dear moth's powder,
when we ended it all, my close friends immediately began to berate you, out of love for me no doubt. but had they ever considered that i might still have loved you? and that their commentary - surely meant to unmoor and unfix me from you - would only serve to make me defend you, to rearticulate and recalibrate, to internalize and improvise what you'd meant to me? and had they ever considered that berating you - he is egotistical; he is a flirt and flirted with all these dudes but i ain't never wanna tell you and get you all upset; he is intimidated by you and couldn't handle you...you're so much better than him; he's immature; he's phony; he's just not right for you; he's not cute; he's...he's...he's... - well, berating you only felt like some such underhanded snide remark about me as well. for if you were all those things and you were always all those things and that is what my close, dear, dear friends had always saw of you all of the time? well? well. then that would mean that each such time they saw us together was a moment for them to judge us both: you for being all that purportedly fucked up shit and me for either not being acute enough to see or being too short-sighted, horny, lonely or some other such befuddlement to care. so the berating of you only served to imply that either i'm hella ignorant or callous, unduly contented or seemingly indifferent.
i'm not ignorant to their love. i mean, i get it. i understand the why. i understand that above all else, they want to love on me and show me kindness and give me strength. but that should not come by way of the total evisceration of you. and yes, of course, it's at least partially my fault. of course, i berated you and talked and said all sorts of bad things about you. but...i don't know. there was an underside to what i was voicing. whenever i'd say yes, he's a mess! - i was at the very same time feeling, i love him. deeply. still, very deeply still! it seems that love and pain go hand in hand in too many situations. i want the love. but the pain can steal away. i wish they would've simply listened to me complain about you rather than join in because to me it seemed, for them, to be - not fun necessarily - but a bit of relief for them maybe, or a snide way to make a jab at me. now i know this is not the apparentness of it all, that it is the sorta critique that takes place below some such surface in ways unconscious even to the background vocalists.
but if they thought all that shit about you when we were together and said things and brought up ideas and concepts that even i'd not initiated - of course i said you were a mess, but never that you were unattractive - well, maybe they always felt that i didn't deserve the sorta happiness i was feeling? or maybe they were confused by my happiness and rather than have me articulate some of those reasons, they felt it cool to betray me by adjudicating for themselves my emotional capacities. when i was with you? well. if what they say is true about you, then i know nothing of myself either. i become one anonymous to myself, unable to know myself, only known by way of another's judgments of me. and if what they say is true, then i would never be able to know myself but would constantly have to seek their validation of my erotic and emotional energies to know if they are sensical. and that's nothing for which i'd volunteer them. and they don't want that job anyway.
i guess what i fundamentally mean is this: i never enjoyed listening to others speak so negatively about you even if you'd hurt me in the past (and i hope i am afforded the same courtesies). it's like the vamp for all those fast songs. like Ricky Dillard's more abundantly that entirely too many gospel choirs at high schools and colleges sung in the mid-90s. (i'm so very glad those days are over because, truth be told, i hated that song then and still do today; it just sounds like it was made for performance and i went to too many concerts at churches and praise nights and college expos where this song was sung.) it's not about the round of joy-joy-joy-joy / joy-joy-joy-joy from soprano to alto to tenor to alto to soprano to... it's about the theatrics of it all, about the rhythmic pacing and spacing and the end-full-swell of jooooooy with the three parts singing together in unity, though harmonious, not unison.
or it's like Charles Hayes and the Comsos's version of everytime i feel the spirit. the song was his 1982 take on the standard, a bit faster and rushed and loud. it must've been the acoustics of the church in which it was recorded but when i listen to it, i can hear the robes and the wooden floors (but the floors were probably carpeted; don't judge me!) and i can see the hairdos of the women and the sissies (yes. i'm sure there were at least some. and i'm thankful for those godfathers. well!). anyway, this song is cute in the beginning: everytime i feel the spirit repeated, almost by way of a whisper; you can almost see them pointing to the audience on everytime and then jerking their hands back real quick and pointing to themselves on i, visualizing the choir and congregation engaged in choreo-sonic movements and thoughts.
well, it starts with words a little above a whisper, almost secret-like, telling the audience some such intimate information that only they could possibly bear, that only they could possibly apprehend. but then they sing, moving in my heart i'll praaaaay and, well, everybody can get with that. so things get gooder and gooder, louder and louder. then that expected chorus: everytime i feel the spirit moving in my heart i will pray-ay-ay! but sung with a different set of sycopational, rhythmical concepts buoyantly moving the song along. but, really, the entire song moves and moves and moves because, really, the song is about the vamp. it's about the repetition and the clapping and foot-stomping and the way the vamp is yet another taking it to church with suspended and minor chords, and i'd say, conviction. right in the bottom of their voices, conviction. i dare you listen and not feel moved.
anyway. for me, it seems that the words are not as important as the rhythm, some sorta centrifugal spin out and out and out while concurrently centripetal, pulling in and in and in. the congregation and the listeners are pulled in to the sound by the sound being spun out towards them. and the choir is pulled in to the congregation by the congregation's cacophonous sonic response. this isn't some mere deconstruction where what one expects is overturned. this is more like what Adrian Piper desires in one such performance, it is a withdrawal into the external world. the external world is the sounds of the hands and feet and floors and organs and atmosphere and hairdos and robes and sissies and old mother sopranos and choir directors and drums and bass and breath and hollers and yelps and whew! they spun that sonic materiality out so they all could get into it, so they could inhabit the space and feel the spirit moving and move by the spirit.
i suppose if my friends gave a bit more attention to the rhythm with which i'd enunciate he's a mess! they'd know that i was also going for what the Cosmos accomplished with their withdrawal into some such external. but they'd also know that the external i wanted was the warmth and comfort of peculiar silence, of rhythmic agreement: slurred speech, slowed pace. inflections on their response: well...yes...but he wasn't that bad where the well becomes melismatic break, ruptured in two - weh-elllll, high note on the weh and grounding out on the tonic elllll. you know what i mean. or even the refusal to speak while i spoke. that's what i wanted. they'd know that i missed him. still. miss him deeply, still! they'd know that my speaking was the desire for some sorta ecstatic asceticism, i wanted to be beside myself, outside myself, away from myself, looking down and up at myself - not necessarily alone - but with folks who'd sing in harmony. i'd take the alto and they'd take the soprano and tenor, both holding me up and covering me.
and this ecstatic asceticism wouldn't even take place in time, it'd actually be a suspension of time itself, no past, no present, no future, but some such dwelling together with each other outside the general ruse of decorum that would have me be over it all and over you by any now: you'll get over it soon; you'll be alright in the future; time away from him will heal wounds; you’re still not over him? well. is not this temporality dependent upon some linearity, some progression? and what happens if i do not progress in ways that i should? well, then is ushered in a judgment of me as amoral and immoral, as fussy and argumentative, as pathological. ecstatic asceticism lets us pause, syncopate, rhythmnate, chill for a bit and sing with different pace and with a different peace – passing and surpassing all understanding, taking imaginative leaps and flights of fancy. we’d sing, whether loud or soft. and i'm sure Foucault would be all against asceticism because it renounces pleasure. but this is the sorta asceticism that pleasure makes possible. the pleasure of singing and changing pace and becoming together with friends.
there's something i learned of conviction listening to my mother preach all those times, all those many times. i certainly didn't agree with a lot of what she'd say. i'd sit on that b-3 and she'd know that i wasn't agreeing, but i'd throw up my hand and wave it, i'd back her up with the most preacherly chords i could dig out from my feet and legs and thighs and stomach. i had to reach down. way, way down to find a sound consistent with her preaching. and it was in this: she was totally convicted about what she'd say. she felt that young women should save yourself for marriage! the lord will keep you if you wanna be kept! i know because he kept me! and everyone would look over at me by a sorta glance or whatever because they knew, especially right before she died, that you and i were living in the same bed, worshipping in the same church and preaching sermons that were pretty much the antithesis of what she'd preach. (and there was, of course, all that nervous chatter amongst them - it was a small church you know - that you and i were talking of beginning a bible study that would turn into its own church and they didn't like that one bit but she would not let them talk about her sons - plural - they my sons and ya'll will not speak of the badly, she'd say. she was convicted of that more than anything.)
well. i wasn't convicted or convinced that you and i were over. so the immediacy with which my friends berated you alienated me because, if we'd ever gotten back together, then i'd have to explain myself to them and, most detrimentally, to myself. i'd have to forestall pleasure and become and ongoing ascetic, existing in this temporality, with no recourse to ecstasy. and everytime i feel cool air on my arm as i turn over in the bed and reach for you? i pray.