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Ephemeral Stream Recordings

Spiritual Exercise

by Abe Hollow

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Ephemeral Stream Recordings 2016
ESR 000.5

Hollowness as a Spiritual Exercise

The winter solstice of 2016 seems as good a time as any to sit down and think real hard about what it means to be hollow. After a year filled with such potential for tidal waves of supreme focus and healing, how is it that we are thrown down on the shore, and come up for air bleary-eyed, feeling hollow to the bone? Have we always been this hollow? Did the saltwater bore a leak in our skin and drain out the last of our guts?

Instinct might tell us that hollowness is a condition of emptiness. Something that is hollow is that which has been emptied completely of its contents. We sit in the sand, blinking and mulling this over. Does that mean that something hollow was once full? Or that it will be full some day?

The Home Ground Encyclopedia informs us that a hollow could refer to a “scooped-out place in the land” or “the seam where two mountains join,” and that in remote areas of Appalachia, folks refer to these geologic creases as “hollers”. Appalachian hollers are places of density, darkness, and mystery. They are folded within deep pockets of mountain rock, fermented as altogether separate environments. Sunlight is scarce, soils darken and frost.

A hollowness cannot be simply emptiness, because it is all too defined by what surrounds it. Negative space enclosed by matter takes its shape as a definitive potential, biding its time. A cistern waits to be sounded out, a bubble waits to be popped. Where there is hollowness there is resonance, and where there is resonance there is sound, and where there is sound there is music, and where there is music there is the potential for spiritual exercise.

One hydrogen atom is 99.9999999999996% empty space. One useful definition of hollowness might be rooted in something scientific: the consistency of atomic likeness among matter. Or something cosmic: the resolution to consign oneself to the infinite vacuum of the universe. Or something psychosomatic: the act of making one’s mind and body porous to the raw materials of space.

The solstice is a time for circles and spheres. Ideas of roundness ground the observance as an act of cycling, of pivoting on a curved arc toward something new. We are rounding the high crest of a standing wave, and the days only get longer from here. The earth’s orbit traces a hollow ellipse around the sun, solar winds echo in the auroras night after night.

When we find ourselves hollow, do we find ourselves unfulfilled, or are we just beginning a new round path toward fulfillment? We reach into the empty tank of the toilet, only to find that it wasn’t broken after all: it had just been drained, and was taking a while to fill back up.

Some of us practice hollowness as a spiritual exercise. Some of us make hollow art. Some of us make it our business to find the hollows in the people around us and fill them with golden honey. Our work is hollow and our mouths are full. Our minds are empty and the world is spinning. Your ears are a cistern, and the days are finally getting longer.

<3
Abe

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Sounds, mini-essay, and album art by Abe
Recorded by Adam Hirsch at Tiny Telephone Oakland and SF
plus at Figure 8 Recording Brooklyn with help from Nate Mendelsohn
Stream logo by June Hong

"Boogie Woogie Texas Glory" is dedicated to Barney Canson

Special thanks to Johnny "Vegas" Vanderslice for TT time

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released December 21, 2016

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Abe Hollow Oakland, California

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