Week37: cesar franck’s symphony in d minor; the importance of a musical education pt.2


Franck’s music is not of unrelieved serenity, for that would have resulted in monotony; but it reflected his character—patient, reverent, kind and modest—in a sort of contemplative rapture, and its points of climax were neither passionate nor dramatic, but peaks of exaltation. “”  cyrus durgin, concert notes for the recording


Victrola recording   // Cesar Franck // Symphony in D Minor

Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Munch

Symphony in D Minor

  • Lento; Allegro ma non troppo.

  • Allegretto

  • Finale: Allegro non troppo

(the importance of a musical education pt.2)


On the other hand, I hear another tune being struck up from various sides, not as loud but at least as emphatic: that of the narrowing of education. People in any academic circle will hum a snatch of this tune in your ear: the universally acknowledged fact that the current system reduces scholars to being mere slaves of academic disciplines, making it a matter of chance, and increasingly unlikely, for any scholar to turn out truly educated. Academic study is spread across such a large area now that anyone with real but unexceptional talents and academic ambitions will devote himself to a narrowly specialized subfield, remaining totally unconcerned with everything else. As a result, even if he stands above the vulgar masses within his subfield, he belongs fully with them in everything else---in everything important. “” Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Education

it’s a long list of reasons that keep me returning to nietzsche, foremost is his good conscience in regards to his unabashed cultural elitism. perhaps what we find unanimously repulsive about elitism is how much it relies on the crude and narcotic effects  of wealth and power in order to evade the ineluctable bad conscience that results from ill-acquired wealths and powers. the elitism nietzsche is accused of is the kind neither wealth nor power can purchase (hence the uproarious response to the college admissions scandal of about a month ago). even what we refer to as education today, the condition of which appears unchanged for the better part of the last two centuries during which a proper industry has been made of the getting of an education, seems insufficient to reach the echelon within which nietzsche and (more importantly) his type are native to. is there, for example, a less undemocratic spirit as far as universal education is concerned than his complaint that the german gymnasium (which was shoulder, neck and head about what’s left of our equivalent institutions today) was making students ‘mere slaves of academic disciplines’? it’s not the scepter of standing above the vulgar masses that i want to take up, but how it is one can miss out on everything important, and still be credibly educated.

For true culture disdains the pollution of the needy desiring individual; it wisely shuns all who try to use it as a means to their egotistical ends; when anyone thinks he can posses it, can use it to satisfy his needs and earn his living, it vanishes with silent footsteps and a mocking glance. “” Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Education

this september i’ll be putting a decisive end to my truancy. i started a specialist in philosophy a year shy of an eon ago… one that i’ll never finish as i will be continuing a neuroscience program this fall. in short, i harboured since the start of my undergrad the feeling of a deep and inescapable sense that the most crucial, most important thing would still be missing at the end of my long  and immensely cerebral stretch of a bachelor’s degree.

Why didn’t I become a physician or at least something that opens one’s eyes” was what that same nietzsche once said in an apparently unguarded stretch of his seminal retrospective, Ecce Homo. inasmuch as mine is ultimately a biological philosophy (a term i borrow from paul kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air), then why not become as much as i can, a philosopher of the body. not to mention the by-product and benefits of being completely free to henceforth become a serious student of philosophy, or at least of that most important thing: culture, through and through…albeit independent of a university...

i hope that’s what this blog is and becomes: a thorough survey of the variegated influences of western culture as it is today and the well trodden paths that got us here. i hope this blog is in some ways a substitute for that abandoned philosophy degree. i would have made, if i could see it through, an especially anomalous academic, as i have very little inclination towards that necessary evil one needs to commit at the onset of an introduction to philosophy 101: creating a tabula rasa of the mind, that obscene impartiality in relation to values that is the source of an all permeating relativism.

a musical education, for example, is an antidote to relativism. for through it one’s individuating instincts reign supreme. those instincts that resist the lysol-clean shimmerings of impartiality, of any kind of sub specie aeternitatis. “If I’m ever jailed for downloading music illegally, I hope they separate our cells by genre” was a trope in the days before streaming when downloading music illegally was still a thing and is, in a sense, the slogan of what a musical education means to me. if we eventually get on the same page regarding decency and mutual respect of our common humanity, we’d still  be irreconcilably divided along aesthetic lines. those are, as far as i’m concerned, the only divisions worth taking seriously. the ones that can be maintained with good conscience. the only ones wherein the intense scrutinies of cultural elitism are not only permissible, but encouraged. to that extent do i believe that the most complex socio-economic conundrums we face now and forever have their origin in some confusion of cultural identities. the people are the main thing, even and especially when the people have forgotten that---or as nietzsche puts it, nature:

No one should try to strike an oracular note about our culture’s future, and the related future of our educational means and methods, if he cannot prove that this culture of the future is to some extent already present and need only assert itself much more strongly to have the requisite influence on scholls and other pedagogical institutions. Permit me merely to predict the future out of the entrails of the present, like a Roman haruspice, which in this case involves neither more nor less than predicting the eventual victory of an educational tendency that already exists, even if at the moment it is neither popular, nor respected, nor widely prevalent. But it will triumph, I say with supreme confidence, because it has the greatest and mightiest ally of all: Nature. “” Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Education