Occult author Erik Davis recently posted a lengthy appreciation of singer David Crosby’s debut solo album If I Only Could Remember My Name, that focuses on the track “Laughing,” which Davis claims was directed at George Harrison. Some of Davis’ commentary might well resonate with those who acknowledge the advent of the Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child. An excerpt reads:
Finally, the kicker:
And I thought
I’d seen someone
Who seemed at last
To know the truth
I was mistaken
Only a child laughing
In the sun
Here we meet the guru at last, the Man (presumably) Who Knows. But as the rhyme of “seen” and “seemed” hints, the seeker has not escaped the mirrorhouse of projection, reflection, maybe even misdirection. At the same time — and unexpectedly for a song with such a disenchanting undertow — this disillusionment does not leave the seeker bitter and bereft. The guru is not exposed as a liar or a lech, a joker or a thief, but “only” a child laughing in the sun. The seeker’s mistake did not lay in identifying something special in this person, but in believing — hoping — that this specialness had something to do with knowing the truth. Instead, the numinous boils down to an ordinary state of radiant and childlike joy. To wit:
The figure of the happy child was a crucial cultural icon during the ‘60s, reflecting the era’s powerful investment in ideas of youth, natural innocence, and spontaneous play. Children were seen not as little beasts that required strict training but as pure spirits not yet dragged down into the hole of “civilization,” which radicals and freaks and seekers were trying, in their different ways, to claw their way out of. The child didn’t need to get back to the garden; the child was already there.
So while the seeker of “Laughing” faces disappointment in the first two verses, their final encounter with the giggling tyke provides something more positive. Perhaps this state of being is the goal of the pathless path, one that requires neither faith nor knowledge but mere being. Speaking of which, this is how Wallace Stevens describes a similar realization in the third stanza of his poem “Of Mere Being.”
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
Though we are still in the realm of knowledge here, this knowledge is bare: the singing bird, its feathers shining, just is, without rhyme or reason. Is this gnosis, or nothingness? Similarly, Crosby’s sun-baked child confirms both sides of the seeker’s search, fulfilling both the longing and the doubt. The kid’s laughter is at once spiritual and meaningless, enchanted and disenchanted.
read the whole piece (which includes music links): https://www.burningshore.com/p/slanted-and-disenchanted.