Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Borodin" by Donald Revell

When the world was loveliness I was
A composer, Borodin, my left eye
Level with the floor beside toy men.
Wild work and havoc they made,
Being glad. I could draw a line
Would run straight through the minds of men,
Being a sociable angel,
Music before and after, blushing.

Heaven is a nonsense entirely sensible.
I was a child on the floor beside you,
Making music, becoming small in the rosy
Embrace of God’s best messenger.
I loved your havoc and your hair.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bach: an argument for technology

     Our lives are half-lives, our experience mediated, and so diminished, by technology. So we are told by our age’s best and brightest; and the literature of the varieties of media experience has all the traits of the literature of religious experience, an account of the adept’s valiant struggle with our fallen state - of the struggle to stay afloat in the sea of artifice, the polluted data-stream.
     To this conviction, the recorded music of Bach is contrary testimony. It defies the argument that experience mediated by technology is a diminished thing.
     That is my own experience, at any rate. Though it has come, in my case, almost completely through recordings, this experience of Bach is as rich an encounter as one could hope for in a lifetime. It is as direct, as real, as the experience of a young woman learning to play the piano in a mining town in the Rockies, or a dangling man going about the streets of the city with a song in his heart. It is the thing itself - and often the experience feels more real than the rest of life, not less so.
     And what is the experience? It is an experience that the movement of the music into new formats calls forth and makes obvious. It is of music and art as life’s counterpoint - a presence at the center of our lives, at once personal and objective, that enables us to make sense of the world and our place in it, enriching our lives and helping us to understand them. - Paul Elie

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I am not an artist. - Van Gogh

There is a saying of Gustave Dore's which I have always admired, “J'ai la patience d'un bœuf,” I find a certain goodness in it, a certain resolute honesty - in short, that saying has a deep meaning, it is the word of a real artist. When one thinks of the man from whose heart such a saying sprang, all those oft-repeated art dealer's arguments about “natural gifts” seem to become an abominably discordant raven's croaking. “J'ai la patience” - how quiet it sounds, how dignified; they wouldn't even say it except for that very raven's croaking. I am not an artist - how coarse it sounds - even to think so of oneself - oughtn't one to have patience, oughtn't one to learn patience from nature, learn patience from seeing the corn slowly ripen, seeing things grow - should one think oneself so absolutely dead as to imagine that one would not grow any more? Should one thwart one's own development on purpose? I say this to explain why I think it so foolish to speak about natural gifts and no natural gifts. But in order to grow, one must be rooted in the earth. - Vincent van Gogh