Plundering the Archives #3

Though it sounds like such a terribly self-important thing to say, Meditations on the Inescapable Self is my great lost work.

In September 1997, almost as an afterthought, I had scribbled the words ‘The inescapable self’ on the j-card of a mixtape. The phrase stuck with me; for some reason, I found it incredibly profound. Not that I knew what it meant—but I must have had a reason for writing it.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that—to give you the most concise version possible—it must mean that we can only be who we are. As much as we may try to change things about ourselves, there’s no way to escape being who we are.

I still find this idea intriguing—but in 1997/98, I was eager to explore it. (Well, as eager as one can be to explore the idea that one can never be anyone else.) I had no idea what exact form it would take, but I envisioned some sort of gallery installation that would incorporate various forms of visual art, sound, video, and perhaps some elements of conceptual art, with a number of different artists participating.

Unfortunately, I had no clue how to go about accomplishing any of it, plus most of my time was occupied by a full-time job, anyway. But, I had always resolved to re-visit the music/sound part of it at some point.

That ‘some point’ became March 2014. I had finally got around to putting together the Short Forms compilation (referred to in an earlier post), and I enjoyed working on it so much that I decided to see what I could make out of Meditations on the Inescapable Self.

When I originally put that recording together in early 1999, it wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. I had dropped one of the four ‘Meditation’ pieces because I felt it was too irritating. I added three previously recorded pieces to flesh out the album. Even then, I wasn’t quite happy with it, not least of all because the second disc essentially regurgitated the contents of side B of the last official Tinty Music cassette (even though it did contain ‘Meditation four’). I got as far as sending out a review copy or two before deciding to cancel the release. (The review it got, in issue #10 of AUTOreverse, was very positive. You can read it about halfway down the page at http://autoreverse-webzine.tripod.com/archive/auto10/rev10.htm.)

The first thing I did was to revisit the ‘Meditations’. I made major changes to the one I’d originally left out (‘Meditation one’), until I got it to a place where I could listen to it again. Then I did the same to two of the remaining three. Finally, I could drop the pieces that I’d originally added to fill up disc space.

I did leave ‘The nature of silence’ as the final track, however. It has a calm, quiet feeling that I find to be very soothing. If what precedes it are meditations on the Inescapable Self, I think ‘The nature of silence’ signals the acceptance of that Self.

(1 April 2014)