The Power of Sound

Lately, I’ve been reviewing a stack of notebooks for choice bits to throw into Canton Becker’s new project,, a website that is sorta like an interactive diary and is quickly becoming all the rage. This piece is for Canton. It’s straight from a journal in November of 2005. It shows me at my manic finest, when all the world seems completely out of control but is manageable if you can get a pen in one hand and a notebook in front of you. It’s just a pretty good rant, I think.

Last night, I spoke at length with Marianne about the issue of hitting the Self-Destruct button when I can feel the power coming on, mainly because I wanted to speak the realization in order to know it’s a reality, partially because I was looking for guidance, in terms of a ritual or a prayer or action, that when so clearly faced with a decision such as I was on Thursday afternoon, that I could turn to that thing and hold that power to reach that next level and I was talking about that, we’d been talking about the resonant power of sound, how in the beginning, perhaps, there was the Word, but the important thing about the Logos was that it was uttered, spoken, sounded out, not just in the book of Genesis, she claimed but also in the cosmogonic creation myths of many cultures, so that first was not Word at all, but SOUND, and that the resonant quality of that sound was what focused the intention of the speaker into the creative manifestation of the ALL, not just, perhaps, the thunderclap of the Earth’s creation and the Origins of Man, but the thunderclap of our own minor epiphanies.

I got back to my house and it was a mess…and I was sort of grateful for that, rote chores like sweeping and putting toys away and consolidating pens, pencils, art supplies, rocks, CDs, clothes and such have a way of pulling my mind back down to square one, and by and by I found a chorelet I could really sink my teeth into – re-organizing my altar, which once a month looks clean and reverent and holy but which rapidly begins to accumulate smalls bits of herb and stone and semi-religious bric-a-brac that I stumble upon – photographs of Kali icons, old coins with inspired engravings, stray runes, old Burning Man tickets, b&w photographs of friend from those old-time kiosks, 4 photos for a buck, that you find in museums or “authentic” turn-of-the-century arcades, plastic animals and incense cones, goddess figurines that people make and give away, sage sticks one fresh and reeking, now dry as a bone and shedding sage crumbs all over the place, and I stood before it, pulling everything down to wipe off the spent incense dust and turn chaos into order. When it was bare and clean I stood before an awesome array of artifacts, some natural, some man-made, and my mind still whirled with the ten thousand stray thoughts of creativity and confusion, elation and loss, victory and defeat, knowing that train of possibility was still racing down the tracks somewhere nearby, I could run and hop the freight, if I had a mind to, but my mind, instead, was everywhere all at once, and I just stood still for a moment, then charged into my bedroom and found my wooden tin whistle, I’d received it as a Winter Solstice gift a couple years ago, it hung like a trophy in a prominent place but really it was lost and forgotten, as so many prominent things tend to be, a touchstone of greatness like a statue of a general in a city park, but really just a resting place for pigeon shit and the homeless.

I put it to my lips and rested six fingers, three on each hand over the holes on its front face and I blew. The pure tonality of it startled me – unlike my mind it was so focused and true and I blasted another breath through it and its octave rose shrilly, so I settled back to the even tone and felt the air around me become still, felt the chaos in my mind find a focus that often only comes from hours of pen on paper, and I felt in that moment that it really was true, that in the beginning the Word was just an afterthought, that Sound created everything, that the origins of language did not mark the beginnings of the creative mind at all, that the Word was the conceit of literate societies and literal people with literal minds and teeth-grating logic, that the power of tone and Sound was the true focal point of all creation, both world-manifesting and minor epiphanies, and I strode back into the living room to get my altar straight and began the long climb up past the slippery slope towards the path of creativity, where I could make anything I wanted as real as the words and the pictures on these pages, which aren’t as real as we’d like them to be but still reach much much farther into the mind of others than we’d really care to admit, and in keeping intentions pure, through tonality and sound, we might just have a shot at manifesting a creativity we could all really love to be in, rather than a cycle of endless self-destruction with all its wretched stupidity and band manners and ill-formulated ideals, faulty intelligence and non-intuitive logic, a world of potential faster and wilder than a speeding locomotive, a high higher than beer and cocaine and naked strangers, minds and hearts in tune with the interconnectedness of all things, a world full of astounding beauty and truth, a place where wild careening minds and souls are given a proper place of prominence, where SOUND is seen for all its power and is never taken lightly again.