Wednesday November 27, 2019

A squirrel hops into a field of grass after a rainstorm, most of the ground around it covered in fallen leaves, the whole still wet from the storm. I relax with potted cacti and other indoor succulents, all of us reaching toward windows wanting sunlight. Honoring this demand shared across ages, Sarah and I rouse ourselves for our walk. Along the way, we converse with neighbors, some of them with dogs, one couple expecting like us, plus a woman I know from a sangha that used to meet here in town. A weird record turned up in the bins today: Harry Partch and His Strange Musical Instruments.

A recent book features an essay by music scholar Mina Yang calling Partch a “Hobo Orientalist.” He composed music that was to be played upon unique instruments, using scales of unequal intervals. Partch was one of the first twentieth-century composers in the West to work systematically with microtonal scales. An interesting find — but not where my head is at. I’d rather be licking bits of cranberry curd.

Monday September 4, 2017

Heads need to spend more time exploring being “out of tune” together. We can begin by playing for one another Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury.

When one is in one’s right mind, one can hardly move a mouse. One no longer vibrates in a register discernible to laptop mouse-pads or cellphone touchscreens. From the cellphone’s perspective, it is as if one has ceased to exist. In celebration of my birthday yesterday, friends and I drove to a forested grove to chat about Dario Argento films and wild mushrooms. We hiked some trails and plunged into a pool of icy water at the base of a rock formation smoothed into the shape of a waterslide. A group of women in line ahead of me slid down the face of the rock in their burkinis, their voices filled with joy. On the whole, a great day, warm and sunny — though on the drive home, as we entertained ourselves by reading aloud for one another in its entirety a young adult novel called Just Too Cool, I began to worry that I’d caught a cold (a condition confirmed in the hours since; hence the relative brevity of today’s trance-script). In general, I’m feeling a shortness of labor-power and labor-time. Events move so quickly these days. The waves: everything bounces, time dissipates or contracts. I feel like an observer along a path watching a stagecoach held at gunpoint. Seagulls, water slapping a retaining wall. I lean against a chilled metal railing, and stare across a bay. Are there ways we can recharge the batteries that run the brains within our domes? Heavy headphones, binaural beats, meditation tapes. Laura Archera Huxley reassures me, palms pointed earthward, “You are dirt poor. You are seeking knowledge of how a person should be. You are not the target.” The startling discovery of adulthood, and the guiding principle of my pedagogy (though one I often struggle with in practice): “Making others feel better generally makes us feel better.” Well, it’s at least a nice idea, says a wrinkled, toothless granny. When one’s body is unwell, what can one expect of one’s mind?

Just Too Cool