herself, at another, she would strike up her song anew.

i have retained that song in my memory, word for word:

at their own free will
they seem to wander
o’er the green sea yonder,
those ships, as still
they are onward going,
with white sails flowing.
and among those ships
my eye can mark
my own dear barque:
by two oars guided
(all unprovided
with sails) it slips.
the storm-wind raves:
and the old ships — see!
with wings spread free,
over the waves
they scatter and flee!
the sea i will hail
with obeisance deep:
“thou base one, hark!
thou must not fail
my little barque
from harm to keep!”
for lo! ’tis bearing
most precious gear,
and brave and daring
the arms that steer
within the dark
my little barque.

i had to return home; but i confess i was rendered uneasy by all these strange happenings, and i found it hard to await the morning.

the full text is available at the university of adelaide

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

learn the transformations

don paterson

silent comrade of the distances,
know that space dilates with your own breath;
ring out, as a bell into the earth
from the dark rafters of its own high place –

then watch what feeds on you grow strong again.
learn the transformations through and through:
what in your life has most tormented you?
if the water's sour, turn it into wine.

our senses cannot fathom this night, so
be the meaning of their strange encounter;
at their crossing, be the radiant centre.

and should the world itself forget your name
say this to the still earth: i flow.
say this to the quick stream: i am.

from orpheus: a version of rilke's die sonette an orpheus (london: faber and faber, 2006).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the moments

"never be afraid of the moments

thus sings the voice of the everlasting"

rabindranath tagore