After four weeks of grandchildren – interesting being immersed once more in the child’s world of opportunism and insistent need – I’ve been making the transition to the ‘adult’ world.
As part of the transition I went to a concert by the Canadian singer, Jane Silberry, at the Barrytown Hall. Canadians are often interesting, living so close to the madness of the States, separate and saner, but close to the centre.
Jane was a skilled vocalist and guitarist and a competent wordsmith. The performance was fascinating in its portrayal of post modernism. I felt the dense and competitive musical culture that must exist in her part of the world. There will be a multitude of performances taking place at any one time, all at a skilled level. Everyone has to be original. The performance must be subtle yet able to respond to the interjector or the drunk, and needs a gag or two. You have to be gender savvy, environment savvy, psychologically savvy, new age savvy, masked yet unmasked, sardonic yet open to wonder, skilled yet not showy, cool not adversarial. And life is difficult: hard to find an acceptable and sustainable romantic partner; having to conquer depression or neurosis as the planet goes down the tube and cyclones and hurricanes rage; having to deal with aging parents; there are refugees and terrorists; to not get swallowed by urban busyness and at the end of the day, the need to sleep.
What it produces is a performance which in some ways is old fashioned, with something of the spinster, a sadness yet a need for hope, a desire for the certitude of religion, for Blake’s angels. There’s the knowledge it’s all been said before, done before, action is impossible. We simply follow little trails of difference. Small children and heavy rain overwhelm. And when we die it will be inconsequential, like euthanasia, another tidying of the world where all is regulated for the best, rumble strips and median barriers on the highways, scaffolding around every height, human rights for all, our heart monitored twenty four hours a day, and no such thing as evil. Politics has died for there is no adversary, no possibility of the imaginary, all is regulated, and our teeth report cavities directly to the dentist.
In this world self pity is sardonic. All you can do is counsel yourself and others that things will work out and you don’t need the medication, just the occasional revelation from the natural world which becomes a secure but volatile partner. Plus a dog which barks at strangers and provides company in the dark hours of the siren-sounding night.
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