Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Selling my lost soul

Just got back from a day of flogging the music in the park, running off to a meeting, to siting in Dempsey's talking about faith and nilism with a pal... and at the end of the day, the realization that the bliss, in the Joseph Campbell sense is dead in me.

All day, playing with an idiot grin on my faith as though I still loved this music. Frankly this music is a dead thing in me, I think I hate it. It is something to sell so I can ... get by. For all my life it was my joy, but now, I look inside and find cold death, so I don't look inside as I play, I listen and ask, does this sound like joy? And then play as a mimicry of what joy sounds like.

I don't know if I can ever love music again. Music betrayed me or I betrayed music - I have lost my soul.

15 Comments:

At 5:57 AM, Blogger QuaCarol said...

All day, playing with an idiot grin on my faith as though I still loved this music.

That is the most magnificent Freudian slip of a typo I have ever seen, Lorcan! It's poetry. Your unconscious sure is trying to get a message out to you.

WWGFD? (with a nod to our more fundie folks, What Would George Fox Do?)

He would: Stop running. Stop talking. Sit still and wait. And when all his hopes . . . were gone . . .

In other words, wipe that idiot grin off your faith and see what appears.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

My... look at that... I suppose it is true. Unfortunatly, I have to keep running, living in New York, to make a small living, and the troubles with my music, my faith and my friends are so bound up... well, I have hopes to get to Manni Utenam this summer, a place where I have often found solace... it is near Labrador in Quebec, among Innu who I love dearly.
Cheers
lor

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Hi Lorcan.

You mentioned in an earlier posting that when friends have a problem between them, they should get it out in the open, discuss it face to face. Maybe it would help if you did this with yourself?

Alternatively ... I'm sorry that I don't know enough about Quakers to know what they do in these situations, but if you were a catholic like me, I'd say (maybe) ... sit down with God and talk to him and listen to what he says in response until you get some resolution.

Sorry - all advice seems inadequate.

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Carol:
I begged the Friend for clearness... said no... nothing else to do... but live with the pain and the effects of gossip and defimation until I reclaim my ablity to live in solitude without lonliness... a gift to which I look forward - to get by in like without active pain.

love
lor

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

get by in life that is... another slip.
lor

 
At 8:09 PM, Blogger Dyske said...

There is a Japanese movie about the Zen master Rikyu which always interested me because it deals specifically with one’s attitude towards art. At one point in the movie, his disciples get fed up with Rikyu because he would easily give into the crass requests of his boss Shogun, like building a tearoom covered with gold. Towards the end of the movie, when Rikyu was about to be executed, one of his disciples came back to him and told him that he was mistaken about him. He said that he finally understood why Rikyu did what he did. His disciple was attached to the objects of art, unable to see the point of art which lies in its process. It is what you learn from art that matters, not what you create.

I’ve taken the same approach in my career as a graphic designer. I studied fine arts, but it does not bother me that I do commercial art every day to make a living. Quite often my clients ask me to do things that are crass, ridiculous, or outright ugly. I do offer my opinions, but in the end, if they insist, I would do them anyway. In that process, I do often learn something about myself.

Whenever I feel angry, annoyed, or frustrated over such disagreements, I realize that it has nothing to do with my soul. If I agree to do them, most people would see it as “selling my soul,” but I disagree. My annoyance comes from my ego, not from my soul. I think people mix them up. As long as I do enough things to nurture my soul, it does not care what else I do. It is the association of my name with something bad, ugly, or crass that bothers my ego, and it gets disgruntled and disillusioned from it. If I win the battle with my clients, I would not be saving my soul; I would simply be growing my ego bigger.

 
At 4:52 AM, Blogger QuaCarol said...

Hi Carol:
I begged the Friend for clearness... said no... nothing else to do... but live with the pain and the effects of gossip and defimation until I reclaim my ablity to live in solitude without lonliness...


Huh?

Did you, perhaps, mean this as a response to Crystal's comment suggesting that you sit down with God and talk to him, listening . . . listening . . . until you get a response?

Or when you stop performing and storytelling and running is the despair that engulfs you too great to bear?

 
At 4:55 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear Dyske
I appreciate and understand your thoughts on this. In fact, I would love to see the film... films on perception are important to me, Rashamon, Pathfinder, Loch Ness...

But, the nature of this loss of love of this part of me is a little different. Selling my soul through playing commercial music... is more if I resorted to singing "Danny Boy" for and with drunks like many Irish bands. No, this is different.

Music has been a part of me, as long as I have been. This music has been the music of my soul... it is not the selling of it that I have come to hate... it is the music itself. Music for me is the sound of my soul conveyed to others. Playing music with others has been basking in a community of love. Most of my life, I played with very old people, very very young people in sessuns, the music bound a community together.

For some ten years I have been working with musicians who had commercial reasons for attaching themselves to playing with me. This had a long serries of harships and fustrations. However, I made the mistake of allowing myself to be taken in by a musician who tied my playing to much more, and created association with those parts of my soul that are so painful that this pain has made playing alone no longer an expression of solitude but an exercise in loneliness. I have to keep playing just for the money, there is nothing else to do.

I am happy to look within, to find reason and bliss again, however, this serries of events goes so far beyond that... this event separates me from my community, from all but a small group of people who understand... so there I am running through the paces playing these tunes, it just remindes me of this whole biz.

I guess this is why the elders of Balbay, talk about coming to clearness quickly, the things we refuse to face make it hard for folks to get on with their lives, divide communities. It is harder for one person in a two person dysfunction to come to clearness. Not impossible, but very hard... with real losses sometimes

lor

 
At 5:00 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear Carol
"Did you, perhaps, mean this as a response to Crystal's comment suggesting that you sit down with God and talk to him, listening . . . listening . . . until you get a response?"

no... it was a responce to "Alternatively ... I'm sorry that I don't know enough about Quakers to know what they do in these situations,"...

Yes we do sit and look inside, however, sometimes there are reprocussions in our community from the effects of these controversies. When Friends rely on tale bearing instead of clearness ( two coming together with elders, not to heal the past but go forward in the future without causing each other pain ) then divisions happen in meetings.

Sure, I have to - and am trying to find a road back to solitude, this is between me and God, but the division in the community, is between me - the friend and the meeting.

lor

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger Dyske said...

My point wasn’t specifically about playing commercial music; it was about confusing your ego with your soul. I still think you are confused. Let me substitute “soul” with “ego” in some of your statements:

"Music for me is the sound of my ego conveyed to others."

"However, I made the mistake of allowing myself to be taken in by a musician who tied my playing to much more, and created association with those parts of my ego that are so painful that this pain has made playing alone no longer an expression of solitude but an exercise in loneliness."

The substitution does not make your statements nonsensical; in fact they make more sense.

If we were to define “soul” as something that transcends our bodies and thoughts, it does not make sense that:

1. Soul would separate yourself from others. (Soul would have nothing to convey to others because it make no such distinction.)

2. Soul would want to attach itself to anything, own anything, or lose anything.

Soul cannot be greedy as to take what it gets for granted, and when it loses it, it falls in despair. Only ego has such attachments. Soul does not lose anything because it doesn’t gain anything. It has no concept of ownership.

The expression “lonely soul” is an oxymoron. Soul cannot feel lonely because it does not create any entities to separate itself from. When people use that expression, they too are mixing up soul with ego. “Lonely ego”, yes, that makes perfect sense, because ego’s function is to make distinctions, boundaries, and separations (you vs. them, inside vs. outside, mind vs. body, etc...)

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Lorcan, one last thing. I don't know if this is meaningful to your experience or not, but ... I was married and then divorced. It was really painful, not just because of the seperation, but because we had a lot of things in common that then seemed "tainted" by the pain. It took a long time for me to feel ok about those things that we once shared ... but it did finally happen.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Dear Lorcan,
I do not believe you have lost your soul. I cannot believe you have lost your soul. I know you have not lost your soul. Your soul is the deepest you, is loved by God, is loved by your Friends and friends, and is so loved because it (you or thee) is loveable.

I take it that one of the things that has hurt you is that you feel betrayed by various people. I have no doubt that things have been said or done that were very hurtul. It happens all the time and is highly regrettable (see my comment on another post in the blog about "detraction").

For what it's worth, however, there are mutual friends of ours who I know value you very highly and would like to see you at Meeting again, as would I.

When you're ready, we're ready.

Peace and Friendship,
Richard

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Well dear Friends, point well taken re: ego and soul, however damage done to the ego, causes the ego to loose touch with the soul on occation, and it is bloody hard to reconect!

Oh to have had more mundain things tainted!!!!!!!! My meeting and my music.... oh well....


Oh, Rich, I miss you all so, I can't tell you, one day... I know this will all be nothing.

lor

PS Richard, email me if you will, there is a bloke working on a piece about Peter Fingstin... I know you are one with stories for him, he wrote a peice about Peter's father... also a remarkable man.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Dyske said...

I think that’s an interesting way to put it; ego losing touch with soul, and having hard time reconnecting. I’m trying hard to disconnect from my ego. Just as I think I am succeeding, I realize that very thought itself is my ego feeling good about disconnecting. It’s almost comical if I think about how I think I’m disconnecting. Who am I kidding?

You have to come by here. We rented a ground floor apartment here on 2nd street and turned it into a studio. It’s fun hanging out on the street. I think you could use a change of scenery from St. Marks to 2nd Street.

 
At 4:06 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear dear Dyske:

Your on... today, I have to run out to a "gig" in Ct. I am helping a pal who is doing a festival, some kind of peace mantra thing... but, soon I will take you up on your offer, I'll come by with the guitar and a hanging out on 2nd St. stool, I think if I brought the pipes, your new neighbors would find that gets old quick.

I had a rather thoughtful night last night, I found myself in the company of two ex-band members who I had hurt at the behest of another band member, something so unlike me, but, something I did thoughtlessly because of circumstance. The fact they allowed me the chance to appologise was so... Quakerly, one is a Quaker, the other just a wonderfully thoughtful and forgiving soul.

Clearness is important to the process of healing, and without it, it is not impossible, but it is hard, and self examiniation harder without the reality check of clearness. I really urge Friends in conflict to seek clearness.

See you on 2nd...
lor

PS email me, if you would, and we'll talk about when and where....

 

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