Sunday, May 6, 2007

Quotable: Nathaniel Mackey

In describing a piece called the Toupouri Wind Ensemble's Harvest Song (performed by an agrarian tribe in southwestern Chad):
The diagram pretty much speaks for itself I think, with the possible exception of the Yawning Flock, which is only a more accurate way of referring to the "crowd's roar heard from a distance." The apt unlikeliness of such a "roar" confirms a dreamer's agenda: feathered sleep, vicarious flight, night's trunk of thunder under flammable cloth. The alarmed, allergic outbreak of sound - conceptually a shout but in actuality muffled by the padded impact of runaway hoofs - carries all the illusory nonchalance of a sculpted sigh. The question this brings up is the by now familiar one: How do we activate the wings implicit in so deceptive an air of resignation? The haunted side of which is this: To what extent does circumambulation tend to co-opt rather than cultivate a collective "roar" whose weariness borders on revolution. The very fact that one puts "roar" in quotes, of course, loads the question, but from a deaf perspective the line between yawn and roar tends to disappear. The position the jaws assume, that is, is the same in either case, as is the shape to which the mouth conforms - an oval, ellipselike extremity which all but indicts the elasticity of the skin. How, then, do we awaken or unlock the roar so apparently sedated by a shepherded ennui? How do we harvest (i.e., mobilize) the lion?
From Bedouin Hornbook (published 1986), my emphasis added. This of course is the question that those agitating for social change have been asking. Food for thought, indeed.

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