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The Panic of Loss

by mana on May 15th, 2013

Forgetting is an inescapable part of life. We often forget the details of yesterday and as the years go by we forget much more than we remember.

Michel Bellaiche, "Les Fleurs de l'Oubli," acrylic and ink, 50 x 65 cm

Michel Bellaiche, “Les Fleurs de l’Oubli,” acrylic and ink, 50 x 65 cm

Paradoxically, it is sometimes the most important events of life that we forget. Traumatic or stressful moments can cause memory to be repressed. It is a survival mechanism to let us escape and function normally. But the repressed memory is not truly forgotten. The feelings remain with and the issues get harder to resolve. Art expresses emotions in a way that can unlock those feelings. Michel Bellaiche’s new painting, Les Fleurs de l’Oubli, expresses this dilemma vividly. The flowers that fill the man’s head have left him on the verge of disintegration.

Forgetting is effortless when it happens instinctively but lesser pains can be hard to forget. Many times we wish that we could just erase our memory of those moments we regret. Our minds stubbornly refuse to let go of these unhappy recollections. Barzin is facing the same issue.

Barzin is a Canadian singer-songwriter of Iranian origin. He is intrigued by memory, how it works, and the fine line that separates forgetting and repression. His often melancholy music reflects a deep appreciation of quietness and minimalism. Barzin has released three albums and toured extensively throughout the world. His music has been featured in several films, documentaries, and TV programs. A major motion picture directed by Luis Prieto uses a song from his latest album. Barzin’s song Nobody Told Me is about the struggle to forget.

Is forgetting ever really the right decision? Isn’t it an escape from discomfort leaving issues unresolved? To be truly free from them we must not flee from unpleasant experiences but transcend them. This is the lesson of the Zen parable of the Ten Bulls. Leonard Cohen’s Ballad of the Lost Mare tells this story in a beautiful poetic form.

Say a prayer for the cowboy
His mare’s run away
And he’ll walk til he finds her
His darling, his stray
but the river’s in flood
and the roads are awash
and the bridges break up
in the panic of loss.

And there’s nothing to follow
There’s nowhere to go
She’s gone like the summer
gone like the snow
And the crickets are breaking
his heart with their song
as the day caves in
and the night is all wrong

Did he dream, was it she
who went galloping past
and bent down the fern
broke open the grass
and printed the mud with
the iron and the gold
that he nailed to her feet
when he was the lord

And although she goes grazing
a minute away
he tracks her all night
he tracks her all day
Oh blind to her presence
except to compare
his injury here
with her punishment there

Then at home on a branch
in the highest tree
a songbird sings out
so suddenly
Ah the sun is warm
and the soft winds ride
on the willow trees
by the river side

Oh the world is sweet
the world is wide
and she’s there where
the light and the darkness divide
and the steam’s coming off her
she’s huge and she’s shy
and she steps on the moon
when she paws at the sky

And she comes to his hand
but she’s not really tame
She longs to be lost
he longs for the same
and she’ll bolt and she’ll plunge
through the first open pass
to roll and to feed
in the sweet mountain grass

Or she’ll make a break
for the high plateau
where there’s nothing above
and there’s nothing below
and it’s time for the burden
it’s time for the whip
Will she walk through the flame
Can he shoot from the hip

So he binds himself
to the galloping mare
and she binds herself
to the rider there
and there is no space
but there’s left and right
and there is no time
but there’s day and night

And he leans on her neck
and he whispers low
“Whither thou goest
I will go”
And they turn as one
and they head for the plain
No need for the whip
Ah, no need for the rein

Now the clasp of this union
who fastens it tight?
Who snaps it asunder
the very next night
Some say the rider
Some say the mare
Or that love’s like the smoke
beyond all repair

But my darling says
“Leonard, just let it go by
That old silhouette
on the great western sky”
So I pick out a tune
and they move right along
and they’re gone like the smoke
and they’re gone like this song

From → Musings

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