The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 21, 2014

silence of guqin

the guqin as an ecosystem, biome; each of the seven strings
meanders along its own channels, each changes character along
its length, from bridge to bridge, above the waters, sky, earth,
each has its own silence, i would capture that, meander, with
the sounding of a single note, dying-out, lowered or raised,
just that, the arch of the string, arcing, a field beneath the
strings, above the curvature of the sky, always the entirety
under tension, always the entirety in resonance, collectivity,
among which the note, singularity, is sounded, dying out, there
is no memory, there is no tune that encompasses, no image here,
i would assign an image, it disappears, vanishes, i live among
wood, wood and weather, the subtle vibrations of the floor, in
the midst of the slow steady rain, my arms move from one to the
other end, from one to the other, athletic, an encompassing, or
compass, designation among the seven, the duplicates, the five,
the thirteen, the positions, the sliding among or into the
positions, approaching the positions, so much memory, i will do
this, will play to the limit on the right, encompassing the
right, until sound leaves, broken, tuneless, out of tune, unable
to hold forth, the position so clear in the middle, in the
midst, where the sky divides into two, the left, musculature,
reach of the arm, the right, approaching infinity up to the
bridge, as if there were a crossing, the pool or pond, infinite
octaves, bent, distorted, leaving the one note behind, open to
emptying space, multiple universes, multiverses, each duplicate
of each, ranging differently, different qualities and weathers,
the weather of the wood, of the silk and metal, the weather of
the water, air and earth, the fire of the weather, tending the
wood among the elements, the wood breathing in the midst of
other lives, the wood expelling, the breath ceasing, i would
summon spirits, i would play among them in the hollows, cavity
of the guqin, i would circulate among the passages, hide against
the corrosion and deceit of the weather, my hands flee from the
energy of the extremes, in the middle they find recompense, find
redemption, the ordering righting in the midst of unknown
climate, the ordering quietly in procession, here in the middle
of the night, the strings among themselves sounding within me,
or am i wood or weather, or am i element or expulsion, what of
the spirit, surely they, among so many others, the room sounding
the guqin among, there the ceiling, the wall or a shadow of
sound or tone shadow sounding, i am clearing, clearing above the
pools, above the sky and earth, cosmos, clearing and my arms,
hands, moving, and there among them, and to the left, what clear
depths and clarity, and to the right, those infinite intervals
decreasing in length and speed, in movement and speech, those
intervals increasing in tone and pitch, i can no longer hear
them, so much pressure on the strings, the clearing stretches
infinitely before me, there are trees and lines of trees, there
are people singing, all the animals are there, all the plants as
well, soft showers and peaceable kingdoms, and the retreat and
expansion of the single note, all of this, this song i am
singing, this tone underway, this image almost visible, this
tune of goodness and kindness, this ballad of no death, this
pillar of the single note, this mountain hut, this wood old
beyond belief, i am of the wood, i am singing, this spirit of
wood and metal, fire and earth and air, surely they

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