Shadowplay Culture: Musical Mothers

Self-identity is enigmatic.

Not so much listening to as hearing a neighbour’s car stereo droning out a persistent rhythmic baseline this afternoon provides room for reflection. It occurs to me how such assertions of public identity, of enthusiastically announcing a place in whichever cultural coordinate space we might choose or otherwise find ourselves inhabiting, there is a certain inadvertent and simultaneous infantile cry of insecurity occurring. The deep, warm bass and assuring periodicity of the drums is of course really nothing other than a game of mimicry in which a mother’s heartbeat, invoked as soothing blanket of safety and protection envelops the child-like need for care and comfort. The womb as umbilical source, long-gone and materially departed, persists in the cocoon of symbols and behavioural tropes with which we assert ourselves upon this world.

It is curious that it is at times of adolescent rebellion that an affinity with the component microcosms of culture embodied in and as the behaviour of playing loud music becomes most pronounced in a public space. It is also interesting that it is at precisely this time of exploratory self-development in the lives of so many teenagers and young adults that they unwittingly invoke as rhythmic comfort precisely that mother’s heartbeat from which they are slowly struggling to detach themselves in procedural individuation. In this way we see a door upon identity opens in equal and inverse proportion to which that aspiration towards partition synchronously rewrites our very first experiences of sentient being into the cultural grammars and behavioural vocabularies we encounter and adopt along the way.

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