It’s funny that this year has been secretly about versions. a.Version, of course, but also versions of self, past scholarship, re-version, con-version, transgression. Saving the game in a different save slot so you can go back to it later. It’s funny, of course, how things that seemed to be abstract objects from your past life come bubbling up into your actual, present life, isn’t it? That we hear echoes constantly of the things that we once did?

I have been considering for a while how the person I used to be became the person I am now, how more than most people I think Ibarong experience a lack of continuity in personal identity, how surprising it is that sometimes old me seeps into the things I say and do now.

I was struggling for a while to come up with a paper topic for this class, and the vagaries of digital life had me digging through the archives of my writing for class (and isn’t this why a.Version is a great idea?) and I stumbled upon the paper I wrote for Judith Becker‘s class (about music, ritual, and trance in a variety of cultures) almost three years ago about music and psychedelia and secular ecstatic experiences — their causes and relationship to mental stability. It occurred to me that I had a paper here that could be expanded, added to, that maybe making an archive of my writing about psychedelic religious and aesthetic experience might yield a passable book or dissertation, or something — well, you get the idea.

And also, I hadn’t thought of this paper very much at all. I had thought of the books I read for it in passing at the beginning of the semester because of something someone had said in my present class about psychedelia. I have been working through Julian Jaynes’s book The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and it seems really self-evident that Dr. Becker’s research fits into this picture, and that there’s a really great connection here that Jaynes couldn’t have explored.

How odd, I think, that versions and these sorts of past histories should be so important now. (Also, upon further reflection, I think that Dr. Becker was the first person who had me thinking about Orientalism in the academy — she said something to me, in passing, about how she is annoyed at her discipline being called ethnomusicology. Also something about how it’s very hard for musicologists to study Balinese gamelan ritual and dance because of the overwhelming number of Aussie tourists who inundate the islands? — and how that has become a great important thing in my life too.) I think ultimately this has something to do with why I like folk music.

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