by Sam Buntz
This is the 100th post on The Muted Trumpet—and, in the spirit of the occasion, I’m going to write about the blog itself. This has the “pro” of allowing me to indulge myself, and the “con” of turning off everybody else: “We were expecting this to be about how the Kardashians are shallow or something! Why aren’t you excoriating the American Sheeple, anymore?” So howl the online masses, as they turn aside to look at a sub-reddit featuring people who’ve cut off their fingers while attempting to chop parsnips.
So, what, exactly, is The Muted Trumpet? What is its mission, its M.O., its “groove”, its “vibe”, its niche? Originally, in another self-referential post, dating back a few years to the infancy of this site, I credited Miles Davis with inspiring the blog’s title. He said that he preferred using a trumpet with a mute because it “sounds more human.” That’s still part of the title’s genuine inspiration—I wasn’t making that up. But I did leave out another half of the inspiration—Thomas Pynchon’s famous short novel, The Crying of Lot 49. I failed to mention it because I didn’t really enjoy reading it all that much—although I appreciated (what I took to be) it’s message. If you’ve read it (or if, as is probably more accurate and likely, you’ve been assigned to read it), you’ll notice a certain, definite, glaring similarity between the title “The Muted Trumpet” and the muted post-horn insignia used by the underground mail-carrier association, The Trystero, featured in Pynchon’s book. This was, of course, intentional.
The Trystero is a secret postal service—implicitly, it seems to be responsible for delivering the mail and the news we really need, the information capable of sustaining life, as opposed to all the spam dick-enlargement emails and sweepstakes junk letters out there. Through his frustratingly bizarre and intricate web of symbolism, Pynchon draws a parallel between this secret, saving current of information and the experience of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended and allowed the apostles to speak evangelically in any language they wished. In a non-religiously-specific way, the hidden information provided by the Trystero—and the knowledge and wisdom it supposedly contains—is supposed to be just as effective at saving and sustaining us as the polyglot whisperings of the Holy Dove (or is supposed to be the same thing).
So—with pretense suddenly oozing from every pore—that was part of the Idea. Like the Trystero’s various periodicals (or whatever it was transmitting), this blog was meant to be an “underground” publication, insofar as: A). No one would know that it existed, or ever read it. B). It would differ from the mainstream (Newsweek, Slate, Time, and all that crap) in terms of its perspective and dominating interests. C). It would arrogantly assume to elevate your consciousness. Now, in an insufferable way, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate myself on fulfilling those first two aims. Obviously, it is up to you, the Universal Invisible Reader, to affirm that I have met the third.
Continuing at random: now that we’ve further elaborated on the literary allusions, which ground the very concept of this blog (or does “blog” sound too cheesy and old-fashioned, these days? Is it really more of a “content portal”? I don’t really know what that even is: but The Trumpet certainly has content, at any rate. Debatably, it is also a metaphorical portal—though I know not whether it’s a portal to crap or to gold.), I want to explain a few significant things related to Post #100—particularly, a book tangentially related to it, in that it has the number “100” in its title. The book is The 100th Window—and I have never actually read it. I only needed to get its basic metaphor, which I discovered in an interview with Robert Del Naja, from British Trip-Hop group Massive Attack. He was explaining the title of Massive Attack’s 2003 album, 100th Window, stating that it was a reference to a cult book on computer hacking, entitled The 100th Window. Apparently, the basic gist of The 100th Window, is that there’s always a way in—any security system comes prepared with its own holes. That flaw is called “the 100th window”: the shield already has its method of defeat coded into it. Massive Attack intended to use that idea as a metaphor: there’s always a way into the soul, the heart, the mind, the collective unconscious, etc.
And so we intend to use the same metaphor here today—for that’s always been The Muted Trumpet’s goal. We (by which I mean “I”) want to find the 100th Window—the flaw built into the very system of the world… the inlet and outlet, the escape hatch. This Ahab-ian quest has its perils—and it definitely has its dense cloak of obscurity. But, in a small act of peaceful Cosmic Rebellion, here in a quiet corner of West Hartford, CT, we are re-dedicating ourselves to that original mission statement. There is a way in. And a way out.
Babylon will fall.