Monday, April 12, 2010

Sound Quote: Carlos Castaneda

It's always interesting to read descriptions of sounds unfurling from the pages of whatever text is crawling across the page. This one comes from "The Lessons on Don Juan - Journey to Ixtlan" by Carlos Castaneda.

“My elation and joy were so overwhelming that I began to weep...I was living in a most mysterious world and, like everyone else, I was a most mysterious being, and yet I was no more important than a beetle...I heard a peculiar roar at that moment. It was like the sound of a distant jet plane. As I focused my attention on it, the roar increased to a prolonged sharp metallic whizzing and then it softened until it was a mesmerizing, melodious sound. The melody was like the vibration of an electrical current. The image that came to my mind was that two electrified sphere's were coming together, or two square blocks of electrified metal were rubbing against each other and then coming to rest with a thump when they were perfectly leveled with each other.”

Having never dipped my toe in Castaneda well back when it may have been more "appropriate", I'm finding this passage particularly comforting in trying to access some of the themes touched on in what has been called a work of non-fiction:

My basic assumption in both books has been that the articulation points in learning to be a sorcerer were the states of nonordinary reality produced by the ingestion of psychotropic plants...My perception of the world through the effects of those psychotropics had been so bizarre and impressive that I was forced to assume that such states were the only avenue to communicating and learning what Don Juan was attempting to teach me. That assumption was erroneous.

Not one to buy into new age mysticism wholesale, the book has been an interesting and entertaining read which blurs the line between fantasy and reality yet keeps things grounded in an organic way. Reading about an authors description of sound continues to be a fascination whenever I stumble across it. To describe the sensation of vibrating air molecules in words can be clunky at best, but the attempts are always a pleasure to try and envision. Wait...enVISON implies sight...what is the audio equivalent of being able to synthesize(?) the sound of a description of sound?