Forest Tape #6: Under the Moon

Released: July 16th, 2019

Dedicated to the memory of Horst Rosenthal and Peter Adair.

  1. The stars turn
    Harold Budd, Daniel Lentz & Reuben GarciaPulse, Pause, Repeat
    from ‘Music For 3 Pianos’

  2. Full Moon
    a something is an echo of a nothing
    BiosphereMicrogravity
    from ‘Microgravity’

  3. Waning Gibbous Moon
    alone for how long?
    Cowboy JunkiesBlue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)
    from ‘The Trinity Session’

  4. Waning Half Moon
    almost cured of the past
    The CaretakerIt’s Just a Burning Memory
    from ‘Everywhere at the End of Time’

  5. Waning Crescent Moon
    the hungry ghost hunts in the dark
    Dirty BeachesMirage Hall
    from ‘Drifters’

  6. New Moon
    a nothing is an echo of a something
    Aphex TwinGrey Stripe
    from ‘Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2’

  7. Waxing Crescent Moon
    Worries vaporize on contact
    Weyes BloodA Lot’s Gonna Change
    from ‘Titanic Rising’

  8. Waxing Half Moon
    warm mouths in cold air
    Stars of the LidGasfarming
    from ‘The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid’

  9. Waxing Gibbous Moon
    here for how long?
    Robbie BashoCall on the Wind
    from ‘Visions of the Country’

  10. Full Moon
    a something is an echo of a nothing
    Moon DiagramsEnd of Heartache
    from ‘Lifetime of Love’

  11. The dawn rises.

Notes

I had an agenda with this particular entry which I feel warrants explanation. I have some mental health problems which affect my emotional stability, adjustment to change, relationships and productivity. Forest Tape #6 is an attempt to (among other things) map my own mood-swings and my detours into self-endangerment. Making this forced me to confront my own psychological rhythms in order to understand and depict them. It also reflects my experience walking alone in the forest at night, which is why the lunar cycle is the central conceit of the tape. I put it together to serve as an analogy (for myself and whoever listens) illustrating the tidal shifts of mood. They can be managed, enjoyed, prepared for, and recovered from. The moon was also chosen due to its ubiquity. It’s a mysterious shifting constant of humanity which everyone has in common regardless of era or geography. This is my favourite tape.

Horst Rosenthal
A Polish-French Jew detained at Gurs camp in the South of France during Nazi occupation, Horst Rosenthal’s name survives thanks to the comics he made during his imprisonment. Three remain intact and preserved. One is a satirical holiday brochure of the concentration camp, another is a similarly sardonic “Day in the life” of an inmate. The most famous is “Mickey Mouse at Gurs Internment Camp“, in which Walt Disney’s character is arrested for having dubious ancestry and sent to Gurs. He has to use a giant magnifying glass to view his food rations and is naturally appalled at the prisoners’ conditions. The comic book ends with Mickey removing himself from the page with a pencil eraser and re-drawing himself in New York City, “the land of liberty, equality and fraternity”. Unlike his borrowed protagonist, Horst did not escape the holocaust and was murdered at Auschwitz on September 11th 1944. The cover of his most celebrated comic declares that it was “Published without permission from Walt Disney”, inferring that copyright law was more fiercely defended than the rights of the undesirables. Gurs camp was demolished after the liberation and a forest was planted in its place. While my own turf of Blean Woods has been here for thousands of years and stands as a monument to permanence, the younger Gurs Forest is an attempt to heal the land of past atrocities.

We do not know much about Horst, other than he had “brown hair” and a “normal nose” according to Nazi records. However, there is a possible self-portrait of the artist in his “Day in the Life” comic, drawn from the back and walking with a girl under the moonlight. To me, Horst represents the enormous potential of using existing pop culture as a method of self-expression. Just as Mickey Mouse’s image and character was taken by Horst and used to convey his plight, humour and humanity, so can other pieces of art be used in new ways by us. Pop culture is powerful, important and must be defended, maintained and questioned. It gives a voice to the artist and the appreciator. At its best, it is a method for enhancing our engagement with the world and asserting our dignity as human beings.

Peter Adair
An American documentary film-maker (whose initial work chronicled his experience with Pentecostal “snake handlers”), Peter Adair is a shining example of using public art for compassionate intentions. He realised he was gay and decided to make a documentary portraying the lives of gay men and women without sensationalizing or vilifying them. The result was ‘Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives’, which was shown at many cinemas and broadcast on the nationwide PBS network. The men and women who were interviewed give all of themselves, without censoring their anger, affection, sorrow or joy. In 1977, this was radical, and thanks to Adair and his 26 brave subjects, gay and queer people were humanised on their own terms, as they had never been before in public media. One of the film’s subjects, the eloquent and pensive Dennis Chiu, appears as a voice on the tape. ‘Word Is Out’ is still a revealing, tender, funny and uncompromising film which I would recommend to anyone. We are living in a world which it helped change for the better.

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