I wrote “Where Oceans Meet” in Skagen in the very North of Jutland, Denmark. I have always found it a magical place because two oceans meet here, and it is possible to stand with a foot in both. It got me thinking about life, and the agency of human and non-human encounters that constantly create something new. In the lyric you will detect a pop song about attachment to place, but you may also spot references to feminist posthuman perspectives.
I have always been drawn to water bodies. Ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, oceans. While Fanø island in the Wadden Sea in western Denmark has always been where my “spirit meets the bone,” other watery places work their magic on me as well. One such place is “Grenen” in Skagen. I was lucky to be able to work very close to it for a few days in early spring of 2023 at the Klitgården Retreat, after I had just handed in my PhD thesis.
I was both exhausted from the strain of finishing a PhD dissertation, but I also felt like a load had been taken off my back. I felt freer than I had in a long time to let all the readings, conversations, fieldwork encounters of the past five years work through me as I opened up the gates to the lyrical and musical flow that resulted in “Where Oceans Meet.”
The two oceans that meet at Grenen are Skagerak (part of the North Sea) and Kattegat. It is possible to see the waves meet and create new patterns in the encounter. This made me think of Karen Barad’s image of diffraction patters in her seminal book “Meeting the Universe Halfway” (Barad 2007). Rocks thrown into water in two places will create waves/ripples that meet, and where they overlap is a new pattern, a diffraction pattern. She suggests thinking not only in terms of reflection on given issues but in terms of diffraction. What is being created by the entities that meet?
This gave me the title of song, Where Oceans Meet, and I worked from there to incorporate hydro-feminist vocabulary, such as considering humans and non-humans as watery bodies, considering that water constantly gestates new forms, even plural life. I wanted then to compare oceans meeting and creating new patterns to the agency that can arise when humans meet and a new “space arises between them.”
Verse 1: Where Oceans Meet is a pattern of diffraction / Something new that’s of the two but also its own / Where oceans meet is an act of intra-action / A new agency emerging, producing a new form
Verse 2: People meet’n a space arises between them / New potential patterns beginning to become / Where people meet, although we may never see them / A ground is laid for new possibilities and songs.
Barad writes of the intra-action between entities that come up against each other, and out of this intra-action an agency is born in a process of emergence. Things don’t have agency in and of their own, rather agency is something created by intra-action. This is what she terms agential realism.
Non-human animals made their way into the song in the form of eiders (“edderfugle” in Danish), because my partner and I had seen a flock of eiders earlier in the day on our walk back from “Sandmilen” to Klitgården. I was intuitively searching for an image of birds and flying, and I chose to make the winged creatures (that have the birds eye perspective and the proximity to the sky) very concretely the eiders we had seen so near to where two oceans meet. This led to the chorus.
Chorus: Won’t you join me where Oceans Meet / Barefoot in the sand / Our laughter carrying with the eiders up high / At the hands of the land / Won’t you find me / Where Oceans Meet / And the rains gestate new master plans / Where being is a knowing that bridges divides / Where Oceans Meet, we’ll be what we can
I then felt that the song needed a pre-chorus to set the chorus up. I wanted to bring something more in than the images of the meetings between the oceans and the people presented in verses I and 2. To stress that I see an interconnection in the planetary wonder that we are a part of, and that our being is ultimately about interconnection, whether we recognize these connections or not.
Prechorus: Human and non-human animals alike / From microbes in the soil to birds in the sky / The rivers and lakes and seas of the earth / Unspoken spells spell out what it is worth
The song now needed a verse, I thought, that spoke generally to current existence, life, against the backdrop of deep time. The metaphor, or image, is a meeting on the sand where oceans meet, conversation in the sun until sunset, and the sitting in silence until a new morning breaks on the horizon. The souls are an image of something constantly recurring in cyclical movements of birth and death, sunrise, day, sunset, night, sunrise. I wanted to see if I could end the song on this note, and it would come across that this image is not only about interhuman connection but about interconnection and interdependence as such.
Verse 3: Where Oceans Meet, we can sit in the sun / And talk until it sets in golden spectacles of old / Where Oceans Meet, we can let silence speak volumes / Till a new morn is born on the horizon of our souls
This concluded the elements I needed for the song to communicate what I wanted, and I felt I had reached the goal I had set for myself in the morning, to engage in: “intuitive writing, let academic vocabulary and poetic vocabulary amalgamate. No words are too abstract or academic, conversely no wording can be too ‘trite’ or cliché.”
While writing the song I kept a detailed log including prompts I had used in the music, and I plan to write a bigger (academic) article about this song in the future. But I wanted here to simply share “Where Oceans Meet” and let it begin its work in the world.