by Mount Eerie
If you look at any of my old computers you’d learn I listened to Wind’s Poem by Mount Eerie some five thousand times, and the track “Ancient Questions” another 25 thousand times. I just found a CD copy of the album again in Toronto after losing it in one of my five moves from Brooklyn to Norway to New York (1,2,3). Listening to it in my car last night, whatever magical feeling made me put it on repeat was gone. So was the memory it evoked. It was *just* an album. I found myself listening to other songs on the album with more alacrity.
I came home and wrote a draft of an email to someone it made me think of. The last time I sent this person something, I didn’t hear from him for weeks. He’d effectively ghosted me. Whatever he said weeks later was pithy and unrelated to my letter. Several months later he was in town and asked if I’d meet for a drink. When I asked why he never responded to my letter, he said he started to read it but put it back in the envelope never to finish it because it seemed serious. In fairness to him, his instincts were spot on—the thing measured several pages and was all handwritten. Or he lied and didn’t know how to respond to what he’d just read. He didn’t want to be responsible for answering any “serious questions.” Who knew that not answering a serious question was an option. I sure didn’t.
But of course it is. That’s how men leave nine times out of ten. They just stop answering your questions. Perhaps the reason this album doesn’t move me the way it did thirteen years ago is that I’ve also stopped hearing the words. I can hear an oscillator in (something) instead and comfortably live with its demands. Hello, oscillator.
I think about Mount Eerie frontman Phil Elverum and his wife Geneviève Castrée sometimes and how he made this album in the hinterlands of Norway at around the same time I was in Tromsø completely unbraiding my soul. This was several years before the couple was beset with the bittersweet tragedy of becoming pregnant with a child and simultaneously being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not to say there is any connection whatsoever to my lived experience of the moment, or that the timeline matters, but I think about their relationship a ton by proximity. By forced proximity, I guess. I could just hear that the music was created within an emotional atmosphere I could smell in reality; to consider what time and memory do to the questions no one wants to answer.
After listening to this album, I leafed through an old journal from 2014 whereupon I’d written about my anxieties of maternal mortality, and specifically about whether I should have children or not:
I know how to swim, but suddenly the water has become much, much deeper.
This song does nothing to me now, but it is still one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard. That may be the legacy. I think I will not send this email to my old friend. It seems he’s found all the answers.