Wednesday, June 13, 2007:

of mountains and monasteries and music

Jed and Lucia -- Off the Ground
Jed played guitar in a band. On the weekends when they weren't booked and weren't practicing, he would drive his car out of the city to climb mountains. His favorite was Mt. San Isidro, a moderately tall and moderately difficult mountain which he would nevertheless climb solo. In the early afternoon one day as he reached the summit, he found there a building that had never been there before. It was a modest structure, made of wood and stone, and inside he found it attended by silent men with shaven heads. They let him wander about, unbothered, and when he lay down his pack and removed his coat and gloves they did not comment or even seem to notice. In one hall he found an empty room with a pallet on the floor and a low-cut rock for a pillow. He moved his belongings into it and had potato soup and a small cup of water for dinner. Over time he learned the customs of the place, beyond the overwhelming silence: where and when to bathe, how to help with custodial duties, what to cook and where to gather the ingredients. The ingredients were usually potatoes and dinner was usually potato soup. The soup was made from potatoes and water. Depending on the cook, it might be flavored with additional water.

Jed came to enjoy the silence because it allowed him to reflect more on its absence: on what to say and when to say it, and what to play and when to play it. On his seventeenth day at the monastery he found himself unable to shake a stupid couplet from a song he'd last heard years ago and last enjoyed never. He had found his mantra, though he did not know it.

Over and over it played: "won't you take me back to school / I need to learn the golden rule." The melody was facile, trite, the instrumentation facile, trite, the vocals soppy and ineffectual. The song itself was the very definition of rubbish, and in fact he could find nothing about it to recommend it. Nor could he stop thinking about it. He began to reflect on what this obsession might mean, on what melody might mean, on how rhythm could fit with melody to expand its meaning and leaven its sweetness.

After six weeks of meditation he decided to share his discoveries. "Music reveals itself through study, showing truth not only about specific instances but also about governing principles in general."

There was a silence, and he imagined this insight might be well received. It stretched on until he imagined it might not.

The man to his right spoke. His voice was hoarse, and cracked midway: "Dammit, Jed, we are not Sufis. And this is not a talk show." This was followed by another silence.

Then, from across the room: "He has not spoken for seventeen years."

It was a stinging rebuke.

That night he wondered if he could manage longer than six weeks of silence. He wondered if he wanted to. He missed his guitar; he missed creating.

In the morning he pulled his pack from the corner, put on his boots and coat and gloves, and made his way from the monastery. Halfway down he slipped, caught himself, slipped again, began to tumble. He woke up, which was more than he'd expected just moments before. He was in a bright cloudiness with a burning pain in his chest: covered in snow. He dug himself out, gasped for breath, coughed up icy water. Once he realized he could breathe he realized also that he had twisted his ankle. He limped down the mountainside, making it to ground level just before dusk. He carried on until it was dark, then made camp and slept in his coat and snowboots. The pack felt too comfortable as a pillow; he emptied it and put a rock inside.

In the morning his ankle was still swollen. He had decided on North as a direction and continued that way, concentrating on music, trying to tease out further revelations. He was bitten by a snake while within sight of the highway. On the highway itself he passed out, trying to work a bassline into that rattle he had processed as merely a fast tempo, a rhythm in search of a melody. A descending bassline could work, ascending could as well--eight to the bar? four to the bar? three to the bar? Simple repeating, repeating with variations, alternating patterns? The world was full of possibilities.


The desert was flat and Lucia was not yet hypnotized by interminable monotony; she slowed her car from well ahead and recognized the shape on the asphalt as human. She dialed 911 on her cell and approached the person with her finger on the call button. When she pressed it, it was to report a man delirious and feverish, leg swollen until the pants were tight around it.

Jed was airlifted to the hospital, his leg cut open to relieve the pressure from the swelling, a chunk of calf removed due to necrosis.

Lucia met him at the hospital as an excuse to miss a family reunion. She had not been on good terms with them since she had abandoned polyrhythm in favor of monorhythm: they were shocked about her behavior, worried for the future, unsure what to think but sure that somehow they had been deceived and betrayed.

Jed and Lucia began to chat, as people do when in a room together. Over a course of months Jed had new skin grafted on followed by extensive rest and physical therapy to learn to walk again. It was tedious and painful but the food was good. They began to get to know each other. Jed had ideas for some melodies. Lucia had ideas for some rhythms. They decided to form a band.

[Jed and Lucia probably have a Fanatic Promotion page, but I got the email about them so long ago that I lost the URL and Google isn't turning it up]

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Lucia, the iceprincess,radiating light in the the very north.One day she met Jed on a snowflake. he told her to sleep on rocks!She got fractures all over her body. She was used to sleep on melting ice. The food she would feed Jed was icecubes-worms packed in snow. He would feed Lucia potatoesoap.Music in the silent world was the kling klong when the big icecubes fell into the water. Really she was born as a seal. When she raised her big eyes from the waterline she would say "under the water". Why? It was her secret.She climbed up on to the ice, shook her fury head. Waiting were trolls with long green hair, her relatives. They laughed and cried out:
"Lucia, the snowprincess". Later she wrote about it in a book called "the secret". Lucia would throw glittering icecubes out into the world. One hit Jed who was lost and happened to rest on the snowflake. He became paralyzed for years.It´s a never ending story.

lucia, the snowangel with sunkissed cheeks and long flowy hair. she was putting out fires in the california mountains with her ice breath when jed was exposed and frozen.
when lucia discovered this beautiful creature, frozen inside a cube with frost all around, she felt tears well up in her eyes. eyes that hadn't seen warm tears for over a decade, suddenly rained all around the cube.
for over a year, tear after tear defrosted the cube, very slowly.
but with patience lucia, the snow angel learnt everything she could about Jed's beautiful features, so that she never would have to be without the warmth of tears again.
as time passed, her heart was also beginning to melt, and she knew this must be what it meant to be part of human love.
on new years eve, even as snowflakes were falling all around them, lucia the snowangel shed tears enough to release the beautiful creature Jed from her own capture.
as the frost vaporised Jed began blinking and moving his eyes about. lucia faced a sudden dread that now this creature would no longer be hers to nurture, and would choose flight as freedom.
but as soon as jed gained control of his facial features, he experienced that the fire that had once burnt with such rage through his heart, was now soothed by the ice blue gaze of this snow angel.
he remained still in her embrace, although he was now fully able to move.
the harmony was complete.

soon lucia the snow angel was human enough to meet Jed in the world where fires had perished once and for all...

and they lived happily ever after

Looks I've inspired a contest for best Jed & Lucia origination story. I'll have to let someone else be the judge. :-)

yeah, tuwa, your story was inspiring and made my imagination start flowing.

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