The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Here's where I make my mistake

Here's where I make my mistake -
in thinking that music is virtual,
in thinking that music is thought,
is philosophical thought

Here's where it unravels -
that it remains untranslated,
that it remains untranslatable,
that this is an accomplishment

If I could say what needs expression -
I wouldn't need guqin,
I wouldn't need oud or sarangi,
I'd speak with uncanny depth

If you could hear what I'd say -
you'd know the basic things,
structures and their absence,
and your speech would be mellifluous

But music carries nothing -
it wanders among the body,
it saturates the flesh,
its illusion is illusion

This is my mistake -
I play as a form of thinking,
and nothing is ever thought,
while philosophy is sleeping

It's better not to listen -
you'll learn more in that direction,
with your fingers and your mind,
forgetting my illusion

Mostly I keep to myself -
hoping my songs sing wisdom,
my songs are full of bones,
my bones are white mistakes

I slide one note to another -
together they mean nothing,
separate they mean less,
your mind breaks in the spaces

Music cannot think -
its dumbness rattles the body,
it's been my own illusion
to think it thinks the world

You'll learn nothing from me -
only that I'm a fraud,
that I have nothing to offer,
beyond strange sounds and songs

My songs are wordless songs -
with the help of a friend they're talking,
but they're drowning in noise and music,
they're lost in the roar of the world

The world crashes down on my music -
collapsing my world and my language,
you know I have nothing to say,
if I did I'd say it clearly

I'm a fake and cheating at depth -
music's one note to another,
nothing else goes on at all,
this is my biggest mistake

How clever I am even here -
as if philosophy were that easy,
I'm getting away with nothing,
foolishly repeating myself

Turn aside and return to the books -
where truth appears in array,
where debate engenders thinking,
where becoming tends towards thought

Where philosophy is born -
and things are understood,
not like the noise I make,
the commotion of my sound

"Here's where I made my mistake -
in thinking music virtual,
in thinking music thought,
noise as philosophy"

As if they were conjoined -
I continue to repeat,
conjunctions fall apart,
I practice nothing now.

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