Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote: Wilson Harris


"The flute sings of an ancient riverbead one hundred fathoms deep, far below the Potaro River that runs to the Waterfall. Two rivers then. The visible Potaro runs to the Waterfall. The invisible stream of the river of the dead runs far below, far under our knees. The flute tells of the passage of the drowned river of the dead and the river of the living are one quantum stream possessed of four bnks. We shall see!

"So deep, so far below, is the river of the dead that the sound of its stream may never be heard or visualized except when we clothe ourselves with the mask, with the ears of the dancer in the hill. Then the murmur of the buried stream comes up to us as if its source lies in the stars and it may only be heard when we are abnormally attentive to the mystery of creation and the voice of the flute within the lips of three drowned children.

"Listen to the voice of the flute. It sings and tells its tale in the English language yet solid (however whispering) music gives the Word that echoes in one's frame as one kneels uncanny twists, uncanny spirals, that relate to ancestral tongues, Macusi, Carib, Arawak, Wapishana pre-Columbian tongues that have been eclipsed.

"From such eclipse emerges the rich spoil and upheaval of the Word, upheaval into banks of the river of space. As though the flute is a paradox, it arrives at the solidity of music by processes of excavation within a living languag.

"Once cannot tame the voices of the flute, voices of such uncanny lightness yet miracle of being that they are able to tilt the two rivers, the visible and the invisible rivers, into diagrammatic discourse; and in so doing to create the four banks of the river of space into a ladder upon which the curved music of the flute ascends. Those banks are dislodged upwards into rungs in the ladder and into stepping stones into original space.

"The titled banks convert of the river of space into a sieve that spills its contents. That sieve is the antiphon of the Waterfal, it constitutes a discourse between the rocks in the Waterfall and the clouds in the sky. The spilt water evaporates into cloud, evaporates into the promise of new rain, into cloud-kinship to latencies of precipitation in and of the Waterfall through rock. And the voice of the spiralling flute mirrors within solid music the ascension of the spirits of the living and the dead through rock and cloud into space."

Copyright © from Wilson Harris, The Four Banks of the River of Space, London: Faber and Faber, 1990, pp. 43-45. All rights reserved.

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