Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Sound of Silence 08.11.2016

(As per, I'll apologise for any shite spelling. I am writing this on a train on my mobile)

In the summer I met and was privileged to work with a dancer and performing artists called Pauline Mayer. I met her as part of a theatre project where, I believe, we made a really powerful performance. More than that I think we briefly instigated a practice the can be used in life at large. I've been watching what everyone has been up to since. I always like to read what Pauline posts on facebook. She's the kind of person I feel instantly safe around. Though perhaps that safety lies in the fact that Pauline is a danger to the establishment that seeks to alienate us. I'm going off point a bit. Just a little context. This is a post about music.

The other day Pauline said that on hearing Disturbed's version of The Sound of Silence (originally by Simon and Garfunkel) against the political backdrop of the US election she suddenly understood the prophetic lyrics. Not long before I saw her post I had been deriding this cover as the ultimate example of "burger rock",  a genre that covers a lot of white American rock music - marked out by white men with big feelings; ranging from Creed and Metallica to Nickelback with its more loose tendrils taking us into the realms of Zappa and Tool.

I was really tired. Unbelievably so. I was also filled with a social sadness and terror which I felt futile to withstand. I thought to myself that I usually find Pauline to be a person who can intercept my perceptions and turn them around, so I listened to the song and thought a out what is about to happen and burst into tears. Because this cover feels like an absolute defining point in white American pop music and social conscience. It begins in a deep register, a tense and controlled one. It builds it's crescendo within the exact framework of the song we all know. It is at once nostalgic and re-composed. Whereas the original as a seductive shimmer cut through with a deep emotional root note the cover is deeply centred around the voice - the "I", and I'm all of a sudden completely captured with that central register, it's speaking to me and showing me that silence is incredibly violent and totally audible. In fact the song itself is violent. It reflects the will to reconstruct a moment despite the knowledge that the moment has in fact been. You can write all over a historical object or even just tweak it and present it as an entirely new possibility.

I believe that very shortly Donald Trump will become the president of the USA. I believe this because over the last year I have been groomed by the continual fear of the worst case becoming reality. Obviously this is the choice between two murderers, but I feel it is the choice between Dr. Shipman and Dr. Mengele. You know what to do. But then when we were voting over Brexit a load of people, liberals and tories alike, willfully blinded themselves. And still now they won't be accountable to be complicit in any of it. I don't trust a thing. You open your mouth to argue and silence comes out of it.

I've sort of lost the thread of what I was trying to say. The singer gets the lyrics muddle in the last verse. He seems to sing "the words on the prophet are written on the subway walls". That's something worth listening to over and over because you imagine what words are "on" a prophet, imposed from the outside or in retrospect, and also what might have come from them. How you can superimpose your will onto a prophetic moment. Silence is promised. There will be moments where everyone goes very quiet as their sick will is enacted. For example many people who will vote for systematic racial hatred and conservatism will not admit they are going to do so. Silence does not mean "no".

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