Thursday, September 29, 2005

Incantation (Part 2)

Breakthrough is pretty much unreadable. A small portion of the book is given over to explanations of how the 'spirit' voices are captured and to rambling accounts, daft philosophizing and pseudo-scientific jargon about the voices and hypnosis and psychology and acoustics and all manner of other abstruse matters.

The larger part of the book consists of transcripts of what the voices had to say. Here's the thing that becomes apparent very quickly on reading them: if these really are the spirits of the dead trying to communicate with us, then they have either all gone completely senile, or only the loonies are bothering to keep in contact.

These are some of the things the spirits wanted Raudive to know (the messages were also polylingual, just to add an even more insane dimension to the process):
Nedoma zirgi (Horses don't think)

Matei sip galva (Mother has a headache)

Golva! Golvas nav! Konstantin, Konstantin, esmu ar tevi vienmer (Head! No head! Konstantin, Konstantin, I am always with you)

Vi koordinati (We are co-ordinated)

Kosta, van, pietiek ar muziku (Kosta, friend, it is sufficient with the music)

Konstantin, streite nicht! (Konstantin, don't quarrel)

...and on and on and on for hundreds of pages with thousands of other incomprehensible and/or dreary snippets. The voices seem entirely incapable of stringing together more that about a half a dozen words into any semblence of coherence.

Man, and I thought this life was confusing and full of trivia. Heaven comes across as some kind of huge dull and sprawling cocktail party filled with the kind of people you'd step in front of buses to avoid. All on acid.

(If you want to hear some EVP the best all-in-one-place collection I've found is a CD called The Ghost Orchid. And if you want to make your own recordings of ghostly voices you can find out how here.)

But I digress. Back to the story. As you will recall, in last week's episode I had forked out my 7 bucks for a copy of Breakthrough. Now I had some inspirational material for my piece.

What I thought of doing was this: since EVP is a technologically-based phenomenon, I would take the process one step further than plain ol' magnetic tape and bring it into the computer era (there are now numerous examples of the Dear Departed communicating via computers, but that's a story for another post, perhaps). My concept was to choose some of the phrases from the transcripts of Raudive's recordings, and then use the speech function of my Mac to say them out loud. A dismebodied voice speaking the words of disembodied voices. Out of this, I would assemble a soundscape. Nifty, huh?

I typed out about a page of stuff. Then I realized the text was on the wrong computer, so I transferred it across to my work machine... and this is where another bizarre thing happened. Somehow, I have no idea how, the text I had typed out got completely corrupted in the transfer. Not a corrupted file mind you, just a completely corrupted rendering of the text. The document that opened was pages of unintelligible gibberish; fragments of words and bits of punctuation peppered throughout with lots of weird arcane-looking characters that I didn't even know existed. This had never happened to me before, and it has never happened since.

Then I had a screwy idea: what if I got the computer to speak this stuff?

It was truly eerie. My Mac was speaking in tongues. Long experience has taught me that when an opportunity like this presents itself in the studio, you record it immediately in case something happens and you can't reproduce it.

So I did. And then the computer crashed. And when it came back up, I could no longer open the text file.

Make of all this what you will. It gave me an interesting track. Like Marie Ann, the Marquise du Deffand once said: "I don't believe in ghosts, but I am afraid of them..."

Here's how the piece eventually sounded: Incantation [mp3 file]

[To Be Continued]


Anonymous anne arkham said...

Yeah, that's freaky sounding.

September 29, 2005 2:40 PM  
Blogger Joe Fuel said...

Oh come on Anne, it's not so bad. I can show you some REALLY creepy stuff if you'd like.

Pete, I'd still write that off as coincidence. But, I am only one young man...

September 29, 2005 3:40 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Ah, Joe, Joe Joe. Yes it is coincidence. But you're missing the point... (I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them...)

September 29, 2005 3:58 PM  
Blogger Joe Fuel said...

I may be doped up on Ni-Quil right now. But I do get it.

Question though... if you don't believe in something, does that mean it doesn't exist? If, for instance, I decided that I didn't believe in the concept of gravity, would I no longer be subject to it?

September 29, 2005 4:12 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

A young Buddhist acolyte goes up to the Master and says "Master, how can I be sure that something really exists? Take my nose, for example. I mean, I know I have a nose, and I can smell with it and see it in the mirror and so forth, but how do I know it really exists?"

The Master punches the acolyte hard on the nose and says "What hurts?"

September 29, 2005 4:27 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Or even better:

Some people are on the balcony of the penthouse of a thirty story building in Manhattan. The usual cocktail party chat. One guy is looking out over the buildings at the pigeons swooping and flying around the skyscrapers.

"You know," he says, "it would be just so great to be a bird, being able to fly like that way up here.."

The guy next to him says "Well, you can you know, all it takes is the mental power to believe!"

The first guy shakes his head skeptically "If only it were that simple."

"But it is," says the second guy. "Watch"

And he climbs up on the balcony takes a step forward and then leans into the wind and soars off into the sky, swooping and diving around the buildings. He does a big loop and lands back on the balcony.

"Wow. That's astonishing," says the first guy.

"Just takes faith and willpower," says the second chap.

"Really? I'm going to try it!" The first guy gets up on the railing takes a big breath, says "I believe I can FLY!" and leaps off.

And plummets thirty floors to a painful death.

One of the other partygoers comes up to the second guy and says to him "You know what? Sometimes you can be a real cunt Superman."

September 29, 2005 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Pil said...

I like Incantation - I like your I think you could release that and get airplay!

V. disturbed by the use of 'cunt' and 'Superman' in the same sentence. That's a first for me.

September 29, 2005 5:46 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

You know, I've told that joke many times and tried variations on the end line, but it just has to be that way. For some reason, that's the funniest combination. It might lose something in a text-only telling. The partygoer has to deliver that line in a world-weary 'he's always doing that trick' tone that kinda defies written language.

Besides, we are not prudish here on The Cow.

September 29, 2005 5:50 PM  
Anonymous UniversalHead said...

Strange how we're all so used to the word 'fuck', but still somewhat disturbed by the word 'cunt', isn't it?

September 29, 2005 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Pil said...

Cunting A!

September 30, 2005 10:48 AM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

I thought the track sounded like a "text" version of say, a postscript file. Never would have guessed the story. Cool!

September 30, 2005 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I hovered around rather afraid to listen to the mp3 file. The word "incantation" didn't help at all.

Then I mustered enough courage to listen.

Yes kind of freaky.

But hey cool post.

September 30, 2005 11:16 PM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

*dons troublemaker hat*
Jen, did you to know the track following Incantation (on Houdini) is titled Incubus?

Ah, words. Such fun!

October 01, 2005 2:09 AM  
Blogger Chickie said...

That song makes my hair stand on end.

October 01, 2005 3:27 AM  

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