elizabeth lane lawley
michael "OC" clarke
e v h e a d
sweet fancy moses
wood s lot
m. melting object
Friday, December 14, 2001
EGR: One Possible Explanation
Back to fundamentals then, here's how it goes. Echo of thunder, the cadence of waves and rain and waterfalls. The syncopation and counterpoint of fire. The howls and shrieks of animals. The cries of birds. Before beginning, a place to begin. Vox. A calling. A vocation. Vocal attention to what needs attending to.
Between the silences, a certain rhythm, swelling, shifting. Staccato dawn surprise, news of day returning through forest and jungle, desert, tundra, steppe. The music of heat, the beat of the heart, of the blood, of hunger and desire. Before drums there were patterns of voices, the weaving sounds the drums would fabricate at nightfall. Trying to remember something once heard. Trying to hear beyond memory.
Then naming the sounds: fa, ka, bo, ro. Ma, re, lo, tu. However many tongue and lips and breath could form in endless permutations. Magic and mimicry, signal, song. Just for the hell of it. Just for the joy of joining in, the combination of tones and harmonics. In the right sequence, you could dance to it. Under the moon, under threat of death, you could move to it, groove to it. You could begin to get the picture.
And semaphore: connect picture to sound. Solfege with semantics: cast spells. The spell for stone is "stone." The spell for sky, "sky." Vox. A calling, then. An invocation.
But still, that was just the beginning. A map into which we wandered. Into which we wondered. The naming of things by their sounds and spells was only the start. Because the names grew deeper meanings, shifted too, like the light, like day and night, found their own rhythms and rivers in some larger and unimaginable imagination. No one is here. No one calls to us: come.
Vox populi, vox dei, someone said, and getting the equation backwards, we were lost in gods. For a thousand years or a million. For as far back as we can remember. Unimaginable, they must have dreamed us, we dreamed. Must have dreamed these sounds and these maps and these endless rhythmic meanings. And even then, it was only starting. Only then it was getting even with itself. Catching up with what had already come. Been said, been mapped, been vocalized, been spelled. For once called, it cannot be unbidden. Such is the way it takes.
And the way it takes leads where it likes. Whether we like it or not. Whether we continue or try to go back. Back to what, exactly, it might taunt. Whatever calls, whatever asks such things. There is only onward, only more. Combination and recombination. Names unhinged from the things they once named, set free, gone native. Simile, metaphor, idea, abstraction. Fa, ka, bo, ro. Ma, re, lo, tu. But modulated, shifted up a couple octaves. Natural languages, natural musics. Natural wonders of the world. And naturally, what is called, if called often enough, eventually replies. Be careful what you wish for.
Coca Cola, CIA, schedules for the London Underground. At first light we broke camp and made our way South along the border. Carbon-14 and messenger RNA, radio telescopes in Arecibo. It seems we're getting something here, Inspector. Taps on the telephones. Requiescat in pace. The delicate pastels of morning, hieroglyphic scarabs, clockwork toys. Aurora borealis over microscopic islands of gallium arsenide. SETI coming up empty, shutting down. But what do you make of this? Every 200 minutes, it repeats. Must be some kind of code. Jaguars in the windows on the 45th floor. You can see them if you shade your eyes. Right there, across the ravine. Quantum geography? Yes, we've been meaning to check. And in Cairo tonight, a fire, 12 deaths. According to our latest intelligence, the moon has permanently disappeared. Deadlines and bloodlines, lapis and turquoise in Chiapas. So many sorties. So many stories. Getting harder and harder to keep track.
And beneath it all, bass line and grace note, the sounds from which it all began: echo of thunder, cadence of wave and rain and waterfall. Syncopation and counterpoint of fire. The music of heat, the beat of the heart, of the blood, of desire. Vox. A calling. A vocation. Voice. Looped through six billion minds a hundred trillion times. Entwined and elevated. Modulated, shifted up. Weaving. Rising.
Listen: maybe trying to tell us something.
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