Hampshire College

When The Storm Lay Gyeongju Low

My son and I were wandering the Bronze Age petroglyphs on the far side of the Hyeongsan River and the feeling in the air was already bizarre, as he had just pointed at one of the sheer cliffs and exclaimed “Buddha!”, despite having no apparent knowledge that the area was some kind of sacred fertility precinct thousands of years ago (in Korean it’s called “애기 청소 / Aegee Chungso / Baby-Washing”). The carvings on the rocks are visible if you look closely—I only discovered them after taking a picture, draining the colors, and then fiddling with the contrast—but I find it somewhat eerie that the boy found his own arcane way of sensing their spiritual significance.

So just why are you into Malian music anyway?

Glad you asked. The obsession began around eight years ago when I strolled into the Hampshire College library one evening, as was my wont, after a somewhat reverse circle-jerk-like Philosophy of Time class, and Alice-in-wonderlandly fell into the music section: hundreds of CDs, and most of them really fucking weird. Like, I’m talking Karlheinz Stockhausen kind of excellent weird: there wast discovert Steve Reich, Sergei Prokofiev, Balian jegogs, and, at last, les griots du Mali.

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