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September 01, 2019


Thank you for resurrecting what I said and for elaborating on it. Of course you are right; and even if that were my sole reason for pursuing music (It isn't, by a long chalk) I'd keep singing anyway. Perhaps what I said could be simplified: is exaltation itself out of place in these bad times? Here I have the advantage over you. As a non-chorister I sing only for myself (plus V, my teacher) thus there are no real opportunities for extra-mural communication. Music being music and more or less un-amenable to words (Else why would it have occurred in the first place?) I find it fairly easy to keep my exaltation to myself.

Physically that is. There remains my blog which has demonstrably spewed forth musical exaltation ever since January 2016. Alas I could no more have contained myself than Etna under severe tectonic perturbation. Should we ever seek to generalise? Must we always be entirely precise or simply keep silent? Cue for a 10,000-word academic treatise which would ultimately fail to answer these questions.

I think "ruined" is too harsh a word in this post and that you have acknowledged this yourself. I don't ruin my warm-up when I fail to sustain the last la of the la-las; when V replays my defective sequence on the piano it's just one reminder out of many as to why I'm there in the first place: to adopt better habits. I love your references to "freedom" and "looseness" when you write about water-colours. They're so reminiscent of aspects of music. Except that in both cases they demand stern qualification. One might just about posit the paradox "free to be disciplined" and get away with it. As usual I've gone on too long.

I always think of my failures in the realm of the arts as bridges on the way to other destinations, and clearly you are on your way to developing a new mode... So failures are not failures exactly but steps on the path to transformation... And while you are disappointed here, others will find much to admire, of course--just as a passage of writing marred for the writer by struggle and dissatisfaction while making may be encountered by the reader as little different from one that slid easily into the world. I like RR's "free to be disciplined."

Your last several posts are strong. I have a very simple way of dealing with the world, and I'm sure it is insufficient, as everything in hard, tumultuous times is insufficient. As one little mote (autocorrect changed that to "moose," which may be more appropriate!) in a big world, I aspire to be a Dorothea in my ordinary life--that tribute to anonymous, modest lives that made a difference at the end of "Middlemarch" has always struck me as beautiful and true--and to volunteer locally in ways that seem helpful. And the strange thing about doing such things is that it turns out to be helpful to oneself, probably more so than to those who are served.

As for the arts, writing remains a large part of how I navigate my life. I admire those who navigate well without it because it is so very necessary for me.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.