I came from chaotic matter, unformed, unnamed, a forest of thought, discord, a region of unlikeness. But now I am formed, symmetrical, a language, a song, a poem, matter between skin, meanings I would like to think of as endowed with light. I did not arrive to this personage, this being, by accident. No. In order to sing, I needed to learn the ways of the rest, the pause, to experience tacet, to witness the great silence. Transformation.
At first, I tried what most try. I tried the easiest way to the mountain top. “But this was merely an excuse for my laziness; and where others had already reached a considerable height I was still wandering in the hollows” (Petrarch 13). Even the shortcuts were infested by challenges, trials, performances. These appeared to me as three animals. The spotted leopard or falseness, deceit, and camouflage, the lion, who is an aggressiveness, an overpowering jealousy, and the she-wolf, which is a never-ending hunger, insatiable thirst. If I were to somehow cheat my way to the top I would be accompanied by at least one if not all three. It wasn’t until I listened to my fear, which is a realization of my worthiness or better defined as an acceptance of my readiness, that I allowed (yes, I allowed them) those beasts to push me back to the entrance of the long path, to where the sun is silent (1. 58-60).
There in the silence all manners of growls became transcendental, then transposed into reason. Don’t misunderstand me. This transposition or a what has been characterized as Death isn’t really silence for the fleshed ear, for the heart pounds at low frequency, and the nervous system’s high-pitched hum can numb. I only say that this long sleep I entered, the unfinished symphony, is a tempered silence. This tuning needed to be reawakened from a hoarse voice (1.63), a skill from the past where time is taken as silence itself, then, with that knowledge, composed into matter.
One thinks of discord as the devil’s tritone, but one must listen, smooth out the microtones who speak forgotten languages, decipher the slight bending of a third or the flattening of a fifth. Death is a noise? I did not know this until I slept.
Silence taught me. I became an enigmatic song, a dream state. This dream I had to interpret into a linear movement like life, like melody. I stumbled my way through voicings, gazed “on the teaching that is hidden beneath the veil of the strange verses” (9. 61), so that even “the grief-stricken notes [began] to make themselves heard” (5. 25). From there I gathered clay, bone, and blood like quavers, sticking noisy silences together into form.
It’s comic, now within the cover of my own silence, I sit on your bookshelf, possibly within your reach. I cannot tell you the shape of my forms. I produce the signifier. You produce the signified. But if you read, you will notice that my song moves what it touches (12. 79-80).
Petrarch’s “The Ascent of Mount Ventoux”