This World Will Disappear Before You Read It
Should we (me and you) make this world disappear? This is not a call for revolution, but rather an invitation on a date. Say, we find a hideout to outlive the fragile composition of this world. What would we (me and you) do? I would like to propose a few ideas for our improbable meeting.
1. The Cosmology of Slowing the World Down
Dancing should be made into an obligatory activity, even if you only hop from song to song, all inside your own mind. For what else can attune two or more bodies to move in a simultaneous sync with each other and itself? Dance for love, dance for war, dance for remembering, and dance till you drop dead. And please dance slower. That moment you begin to catch your breath and separate it evenly, you begin to notice that the rhythm around you is slowly transforming. In fact, you begin to realise that rhythm does not exist at all. There are only different tempi. Tempi that occur on a celestial, biologic, anthropomorphous, and synthetic scale. A score of sorts, a heavenly counterpoint of different speeds and directions. A messy conversation between tired bodies that multiplies and erupts into a system of rubato’s, mismatches, and essentially a movement of a finger against the worldly surface.
At the beginning there may have been only one frequency. One loud burst of energy releasing a wave of motionless rotation, contradiction as its primary law, a primordial voice. As the movement slowly disperses through space, the elements themselves begin to filter and attune a temperament. Just think of how sound travels through any other matter, different from the one you’re in now. Remember that dizzying feeling of your head submerged in the Mediterranean water, sun ablaze, right above your head, and the liquid membrane that surrounds your head beating a strange rhythm against your ears? Perhaps we could think of harmony – two or more frequencies making an an ever-changing contract – as a liquidous surface for sound to flow through.
The moment that tempo is retreating into its slowest chambers, a strange sense of groundlessness appears. Try slowing down your favourite track at first by double, then four, and seven times at last. A millisecond stretched out into an eternity, a waveform folding back onto itself. You will begin hearing the laws of music collapsing in front of your eyes. The cracks and dead zones appear, all the things that hid behind the glittering lights of sounding good and in-tune. Of being well. These darks spots that emerge instead are not the pure absence of sound, but rather a peculiar negative through which the real things themselves manifest.
I insist, try dancing slower next time and you will notice a new world emerging from just below your feet.
2. Don’t Let Yourself Be Tricked
For a just second now, think of trickery as a form of internalised knowledge. Perhaps we should all acknowledge charlatanism (for what is it but a rich science of disappearance – of beliefs, hierarchies, or simply your hard-earned money) as the only legitimate way of being fully attuned to the world. Tricking the world into a perfectly-tuned state. Tricking the elements, natural forces, and humanly intentions to occur within a predetermined score. Trickery as a codified attempt to conjure the supernatural, avert bad luck, and deflect misfortune – in other words, trickery as apotropaic magic. And back to temperament and ways of organising, tuning itself as an ultimate form of trickery – tricksters of ears juggling with ratios of both musical and political proportions.
Musical trickstery might appear less important than having your pockets emptied, but believe me, it might be equally disheartening. Musical laws that govern our ears have long been associated with violent colonial powers and bizarre artificiality disguised under the pretence of natural sciences. Yet the logic that appears to innocently tweak certain frequencies, is also slowly eroding a way of being in the world. A sounding, polyphonous way that contains the ability to disappear as well. Tuning not only as a principle of musical law, but also as a way of political organisation. Establishing a disorder within an otherwise perfectly attuned system.
Go back to that sea then, submerge your ears into the chilly waves.
3. Sonic Dissent
This is not a stable world though. Strategies of musical rethinking – in other words, identifying and resisting dominant powers of sonic traditions that surround our ears – have to adapt continuously, as they occur in constant flux themselves. Contradiction as its organising principle. Take tuning for example, the way musical tones are organised, the very idea of how different frequencies collide with each other. Certain tuning systems come and go, called for by the places, instruments, and songs they are born within. Others stay, propelled to the forefront by their political, colonial, and commercial success. Ptolemy’s intense diatonic, or 12-tone equal temperament all are concerned with a similar task – separating the octave (that one relatively shared denominator in this otherwise murky business) into smaller steps. The law of octaves, atoms and heavenly vibrations, one bizarre problem to ever-bother philosophers and mathematicians alike.
Dominance is exerted by the powers usurping places of both knowledge-making and production, a carefully choreographed dance of heavenly proportions. Musical systems of organisation thus find themselves torn between dominance and resistance, unlearning your ears and auto-tuning your heart. Even musical time can’t escape this tension, oscillating between the linearity and circularity, between the measurable distances and speeds of imaginary proportions. Sound permutes distances and locales; it maintains the potential of disturbing political status quo; it requires the positions of both active listening and collectivity (even if there is no tree falling).
Sonic dissent is a proposal then, not a command, come dance with me. Come dance away the four on the flour, come dance away the devil’s tritone, come dance away the auto-tuned Believe, the barbarically sampled oud, come dance away your tired ears, it’s been a long time waiting.
No matter how hard I try
You keep pushing me aside
And I can’t break through
There’s no talking to you.
4. On Vehemently Opposing Your Enemy
Vehemently oppose your enemy.
5. On Gharīb
At last we arrive to gharīb – that notion of dissonance, resistance, and retreat. Gharīb, in its crudest translation, means strange, and as a word that first originates in Arabic and then reverberates through Armenian and Farsi languages, it moves tumultuously between its inherent contradiction – to be within and to actually be without. To embed and disappear, to exist and evaporate at the same time. Gharīb as a system of disillusionment, as a way of retracing a political thought which does not adhere to some predefined rules, but instead proposes a rather contrasting way of being within the world. A way that encompasses misunderstanding, misreading and mistranslation. Songs of illicit origin, chance occurrences, intoxicating and confusing – the gharīb presents itself as a form of dissonance with Western-influenced understandings of time, rhythm, and attunement, both musical and political. A certain musical score emerges, dotted by the hushed voices of the unheard, the disappeared, and the radical. So gharīb could be read as a different way of sensing the world. A world that has always existed in the underground, subterranean levels of political thought, with entrances and exits for both attacking and escaping the ever-presence of the dominant powers.
6. One Last Word on Songs Before the End
Musical and political ways of organisation have mimicked each other for a long time. Dominant musical logic can often be perceived as a direct mirror image of the prevailing political system. One doesn’t need much imagination to compare the inner mechanisms of a tonal system with a certain governing body – both relying on the necessity of hierarchy, tension, and solution. The powers that be and dominant seventh chords twirling hand in hand.
What if instead of a mere twirl, we’d rotate instead? Rotate into songs that have never been there in the first place, rotate into oblivion, rotate outside of the centre, into the periphery, bending the tension embedded in your voice, getting ready to sing those last songs before the end.
7. If You Want To Truly Evade Someone
If you want to evade someone, here is what you do – whisper in secret, disappear into the contradictory rumours, and remove your presence completely. Resonance, not the sound itself but its trace, lingers in the room behind you. Songs between walls, conspirators behind curtains. Resonance as a subjugating body, sympathetic vibrations bowing to its forces – grab with you only what’s essential, only what’s the real thing. “One starts by merely imagining real things. Eventually, the real things themselves manifest.” Tuning, that glorious way of adjusting, making disappear, and reinforcing cherry-picked frequencies, narratives, and ways of being. Bend just a few ratios and a perfectly tuned system emerges, a perfectly pervasive power. It is yet unclear what exactly is it tuned to, but we will figure that out later. Later as a violent eternity, later as a multitude of time. And so we arrive to that antipode of all – noise, that absolute gathering of frequencies, all blasted through space and time, all equal in strength and dedication. Noise as a hopeless tuning system. Noise as a hopeless form of assembling. Perhaps we’d rather think of resonance again. Sympathetic resonance – two bodies in-tune with each other, responding sweetly to their own harmonic powers – electric impulses bouncing between clandestinity, dissent, underground, and sonic valour. Say a word, and it’s there no more, sing a song – and it rings back forever. And gharīb, that radical oscillation between dissent and attunement, inebriated like Gurdjieff’s dinners, emancipated like the Tondrakian rebels, disguised under the vernacular, hallucinatory powers of disappearance. Gharīb as an offer of time rather than space, like a dissonance of contemporaneous and speculative proportions.
So if you really want to evade someone, here is what you do – do not let them trick you into the real thing. Instead, opt for messy systems of elusiveness. From seismic data and oil extraction to Cher and her autotune tricks, from Garabed Giragossian to sources of free energy and conspiracies, from divine digestions to harmonic nine points (hello, G.I.G). Dodge dominance by retuning, reharmonising, and disappearing completely.
Come on in.