Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
The Incredible String Band.
This time we continue, and indeed conclude, Prydwyn Piper’s notes on the penultimate track on the album, “Douglas Traherne Harding”, these notes appearing in the book “An Incredible String Band Compendium” edited by Adrian Whittaker.
[The writer has just opined that Harding was the sole supplier of actual quoted words in the song.]
“Another relevant passage:
“Nor is Christianity…unaware of the fact that genuine illumination must dispel the dark opacity of our bodies no less than of our souls. “When thy eye is single,” said Jesus mysteriously, “thy whole body also is filled with light.” This single eye is surely identical with the precious Third Eye of Indian mysticism, which enables the seer simultaneously to look in at his Emptiness and out at what’s filling it.”
“The lyrics of Douglas Traherne Harding are a wonderful synthesis of spiritual teachings drawn from a variety of sources – the words of Jesus, Thomas Traherne’s 17th-century ecstatic worldliness, D.E. Harding’s 20th-century heedlessness – all ultimately traceable to their appearance in Harding’s On Having No Head. I hope that this brief overview of those sources will have whetted your appetites to explore them further as they’re all well worth the read. And how about that delectably detuned fiddle solo!”
Immediately after this in the book is this note from Adrian Whittaker:
[Ed: “The wheel turned full circle: in Douglas Harding’s Religions Of The World (Heinmann, 1969), the “Suggested Reading” appendix listed Mike’s song, complete with Wee Tam Elektra catalogue number! Harding commented: “A pop song can be more enlightening than some of the books listed above”.]
I must say that I have found it most helpful to regurgitate all this stuff. I had never really liked this song very much, regarding it as by far the worst on the double album. Rehearsing these learned details has shown me the track in a new light, so I am now able to enjoy it a lot more.