A collage of phrases from myths about grief, descent and return, punishment, and what we can bring back from the depths.
I was reading Ithacan author Aaron Sachs’s Up From the Depths, and he mentioned that the writer Lewis Mumford once recommended humanity’s Orphic legacy over its Promethean one - which I thought was an appealing way to say that the gift of music, harmony, and poetry is more transformative and ultimately beneficial to us than the gift of technology, however helpful. As a musician and a technologist, that line stuck with me.
It occurred to me to look at the results of those two characters’ story lines in myth: Prometheus was doomed to eternal punishment (having his liver eaten daily by an eagle); Orpheus did his katabasis - descent to the underworld - to rescue his wife, Eurydice, and returned, although because he didn’t trust the process, Eurydice was sent back - but they were ultimately reunited.
So: the technologist gets eternal punishment, while the musician at least gets to connect with his love, and though he feels tremendous loss, he gets a normal afterlife.
In one telling, Circe was Prometheus’s beloved niece, and was on hand when he was judged. So she gets to be in the song, as well as Eurydice and the two guys.
I had an idea of this as being sung by Enya, featuring Hozier. So, I read about the Celtic correspondences with Orpheus and Prometheus.
Orpheus seems to have a clear Brittanic parallel in Sir Orfeo and his wife Heurodis, who was sick and thought to have died, but Orfeo discovered that she was instead taken to a faery land “three miles deep” through a mountain, where she would never die. He found her and brought her back to the land of the living - a completely successful trip, apparently.
A Celtic correspondence to Prometheus (apparently for linguistic reasons) is Corrgend, who murdered Aed in a jealous rage, and was sentenced to carry Aed’s dead body until he could find the right stone to bury him under. The stone, when he found it, was so heavy that Corrgend’s heart gave out when he tried to lift it.
Another correspondence that occurred while I was developing this: Dr. Frankenstein is subtitled “the Modern Prometheus” and he carries a stolen dead body.
Orfeo, Heurodis is taken three miles deep where she shall not die bringing light to the sightless long before the dawn half of them are blind and the day will brook no equal to the edge to the limit going over gone beyond bearing the stone over road after road tis by it my heart is bursting the eagle is flying again this morning can't take the dying again grief and mourning the fire will not save us and nor will the bloody lance put the lyre in his hand and the rock starts to dance don't look back i won't look back until we stand in light
tjw: synths, electric guitar, vocals
Kate Khosla: vocals