Friday, August 03, 2007

Beyond Beyond: On High on Fire's "The Yeti" (second installment)

Or perhaps there is a way for elemental creatures, through their very liminal nature to make themselves recordable as external objects? POETIC TELEPORTATION. “Mountains of ice” is already beyond mountains, which are more truly made of rock. And the line maps our travel beyond that, into a landscape that is so beyond that the only way to get there is to already be there, in the beyond beyond. This is the accomplishment of poetry, to transport us into the presence of things by placing us inside speaking them, to teleport, via the chamber of musical commemoration of language’s “own inaccessible originary place” (Agamben, Language and Death, 78), to within speaking distance of the beyond. Cf. the Himalayan sage Milarepa’s “Upon the lofty crystal peak of the snow mountain in the east / is the auspicious white lion roaring”

Exists a creature of frost

(Songs of Milarepa, 50). Cf. Dante seeing Beatrice across an unspeakable distance that makes no difference: “ma nulla mi facea, ché süa effige / non discendëa a me per mezzo mista” (Paradiso 31.77-8). Poetry, a charge leaping the gap between the music of language and the language of music, is an art that makes nothing of distance, not through some supernatural power, but by disempowering our ability to see distances that are not there, so that the closeness of the image is revealed as the closeness of the thing itself, its only closeness. ASPATIOTEMPORAL METAL. Across time and across space, the song dreams the elemental being of the Yeti the only way it can be dreamed, elementally, that is, as Heavy Metal. Understanding Metal’s elemental character unveils the dream of the Yeti as the desire of Metal itself and thus reveals the song’s essential, elemental significance, not its academic significance (what it says about something else), but its apophantic significance, what it says about itself, and more deeply, the saying that is its being the event of itself. Being an elemental creature means being what one is made of, being a being that is its own substance. Within the Yeti, there is no space between creaturely being and frost’s existence. But human being, suspicious of itself, guilty and disoriented, is both haunted by a sense of being other than what one is made of and faithless of this other’s substantiality. Auto-heretics, we see everyday the ghost of ourselves and still do not believe. Instead, we conceive and feel ourselves as made out of something else, something more elemental than the self. So we fear and romanticize – one coin’s two sides – death as dissolution into elemental substance, as evaporation. Yet our voice, complaining or consoling, betrays itself, carries back to us its elemental, ownmost whisper, a voice within voice that is also ours, a secret suggestion that death’s loss is our missing of death, its darkness our blindness to it. What delusion, what silliness, to think that I am both other than and reducible to my elements, to cast myself as a spell of never being myself, neither in life or death! I AM. And my being here as body and self is not only proof but the very reality of that fact as substantial, ineradicable. “So, life through the medium of the gross body is only a section of the continuous life of the individualised soul . . . There is no unbridgeable gulf separating the finer aspects of nature from its gross aspect. They all interpenetrate one another and exist together” (Meher Baba, Discourses, III.55). The “impossibility” of our being here forecloses the possibility of our not being here, of death as such, wherever here happens to be. So, from the horizon of the beyond beyond, the Yeti calls us back to life’s continuity, self-continuous life, the happy life of being one’s own substance. Emblematically, Yeti is Yet-I, the self-saying speaking self that exists despite whatever surrounds it, the atemporal “yet” that is the I. Heavy Metal makes the Yeti’s call heard by elementalizing, physicalizing sound, by making sound, a “mere” vibration of elements analogous to the “mere” self (the self as made of body), an element, a substance unto itself. Maybe music does that, but no music does it more than Metal, the most exuberant experience of the substantiality of sound. Metal takes this substantiality to its outermost aesthetic limit: the reality of sound so loud it can hurt (as if to break the boundary in the organum spirale!), the fantasy of sound so solid it can kill. Whence Doom (drowning under earthquaking mountains of sound), Thrash (hacking and being hacked to bits with finely ground axes of sound), Death (being disembowled from within by chthonic rumblings of sound), Black (freezing to death in infernal ice wastes of sound). Heavy Metal = ritual death by sound disclosing the self’s reality.


IndieFaith said...

As I watched a rather large circle pit at a Comeback Kid concert I looked over to my friend and mentioned that Hegel was right in that we are all trying to create or enter into movement and presence.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Is it time for you to write "The Phenomenology of the Mosh Pit"?

Could be wonderful.

IndieFaith said...

It also reminds me of a night I heard yelling coming from outside my apartment window. A man was sitting on top of a woman who was lying on the sidewalk. I am sure they were in some sort of relationship and having a fight. He did not hit her he simply yelled, as though something deep could be birthed from it, as though maybe he could for once be heard or recognized.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Have you read Agamben's _Language and Death_? Lot's of stuff in there about voice and being.

But what most strikes me about this scene (screaming man sitting on top of woman) is the idea that he has both silenced her and is making a lot of noise. A tableau for the very opposite of LISTENING!