THE BLOG
09/21/2005 05:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Text of Light and Dreams

Just got back home from a Text of Light show at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. Text of Light is Lee Ranaldo, guitar/electronics (Sonic Youth); William Hooker, drums (downtown free-jazz drummer supreme); Alan Licht, guitar/electronics (film critic for Premiere Magazine and downtown experimental guitarist); myself on bass/electronics. We perform on stage with Stan Brakhage films. Stan Brakhage was one of the great experimental film-makers from the '60s into the early 2000s when he passed away.

We do the "free-improvisation" thing. This means that there is no plan whatsoever before we start playing, and we discover everything as it shows up. This requires a lot of intuition and skill on the part of the improvisers, and it helps to have played with each other before. We played our free-form sounds (no back-beats or chord progressions, please) for an hour or so with the films. We received a standing ovation, a far cry from a free-improvisation session 30 years ago with my brothers Benjamin and Laurence -- during that session a neighbor opened our door and threw in a roll of toilet paper! Has the World caught up with the Idea?

The intersection of Stan Brakhage's abstract film and our abstract music can produce different meaning to different viewers/listeners (we are not so much "soundtracking" for the film as co-existing with the film). In some respects, this has Rorschach Test qualities: What do YOU experience from this? The audience brings a lot to the meaning of the event.

This relates also to dreams, which I find very interesting. I have been writing them down regularly since I was a teenager. Perhaps the reason I don't care as much about movies as most of my friends is that I remember my dreams regularly -- not only are my dream plots generally more interesting than most films, they all star me! (as do everyone's dreams). I recalled two dreams after the show: in one I had managed to do some pretty good baseball fielding for a big-league team (the Red Sox?), and in the other I was in an uneasy situation with a pride of lions. Pretty interesting for just lying in bed (especially since I am a very bad ball player and haven't been to a zoo in years). For those interested in dreams, I highly recommend the book "The Dream Game" by Dr. Ann Faraday. Despite occasionally sounding a little too "mid-'70s", this book is a veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in messing with their dreams and taking a deeper look at what goes on in their psyche while they sleep.

Which brings us to our dear President. If everyone wrote to their Congressperson, perhaps we could get an edict ordering all U.S. presidents to post their dreams each night online. I bet it would be quite interesting to see Dubbya's dreams -- even without analysis! "I was in bed with Osama Bin Laden, and he was actually a pretty nice guy. Then we were riding around the UN building on a camel: this camel somehow used the most expensive Premium gasoline in the world, but I got it for free! When i woke up I was depressed because my vacation was over, and I had to work."

Another alternative is for Text of Light to perform along with, not Stan Brakhage films, but footage of Dubbya's latest speeches (with no sound from the footage). It would probably generate very interesting, and possibly prophetic, meaning to his lack of sense.