Friday, November 04, 2005

Somewhere Past Corporeality

In the interim I pick up my acoustic guitar, which I have been plugging into an old Yamaha solid state amp. I effortlessly breeze through the complex chordal roadmap that is the set of material that I am currently rehearsing, in preparation for a gig I may never play.

Time has no hold on me during these moments. As long as all of my telephones keep their faces shut, as is thankfully the case today, I am able to reach something resembling bliss. It is a place somewhere just outside the body.

So many tales of the out-of-body experience are marked by visual cues such as hovering and seeing oneself below. Since mine is a product of music – of sound and vibration - the sensation is more ears than eyes. It is hearing myself, rather than seeing myself.

Anyone who creates music, unless they’re an incredibly pompous ass, has at least enough humility to admit (at least to oneself) that the inspiration or muse or mojo or whatever comes from somewhere. Specifically, somewhere other than oneself. Carlos Santana once said something about music flowing through you, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

So I’m in my room, blazing through the latest-and-greatest song list, slipping in and out of what most people would call consciousness. The music is coming from somewhere just beyond my flesh and bone, and I am hearing it as it comes out into the air, which is also somewhere past corporeality. I am not only in those two places at once, but I am also connected to my body at least enough to strum and fret and push air through my vocal chords.

This is possible in performance situations, but it takes on an additional, perhaps dangerous, element. Alone, there is less risk, sure, but also less distraction. In a café or theatre, there is enormous potential, like the possibility that tonight might be one of those magic encounters where both the performer and the audience are able to let go of their attachments and share something memorable.

It means the performer has to make it into that special place, a feat that is not so simple as merely whispering a secret password. It takes focus, some handy shortcuts, proper breathing, a whole lot of willingness to fail, sheer luck – a boatload of factors.

On the audience side, when was the last time you were at a concert, movie, meeting, church service, etc., and you couldn’t for the life of you pay attention to what was going on in front of you. Whether it’s problems with the spouse, upset stomach, excitement about an upcoming vacation, or trying to remember if you locked the gun closet, there are so many ways an audience member can be distracted.

Add to that that in a public place, it may be too cold or hot. There may be noise from the street outside. Then multiply by however many people make up the audience.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I am not good with calendars and clocks.


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