Liner notes by Keith Jarrett
This is a documentation of participation in the "center." The shedding of identity complexes is one of the last things an artist thinks of when he wants to be "recognized." In art, it seems that personality is king. But personality is something we've chosen (to surround our essential nature) and are attached to. We may need it when we're young, but it becomes a habit. The fear is that we lose our way if we dispose of our personality. Actually we only lose a crutch. We aren't free until then. But our personalities are not so easy to see through. We must work at it.
The music on this recording represents a participation in process, a way of remembering ourselves (not our personalities), and as such is also an expression of what is essential from the center of music, and of what is changeless.
These pieces - not written, rehearsed, thought out, sketched, or arranged - "came up" in the middle of four distinctly different concerts. Process is swifter and more accurate than thought, and prefaces every thought we have. Without the chance of thought, there is less chance of personality. Certain things are known; other things have to be thought about. Some of the things we know we don't think we know because we think about them. Yet they are there in front of us and if we didn't consider them separate from ourselves and worthy of thinking about, we would know them for what they are. Without personality, essence can be revealed. The feeling of losing yourself is often the feeling of remembering yourself - you are losing your personality and gaining your center. If we say we are our personality, how can this "we" find the Music? It is more profound than our preferences, more alive than our surfaces, and deeper than our thoughts. It is more playful than the games we play and more magnetic than our styles. It is closer to us than what we call ourselves. Why are we afraid of it, then? I believe it's because it is not imaginary, and it goes on without our ego and yet is responsible for it.
Our society has chosen its priorities quite clearly : surfaces. So it is no surprise that centers hold no interest. And yet, whether there is interest or not, the lie of surfaces, of styles, of disposability, is a lie. Whether or not we believe in depths, there can be no surface without them. And whether or not we change clothes or personalities, these are not what we are responsible to. Not when we sit alone in a room with only ourselves, not when we wish to participate in and understand creation.
Although most people who believe in things seem to be trapped (by their belief) in a system allowing no "new material" or new "realities" in, they work from a center - their belief. However, those of us who have shed belief systems by questioning them successfully, seem to have lost not only the center, but the knowledge (through a sort of intuition or faith or trust) of the existence of centers. Thus we have lost the knowledge of "wholes." We can "think about" and "talk about" wholes, but we do not know them. As a result, much of our world has been destroyed by ourselves, not in the belief in discrete entities, but in the lack of intuitive knowledge of centers (or Center) that follows a lack of belief.
Our survival has also become discrete (i.e. not dependent on any particular other world's life). I say it has become so, even in the light of the growing awareness of the fragility of our environment, because this awareness has been forced on us by science, not by our own intuitive knowledge. What we have here is a belief in science, which, itself, is nothing more than the belief in someone else's belief in discrete entities. Science takes the blame and the prize so we can sit back and hope things "turn out" all right. Science is a view from exactly one perspective.
How is it that native tribal peoples of all countries "knew" everything to be interconnected and fragile? It seems that, because they were part of their world (not egoistically, at all), they shared the knowledge of that world. But that was not enough: they assumed everything was alive and conscious, and therefore connected, whereas we considered everything dead and disposable (is this a fact or a scientific belief?) unless proven otherwise. And, when proven, we look to science to "fix" what was "unfixed" by our lack of consciousness. We are more immersed in "discreteness" than ever, since we think that if surfaces are fixed, it will be enough.
But only the knowledge of centers (or Center) will fix the core of our World (or worlds), or - as medical sciences continue to try to cure symptoms - we will continue to applaud our own deaths. We will continue to polish our personalities (our surfaces) long after the "threat" of real life is over.
If someone were to say that global warming was the red-hot core of the earth asking to be taken seriously, would they be wrong?
"We know why we come back to this spot again and again and stand at the edge or in the middle of the circle marked out by the stones. We are searching for the secret."
"How strange that 'a-tom' in Greek means the same as 'individuum' in Latin: unsplittable. The inventors of these words knew neither nuclear fission nor schizophrenia." (from Christa Wolf, Accident: A Day's News)
What is this compulsion we have to take every new idea as far as we can? Are we confusing an habitually destructive compulsion with a "desire for the truth"? (Science?) In the music world, this fixation has brought about more un-needed instruments than the whole history of music up until modern times. The music never demanded them (or needed them). They are the result of a compulsion gone wild (coupled with the desire to make money above all else). We must, it seems, do what comes next. And when the next becomes a reality we claim it is valid because it exists. Are we so proud of our human genius for invention that we forgot the human gift of self-questioning? Consciousness includes moral choices (and why does the word "moral" immediately bother so many people? Perhaps the same reason the word "guilt" does?). Science includes science.
We live in pathetically discontinuous times and lead pathetically discontinuous lives, distanced from each activity by the previous, possibly unrelated one, and scheduling the next activity simultaneously. In utter contrast, tribal peoples' activities are a part of (and determined by) the natural environment that nourished them. Theirs is a continuum of connected actions limited by their care for the life of their world. We are all, in the end, limited by our care. This limit is morality. If this care comes from inside us, it is conscious. If it comes from outside, we are at the disposal of scientific method (in this society).
We know no such limits when we proclaim our freedom to do as we please (to do the next thing), and the lack of consciousness (perception) of what our world really is (its center) allows science to become our occupation, since its discoveries are discrete and always relate to the world as defined by science. Just the definition of "power tool" in primitive societies, compared to modern societies, illustrates this clearly ... can we "prove" that their power tool is a power tool? No. As a result, can we use that tool as well as they can? Probably not, without a certain kind of knowledge, which might be called belief. When you have a continuum, you can contemplate a center, you can be moral.
It's possibly unfair of me to use this space for espousing what I believe to be the missing "heart" in our lives, but the propaganda against these views has permeated our lives to such an extent that, without a grasp of "deep" history, it looks like the truth. And since what "looks like" the truth is all we usually have (media, etc...), I think that writing these notes to an album that "represents" a truth is an entrance to "hearing it for ourselves."
When a truth is temporary we should all beware of the process of arriving at that truth. The Changeless is all we really have.
"What can be said with certainty about the future is only that at some indiscernible point of technological development in the past our society became a machine that vindicates itself as it goes along: one that is what it does, but only until it does something else, at which point it becomes a machine that does this new thing." (from Brad Leithauser, Hence)