Mark's log of a year in Australia - and its continuing repercussions
Sunday, October 02, 2011
If it ain't broke it needs to be
Went tonight to a performance by Zila Khan, a Sufi singer from Calcutta, scion of a great family - and the first woman in its seven generation to be singing in public. She has an amazing voice, and conveys moods from quiet rapture to yearning to meandering delight to vigorous joy. The words, to the extent she explained them, thumb their noses at lived religion. One, addressed to a teacher who has passed away, wishes that her life be shortened so they can be together again. Another says that the purpose of living is to be broken. Another, addressed to God, comes around to lived religion indirectly and almost regretfully: says she had promised to forget everything in her devotion to Him but now everything reminds her of Him. This isn't making do, dealing with ruptures à la Orsi, or even making religious worlds in any conventional sense. And while the original Sufis were elitist world-rejecters, this quwwali music is enjoyed by millions in the midst of life.