I’ll play your body if you play mine: An existential dialogue (Work in progess)

Yesterday I had a remarkable conversation with Martyn Clark. Among many other things, he’s working on a year-long project loosely called “40 years, 40 collaborations.” After our conversation, he recorded his initial reply. It’s a moving 4-minute piano improvisation that damn-near too my breath away.

As I listened to Martyn’s reply and thought back over our conversation, I ventured my own improvisation; I’ve included a short excerpt below.

Your questions near the end were how are we willing to do without and I added the “and” so we had, I noted, and persist, flourish, get on well. You asked how far are we willing to stretch in order to meet each other. I wrote that down also. Earlier, you’d said you’d gotten a sense of me. In what sense, I asked. The silence here was long. Improvisation, you went on if you had to, is my style. Improvisational exploration through intellectualization, you clarified. But not intellectualization in a bad way, you qualified. Intellectual inquiring. Playing with words. Enjoying words.

All this you told me.

* * *

I like to laugh because life has that in it. The surprises when the next moment around the corner is not anyone’s: not yours, not mine. It’s a rendezvous where the common slips its knot and does. Could be ours provided we stretch out far enough together.

Whatever I do is less poetic than whatever it is you do. I think this of the way you dance even if your disquietude—voiced, felt, explored—sits long on you. You were born into heaviness but then you came into lightness. You were born into a God triangle and then became a life-stretcher. In your words you catch me off guard. Your stories are so fucking clipped: about your father the wordsmith; your mother the depressive; your wife and her playfulness with the betimes.

Did you notice my curiosity but also my caution? My curiosity meant: look at him even as you unhook the screen. My caution meant: do not press. Let, have it said, ask, follow, and return. Hard-pressed is wound.

Did you catch all my so-to-speaks? Sometimes I laugh at my foolishness. But maybe I’m just trying to keep on track. I’d like to keep up with you, you long-legger. But then perhaps you thought that I was leading when I, also a perhaps, thought that you were leading.

I love the surprise of your body-music! Such such! This conversation—just—skips; I mean this. Skips around until we join each other around, in moments, spots, crosswalks, cul-de-sacs. The good conversations are those that, however much they clip and depart, don’t leave the other in the lurch for good. The good ones also make up for their mishaps: they redeem in the next lurching perhaps.

Until this week, then, when we let it, as Martyn just now put it, not as I did last evening “subside without going away” but as he did: “mellow. Ferment. Mature. Integrate. Sit. Meditate. Catch breath. Ripple. Flow. Be.”

Catch breath. Yes.

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