Last week in Ganymede, we started learning Shadows of the Moon, composed in 1976 by Kirke Mechem. It is a slow piece, at first glance dark; the text is by the composer’s father.
Night falls, star silent
Even the cottonwood trees
Grow hushed and still,
And all the pale green grass
Upon the field breathes quietly.
No breeze disturbs the shadows of the moon
They pass along the hedge row,
They pass like phantoms, fearful of her face, etc.
The musical treatment is sometimes dissonant for the chorister who struggles to sing his line against that of his neighbor. The pianissimos are required with some swelling towards the mezzo-forte, but no more. The work, which lasts a good six minutes, remains hidden in the shadow of a Moon indifferent to its own effects.
The choristers do not appear to like the piece, and from the beginning, they showed their disdain for the morbid nature of the work.
First of all, we should understand what morbid means. Morbid is what is unhealthy, refers to the disease, and, by extension, what is out of control.
In this piece, there is certainly mention of ghosts, but there is no desire to frighten and no unhealthy desire to express sick or fraudulent feelings. This work and the poem seem to describe only a full moon silently running through a still landscape. Some will associate the depiction with their self-image of death. All this is possible.
For my part, I became familiar with the work without this apprehension. Indeed, I am often called dark. A reader of the first chapters of my recent novel found the text depressing, but he could not say why. The text is no darker than any other, but the feelings conveyed are abrupt, sometimes straightforward.
When I write, I try to describe an area without shade, but not without the sun. Wrong, I’ll say it differently. When I write, I try to explain this hesitation I feel between truth and lies, I want to remain on the thin and sharp line of uncertainty. This, I think, is where a play like Shadows of the Moon is located.
Being dark is undoubtedly not morbid, but it can be frightening. If some people prefer the sun to shadows, others admire the light by remaining strategically out of the deadly rays. It’s all about perspective. You can like to dance, you can like to see dancing. You may want to live, you may be afraid to die. We should, but it takes an artist’s courage, be able to move from one sun to another and, to do so, travel among the shadows. No believer, said one day a theologian who was slapped on the wrists, but who nevertheless took up the wisdom of people long before him, no believer, therefore, can affirm to believe if he has not one day doubted.
To enjoy everything, to rejoice everything, to accept everything, to be offended, to fear everything, to fight everything. To be in no way, an eternal lazy person who prefers the unbearable lightness of being to the incomprehensible depth of things (of this last sentence, I would say that it is my hobby.)
I am happy to dive into the icy world of Shadows of the Moon and so much the better if, by drawing my emotions from it, I can discover unsuspected lights.