Each man in all men
All men in each man.
I often wondered why I am so touched by Sous
le regard dun
soleil noir, by Francis Dhomont, since in general, I feel little
esthetic affinity with electroacoustic works. Perhaps because, beyond
the musical proposition, it leads us into the abysses of human psychology
and the depths of the divided self. It is explicitly inspired by the
writings of the English specialist in schizophrenia. Ronald 0 Laing.
A program work, this poem by Dhomont is not
ashamed of the musical genre to which it belongs: it tells a story,
a slow descent towards madness. The title of at least three sections
reveals an illustrative connection with Laings theory: Engloutissement
(Engulfment), Implosion (Implosion). Petrfication (Petrification),
and I have little doubt that Dhomont wished to give them musical equivalents:
the murmuring of water, empty and obsessive octaves, sonorous ores.
As a matter of fact, when looking at it closely,
Laings work calls
for a musical extension. Of course, here we are dealing with theoretical
books, where plays on words quickly become sound inanities
(as Rimbaud would have said) ; in fact the composer does not fail to
make the most of them : Im an in divide you all (Im
an individual), And in Knots, Laing has translated in a quasi poetic
fashion the complex strategies of his patients :
it hurts Jack
That Jill thinks he is hurting her
by (Jim) being hurt
to thinkthat she thinks he is hurting her
by making her feel guilty
at hurting him
by (her) thinking
that he is hurting her
by (his) being hurt
that she thinks he is hurting her
by the fact that
da capo sine fine"
The musical terminology which concludes this text is significant. In a long six
page development (If its not me its mine / If its mine
its not me [...]), Laing himself felt the musical resonance of his
works, or at least the world which he had recreated. In order to reinforce the
vertigo that soon seizes the reader, he adds : poco a poco accelerando
al fine, and in the very middle, alludes to an enharmonic change. In
the same text, the conditional if (si inFrench) becomes obsessive alliteration
:did it inspire
with the contamination of Wozzeck the si the note now (inFrench,
si is both the conjunction if andthe note B natural)
around which Dhomont has organized his work? The composer in any case,
did not yield to the facile temptation of a repetitive type o fmusic
and succeeded in translating an unbearable mental world into an original
sound work.Of course, it might be interesting to experiment and listen
to the musical component of the work without the text quotations which
punctuate it, in order to know whether, by itself it is able tosuggest
the inner world of the schizophrenic. Dhomont conceived Soleil noir,
with its Nerval-like title borrowed from the delirious ramblings of a
patient, Julia, and with deliberately audible sentences, as a balanced
dosage of sounds and text where the music acquires a precise meaning
thanks to the words, and where the words acquire their tragic and experienced
resonance thanks to the music.
There lies the eminent virtue of Soleil noir: it makes us share in an
immediate manner the anxiety, the anguish, the solitude of the schizophrenic
: a new unin-habitable
space. it makes us share his distress and his despair. Dhomonts music
presents us with the sonorous image of an inaccessible world and convinces us
of its reality. There is, of course, a paradox since, and Laing said it himself I
cannot experience your experience or vice versa. On the other hand, the
composer tells us : I have you listen to the experience that I believe
and we believe that he tells the truth. Because, with his own musical
means, he achieves the same goals as Laing who, by relying on the remarks
of his patients and, despite the existentialist conception of incommunicability,
presents us with an inner snapshot of this mental world Illusion ? Perhaps.
We will never know. In fact, Sous le regard dun soleil noir reaches
us through something more essential. Program music did we say? Yes, but
just like the symphonic poems of Liszt took hold of the heroes of Goethe,
Byron and Shakespeare. and provided Faust, Mazeppa and Hamlet with their
full mythic dimension, Dhomont takes hold of the post-Freudian man, and
from the specific case of schizophrenics, constructs a more general myth
through which the 'normal man discovers his own schizoid traits.
Today as in the romantic era, but in different terms, the divided self
is the self of the double man.
This electronic poem therefore fits in a very precise musical tradition, but
at the same time utilizes the resources of a contemporary language. I recognize
in it the narrative efficiency of the Requiem of Chion and the classicisim
of De natura sonorum by Parmegiani : I mean that Dhomont has not deployed
the whole gamut of the GRM hardware store, but has used with the utmost economic
organization, the only sound combinations necessary to his purpose, therefore
making it most efficient. Beyond schizophrenia, Sous le regard dun soleil
noir tells us about ourselves, about the terrifying solitude that faces everyday
man, as if we were sitting at the deepest end of a cavern, only capable of looking
straight ahead.But we are the cavern.
In relation to the original recordingissued in 1982 (INA-GRM 9109 dh), this new
edition of Sour le regard dun soleil noir (Under the Glare of a Black Sun)
is part of a more ambitious group of works,comparable to my Cycle de lerra
ore (Cycle of Wanderings) (IMED 9107; IMED 9607).all of which are inspired by
psychoanalytic thought: the Cycle des profondeurs (Cycle of Depths). This cycle
is presented, in its current form,as a diptych of which this disc constitues
the first part ; the second part is a recent composition, Foret profonde (Deep
Forest) instigated by the book The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelbeim which
serves as another empreintesDIGITALes.compact disc release (in coproduction with
the INA-GRM) [IMED-9634].
This form nevertheless remains open and will perhaps be augmented by
a third part (thus, a project-in-progress) devoted to the works of Kafka
guided by the writings of Marthe Robert. It is a very old preoccupation
of mine, this meeting of the imagination adhering to the psychology of depths and the mental
images projected by acoustmatic art ; what more appropriate, in fact, than this
very language for staging, musically, these fantastical representations ? The
resources of a morphological vocabulary and its most adventuresome associations which
the alchemy of the studio permits procure for the acousmate a
power of auditory suggestion capable of expressing the inexpressable unconscious.
Furthermore, in one case as in another, it is about exploring the domain of archetypes.
Montreal, October 1996
1. Pareil a un voyageur perdu.. (Like a Traveller Whos Been Lost);
2. Engloutissement (Engulfment);
3. Arrete! Arrete! Elle me tue) Stop it.Stop it. Shes Killing Me);
5. Le mo! divise (The Divided Self);
6. Citadelle interieure (Inner Citadel);
7. Petrification (Petrification);
8. Le message quand vient le soir (The Message at the Coming of Night)
Ronald C Laing (and also: Plato, Kafka, and Buchneri). texts
Pierre Louet Maritne Forget, Arthur Berigeron, voices
To my sons and their mother
It is a question here of a particular form of human tragedy.
A space for onto-logical insecurity, the loss of reality, the dissolution
of the being and the explod-ing of personality, where a universe of implacable
confinement is constructed ;that of schizophrenia. It is not a question
of scientific thought. The clinical commentaries thatserve
as landmarks throughout the work these comments of a therapist/coryphaeus
(although not devoid of tenderness) only serve to introduce the
distance, using few caesurae that will spare pathos from the pathetic.
and in regard to ourselves, voyeurism. It is the poetic reading of a
text not designed as a poem, but whose images impose by the weight of
the message and the decisiveness of the words. I have also chosen intelligibility,
only provoking semantic parasites as an echo of the apparent verbal perplexity.
the obscure terrain of delirium. Sous le regard dun soleil noir
is the history of a shipwreck; the hallucinated derivation across an
obsessional landscape where the note B natural is the obsessed character,
the tonic axis that binds together the eight sections. A veriitable ostinato, Invention
on one note: the memory of Wozzeck stands out, the symbol of a
man who, according to Jacques Orillon, drowns himself in the lake
because he has arrived at the point of social and interior inexistence
from which there is no possible return. Perhaps however, the successful
voyage consists, as Esing proposes, in going from the exterior towards
the interior, from life towards the experience
of death, from movement to immobility... ... then to travel the path
in the opposite direction to encounter an existential renaissance. The
eight sections of the work were inspired by reading the work of the psychiatrist
and psychoanalyst Ronald 0 Laing. The texts are borrowed (with the generous
permission of the author and Editions Stock French translation
byClaude Elsen) from the French translations of the three books The Politics
of Experience, Knots, and especially The Divided Self.
 LIKE A TRAVELLER WHOS BEEN LOST 7:57 Foreign Reality. Threats. The
Incarcerated Self A Solitude Inhabited by Shadows. First variations on the note
B natural Appearance of pivotal elements. Breakdowns
 ENGULFMENT 7:48 First Delirium. Exterior Intrusion, Denial. Mother/sea :
liquid burial, filled,crevices, abysses. A play on the rhythms (broad pulses)
of ebb and flow (respiration ?).
 STOP IT. STOP IT. SHES KILLING ME 7:21 Anguish at the disappearance
; the inexistence. Hallucinations, Destruction of self. A play on rhythms (tight
pulses). lnterrmodulation of sequences. Energetic contrasts. Polyphonic crescendo.
[41 IMPLOSION 4:13 Reality Persecutes, Invasion and Opression. Withdrawal. New
variations on B natural a fixed paramerer Dynamic modulation of numerous
materials by the piano (announced at the beginning of the previous section ard
confirmed in the next).
 THE DIVIDED SELF 6:23 Division, fragmentation, fracture, fissure, crack.
Double sense,The struggle of B natural in narrow clusters.
Profusion of materials, polyphonic Piano-swirling.
 INNER CITADEL 7:39 Denied reality. Distortion of Elsewhere, Icy terror.
The Subterranean Labyrinth. Here and there.Amplification
of fthe pivotal elements. Anecdotal sounds. False loops: unfaithful repetitions.
Agressive accentuation of the upper spectral regions.
 PETRIFICATION 5:17 Catatonic ; There is now only a vacuum where there
was a person Invention on the preceding sections. A chronologic
racapitulation of the strong moments, but degraded. and amorphosized, scratched.
Traces of Wozzeck Superposition of durations in decreasing progressions.
 THE MESSAGE AT THE COMING OF NIGHT 4:20 No one penetrates there, not
even with the message of a death. But you, you are seated at your window and,
in your dream, you call out the message at the coming of night.
Return of sequences, figures and objects from sections 1 and 2in different
relationships: modified listening perspectives.
(Presentation text from the original disc release.)
The original version of Sous le regard dun soleil noir was produced in
1979-80 in the studios of the Faculty of Music of the Universite de Montreal
and during November/December 1981 in the studio of the INA-GRM (Paris, France)
for the sixth section, Citadelle interieure (Inner Citadel), which was added
to the initial version, Sour le regard dun soleil noir was premiered February
3, 1981, at the Universite de Montreal and was presented at the 11th Bourges
International Festival of Experimental Music (France) on June 14, 1981. Section
6, Citadelle interieure was a commission from the INA-GRM (Paris, France). The
composition of this piece was made possible by an artistic creation grant from
the Music Section of the Minister of Culture and Communications, (France, 1979)
as well as the amiable invitation from the Faculty of Music of the Universite
de Montreal. Sour le regard dun soleil noir was awarded the 1st Prize in
the Electroacoustic Program Music category at the 9th International Electroacoustic
Music Competition in Bourges (France, 1981).