Musicality Book Club, Week 8: Feel Out, Feel In

book“We are the mirror, as well as the face in it…
the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours.”
– Rumi / Barks

It’s finally spring in Alaska, so it seems fitting that this week’s chapter from Bridge of WavesMusic as Mirror – centers around the idea of music reflecting nature. The snowy white is melting, little by little revealing patches of green and blue, earth and water. We’re provided with only glimpses now, but in another month or so summer will be in full swing. Can hardly wait! But with this waiting comes reflection, both conscious and subconscious, about the significance of the passing of seasons and meandering of weather. Notice that these things have much to do with time, and so does music, so I am finding my thoughts about nature, humanity, music, and our inner worlds to be fluid and even interchangeable.

Mathieu begins this chapter with the quote from Rumi at the beginning of this post (so beautiful – I love Rumi!). He goes on to write:

One of the oldest cosmological paradigms is “As above, so below”: the earth is a mirror of heaven, the phenomenal world is a (usually degraded) reflection of the pure forms. “The music of the spheres” is an expression of this: earthly music is but a pale reflection of the true, perfect music of the cosmos…

Music, by which I mean all music ever, can be heard as a human reflection. One of the most rewarding sensations you can have as a listener is to snorkel down into an attractive piece of music and discover something of yourself inside it. You are there, in that squiggle of light you see and hear in the music, and the squiggle is the small animal of feeling in your chest… Your feelings are feeding back to you: emotional feedback, one might say. It’s almost like being in two places at once, observer and observed, a dreamer watching the performance of the dream. But then dreamer and dream unite. Listening to music can be so intense that the music merges with you – you as child and as adult, you as you were and as you are becoming. [pp. 172, 169-170]

This reminds me of the yin-yang concepts of essence and nuance, core and subtlety, global and local. I notice myself toggling back and forth between the two most of the time. There are dances where I feel this sweeping sense of the whole picture, like I’m looking outside of the partnership and the music and have this overarching sense of purpose and flow. Then there are other dances where the smallest of details feel magnified and become worlds of their own; the big picture isn’t very important in that moment because the tiniest sliver of an action or image provides so much sensation that I don’t want to draw myself away from it to look at the overall view. I believe moments of flow are when we find ourselves capable of experiencing both instead of having to choose one at the expense of the other. It’s like our senses become more powerful and are able to take in both perspective and detail at the same time. Many times in dance I’m able to focus on both, but not without losing the absorption that characterizes flow. Has anyone else noticed this principle?

Although flow represents a higher order of functioning that allows us to experience multiple realities as once, most of the time we explore one reality, or one relationship between two or more of these realities, at a time:

To look for clues in music, you can likewise place yourself at different orders of magnitude. If you latch onto a note, you can see outward from there into the phrase, the section, the movement. Or you can gaze inward to the energy of the sound waves and the mandala they make out of your eardrum. Or you could hone in on the intention of the music makers, why this particular sound has been put into the world, and follow your gaze outward to the human need for music of every kind. Or you could look inward to find your own need right now. When you focus on the feeling in the music, the emotional intelligence of it, you can appreciate how such qualities belong to everyone while at the same time they are profoundly yours. You can feel simultaneously the flood of human feeling and your own emotional uniqueness. Music feels out and feels in – that’s why it feels good. You sense that the information coming into your spherical mirror from out there is actually you, and that your personal spark is everyone’s. [pp. 174-175]

Although we often experience life through a series of fragmented realities, we ultimately realize that they all fit together into a single one, even though it’s too big for us to see completely. What’s even more wonderful than this is that truly seeing one enables us to see all the others. I love knowing that the worlds of music, nature, and humanity mirror each other because they are not really separate worlds to begin with. Such a big reality. Can we really grasp this?

But in darshan [a “glance” based on the saying “I see the light of the Beloved shining through your eyes,”] we get a glimpse, a taste of the illusory nature of separateness, and go past desire and aversion into union. And so it is likewise in music when the ears are open, and the intention is pure, and the song and the night and the company all agree. [p. 179]

Just beautiful. So here is my mantra for the week: “Music feels out and feels in – that’s why it feels good.” Have a beautiful week!

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Here’s the next post in this series:
Musicality Book Club, Week 9: Still, Empty, and Full of Feeling (Cadencia)

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