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40 The Musician

hexagram-40-musician‘EVEN THE MOST abysmal performance must be endured without anaesthetic,
since you need to be sure the nerves are still alive. Applause may be muted.’

Few instruments, even cheap ones, end up in landfill – far more in the
attic’s parc fermé, where superstition keeps them somnolent. Spiders float
in strung lairs of trumpet, tambourine, accordion. The banjo – archetypal
attic instrument – is reconfigured entirely. To play in such a house, in a
living room or study, you must stop your ears to ambulance sirens.

1st – The Royal Musician
Pixie dust is no longer legal. While the old king in his finery bathes in
the eternal concert of the spheres, his favourite composer slaves away at
something suitably austere for the new broom’s début. Let them pose for
an hour of mathematics – the harp’s revenge for severance of strings.

2nd – The Musician’s Captivity
Jazz vocalists are all too often paraded for the family, devotees of the
conservatory. Swing would smash windows. In a silvery mermaid dress
she pitches her lieder, high on coloratura, oceans from Sugar Hill. The
tragedy of the songbook, caged in a radio, tortured with floods of syrup.

3rd – The Musician Commemorated
In memoriam: the sitar player whom rock stars befriended, tempering
their riffs, competing for a passive place on the platform. Appalled at
the bonfire of guitars, he gravitated towards bluegrass – the whispering
prairie, confiding its relaxed requiem for the long-time dead underfoot.

4th – The Musician in the Tunnel
The pressure wave from an approaching train threatens his pharaoh’s
high barnet. It’s the customary Archway wind, anti-minstrel mistral, the
Minotaur withstood with his fiddle valet. What’s he doing here, far from
the concert hall? Lost in the catacombs, he tosses change to a busker.

5th – The Bilingual Musician
The bilingual concert was a gesture of appeasement: naturally a riot broke
out. The vocalist fled to a nearby love-in: the enlightened couple camping
in bed, comforting this migrant petal, jamming, telling groupie jokes and
dreaming up harmonies for voice and soapbox – all this in a hotel room.

6th – The Musician at Sea
Shoals of herring are off the playlist. Even so, there’s a maritime mood: a
girl on a moonlit shore. The smile, the kiss are a wildtrack of recollected
youth, accompanied by fish knives and forks and a murmur of shipboard
gossip over pan-seared sea bass with fava beans and peas risotto.

All six – The Musician in extremis
She moves through the fair – from weed, to mandrax, to crack. At the
end of the jam she lies on the warehouse floor, foaming. Her guitar
blitches and buzzes, like a dangerous animal – a rabid bat nobody wants
to touch. To unplug the thing now would feel like casting her adrift forever.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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