Wednesday, April 2, 2008

To Reveal

Many years ago, a famous poet from El Salvador talked about the writing of poetry to my mother, while I listened without being seen. He was trying to communicate something very subtle, very elemental and intimate. He said that in the true writing of poetry you must rip yourself apart, you must reach inside, grab the innermost tendrils of your nature and pull out hard with all your strength, spilling yourself outwards in a messy explosion of blood and guts. It must hurt and it must be uncomfortable. Anything short of that he would not consider poetry. When I heard those words I felt the twinge of truth inside me but the understanding didn’t sink deep enough, it floated around on my surface, reappearing every once in a while as a memory or a linguistic code.
Many years later, playing guitar, I heard someone say that distortion could be used to add to the guitar but that it was commonly used as a way to hide, to protect yourself from criticism and deep examination. By implication the same would be true of all other guitar effects. They can all be used to emphasize and highlight the core musical motif that is being played (in this way bringing it to the forefront and making it more alive) or they can be used to protect the player from displaying mistakes, vague intentions and unclear obfuscation. Again the message tweaked me delicately and the sensation of intuitive understanding ran through me like lightning but I pushed it out to the surface. Again I remembered the words, and assigned a label of "true" to them, but didn’t really swallow them completely. I let them float around the tip of my tongue but didn’t open my own throat to take them in.
Ultimately it was impossible. It is only through direct and constant creative work that such a truth can be swallowed. No amount of communication can replace that. Knowing that, understanding that from the inside out, I make here a new futile attempt to make this communication, in the hope that it may spark practical constant effort.
In the process of constructing a new piece, a new world, a new multi faceted universe of simple elements coming together to form a complex whole, a single clear and simple gesture will always be at the core. This is not an "idea" or a "message" or a "moral" or a "lesson". I don’t speak here of political communiqu├ęs or the exploration of deep psychological issues. Instead I refer to a simple shape, a straightforward curve in the fabric of reality, that resides at the core of this new Universe you now create. In the visual realm, this is a shape, a particular curve or form that resides at the heart of the construction. In the world of sound and of text, this shape may be more elusive but it is just as real and just as simple. To maintain a good, clear focused contact with it is difficult. It requires intense and constant attention. It requires some kind of knowledge of the law of octaves (whether direct or intuitive) to prevent the inevitable deviations that will make your focus float away from the original impulse. It requires a clear and honest ability to look at yourself and your habits, to recognize when these habits are taking over and to have enough skill to stop them from doing so. It requires the skill to add without hiding or subtracting, to bring in extraneous elements without destroying the foundation in the process.
None of this can be learned in theory. You cannot learn it by reading it here or anywhere else. In fact, it probably won’t even make any sense unless you are currently involved in the process of constructing. Only with that as a context will the words carry enough referential weight and practicality to have any meaning. A true and sincere effort may be made to attempt to reveal this but you will have to be in a particular inner and outer place to have any chance of receiving the communication and taking it deeply enough for it to have any effect. In this there are many obstacles, but there is also hope. But if the initial effort to reveal is not there, then there is no hope.
The nature of the initial shape is not important. Any shape will do, taken from anywhere through any process or method. What is important is to be constant in your work with it, to be truthful and sincere in your effort to reveal it, to allow it to come forth and take on its hidden significance, a shining clear light that will be found in any one thing and in all things. The secrets are everywhere. When you understand this and you develop enough skill to create with a shape (any shape in any form of construction imaginable) then your search for truth is over and your work has begun.
When I first heard these things, both in the examples I have pointed out and in others I may have left out, I did not truly understand them. They were words that had the ring of truth and that I would store away in my mental filing register for future reference. The same will be true of anyone that reads this text without a context or a real Necessity. This is then a message in a bottle, lost in a vast ocean of thoughts and opinions, aiming to somehow find its true recipient. This text is a seed scattered to the winds in the improbable hope that it may find a fertile breeding ground in a receptive Being ready and willing to bring it to Life.

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