the problem with mind reading

27 Apr

it’s not every day you get to see the son of your favorite composer perform. and hey, he was pretty good. he sat in front of a kind of drum kit, two large antique bass drums and a cymbal to either side, mallet in each hand. as i walked into the performance area, and for the next few minutes after, he was focused inward, making movements that brought to mind a catholic crossing himself. seeing as he talks, in the literature associated with the exhibition, about shamanism and “[being] a modern-day witch-doctor,” this made perfect sense to me. i too tried to focus inward and awaited the start. eventually, the curator, standing next to a camcorder, announced the performance and we were off. the cute girl wearing glasses who stood next to me took on a stance of attentive repose. and our artist began to hit the drums and cymbals in a kind of paroxysm. often, his jaw hung slack, then contracted, after which his tongue would lick out lizard-like. consulting the accompanying literature, it appears he was in the process of exorcising the spirit he had invited into himself prior to the performance, his “familiar” who had been with him for as long as he could remember. as a piece of music, this started out interesting. i’m a sucker for the sound of cymbals played with mallets, and the old bass drums also sounded nice. after awhile, however, it became monotonous. not ’til after the performance, when he discussed his process, did it make more sense. exorcising the “familiar” spirit, he says, causes involuntary movements of the limbs, which he deals with in this piece by, essentially, placing sound-making devices in front of his limbs. “are you uncomfortable talking about this stuff?” someone asked. he replied, essentially, “no. i’ve been a mystic for a long time. when i was younger i was sometimes uncomfortable about it because i was worried someone wouldn’t understand. but now i’m tough about being a mystic.”

afterwards, i walked out of the performance area and waited in the hallway for a moment before heading back into the gallery space. the cute glasses girl stood next to me, there, for a second. neither of us said anything. then, if i remember right, her friends came in and started talking. they were all american, all shrill, and i walked out. oh well. i went on to kaffee burger to see marzipan marzipan play and had a great conversation with margareth about depression and san francisco and bands.

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