What was once the faint ticking as from a distant clock, has now become a constant prod to hurry and finish what I am doing, so I can move on to the next thing. The next thing is, of course, just the next thing and next to that, yet another next thing. There is always a next thing, no matter what school of philosophy we espouse, what method of meditation, what wine we are having. The problem is that each next thing comes calling early, before its time.
Checklists, to-do lists are useful and for me fundamental, at least as regards work. They do relieve stress, putting on paper things that, unless accounted for, might not get done. It seems that just writing down the to-do is the beginning of doing it. But as in nature, there is no action without a reaction, the harmless-seeming notation forms an impatient elbowing queue in my mind and in that confused, haphazard thinking place, there is no separation between work things and the next cut on an album, the next book to be read.
That is what makes this problem serious.
Tags: Baroque Conversations, David Greilsammer, Matan Porat
The words “classical music” like the word “museum” serve to deaden our minds and by categorizing an experience in such a boring and unenlightening way, take all the fun out. To add confusion, there is a Classical Period within classical music and this is when Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert walked among us. To many, this is the sum of classical music, once you explain where Haydn and Schubert fit in. Adding Bach on one end and Chopin, Brahms and Mahler on the other, I thought this for a long time but first my mind opened and finally, my ears.
Often I remark that “music is music”, not really believing it. I am starting to, though, and if you are interested in a 400+ year old musical conversation that chips at boundaries, get Baroque Conversations, just out, by the young pianist, David Greilsammer.
The album is composed of four sets of three works: a Baroque (1562 -1764 approximately), a modern, a Baroque. The connections are not in the titles as these are conversations that must be listened to. But even then, what are they saying?
The player is the same, the piano too. Notes are being played. The player chose the music and arranged them in a certain order. Is it just us who are listening or in some timeless way, are the composers listening to each other? Are we allowed to re-arrange the music? We could play Whaam! by Matan Porat at a party. It would have to be a good party though.
Impermanence, like good hygiene, is handy on a day-to-day basis. As a concept, it is old and all cultures that I’m familiar with embrace it, if not consciously, at least in their writings. Impermanence, though, is an old shoe and lacks novelty.
It is true, too, that impermanence is sometimes railed against when it takes the form of “evolution’ which was once a theory but is now all but accepted universally, save for a few holdouts.
For me it comes down to this:
- When things are going good, I must enjoy the moments for they are sure to turn.
- When things are bad, I can relax knowing that bad times don’t last forever and better times are sure to come.
I find impermanence sometimes uplifting. sometimes joyful, sometime sad, always useful.
Tags: NY Times, Spencer Bailey, Yoko Ono
It’s all inspiration. One of the reasons that I get so many incredible inspirations is because I keep my head empty without crowding it with, I don’t know, quotations from Shakespeare. I like to forget everything, just have it empty, and a lot of incredible information comes in. (As told to Spencer Bailey)
I am going to have to remember this. Well, if not exactly remember it, to forget it and then hope it comes back to me.
(To be safe, I wrote this post.)
Tags: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Renée Falconetti, The Passion of Joan of Arc
For those who forgive regimes for the torture of the innocent, who can justify, somehow, the need for large, generally male dominated organizations to put their ongoing existence above the people they purport to serve, who think of the Inquisition, the Witch Trials, the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, the harboring of pedophile priests, pedophile coaches as mere aberrations and not the direct result of an organized effort to stamp out any affront or embarrassment to Power, then The Passion of Joan of Arc is not for them.
They would miss what may be the greatest movie ever made — certainly the most profound, mesmerizing, most wrenching I have ever seen. This Silent (though not silent) Film was made in France in 1928 and by a miracle was discovered, wonderfully preserved, in Denmark in 1981.
The performance by Renée Falconetti as Joan must be seen to be believed. Nothing can compare to it.
Tags: Beethoven, Gyorgy Ligeti, Jeremy Denk
Jeremy Denk, in his newest album Ligeti/Beethoven, has given me a great gift, the gift of modern music. I bought the album because I am now following him after seeing him in concert in Chicago, reading his blog, listening to his Ives. I looked forward to the album for the Beethoven Sonata #32, one of the greatest of all works of mankind. Because it was Denk, I was curious about Ligeti, an Hungarian composer, thorny I thought, who died at 83 in 2006.
I’ve listened to the album at least 30 times but the Beethoven just twice. I am now enraptured by Ligeti and by extension modern music and yes it is the music, two Books of Ligeti Études (studies) that draw me in as to a Pollock or a Rothko but it was first the notes that hooked me. Here he is describing Vertige, (Vertigo) “the most fiendish Étude of all”:
“At the beginning he writes prestissimo, that is as fast as possible (not nice), pianissimo (even less nice), legato (outright cruel), and then he delivers the coup de grâce: He instructs you not to use any pedal. This is no way to make friends with pianists.”
Even after the notes — and the Thomas Mann notation regarding the Beethoven is an English Major’s dream — the music was at first a blur. It is a blur, in a way. But now, listening all kinds of ways, all in a row front to back, back to front, one at a time in order and not in order, the pleasure, the humor, the puzzles, the simple touches become ever greater, ever more interesting, fascinating, beautiful.
Tags: Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Kerry, Michael Phelps, Misty May, Usain Bolt
As one gender leaves the stage, another, one more beautiful swims and dives, dunks and flips, spikes and headers, runs and vaults into the limelight. It is a theme of these pages that the male gender is played-out and the female is more than just in the ascent, they’ve ascended.
It is possible, watching these Olympics, to jump too far while faulting, for doesn’t Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt stride the earth? I’m not saying that my gender has disappeared but we’ve lost our relevance, our glow. We’ve had our chance and all in all, have not done as well as we might have. We have, though, certainly bragged enough.
I have the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team in mind – how could I not? – but I am thinking of all of them: the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and the noble Japanese, Misty May and Kerry and the beautiful, emotional Italians, Felix and Jeter and the Jamaicans, an American swimmer going to bat for a young Chinese girl under the glare of doubts.
Hat’s off Ladies, take the stage and do us proud.
Just before going to sleep last night I told my wife that I was happy with my medal haul for the day. In the 100 Fly, though I was not pleased with my turn, I felt the satisfaction that I had hoped for, knowing it was the last individual race of my career (or so I keep telling myself.)
In the 200 Back I was comfortable from the beginning. This is my best stroke and I felt really long and tall and young and when I was swimming a thought did cross my mind about what I would text my girl friends back in Colorado.
I was the only one who thought I would win the 50 Free, the splash and dash, and I had thought I won when I touched but that Frenchman, who was outside my peripheral vision, just beat me. I think that if he swam next to me, I’d have had him. But I’m not such a nut that a Silver bums me out.
Now in the 800 Free, I figured that this being the Olympics and me being 15 years old, that I’d just get blown out of the water by some person with a name that I can’t pronounce but they let me go and never came after me. I may win this race for the next 16 years but I’m only saying this to myself, so as not to seem conceited.
Yes, all in all, 3 Golds and a Silver, it was a good day.