Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A reflection on the break up of Phish
From reading various news articles courtesy of Phish.net, catching various interviews such as Trey Anastasio on Charlie Rose, or the interviews on the “PHISH IT” documentary (to name a few sources), I feel I appreciate the decision to stop Phish.
From what I interpret, there was a 'spirituality' which was contained within Phish. This spirituality of Phish was an incorporation of all sorts of values in relationship with on another, and all of these at once in some sort of relationship with a higher power. These values certainly include community, celebration, creative expression, improvisation, joy, (to identify a few). Each of these saw their place in what the music was, and what Phish was. Over these values, through these values, and undergirding these values there was an esoteric scene of the divine presence. Similarly, over the music, through the music, and undergirding the music was this same sense of the divine presence... or as Trey comments, divine language. The spirituality of Phish was an incorporation, and intimate intertwining of these: the values, the music, and the divine, to the point where one is not easily seen and understood apart from the others.
As I understand it, over time Phish as a whole began to experience a rift (no pun intended) between what Phish was, and what this spirituality in its pure form intended Phish to be. From what I gather, there are a bunch of factors around this slow separation; factors both known and unknown. However at the time which the decision was made to dissolve Phish, there must have been an acknowledgment that Phish was slowly departing from this pure form. Phish was on a different trajectory than what Phish' original values would have informed. The options then would be to either continue the band, but only with the shell of the music, (as the core spirituality was missing), or to preserve the original spirituality and intent of Phish, by stopping Phish.
As such, I have come to think band made the right decision. As the less visible (and aural) aspects of Phish became 'unfocused' it seems like the whole thing became an abuse of what was intended, or pure.
While I am sad to never again hear any new Phish music, or to experience the Phish live experience, I think I really appreciate what the band members are doing now. It is as though each is following a path which seeks after what the hidden (mysterious, spiritual) things of life are leading them down. Following after the divine, and being true to the self are certainly noble pursuits. It would be a shame if the members of Phish were to fore go this pursuit in favor of keeping alive something which the spirit was not in.