Patching: Re-Death

Punarmrtyu is an idea from Hinduism, it has to do with the reincarnation cycle. From what little I grasp, Punarmrtyu is a sort of death of the heavenly self so that it can be reborn in an earthly body. While I don’t subscribe to Hinduism as an explanation for life, the concept immediately struck me as a metaphor for the process of creation we undergo in modular synthesis.

We labor, sometimes for hours creating a patch. We bring from the disparate elements of our systems, a form of sonic life. Cable by cable we stitch the pieces together into a whole being. With each turn of the knob we tune the work of our own Frankensteinien creation. And finally, when all is done, we have breathed life into the whole.

It is a supremely satisfying process, especially when done well. And the good patches are made all the sweeter by the hours invested in patches that never quite found the spark of life and beauty. But eventually, the patch is done. Life has been created, and we have elevated that life to a heavenly form. We have enjoyed it. We have indulged in it… But the time inevitably comes, to create something new.

This is where the synthesist must face the pain. We are not like the guitarist who has created a new riff. I don’t say this to diminish the guitarist’s art. But when he wishes to play another piece he merely moves his hand and changes his fingering. When the modular synthesist wishes to play a new piece, he must first kill the old. Bit by bit he un-stitches it. He watches as the pieces fall lifeless to the ground. Listens as it draws it’s last anguished breath. And, given the nature and complexity of the works which we create, there’s a likelihood we will never see that life again; that we will never be able to put the pieces all back together quite the same. But this is what we must do.

For us to create we must first destroy. We must become comfortable, not only with the strains of the creative process. But we must also find peace dismantling our own artwork. It’s painful to pull the patch cables, to listen to the death rattle of our latest love. But take solace. We may have destroyed the heavenly creature of our making, but there is new life, just waiting to be found and formed.


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