Saturday, January 16, 2010
Cellular Accounting (Yogic Integers)
I used to work on a farm with a couple yoga teachers, and they'd stop in the row and teach us some stretches. We came up with the theory of "opposite yoga postures" with regard to bending and weeding or standing and hoeing -- basically mixing up the effort to not get all bunched up and knotted. Some tension. Some release. I went to a yoga class this morning. My first. The class was just the thing. A vacation from the self. A deep-breathing encounter with all the inconvenient truths of the body and the mind. There's some deep-tissue reckoning that needs to be made. The instructor kept reminding us to witness the body, the breath, the surge and flow of it all. (I've witnessed the body plenty, I think. It all comes back to the Fat Elvis Paradigm.)
To fully explore the material at hand. To take the form, the repeated form, the confines, the limitations and make a full cellular accounting. The idea made me think of Lefty's post about The King (witness the body), about completely inhabiting a song, about transfiguration and transformation through the full embrace of matter. And that got me thinking about these songs from the unbelievable collection Fire In My Bones, a three-disc compilation of African-American gospel from 1944 to 2007. This is a herculean effort, sort of along the lines of a Harry Smith or John Fahey-type esoteric epic archival grappling. I loved when The Art of Field Recording came out, revealing that there were still loads of raw and inspired performers to be tracked down and documented, some of them just up the road. But Fire in My Bones is sort of the American Anthology of Folk Music flip-side to that; it demonstrates that tons of incredible music has been recorded (or performed on the radio) that might otherwise just slip through the cracks of our media-saturated lives. (The set was compiled by blogger and music writer Mike McGonigal and released on Tompkins Square Records)
To hear Precious Bryant take something as worn-by-use and so-familiar-as-to-be-empty as "When the Saints Go Marching In" and perform some kind of dual spirit substance-swap, turning it both to radiant fire and gnarly rock, is to realize the liberating powers of constraints and limits.
Isaiah Owens performs a complete electric shamanic possession, squeezing oil from shale.
I also started listening to George Meredith's The Egoist on a book on tape. I heard this:
"To begin to think is the beginning of disgust of the world."
I guess that's a warning.
"When The Saints Go Marching In" - Precious Bryant
"You Without Sin Cast The First Stone" - Isaiah Owens