Vibrating string harmonics:
Touch 1/3 =5th
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|This is one of the first seven pieces composed for the original seven tunings demo tape made for lecture purposes in the late 1990's. Once it was arranged, the song turned out to require two lyres, since one plays harmonics, at one point, while the other continues on the open strings.
Harmonics, heard at the end of this piece, can easily be done on any stringed instrument by touching the string at the halfway point and plucking it to produce the luminous bell-like sounds of the octave overtone.
(Click if you dare)
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|In trying to find a story related to solitude, the myth of Inanna descending to Hades came to mind in ancient Sumerian literature. Inanna hears her sister Ereshkigala moaning, according to legend, and attempts to go down to the netherworld to meet with her. A fascinating account of how this descent can be analyzed in Jungian terms as a bout with depression and a conquering of the self can be read at
was Queen of Heaven and Earth and goddess of love. Before
her descent she receives fourteen me or blessings
of power from god Ea. These she takes with her to the
"Land of no return," only to find that in
order to enter this darkest and dreariest of places,
she is required to divest herself of all garments and
jewelry. These items that make her look good to others,
suggested by Jung (in the same article on this site),
are the aspects of her public persona. This is
all required in order to encounter her sister,
or her shadow self.
Statue of Inanna, Sumerian goddess. (Ishtar=Akkadian equivalent)
(Click for larger view)
|Here is a short portion of the myth
...Inanna was walking toward Hades,
her (female) page Ninshubar
was walking at her side,
Holy Inanna said to Ninshubar:
"My ever-loyal one, my page of fair words,
my envoy of true words,
I am now going down into Hades
if I stay gone to Hades
set up resounding wailings for me,
sound the tambourine for me
in the assemblies of administration,
make the rounds for me of the gods' houses,
claw at your eyes (for grief) for me,
claw at your mouth for me,
claw in the places one goes not with a man,
your big belly for me!
Dress in a one-ply garment for me
like one who has no man!...
Jacobsen, Thorkild, "The Harps that Once..." pp207-208
Another Inanna image (Click for larger view)
|Inanna thus announces to her attendant, her friend, that she is headed down into a dark, fearful place, and may need to be mourned, if she does not return. This will be a dangerous, lonesome journey.
stripped of all her weapons of consciousness, defensless,
meets her sister, and is judged guilty of trying to
usurp Erishkigal from her throne and punished, killed
and left hanging on the wall as a corpse. This is indeed
the depth of depresssionthe worst that could happen
has indeed come about.
servant girl Ninshubar runs for help from the god of
air (Enlil), to no avail, then the moon god, (Nanna)
with no help there, and finally to Enki, the god of
Wisdom and the Waters.
One can see more images of this Queen of Heaven at
and hear some nice music in her shrine http://inanna.virtualave.net/inannashrine.html
Enki, god wisdom, listens to Ninshubar the servant girl when she asks for help for Inanna. He
accepts the descent into darkness, knows that as unpleasant
as it may be, it is necessary for completion of growth.
creates two beings from the dirt under his fingernails; two creatures, neither male nor female, and gives them the food and water of life to carry to Inanna.
These two creatures fashioned by Enki go down to the underworld and listen to the complaints of Erishkegal, without offering any advice or help, merely echoing her complaints. Her moaning is sometimes interpreted as signs of giving birth, but this is not in the Jungian interpretation of Inanna's descent.
she stopped moaning and blessed the creatures, offering
them any gift they desired. They asked for Inanna's
corpse, and revived her with the food and water of life.
Inanna then arose and ascended to the upper world."
Inanna with her curled staff symbol
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|It would seem, then that encountering oneself, without guises, or poses, or decorations, is to expose oneself to harsh condemnation and the living death of being utterly alone in that dark cave of the netherworld, ones self-consciousness. Once having experienced that ultimate depression, it is the listening, nonjudging presence of wisdom drawn forth from dirt under the fingernails that waits for us to finish wailing about whatever ails us, and then retrieves us from where we hang on the wall like a piece of dead meat, restores us, and brings us back up to the world of the living.
Could this dirt under the fingernails represent simply throwing oneself into good hard work, some physical labor? JS
The reward for this harrowing experience seems to be the gain of self-knowledge.
Henderson and Oakes* suggest that Without the knowledge of their own unconscious depths, a person cannot be an intimate lover. Real love, empowering intimacy, can exist only between people who have each experienced their own depths and discovered that in the depths, they each partake of the same material. This experience makes a true sharing possible.
*Henderson & Oakes Henderson, Joseph L. & Maud Oakes. (1963). The wisdom of the serpent: The myths of death, rebirth, and resurrection. New York: George Braziller.