A Worldly Mysticism: 'Look Around the Corner'

Check out this sweet swirling escalation of a tune, "Look Around the Corner," by Quantic and Alice Russell, with the Combo Bárbaro. (Thanks to N. for the recommendation.)



As I listen to it, I think of the worldly mysticism that seems to be gaining traction among affiliated and unaffiliated nonspiritual- and nonreligious-, and well as spiritual- and religious-identified persons in the secularizing countries in the contemporary world, and that also seems to have adherents in some dimensions of theologies of interreligious dialogue.

It is a mysticism that celebrates something not so totally different from what another era called the "sacrament of the present moment," wherein what is known and loved about this life becomes central, the higher goods that can be pursued are defined as within the tentative grasp of worldly experience and knowledge, tasted on the plane from individual emotion to the seemingly grand indifference (to us) of the cosmos. A divine reality in or beyond this world is not foreclosed, but not foregrounded. A willingness to live with the love that can be had here, and a range of agnosticisms, these become moral codes of their own. This is one species of belief and practice outlined in recent works on secularity, and is very close to the domain of experience that continental philosophy has been wrestling with, as "religion without religion," in the last two decades.

And here it is, in the lyrics at least, of "Look Around the Corner." Even the title suggests an intuition of an event, a desire to live with what can be anticipated but not grasped.

The chorus intones, "Another day is born, rise up with the new light of the dawn / Another day is here, tell me what do you see?"

Humans are cosmicized and existentialized in the line, "We are made of the stars, you and I / so enchanted, hypnotized by space and time"

So the agnosticism is casual, but far from naive: "Who knows if this is all there is / come the morning we get to start anew / but we must tread wisely / till our days are done"

And then closing with those verbalized soothings, the wonder-sing-song-sounds at the end, "hoo, hoo, hoo..." As if to celebrate what is in the joy of a pleasurable sound, and let it pass without a word actually having been uttered, because no single word will do for the kind of faith that is faith in this world.

Tom Beaudoin

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Ala Keya
5 years 11 months ago
I was impressed by the song to the last and appreciate the lyrics - ''We are made of the stars, you and I / so enchanted, hypnotized by space and time''. I feel joy in the music.
Beth Cioffoletti
5 years 11 months ago
love it, Tom.  Thanks for posting.  There's a purity here that really appeals to me.
Karen Hill
5 years 11 months ago
In the early days of Christianity, believers in Jesus Christ were forced to face up to the gnostic religions. They did not ignore them, but took the challenge positively and applied the terms used of cosmic deities to Christ himself. The clearest example of this is in the famous hymn to Christ in Saint Paul's letter to the Christians at Colossae:
“He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers–
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body, he is its head.
As he is the Beginning, he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace by his death on the cross” (Col 1: 15-20).
For these early Christians, there was no new cosmic age to come; what they were celebrating with this hymn was the Fulfilment of all things which had begun in Christ. “Time is indeed fulfilled by the very fact that God, in the Incarnation, came down into human history. Eternity entered into time: what 'fulfilment' could be greater than this? What other 'fulfilment' would be possible?”

John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (10 November 1994), 9. 
Stephen SCHEWE
5 years 11 months ago
Great tune, Tom – Wonderful world music!  I found this quote on the band's web site accentuating their interest in increasing awareness, improvisation, and authenticity through community:
In crafting the sound of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro, Holland felt it was imperative to have the core stable of musicians in the same room, creating an organic dialogue between them – a simple rule which, in an age of drum machines, samples and voice correction, is all too often overlooked.
I liked your comparison of the music to De Caussade’s ''sacrament of the present moment;” if anything, De Caussade’s work describes a cosmos that is the opposite of dualistic Gnostic systems.  You might enjoy the current movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen which explores (in part) themes of faith and awareness in what’s “around the corner.”  Two avowedly secular British protagonists (at one point, one remarks to the other that “I don’t know anyone who goes to church.  Do you?”) have a faith encounter with a Yemeni sheik who seems to be a Sufi.  Without overt borrowing from Christianity, there’s delightful symbolism between the fish (salmon leap at key moments of witness) and the protagonists who slowly commit to swim upstream against secular culture.
Beth Cioffoletti
5 years 11 months ago
 In the late 1930s, Robert Lax and Thomas Merton became obsessed with jazz.

"Taking breaks from their Columbia College studies, they’d travel to downtown New York clubs on weekend nights to watch their favorite musicians jam. In sessions that went on for hours, sax would flow into bass, bass into piano, the different sounds, the different instruments and styles, rising and falling in turn without discussion or planning. Every musician was in the moment, listening, reacting, blowing or thrumming without hesitation or self-consciousness. Life was pouring forth."
- from an article in Image magazine by Michael McGregor


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