16 December 2011

Lineage (The Way of All Flesh)




in the beginning, something about the word. but before that bit about the beginning
there was a lot of business about how mamoaha begat slipshad, and how slipshad
begat hamrach, and hamrach begat nimrod, & so on & so on. the stuff
that was in the gospels but never gospel proper, what only made it into the worst
of sermons and fell between the crevices of all the killings and the fuckings, the
cursings and redeemings, the departures and wanderings and arrivals. the last of
which seem to be -- once you think about it -- always and foreverly forthcoming
and a little too heavily reliant on a surplus of (ahem) trust.

before all that: the word supposedly spoken, and then (eventually) scratched down.
the word made flesh, or at least given worldly weight -- legs, if you will -- with its
shaping in the meat of the mouth. its meaning only by way of agreement, a signing
on some undrawn line. that agreement being only that which was mutually known.
the thing we each acknowledge, that lay there between us on the table.

but the only things that can really be known or trusted are those that arrive
well in advance of words. words too often arriving very late to the scene, like
the ambulance rolling up hours after the crucial moment, long after we'd sent word
to the sheriff, with someone having agreed to set out on foot carrying, how it had to
be done before the wires and the telephones made it out our way.

a narrative given shape, strung together and given beginning, middle, end.
tales passed from one to the next, the words there for the purpose of telling.
the sort of tale that sometimes -- some times -- reaches the point where language
breaks down, collapses, that goes a place that words can't go, where description falls
short and takes its leave, leaving just the prelingual utterance, sans syntagma.
because hurts of a certain kind have a quality of (if they must be spelt)
oooooooooaaaaoooooooo,
mmmnnnhhhhmmmmm.

* * *

and it's tiring, killingly so. it gives me a goddamn headache sometimes how some
cats think they can map all this stuff out -- with everything connected or correlated,
categorized and labeled, with everything falling properly into place, all named and
laid out tidily, fixed (supposedly) with certainty about their relatedness. but the
only thing one knows for certain is causality, and even that itself is all wound up in
randomness and happenstance, and beyond that everything else is just guesswork.
but the one thing one can be assured of is the hurts, and the varying qualities
and depths thereof.

now: the hand held aloft, its inside offered up for scrutiny, for decipherence. that fate
is something etched on the skin is another given, among the first things you learn. so too
with the ways in which everything is encoded. delineation, a schematic: the interrelation
of all things, each connected to another. this line tells of progeny, kinship. and over
here we have betrayal. here, the most dooming of jealousies. and here desire. here
abandonment. here fortune. and over here need. and here in need. and here ahhhhh,
and over there unnghhn...

with all of these leading to, pointing to nothing bigger than
THE DAY THAT YOU WILL DIE.

come sooner,
come late




_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

image: John Lee Hooker, 1951.
Photograph by Clemens Kalischer.


7 comments:

ralph dorey said...

Wow, thank you!

ralph dorey said...

I keep wandering by here in the hope that someone else will write something on this excellent post before I wade in the with the same tirade about the dark space beyond language which I write about every other thing I see in the world.
As you say here better than I could, the narration is a drag net of authority. Oral histories (what else is music at its various points of origin?) are too intimate and too plural and too contradictory to hide the truth that the truth itself is process rather than an object. Like the big Wolf said, "Who's been talking?" And there I go wrapping a brick in a label.

Greyhoos said...

Hey, thanks again, Ralph. It's nice to hear that something that was little more than a writing exercise hit some kind of mark.

But yeah, dead-on --- especially the bit about oral histories/the preliterate.

The whole matter of the breakdown of language has long fascinated, especially in music. In this instance, the encountered photo put me in mind of something specific. That being that when I went seeking out JLH's music many years ago, there wasn't much on the market -- not much in print on vinyl, and CD reissues were still a few years off. So I would with some vault-trawling European LP that had a lot of previously unreleased material on it. And that material had gone unreleased because it was fairly atypical of Hooker's usual "stomping," "shouting," boogie fare. Quite a number of the songs were incredibly sparse, subdued, droning and almost meditative at times. All of which pretty much warped the way I'd hear the guy's music thereafter.

And this song in particular made a big impression, and directly relates to the above...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mle_H1y3jRY

ralph dorey said...

That's a great song and a great example. Pop music as a system and product is all about delivery of a content, and this is perhaps why instrumental hits are so rare (Sleepwalk, Apache, Rumble) because it's hard to hook an audience with the promise of the (familiar) content that will be delivered. The pre-language sensations from mere music are hard to sell I imagine because it's harder to install a single narrative (so we need song titles that do that). I wonder if the three songs mentioned are exceptions because they almost work as narration themselves? They play a recognised scene.

The myth of a linear history never really goes away. The whole point of publishing is to try and cause one dribble to solidify and hopefully get other to join it, forming a stalagmite and calling all other pathways heretical deviations. I'm sure that if our time seems schizophrenic musically, it's not because of the increased access to sources in the past, but because of the levelling of publishing's authority through the internet. blah blah blah. I wonder how many other artists out there had a completely different musical centre from the one we were given because some people decided that's where it should be and called all deviations "out of character".

Greyhoos said...

Alinear and atemporal, yes. And this puts me in mid of a couple of musical outfits from about 20 years ago or so...

The first being some crusty UK thrash outfit who had a vocalist but no lyrics as such. The frontman would just belt out -- in a very guttural, grunty howl -- a bunch of nonsense wordless syllables that sounded like lyrics. Can't remember the band exactly -- Extreme Noise Terror, perhaps?

And then just before that was the band Gore, who had lyrics but no vocalist. The one album of theirs I remember was entirely instrumental, but it came with a lyrics sheet. So I guess it was left up to the listener to decide/imagine how they should be sung.

ralph dorey said...

http://youtu.be/rwQuPCqA5AI

Greyhoos said...

Hahaha. Nice one. Hadn't heard it before now. Kinda like a radical update of these two perennial tunes of yore...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_RD1CIOakY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84GeSjrWwug

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