Sunday, February 08, 2009
Disassociation: Music and Memorials
Because of the weather I have been using the gym and running on the treadmill. In some ways it is good training because it forces me to trundle along at a set pace without slacking, and with no chance of being diverted by cows, swans or boats. The downside is that there are no diversions like cows, swans or boats and the treadmill is dull. I can only survive for any time by listening to my ipod.
I still have no favourite running tracks and no idea whether one type of music or rhythm is better than any other. The only thing that matters is that it offers some sort of amusement as its job is disassociation i.e. to keep your mind occupied away from the effort of running. For example by all objective criteria Nico's 'Frozen Warnings' must be one of the most useless running tracks, just about one rung down from John Cage's 4'33": it is slow, dirge like, no strong rhythm, with little tonal variation in her voice. It is, as the title suggests bleak, but haunting and somehow appropriate for the weather and so I think about the weather. Also one of the strange things about Nico's life is that this glamorous figure, ex-model, German exile, part of the Andy Warhol entourage, singer on the first Velvet Underground album, spent her last years sharing a house in Manchester (or Salford to be more precise). I then think of Manchester, which is good because I like Manchester. My daughter is at university there and I think of her. So everything is good and the song did its job - it kept me occupied. Next time it might just sound like a dirge and be totally useless.
The gym is OK but it is important to get outdoors. I still don't want to run because although some of the paths are now clear others are still icy or slushy, so I have been out walking. Although it does not give me the same sense of satisfaction it allows more time for looking and even more disassociation.
I have run past the object in the photo countless times, known it was there, thought of it as just some ornate street lamp, but paid it no real attention. Yesterday I stopped to look. The first surprise was that it was built as a drinking fountain. The second was that it had an inscription saying that it erected in 1835 to commemorate 300 years since the printing of the first English Bible. How wonderful is that? How many memorials are there to the Coverdale Bible in this country? I don't know but I now know we in Hemel Hempstead have one of them