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Tag: Existentialism

Symphony no 10 in E minor, op 93 – Dmitri Shostakovich

self-portrait-with-stalin-1954.jpg!Large.jpg

     “Self Portrait with Stalin (1954) 

             Frida Kahlo

                 ______

Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony was a
success from the moment I heard it, 
it resolved issues for me I found 
difficult in his earlier showpieces, for
that’s what symphonies are, indeed
blockbusters

from the very beginning, Shostakovich
gives a musical theme, a few notes 
played by a solo oboe, an obbligato
that is then repeated with variations by
other instruments, if not by the entire
orchestra, this is an old trick of 
Beethoven

later movements do the same thing 
with flute, piccolo, or bassoon
obbligati, a particular device of
Shostakovich to indicate a lone,
individual voice amidst the clamour 
of military brass and proletarian
violins

but the tactic of repeating a theme, 
like rhyming in poetry, gives one a 
sense of position, which is lost if 
there’s no reiteration, no reference 
point, it’s like wandering off into a 
forest instead of into a park you 
could safely be enjoying, that had 
trails at least to let you know you 
weren’t far from civilization, 
signposts pointing out directions, 
whereas a forest could be a tundra, 
vast for miles, one could walk for 
days without being found, that’s 
the role of repetition, rhyme, a 
refrain, in music, getting one’s 
bearings

and incidentally, one could be 
walking around in circles in that 
forest and atonality wouldn’t be 
any help at all 


the Tenth has, however, all the 
guideposts throughout, one can 
tell where the music ‘s going at 
each and every movement, it was 
like finding my way home, the, long  
even at nearly an hour, soundscape 
whipped by leaving me breathless, 
awestruck, Shostakovich has hit 
here, I thought, my big time, it took 
him long enough


it was first performed just after the 
death of Stalin, March, 1953, was 
thus probably composed somewhat 
earlier, belying the supposition that 
Stalin‘s demise had affected the 
spirit of his composition, which is 
uncharacteristically cheery for him, 
to my mind, seems to have unleashed 
in him the dogs not of war and 
disillusion, but of fun, something that 
was happening to the entire 20th 
Century, for that matter, especially 
after the Second World War, even, it 
appears, however grimly, in Russia, 
oops, in the U.S.S.R


an aside – Mrs Premise had said of 
Jean-Paul Sartre, the expositor of 
Existentialism in the Twentieth Century, 
implications of which he related to us,
of living in world without God, in his
magnum opusBeing and Nothingness“,
to her Monty Python counterpart, Mrs 
Conclusion, in a hilarious skit of theirs, 
that Sartre wasn’t receiving that day, he 
was, according to his housekeeper, 
especially moody

is he free, asks Mrs Premise, he’s been 
investigating that one for years, the 
woman at the door replies, the kind of 
joke – in musical terminology, a scherzo – 
utterly cherishwitty, pithy, trenchant, 
if you’ll pardon my giddy digression

but I sense Russian counterpart in the
dour Shostakovich

 
it should be noted here, that the 
orchestra in the link I provide, is
the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra
of Venezuela, a country with its 
own political history of oppression, 
under the direction of the deservedly 
celebrated conductor, Gustavo 
Dudamelhimself a Venezuelan 

the struggle doesn’t stop, the oracular 
hits must keep on coming, go, Gustavo
Dudamel, go, Simon Bolivar Youth
Orchestra, go, Shostakovich


 R ! chard

on buying designer honey

the-discovery-of-honey-by-bacchus-1505.jpg!Large.jpg

 
                Piero di Cosimo
 
                   ___________
 
 
it’s not every day that someone changes 
your outlook on, well, everything
 
I was at the supermarket, needed honey
for my recipe for carrot soup, with Brie
also, and nuts, an intriguing combination,
I’d thought
 
but I couldn’t place the honey in the 
umpteenth reorganization of the food
store
 
where’s the honey, I asked the clerk, 
who serendipitously was standing 
in front of me, this aisle or the one  
over, I added, not expecting anything 
more than cursory directions, and 
giving him thereby a feel for my 
attendant capabilities
 
but he took me, impressively, 
thought, the one aisle over to the 
honey spot, ahem
 
 
there was a modest selection there,
plastic honey bears, the white honey
you need to crank out of the jar, other 
honeys in less appealing packages,
several of the wild berry and grain
varieties
 
but I wanted the honey that melts in 
your mouth, instinctively, the one 
infused with clove, cardamom and 
cinnamon, the one that clings to 
your tongue lasciviously, leaving, 
with every lick of your lips, very bliss, 
though not, notably, at an especially 
conducive price
 
why not, you only live once, I’d 
devised already, despite the cost,
to validate my more cavalier 
expenses 
 
someone else was ogling, however,  
my honey, reaching for the larger of 
the two options, there was some
space, I reached up, into a kind of 
shopper’s no man’s land, how do  
you impinge on someone’s pending 
decision when you already know 
what you want, and not create 
confusion, if not distress
 
and he was bigger than me
 
looks good enough not to resist,
I said, you only live once, why not, 
rejoindered, falling back on my 
default position, my broken record, 
which sent nevertheless a strong 
existential message, I think
 
how can we know, he congenially 
replied, catching me up on my 
unexamined assertion, how do 
we know for sure we don’t have 
another, others
 
imagine that, I marvelled, I’ve never 
heard anyone else ever say that,
everyone ‘s always ceded, it’s 
something to profoundly, and 
inevitably have to, ponder
 
but not enough right now to not  
buy the honey, I added, however 
unphilosophically, though I’d think 
about it further for consequences, 
it could change everything, 
declared, my life, this life
 
and we waved each other goodbye 
from our present incarnations
 
 
Richard

“Whatever Works” – Woody Allen


"Clown with Flowers"- Marc Chagall

Clown with Flowers (1963)

Marc Chagall

______

after Existentialism, Camus, Sartre,
after “God Is Dead”, there was
Woody Allen, to let us know that,
you know, Whatever Works“, you
can either jump out ‘ a window or
make the best of it

I am, of course, Boris Yellnikov,
though my girl from Mississippi
hasn’t shown up yet

nor for that matter has my
psychic

maybe I should jump out ‘ a
window

what do you think

watch

Richard