Invite death into your home
September 11th, 2001, in New York City, a man is taking his stack of cassettes and transferring them to his PC.
The precious cassettes are almost 30 years old, and the glue that holds the magnetic tape will degrade soon.
He can hear pocks and distortions in the audio, but luckily he got to this before it was too late. He’s been meaning to do this for years. For now, his favorite childhood music is safe from the ravages of entropy.
A boom from outside rattles his potted plants and empty mugs. He spins. Something is terribly wrong with the skyline he is so familiar with. Black smoke pours from one of the towers.
As the terror unfolds, his tape malfunctions. It begins to loop. And as it loops, the 30-year-old glue gives way, turning more to dust with each rotation. Every time the music segment plays, there is a little less of it.
A haunting melody repeats, becoming ever scratchier and more distant, as the towers of his beloved city burn and fall.
Awestruck, he records this moment.
This is now known as the Disintegration Loop (play this as you read the rest of this essay).
10 years later
My friend tells my girlfriend and me this story while we do some borderline illegal exploring of our campus at night.
We pry open a locked door, climb in a ceiling, through an attic, up a bell tower, and out onto a slate roof (remember being young?)
We listen to this Disintegration Loop on the roof of the architectural building.
Gazing at the Louisiana night sky, listening to that loop, I felt a sense of awe. Maybe similar to the awe that compelled the man to record the loop.
Music is the harmonious (not disharmonious) interplay of patterns. It suggests that we could “dance” with the invisible patterns of life. That’s why we like it. It hints that heaven would be possible if we could only harmonize.
You can rationally believe this or not — there is no denying the beauty of music. It hits us before we can make sense of it. But it’s…