Saturday 24 April 2021

When we let the dust settle

Some week ago I had a few notes or maybe even a phrase of music in mind, I can't recall how or why it came to me but I tried to get enough of something, some lyrics or a few more notes that might help me recall what it was. I tried Googling a few potential lyrics - nope, couldn't find it. I tried Googling sax solos  - nope, couldn't find it. Then last week by chance I heard it on the radio - Hazel O'Connor - Will You. Now, for years I think I may have mis-heard the lyrics, hearing 'Or will you just politely say goodnight' as will you adjust the light beam. Which may or may not in the past have resulted in my missing the scene described by the lyrics. However, I doubt anyone could really miss the meaning in the music. Both the voice and the sax sing it out but of course in the sax it's absolutely out there. And it's in Vaughan Williams -The Lark Ascending in a more Apollonian, spiritual form. In Will You it's in its passionate Dionysian form. Yearning. Both manifestations, one the longing to return home out of form back to the source the other to be so one with experience as to totally merge with form(s) are I think at the heart of the human spiritual journey. We are suspended between heaven and earth. Each moment (of experience) comes into being with us, is us and we feel separate and want not to feel so. Somehow we know... Know what? That we come out of the garden (to have experience) and whereas that sax in Will You paints that yearning as for experience, and the lyrics describe the tipping point where a relationship between two people could develop into romantic / erotic love,  The Lark Ascending points to returning. Joni Mitchell pulls all sides nicely together in We Are Stardust. And I read in today's Jade Mountains post a poem pointing to the Nothing that is. Which seems to me to be on the same page as the music above when you let the dust settle. (That's to say settle so as to not obscure rather than gather.)

So I was musing about the sax in Will You today as DC and I were out and about and started talking to him about it. We quickly came to the same place about yearning with DC noting that the saxophone has a distinctive passionate sound that doesn't easily blend in. I said I like that about it and we both agreed much the same could be said about me. Of course I like to see that in a creative and colourful way rather than its flip side which is less appealing. It's all very well to each be the forms through which the mirror of awareness reflects but it's less appealing to be be the dust that can gather (and thus obscure). I love the storey of Huineng and the illustration of the roles of practice and understanding in his addition to the stanza by Shenxiu. It came to me writing this post pulling the music, the emotions and thoughts together and then adding in the Jade Mountains post.

Friday 2 April 2021

The Third Man

Last night DC and I watched the film The Third Man. We didn't set out to watch it but instead it was one of those fortunate turns of evening entertainment.

The Wikipedia entry says - The atmospheric use of black-and-white expressionist cinematography by Robert Krasker, with harsh lighting and distorted "Dutch angle" camera technique, is a major feature of The Third Man. Combined with the iconic theme music, seedy locations and acclaimed performances from the cast, the style evokes the atmosphere of an exhausted, cynical post-war Vienna at the start of the Cold War.

Having read part way through the movie (and rightly DC will tell me off for Googling things when we're watching a film) that the film employs the above techniques we did indeed notice them and in fact commented just how obvious they are. Setting aside the cinematography and concentrating on the plot we might note that the character Harry Lime whom the movie revolves around doesn't appear until relatively late and his character is only gradually revealed. Indeed, what becomes apparent is that we never get to know much about him and those who have had lengthy and / or close relationships with him it seems don't really know him either; what they seem to have is a projection, a fantasy. But neither do we get the chance to explore the character and the version of him the other characters hold in their minds. No, the protagonist in this movie is not Lime but rather Vienna. Anna, who we gather was in love with Lime does indeed appear exhausted and cynical at some level. And whilst the role is no doubt a cypher for Vienna at the time, she does I think raise a question about the difference between who people are and who they're seen to be. If she has painted Lime as at least lovable to her and she remains unchanged in her view even when she knows of his dreadful deeds, then Holly Martins who reappraises his view of Lime upon discovering his deeds seems no less to see her as someone he cares about. There is here then Martins looking at Anna looking at Lime. But it is their versions of the people they look at. There is the sense in the movie that all the characters are in their own world, all coping with this post-war world in which they find themselves. Vienna is divided into sectors and there is a sense of compartmentalisation throughout the movie. Yet at the same time there's a sense that beyond all this there is still humanity. It is then I think, interesting that the book and film versions have different endings - in the book Martins and Anna get together, they don't in the film. The film stays focused on separation but in so doing evokes connection.

What this film prompted me to post about is this mixture of separation, projection and connection. The interconnected nature of our existence and the paradox of our apparent separation seems to me to be at the heart of the storey.