Eartheater IRISIRI

[PAN; 2018]

Styles: a memory of touch
Others: Hildegard von Bingen, Sappho, Alice in Wonderland

A spirituality of dust might speak in the peripheral voice, were dust able to do anything but dissolve. One can speak through dust, nevertheless, in such a voice that dissolves the center’s dominion. For instance, one can ask: “Why have you forsaken me?” For instance, one can add: “You who are not…” And that one will never receive an answer merely confirms that we are loved for our loneliness and we are nothing if not lonely, but this does not mean that we who are nothing will never be. Yet, this vulnerability that lurks beneath the “always we would rather be” becomes the mechanism by which power coheres the coffin. The vulnerability to the Other in order to be is as primordial as dust, rest, and distress, and Power’s abuse is that the This that one becomes appears just as primordially infinite. What coheres is suspect. Yet the dust stirs.

What coheres is suspect. There can be no consummate wedding to the world without consuming that which one desires — or being consumed and identifying with what consumes you. The world — as with the self that claims it as its dwelling — forbids any other, anything other than a horizon of otherness reduced to its, his, transcendence. But what about her own call to the divine? What about the divinity that is here to be found and hereto be lost?

What about the most elementary aspect of love: the caress? By which lovers are reborn in and as the source of light? The mode of the caress is the peripheral voice, for instance. A caress blurs borders, blooms, shapes the not-yet, blossoms, pierces without penetration, blushes, weds without consum(mat)ing. A caress opens to the outside what was obscured with night. A caress gently opens the coffin’s constraints and offers respite to the corpse. For a coffin whose margins appear as the world’s, what better refutation than a worm? Or rust? Moss, mold, or dust?

A graveyard is indeed a peculiar place for a party. There — in the music video for ghost-single “Claustra” on the other side of the grave — the Eartheater herself, Alexandra Drewchin, writhes in ecstatic self-communion. There she bends back on herself. She becomes multiple. From abject forsakenness to “the owning of my loneliness,” “the end of the loaning of my onlyness,” she muses in apophatic prayer, fashioning that for which she longs in the act of gesturing toward it. For instance, loneliness is the void of onlyness. For instance, to own one’s loneliness is surely to inhabit such a void. What does not yet exist, what cannot even be spoken of for lack of language or self — this, on the periphery of the graveyard that appears as the world and the world occulted by its shadow, can be glimpsed in its absence.

Alexandra (dis)orients herself from this peripheral place, perhaps, for only when the earth is decentered can it be eaten. Only from the periphery can the ego’s totalizing allure be undone. Geophagus. Egophagus. And musically, the album’s apparent incompleteness — the always dissolving lack of coherence, the mosaic of multiple voices, the chance and chaos by which the songs were arranged — abides by the peripheral pull of curiosity. Ghostly chorals become whispers, moans, screeches, screams. Aching, bleeding strings offset through beats and beating stutters, eccentric, reeling. Harps and drum kits, hearts and their tremulous beating, all break.

The center of IRISIRI is itself decentered. The ghost-track “Claustra,” a microcosm of the verdant decomposition and lush disorientation with which Drewchin dissolves and fragments histories, situates itself between the double meaning of its title — a prison, but also an inner sanctum of sacred isolation. Its excentric exclusion from the album gestures toward the beyond as a decentering, recentering. Having ripped herself from the constraints of the metaleptic chrysalis, now in a world without clear boundaries, brushed away with the wings’ caress — the rift between the veil and the sanctuary, the chasm by which the unknown is revealed — the excentric center becomes the (dis)orienting principle.

Like — IRIS — a message sent and received — SIRI — deviecer dna tnes egassem a — curiosity perforates the veil and returns, yet remains ephemeral. The sky is always touching the earth as woman is always touching herself, and with rain as with rainbows, she is brought to herself within herself. Without mediation. Her lips are always in constant contact. Neither one nor two. Nor reducible nor seducible to one, nor two. C.L.I.T., she postulates. Curiosity Liberates Infinite Truth, she apostrophizes. But why should a truth that is infinite have any need for us to be liberated? For the totalizing power of the man and his grave condemn the beyond to an abysmal night. Why have you forsaken me, you who are not? Or, rather, why have we forsaken you, by calling you, you?

Irigaray, if she says something, says “For if ‘she’ says something, it is not, it is already no longer, identical with what she means. What she says is never identical with anything, moreover; rather, it is contiguous. It touches (upon).” It’s a pleasure to be touched. It’s a pleasure to be dissolved. It’s a pleasure to be eaten, and, no longer lonely, to be, and only.


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