Arca: “&&&&&”

by tigermanifesto

Further and further into the jungle now. Every turn leads me down the stranger path.

I try to avoid                                   IT                 ,,,,,              but IT keeps traveling along the same line, as though we

are both bound to the the same rail network.

(And I cannot begin to tell you what IT might be. I know that IT steps in the same footprints as I do, and invariably follows me. I feel it and see it through my own eyes, but it is more like a fabric stitched into me, almost at random, than a sheath over my body.)

Indian_Railway.svg

And it’s no surprise. This is the most heavily patronized rail network in the world, helping 9 billion people connect one point in history to another. Steel rails scrape the ocean, furrow their way through forests, wind around cities. Metaphors biological–arteries, nerves, intestines–and inorganic–circuits, rivers, abstract lines–come immediately to mind. Yet there is no point, it seems, in reaching for inorganic images to try to illustrate railways.

I imagine that I have leapt onto a train, left the ground on one end of the country and, when I step back onto that piece of ground, I have somehow returned.

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Yet, like blood cells, I have an expiration date. Like veins, the places over which we travel are endlessly reconfigured. It is in the shifting sands of the desert and the endless turmoil of the Atlantic Ocean that we perceive the true nature of our situation.

I stepped off the train back in Mumbai, and, though the airport was still there and the plane that carried me back over to the United States operated on the same principles as the one that carried me here,  I know that nothing is the same. Though my journey to find my own origin ended in failure, it has still left me changed. Why, though, is everything in my environment so uncannily convenient? The name of what I am feeling has a fearful name. It’s paranoia, the feeling that I am under constant surveillance, that I am being dispersed and exhibited for someone else’s benefit. Tigers can’t really talk, can they?

On the plane home, I listened to Arca’s new 25-minute release “&&&&&,” whose enigmatic name conforms precisely to the shape of the music it names. Chopped-up, titanic basslines overwhelm my headphones. The rhythms are uncertain and ambiguous at times. While the track is aimed at the body, its buildups and climaxes tend to stack on each other without a comforting structure, and it leaves me with a curious feeling of awe. Its beauty is the beauty of the broken and glitched. Someitimes distorted and shattered voices enter in. It is not entirely successful. But it is endearing in its alien-ness. Shapeshifting is its way, and it is best to go into the track’s world with that in mind.

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