LANDSCAPE SERIES #7: KOYAANISQUATSI by Philip Glass.
This is number seven in Guy Livingston’s series of “New World Symphonies” Tonight, one single symphony, a movie soundtrack by Philip Glass.
According to the Hopi Dictionary: koyaanisqatsi is defined as “life out of balance”. The prefix koyaanis– means “corrupted” or “chaotic”, and the word qatsi means “life” or “existence”, so maybe a better translation is “chaotic life”.
The word “Koyaanisqatsi” is chanted at the beginning and end of the film in basso profondo by Albert de Ruiter over a tragic four-bar organ-passacaglia bassline.
Three Hopi prophecies reinforce the message of impending environmental catastrophe:
“If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.”
“Near the day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky.”
“A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans.”
Philip Glass – Koyaanisquatsi “Life out of Balance”
6. Pruit Igoe
7. The Grid
Michael Riesman: Philip Glass Ensemble, Western Wind Vocal Ensemble
Nonesuch – 79506-2
This epic movie stunned me when I first saw it in 1983. Even though I don’t have a great affinity for Philip Glass’s music, I find this to be a remarkable, stark, and ground-breaking collaboration. The hypnotic time-delayed footage, the restlessly repetitive music, are at once sexy and terrifying. Listen to the music, watch the movie, think about your impact on the environment, your footprint.
Now, as political and business leaders struggle with their stance on climate change, despite the overwhelming evidence, the total urgency; this film is ever-more relevant.
Where do you stand?