Fragile

An album pondering impermanence

Climate Change has made it quite evident that we can no longer take anything for granted.  Many pillars of our existence have been revealed as stages or facets of much broader processes.  We are finding that even such things as the Gulf Stream and the Greenland Ice Sheet turn out to be fragile.

When I first started to assemble this album, I meant to focus on those special things whose fleeting or tenuous existence seemed so delicate as to be improbable.  But as I thought about the subject, I asked myself, “What is it that makes something seem ‘fragile?’”  The answer seemed to be vulnerability, a set of narrow environmental tolerances, and a short life span.  This could be summed up by the term “impermanence,” which is a term that could be applied to just about anything.

To me, the world moves forward through the forces of creativity, on one hand, and death and decay, on the other.  Those two forces are forever linked.  The creative force causes or consumes the decaying forces, and the decaying forces leave a void which feeds the creative forces.  That which is created is impermanent, and impermanence relies upon creation.  All things are created fragile in that they are destined for decay.

A composer once said of my music that it always reminded him of Tai Chi in the way the music moves in and out, always creating a sense of balance.  I think that this very perceptive. My music is a continuous creative process, but each idea has a life of its own and is destined to decay.  These ideas, with their natural life cycles, in turn, stimulate the creation of new ideas which compliment, contrast, or enhance the original idea.  These new ideas have their own life cycles, etc.  There is a continuous process of creation, growth, and decay which propels the music forward.  The fact that music can do this, I feel, is one of its most enduring features.

The album begins with four special items, the first two of which are meaningful for me personally.  After an October in the Southwest Desert which saw the unusual arrival of two tropical storms, I came across a couple of Morning Glories!  I had never seen them in the desert before, and they were gone shortly thereafter.  The Desert Spring recalls a hike I took with my family up a dry wash in the Tonto National Forest.  We came upon a place where water bubbled up out of the ground.  The water ran down the wash as a foot-wide stream for twenty or thirty feet before diving back into the sand.  As we marveled at this unlikely event, I happened to see a small fish skitter from one rock to another.  I could hardly believe my eyes!  How could it survive?  How could it reproduce?  Life is such a mystery!

The next two tracks consider an Anemone and a Snowflake, before I turn to ideas.  Anemones are not as fragile as they look, but they look like they are doing Tai Chi with thirty arms!  Snowflakes are beautiful and don’t last very long.  They say that no two Snowflakes are alike, but I don’t think anybody has done a thorough analysis!  

Ideas are only pure in their abstract form.  In reality, they are fleeting and fragile events.  Plato thought that Concepts were the only true reality, and life was just an imperfect reflection or shadow.  But actually, it is the reverse which is true.  Reality is messy and in constant flux.  It is Concepts which are the simple approximations of fleeting moments.

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