Patti Smith (h2so4 4)
I Never Talked To Bob Dylan

Listening to Patti covering Lou's "Pale Blue Eyes," I am overwhelmed by the impression that rocknroll is an unsummarizable countertradition that subverts every polar value-scale of overground society, and that likewise destroys and makes a mockery of every attempt to describe it in any language but its own an absolute alterity one must either ignore or become, as it cannot be attended to without a catastrophe of perception, a reverse Heisenbergianism in which one looks across a wall and by that very act is looking back at the space one, until that fateful gaze, had filled in the world one can never return to (as, by the pronunciation of these magic words, the dividing line disappears the secret history can never be written down (its existence can only be pointed out), but the discovery of the secret history renders accepted history meaningless).

Her voice is so extraordinary (working out on "Time Is On My Side" now) whimpering, sneering, twisting the words with the utmost irony, but then immediately denying even the irony any kind of existential status by ironizing it, itself, whirling away from it as a wounded and open-minded little girl; she begins by spitting a word as if by getting it out of her mouth she could somehow free herself forever of its baggage of misogynistic rationality, but by the time the word is over she, like a master philologist from outer space, has revealed endless undiscovered poignancies that have lain embryonic in it over all the centuries of its use in normal civilized (non-prophetic) speech. She sense bends words like this, making them carry contradictory messages, and finally breaks them, making language as a whole carry too much sense, pointing to (or enacting) something beyond sense, our true estate.

And that's the other thing you can do (or the other way we can describe the same essential turning): you can't write down secret history but you can enact it. Because to really discover it is to become part of it, to recognize that one is part of it, and that it, and not written history, is the context of one's life and acts. An eternal, self-invading and -evading countertradition that can never die (though it kills itself in order to survive) because it represents an essential striving of the human heart, unthinkable, un-sayable, unknowable, without finality, without consistency, profligate of itself because it means too much.

Gridley Minima