The Quest for Immortality Through Art

The Edge of the Known series is on one level a prolonged meditation on the pursuit of immortality through art: In this case, music.

Any work of art exists in dimensions beyond the ones that our physical senses perceive, so it's maybe inevitable that many artists ache to "overreach" their own lifetimes through their work.

Like anything else, it's a quest that can be pursued in either pride or humility; put to the service of a person's ego gratification or to "the greater good".

It's not possible (at least not at this stage of our evolution as a race) to edit, re-record or airbrush events from our own physical pasts; but a work of art affords us the chance to do this, to "get it right"; to pursue perfection.

Or is this notion an illusion?

Longevity Versus Artistic Immortality

There is a conversation early on in What Casts the Shadow? that sets the tone for my own fictional depiction of this quest. This occurs between the two founding members of Edge of the Known: Bassist and singer Tommy Visconti and Brandon Chane, singer/guitarist and narrator of the story.

I paused with my hand on the door handle. “This was just the beginning of things, guys,” I said. “I’ve just been finding my feet. I’m gonna take it so much deeper. We all are.”

Gregarious Tim, he just nodded and smiled. But Tommy leveled his censuring eyes on me. “I know you’ve got it in you, Brandon. But you can’t accomplish anything unless you keep yourself alive first, right?”

I waved his lecture down. Everyone knows the simple solutions to problems that are not their own. “The music could last forever, Tommy. That’s what counts.”

This brief exchange cuts to the heart of the differing philosophies and sensibilities at work within the band at that time. Tommy dreams of a long and personally-fulfilled life. Brandon longs for immortality through his art, even if it comes at the cost of longevity and normal human happiness.

Wrapped up within this aspiration towards immortality through art lies a hidden despair, however, because Brandon doesn't really believe that he can have a fulfilled life. He's given up on the notion of finding satisfaction in "this world", so he seeks it "Beyond".

Beyond the boundaries of this world: That’s where the great artists, writers and musicians – the truly eternal ones – had reaped their inspiration. And the powers from beyond had also wrought their fame. I was convinced of that. I was willing to forsake reason and safety in order to follow in their footsteps. Physical reality was not enough. There had to be something more to Creation; and I knew of only one way to seek for it.  {"What Casts the Shadow?"}

This is his motivation, at least initially, for seeking to translate his ephemeral experience into songs that will "live forever".

Different artists will have different reasons for embarking upon such a quest. Some want to prove their detractors "wrong". Some want to justify their existence through their art. Some conceive of it as an act of compassion, a healing gift for the generations to come; and Brandon shares this ideal, too, as he conceives of the healing power that his music will (hopefully) wield over his audience as a kind of compensation for the harm that he's caused the people within his own personal orbit.