Thursday, July 11, 2013

Voices in Your Head

Begin with the notion of every book you've read being a conversation between the various authors and you.  Now add to the books you've read all the paintings, drawings, and photographs you studied to the point where you'd become lost in them even for a matter of moments.  Think of these lost moments as conversations.  To those conversations, add the notion of every form of music you ever listened to.  All these conversations conflate to form the voices in your head.

These voices in your head speak to the state of the world around you, sometimes on topics of epic banality, in other cases with the fiery rhetoric of a prophet on overdrive.  These voices have already made you aware of your dissatisfaction, your fears, your hidden longings, and the times when contests of wills in which you were involved more often than not went against you because you were young and your opponents were, in no particular rank, adults, your own ignorance, and your own naivete.

Because these voices in your head come from external sources, they could not have been conspirators in any delusions you may have composed, even though they spoke to you in ways that urged you to form delusions.  

These voices are voices of the imagination and process of other tangible individuals, set in motion years--sometimes hundreds of years--before you set foot and awareness onto this landscape of the present moment.  They remind you of one of the primary causes of art, science, and wisdom, the illumination of dark spots.

All these experiences are talking to you, trying to engage you in the kinds of conversations you had with some frequency while growing through your teens and twenties.  Back then, you were trying to define who you were to yourself, trying to find explanations, approaches, and philosophies that would serve as a rallying cry for all the voices of others you heard in yourself.  Which of these voices would you follow, and what strengths and encouragements could you borrow from these men and women while, at the same time,  you were busy trying  to cajole the voice you knew was in there somewhere, being intimidated, shut down, perhaps even shouted down by the clamor of information and the ambient chatter of Reality?

You've become used to rereading, rethinking, rewatching, relistening.  Even in the process of revisiting, you find yourself able to see what once attracted you and why, although it may no longer hold excitement and meaning for you.  Only thr other day, flicking through radio stations as you drove, you heard a few bars Violin Concerto in E Minor,which you had not listened to in years.  You felt your cheeks tingle in what you knew was a blush; there was something nearly sexual about this, as though seeing an old lover from the past, who was no longer as she was when you first knew her, but now of even more elegant stature and posture.

In the years since you'd last heard the Mendelssohn, you'd among other things revisited Haydn and taken on many of the Mozart piano concertos, the clarinet concerto, and in particular the early string quarters he'd dedicated to Haydn.

There were such things going on in your reading as well, with some equivalent older loves holding up and things you once considered classics or at least necessary icons having lost their luster.

There is, accordingly, some form of conversation, going on much of the time, sometimes even seeping into your dreams where, almost like a commercial thrown into the dream for some university Lit program, a book or author appears and you find yourself circling about it rather than rushing to it or engaging it in some immediate dialogue.

There are any number of persons you once knew and, because they are lo longer alive, know now only in your memories of them.  In waking or dream life, you often play the game of wondering what one question you'd ask them or what one thing you'd wish to tell them, were you able to have a real-time conversation for just a moment.

This turns out to be a fun way of keeping in contact with the memories of so many special ones.  In effect, you now can do it with books, short stories, essays, pictures of all sorts, and any number of musical contacts.  Charlie Parker turned modern jazz on its end with its startling, tumble of chord changes and reaches.  

He's been dead just short of fifty years.  You were afraid to risk returning for a listen, but having done so, you can relax; the old 78s still hold up, fresh, harmonic, inventive.  "Back Home Again in Indiana," will never be the same, not after he turned it into "Donna Lee."  That said, you also have to admit that a young, seventeen-year-old-young trumpeter name of Miles Davis gave Parker some good, close inspiration.

Not to forget Eric Blair, who holds up.  What wonderful, straightforward, compelling language.  Called himself George Orwell.

Just about a week ago, you got a kind of checking in to say hi email from a photographer you admire.  You sent back a note, I Love you, Zoe, then took down Zoe Strauss's book, which still holds you.

The voices in your head, a lively, eclectic chatter.  Still taking care of business, a term you'd come to associate with another icon of the be bop era, Dexter Gordon, who'd start his sets saying, let's take care of some business.  Dexter's been gone since 1990, but you can hear him, holding up, across the gap.

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