I wonder now, listening to this seminal recording by PAULINE OLIVEROS and company for the second time this morning (the first through headphones whilst wondering through dunes and brush), if this is the Holy Grail I’ve been seeking.
You won’t find a lot of similar music on my shelves but recent months have found me looking beyond conventional compositions and pop songs and exploring music that creates… alternate spaces or dimensions perhaps. Sounds that create a resonance that seems to transform not just the space in my head but the space (or perception of space) around me. It’s seeking a form of control over the inner and outer space maybe, during a time when mobility is limited and the world is filled attention-thieving events and trends. Rather than seeking diversions, I’ve been looking to dig deeper in. I’m fascinated by the idea of “radical attentiveness,” Oliveros’ own words as mentioned briefly in the Pitchfork article linked in her name. It’s a quest for immediacy of experience at a time when lack of mobility limits experience. Life is way too short to just wait this out and mosey on back to the diversions from before.
I’m thinking this morning of my relationship with social media. It was several years ago that upon finding my interactions on Facebook to be largely negative and my own behavior on the platform largely disingenuous and performative anyway, that I pulled off the photos I valued and nuked the account altogether. I weighted the decision more on the negativity of the interactions I had there. It was relatively early on in the Trump Debacle and it was a case of saturation outrage. Yet now I wonder how much on my part was voicing outrage in the absence of another platform or just virtue signaling, empty and insincere cries that yes damn it I am a good person! Sorry, but you have to look at your own behavior and I will go there. My travels can be a bit glacial, but I get there.
Instagram, where I spend most of my digital wandering, is a different level of interaction. The politics of outrage are there but it’s not enough to draw me in. My relationship with Instagram is different and it’s difficult to say if it’s the differences in the platform itself or changes in myself and my compulsion to engage. I can say with some degree of certainty though that I’ve been feeling that my motivations there are again, disingenuous and performative. I wonder how much I’m writing or photographing is targeted on what will play best on that platform. Furthermore then, I have to question if it’s just taking me out of immediate moments and genuine experiences, depriving myself of the depth of experience, if part of me is thinking about relating it in another point in time to an audience.
I want to experience radical attentiveness, not just to music, but to experience itself whatever it may be. I wonder if I can do that without eliminating other behaviors. There can be no real immediacy while thinking about the next step. It’s sort of the opposite of the idea that writing about something in the past tense can tend to put the experience through filters and the fallibility of memory, but nothing changes if nothing changes. I won’t know until I know. I won’t know until I move beyond the diversion of thinking about what, when and how to present and experience at some future point. It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit that I even do that, but it’s true.
I’ve been thinking also about unfinished business and potential amends that maybe should be made. I’ve been thinking about resentments and how much time I’ve spent trying to justify those resentments by weighing them against other peoples’ behaviors. It’s exactly the opposite of what The Crocodiles have taught me. I do however need to make sure that it would be a genuine amends and not a veiled attempt to change outcomes for selfish reasons. I’m not being cagey or coy here. The details, the who and when aren’t necessary in this space. It is universal. Make sure it’s genuine if you’re going to make amends with someone or simply leaving them alone once and for all is the very best amends you can make.
Mostly though I’ve been thinking about how to make the most out of every moment and that starts with being in that moment.
Regarding this album, I’m struck by how much, unlike so many ambient or atmospheric albums, this does not sound like a soundtrack. In now way does it sound like it was composed to accompany moving images. Quite the opposite it sounds like it was written to create images, but not those imagined by the composer, but my each individual listener. Oliveros wrote repeatedly that they didn’t create music as background to anything, but to be the sum total of the experience.
I love that!