Wise King Taken by the Foolish One
essay no. 11
On William Byrd and... Oops! Interrupted by a crying child, just as the moment of revelation arrived!
Keywords: William Byrd, meaningless tonality, proto-fugue, beautifully multifaceted elegance
Anyway, writing as a matter of course - as always, my cynical, pre-enlightenment, pre-tolerant current stance cannot be denied - though, I suppose, to effect the transformation of you as I would like - I must utilize the literary equivalent of the tritone in order to direct you to any conclusion. It has to be, like it or not, here in my writing - and its occurrence ushers in - or marks the beginning of - a period of unanticipatedly profitable and beautifully multifaceted elegance, of a sort which was inevitably, yet also sadly, inaccessible to me due to my anti-perfection stance. So here I strain against the leash, and also against the change of direction of winds. Am I really to embrace the perfection-notion? Don't tell me that we're anticipating one of the most wonderfully genuine periods of personal experience - that being being in the body - leading to an insight so clear and so unanticipated that I will certainly be swept along with no further impetus necessary ever again - after this one impulse! From whence shall it come? What corner? From whom? For yes, though I'm talking about the occurance of a sort of religious conversion, a sort of Deus Ex Machina with or without the machina, being at least some sort of theophany or theosophical insight, the actual event depends upon a particular meeting, a particular person, a new person or a new relationship, a catalyst, a kindling of some sort of new flame in material thought to be un-inflammable, one which has never before been experienced or acknowledged. Also maintaining unique spectral characteristics, and thus, admitting to the possibility of a previously unseen color...
If a person were to discover a means of seeing new colors, one after the next, would it ever become tiring to see yet another new color? Are we not in fact always engaged in the sub-division of the visible light spectrum into gazillions of distinct, discrete, colors - and thus, there being effectively infinite numbers of hues, isn't it true that we are constantly recognizing colors we've never before seen? Shouldn't we be more excited by that? Isn't it possible that one day we will see a certain special color with special evocative properties absolutely unlike those colors closest on either side?
Or am I entirely mistaken about the experience of color? Might not the millions and billions of colors be getting mapped into perhaps three shades of each of the seven primary colors, so that the total number of color-experiences maybe no more than 15-20? (After all, according to some, there are only 9 or 16 types of people - which I at least would expect to be more varied than colors!) But still, even if we grant the possibility of this worst-case scenario, I'd rather equate the experience of color with that of pitch: and just think about what it does to you to hear Ornette Coleman leap up to one of those beyond-pitch-class-category high notes! Those things leap right out of the spectrum! Don't talk to me about continuity!
So, okay, let's please believe that there is the real chance of hitting - on rare occasions - an experiential anomaly which cannot be mentally adjusted to be in tune with any of the known categories. Good thing there's such a thing as filial loyalty and even....
Oops, interrupted by a crying child, just as the final revelation/conclusion was on the door mat...
-- Dan Plonsey, October 2001,