Public Key (Lxii)

The bread turned out to be layers of wheat-flour and barley. It was baked by the edge of an open fire and was crusty and crackling and rough and malty and I didn’t give it time to get stale.

The cheese was white, almost, translucent, with a thin layer of white ash around it. I didn’t know how it would react to being at room temperature. It wasn’t around long enough for me to find out.

The purple stuff turned out to be blueberry jam. It wasn’t as good as what I’d had back at home. Turned out it came from a nearby farm that was owned by South Africans with some high-tech ideas about ultradensity planting and stuff. Back in New England I’d just picked the things in a field. Spoiled little American that I am.

The oranges were okay. The lemons were just comical, just hilarious, just tear-making delicious. I had never eaten a lemon as a fruit before. I’d never even thought of it. The juice of one of these in a glass of water was lemonade. Basically grocery stores could go to hell.

By the end of the day I felt I was all recovered. By the next morning I was recovered well enough to realize that I wasn’t. I visited Oakley, he loaded me up with some more supplies, he made me promise not to die and then sent me back to my hut afoot. By the next morning I was well enough to be impatient for health to return. I went to the lodge, he took one look at me and pronounced me out of his care.

I could have hugged him. I settled for a firm handshake. That seemed to embarrass him sufficiently for my purposes.

I felt like a new man. I felt reborn. I felt like I had a new lease on life. I realized I didn’t have much of a life. And I felt this, rather hard.

I decided this was a perfect time to undertake a project that I’d thinking about for far too long. I thought I’d put myself to the making of an album. Just me, just guitar, maybe an overdub of hand-clapping if I felt particular adventurous. It was something that I could do without anything but laptop and guitar. It was the only such thing I could thing of to do. So I would.

I had a few little tunes I’d written which I thought were original. It was hard to tell. On the one hand, I’d listened to only a hint of the six-string music that had been recorded. On the other, between Napster and Kazaa and finally BitTorrent, I’d heard enough music that it astounded me to think about it. Who knew what I’d come up with myself and what I hadn’t?

Then again – who cared?

Certainly not I – or at least, I couldn’t let myself, not if I ever wanted to confidence up and produce. So I squared my shoulders, ran a three-millisecond self-check on my laptop’s built-in mic, picked up my guitar and got to work.

I played for the rest of the day. And for the rest of the week, on and off. Some days I played four hours straight through. Some days I played twelve hours with frequent interruptions. Some days I spent more time fucking around with Audacity than I did on the strings. Some days I just played because I just wanted to play, and whether I even remembered to hit ‘record’ was quite inconsequential.

I guessed it was all inconsequential. What was I going to do with the tape? Send it to record companies? Yeah, didn’t think so. The best I could do would be to try to find a way to post it anonymously online. An act for which the phrase ‘pissing in the wind’ would not begin to suffice.

I supposed I could have tried to put it out there under my own name. That would have caused a stir. That would have gotten me a nice stack of YouTube gold. Much good that had ever done anyone.

It was nice to think of what would happen if I did such a thing. I was under no illusions that it would be like sticking my fingers right in The Man’s eye. Which, in my present situation, would be like sticking my finger in the Eye of Sauron. Nothing would have gotten them more fired-up to find me, shy maybe of me actually having been guilty.

But aside from being the Boy That Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, how could I be sure that my recording wouldn’t contain information that would help them find me? At the very least I was sure they could tell from it what sort of computer I was using. Probably what OS, maybe more about my system. Likewise the kind of guitar, the kind of strings… how recently I’d filed my nails, how humid it was in my recording studio… what the size of my room was, and its shape, and the materials of its ceiling and walls… the ambient temperature, the weather outside…

Any of which, in my round stone room in dry, windy Lesotho, would help them a great deal in their pursuit of, well, me.

To say nothing of the fact that it would show clearly I was off somewhere playing helltons off guitar. I expected I was associated closely enough with the guitpiece I’d been dragging around since before I’d set foot in Montreal. If I got known as The Guit-Fiddlin’ Fugitive I’d never be able to sit by the campfire and play a little tune. Dangerous enough to do it already. But necessary to my happiness, if not my sanity; I didn’t want to do anything to make it more of a risk.

Above all, I hadn’t even figured out whether I trusted an anonymous eMail, let alone trying to anonymously release forty minutes of music. A gigabyte of data. And what kind of data, as it would present to a trained observer, I could barely begin to guess.

So, yeah: I finished it. I was proud of myself. Then I put it in a virtual drawer and virtually shut that drawer, and called it done.

I was out of strings. All I had was what was on the guitar. I didn’t know how I’d get any more. I’d have to make them last.

Fortunately for me that, after that week of playing and recording, I never wanted to see a guitar as long as I lived.



~ by davekov on 28 February 2011.

One Response to “Public Key (Lxii)”

  1. There’s a good paper (and many imitators) on the subject of “can you hear the shape of the drum?”. (My abortive MSc was on such subjects, too.)

    Hearing the shape of the room from the album is PROBABLY POSSIBLE ZOMG.

    I like this instalment.

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