Gentle GiantI’m a giant – my movements make a huge impact. They’re clumsy; it’s easy to splash and blur the detail.As a giant, I always try to be gentle. I don’t want damage the things around me. So I remain as small as I can. I retreat, contract and fold down as close as possible to the keys. I inspect them, carefully noticing their beauty and attractive nature. I want to caress them but not invade their space too much.I realise that in order to flow around them with grace, I must shift my “centre” to a space that hovers above the keys. To float and occupy the space 20 cm above. It’s a flexible space with very forgiving parameters. I feel I can be more confident here, able to move with freedom without the fear of breaking or damaging something. I can breathe and expand; I can smile and spread my arms outwards. It’s beautiful and the keys smile back at me. They see that my presence is warm and they welcome me. This is where I can be.
Fragments from my chestLight, and open boundariesSoft, and diffused edgesWidened, with graceful fingersMy collarbones take me forwardPulled, but pushed from gentle forcesI propel with assured footstepsMountainous, but silent placementThank you for this openingExpanding me beyond my realmHere I’ll occupy, when I can.
For as long as I can remember, I have experience extended dissociative episodes. Sometimes I feel like I’m outside of my body, controlling a puppet. Sometimes the world around me seems unreal, or hyperreal. Sometimes I am completely in my own fantasy world, so much I can’t even see or hear what’s going on around me. I used to think this meant that my essence and my body were completely separate, that my ‘ghost’ was outside of my ‘shell’. But in recent years, and especially with this project, I have changed my view.
I ask what my relationship to my instruments is, what my relationship with a piano via Kate is, what my relationship to pen and paper via Angie is. They aren’t strictly part of my biology, but they are tactile and virtual implants, cybernetic enhancements; prostheses for the purpose of making noise; not quite as extreme as biohacking, but very real cybernetics. I dissociate from my biological body, but I feel intact with my musical machines. Surely then they are part of my body, because they are sensory extensions of myself.
I don’t think my ‘shell’ ends at my skin. My physical body extends to everything I can sense, whether someone else would call it real or not. Who has the right to tell me what is real for me? And since what I sense, what I immediately know is my essence, my soul, my ghost, these are part of my body – actually the same as my body! My dissociation is not a removal from my body, but my body and mind extending themselves, either further into this reality, or maybe some other universe! …
… Maybe this is insanity, or psychosis, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
In Ghost in the Shell, Motoko Kusanagi asks herself if she really exists; her brain and her body are completely cybernetic. What if her memories, her ghost, were also synthetic? Does that make her not real? She never finds an answer …
… I’m an Absurdist. I cannot bring myself to say that I am real (which is not to say that I actively believe I don’t exist!). But whether or not I’m real, I can only do. Doing makes me. I make music. And I’m fine with that.
perhaps this is a karmic condemnation of myself as a composer that i have only come to resolve at the end of this project.
this experience speaks to, in psychoanalytic terms, a continuity between inner ego and external non-ego. spatially, this places my experience on my spiritually, phenomenologically, and materially porous skin, the locus where my composing is entangled with that outside of my skin-shell.
and it is in these relationships that the oracular hand acts.
this is not a phenomenalist account, but an irreal critique of realism and idealism.
nevertheless, the skin, where contact to manuscript paper, to laptops, and to instruments is made is a vital location for discussion because it is the porous limning of our bodies within the background of the world.
i know my experience through my body as i extend; i know my experience through my mind as i think. Spinoza proves that these are both attributes of the same substance.
because this is where madness returns to music.
in contrast with Gilbert Ryle’s ‘ghost in the machine’ which affirms a deterministic difference, and a reipscription of a dominant, active, immaterial mind over a subordinate, passive, fixed body, Misamuna Shirow’s ’ghost in the shell’ troubles and defers the mind and body. neither mind nor body describes Motoko’s experience; only the negative space in which, like Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, both lose meaning.
– j.n.m. redelinghuys (originally written Imbolc 2021, commentary added Samhain 2021)