ancient voices

Disabled by the ability to perform the Other, at expense to Self.

The more energies spent on perfecting performance as Other, the less strength left to exist in Self.

Self is dissipated, disengaged, and exhausted

Inside this space, this hollow interstice, Self becomes nothing.

Un-performing is desperately necessary, to peel away rigid, harsh layers of coarse fabric. It is a difficult process, even excruciatingly painful at times, because these binding cloths so tightly wound have melded into growing flesh. Stubbornly embedded foreign bodies, artificial corns and callouses interwoven. Which is artificial, which is nature now? Nobody can tell, not even the disabled Self. Yet, that longing for Being, that yearning for a clement space of empathic resonance and elemental connectivities, is so deeply entrenched in our spirits, the Ancient Voices of our nascent souls.

Survival is paramount. So the decapitated and maimed carry their appendages in glass bottles, like ancient Chinese eunuchs, cringing silently in grandiose palatial hallways, scuttling to and fro, agony hidden, even festering in gilded cages.

“Ancient Voices of the Children” by George Crumb is a haunting work, featuring selected poems by Federico García Lorca. When I first heard it at the age of 19, as a music undergraduate student at university, I fell deeply in love with the music and poetry. Even then, undiagnosed, it spoke to me with such cogent poignancy. Will the autistic soul ever truly find their lost voice? The King of the Crickets has commandeered it.

The Little Mute Boy

The little boy was looking for his voice.

(The king of the crickets had it.)

In a drop of water

the little boy was looking for his voice.

I do not want it for speaking with;

I will make a ring of it

so that he may wear my silence

on his little finger

In a drop of water

the little boy was looking for his voice.

(The captive voice, far away,

put on a cricket’s clothes.)

**

“Ballad of the Little Square”

My heart of silk is filled with lights,

with lost bells,

with lilies, and with bees,

and I will go very far,

farther than the seas,

close to the stars,

to ask Christ the Lord

to give me back

my ancient soul of a child.

 

Federico García Lorca – 1898-1936

hope in the concrete

Two extreme contrasts of musical traditions and expressions. Yet, to me, they are one inside a sympathetic-empathic dimension.

There is a common assumption that when one is at the end of tether, one returns to the most fundamental foetal comfort. When I am very very low, I reach for the familiar and concrete realm of music. It is a universal panacea, for layman and musician alike. And science now tells us what musicians through the ages have always known.

For me, there is that dimension of personal intimacy within the world of music, like a swaddling cloth, not just to my senses but also balm for intellectual and philosophical longing.

Good thoughts while standing at the yawning sensory breakdown precipice? What a wonderful instrument our body contains. If you can get past the horrible decor of his room (first video), there is a wealth to ponder on. For example, layered textures – evocative of multiple sensorial associations. Then there is proprioceptivity and its relationship with sonic / musical expression. This brings the thought stream to the second video. Palpable, concretised sensory materiality conjured from out of fluid, ephemeral entities. But then again, maybe not so ephemeral or ethereal? Sound waves are physical after all, even though we cannot see them with our naked eye, and their effects on our physicality can be long lasting indeed. Can visual art produce such dynamic cogent corporealities? I think not. (I might be offending a few visual artists here. But I am inclined to go with Schopenhauer.)

What an honour to have known music intimately. There is hope here yet. And I must press on.

I Looked for Love

Another non-verbal day, i.e. I am fine with typing out my communications, but I just don’t have the physical words to sound today. The rain has ceased for now, but it was colder and still damp this morning. When we reached our usual turnaround point, Lucy indicated that she wanted a longer walk, so I took her to the supermarket further up the hill. I could pick up some fresh meats for us both! I like being more efficient. My hypersenses does some odd things. By the time we got to the supermarket, my body was feeling nicely warm, but my head still felt as if icicles were sticking into and out of it, pounding away and trying to shrink from the cold like a hapless mimosa. The strangest phenomena was that I was actually perspiring under my little beanie, yet the icicles weren’t melting.

I will not apologise for repeating how wonderful Lucy is. Nobody should have to hide the fact of Love. And just because Lucy is a dog, it does not make the bond any less valuable. In fact, for me, ours is a bond that cannot be replicated or surpassed on a purely human level. With Lucy, there is no realm-of-the-awkward-unknown. Everything is concrete. Even her nuances are elements that I can learn to read, and I can depend on her constancy. Continue reading

voice

I have a voice. It makes noise. Sometimes, when I speak with Lucy, my voice makes sounds – onomatopoeic gibberish to the rest of the world, but Lucy understands perfectly.

I like to observe myself from a short distance. I like to speak from afar, what they call the ‘third person,’ it makes for a better view. That way, I can hear my voice, listen to my heartbeat, and see myself clearer. Yet, my voice is always personal, there’s no other second or third person here but me. Just me.

ARTWORKprincess&kite

When I was little, I wanted to sing. I could play the piano, but people said that singing was for the pretty ones. So, my voice settled into my fingers and sang through the piano. I played for the pretty ones, listening to them sing, a tiny figure, hidden behind the ponderous piano. People could not even see me. They thought the piano was playing itself!

I had a dream once, when I was seven, I dreamed that I was singing, a beautiful song, a smooth and sweet voice, not loud but strong. It was just a dream, and I thought nothing of it, until one day, many years later, I discovered it again, just by chance. I wrote some songs, but did not have money to pay anyone to sing them, and so I sang. That was when I realised I had a voice! They lied to me, that I couldn’t sing. Why did they lie? Perhaps the pretty ones were afraid that I would find out, and prove them wrong? Perhaps they were afraid I would take their voice from them if I found mine? Perhaps they didn’t want me to play piano and sing too? I don’t know. I don’t understand this thing called competition and jealousy. I just want to Be.

And, yes, I have a voice!

I can speak through words. I can paint with words. Make words dance. Teach words to sing. Words have music. But music has more than words. Music is more important than words. Music holds a universe of meaning inside just one note. Music speaks even when my tongue cannot prattle. Music helps me dream. Music makes all other art for me. My voice is lucky to have music. It is a precious thing, but it cannot be held, music is to be shared, it lives inside its own body and soul. I cannot tell music what to do.

I am glad for my voice. And for music. With my voice, and the help of music, I can touch, smell, taste, hear, see and dance the universe, awake inside my dreams.

suggestion

Listening to Bobby McFerrin vocalising. Just one voice. One melodic sequence. Perfectly pitched. And so many more sounds your own brain will suggest to you.

Yes, I have perfect pitch. But that doesn’t mean I can sing like that, of course. It is a phenomenon that I have not studied in any depth, but I did read a paper about a study claiming that a much higher percentage of individuals with higher functioning autism tested were found to have perfect pitch (or absolute pitch), regardless of whether they had previous musical training, as compared to the non-autistic control group. Similar results have been revealed in tests with blind people. Perhaps this has something to do with the acuity of the auditory senses and a different system for sensorial integration? I am not a neurologist studying the effects of sound and pitch on the brain, but I do know that my own ability to integrate auditory sounds becomes extremely strained, even going rather haywire, when listening to overly orchestrated music like that of Richard Wagner. The operas are the worst for me, I always end up with a throbbing headache and sensory overload!

Here he is, in the video I was watching, which triggered this particular disjointed musing. Don’t you ‘hear’ more than just the notes he is singing? Even without the cute young student pointing to the chordal patterns, which of course would lead to visual suggestion, not merely auditory then. Close your eyes, listen again, do you hear it?