March 31, 2014

Each Direction Without End

Mike Lew plays Yann Tiersen - La Valse d'Amelie

Sometimes I get hooked on a tune, and I search it out in YouTube, looking for all the cover versions performed by a multitude of amateurs. They do it mostly for the love of their art, the amor of the amateur, pure art before it grows into something professional and a contender for history. I've posted some of this in the blog before, tiling little videos into a mosaic, just a fragment of what's out there, a dog ear on infinity. This time, I've resisted the urge. All of the piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, guitar with special finger style arrangement, accordions, piano/guitar/accordion/glockenspiel, flutes, flute and piano, a harp, vocal ensembles, two accordions, two melodicas, a theremin, a music box, even... (I've searched YouTube to level ten and I haven't touched bottom yet) all of these people invested so deeply... the faces, the characters, people training themselves to master an instrument enough to play this tune, as it was in the days before wax and vinyl records when music was disseminated by sheet music and people had to play it themselves on their own instruments at home, each in their particular locales, in their bedrooms, in the nooks and crannies of their lives, one after the other after the other...

Let's let Mike Lew stand in for them all, this time.

When I was a kid, I had a very specific recurring nightmare. Over the years, it would unfold a little at a time. I won't bore you with a complete description, just a couple of fragments will do: I found myself aboard an airplane that held all of the people in the world, full of the specificity of their unique selves, the rows of seats filing into the past and future populations that ever were and ever would be. I saw each of their faces and recognized each of their lives in each direction without end. As a kid, this recognition of infinity would frighten me, horrify me to the core. Was it oblivion? Dissolution? Was it insignificance or was it an overabundance of significance of everyone in the presence of an evidence of G-d?

On more than one occasion, I remember being shaken awake by my dad in the cold shower of the upstairs bathroom, both our pajamas soaked through, and there was my papa with the most eye bulging, irritated look on his face. As the years passed, the dream segued on to equally momentous but evermore tolerable scenes which moderated until I was an 18 year old sailor aboard ship when a final night capped the nocturnal serial. I found myself crossing a foot bridge and stopping at the apex. I looked over the rail into the water and I saw instead all manner of equations flowing without end. Yes, mathematical equations. I felt a flooding sense of peace and understanding, an apprehension of total complete comprehension which I wish I could have retained... but of course it retreated as soon as I had opened my eyes. Of course. Of course.

And that was the end of that.

Posted by Dennis at March 31, 2014 10:21 PM

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