Go up on the roof at night
in this city of the soul.
Let everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!
–Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
• A clipping from the New York Times, 17 April 2003, which mentions a "Maarifa Street" in Qualat Sukkar, Iraq. In Arabic, "maarifa" means "knowledge/wisdom". I thought to myself, what could be more pertinent today than asking what kind of answers might suggest themselves by putting "wisdom" and "Arabic" together? Why isn't the "street of wisdom" the yes-to-life poetry of Rumi's ecstatic vision instead of the no-to-life piety of fundamentalists East and West?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
JALAL AL-DIN MUHAMMAD RUMI or Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also known as Mowlavi or Moulana, meaning my guide in Iran, India and Pakistan or Mevlana meaning our guide in Turkey) (September 30, 1207 – December 17, 1273 CE) was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic, who was born in Balkh (then a city of the greater Khorasan province, Persia at that time, present Afghanistan) and died in Konya (present Turkey, then within the Seljuk Empire's territory). When the Mongols invaded Central Asia, his father (Baha'al din Veled) set out to Konya, Anatolia within the westernmost territories of Seljuk Empire. Rumi was 18 years old at that time. Rumi was sent to Damascus and Aleppo to obtain religious education. His father became the head of a Madarassah (religious school) and when his father died Rumi succeeded him, at the age of 25. He was trained in the religious and mystical doctrines by Syed Burhan al-Din but it was his meeting with the dervish Shams Tabraiz that changed his life completely. Rumi spent most of his later years of life in Anatolia and also completed his masterpiece there. He died on December 17, 1273 in Konya in present day Turkey; Rumi was laid to rest beside his father, and a splendid shrine was erected over his remains.
teachings of rumi
His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and his disciples, all religions are more or less true. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew, Buddhist and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men and women of all sects and creeds. The 13th century Mevlana Mausoleum with its mosque, dance hall, dervish living quarters, school and tombs of some leaders of the Mevlevi Order continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world. The Mevlevi,"The Whirling Dervishes" or Mevleviye, are one of the most well-known of the Sufi orders. It was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death, particularly by his son, Sultan Veled Celebi.
Rumi's major work is "Masnavi-ye Manavi" (Spiritual Couplets), a six-volume poem regarded by many Sufis as second in importance only to the Koran. In fact the Masnavi is often called "Qor'an-e-Farsi" (The Koran in Persian). It is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry. Rumi's other major work is the "Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz-i" (The Works of Shams of Tabriz—named in honor of Rumi's great friend and inspiration, the dervish Shams), comprising some 40,000 verses. Both works are among the most significant in all of Persian literature. It is believed by some that Shams was murdered by disciples of Rumi who were jealous of his relationship with Shams (also spelt Shems).
Rumi's importance transcends national and ethnic borders. Speakers of the Persian language in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan see him as one of their most significant classical poets and an influence to many poets though history. He has also had a great influence on Turkish literature throughout the centuries. His poetry forms the basis of much classical Iranian and Afghan music. Contemporary classical interpretations of his poetry are made by Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (Iran), Shahram Nazeri (Iran) and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti (Afghanistan). To many modern Westerners, his teachings are one of the best introductions to the philosophy and practice of Sufism. Pakistan's National Poet, Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (November 9, 1877-April 21, 1938) called Rumi his spiritual leader and got inspiration from his poetry. Therefore Dr Iqbal addressed him as Pir Rumi in his Urdu and Persian poems.
(From the Wikipedia.)
Dance, as though no one is watching,
Love, as though you've never been hurt before,
Sing, as though no one can hear you,
Work, as though you don't need the money,
Live, as though heaven is on earth.
collections of writings by rumi
Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, JOHN MOYNE, COLEMAN BARKS
Threshold Books ISBN: 0939660067 (1983)
The Essential Rumi-by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, John Moyne, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson, Jelalludin Rumi
Castle Books ISBN: 078580871X (1997)
The Illuminated Rumi by JALAL AL-DIN RUMI, MICHAEL GREEN (Contributor), COLEMAN BARKS (Translator)
Broadway ISBN: 0767900022
• One frame of video (above) from that last summer, after dinner at Mati's house, both of us standing in front of 'Crucifixion', letting the camera roam over the surface in close-up with the ambient light revealing the topography of the paint. That frame is not only a capture of the painting (even this tiny detail radiates an energy that is at once cosmic and earthy) but also of that precious off-camera moment.
Even this tiny detail radiates an energy that is at once cosmic and earthy and its juxtaposition within the vastness of the Hubble image of two galaxies passing in the night reminds me of a piece of primitive art which is thought to be an attempt to illustrate some enigmatic birth or death in the skies of prehistory—the ultimate "street of wisdom."
'Crucifixion' by Mati Klarwein
• My 1983 record, Aka-Darbari-Java / Magic Realism, a fantasy mosaic that stretched across geography and time with the sounds of Pygmies, Javanese gamelan and Hollywood orchestrations from the fifties. (Graced by another beautiful Mati Klarwein painting, 'Soundscape', from 1982.) In many ways Maarifa Street gives off some of the same atmosphere and inspired me to subtitle it Magic Realism 2.
From the album notes:
MAGIC REALISM • Like the video technique of "keying in" where any background may be electronically inserted or deleted independently of foreground, the ability to bring the actual sound of musics of various epochs and geographical origins all together in the same compositional frame marks a unique point in history. • A trumpet, branched into a chorus of trumpets by computer, traces the motifs of the Indian raga DARBARI over Senegalese drumming recorded in Paris and a background mosaic of frozen moments from an exotic Hollywood orchestration of the 1950's (a sonic texture like a "Mona Lisa" which, in close up, reveals itself to be made up of tiny reproductions of the Taj Mahal), while the ancient call of an AKA pygmy voice in the Central African Rainforest—transposed to move in sequences of chords unheard of until the 20th century—rises and fails among gamelan-like cascades, multiplications of a single "digital snapshot" of a traditional instrument played on the Indonesian island of JAVA, on the other side of the world. • Music which is to this degree self-referential, in which larger parts are related to and/or generated from smaller parts, shares certain qualities with "white" classical music of the past.
AKA/DARBARI/JAVA is a proposal for a "coffee-colored" classical music of the future—both in terms of the adoption of entirely new modes of structural organisation (as might be suggested by the computer ability to re-arrange, dot-by-dot, a sound or video image) and in terms of the expansion of the "allowable" musical vocabulary in which one may speak this structure—leaving behind the ascetic face which Eurocentric tradition has come to associate with serious expression.
• A 3x5 index card with the words: "Rumi and Gil Evans: together again"; a notated melodic motif from 'Open Secret (Paris)' and notes about the Tibetan word "drala" which relates to the magic in the unmediated simplicity of nature. "A simple raindrop of a melody" is written underneath. This opened the door to seeing that simple melody as if it were some natural phenomenon, no apologies required. Dra means "enemy" and la means "above". So "drala" literally means "beyond the enemy." My note in the margin: "Cultural Alchemy!—'maarifa' (Arabic) + 'drala' (Tibetan)".
Jon Hassell and Mati Klarwein
• The recording that August night in 1985: wandering gamelans of sheep bells tinkling in the hills above Deia. Listening to this at the end of 'Open Secret (Paris)' opens up a world of memories and reminds me how much of this record comes out of that atmosphere and that moment.
And the biggest touchstone of all:
Maarifa Street is yours, my brother Mati. I'm still trying to do the soundtrack to your clairvoyant painting and self, always the close-up and the long-shot, the physical and the metaphysical, at once. Hope you like the coda with the sheep bells. Can't listen to it without thinking of the nightly serenade that surrounds you there on the hill.
All text, images and sound not otherwise attributed are protected by copyright © 2017 Nyen Music.
All paintings by Mati Klarwein © 2017 Klarwein-Archives. Used by permission of the Klarwein family.