1. SYRIUS ß 04:54
2. IDOLS AND FETISHES 07:47
3. MYSTERIUM 05:29
4. THE CROWD 07:23
5. TOTEM 08:33
6. DANGER 04:24
7. IDEA AND EVESTRUM 09:29
Total duration: 47:54
CD + THE CROWD.mpg – video track (for PC or Apple Mac) 04:48
SYRIUS ß – mp3 extract 1:23
TOTEM – mp3 extract 1:11
THE GORDIAN KNOT COMPANY
Tibor Szemző – narration, keyboards, sound sources, wind controller, bassflute; Dj Naga – turntables; Péter Magyar Összekötő – drums and percussions; Marcell Benkő – percussions; Zoltán Farkas – electric guitar; T. Bali – electric guitar (3); Mihály Huszár – electric doublebass (3); Szabolcs Keresteš – keyboard (CD +); Orsolya Varga – keyboard (CD +)Moving Images (CD+) from Péter Forgács’s Private Film and Photo Archive, Budapestrecordings: Fodderbasis, Budajenő and HEAR Studio, Budapest
May 1996 – January 2000
engineer: István Horváth
mix: István Horváth and Tibor Szemző
mastering: Zoltán Regenye HSB Stúdió
artwork: Dezső Kiss, Y 21 Studio
front cover: Julia Hardy’s Syrius ß cake
photographed by J. A. Tillmann
Producer: Leo Feigin
Š & p Tibor Szemző
2001 BIEM / Artisjus
About The Invisible Story
In May 1996 my friend, Péter Forgács, and I were working on the film “Class Lot.” We sought to understand and reinterpret our personal past through the films shot during the communist era by the ingenious amateur film-maker, György Pető, a banker, and later viola player and copyist at the Budapest Operetta Theatre. I then realized that the time had come to accomplish my long-cherished plan to set Béla Hamvas’s “Aquarius” to music. Next, I created and recorded the first versions of “Syrius b” and “Idols and Fetishes.”A year and a half later Péter came across a very curious “film-find.” In the early sixties, somewhere in the Budapest suburbs an anonymous film-maker persistently and passionately filmed from his balcony the construction of a house on the empty site opposite his apartment block. Again I turned to Hamvas’s texts, and brought out the first versions of four additional movements, “The Crowd,” “Totem,” “Danger,” and “Idea and Evestrum”. For the most part, these pieces of music were governed by they own laws, which made them unsuitable for Péter’s film, “Kádár’s Kiss,” especially since the script itself underwent substantial changes as the film was being shot. The original film-find, with its exceptional timelessness and ineffable hover, gradually became an intrinsic part of our concerts, used as the setting for musicians playing in suburban Budapest in, say, 1963…The music of “Mysterium” was written in January 2000-again, in connection with a film, András Fésős’s “The Sun Sets to the Left.” I later grafted Hamvas’s texts on the music.
I would hereby like to express how greatly indebted I am to Béla Hamvas, the author of these texts, and his widow, Katalin Kemény, who consented to my using her late husband’s works. I am also very grateful to the creators of the above mentioned films, to my colleagues, to the staff of the Gordian Knot Creative Musical Laboratory, to everyone who contributed to the making of this record, to the Private Film and Photo Archives, to the Musical College of the National Cultural Core Programme, and to János Suba.
Budajenő, 28th November 2000
The Text of Invisible Story
Extracts from the essay Aquarius (1943) by Béla Hamvas
1. SYRIUS ß
It is said / there is a celestial body in the universe, a unique body of its kind, Sirius Beta, a frigid, extinguished star, a lightless, heatless, motionless body, where the atoms lie scattered about higgledy-piggledy, totally disordered, as if on some colossal rubbish-tip,
consigned to oblivion. This is Sirius Beta, materia par excellence.
Once man becomes a materialist, in other words, once man begins to believe the world was and is made of matter, and he is wedded to this matter, and doggedly clings to it, and for him matter means seriousness, surrounds, lust, religion, then man begins dimly to sense that he too is some such fallen and disgorged, pulverised and smashed-up object, flushed down a sewer, tossed on a junk-heap. A vestige that has forsaken contact with Nature’s spiritual forces, detached from the cosmos, brought to a standstill by a terrible catastrophe. He has lost any spiritual reference-point, and so he regresses and sinks.
It is said there is a celestial body in the universe, a unique body of its kind, Sirius Beta, a frigid, extinguished star, a lightless, heatless, motionless body, where the atoms lie scattered about higgledy-piggledy, totally disordered, as if on some colossal rubbish-tip, consigned to oblivion.
2. IDOLS AND FETISHES
The phenomenon which has been referred to as the revolt of the masses is actually a revolt of the unconsciousness. For what is happening here is not external but internal in nature. And the revolt of the unconsciousness is merely an incipient retrogression.
The masses of today are beginning to reimmerse themselves into an advanced state of prehistorical backwardness. They become primitive. Consciousness of person wanes, graven idols and fetishes take the place of the deities, everything savage, monstrous, incendiary and false is blazoned, the place of thinking is taken over by superstition, man is unable tell himself apart from others, and identifies with something that he has nothing to do with.
In society the vertical intrusion of barbarism is merely the visible sign of a catastrophe being played out in the invisible world of the soul; the real changes are occurring inwardly, in the world of the psyche, specifically by the unconscious swamping human consciousness like a swollen ocean.
That is the Deluge in the fate of man today.
That is the Deluge in the fate of man today.
It’s no longer just a threat, It’s here now, and it has already swamped a large part of humanity.
The signs of mass assembly, primitiveness: mankind as a whole has descended into unconscious obscurity and sunk into the darkness in which the primitive dwell.
The external nature of the circumstances hardly alters the fact that we are now dealing with a civilised primitiveness, a mechanised barbarity, so to say. The external nature of the circumstances has never yet been able to modify man’s real condition in the world, nor, for that matter, induce him to change it.
People who have reflected on and written about the barbarisation of humanity supposed that the danger is one threatening the soul, culture and exalted men. Yet exalted men can only be swept away by the tide of the unconscious if they are not, in fact, exalted in their existential essence.
Otherwise, only mass man can become primitive and savage.
Only mass man can become.
Only mass man can become primitive and savage.
3. MYSTERIUM (THE THIRD GREAT MYSTERY STILL AWAITS)
A sixth, and totally new, human race is in the making across the face of the world. The manner of the formation, origin and evolution of this new human race is a great, inexplicable mystery.
As long as those belonging to this race stood alone, scattered to all corners of the Earth, they seemed even to themselves abnormal, impossible creatures, not merely incapable of adjusting to those around them and their world but lacking even a single essential point of contact with these.
These people were left to themselves, scattered across Earth, set in corners and ostracised by those around them. They were aliens. For they truly were alien.
In all likelihood, very many members of this new race were lost. Who knows how? Some took their own life, others sank into depravity, took to the bottle or rebelled, fell foul of the law and went to prison. Some became melancholic or unhinged.
Ultimately, in an inexplicable further great mystery, fully comparable to the mystery of the formation of the new race, there slowly arose in representatives of this new race a consciousness that I am no longer alone.
The whereabouts those similar to me are still a secret. But now at least I know that they exist, and when I encounter them I recognise them without a word passing between us.
As long as there is just one of a kind, he is an exception, two are still odd, but three already makes a community. As yet rudimentary. The third great mystery, that of their converging and uniting, still awaits.
4. THE CROWD
In a mass Individual consciousness is annulled. The mass has a quite new character, totally independent of any individual behaviour. Precisely that it is unconscious. Volatile, gullible, prejudiced, retrograde, despotic, obtuse, dismal, hysterical; it has no intelligence, no judgement, is unable to weigh, is readily convinced and even more readily steered and made a fool of.
Caught up in a mass even the most rational person becomes dim-witted in the twinkling of an eye. The brain is disconnected, the operations of reason cease to function, consciousness peters out to be supplanted by an obscure, indistinct, fitful paralysis that is so characteristic of the mass. Sound and sober common sense is obliterated, and unfathomable proclivities arrogate dominion over mankind.
And the individual is assimilated entirely into the mass. Those in the mass coalesce into a single soul. The mass does not judge, does not contemplate, does not love nor try to comprehend, rather fears, rages, marvels and surrenders. But paramount of all it destroys.
Nothing is more characteristic of the unconsciousness of the mass than that at this moment, it believes it is the lord of the world although in the very jaws of death. Yet even here it searches for its enemies. It believes its victory is under threat. It fails to notice is that insofar as anyone speaks out in protest, it’s in the interest of the mass. Yet there is a tacit accord amongst the members of the mass that the dangerous creature may and should be extinguished.
Experience shows in all areas of society, and with total uniformity, the way in which the mass systematically, albeit instinctively, oppresses those in whom it sniffs out a scent of the new. Such creatures may be beaten down, are left to be and must be robbed, stamped upon and cheated. They are allowed no chance to speak.
The fact of belonging to this tacit alliance is the distinguishing mark of the mass.
The most salient feature in the life of primitive mankind has been found to be that it is totemistic. Has been found to be that it is totemistic.
A totem is a sign, symbol, maybe an image or some similar externality.
A totem is a sign, symbol, maybe an image or some similar externality.
A sign or image, however, is no ordinary object, but in the life and religion of primitive man it assumes abstract meaning and significance. In the life and religion of primitive man it assumes abstract meaning and significance.
Totems of this kind among civilised peoples are the names or statues of national heroes, a flag, the national anthem. The names or statues of national heroes, a flag, the national anthem.
Totems come into being when man en masse is unclear of the significance of nation, race and language, and the common destiny of peoples, nor able consciously to grasp the great facts and reality in the life of the collectivity.
The totem incorporates in itself the mass-soul.
The totem incorporates in itself the mass-soul.
When in man individual consciousness fades away the collective gains the upper hand and spills over. Collectivism creates totems, signs and symbols, and by now only these signs denote the soul. Only these signs denote the soul.
Fragmented and dispersed, human beings rub alongside each other like so many grains of sand or pebbles, without noteworthy, serious interaction, atomistically.
The greatest of all dangers threatening a populace is not falling into servitude and being forced to slave for a mightier, more numerous and more belligerent people. Servile peoples can still be great, for all their poverty, work and humiliation, they can still live a lofty destiny.
The greatest of dangers threatening a populace is to become primitive.
The greatest of dangers threatening a populace is for it to throw aside consciously rational thought and consciously rational thinkers, and thereby submerge into the ocean of unconsciousness.
That is how it becomes mob, a coarse rabble, breaks up, degenerates, and vanishes
the tropical rain-forest’s Indians and black hunters, the Eskimos of the tundras, the Aborigines of the Australian desert.
7. IDEA AND EVESTRUM
An idea is an internal image with whose assistance a higher Power elevates man to its own level. From matter too there radiates something, though that is not idea but precisely its diametric opposite. The opposites of idea are the radiating images of forces dwelling in matter, Paracelsus being the first to spot them, and designate them by the name evestrum. An idea is an uplifting image, an evestrum deposes and degrades. An idea cleanses and shines brightly, an evestrum is dark and pollutant. He who bends his life to the world of idea, is ennobled, climbs ever higher, becomes more harmonious, more lucid, more profound, and wealthier. Without idea no lofty, great, rounded, splendid life exists. The images of idea are the means by which higher Powers raise people who open up towards them. An evestrum is the radiation of dark, destructive forces dwelling in matter which brings down and incapacitates, stupefies and crushes to bits.
Matter is ‘mother Nature in her widow’s weeds’, for her spirit-husband is dead, and in that orphaned state the world’s evil, savage and obtuse forces, the world’s evil, savage and obtuse forces have overrun her. Through the evestrums these forces attract to themselves those people who open up towards matter. An evestrum has the essential trait that it is obscene and greedy. These are the foremost demonic images by means of which the infernal Powers enfold man within their clutches.
By means of which the infernal Powers enfold man within their clutches.
Translated by Tim Wilkinson and Nicholas Bodóczky
Born in 1897, lived in Pozsony as a child. At eleven, travelled to Paris and Munich on holiday with father. Never journeyed west again, but even as an old man was able to evoke Paris, the Pinakhotheka, the Aphaia temple as if he had only just visited them. A Schopenhauer devotee at baccalaureate. Immediately after this examination, cadet school follows-and the northern front. Military hospital after nervous breakdown. Refuses decorations awarded to front fighters. In 1918, after World War I, Pozsony was lost to Czechoslovakia and renamed Bratislava. Expelled from new Czechoslovak country, Hamvas family set up anew in Budapest. Béla Hamvas reads philosophy, studies music, and earns living as journalist. In free time, with bread in his bag and Nietzsche under his arm, goes out to read in Buda hills. After graduation from university is offered job at Budapest Municipal Library. Eventless years follow, Hamvas reads and reads, studies and writes. Yearns for spiritual and intellectual peer community. Consequently creates, together with Károly Kerényi, three numbers of Sziget [Isle], a periodical having much in common with the ideas propounded by the George Circle. Béla Hamvas’s first-and-only published collection of essays, Láthatatlan történet [The Invisible Story] (1943), is a sincere account of the “first and last soul” in the face of rampant pseudo-stories. Unable to make dream visit to Greece come true, travels to Dalmatia a few times. Before he is called up in World War II as a reservist, he has published over two hundred and fifty articles in various periodicals. Again, is sent to the front. A couple of months before the siege of Budapest Béla Hamvas is sent home from Soviet Union to serve in Hungary. Risking his life, sets free inmates of Jewish forced labour camp under his command. Budapest is liberated in 1945, but bomb raid has destroyed his entire home, library, manuscripts, and every visible trace of his former life. Surprisingly active in post-war era. Edits anthology of world literature, publishes pocketbook series. Hostile reception of Hamvas when book publishing is nationalised in 1947. György Lukács refuses co-operation in publication of series, on the grounds that “the publication of such works cannot be considered timely at present.” As a result, the series is banned, and the volumes at press are pulped. Béla Hamvas is denigrated, and in 1848 loses job as librarian. Never publishes again. Lives in forest hut for an entire year-not unlike his youth ideal. Takes on farming and day-labour jobs, while writing magnum opus, Karnevál [Carnival], a novel he had been meaning to put to paper since his twenties. Country life is unsupportable, not only financially. Conditions in Hungary disallow belonging nowhere. Having no other choice, becomes worker on a dam construction site on Upper Tisza river, far from family, Budapest, and libraries. Travels home at weekends, “to change books,” returning early Monday morning laden with hefty tomes. Writes most significant portion of oeuvre-in extent and maturity-at dawn and dusk over span of a decade. After earning barely-minimal pension, returns to Budapest to ever-preferred gardening. Pruning-two more novels-binding up vines-another book of essays. Leaves swansong, Scientia Aeterna, behind in manuscript. By 1968, the year of his death, Béla Hamvas reckons he has achieved not only the “elimination of constellation” (i.e., giving up, as he would say, the practicing of skills), but also reached the boundary of existence where significant things are given their due place, and where confrontation and tragedy are obliterated. Indeed, Béla Hamvas attained departure from his fate.
Excerpts from Katalin Kemény’s Élet és életmű [Life and Oeuvre] (1977)