The traveling world is parallel to the world of those rooted to one spot; it is the other end of the telescope, so to speak. Things that are taken by most people to have solidity and permanence become relative and subject to time. The church spire, the town hall or courthouse that watches over your days and is an ever-fixed mark to the merchant or the laborer, is to the traveling man only one among many such. The cherished touchstones of your daily life are to him a set of fresh opportunities for passing adventure, a source of profit to be extracted quickly, like gold from a small mountain, before moving on to the next El Dorado.
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Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, once told me that when a brass band plays at a small club back up in one of the neighborhoods, it's as if the audience-dancing, singing to the refrains, laughing-is part of the band. They are two parts of the same thing. The dancers interpret, or it might be better to say literally embody, the sounds of the band, answering the instruments. Since everyone is listening to different parts of the music-she to the trumpet melody, he to the bass drum, she to the trombone-the audience is a working model in three dimensions of the music, a synesthesic transformation of materials. And of course the band is also watching the dancers, and getting ideas from the dancers' gestures. The relationship between band and audience is in that sense like the relationship between two lovers making love, where cause and effect becomes very hard to see, even impossible to call by its right name; one is literally getting down, as in particle physics, to some root stratum where one is freed from the lockstop of time itself, where time might even run backward, or sideways, and something eternal and transcendent is accessed.
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