Archive for January, 2014



Now The King Will Dance

There are no nations, no parties, no ideologies.

There are only queens. And kings.

The acid test was breaking out into an area in which it had no specific goals. It was just discovering what there dancewas out there if you continued to move away from the norm.

It was a test. And there were people that passed, and there were people that didn’t pass.

When we did the show up in Portland—to give you an idea of someone who passed—some businessman, just walkin’ around on the street, came in; we charged a buck, and for a buck you got to see us make all our noise, and the Dead make all their noise, and anything else that happened.

This guy was in a suit, and he had an umbrella. He got the customary cup of stuff. And about midnight, you could see him really get ripped. Somebody who’d probably never been anything but drunk on beer. But he looked around, and he saw all these strange people, and he looked down, and the spotlight was showing down on him, and he saw his shadow.

And he stands up straight, puts that umbrella over his shoulder, and he says:

“The king walks.”

And:

“The king turns around.”

And:

“Now the king will dance.”

—Ken Kesey

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I Think That We Will Be Able To Communicate Soon

Let’s have a little break here, so that we don’t get too tired. Do you have any questions or problems? First issue: very often after the fourth beat there is a feeling of waiting for something. We wait for the fourth note . . . and the flow of the yesmusic stops . . . Or maybe my heart stops.

I have stage fright when I face you. I do not do this every day. Instead I listen to music, and I’m more interested in playing myself, than conducting.

But I will improve before tomorrow. If I live that long.

The most important problem for me at the end of the twentieth century is the continual lack of time. We are always in an awful hurry and still we waste an incredible amount of time, for instance in front of the TV or in a car. While I do like some aspects of our “fast” civilization—I love to fly in airplanes, I am fascinated with cosmic adventures, trips to the moon or Mars—and we do live in astounding times, still, here, in this music, we have to surrender ourselves to this other dimension of time. We have to slow down. Only then the sonority will be fantastic: the higher the music will go, the more distinctly it will sound. I dream of writing such tranquil music. I do not want to compose anything that echoes the modern “rush”—the cell phones, the telephones and faxes. It has to be calm. Life is too beautiful to be wasted in this way, by rushing things so much.

How should I explain it to you? Perhaps you should think about an elevator: you leave behind the basement of everyday life, filled with noises, distractions and anxieties, and you take the elevator up to the yestenth floor, or even into the sky of timelessness. When you are in this music, time slows down, it is as if you were in heaven, it is like eternity. Do you understand what I want to achieve there? Total calm.

Let us play it again.

This is a mother’s song. This song has to be expressed both by the orchestra and the soloist. It has to be contemplative in mood, but still maintain the tempo. It approximates the speed of slow walking, when one walks alone, lost in thought. We have to enter into this mood. It is as if we were walking, or even slowly dancing. You have to think about walking here.

For me it is a very difficult movement because I do not usually engage in conducting and I do not know how to enchant you with my hand movements. But music carries me away and I may at some spots—and please forgive me if I do—make a wrong movement at a certain time. But you know the score and could play on. So then do not look at me, at what I am doing, but listen to each other, listen to what happens around you.

I am sorry for these mistakes. But I think that we will be able to communicate soon.

—Henryk Gorecki

Like Water Flow

Alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come.

—Revelation 1:8

On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow.

—Heraclitus

The chemical composition of seawater, the Science Men tell us, is identical to that of human tears.

And seawater, they tell us, is from where, on this planet, all life did grow.

I believe that, in a mobius strip of time, the tears shed by us, created the oceans, from which came us.

So. Don’t hold back. Let them flow. All your tears. Like water flow.

And upon them, someday, you may sail. Sail to Caledonia.

Heart Is Open

I want to tell my daughter not to be afraid. Instead I’ll tell her to be vigilant, and to look to her dreams and nightmares for clues and signs of progress. I’ll tell her to be open-minded about the spirit world, and if it feels right, to call yesupon the spirits for help. I will also tell her to seek out communities embarked on meaningful and noble acts. The acts need not be as large as the Sword of Heaven, for any act that makes the world a better place is worthy. Above all, I’ll tell her that all action, big or small, must always be accompanied by the opening of one’s heart. As the Sword of Heaven taught me, ritual only takes one to the door. To get through to the other side, there must be love.

The afternoon light moves from the end of my desk and for a moment illuminates the letters on my keyboard. From my window, I can see a huge ship passing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to dock. I lean back and take it all in. I wonder where the ship is going next. I wonder where the light will fall now.

—Mikkel Aaland, The Sword of Heaven

He Put On The Shirt His Mother Made

This past Wednesday Elvis Presley reached the age of 79.

Gettin’ up there.

But he’s doin’ alright. Out and about. Cruising the shopping malls and casinos, of them United States.

Leaning on the arm, when he needs it, of Andy Kaufman.

New Rulers

Below are the four beings who are currently supervising the planet.

Just thought ya’ll would like to know.

them

Orwell Can’t Communicate

Everyone who thinks at all has noticed that our language is practically useless for describing anything that goes on inside the brain. This is so generally recognised that writers of high skill (e.g. Trollope and Mark Twain) will start their autobiographies by saying that they do not intend to describe their inner life, because it is of its nature indescribable. So soon as we are dealing with anything that is not concrete or visible (and even there to a great extent—look at the difficulty of describing anyone’s appearance) we find that words whaare no liker to the reality than chessmen to living beings.

Every at all individual man has an inner life, and is aware of the practical impossibility of understanding others or being understood—in general, of the star-like isolation in which human beings live. Nearly all literature is an attempt to escape from this isolation by roundabout means, the direct means (words in their primary meanings) being almost useless.

“Imaginative” writing is as it were a flank-attack upon positions that are impregnable from the front. A writer attempting anything that is not coldly “intellectual” can do very little with words in their primary meanings. He gets his effect if at all by using words in a tricky roundabout way, relying on their cadences and so forth, as in speech he would rely upon tone and gesture.

The art of writing is in fact largely the perversion of words, and I would even say that the less obvious the perversion is, the more thoroughly it has been done. For a writer who seems to twist words out of their meanings (e.g. Gerard Manley Hopkins) is really, if one looks closely, making a desperate attempt to use them straightforwardly. Whereas a writer who seems to have no tricks whatever, for instance, the old ballad writers, is making an especially subtle flank-attack.

The weakness of the roundabout method, apart from its difficulty, is that it usually fails. For anyone who is not a considerable artist (possibly for them too) the lumpishness of words results in constant falsification. Is there anyone who has ever written so much as a love letter in which he felt that he had said exactly what he intended? A writer falsifies himself both intentionally and unintentionally. Intentionally, because the accidental qualities of words constantly tempt and frighten him away from his true meaning. He gets an idea, begins trying to express it, and then, in the frightful mess of words that generally results, a pattern begins to form itself more or less accidentally. It is not by any means the pattern he wants, but it is at any rate not vulgar or disagreeable; it is “good art.” He takes it, because “good art” is a more or less mysterious gift from heaven, and it seems a pity to waste it when it presents itself. Is not anyone with any degree of mental honesty conscious of telling lies all day long, both in talking and writing, simply because lies will fall into artistic shape when truth will not?

And in the mind of reader or hearer there are further falsifications, because, words not being a direct channel of thought, he constantly sees meanings which are not there. A good illustration of this is our supposed appreciation of foreign poetry. We know, from the “Vie Amoureuse du Docteur Watson” stuff of foreign critics, that true understanding of foreign literature is almost impossible; yet quite ignorant people profess to get, do get, vast pleasure out of poetry in foreign and even dead languages. Clearly the pleasure they derive may come from something the writer never intended, possibly from something that would make him squirm in the grave if he knew it was attributed to him. I say to myself Vixi puellis nuper idoneus, and I repeat this over and over for five minutes for the beauty of the word idoneus. Yet, considering the gulf of time and culture, and my ignorance of Latin, and the fact that no one even knows how Latin was pronounced, is it possible that the effect I am enjoying is the effect Horace was trying for? It is as though I were in ecstasies over the beauty of a picture, and all because of some splashes of paint which had accidentally got on to the canvas 200 years after it was painted. It seems to me that from the point of view of exactitude and expressiveness our language has remained in the Stone Age.

—George Orwell, “New Words”


When I Worked

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