As Sandy drenches us in the Mid-Atlantic, a relevant post is required. However, there are not many songs about hurricanes. The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and Dylan’s “Hurricane” are contenders, but I do not like the first, and the second has nothing to do with a real hurricane. Well, here is Switchfoot’s “Hello, Hurricane.”
It is a bit too light for the subject matter . . . too cheerful for a storm. Darkness is needed. As such, here is more fitting piece by Johann Sebastian’s boy, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: Symphony in D minor “Adagio & Fugue” performed by the Concerto Köln.
Sic transit Sandy.
For today, I present Tannhäuser, my favorite Wagnerian opera. I found a performance by the Bayerischen Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) from A.D. 1994. While I am glad to find a full video online, I am not fond of its peculiar interpretation. I know that the production is eighteen years old, but can’t the Germans move past their postwar decadence? For instance, the opening orgy leaves little to the imagination. Even with Wagner, couldn’t we have a bit of restraint and suggestion? (rated PG-13)
The modern age ever lusts after the new and bizarre. Unlike the opera’s hero, the modern West never moves beyond its illusory quest for base satisfaction toward a higher good.
Update: The video is no longer on YouTube, but I found it behind a paywall at Alexander Street. However, there is a similar though less pomo production (if that gives you an idea about the Bavarian staging) at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona (rated PG-13):
Decadent interpretation, but an impressive venue . . .
My sister sent me today a Yahoo link to some delightful trompe l’oeil drawings by Ramon Bruin: “Amazing 3D art tricks the eye.” They are very cool.
I am glad that artists continue to create beautiful works even when the doorkeepers of respectable
fine art grant them neither respect nor status. If Bruin spent his time representing vulvae with nachos—you know, when he was not blasphemously depicting religious figures in human waste—then he would be showcased in the most prestigious galleries. Instead, he airbrushes objects that people want stylized. He plays with color and shape to delight the observer and to tease the imagination. He incarnates beauty in useful and in decorative pieces. How pedestrian! How vulgar! How very much like an artist—for most of human history.
We need to return to the understanding of art that existed before the pretentious distinction between artisans and artists. And surely we shall.
I thought that I knew the depths of pain in which Roman Catholics suffer for their faith in these dark days, but then I followed a link from Fr. Z. to hear the “Alleluia Cha Cha.” James Preece has a bit of fun with the tune’s composer in “Paul Inwood walks in to a bar . . .” at Catholic and Loving It.
I did not think that anyone could compete with John Foley, S.J. Please pardon me if I fantasize about Saint Cecilia’s going all Beatrix Kiddo on these “composers.”
For this Wednesday, I offer The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”:
Dandy soda pop Bacchic beats with bad British teeth and ruffled shirts. I sometimes wish that I could have lived through that troubled time.
I also enjoy looking at the audience shots in these old videos. What was with the black chef?
A few days ago, Auster posted a short but classic bit on a well spent autumn day: “Fall in New York.”
Today was New York City at its best—sparkling, clear, alive. After a very satisfactory mid-afternoon lunch at a neighborhood restaurant, a female friend and I walked down the east side of Broadway to get the sun, then over to the Fireman’s Monument on upper Riverside Drive and 100th Street, then down to the west side of lower Riverside Drive where we sat on a bench looking at the elms and sycamores and the grassy slope across from us lit up with the late afternoon sun. There was a big elm, its trunk spotted with shadows from the tree’s own leaves. I said, “Except that there’s no melody, this reminds me of, ‘in some melodious plot / Of beechen green, and shadows numberless’” (from Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”). My friend, who is a literary critic, replied, “It was good when poets were closer to nature, then they had something to write about other than themselves.”
I think that such is very true of philosophers, as well—both those who focus on nature and those who focus on man. Nature may love to hide, but having an acquaintance with her is useful for protecting oneself from stupid ideas.