Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


George has been writing about glimpsing the ungraspable reality that lies -- beneath? beyond? -- the everyday everyday everyday harangue, and the difficulty in communing with that reality. Similar to the Hindu belief that all metaphysical systems -- this is Blake's belief too -- are metaphors for pointing beyond the system; or, says Lao Tzu (a/k/a "Old Man," legendary [?] founder of Taoism) -- "the way that can be named is not the eternal way" (which metagoofytautological me always wants to misquote, "the way that can be named is not the nameless way").

Meanwhile, Carl says that the myth that music is a universal language dis-serves music -- music exists in innumerable local languages, he sensibly says, and to understand those foreign languages takes study. Fumble bumble stumbling here, but yes and no and no -- Yes, knowing other musics takes study; but No, not necessarily to get the gists; because No, music is not a language at all, or if it is, it's a language without signifieds, it's a language that gets under the skin, changes the internal temperature, works on the heartbeat, rocks the body; it's a language of imageless metaphor, a language of relationship and process, not conceptual content, not, "honey, please pick up some onions on your way home from work," but a language of feelings; in which case, I'm betting there are universals, or near-universals, in feeling-sound, based on the human body, the sounds of babies crying, the rhythms of day and night and month and year and breath and blood and eating and crapping and sex and birth and death, the adrenalins of fear and attraction and hunger and bliss and pain. The specifics, sure, innumerably local and distinct, like Carl says.

And -- relationship and process -- Relationship and Process -- tonight, I say, for me anyway, they are the metaphysical Question Mark that underlie What's Happening. (Stray notion from 15 or 20 years ago -- human "being" is off-target; "human happening" -- that gets closer.)

Martin Buber wanted to say to every happening being he encountered -- animate or not -- "you," not "it"; he wanted a lyric relationship with what Taoism calls the Ten Thousand Things -- all the specific instances of What's Happening -- a personal relationship, not an exploitative instrumental relationship. Kenneth Rexroth called Buber's desire for "you" relationships "metaphysical greed."

Is it in Borges? I remember a play written by a friend in which one of the characters talked of a language in which each word contained all the others. (Did Jeff write that play? Or did Mickle? Or did they both use that image at different times? That's my guess. I'm getting old.) The Hindu "Om" feels like this (which is what I hear whenever someone mumbles "um").

Sometimes when I want to listen to music, and I can't decide, I'm wishing I could hear all my records at once.

One night several weeks ago, the 2-year-old, who was not yet two then, sat his mom and me down on either side of him, gave us each a book, and told us to read them aloud to him simultaneously. He sat and listened in calm contented satisfaction.

In the beginning was the sound -- (some people call it the big bang, but that sounds rather macho and violent, doesn't it?) -- and it was the tonic and it was the downbeat, and there ain't no key and there ain't no rhythm you can get into that's wrong with that first note. Don't let anybody persuade you different.

(And speaking of wrong rhythms, I'm up too late again. Night night. Sweet dreams.)

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