Sunday, September 25, 2011

Of Veenas (and guns)

Jya ghosha is ancient Sanskrit for the twang of the bow string. The crack of a rifle is the result of a sonic boom.

You can unstring many bows, stretch them along a neck attached to a gourd and make a veena. You can leave the bow strung, add a gourd, and you have a berimbau. Pick up another bow, draw it across a lute, and you are using a fiddlestick. You can place one end of a bow against your mouth and play the umgunga. What can you make from a gun? 

Scholars disagree over whether the bow's first use was as a musical instrument or as a weapon. They agree in the claim that the origins of the gun occurred with the discovery of gunpowder during alchemy's search for immortality.  

The more modern the civilization, the more actively it seeks immortality through the breaking of sound than through its flow.

Friday, September 2, 2011


This is Island, a continent surrounded by the sea. Around the edge of Island winds a great river, called Rhythmic. The Rhythmic runs wide, fast, and deep. It springs from the high most center of the continent, flows directly to its shore, turns and winds once around land’s edge, turns again and empties into the sea, into the path of the setting sun.

Near the source of the Rhythmic, atop High Center, stands Island’s only city. It is encircled with stones, placed there by its residents “to maintain the boundaries of our plateau.”

Island has a road. It travels faithfully beside the Rhythmic on its inland bank, crosses the spot of land where river empties into sea, bridges the river at its first deep turn and continues full circle around Island. Always there is movement upon this road.

While the dwellers of High Center, faces to the sky, piled stones around its edge, those who walk together followed the river below. The movement within this procession was always greater than its forward sweep. Forwards, backwards, sideways, yet forever in motion they moved as one. On they whirled and in their passage they inscribed the Great Road. This is the caravan, the wheel, forever circling Island and always in sight of its beloved Rhythmic.

Enclosed between the Rhythmic and the Great Road is River’s Bar, a slip of land joining the two on their tour around Island. Green, and open to the sky, River’s Bar is the shore to those who seek land, the watering ground to those who thirst. To the traveler who rests beside the Great Road, River’s Bar is the land of dreams.

Gentle slopes and many trees of one kind and another form a hoop around Island. One tree standing alone shelters. A forest conceals. Islands inner hoop is forested. It is concealed.

Beneath the needled boughs, between the massive trunks in a mist of ferns and moss resides a presence so vast the living silence is its companion. The lightest foot does not tread, the tiniest wing does not beat, the slimmest twig does not break in the Forest without the attentive gaze of a fathomless eye and the resounding hush of silence.

Everything gives way to something, even a primordial bower. Round topped trees with leaves that ripple in the wind slip out from beneath the tall evergreen spires and spill over the open field beside, blurring all distinction between the two. Here, silence is a stream, the stream of stillness between sounds.

And here stands the Woodlands, a place of roots and burrows and shape filled trees with leaves like wings. Warm, sun streaked colors and busy rustlings fill the gaps between their sheltering arms. Their trunks are the standing through which intricate layers of sound, scent, and motion burst and entwine. Their roots are the growing which prepared the soil for the forest to rise. A thousand eyes flutter through this wild profusion of foot, wing, and leaf, the shimmering eyes of the many-sighted spirit, the spirit of birth.

Beyond the outer banks of the Rhythmic, Island belongs to the moon. Twice every day, dim harbors and vague waterways disappear and reappear in the flooding and ebbing tides. Twice every day, the moon sends a slow wind coursing across Island into the face of the sun. Eastward every morning, westward every evening, the moon’s wind blows. Less than a whisper, unseen and unnamed, the moon’s wind blows.

Much of Island is yet to be seen. Much of Island waits for a name. Where imagination leads, memory follows and Island continues to emerge from the surrounding sea. Yes, everything gives way to something.