Terry Gross brings out the wacky genius of John Cage and features a sampling of Cage’s composition. Cage emphasizes “making new” and living a virginal life. What’s most interesting about Cage’s philosophy is his insistence to discard and disregard relationships. He firmly believes in letting the thing in itself stand alone, which is summarily antithetical to the “only connect” aesthetic. The particular is the predominate focus and to relate or connect induces paralysis.
Then came Friedrich Nietzsche. Today he’s known for Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil more than his other writings. But his very first book–composed by a 27-year-old university professor, which differs sharply in style from the later writings–actually presents some of Nietzsche’s most radical and novel thinking. And it gives a central role to music. He calls it The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music and that precisely describes his thesis. He puts forward the idea that the heyday of classic Athenian drama, the age of Aeschylus and Sophocles, was a logical development from Greek traditions of music, song and dance. He breaks this tradition into two tendencies, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Apollonian follows Schopenhauer’s principle of individuation, it stresses the gentle reign of reason and intellect, pushing life to a somewhat unnatural ordering. The Dionysian is its exact opposite–it is governed by emotions and particularly passions, sometimes whipped to a self-destructive frenzy of excess. The Dionysian suppresses his intellect to live as one with nature, and wine plays an essential role in his cult. In the quoted passage, Nietzsche looks at the exuberance of the Dionysian spirit and he traces it through history. It is, he says a sort of springtime’s awakening (incidentally, this is the line from which the German-American playwright Frank Wedekind takes the title of his important play–in which youthful sexuality faces the suppression of a rigidly Apollonian school system). The age of Aeschylus marks an important synthesis between these Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies–a synthesis that dissolved with the rise of Euripides and Socrates, with their elevation of the Apollonian over the Dionysian. But Nietzsche understands the totality of European intellectual and artistic tradition as the product of interaction between the Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies–the greater the friction between them, the greater the art which results…Read more
Bacchus by Caravaggio (1596)
“A cloud collection is more honest than any other collection,” so says Gavin Pretor-Pinney founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society in his breathtaking interactive article from The Guardian’s, “Heavenly Clouds” featuring his new book The Cloud Collector’s Handbook. From the society’s manifesto, “[Clouds] are Nature’s poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them.” During the Munich & London pilgrimage, clouds made the sky their canvas.
In the Bavarian Alps, the clouds literally hovered in place and couldn’t be budged for anything. They seemed set in stone, as timeless and immovable as the mountains:
Above London, the clouds set the pace for the chaotic traffic below. They were constantly on the move, shifting, restless bodies of action and flight:
More on the Munich & London pilgrimage…click here
Returning from Munich & London with over eight hundred shots snapped on the camera. A quarter of them still need to be excised. Many of them require rotation and a little touching up.
Nymphenburg Palace-front ground statue
Trafalgar Square with Double Decker Bus in Background
London Eye from Thames River Cruise
Going Under the Millenium Bridge
Shillings left in my shoes. I forgot to take the coins out after running the security gauntlet at Heathrow. Receipts transacted in German are scattered on my desk along with pages of notes to transcribe and archive. More musings on the literary pilgrimmage to come…
For more photos on Munich & London click here
“Words belong to each other.”
Reading The Moment and Other Essays, its so easy to forget all this technology we have at our fingertips. I’ve heard recordings of Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” so I wondered if Virginia had recordings of her own. What a thrill it might be to hear the sound of her voice, which is not quite what I thought she’d sound like but wonderful all the same.