40. The Presence Of That Absence

Updated: 3 days ago

As mentioned on the Home Page, I am writing and recording eight new songs using the collective title, The Presence Of That Absence. I would like to use this blog to explain where that title originated and why I chose it.

When the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was asked about her earlier career, she replied, "Yes, it was grand. But times have changed. The presence of that absence is everywhere." When I read this it struck me how the absence of something really does create a presence in our lives which is not merely nostalgia.

It seems to me that as a culture we are gradually becoming conditioned to think that once something is gone it no longer merits our attention so our focus can be drawn to the next big thing. This is causing us to lose sight of the fact that the present is built on, and connected to what came before, and can not be attributed to a single generation or moment in time. This dynamic is playing out today in intergenerational blame games.

Whether it's the latest entertainment, news, retail product or technology sensation, our gaze is being directed at what's coming next, and blinded to the rips in the social fabric created by such a fragmented world view. In contrast to the familiar saying, "Those who ignore the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it," the current popular view encourages us to dismiss the past as something that no longer matters. The consequences are that creating and maintaining something of lasting value is subordinated to planned obsolescence and disposability. The "use it up and throw it away" mentality can be seen affecting our relationship with our planet with devastating results. The cynical and destructive solution being put forward by the people who can afford it is to leave this planet when we've used it up and move to another. Again the theme is disposability and planned obsolescence. Earth Version 1 replaced by Earth Version 1.1.

The absence of something of value is a presence in our lives. It is part of who we are. My new recording project seeks to provide some timely examples of this in a way that's musical, engaging and entertaining. Illustrations are forthcoming in future posts:-) Stay well!


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