composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist
My next piece is entitled A wise old owl. I was hesitating, because Daemon Lover could have also been an acceptable title, but that would have taken away from the essence of the piece. This work is not about love at all, it's about life and death.
If you haven't watched the piece, please don't read this first. Your own interpretation of my imagery is just as valuable.
So the question probably arises after watching this piece, what is it about? And to be very honest, I have the same question, even after having lived the creation of this for the past month. The texts come from three sources. The wise old owl is a nursery rhyme, and quite a beautiful one. It's a reminder to listen. The second is an excerpt from old Scottish story called the Daemon Lover or the House Carpenter. This text alludes most to the irresponsible wish to remain young forever, and to evade death. The search for the fount of youth. The third is my own, and is partly inspired by Paul Kingsnorth, who at a certain point states in his book "Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist," ... saving worlds is an impossible business. I couldn't agree more. The more information we have, the more people we have, the clearer it is what we need to do, the less possible it becomes. We have landed in the ultimate progress trap, and the bill is being presented now.
Most of the themes arise from a deep disappointment in current situation, observation of non-sensible behaviour of individuals and governments alike, and questions about our trajectory in relation to the past, present and future. Starting with the last statement, the question that has arisen is what is more important, the past, present or future? The part that always takes the shortest straw is the future, which is probably due by a combination of our inability to plan and act on a long-term basis, and our egoism and greed of wanting the best for the present.
When one looks at the corona crisis, the most blatant conflict of interest is the protection of the weak and old at the cost of the young and strong. The first is group is easy to quantify in in numbers and lost years, while the second group is impossible to quantify, because presumptions are made of their resilience, flexibility, and ability to catch-up for lost time in schooling and emotional development. The result is a society that accepts zero risk, hence stifling the future in order to preserve the present. This idea of stifling is imposed by the once wise old owl who so wisely observes and speaks less. At a certain point, not speaking at all, thereby letting it happen, is acquiescing to choke the future. I feel we have all gotten to a point where we just accept, and feel that our inner conflict is strangling us. Don't get me wrong, observing and pondering is healthier than shouting out premature thoughts at will. But fear, which is my next issue, turns pondering into dogmatic thinking that takes the life out of society.
The next theme is fear, and to be specific, the fear of death. My brain has been wandering the halls of bafflement for the last 10 months and I have finally come upon the following conclusion. Religion was "invented" to comfort mankind in the face of death and finality. As a non-theist person, especially not having been brought up with religion, this realisation was really an ah-ha moment. For some it might have seemed obvious long ago, Sorry for my ignorance. With the observation, the following can be concluded. A growing population with a diminishing population of believers has found another religion; that of technological progress. While bringing wonders, it has also brought us the ability to form the world the way that we see fit, therefore out-skirting the wiles of nature (specifically, survival of the fittest). In our success and constant "progress," we have conveniently forgotten that death is the inevitable end of life. When we ARE confronted with it, it is something terrible and heart-wrenchingly saddening. When a virus comes along to "correct" us we refuse! We shut down entire societies in order to banish the last vestige of that particular virus. We shall prevail! Mankind shall live to the utmost!
Almost eight years ago, I gave birth to my second child, my son Abel. I specifically remember the moment, a few months afterwards, thinking that if I died, I would be okay with it, knowing that I had done the most important that I could do. Nothing (for me) could ever exceed the importance of what I had already made. My voyage had reached its pinnacle. I can definitely say that becoming a mother has made me accept that I will die someday, and that it is good. New life can only exist because we die. I am exceptionally grateful for the beautiful children that I have put on this world, and grateful for the joy that we have together, and the time that we spend together as they grow up. Of course I want to be there to guide them on their journey, but if my time comes, then it will come, and they will be fine.
My song is about accepting, even welcoming death as inevitable. Live well and do well for the world, and die well. Don't live in denial as we do now. The struggle that you see in the mirrors is the struggle that we face as mankind, as a society, with how we live and how we die. Life without risk is truly no life at all. Wrapping life in plastic will suffocate your soul, even if you protect your shell.
The watching eye of the owl is not only a symbol for the "government" but also the individual who turns the eye inwards and struggles with the world. The eye convolutes on itself, just as our brains struggle to deal with the levels of information that is offered to us on daily basis. Simplicity needs to be found again to stop the bleeding heart.
An acquaintance viewed the draft of my video and suggested that I get (mental) help. I responded, if I need to get help, then so does at least 50% of society. This music and video was truly born out of immense frustration, anger, and I dare call it....depression. The situation crushes/ed me. Making art is a way out. I KNOW that most people are feeling this enormous depression. I KNOW that society is feeling what I feel. We are a society in need of help. Are the ones who don't need it perhaps the ones calling the loudest to extend and intensify the lockdown? So in a way, this music and video is a scream for the future, for the youth, for the children. Let us care for and nurture the future in a greater fashion than we care for the present. Let us put our engorged egos and fear aside and let us truly care for the generations that mean the most; our youth, children, grandchildren, and the children to come.