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Carl Sagan’s Smoking Chair

There is a saying: “The only way to is through.”

Renco zet vandaag een nummer van Levi the Poet centraal: the only way to is through. Lastig, maar
| Renco Schoemaker

Hier op kwam ‘Levi the Poet’ al meerdere keren voorbij de afgelopen jaren. Al in 2014 kwam hij voorbij in dit fascinerende (harde) nummer van de band To Speak of Wolves en jaren terug zag ik hem samen met Dick live in Rotterdam. Impressive. Zijn meest recente album ‘Cataracts’ eindigde in 2018 op nummer 2 in mijn album top 14. Met enige regelmaat luister ik naar ‘woordenkunstenaar’ Levi. Vorige maand kwam een videoclip online van het nummer ‘Carl Sagan’s Smoking Chair‘ dat vandaag centraal staat.


Hier te beluisteren of te kopen op Bandcamp: de EP’s Ferment en Debris die uitkwamen vlak vóór het 2018 album Cataracts. Feitelijk gaat het om twee nummers op Ferment die op Debris aan erg gave, alternatieve versie krijgen. Levi schrijft hier uitgebreid over de totstandkoming van deze EP’s. Een sprekend stukje daaruit:

“I thought that (zie quote hieronder) was a fascinating idea, regardless of the fact that I disagree with his statements about “all” conventional faiths desiring small gods. But yes, perhaps we get to his grandeur in different ways. Jesus, after all, chose the foolishness of incarnation on Sagan’s pale blue dot, which likely seemed small to him, indeed. I think it’s hilarious, put that way. Of course God, in all of his grandeur, would do something as absurd as that. It spurred my reverence and awe toward him, anyhow (which is not the same thing as an endorsement for Sagan’s worldview – let alone an assumption that all of you agree with mine – only that, per usual, Jesus is a God comfortable with using whatever means he pleases to spur on our wonder, and this just happened to a way he did it in me). Plus, I liked the imagery: Sagan’s stars floating in the air and the dust motes in the light of the study and the same sun that cast its beams through the broken windows of the car crash where the man, who came from dust, returns to dust.”

Carl Sagan’s Smoking Chair


“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”


The sun had just begun to come through the windows when the phone rang, and time slowed the way that dust hangs in his rays when the room is still enough for you to see it. I always loved watching those fragments of old stars, memories of explosions that float in the air like both a foreshadowing and an embrace as warm as autumn, saying,

“You’ll make it through. After your heart can no longer stomach the torture, or the way the pain always expands to a weight that collapses on itself when gravity betrays the attraction of youth for the undress of age, you’ll be able to breathe again.”

The thing is, there’s no bridge for bypassing crucifixion.

Down the hallway, every ringing scream beat the truth in, and the rotary dial shook on its axis like my pale blue dot spun out of control and exposed as no less broken than the same motes of hope that spoke from their silence like prophecy.

“Ma’am, are you sitting down?”

I thought about life and man and assembly and my ribcage and sleep and watched the spotlight move upward with the sun descending and all of the particles that we weren’t made of maddeningly understanding like they were right about the news, and taunting like anything could happen with the right set of lungs breathing into this room.

I sat in the quiet imagining you heard the same sound despite how loud your mind always was.

What ifs are deafening questions.

The sun had just begun to come through the windshield when my whole field of vision became a prism system, and in the flash as long as a life sentence before my eyes, I had hope that, maybe, you would come to remember me as fascinating as every star – once monochromatic as ours – whose death gave birth to memories as colorful as this spectrum. It shone as if to say,

“She’ll forgive you. After searching the night and every dust cloud in her telescope or the empty rooms in your home, and collapsing into your scent like the moments you’d come in late with the night’s chill still clinging to the leather jacket she used to latch onto like one day she might not be able to feel you beneath it, she’ll be able to love again.”

The thing is, there’s no bridge for bypassing crucifixion.

Down the hallway, the phone sang its pitch as loud as our collision, and the car flipped like a pale blue top spun beyond the reach of its sunbeam suspended in time, like if its relative then i’ve got enough to get this out:

“My love, are you sitting down?

No matter how small a spec we are – floating in some empty living room – you are still a world to me, and I will expect to see you at peace with the debris that I return to in your afternoons, like the glimmer of old stars – no matter how dead they are – knowing that each and every piece was once a prelude to our eternal somethings who already knew the news. Anything could happen with the right set of lungs breathing into this room.

What ifs are deafening questions.

She’ll learn to love again.

Iets meer over auteur Renco Schoemaker

Renco is ruim 35 jaar, man en vader van twee. Hij was eerder jeugdouderling in zijn gemeente in Zwolle. Hij mag graag fietsen, hardlopen, tv series kijken en bloggen. Luistert tot slot graag naar harde christelijke herrie.


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