Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Music ..

She could not escape the music. All her life she had tried to ignore it, to refuse it; even while it penetrated the very rhythm of her blood and bones. She had seen others succumb – her parents, her siblings, the people in the village – some sang the words of their lives to it, others danced its steps, with a little jig here and there. And some were so consumed by it that they could move only into its frenzy, and danced away to the battlefields, overcome by its passion and pain. She had watched, all her life, and she had grown afraid.

She had been criticised for her distrust of the music. The left-leaning media said it was harmless, simply a part of the natural environment and one that united the community; the right-leaning media said it was good for the country, and it was unpatriotic to criticise it. So she said nothing. The academics went further, of course, and were much more nuanced. Doctoral theses had been written on such subjects as “The Necessary Rhythm of Being”, or “The Music as an Evolutionary Correlate”. A while ago, a group from a prestigious university had investigated whether flowers grew better with the music or in a soundproof container. The soundproofed flowers had all died, which had seemed conclusive until someone had realised that the soundproofing also rendered the container devoid of all light. No one had been anxious to repeat the experiment. A whole branch of philosophy had been dedicated to speculating on the source of the music, it sounded remarkably like a stringed instrument, but neither instrument nor player had ever been seen. The currently fashionable theory tried to integrate the frequency of vibration of the celestial spheres with distortions caused by the earth’s magnetic field and modulated by the phases of the moon. Nobody actually understood that.

She knew they were wrong. Bone deep, soul deep she knew that the music was evil, though she could not articulate why that was. But she knew that it hurt to resist it, whilst the ones who accepted it, who allowed it to flow in and out and through them, looked as if they dwelt in frenzied gaiety, as long as you didn’t look too deeply into their eyes.

But she also knew that she was weak. How long could she resist? It both attacked her and seduced her. There were days when she believed herself a fool for resisting. Who did she think she was to imagine that she knew better than everyone else in her world? What presumption! And she was only flesh and blood, just like everyone else.

Then, one day, she found a dusty old book, and as she read it she was amazed by the story it told, of the man who had not only resisted the music, but walked the earth singing a different song. And the real makers of the music were so enraged by the challenging beauty of his song that they had taken him out and put him to death most cruelly. And in that book she read enough of a description of that song to be able to begin to imagine what some of the notes might have been. And even in the faint reconstructions of her imagination she was so moved by its beauty that she realised that if she could constantly listen to that song then the evil music would have much less power over her – for how could it compete with something that, even at its furthest remove, was beautiful enough to break her heart?

Only after she had wrestled with this thought for some time did she realise something else: perhaps the music was so loud and insistent precisely so that it would drown out the true song. And maybe that meant that the song was still there, more primal, more true, more real than the music she had been hearing all her life? Then it followed that what she really needed was for some part of herself to be changed, to be attuned to the beautiful song instead of the deathly music of the world. She found herself crying out, from the deepest part of her being, that the Singer, wherever he was, would come to her and set her free, and deliver her from sinking into cacophony.

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