From Last Night's Fun, In and Out of Time with Irish Music, by Ciaran Carson...
It's possible that such a tape of a tape resides, once or twice removed, in the hermetic archive of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Not for the first time, I wonder about hte coupling of 'folk' and 'transport', and am reminded that here, 'folk' is mostly 'material culture' -- cottages, a spade mill, stone walls, a schoolhouse, handlooms, churches, and a water-mill. Of particular interest is a bleach-green look-out post built like a birdwatcher's granite sangar, from which the unseen sentry could observe the linen-rustlers, then step out and boldly sound the early-warning system of his pawl-and-ratchet, whirligig-type rattle. It reminds us that Ulster culture resides more in what you do than what you say or sing or play: O linen-weavers, builders of barns, rope-winders, intricate masons! It is but a short step to the vehicle: O makers of motor-bikes and tractors! Builders of the Belfast and Titanic! Constructors of the Harlandic diesel electric locomotive commissioned by the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway Company! Perfectors of the four-cylinder, triple-expansion, steam-reciprocating engine!
I love how Ciaran does this marvelous transitions in Last Night's Fun. He has clearly been reading a bit of James Joyce -- we sense the stream of consciousness influence here, but there is more.
The obvious transition sentence is this:
This sentence bridges between the scene of the window-ledge session to the archives of the Musem. But it's not just a normal transition. First, it's not transitioning between two obvious scenes. The second scene is more of a catalog of items. It paints a view of the archives, but rather than describing the archives themselves, Ciaran starts talking about the things in the archives. We realize that the scene is not actually the archives, but the metaphysical space of an idea. The place where the ideas of 'folk' and 'transport' come together. So rather than talking about the sights, smells, and events in this scene, Ciaran lists items, puts them together to see what they result in. And we come up with "Ulster culture resides more in what you do than what you say or sing or play", an unusual conclusion for a book about music. But then he brings it back into song by mimicking the style of Carl Sandburg's great poem about Chicago:
But enough about the second scene. The previous scene, while a full scene, with setting, with action, with all of that stuff, is more than a scene. It's a transition setup scene. He's been talking about the experience of finding a place to play for the whole chapter, and he wants to transition to a musem. So he includes an anecdote. The anecdote paints the session scene with Punters and all, not by describing it, but by describing how something similar could be mistaken for it. He then talks about the researcher, setting us up for the transition sentence. As in all good stream of consciousness, he introduces the theme of research, archival, and study, and then trips the lever and we're suddenly on that track, transitioned smoothly and believably. It's ever-so-smooth with Ciaran because he sets us up for it well in advance.
It would be easy to let the section on the museum stand out of place in this chapter, but a few pages later smoothly joins back with the swirl of ideas relating to sessions...
This final sentence ties everything together, from the confusing night-time mind-game of appearances -- finding a good place to play (or a good place to listen) -- to the steel needles set in plate glass dials on machines in the museum. Even the ethnomusicologist is unwittingly taking part in a comic case of deja vu.