A Rock.

In the beginning there was darkness and cold flame and lingering thunder.

bu'u lo incipe pu manku je lenku fagri gi'e zukyde'a lidvru lo

I’m stuck on this phrase and for now I can't see the way forward. Or upwards, if I was to use the climbing metaphor this time. It would not be completely unrelated; at one of the climaxes of “The Mask”, the chase of the praying mantis takes place in the rocky mountains. The work offers us a very detailed description of the climb. By the way, one of first texts by Lem that I have ever read was a short story about two climbers mapping out new routes in the mountains on a distant planet. I don’t remember the title of the story itself nor the collection that it came from, but I remember that it made a big impression on me. Multiple exploration: virgin mountains, unknown terrain, and an alien planet with unearthly weather conditions, and so on.

One more association: Alex Honnold and his recent “out of this world” feat, so to speak – a free solo ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite Park, shown in quite a good documentary entitled Free Solo. Again, as in the case of Michael Jordan, the sacrifice of oneself – of one’s body and one’s whole life (both in the sense of subordinating to a certain long-term strategy and literally, mortal risk) to the idea of crossing the boundaries set by the psyche, physiology and gravity. The sight of the lonely Honnold clinging to a piece of rock over a thousand meters above the crevice essentially moves me in two ways. On one hand, it is an embodiment of an ultra-optimisation of what we are given in our lives on the Earth. The desire to live and the spectre of death together with the need to constantly balance between the two – all focused in one time and place. On the other hand, it is also an image of a desperate search for transcendence, perhaps in a place other than it actually is.

And one more thing along this line, one of the directors of Free Solo, Jimmy Chin, is also the protagonist of another film documenting mountain challenges, entitled Meru. Chin reaches the top there after a long period of preparation, trial, and waiting for the right weather conditions. He almost crawls up to the top. Centimetre by centimetre, bedecked with equipment, barely alive from exhaustion. Tightly holding the rock that is narrowing towards the top. Cheered on by an even more tired colleague. It so happens that Meru is a sacred mountain in many beliefs – the Buddhism, Jainism and the Hinduism. Especially in Tibet, I think. The symbol of the centre of the Universe, the highest point, the place of origin, etc. (strictly speaking, Peak Meru is not a specific mountain worshipped by anyone, the convergence of names is probably random, but whatever, the name itself is significant). I can't help feeling a deep dissonance between the symbolism of Meru and this act of climbing up a pile of boulders. I’m reminded again of George Crumb and his aversion to the trips to the moon.

So, one more association with Tibet. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, an interesting case of a real “lama”, who also is a film director. He was, as it seems, Bertolucci’s assistant during his work on the film Little Buddha and he developed his own film making ambitions. He has made several films that depict the life of today's Tibet and Bhutan, with some nostalgia and wisdom of the local customs and traditions in the background. The most recent film, Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait, goes beyond this program. It tells the story of a secret society that holds strange meetings every several years. A group of people gathers in the forest for a few days. They are all anonymous – they are wearing bizarre masks. The meeting has some structure, some tasks needs to be completed, sessions take place, resembling lectures; each day ends in a performance about death and the intermediate states between successive incarnations. But most importantly, all kinds of mini-dramas take place among the participants. Romances, thefts, fights, intrigues. The mask that gives anonymity changes the dynamics of interpersonal interactions, but soon it turns out that actually almost nothing changes. The mask seems to liberate the participants from their identities, but it instantly creates new ones. Rooted in their true identities, with new themes. There is no escape from the self-propelling dynamics of identity. The mask is the outer shell – the interface. What’s underneath?

So I'm stuck on a rock, just above the ground, but I can’t back down. I have to move on from where I am. I have a kind of a theme, for the canon:

LISTEN

You might try to find a certain numerical symbolism here. I’m not sure about it myself, so I can't explain it. These “progressing sixteenth notes”, which ultimately turn into entire groups, must mean something, I suspect.

This is how assigning this "theme” to the first line of the text in vocals could look like:


Whether I use it or not – I am not sure...


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)

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