Mastodon Strings in the Key of Q

Strings in the Key of Q

Jane Does

On the subway, someone’s phone begins to ring, or they are watching something on a tiny screen, and a strain of violin music wafts across the seat back and up into my ear. This music, alone, fits; it has a narrative authority, a recognizable stamp all over it: it is intersitital, it cuts us from one scene to the next. The light fades on, she’s on the subway, the music swells, the scene fades out. We need this music to help us, and her, get from one place to another. It carries us. She’s in a tweed suit and a hat, and the camera zooms in on her face before the fade, the focus goes a little softer, and her eyes are big and dewy, glistening, her cheeks smooth and fair and lovely. She is a young woman, alone in the city, confronting banality and balancing it against the gravity of her own situation and the importance of every day, every step she makes here.

Then a normal phone rang, an electronically sanitized version of a “real” phone’s ring, the kind of phone none of us (except, perhaps, the elderly guy in the cap and cane in the corner of the car) ever had in our homes.

The next night on the subway, it happened again. Violin music swelled and wafted through the air, only this time, it was real, coming not from an internet connected smart device, but from a young man in a hoodie holding a real violin. The film these notes adorned was modern, in color, an equally stereotypical story of a young woman alone in the big city, watching the banality of city life which architecture makes profound. There is no close up of her this time, we see her at a remove, see her lined up on the bench like everyone else, each soul distinct, eccentric, yet every soul equally weighed by the camera. Her steps matter, to her, but everyone else’s steps matter to them, and we have no faith that any of them are good, or bad. They are just people, in the city.

Originally posted at Admissions,


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