Never Begin to Sing (10)
December 1, 2017
One in a series subtitled 10 Prose Poems about Sound by HILOBROW friend Damon Krukowski. Republished with the author’s permission from the 2004 collection The Memory Theater Burned (Turtle Point).
Even if religion and song are the distillation of a people’s collective imagination, there are some things for which the individual alone must be responsible. And for these things there is no explanation. Why should Ganesh, whose elephant head I am willing to assign to the genius of a people, be greeted by an arrhythmic crash of cymbals whenever he enters the stage of the Ramayana play? This detail is too trivial for the imagination of an entire people. I must assign it instead to that lone percussionist, genius or imbecile, whose momentary success initiated a tradition. Surprise cannot emanate from a people, whose individual imaginations are calibrated to one another through myth and faith. The imagination may rule our waking and dreaming lives, but impulse — perhaps it is only impulse — remains the domain of personal irrationality. A religion or song based on irrationality would be incomprehensible, it would in no way mirror our imaginations, which are as orderly as they are fantastic. Fantasy is itself predictable and rigid, like those set entertainments through which we all suffered as children. Irrationality, by contrast, mirrors our individual souls. In it we recognize ourselves, but never our friends, relations, or neighbors — it therefore makes poor material for religions and songs — and is the only possible material for poetry.
CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE AGAIN by Significant Objects | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators