The work that I’ve been tentatively referring to as “paradox/edges” is finally complete– and brings with it a new title: “Ylayali”. For the really, really, long-time readers of STARTLING MONIKER, you’ll know that I’ve released stuff under a variety of names in the past. Although I think I’m more DaveX now than anything, I’ve never been super-thrilled with releasing anything major under the name– and I just couldn’t sell myself on going the academic route, with middle initials blazing, etc., ha! One initial is fine, thank you. But the picking of a band/artist name is high voodoo. Lots to consider, especially for obsessive-minded, music junkie, record-hoarding crate-sniffers like myself. It’s the sort of thing you want to do right, one of the little rituals that add up to the overall fun of making music and being involved in music culture.
I took a little walk yesterday, just to get some distance on the problem of what to title the audio piece. Although a lot of direction ultimately ended up coming from Knut Hamsun’s 1890 novel HUNGER, it didn’t seem at all appropriate to appropriate the title– the work is not, after all, a reworking of the material. Rather, it encounters HUNGER, and comes away shaped by the experience. So I needed something different. I’ll let this selection from a note to my professor explain somewhat:
“…the unnamed protagonist sees (and becomes somewhat obsessed with) a young woman with whom he has a chance encounter. Although she is a stranger, the protagonist’s fragile and suggestible state cause him to provide her with a fanciful name he repeats to himself—“Ylayali”. As he says it for the first time, he hears his own heartbeat. Although the characters’ relationship is too complex to relate in this paper, a final point is worth mentioning— upon hearing of her moniker, she remarks unconvincingly that “it isn’t ugly.”
As with Hamsun’s unnamed character, I have been similarly influenced by chance events, having decided early on in the process of creating this set of audio pieces to allow for and honor mistakes, outside influence, and what I think of as “the intent of the Universe” to play their part. To begin this process, I invited my daughter to read from randomly-selected portions of various texts. These included the TAO TE CHING, Sinclair Lewis’ novel BABBIT, and Hamsun’s HUNGER. My direction was that she randomly open the texts, and read from any single paragraph. During this process, the text of HUNGER revealed itself as a clear frontrunner, so the other texts were discarded. Portions of “Ylayali” are taken directly from these first, single-take readings, and form a skeletal theme that informs the work.”
In the novel, the protagonist encounters Ylayali, but does not retain her in any sense but, perhaps, a spiritual one. I like this idea. It seems more adaptable to what I’m interested in doing now– not so much making a statement or creating a message, as much as creating work that yields a significant encounter, like heat or gravity.
Although the project only called for a single physical copy to satisfy course requirements, I have made a numbered, limited-edition run of 10. At present, there are seven remaining– for $10 (well-concealed cash), I will mail your copy anywhere in the world. Contact me via e-mail for details. Some additional photos of “Ylayali” are below the fold, if you’re interested to see more.