bruckner ex machina: i had intended for back-2-back dvorak action—his fifth and ninth symphonies consecutively—turns out: they’re the same thing…older recordings referred to the symphony no. 9 also as symphony no.5 in e minor. so, sitting down to listen to no.9 didn’t last very long till i realized the error and had to make off to kops records as i didn’t have anything lying around that i wanted to listen to. i passed on the first bruckner piece i came across in the dollar-bins (his 9th symphony) on account of being double billed with a beethoven—but ran into yet another of his 9th symphony (*me to the universe*okay, i get it, i’ll buy the fucking record).
it was just last week, but already i can’t remember anything that happened in this symphony—a few plucked strings here and there but nothing more.
wagner once wrote a letter to nietzsche to dispense a piece of advice the depth of which nietzsche uncharacteristically underestimated, something along the lines of: one has two equally good options as treatment of neurosis: either get married or write an opera. (wagner felt himself well versed on the causes of nietzsche’s neurological maladies: he also wrote a letter to nietzsche’s doctor attributing these maladies to excessive masturbation: an example of how easy it is to invert cause and cure…). point being: if nietzsche had been smart enough to take such excellent advice (he tried marriage but lou-andreas salome said fuck no) and if he wrote a symphony instead of an opera: he might have written something the likes of bruckner’s 9th symphony. what i really mean: it’s the type of artwork borne of an artist’s complete devotion to the breadth of their artform rather than the onset of an urgent idea eager to be expressed in any artform readily available.
dvorak’s 9th symphony, beethoven’s 6th symphony—both had the same burning, thawing idea that perhaps one symphony was not sufficient for: spring. or in a more general sense: a new dawn after a long endurance of privation, of the underground, of having lost the habit of living… what then is the idea behind so well rounded, so well diffused a symphony like bruckner’s 9th? with it’s well trimmed adagios and scherzos not too exciting (i don’t know what i just said either)? this is by no means an indictment—in fact, for those coming up from the underground, the first proof of convalescence might be how cooly they receive the uneventful, the mundane, the necessary.—an analogy.
reconciliation with the scientification of music—(one of those prematurely harvested ideas):
coming from where i did, the first and second instincts were a recoiling from—at times hostility against!—the initial experiences of classical music: how cold, how guarded, how precise the calibrations. it’s music for those who know only to kiss with eyes wide open. how thick the meat of glass between the music and the audience, how still very terrestrial it’s highest leaps, how seated one is expected to remain through it all: how very much florence and the machine is needed to rescue one from foolishly uttering: europeans know nothing of the celestial heights one can spiral into in the grips of catharsis! (what a good thing it is florence welsh exists).
what i meant earlier by where?—it really was the case, that at the age of nine you couldn’t have found any boy more african than i was. that i became so well adjusted to speaking my english with a canadian accent is altogether attributable to how gruesome and persistent our winters are: even the most bare-footed, tire-rolling jungle mentality has to eventually take stock and make its way inside. yes, inside. inside is the opposite of every intoxicating element in music. inside is the natural antithesis to a disposition to expend one’s energies indefinitely. calibration, the many instincts of self preservation, measurement, conservation: how foreign and metropolitan they seem to the bottomless abysses and nauseating heights readily available in for example musical experiences of the religious kind. though not only of the religious kind, take for example the haka famously performed as a pregame ritual by samoan rugby players, is it not taken from a where deeper than religion?—if i’m really understood, one would find religion too organized an institute for the cathartic phenomenon, too much of that metropolitan stink…
i’d like to believe i didn’t just say one can only find cathartic musical experiences in africa…(one would thereby have put an end to all that rubbish about black people can’t be racist…). in fact my africa was a brief stay (nevertheless consequential) and had little of the jungle in it. what it had however was a peculiar ranarim, the consequences of which i have neither the intellect nor tax-bracket to fully investigate. (ranarim is a bygone word for the weaving of the old and the new). i’m sure i’d find it if i looked long enough: a combination of sickliness and religiosity as peculiar as mine. it was a sickliness from of my early age and the intensity of my father’s religion (he’s a reverend); the two elements feeding on each other, all very ouroboros. it is a nasty little riddle that i’ve set up, but i couldn’t pass on it— i leave it to you to guess which is the old and which is the new: sickness or worship?
imagine then, all the subterranean depths, all the mossy underbellies of amazons yet undiscovered, that such a combination can foster. to rise out of this—by luck, at the cost of one plane ticket, and the miracle of modern medicine—one necessarily clings to certain instincts, even on the way up. one such instinct is a disposition to only take seriously, to have an irrepressible bias in favour of, music of bottomless depths: of deep deep eternity.
how then very pricklish one becomes, how intolerably agitated one’s instincts are against any celebration of calibration, of scales, trills and arabesques: of any such scientification of music. it is a long journey over, from the intangible depths of catharsis, to the whole notes, half notes, sheet music, d, c, a minors and who-gives-a-fuck majors—that is, the entire system of calculus that has made kneadable the eternal depths of music.
but: it’s not the journey that concerns us here. it is merely the fact of reconciliation with this scientification. it can be said in something less of a riddle: yes the world is deep, music is deep, sorrow is deeper even—but life and joy is deeper still. perhaps i should try that again: there are those whose talons reach deep into eternity—can we train them, with our arabesques and trills, to grab and hold the light and height, and the half light? bring them up to the surface and watch them squint?
...perhaps there is more to what i meant by the ‘first proof of convalescence from a long period of privation’…
Walking under lofty Ionic colonnades, looking up toward a horizon that was cut off by pure and noble lines, finding reflections of his transfigured shape in the shining marble at his side, and all around him solemnly striding or delicately moving human beings, speaking with harmonious voices and in a rhythmic language of gestures—in view of this continual influx of beauty, would he not have to exclaim, raising his hand to Apollo: “Blessed people of Hellas! How great must Dionysus be among you if the god of Delos considers such magic necessary to heal your dithyrambic madness! “” Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy
or, the first proof convalescence from a long period of dithyrambic madness! dithyrambic madness? that is, in our context, intoxication from the musical experience. there are two paths to harmony in music: intoxication from the musical experience or the scientification of the musical experience. there are some for whom their formative years—all the where i described earlier—was so overexposed to this dithyrambic madness of the musical spirit that they eventually come to consider it proof of health and recovery from such madness when they seek to reconcile with the scientification of music (the ‘rhythmic language of gestures’) and seek an altogether different path to harmony. yet, there are some who seek something further: who want to become intoxicated from the harmonies generated from the scientification of music. they can’t help it. they’ve never been able to expect anything less than intoxication from the musical experience. indeed anything less than that—every bruckner symphony no.9 that they cooly receive—is, at best, proof merely of a gestation period between two maddening shrieks of ecstasy.
elsewhere: in the nba for example, how very interesting things have gotten in the competition for rookie of the year—at least between ‘rookie’ ben simmons and and donovan mitchel. perhaps a little while from now we shall look back and refer to as sweatergate the time donovan mitchell wore a sweater to a game with the definition thereon of what a rookie is to suggest that ben simmons is in fact not a rookie--it is rumored that dictionary.com got in one the action in defense of simmons. at any rate i think simmons is the most consequential rookie of his and this draft class.
more on florence: moreso on the celestial heights she’s made a habit of…celestial is a word i don’t use as much as i’d like to… it’s one of those jazzy buzzwords i latched unto growing up in a pentecostal church. like the spires of a gothic facade, that you comprehend the word presupposes you were looking up. it was the word that flew into my head when first i realized what florence and the machine was: cosmic love, for example, is a celestial experience. there is a tendency of artists whose career begin with such rapturous inclinations in their music that they seek in subsequent albums to arrange around them all manners of the most terrestrial ideations--as a sort of recovery from heights. take, for example, the evolution of the design aesthetic of her album covers: she looks, in how big, how blue, how beautiful, as if she's kneeling to hunt deer with her bare hands.