Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, January 07, 2008

[I’m almost done reading Carl Wilson’s terrific book on the social formation and function of “taste,”
Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, which centers on Celine Dion’s album of that name (before the colon) and which I picked up last night. It struck me as awkwardly, tastily, ironically appropriate to be writing about classical music with poets whom I’ll probably never meet concurrently with reading the book. Carl’s description of the would-be cultural omnivore peeped into my windows a little too closely for comfort. Now I’m regretting not posting my loose, inarticulate disgust with my own connoisseur-ship -- not that I am expert at anything, but I am constantly judging and comparing experiences -- before reading his book; there’s overlap, and my own perceived need for the cultural capital possibly accruing from a plausible claim to having gotten there before having heard about someone else getting there nags me.

I am happy to be listening to Bach.]

if you take any phrase
not just any phrase
it has to be a shapely phrase
it has to be a fertile phrase
and you must be a fertile phrase-shifter
you must flip it up and turn it round
slide the phrase from side to side
until it’s time for a break

passions thrive in these phrases I hear
to be in love with life and never to measure up
not that anyone’s unworthy
but that, at last everyone’s discarded

Bach loved God

sing a song of traipsing spirits
spirit -- wind -- motion -- transfer -- energy

emergent energy

a great spirit -- genius -- a strong spirit
-- spirit-giving-order -- order-making-spirit --
ever unwinding -- windily -- twining
rolling -- unfurling -- the thin rich ribbon --
blowing in the spirit across the face -- of the deep

knee music
lift-up-your-knee music
droll and jolly

was it then?

jolly -- yes.
droll -- it feels like it.
not without dignity.
because -- joy transcends dignity --
and -- brother -- I’m going to lift these knees --
while I can

oh -- moments -- of --
(can’t find the word)
of -- foreboding -- amongst the merry knees --
not foreboding quite -- earnestness. (not right either.)

wing. wave. waft.
the beautiful futile gesture.
the gemming of motion. slow.
hot liquid earth bubbling and sinking into itself.
and from the bubble -- primordial.

the band (Casals) knows it’s a dance groove, and that’s good.
nice tunes, don’t mind when they come on the radio.
oh, well, yes, no, Bach didn’t write for the radio.
But! Casals played for it.
elaborate skills went into these dances.

imagine if the cello had been the preferred Appalachian jig instrument.
would it be called the knee fiddle?
the crotch fiddle?
that would be bawdy.
“for the glory of God and the recreation of man.”
bawdiness can be that too.
bawdiness is almost body-ness.
records efface the body.
they lie.

Suite No. 4 in E flat major, 1. Prelude, 2. Allemande, 3. Courante, 4. Sarabande, 5. Bourrees I and II, 6. Gigue

[In case you didn’t know: “for the glory of God and the recreation of man” is how Bach described music’s purpose.]


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