Death and the Maiden

September 1, 2013

"Death and the Maiden," 1st movement, Schubert

“Death and the Maiden,” 1st movement, Schubert, image Wikipedia Commons

As played by Guarneri String Quartet

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Interpretations, Psalm 42

January 19, 2013

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Psalterium Latinum ….

Set to music by Buxtehude

“Art is not freedom from discipline, but Disciplined Freedom.”
—Edward Catich

Writing as a specialty

February 7, 2011

There’s a lot packed into this quote from “How to Write a Good Sentence,” by Adam Haslett:

“…the incessant dribble of mini-messaging has made most people’s daily use of written language brutally factual in character, more private ad copy than prose. I’m old enough to have written letters to friends when I was younger, which took time and a bit of thought. Like most people, I don’t do that anymore, and e-mail hasn’t replaced the habit. The writing of complete sentences for aural pleasure as well as news is going the way of playing musical instruments–it’s becoming a specialty rather than a means most people have to a little amateur, unselfconscious enjoyment. This isn’t the end of the world for literature. In a sense, it only intensifies its role as the repository of our linguistic imagination. But it’s a pity nonetheless; there’s a difference between pure spectatorship and semi-participatory appreciation. The latter is much warmer. It creates more room for fellow feeling and a bit less for the glare of celebrity and the correlative abjection of envy and fandom.”

What he’s saying is that not every writer need be a professional, or even competitive about his writing–it shouldn’t matter so much, and we need talented amateurs. But our society specializes everything, and increasingly the only alternative to mind-numbing work is mindless play, so the audience expects to be dazzled or titillated. No wonder audiences are shrinking, and that the average person only reads for escapism. Art isn’t supposed to be so all or nothing.