The Vicious Circle
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Kingsbury Manx - "Pageant Square"

There's a hill near the University of Oxford, which, if you clap at it, will squeak at you in response. You clap, it squeaks: an ancient dialogue of seemingly negligible importance. What the clapper should understand, however, is that her conversational gambit sets into motion a chain of events so complex and inconsistent that its outcomes cannot possibly be predicted. Amid a field of perfect green grass, and rose bushes in full bloom, the clapper finds something deep within the Oxford earth: a silliness verging on the sinister.

After this writer first clapped at the hill, and listened attentively to its response, the idyllic town of Oxford took on a decidedly disquieting aspect. For instance, one night, after drinking pims and lemonade at an outdoor pub peppered with peacocks and oak trunks, I walked back to my sister's apartment along the banks of the Thames, as a mathematician sculled abreast, reciting Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" from memory. The sun was setting. Suddenly, to my great surprise, I had come under physical attack. The culprit: a white swan whose rotundity was surpassed only by its belligerence. The swan opened its beak wide and growled like a jaguar, as if to say "You will not pass, Farbs!" We traded blows for several minutes until I had thoroughly knocked that bird out.

"And when quarrels arose/as one frequently finds Quarrels will..." the mathematician continued.

Carroll himself once clapped at that Oxford hill, I'm sure. As did Monty Python and Ludwig Wittgenstein. And what delight they must have taken at the mound's unexpected reply. There's no gift quite so sweet, after all, as that of complementary sound. Whether the feedback loop of insanity that I put into effect with my clap was initially physical or psychological, I'm not sure (in the end, it's just the same), but I do know that such is the power of a simple sound, pointed in precisely the right direction, when the world is at ready with an answer in harmony.


Posted by Jordan at June 6, 2007 7:54 PM

The entirety of the Kingsbury Manx album on which you can find this wonderful, hypnotic song is fantastic! A soothing delight wonderfully produced.

Posted by Matthew in London at June 7, 2007 4:32 AM

Of course, Wittgenstein was a Cambridge man.

Posted by Wyatt at June 7, 2007 1:50 PM

Word. But during his few years teaching at Oxford, Vitty must surely have encountered the squeaking hill.

Posted by Jordan at June 7, 2007 2:23 PM

What does that have to do with the song?

Posted by huh at June 7, 2007 3:10 PM

Clearly, I chose to leave that to your imagination.

Posted by Jordan at June 7, 2007 6:31 PM

Wonderful track.

And the bird had it coming. Good on ya.

Posted by tuwa at June 8, 2007 10:28 AM

"a silliness verging on the sinister"

some days i think that's where it's all at. you've hit The Nail on the head. and the song sounds like everyday in a beautiful way.

Posted by aerin at June 15, 2007 4:33 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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