Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cool Sounds

The weather outside is frightful—“bone-chilling,” as the saying goes, in order to suggest, I suppose, the coldness of the grave. Hence, given the bitterly cold weather, it seems entirely appropriate to ponder the ecology of ice. As Eric G. Wilson has shown (The Spiritual History of Ice), at the turn of the nineteenth century, ice became auratic—it was endowed with aura, or believed to have magical or perhaps holy (spiritual) qualities—frozen shapes were not, in fact, dead, “but bearers of vital powers.” Wilson argues crystals, glaciers, and the poles were seen “as revelations of life as well as models of poetic composition” (or perhaps, re-composition). Indeed, ice came to embody scientific, psychological, and even occult insights. Jungian scholar and psychologist M. L. von Franz, in Man and His Symbols observed:

In many dreams the nuclear center, the Self, also appears as a crystal. The mathematically precise arrangement of a crystal evokes in us the intuitive feeling that even in so-called “dead” matter, there is a spiritual ordering principle. Thus the crystal often symbolically stands for the union of extreme opposites—of matter and spirit. Ice still carries that symbolic power, linking matter and spirit.

Yet the dreaded image of the so-called “ice princess,” alluring and beautiful, but emotionally (or spiritually) dead, has captured the modern imagination. Flattened expressive affect, or emotional “distance” (as opposed to proximity or closeness as authenticity), became metaphorically imagined as both blue and cold, as in Hank Williams’ country-blues standard, “Cold, Cold Heart.” Some say the world will end in fire, and some say ice (both used as spiritual emblems, incidentally), but I think the singers of the following songs say ice.

An Ice Cold 12-Pack Of Tunes:
AC/DC – Black Ice
Pat Benatar – Fire And Ice
Albert Collins – Icy Blue
Duran Duran – Silent Icy River
Foreigner – Cold As Ice
John Hiatt – Icy Blue Heart
Jefferson Airplane – Ice Age
Joy Division – Ice Age
Gucci Mane – Icy
Sarah McLachlan – Ice
Pink Floyd – The Thin Ice
Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby

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