Monday, October 10, 2016

Song of the Day #342 - Bon Iver - 8 (circle)

To walk aside your favor...

Recently something got out of hand again. Again it was something that was, at one point, going to be some sort of omni-document, something that would say everything and answer every question and generally not be able to exist, because that is not something documents can be. And yet it is something we can believe in, a goal we can set. The ability to set impossible goals for ourselves is I think one of the most beautiful and tragic parts of humanity. So it wasn't that, it was again a compromise, rushed out as the deadline kicked down the door. Maybe that's how it will always feel. That is fine too.

Anyways, I still did it, I got it done, and it was maybe 2/3rds of what I was hoping it would be, and that's a pass. It feels like a giant exhalation. I feel about 5 pounds lighter. Not totally weightless, but lighter. It feels like... The transition between "Moon Water" and this song! Hey yeah, let's talk about that!

I have been totally addicted to this album, and specifically this song, and even more specifically the transition into it. I very rarely listen to it without listening to all of "Moon Water" first, that feels like cheating somehow. If my theory of the album's overarching story - a crisis of meaning, memory, and expectation, and the peace that follows - is correct, then this is the crucial point where the maddening desire for some comprehensive explanation is abandoned, and a reemergence to the maybe flawed, maybe arbitrary, but ultimately sufficient real world begins.

"Moon Water" seems to be a final bid to cast everything, absolutely everything, in some relation to the firmament, to that which is logical and complete: "The math ahead, the math behind, is Moon Water". Okay, it's a compelling theory: all is math and math is like the realm of the stars - immutable and infinitely static (putting aside those uppity Apollo astronauts). It reminds me of Valuska's cosmic fascination in The Melancholy of Resistance. It seems like a perfectly logical endpoint to determinism and ontological materialism, the road he embarks down with the lamenting but unwaveringly atheistic "33 God".

But does it actually work? Can he actually live through such a viewpoint? Umm, well, how did it work out for Valuska? Really seems like he cannot. And the proof is in the music as much as the lyrics - the loop structures begin to collapse onto themselves, vocal samples are played backwards, and our beloved saxophone, familiar ally from track 1, is corrupted, twisting to a mean caricature, emphasizing all the abrasive flaws. It is a stunning moment.

And then this emerges, all the same sounds and textures, but now whole, now natural, collapsed into a feeling just like breathing. It is so wonderful, so serene... I feel I'm moved to the verge of the verge of tears every time: a deep feeling of fulfillment and release that doesn't interfere with one's day to day experience, of really occurring during it in an appreciative way, of being at peace with that location.

"I'm standing in your street now, and I carry his guitar" is a line that hit me, hard, as soon as I heard it, and I'm happy to see that it's resonated with many other people too. We've seen these interjections of "reality" in the abstract philosophizing before, but usually as contrast, as a brief moment of lucidity that only reinforces the distance of the spiraling internal galaxies... but here there is a reconciliation. Reality has become one with mentality. It's the only track where the number at the start of the name actually matches the track number, too... this feels significant... It really feels like everything is sort of "solved" here, and the following two tracks are more looking back at the crisis. The resolution doesn't seem to be in any sort of complete thesis of meaning as much as it is a long exhalation, a calming down, a moving on... Things flare up, sure: the various motifs and instruments of the album stop by here and there, and our beloved sax is returned to glory and given an extended solo, but it all returns into this "circle". My absolute favorite moment is after the little breakdown, when the main melody returns with "to walk aside your favor", it really feels truly infinite, like it would just keep going on, verse after verse, even after the part of it we can hear is finished.

I don't know if there's a whole lot I can say. I think to speculate too much on the meaning of it would be to generate the sort of frantic mental energy that the track itself is trying to dispel. I'll just leave it here, and move on. By the way, I've watched up to episode 12 of Hibike now, it's fantastic. I don't know if I'm emotionally ready yet for e13, let alone season 2. But I am proceeding calmly and in accordance with my feelings :)

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