And getting a feel for the vastness now, since, after all, we've been doing this weekly for fifteen-plus years and we're still making constant discoveries, still finding treasures, our gut-strings with their clinging memories appearing now like aphid-laden branches-- infested and crawling with activity.
"The search is what everyone would undertake if he were not stuck in the everydayness of his own life. To be aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair."
—Walker Percy, The Moviegoer.
So my life is a constant climbing into bibliographies and credits and references and footnotes—looking for "the patterns which connect,"—the patterns in evolving culture recurring everywhere like the patterns in nature: the double helix of DNA snaking upward through a 3-D spiral drawn from the Divine Proportion, "The Golden Section" which you've all seen represented in Da Vinci's human figure, the one drawn in the circle with arms and legs outstretched and reaching, the lines bisecting the circle; the architecture of the body and many of our buildings all drawn from this—the Pantheon and the Guggenheim and the Cathedrals (even the Ziggurat of Samarra) built on this formula; the exact same relations in the way trees arrange and spin out their limbs (reaching); in the movements of creeping vines those mad tendrils looking for something to hold onto; in the oft seen cross-sectioned nautilus, its spiral shell expressing it all in the expanding volume of its chambers, and once this starts it never ends—"It all" says Beckett, grinning on my fringes, "It all."
See how this goes? And all because someone mentioned Goebel Reeves. This time.
And So the Sidebar Ends.
Next I write:
Passion takes many forms from the graceful and saintly to the not so.
(Passion, whatthehellis'at? Why, what's he talkin' about now this crazy...)
I'm talking about engagement—a sweaty blood-drenched wrestling match.
And surprise, surprise. There are those who view this as dangerous—something they've never heard; something they've no context to deal with even if they had heard it. Some people become disturbed when things go leaping out of all their available frameworks. They have big dull stubby fingers and there's little they can grab hold of, let alone something this severe. My lovely wife and I, with nearly eighty years between us, spoke later about the fact that there was nothing about our evening with Trent that felt the least bit dangerous or negative. We felt good, invigorated, hopeful even. What could possibly be objectionable about a passion chained to this kind of honesty? Screaming:
I turn this way and I'm catching a glimpse of frail Stephane (who I last saw a decade ago and even then they walked him out by the elbows and sat him down) and tonight it's angling sidestage between the curtains—this wheelchair—and my heart catches a bit as they stand him up and walk him out to an intense outpouring, thousands of people yelling his name and standing all at once—his little old lady-like waves and smiles—he's blowing us octogenarian kisses and we are all helpless for an hour and a half of nonstop hot-ass string-trio swing. Wow.
I turn that way and I'm having a lovely hole blown through my head at a Nine Inch Nails concert, my vast back walls and hallways spitting plaster dust as all these perfect pictures are being hung, future-present soulscapes of scalding honesty and forthrightness, more vision and art than any so-called "rock" concert I've ever seen—the music, the visuals, the presentation, and overall scheme of things so coherent and personal and all a part of one thing (Trent Reznor's big eyeball) that I am astonished. Wow.
I face front and consider that I have the same feeling for both events, for both people, for both versions of engagement; that I am in each place because it is the same place; that passion is passion and beauty is beauty no matter which direction you need to turn in order to see it.
Now to the English Oxford, which has as its third item on beautiful:
Impressing with charm the intellectual or moral sense, through inherent fitness or grace, or exact adaptation to a purpose; hence sometimes applied to things that, in other aspects, are even repulsive, as 'a beautiful operation in surgery.'
Exact adaptation to a purpose. Right, and I have spent many splendid hours of late perched tenderly before my stereo speakers, with Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral unfolding like dark devouring creepy-crawlies of and at significant volume, cranked I tell you, the chills and thrills unfurling my sinews and it is dense and enthralling and it sounds like everything—and honest to god in places it reminds me of Material; Talking Heads/ Eno; Sinatra's Only the Lonely; Public Enemy's Channel Zero; William Gibson; early Pink Floyd on really aggressive acid; Sankai Juku chalk-covered and trembling; The Beatles; Rutger Hauer soaking wet pushing a spike through his hand; Bela Lugosi; both incarnations of King Crimson 23 miles away from a college FM station whose range is 3 blocks tops; Hendrix on fire; the Alien flicking its tongue into Sigourney's ear; the torture chambers of the world heard through a mile-thick wall of cotton; thrash beyond; white noise heaven; the spheres; Koyaanisqatsi; my childhood swingset after a particularly hard rain; The Carpenters' world moments before Karen's last breath; Harry Partch; the Industrial Revolution...
I want to be / everywhere,
I want to know / everything,
I want to fuck everyone in the world,
I want to do something... that matters!
—Trent Reznor, "I Do Not Want This," The Downward Spiral.
And I say, with a nod, what he said.
Grappelli/Nine Inch Nails/Grappelli/Nine Inch Nails/Grappelli/Nine Inch Nails/Grappelli...
Well I guess it makes sense: embrace, absorb, tie it up. Expand the frame, go wide and outside, feed that context. Nothing means anything without it and the more vast your looking has been the more prepared you are for the next thing the new hybrid that next movement for when it comes along it is covered with the burrs and seeds of the fields it has passed through to get to you and if your gates are open the new will reverberate for you it will set up waves of harmonic and sympathetic resonance and you will be able to tie It All up.
I really want to know what kind of context the kids are bringing to this intense little party. Can it be as thick for them in some way as it is for me? Do they see something they can i.d. as "beauty" in this wall of glorious musical noise? Maybe the main difference being that I have more connecting wires to verbalize it with—maybe for them and their cleaner slates a more intuitive thing is going on: a feeling of recognition, not of so many other things inside of it, but rather that, wrapped up with their empathy for the way that it feels like they feel, they also feel that sense of awe that such connections are possible in this world that fragments everything—that same sense of wordless recognition they might get someday when, looking at the night sky, they suddenly empty out and see themselves in that darkness, too.
To the "Credits" for this brouhaha....
"Isn't it amazing... they're all so different, yet they're all the same... just like people..."
—Erie Councilwoman Gayle Wright, murmuring thoughtfully through a condo tour.