Copyright 2000 by Anthony S. Wright
As I walk up to the door, I never know what I'll find, inside. Even though I might have called to confirm the appointment the night before and arrived on time, sometimes it seems a little strange that it is my job to go right into people's homes. Sometimes I've already removed my shoes and am standing there on the concrete of the front step in my socks. Out of respect, most of the time I do remove my shoes and leave them in the front foyer. The door opens, and I go inside.
Most of the time its the lady of the house who greets me. Other times, the husband or the grandmother who speaks no English. I follow as they lead me to where the client is. At times my customers will stay to watch through the whole procedure. Usually though, they just leave me after I tell them what I've found and we've come to an agreement as to what is to be done, to do my work.
Allegro: Opening the instrument
I open the piano and with a long screwdriver begin to insert the thick felt strips and wedge-shaped rubber mutes that are to mute two-thirds of the strings in the piano, leaving one string for each note to sound. I take out my tuning fork and tuning hammer (wrench) and place the tuning hammer on the middle string for note C#3. I strike the tuning fork on my knee, and bite the handle of the still-vibrating fork to allow the vibrations of the fork to vibrate my whole head by bone conduction. I can hear the tuning fork, and have both hands free to play the note and move the tuning hammer to change the pitch of the string, while I compare the pitch in my head with the pitch of the tuning fork.
I listen to the beats between the piano and my skull until they slowly disappear. When I'm satisfied with the stability of the beginning reference note, I take the fork out of my mouth and begin to set the reference octave of the piano, the temperament. As each note of the circle of fifths comes into its correct placement with regard to the others, I begin to slowly disappear as my third eye and ear open (Godwyn, 1987) .
The mists slowly begin to clear away as I find myself standing on the bank of a black river. I hear a regular watery sound behind me, and turn to see a withered old man, working his way back across the stream who looks at me with what seem to be eyes of infinite depth. It seems that he's just carried me over to this bank of the river. I forget the name already. I hear a low growling, and with the hair on the back my neck prickling, I turn slowly to face a large, fierce dog with three heads and a dragon's tail. It comes to me suddenly that I must capture this fierce guardian using my hands only- or somehow get past it.
Of all the trials in my life, I know this is the twelfth and final trial (Bullfinch, 1959) (Hamilton, 1940) , the twelfth tone and most difficult before the temperament is complete. If it isn't right, I may have to go back and rework the others. Sometimes I've had to go back to the beginning, if the system, the piano, was far enough into chaos and out of tune. Small consolation and a little relief to know just what I have to do, with all that is to come.
My job is to bring harmony out of cacophony, order out of chaos. I can't just 'muscle' the piano to do what I want as I'm only a human, working with a system that holds up to twenty-five tons of tension. The dog with three heads won't be satisfied with a dialectic, positivist, or Cartesian approach (Guba, 1990) . That will only take care of two of the heads of Cerberus, leaving all those who offered just two to be torn apart by the third. There have to be three to satisfy.
The Sibyl knows. She gives me a fractal (period 3) (Briggs & Peat, 1990) (Peat, 1991)(Brown, 1995) cake, the dog accepts it and with a golden bough, I'm away to explore the underworld.
Adagio: Further attunement across dimensions
As I became competent in establishing the appropriate harmonic structure in the tuning of the instrument (Godwyn, 1987), I found myself going in auto-hypnosis (Erickson & Rossi, 1976) wandering through multiple levels of thought and being (Guenon, 1984) . After a time, I began to notice a kind of landscape that seemed to have a direct relation to whose piano I was tuning (Campbell, 1997). As a participant-observer (Bohm, 1980)(Wolinsky, 1993) I began to notice how various thoughts and later sounds and pictures would come and go while I was tuning.
I began to make some sense of what I was perceiving. I'd been doing it for long enough that I knew my own terrain in this context. I began to recognize that the territories I was in weren't mine (though I might go through my own territory to get there). I began to learn more about attunement, at-one-ment, and attonement.
Congruencies and incongruence. Consonance and dissonance of emotions as absorbed by the piano (Teilhard de Chardin, 1959).
Minuet: Experiencing the essential
Existence arises from the chaos of the essential (de Nicholas, 1989). Without the essential there can be no existential position (Tillich, 1961). The critical third variable is iterative and transpersonal (Brown, 1995)(Walter, 1994)(Sutich, 1969). It is the very point where bifurcation happens; the choice point of either/or yet before the choice is made.
It is the place of b-values (Maslow, 1962). It is the place where ego and id are birthed from the superego (Rothgeb, 1973). It is the place of the son and holy ghost, out of the father in Christian mysticism.
It is possible as a facet of the essential to be other than lost or unmindful in the Hegelian sense (Suzuki, 1970). Or polarized in the sense that Kierkegaard meant it. Implicit in the Elizabeth Cady Stanton's (1892) Solitude of Self is this unity of self with the essential, contrary to any attempted denial of one's-self from or by any one.
Plato knew of this place, and chose to use story and myth in this land of not-one-not-two-before-choosing (de Nicholas, 1989). Eastern religious disciplines of Taoism (Baum, 1958) and Buddhism (Price & Mou-Lam, 1969)(Suzuki, 1970) embody it. Zen uses koans or paradoxical phrases to bring the student to this place just at bifurcation. If you can think of it, its already too small.
In Greek mythology, psychopomps traveled between the worlds of gods and men (Bullfinch, 1959)(Hamilton, 1940) . Hermes and Pallas-Athene were two. Under Pallas-Athene's direction was Clotho and Arachne, spider-like muses who 'wove a web of reality' out of spun threads.
In the act of bringing harmony into the world, I experience tuning as a sacred occupation and art. And now from a meta-position, I offer in my work my awareness of how some have chosen to make their bridges from 'reality' and myth, to this place of under, this place of psycho-pathos or where souls suffer, where Persephone is Queen.
Allegro: Reverence for resonance
I'm returned, having experience the underworld at a new depth, something for which there is no speech. Yet now I'm slower to act, slower to say I know what it will take to understand someone's difficulty, than I was before when I was just recently armed and ignorant with the tools of NLP (Bandler, et.al., 1980) .
Now I know how the journey can be really difficult, and no one can take it for you, and no one can tell you what it means. In a very real way it is the first steps into the real soul journey of the rest of life. A part of me continues the journey there, teaches me and reminds me of what it is to be lost. Another part teaches as well, what it is to have been lost and then to be found, and to find one's way out, though I don't quite remember how. Or particularly, for how long; for this place is outside of time.
I guess that's the part about crossing the river Lethe, is that you forget, at least cognitively, some part of the suffering experienced when lost. Which helps when you're talking with someone else who has begun the journey that you are on. And what it is for them to be with your presence, someone who has found their way through. And you, knowing that the finding wasn't exactly your personal doing, that finding of the way out and through.
I was glad to find Theodore Reich's book Listening with the Third Ear (Reich, 1949). He talks about this very phenomenon of going, as Eugene Taylor puts it, 'trans-personal' by going into the internal places (Taylor, 1999). I really had no idea of this trans-...
And now, as I pack up my tools, and make the next appointment with the present customer, and begin to think of the next customer that I am scheduled to visit for the day, I find that I'm going to be approaching them in a slightly different manner.
As my foot touches the front doorstep on my way out to my truck, I'm back in the world, in the truck, in the traffic, listening to the news. But I left some harmony back there, and I can feel it, changing the world and my-self, just a little.
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