Monday, September 2, 2013

Alan Sondheim

the miller and the field

"It is impossible for me to say one thing which has not been
lived, one thing which is beyond the tips of my hair." (Henry
Miller) The field of the qin is before me and slightly lower
than my hands, my face. My face does nothing; my brain, which I
have seen, is puffed, creviced, inert. The strings are the field
of strings just as the body of the qin is the field of the body.
The harmonics are the divisions which each string carries as
potential; the fingering of either hand or any finger or thumb,
is a caress reining in alterity, making the strange familiar,
constructing signs which are momentarily audible; signs are, as
Barthes knew, discharges. The music crackles as what is there,
that is possibility, that is, bound and grappled to culture. But
culture is not there; the qin, drowning in culture, brings an
other into play, and the caress is a caress of nothing, just as
alterity is a sign already under dissolution. At the core of
this the qin has been present, as object and subject, for at
least twenty-five hundred years in evidence. The dance of
fingers around what would be transformed into the flute,
occurred much earlier, and unlike the strings of the qin, the
flute insists on its inertness; what moves is air intimately
revoked by breath, the musculature of a body which may or may
not have been human. I have handled stone tools, handled only
before, by something similar, this other body, thing, not quite
human, within sound that surely was heard among several of them.
I stay close to the bone, to the living; I write in the land of
the dead.


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