The Role of Improvisation Envisioned by Today's Society and Genital Dissatisfaction

Paul Haines Jubilee
Paul Haines: New Dehli, late 1970s
Photo Courtesy of H. Pal Productions©2007

Sound's a bit like anything you don't want to do, but think you do. (Never, obviously, thought you wanted to, didn't.)

It took me the fourth or fifth time to hear one sound bouncing from rock to rock on its way to where I was hiding. No water in the bay, the rocks grew larger and larger, creating in me, as you might imagine, a certain reverence for the footfelt bridge.

You and I have shared how badly play developing in memory is apt to get treated listening, one head after another bowing into conversation simultaneous to the music's onset. Together we have witnessed the accordion's replacement by small electric organ, the trombone by shoehorn, and we have shared dismay at the sealing off of whole regions—nothing recorded there, no livings to be made there.

This leads not to advice (Never tell on your worries!) but to an inventory of sounds, and my praise for the lingual curtain to be found in them and eating, even at the risk of offending half a restaurant's audience of four; nothing inimical to that to this praise, especially since restaurants in days that have gone once served up music to be heard on the radio over great distances with very little reluctance and fewer words. Of course today you can take your ears anywhere.

A longtime guest in our house once ironed bright red peppers even brighter in the palm of his hand, and then the other, as I recall, the kids screaming in that odor. Mixed with the pistachio rice sweetened with coconut milk, it required only seconds for the improvised griddle's pungent whitefat to turn loose a concoction of fritter so wildly sweet it smoked on its own, even wrapped and patted on for a few minutes in a wealthy vegetarian's linen tie.

The privacy to the evening was set back some by all this. People who had gathered in the street beneath the kitchen window made a collective assertion: the linen tie's redline border had obeyed implicitly the known rules for reviving an inferior cut of sirloin (finally with knuckle other than pig). More rational help, it was felt, was attempted by two sounds of my acquaintance (invited from the incident at the waterless bay), who observed: Group complaints fulfill for humans the flutter-tongued mockery of a single lonely man, human ears eager at all costs to determine exactly what occurs, even if only a well-known form of ear evaporation. It's the Gibbon has an eight-note scale, isn't? asked one sound of the other. Not the always-in-tune Cobra. An dubiety among dubities anyway.

My association with sounds isn't extensive enough for me to presume presentation of a repertoire; I wouldn't want to do that any more than I would want to measure rhythm. (Or, for that matter, attempt an analysis of their humour: Why do they find the incorrect use of an already indefinite article so hilarious? An day. An flute. An command. And even an music. And what is one to make of certain of their rejoinders: Not in an intersection of car congas? Who is to take the door on the nose? Conventional animal-pimping-for-animal?).

There is an interesting inventory of sound wisdom based in no tradition and not new, using what is with what hasn't happened yet. Sounds make no noticeable attempt to understand grasp. They believe in no afterlife: our after, they hold, still then. Soul, of course, theirs the liquid core to all musics, whatever their fettle: glazed, thinned, or clung to like drool, compressed into the hardest chromatic beads, cockatrice or honeyed jingled arousal. All of which, they insist, is unsoppable.

At home the walls are bare with the possible exception of a poster of a close-up of Buddha's ear or insects stiffening. They almost never keep pets (their lack of concentration), although an older sound I met did have a cork-coloured dog that watched the sky a lot.

All the sounds are immigrants, of course. (The first thing we hear, the last thing we recognize?) None is intent upon creating a past; in fact, for a sound to be curative (an attribute highly esteemed by them), it must be capable of being forgotten differently, which may explain why some sounds are sent out uncorrected: To check.

Sounds are adamant in their dismissal of classification as mere cult. They cite our sweet and sour as natural outcome of such faulty initiation (an case of umpire ears) and express particular disdain for humans who seek to distinguish pitch as right or wrong and bother to know which is which.

(Such criticism is rare for them, and in the case of we North Americans, more than offset by their rampant joy—the date an official entry on their calendar—at Louis' mother packing him a lunch of trout sandwich for the train ride to Oliver in Chicago!)

Angry for several days, the cats were no longer covering up their shit anywhere, tray or lawn, it made no difference to them, and everywhere were deposits of jade-grey and black worms (An joke spore? one sound asked me. I didn't reply. Later, when I mentioned the lawn's contents reminding me of a field of spent moules, the same sounds said: Truly they are shadows of salt. And, overconfiding as it turned out, when I said I had trouble understanding that, I was further advised: Ah, human, if only it were as easy as putting your mind in an boot, walking cautiously through Leningrad; unlike flashy cars under rickety stars, or an packet of putty, probably).

Not all of this needs to be seen to be heard, providing you stay put, I guess.

Sounds have startling self-images (although dismissing surprise as ego-centric); there are no egg-shaped sounds; likeness to lengthened sausages they are fond of, or a drawn chaste cork.

Confronted by impertinent human horror, sounds volunteer assembly into freshly required words (Hibakusha) so inconsolable we must think mint.

Sounds say they never zigzag: a sound zigs, a sound zags. They deny the existence of the word rumble: what's heard is pure avalanche. Sound dwells, but not on, and never to death, what occurs at the end of dwelling constituting another sound. And all sound fits. (The air left ragged at ear level to sound the equivalent of focus to us. Idiomatically, sounds make impassioned use of the word ear—etymological seed of our horny?)

Words of ours in high favor of sounds include:




















an, of course, and their all-time hit: inkling.

Surprisingly, sounds have been known to stroll about in formations dictated geographically. In Bombay you might see them in a safety-pin formation; in London, that of an artichoke; a clothesline in New York, and a comb in Toronto.

Sounds say there exist no natural surfaces.

A typical night out for sounds can be a very deliberate affair, such as one I spent recently in the presence of a few Toronto sounds that involved driving out of the city, up the Don Valley and along highway 401 to a previously determined point well beyond the signal strength of radio station CKLN (an major artery requisite, sounds say, for the attention to driving to be kept at a minimum, so intense and consuming their task), and then turning the car around, the radio on, and returning to Toronto straight down the highway through minutes of nothing other than dim static spray, the vaporous wash of hemispheric outshriek (with a back seat of uproariously mirthful sounds), finally into the gradually audible gargle of in-and-out syllables, a kind of illogical articulateness and falter (reminding me, sitting up front, of a horse race being called over the public address system of a poor rural track), in another few minutes into what the sound to my right ecstatically referred to as the silk strings of an briet no dawn tuned in fourths at the mercy of 1000 frets; an chin resonance box, said the driving sound.

Unrelatedly, there was a recital of whisk the morning of 17 July after a night the cats had raised hell on the front lawn, a group of robins fallen by the side of the hedge as though meeting on a street corner and—now headless to prove it—plumb run out of things to say, but still prettier representations of events than the sparrows the exact size of erasers stacked up with the heads on.

Which of course are words apart.

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