Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

On The Street Where I Live

Erik Satie wrote his series of Gnossiennes before the turn of the 20th Century. It’s a made up word, gnossiennes is. He made up the style, and the name for it, and an explanation for it died with him in 1924. He was constantly reinventing and explaining himself, each explanation making everything more cryptic along the way.

Interesting and intelligent people generally cannot explain themselves. They obfuscate by talking, the opposite of regular people. An artist’s sole ability is to conjure an impression out of nothing. They are unlikely to turn off the power to do so when asked a direct question. They can’t be trusted.

Number 4 Gnossiennes wasn’t even published until 1968. An afterthought? Who can say. It gets me through the day some days.  Satie termed some of his compositions “furniture music.” They are ambient — part of the furnishings of a room.

I work alone, in a cold place. On days like today, the sun heaves itself into view for a moment on the shoulder of the horizon, and then collapses in a heap shortly after. The landscape is sere and frosted, and the flakes come down like ground bones. I have a mask on my face, and a clamp over my head to dull the din. The machines growl like they’re wounded. When I’m able to turn it off for a moment, Satie takes his turn, producing his furniture in the room I produce furniture in. I put my hands right on the metal duct that carries the heat from the fire to the house upstairs, and I feel the residue of the sun of many Julys pass by. It is a kind of perfection.

10 Responses

  1. Told you you were a Modernist. Yesterday you were dissing Parasites – now you are playing them.

    I have some of Satie's tunes in my studio, too. I sometimes think of him, and about how he died with his studio reeking of trash, 7 velvet suits, and letters unsent to his only true lover, Susanne Valadon.

  2. Sipp,
    That is beautiful, man. Raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Your words, and Saties music also. Thanks.
    Tom Carter

  3. Oddly, I just posted a photo on my Facebook of the sun going down through the palms and mesquites, and titled it, "On the street where you live." Beautiful music. New to me.

  4. So glad I didn't hear and read that until this morning. It is dark out, and cold, and the others are still asleep. Your words and his music were like a soft embrace from an old friend, warm with the heat of life and love. Now I can start my day. Thank you.

  5. Superb, both hand and mind. You're carrying on a literary tradition that would make E.B. White and Joseph Mitchell proud. Our time needs your music.

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