ernest trova, falling man
Earlier, I heard myself talking to myself in my head say, "By this time in my life I know what's important."
I thought, "Really? Is that barking to hear your head roar? Or do you really think you know?"
"Yeah," I thought, "I know. Wouldn't have said it if I didn't?"
"Is that a fact? Tell me another good one."
The answer to the question of what is important, my assessment is that mountain music is important. It is important because it carries the living spirit of mountain culture. As the culture fades away, pushed aside by corporate pop culture and mass merchandising, television, the old-time religion continues to be the spirit of the culture. Old-time music carries the spirit of the culture, too. As long as there are Primitive Baptist and Regular Baptist churches the spirit of the culture will continue. It's the same with old-time music carrying the culture. Fiddlers conventions, dances, jams keep the music going. As people change, the ways of the churches change and the ways of playing the music changes. It has changed in the way it was played all along over the last two and a half centuries. Mandolins have been creeping into old-time bands over the last several years. It used to be that when somebody asked the difference between bluegrass and old-time, I'd sometimes say, the mandolin. When a mandolin is in the band, it's bluegrass. That rule of thumb doesn't apply any more. Everything changes.
I believe the spirit of the people of these mountains is important. Changing culture has changed away from the pre-electricity culture that was in these mountains. The spirit of the culture continues to live, even though the culture is largely gone. But not entirely. And I don't believe it will ever be gone entirely. This pop civilization that has replaced all traditional cultures, Italian, Korean, Hebrew, Ukrainian, Tunisian, Ethiopian. We have pockets of all these cultures being erased from one generation to the next as they're absorbed by the pop corporate culture that is inclusive, incorporates everything, even what's opposed to it. It's like rock & roll in that way, the way it incorporates everything it's exposed to. I have a feeling, without a lick of certainty, that this television culture that has become homogenized American culture won't last a great deal longer. I've an idea it's transitional.
The old traditional cultures all around the globe have to go. We are now in the Age of Electricity and will always have electricity into the future. The traditional ways from before the coming of electricity, Prometheus unbound, evidently have to go completely away. Everything is different now. The entire surface of the moon photographed. Possibly the entire planet Mars is photographed by now. Earth is completely photographed. The planets only slightly known before electricity, except by astrology, but intimately known by now, scientifically, thanks to electricity and oil, the planets are so closely studied by now by means unavailable before electricity and oil.
There is coming a time the oil is going away. We'll always have electricity. When we settle down from this time of international homogenization as all the traditional cultures in the world change from traditional folk tunes to Britney Spears and Coco Lee, getting facelifts to look more like tv, I've a feeling something is going to take place like the phenomenon of the Lord coming again, however that may manifest. When that happens, we'll collectively be so blown away we may just go to liking one another. Wouldn't that be an interesting world to live in for awhile. It has the potential for the Truman Show and Disney World Forever just a little too much for comfort. It may be so glorious an ecstasy of light the people living in that time would be so deeply changed that, again, everything that went before is no more.
For now, not thinking of the unknown future, which cannot possibly turn out to be any way it might be imagined, thinking only of now, mountain music is important because it carries the spirit of these mountains about the purest it can be carried from one generation to the next. If it goes away culturally, we have recordings galore now, field recordings, every kind of recording of every mountain musician there just about was. I believe it's a good thing. A new kind of mountain culture may evolve in the distant future that wants no connection with the past. Or it may evolve to want to remember the music. It can't be known. Maybe a psychic could see it and tell us. But who would believe it? It's not to be known, not even to be thought about except as a waste of time.
Now. It's the same word all the time, the ongoing continuum of consciousness, in motion and in stillness at once. I can't say Now moves through time, because it seems to be outside time. Time may measure sequences of events, as they used to say in the mountains, "hands goin," or one after the other. Maybe now is inside time to the degree that it is the center of the clock, the part that turns in place. There is much a feeling of going through time, or we are still and time is moving by us. Maybe the still Now is inside ourselves. The sense of Now as both moving and still may be the yin yang, the duality in it. I think I see it a point of consciousness that sees through our eyes, hears through the ears, and so on, awareness.
Everything happens around that awareness. Other people driving in cars, every car going to a different place. Waiting at the stop light. Watching the rain out the window. Fall turns to winter day by day, night by night. Now moves from one calendar date to the next continually. Now also has nothing whatsoever to do with numbers and clock hands. Like the yard stick measuring a length of string has nothing whatever to do with the length of the string. It's a standard of measurement to determine its length in numbers. The Now in different forms of seeing it go through time, if that's what it does, or if time goes through Now like a thread pulled through a needle's eye. I'd better stop, the quicksand is pulling me down.