Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Close to the Heart
On the Occasion of Neil Peart's Death
Thursday, February 6, 2020 3:26 pm
While it is not unreasonable to wonder about the life of an artist — or even to admire an artist's everyday conduct — I am of the mind that the artist does not matter (beyond his getting the proper credit and payment). To be sure, his life is relevant insofar as it clarifies his work; but other than that...
Most artists are scum. Beethoven was a bitter bastard. Shostakovich was a pathetic collaborator. As men, neither merits celebration. Celebrity for artists should be rejected. Go ahead and admire Haydn because he was kind, pious, and hard-working; then pity and decry him because he was adulterous; but remember that there were many kind, pious, hard-working, and adulterous men in the world. It was not Haydn's life that distinguished him; and it is not his life that should concern us.
An Instrumental That Shouldn't Be Lost
Saturday, September 21, 2019 11:07 pm
I was in the open beta for WildStar
, an SF MMO, back in 2014. I then subscribed for three months. The game had lots of good
in it; but it didn't hold me. Something fundamental was missing. And it was stupid hard. You really couldn't just log in and have fun. And the game's population collapsed so quickly that the open regions were always barren. I was alone in an MMO.
That's Where You'll Find Me
Maybe Dorothy Sings About the Wrong Thing
Saturday, August 12, 2017 12:19 pm
There's a misalignment in The Wizard of Oz
What is its moral? "There's no place like home." Dorothy has found herself in a land over the rainbow, and yet her ultimate desire — the fulfillment of which she asks of the Wizard — is to return to Kansas. Near the end, Glinda prompts Dorothy to articulate the lesson that she, Dorothy, has learned; and Dorothy replies:
If I ever go looking for my heart's desire, I won't look any futher than my own backyard. Because if it's not there I never lost it to begin with.
This lesson, of course, accords with the narrative facts that the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion each already had the thing he sought. The Scarecrow was already brainy; the Tin Man, full of heart; the Lion, courageous. And Dorothy, in Kansas, already had the place most free of trouble: her home with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.
Concert After the Fish-Fry
Arvo Pärt's Passio
Sunday, April 9, 2017 10:48 am
I've been listening to Arvo Pärt for quite a while. I'm not sure how I discovered him. He is still alive and still composing. His work, since the 1980s, has been generally focused on the sacred, using chant and polyphony.
I don't know much about music. I know most definitions; I can follow a discussion well enough. But I cannot explain to you the difference between a harmony and a melody — not with understanding. And I cannot distinguish either in a work. I am stupid when it comes to music. Fundamentally I am sub-intellectual. For me, a musical work is either a good noise or it's disposable.
Superfluous in Heaven
Even Sacred Music Is Mundane
Saturday, February 4, 2017 12:36 am
In the mid '80s, when I was a college boy, I regularly went to the record stores near campus. This was just before CDs and long before MP3s. You wanted music, you flipped through an alphabetized bin and found an LP. Anyhow, one day, while I was browsing for something new, a classical work of some sort started playing on the store stereo. It was beautiful and unfamiliar. I listened for quite a while. I finally asked the clerk what it was. He showed me the sleeve and I went to the proper bin. The LP was in stock. I bought it.
A Bee Contemplates Buzzing
The Definition of High Art
Sunday, January 8, 2006 8:46 pm
Despite having been a writer for decades now and having had the unsurprising and frequent inclination, as a producer of art, to contemplate the nature of art, it was many years until I realized something that I think is very true.
Let me begin by stating the obvious: All works are not substantially equal. However much the academics might want to de-privilege the canon, there remains a qualitative difference between high art and low art. This, to be sure, is not news. If you think I am merely about to scoff at academics who overpraise hip-hop or graffiti, you would be wrong. Such academics, however much they perdure, have been adequately ridiculed already. My question is only this: Given the obvious fact that some art is high and some low, what is it, in the end, that distinguishes high from low? And my answer is this: Depth of information.
Marriage Isn't a Lark, After All
The Carter Family Gets Incendiary!
Monday, May 30, 2005 6:49 pm
When I was a teenager and I started to read Great Literature, I read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. You know what struck me then more than anything else? That a book written in the 1860s should be about an axe murderer. My miseducation to that point had not prepared me for the idea that past ages might just know a thing or two about horrible, sad, or sordid things — and, more to the point, that past ages might be unafraid to talk about them.
Mankind has been doing the same blasted thing for thousands of years. Yet it is an annoying conceit of this era that, until now, man has been naive about his own circumstances. Because civilization once aspired to better circumstances and once celebrated ideals, it is supposed that civilization was once ignorant of all our shortcomings and squalor. In fact, our civilization has simply despaired of ideals.