Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sweet Sublime

The Abell Brothers brought Sublime to Easton (really Eric did and Wes brought bass, but that's another notion). I remember being home from N.C. State, early 1990s, drinking Genesee Ale and listening to a band no one had then heard of. And to me, they lived up to their name, in the way they fused musical genres together to create something that stuck like peanut butter to the soul.

I went back down to Raleigh and special ordered "40 Ounces to Freedom" from Record and Tape Traders on
Hillsborough Street and as a bunch of us listened to it down there, it continued to stick A year or two later the band would take off. But this really isn't a rumination on Sublime as a band, but on the sublime or the Sublime, if you prefer.

It's a word I've always dug. It would take me a few years to get to Washington College, to suffer through British Neoclassicism and come wide-eyed like coming downstairs Christmas morning to Dr.
Gillin's British Romanticism class and Blake and Wordsworth, world changers for me, and to catch Wordsworth's "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," to glimpse this:

... a sense of sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth;

That sense of the sublime, which Willy was poo-
poo'd for by the high-minded jackarses of his time, is a sense of the sublime that feels like it has always run spigot-like through my own soul. And when I read that, I was likely tucked in a study carol on the second floor of the WAC library, it wasn't that I was just reading them, but that somehow I was recognizing them; I knew them somehow. They were a part of my own truth, written into a core code that is activated by the Sublime. Which Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" and "Prelude" triggered. Something they helped create.

Monday night I hung around DC and met some friends to go hear another one of my soul brothers, W.S. Merwin, speak and read at the Folger Library. It began as a conversation between Merwin and a Maryland-based poet Stanley Plumly, who later introduced Merwin, in one of the great intros you can give someone, and he brought his intro to a head by saying that for 50+ years Merwin had been "creating the sublime rather than waiting for it to arrive."

That is a statement I think most of the sold-out theater knew/knows to be true as well. But when it comes to the sublime, that recognition isn't something that is
transmitted to a group, but is more like a connecting and dwelling of souls in a groove. And everyone knows, "The groove IS in the heart" ;)

So the sublime and words from the other night that got me thinking of Wordsworth and grooving with Merwin and
vibing on a word, on a band, on a resonance, on a recognition.

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