Even though it is the plain of uneventfulness, I trace out a line of flight in a daydream. Even though I am daydreaming, I dream of plain things. Let me arbitrarily start from the last fifteen seconds of Is It Now? The unintelligible message corrupted and weakened by power line noise is good enough to set me off packing. In a moment I will remember what the packing is for. Before I do, suppose I am going just out of town but not too far, nothing special there. So I take out a necklace with large colorful transparent beads to examine the environment outside. I remember spending an afternoon out in the country, gathering daisies and making flower wreaths, then traded them for the wonderful necklace with a girl I met who also came to play on the same meadow. The beads are beautiful and useful. You can place each of them successively before one of your eyes and squint the other, rotate the bead a little, and observe the air, the clouds, and the sky. To Filter is to transform. Brown and blue. Some information is lost, but what remains comes clearer – if it’s a clear day. Today is not the best day, hazy and fuzzy. The clouds exhibit a tint of yellow, the air is lazy, doesn’t want to stir, perhaps mildly polluted even. But I can hear it humming a tune of warmth whichever bead I choose to observe it through. That’s good enough for an outing. I spend the next nine minutes loiter around the room to pack. All I need is to stuff some snacks into my bag. But to do so with my footsteps and body movements synchronized to the lethargic Dub bass takes time.
The yellow tint on the clouds could be a reflection from the mild pollution, or it gently warns of a dissolving sun. In the latter case, it should rightly arouse a sense of urgency. I Come Alive into the Climatic Phase No. 1 and get myself on the road. There doesn’t seem to be much going on outside on the late Saturday afternoon, except the smell I expect of grass dust thrown up by running feet that permeates the air out in the country. Here along the road, everything seems standing still, including the air. But as I slowly drive past them, a chorus of coconut fairies forms out of slightly condensed air, and they sing in different pitches as I turn around bends of various curvatures. read more …
A winter walk in slow motion. The sounds of every sinking step along the snow carpeted trail, of a twig’s shudder felt by each cell of the tree, of water droplets dripping from glittering icicles, of pine cones being kicked sideways, of broken glasses…
An endless journey forward through the monotonous sparse woods, which effortlessly extends itself by looping the same scenery. It invites a meditative mind to open the inner eyes, drawn to meticulous examination of every detail in the derivation, and lulled to dreamy introspection of the encompassing philosophy.
At times clouds pass over and hastily flew on, casting transparent shadows on the otherwise blinding whiteness. A strange flicker produced by the transient chiaroscuro induces a moment of intellectual illumination, in which the mind briefly floats in the air of delightful clarity.
When I was small and looked at “Still Life in Motion”, or “Movement in Still Life”, I thought of a largely immobile living being undergoing quasi-equilibrium movement. Now it suddenly clicked that still life refers to a painting, like that of a couple of drying flowers gathered from outside the house, a framed old photograph of someone distant in memory, a plate of promising green grass, and an empty bottle – all of which set against a patchy gray wall in a dark room. So is trudging in that snow, doubtlessly a motion but in truth a collection of snapshots of the outer scenes and inner states.
I have never been good at ambient music. But when I open the window, and all the luminous particles of sounds and samples come along a sudden blow of wind onto my face – like this entrancing opening – I am the most willing captive to offer my most secret imagination.
As I was reading about the route Kafka used to take everyday to school accompanied by the family chef, suddenly the strains of HaTikvah was heard. It may not be much of a surprise since Kafka was known to have wanted to make aliya, the strange thing is that barely passing 8 bars, the music deviated from what I know so well. It then became apparent that this is not the Israeli national anthem, or a remix of it.
Recalling that the music of HaTikvah was adapted from some pretty pedestrian folk tune, I went to the Wikipedia page in hope of finding some confirmation that the presently playing piece was also a derivative of the same source. There, the name Smetana struck me familiar. Wasn’t that splendid hall where I listened to that underwhelming concert inside the municipal house called Smetana Hall? – It’s probably not the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK’s fault, but my insisting in going to the concert after a whole day’s hike to blame. Now as the second movement of Smetana’s symphonic poem set, Vltava, greets me again, my hypothesis is validated. For some time, I enjoyed the discovery of the hidden links between these initially unrelated dots scattered all over my trip. But it seems to be a well known fact domestically.
Now as I think of it, isn’t it most suitable to choose this piece of music for that short film of Kafka’s Prague? On one hand, the HaTikvah-like melody alludes to his Zion heart, on the other, a Czech rendition reflects his cultural identity. By the way, this is not the only occasion where the museum designers show genius choice of music. Firstly I was met with some non-trivial ambient music in the introductory part. And close to the end in the literary analysis section, some spooky metal sounds are heard accompanying Kafka’s hand injury drawings made for his insurance company, creating a creepy absurd space. I would say the museum is quite experimental sonically and visually.
They also offered scholarly and deep interpretations for Kafka’s work, which were difficult to chew. To be honest, when I read Metamorphosis, I hardly saw anything beyond the storyline. But I’ll have plenty of chances to read between the lines now that I bought a set of three books compiling Kafka’s short stories from the museum shop – almost as impressive as the Autechre EP box that I got at the live show!
On a somewhat remotely related note, the nude with arms raised (and armpit hair exposed) by Pablo Picasso actually reminded me of George Samsa’s sister at the end of Metamorphosis, stretching herself to receive the infinite generosity from the sunshine as much as she could; her parents suddenly realize that here is a full fledged young woman ready for the future. This is not to say that I finally start to whole-heartedly appreciate that drawing. Although admittedly, Catherine’s explanation helped a lot towards that end. She says naivism tries to unlearn the academic training and focuses on the essence of what one wants to convey through childish paint strokes. In this particular drawing, I indeed starts to see the innocence, youthfulness and all the signs indicating the fresh positive, instead of singling out the grotesque squiggles supposedly representing her hair and hands. We also agreed that his intentional neglect of making her face pretty and leaving the natural underarm as is were an explicit challenge to typical modern viewers such as us, who are knowingly but irresistibly conditioned to popular media dictation of what is considered to be feminine beauty.