Monday, July 21, 2008

No stranger to suicide

The final Open DJ Spin of The New Monastic Workshop, held on Sunday evening, was mostly given over to DJ me and the mixtape I had prepared for just this occasion, when the time was short and precious, the conversation was hot, and no one needed to be thinking constantly about the next piece of music to play.

Brother Robert Goetz, Brother John Eiler, and myself were the last monks standing (and drinking syrah). Robert is a multimedia artist and songwriter from San Antonio; a searching soul. John is a widely traveled and deeply experienced soul brother. Having a couple of alert heads like these on-hand to explore core texts together was exactly what the Monastic experiment was all about.

One moment stays with me most forcefully. It was Robert and John's reaction to the song "Master of Victories" by the Italian "post-rock" band Giardini di Miro.

The song entranced them on its own strengths - it's a long, episodic, atmospheric instrumental. Then the back story really grabbed them. I had once ping-ponged emails with the guy who released the record, You Will Never Hear from Us Again. He is Adam Pehr of the Los Angeles-based Pehr Label. He told me he had commissioned a number of his favorite bands to write a new song about the experience of death after a friend of his had killed himself, and this was the result.

Robert and I have buried a drummer together. John is no stranger to suicide. This idea connected with them: a disturbing confluence.

I got caught up in the moment, like I always do, got excited and said something like we should get together and write or produce an essay or a movie called something like "An Invitation to Reconsider the Suicide Option" for all of the people (so many of them artists) who dangle off that ledge.

"No," Robert said.

John said, "No."


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