Friday, November 14, 2014

Keepin' it Simple

Simplicity

It opens, the gate to the garden
with the docility of a page
that frequent devotion questions
and inside, my gaze
has no need to fix on objects
that already exist, exact, in memory.
I know the customs and souls
and that dialect of allusions
that every human gathering goes weaving.
I've no need to speak
nor claim false privilege;
they know me well who surround me here,
know well my afflictions and weakness.
This is to reach the highest thing,
that Heaven perhaps will grant us:
not admiration or victory
but simply to be accepted
as part of an undeniable Reality,
like stones and trees
-Jorge Luis Borges

24 comments:

FreeThinke said...

Nice work! Not the world's greatest guitarist, but good enough, and his variations on Simple Gifts are clever and keep you listening wondering what he might do next. I like the rhythmic slapping of the instrument. He sets up very interesting syncopations and cross rhythms.

The Shakers, themselves, sang and danced without instrumental accompaniment but great enthusiasm. Their worship services were really like Play Time -- a great release of tension from work, and, doubtless, a continually frustrated sex drive.

It must have quite a spectacle to witness the men assembled on one side of the room and the women on the other. They worked together all day every day, but slept, as we did in old fashioned colleges, in separate dormitories.

Their dancing is said to have been child like, energetic, enthusiastic, - I believe it must have resembled "Square Dancing" from the few drawings we have from the era -- but physical contact between the sexes was strictly prohibited.

A curious sect to be sure, but they did beautiful work. The beauty and quality of their craftsmanship is practically unsurpassed.

FreeThinke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FreeThinke said...

_______________ SIMPLE GIFTS ________________

_____ by Joseph Brackett (c. 1797–1882)
 _____

____________ Shaker Dancing Song __________


'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,

To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,

To turn, turn will be our delight, 

Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.



Later, Additional or Alternative Verses:


'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,

Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",

And when we hear what others really think and really feel,

Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.



Additional Alternative Verses:


The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof,

Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above.
Salvation is here where we laugh, where we cry,
Where we seek and love, where we live and die.

When true liberty is found,
By fear and by hate we will no more be bound.

In love and in light we will find our new birth

And in peace and freedom, redeem the Earth.

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be fair,

'Tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air.
And each day we walk on the path that we choose,
'Tis a gift we pray we never shall lose.

FreeThinke said...

Sorry! No matter how hard I try, Blogger will just NOT let me format it properly.

It looked just fine in Word, but ... ????

Thersites said...

It's fine. Thanks for posting the words. They're as beautiful as the tune.

Jen Nifer said...

so nice!
I enjoyed the sweet smile on his face as much as the music.
:-)

-FJ said...

He definitely enters "the Dasein zone". :)

FreeThinke said...

You know, of course, that Aaron Copland featured Simple Gifts in his orchestral work Appalachian Spring"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJYVH_kZkOk

It's well worth your time. Somehow this homely Jewish man from Brooklyn, who identified as both a Communist and a homosexual, was able to capture the Essential Spirit of America in his music, which has about it a rustic, healthy outdoors quality that evokes the splendor and glory of our varied topography, natural wonders and beautiful landscapes, the quality of fresh clean air, and the boundless energy and dauntless spirit of the pioneers. How such a disparate, highly unlikely combination of elements could be made to work so well I have no idea, but Copland really does it.

Thersites said...

One of the main tactics of the old-guard reds was to embed themselves in local indigenous folk cultures ala Diego Rivera, Frieda Khalo and Pete Seeger.

So it comes as no surprise that a Jewish Commie would gain exposure to Shaker folk tunes.

FreeThinke said...

Perhaps so, Thersites, but there is nothing that even mildly hints at the subversive in Copland's most notably "American" music. Nothing snide, nothing derisive, nothing mocking. It comes across as wholesome and energetic as a mountain waterfall on a bright blue morning.

Acquiring a lot of "academic data" ABOUT a subject is not at all the same as totally immersing oneself IN that subject until it becomes a true part of oneself.

Of course, we know, "the human heart is desperately wicked, " and not to be trusted. One of our most regrettable capacities is the ability to fool ourselves into believing we are virtuous, when in fact we may be as selfish, egotistical and conniving as the worst of us.

I fervently believe, however that significant music TRANSCENDS the personality, character and temperament of the composers who created it. They merely acted as CHANNELS for the Inspiration that flowed THROUGH them -- often beyond their control. It was as if they had no CHOICE but to write as they did.

I've done some composing, myself, -- not enough to be properly able to call myself a "composer," but pretty respectable stuff even at that. All I can say, is I never really knew HOW I came up with many of the ideas that entered my head without specific invitation, though it took a good deal of effort on my part to work the material into a full scale piece and put it all down in legible notation.

No two artists use exactly the same methods to produce their wonders. There's always an element of mystery about the creative process. I suppose that's what makes it so fascinating. Nothing cut, dried or canned.

At any rate true Art rises above politics, religious doctrine, personal pet peeves, foibles, prejudices, and ethnocentrism to reveal parts of Eternal Truth to All Men with eyes to see and ears to hear it.

-FJ said...

Please. IMO, Fanfare for the Common Man... the modern "Olympic" theme, represents the antithesis of the original "Olympian" spirit. It elevates "meden agan" over the other three Delphic Temple facades, even over "gnothi seauton".

It's one thing to praise the "common", another to elevate "common-ness" (aka communism) above all other values.

And unlike Beethoven's Ninth, there is no "critique" inherent in his expression of "value."

-FJ said...

Alternate link for above post.

-FJ said...

The Olympics represents the pinnacle of individual over collective effort. Team sports were NOT included as ancient events. This is a "modern" addition.

-FJ said...

Fanfare is a "frame" from which all modern cultures measure themselves. And it is a "distorted" frame.

-FJ said...

ps - Most modern Americans measure their government by the extent of "Middle-Class" prosperity. Progressive Americans by the extend of Rawlsian "Lower-Class" prosperity.

This is an "effect" of the frame. Of celebrating the "un-exeptional" vice "exceptional". Of not wanting to hurt anyone's "self-esteem".

-FJ said...

...instead of exploiting the "Eris" that peaceful competition offers.

Hesiod, "Works and Days"

Attend thou with eye and ear, and make judgements straight with righteousness. And I, Perses, would tell of true things.

So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due. But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and the son of Cronos who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with is neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.

Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house. Little concern has he with quarrels and courts who has not a year's victuals laid up betimes, even that which the earth bears, Demeter's grain. When you have got plenty of that, you can raise disputes and strive to get another's goods. But you shall have no second chance to deal so again: nay, let us settle our dispute here with true judgement which is of Zeus and is perfect. For we had already divided our inheritance, but you seized the greater share and carried it off, greatly swelling the glory of our bribe-swallowing lords who love to judge such a cause as this. Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole, nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel.

-FJ said...

My "personal" measure for the health of a civilization lies in the extent of its' population. And by this measure, the West has been failing miserably these past sixty years (falling birth rates).

-FJ said...

Heroes are not fodder to be used to serve the masses.

They should be honoured for their individual characteristics, not "hidden away" as much of our military heroics are. My G_d, the killer of Osama bin Laden can't even be NAMED!

-FJ said...

Exaltation of an ideal isn't "snide" or "derisive". But be careful of the ideal you exalt.

I favour Exhortations to virtue. But "common-ness", in my book, is no "virtue".

FreeThinke said...

Copland, in his autobiography, wrote ...: "Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, had written to me at the end of August about an idea he wanted to put into action for the 1942-43 concert season.

During World War I he had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It had been so successful that he thought to repeat the procedure in World War II with American composers".

A total of 18 fanfares[1] were written at Goossens' behest, but Copland's is the only one which remains in the standard repertoire. It was written in response to the US entry into World War II and was inspired in part by a famous 1942 speech where vice president Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man."

Goossens had suggested titles such as Fanfare for Soldiers, or sailors or airmen, and he wrote ... "It is my idea to make these fanfares stirring and significant contributions to the war effort ..."

Copland considered several titles including Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony and Fanfare for Four Freedoms. To Goossens' surprise, however, Copland titled the piece Fanfare for the Common Man.

Goossen wrote "Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. If it is agreeable to you, we will premiere it 12 March 1943 at income tax time".

Copland's reply was "I am all for honoring the common man at income tax time".

Copland later used the fanfare as the main theme of the fourth movement of his Third Symphony (composed between 1944 - 1946.)

~ WIKI

Speedy G said...

Interesting. Funny that the one thing that all the leaders who met at Yalta and coming out of WWII could agree upon was the need for the formation of a New League of Nations, eh?

...and all in the name of "anti-facism".

FreeThinke said...

Well, COLLECTIVIST IDEOLOGY might easily be called The Curse of the Modern Age.

Nevertheless, true Art stands Alone and Independent of ideological ties. That's why I still hold Art as the ONLY Hope for Mankind.

Most of the stuff we call "Modern Art" or "Contemporary Art" deserves to be called ANTI-Art. Questioning the Past, yet still BUILDING on it, is LAUDABLE. Any attempt to DESTROY and OBLITERATE the past, however, is EVIL.

To confuse the urge on the part of malicious malcontents to promote Change for the Sake of Change with legitimate Progress is as foolish as it is wicked and destructive.

True Education [exceedingly rare!] strives always to find, teach, and expand understanding of the great difference between the two.

-FJ said...

On the top of Gellert Hill in the Buda part of Budapest, there is a gigantic monument to the Liberation of the city by the Red Army in 1945: a gigantic statue of a woman waving a stretched flag. This statue (which is usually perceived as an exemplary case of socialist-realist baroque kitsch) was actually made in 1943 on the orders of the Fascist dictator Admiral Horthy, to honor his son who fell on the Russian front fighting the Red Army on the Nazi side; when, in 1945, Kliment Voroshilov, the Soviet commander, was shown the statue, he thought it could serve as the monument of liberation... does this anecdote not tell a lot about the openness of the "message" of a work of art? How, then, can a work of art inherently refer to the Real?

-FJ said...

A- Perhaps, however, one should risk a different approach and read Plato's parable as a myth in the Lévi-Straussian sense, so that one has to look for bits of meaning not through its direct interpretation, but, rather, by way of locating it into a series of variations, i.e., by way of comparing it with other variations of the same story. The elementary frame of so-called "post-modernism" can effectively be conceived as the network of three modes of inversion of Plato's allegory. First, there is the inversion of the meaning of the central source of light (sun): what if this center is a kind of Black Sun, a terrifying monstrous Evil Thing, and for this reason impossible to sustain? Second, what if (along the lines of Peter Sloterdijk's Spheres) we invert the meaning of the cave: it is cold and windy out in the open, on the earth's surface, too dangerous to survive there, so that people themselves decided to dig out the cave to find a shelter/home/sphere? In this way, the cave appears as the first model of building a home, a safe isolated place of dwelling-building one's cave is what distinguishes us from beasts, it is the first act of civilization... Finally, there is the "standard postmodern" variation: the true myth is precisely the notion that, outside the theatre of shadows, there is some "true reality" or a central Sun-all there is are different theatres of shadows and their endless interplay. The properly Lacanian twist to the story would have been that for us, within the cave, the Real outside of the cave can only appear as a shadow of a shadow, as a gap between different modes or domains of shadows.

It is thus not simply that substantial reality disappears in the interplay of appearances; what rather happens in this shift is that the very irreducibility of the appearance to its substantial support, its "autonomy" with regard to it, engenders a Thing of its own, the true "real Thing". And, perhaps, this "Thing", the struggle to render it, is the proper "object" of art.


-Slavoj Zizek, "Butned by The Thing"