Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Is this The Big One?

Has The 'Big One' Commenced - And Can You Afford To Assume Otherwise?

Trump, Sanders and the decline of the "Deep State"?

An Oligarchy Has Broken Our Democracy. It Must Be Dislodged  :  Information Clearing House - ICH

The calculus of the Deep State has been
upset by Donald Trump, a narcissistic
pseudo-populist billionaire, who,
ironically, is a symptom of all the
pathologies within the Deep State. His
followers may be misguided, and Trump is
all too ready to offer them scapegoats,
but they instinctively sense that there
is something deeply wrong with the
status quo.

At the other end of the political spectrum,
Bernie Sanders has overthrown the
current model of elite financing of
candidates. Tens of thousands of his
energetic followers – Sanders’s average
contribution is under $30 – actively seek a return
to the New Deal and the Great Society. 

The Deep State may yet reassert itself
through money and fear, but the 2016
election looks to be the first ballot of
a longer-term national referendum on
what it has made of our society.

Martin Luther King, JFK assassinations -- the real story

Martin Luther King -

"Washington’s response to the government’s murder of Martin Luther King was to create a national holiday in his name. Honoring the man that elements of the government had murdered was a clever way to bring the controversy to an end and dispose of troublesome questions."

Friday, January 08, 2016

One Very Special Ceremony

Holidays is a time for friends, and we met with friends with whom we had been too long out of touch.  Much ground had to be traversed.

We learned that our dear Karen had become a minister -- for one day -- purchasing her Universalist's minister's kit ($30) so that she could officiate her niece's wedding.  She read us the words to her service.  We share them here, with Karen's permission:

When she was a tadpole and he was a fish, in the Paleozoic time, side by side thru the ooze and the brine, they swam together under moonlit tides.

Here tonight, in this evening’s twilight Cody and Sasha are united once more.

And we rejoice with them for their ancient souls’ reunion on this ancient glacial shore.

To all the skeptics who question the nature of love, the act of marrying may seem like a ritual as insignificant as a speck of stardust.  In the mortal moment’s sense, marriage is a profound opportunity for two lovers to affirm a secret, sacred chemistry that goes beyond understanding.

We have to turn to philosophers, poets and artists to help us speak of that which cannot be seen but is as sure as eternity.  The Lebanese philosopher Kahil Gibran has written “You were born together, and together you shall be forever more. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of the universe,” He goes on to say that marriage in not an act of bondage but one that liberates each partner’s soul in the spiritual knowledge that they are now whole, that they walk in the holiness of togetherness. He writes: “Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone…For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

The second element in the definition of mirth is laughter. Anyone who has ever heard Sasha’s throaty laugh knows that her voice suggests depth of joy and beckons one to join in the happiness.  Words from a poetic lyricist of the musical South Pacific act as a possible reason Cody chose Sasha when he heard her unusual and wonderful expression of mirth. 

This also happens to be a  chosen song for a Minnesota artist from Hibbing in his latest album….

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.

Some enchanted evening
Someone may be laughing,
You may hear her laughing
Across a crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of her laughter
Will sing in your dreams.

Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own
Or all through your life you
May dream all alone.

Cody, Once you have found her, never let her go

Sasha Once you have found him, never..let..him..go.

Cody and Sasha

We wish you happiness
Now and Forever......


Even in this time of trouble across the whole wide world, there is still this thing, love......and sensitive souls like our dear friend, Karen, to remind us so...................


Saturday, January 02, 2016

Why I wrote
Death in Classical Music:
making friends with the unfriendly

By John A. Sarkett

Death in classical music, you say?  Why would anyone write about that?  Isn’t that --- morbid?  We understand.  You can talk about anything in our wide-open, anything goes society -- except death.  So here’s the story on what made us tread right in (and it’s not really morbid at all, so go ahead, you can read it....)

Since encountering Beethoven at a young age, and having my molecules rearranged, I have been a constant consumer of classical music for more than four decades without ever even having heard the composer name “Kurt Atterberg.” 

Then, one day, several years ago, on classical WFMT, Chicago, we heard the tail end of what we thought the announcer said  was Kurt Atterberg’s “Symphonica Rustica.”  We looked for it in vain.  (Actually what we heard was the Symphony No. 7, Sinfonia romantica, though there is a “Sinfonia Rustica,” Symphony No. 3 by Vagn Holmboe.)   

Atterberg is an obscure composer now, but, interestingly, like many such, he wasn’t always obscure.  In fact, he was respected enough by the likes of Arturo Toscanini to receive a 1940 recording of his Symphony No. 6, Op. 31, “Dollar Symphony.”  A box set of his nine symphonies came out in 2005, performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and NDR Philharmonic Orchestra (Hannover) led by Ari Rasilainen.

But by and large, this Swedish composer, who mixed Swedish folk tunes into a musical broth that had been influenced by the Russians, Brahms and Reger, has been forgotten.

That research made us curious. How many more interesting works by “obscure” composers were out there which we had never heard?  Answer:  near infinite number.

One thing led to another, and soon enough, we were researching and cataloging more like Mr. Atterberg.  Obscure Composers was published October 9, 2013;  we presented 186 lesser known but highly worthy composers.  We didn’t stop there, and Obscure Composers 2:  another meditation on fame, obscurity and the meaning of life debuted October 28, 2015 (100 more composers).  In between, was our busman’s holiday Bach and Heaven:  The Promise of Afterlife in the Text of the Cantatas (August 14, 2013 publication).

Since obscurity is the brother of death itself, all of these titles were pointing in some way shape or form to an unblinking treatment of death in classical music, not to mention the large body of music about death we had encountered along the way (Requiems, funeral marches, dirges, and operas (88% of the top 25 deal with death in a significant way)).  So we “had no choice” but to undertake Death in Classical Music:  making friends with the unfriendly, too.  It was published November 2, 2015. 
Music is a physical manifestation, the vibration of air, but also a spiritual manifestation -- always.  It raises the questions of life and death from its very essence, sometimes explicitly, in religious works, and sometimes implicitly.  Even after the air molecules cease vibrating, music poses the question, ‘will this go on?’   Now, later?  This thing, music?   This

Freud said there was a “death-drive,” and perhaps on some level, he was right.  But there is also a “life-drive,” a wish not to stop, a wish to keep going, to grow, the conquer, to overcome, to go on with “this thing, life.”

Even among the most cynical.  If we cannot go on, most of us seem to say, at least let me not be forgotten.  But I would rather go on.  The story of Frederick Delius (1862-1937) is a good illustration.
After knocking about early on, in the wool trade with his father, managing an orange plantation in Florida, Delius made his mind up once and for all to become a composer, and he had more than a little success, at least artistically.  No less than famed conductor Sir Thomas Beecham championed his lush soundscapes.  

The reward was intrinsic as well.   Delius said:   There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating.

Among his 40 or so opus numbers was a Requiem.

Requiem, Frederick Delius

Our days here are as one day (Chorus, Baritone)
Hallelujah (Chorus, Baritone)
My beloved whom I cherish was like a flower (Baritone, Chorus)
I honour the man who can love life, yet without base fear can die (Soprano, Chorus)
The snow lingers yet on the mountains (Baritone, Soprano, Chorus)

Dedicated “To the memory of all young artists fallen in the war,” the Requiem by Frederick Delius was composed between 1913 and 1916, and received its premiere in 1922.  Surely this was Delius’s least-known major work, with no recording of it until 1968 and a mere seven public performances of it anywhere in the world by at late as 1980.

The five-section work lasts just over one-half hour. The section title “I honour the man who can love life, yet without base fear can die” sticks in one’s mind.

Delius was neither a Christian nor religious.  In fact, it seems his sympathies lie elsewhere as the working title of this work was Pagan Requiem.  A bit of a mash up, the text comes from secular writers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer, as well as William Shakespeare, the Bible, and the text of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. At one point, “Hallelujahs” are interspersed with Arabic invocations to Allah, and done so ironically at that, as Delius seems to be pointing out the futility of all religion.  Baritone Thomas Hemsley, 1965 Liverpool performance soloist, described the text as “a bit embarrassing, seeming to be rather a poor, second-hand imitation of Nietzsche.” 


Nevertheless, in 1918 Delius wrote “I don’t think that I have ever done better,” though some of his most ardent admirers were nonplussed by the Requiem on first hearing, including his champion noted conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, as well as Philip Heseltine and protégé and biographer Eric Fenby (“the most depressing choral work I know”).  It should be noted Fenby, at least, changed his mind.  In his 1936 book Delius as I Knew Him, Fenby wrote:  “This musical expression, in the Requiem, of Delius’ courageous attitude to life in rejecting organized faiths may well be rated by future generations as second only to the “Danish Arabesque” as one of his most characteristic and commendable masterpieces.”  (The “Danish Arabesque” was one of a set of seven songs by the composer.)

A double chorus sings with solo soprano and solo baritone.  As the first movement says so well:  “Our days here are as one.” Indeed.

Sadly, Delius’ last years were blighted with difficulties and suffering.  He had contracted syphilis in Florida, and the once-latent disease now manifested itself with a vengeance in both blindness and paralysis.  He was loathe to give up “the only one real happiness in life,” and so Delius attempted to dictate new works to his visual artist wife, a bit of a conundrum.

Help arrived in the form of a letter.  Eric Fenby, a musician himself and fan, in a self-described mood of “blessed felicity” for all the beauty the composer had brought into his life, wrote to him, and volunteered his expert skills to assist the compromised composer.

Frederick Delius passed on at his home in France, June 10, 1934.  

Here is where the story becomes interesting.  

He had wished to be buried there, on his property, but French law forbade it.  Though he was an atheist, and composer of the Pagan Requiem, so-called,  his second wish, then, was to be buried, as he put it, “in some country churchyard in the south of England, where people could place wild flowers.”

What could be more ironic!?  A self-described pagan aspiring to an eternal resting spot near church.
Nevertheless, his wish was realized.  St. Peter’s Church, Limpsfield, Surrey, was selected.  His wife, Jelka, made the crossing from France for the ceremony, but fell ill, had to be hospitalized, and missed the midnight ceremony.  The Sunday Dispatch covered it with the imagic and strange headline: 

“Sixty People Under Flickering Lamps In A Surrey Churchyard.”  

Stranger still, Jelka died just two days later, on May 28, and was buried at the same location, next to Delius.

Delius is Everyman.  Whether a pagan, or angry at God, or whatever, we each have a spirit that wishes a) at the very least to be remembered or b) better still, to go on living.

Philosophers have been at work on this since day one, e.g. Cicero:  “to philosophize is nothing else but to prepare for death” and Montaigne:  “the whole life of a philosopher is a meditation on death.” This pushing back against death has been the business of humanity for a very long time.  

Whereas the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) postulated that we can’t know the ‘noumenal’ or “ultimate reality” world, Kant claimed that we had the right to hold certain beliefs about it, and these were optimistic beliefs: that it was sublime, and possibly contained God, justice, and immortality.   In the philosophy of Kant, “noumenal” denotes an object as it is in itself independent of the mind, as opposed to a phenomenon. Also called thing-in-itself.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) disagreed vehemently. He believed that this thing Kant called the “noumenal” world was a wild, seething, meaningless force that he called “will.” This force creates all and destroys all in its insatiable demand for “More!”

Schopenhauer believed that it is possible to get a glimpse of this noumenal world (which Kant said was impossible). He cited three major ways in which we are granted access to this ultimate reality: one was music.

Schopenhauer believed that since music is the only art form that is non-representational, then it is therefore the self-expression of something that cannot be represented at all, namely the noumenal world: it is the voice of the metaphysical will. That is why music seems to speak to us from the most ultimate depths, deeper by far than the other arts (according to Schopenhauer).  This view caught hold of Wagner, his admirer, and had a great resonance for the composer (naturally!). 

A second way was sex (though, ironically, Schopenhauer wound up living alone), and a third, compassion for suffering -- also ways into the noumenal realm. Hence, when Wagner chose topics for his remaining three musical works, they were based on the three Schopenhauerian concepts of the ways in which we can perceive ultimate reality:

SEX: Tristan und Isolde (1859)
MUSIC: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg  (1867)
COMPASSION:  Parsifal  (1882)

The latter is really something different.  Most opera has as main or sub-plot, male chasing female, and/or vice versa.  Think of Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini, Verdi, et al.  Only in Parsifal, the hero spurns sex to attain a higher spiritual plane.  In that way, he overcomes life on this planet, and transcends to the noumenal world.  He realizes the full potential of romantic, German mysticism, that storm-and-stress striving for something “more.”  That “insatiable demand for more.”
In so doing, by his faith in God, and the salvation represented by the Holy Grail, the cup that held Christ’s own redeeming blood, Parsifal is redeemed from death, he overcomes it, this, the dream of every man, and gains entry into the world of ultimate reality -- the world that music both expresses and points to.

If not the meaning of music, this surely must be a meaning of music.  Music, that wordless art, has been employed to stand between us and the ultimate reality, a bridge, if you will.  Or a mirror.  Or a model, of the world of ultimate reality.  An earnest note, an escrow, a very small fractional down payment of “somethingness” ---- to express that vastness of “nothingness” (to our limited minds) which cannot be expressed.  What could be greater?

Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony contains the line ‘let it not be death, but a completion,’ which is orders of magnitude better than the dread, fear, terror of death we usually encounter.  That God grants his own eternity, and allows us to transcend this “completion” ------ infinitely greater still.

This is why Mozart, who was aspiring to a post as a church musician, like Bach, specifically as Capellmeister, St. Stephen's Church, Vienna, at the time of his passing, wrote to his dying father, Leopold, several years earlier:

I need hardly tell you how greatly I am longing to receive some reassuring news from yourself. And I still expect it; although I have now made a habit of being prepared in all affairs of life for the worst. As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity (you know what I mean) of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting that—young as I am—I may not live to see another day.
This is why vibrant faith trumps quietist resignation.  Buddha says, rightly, life is suffering. (And I love Zen poetry.) But Christ did something about our plight, that suffering.  Instead of sending serpents to punish, he became the serpent on the pole to redeem his creation by faith.  (John 3.16 gets all the press, but start your read at John 3.14;  compare to the Old Testament reference,  it  never fails to astonish.)  

All religions are not equal.  Just one offers real hope to transcend death, man’s greatest enemy.  Of course, that is not politically correct to say.

But there, I said it.

And that’s why I wrote Death in classical music:  making friends with the unfriendly.  And that’s how we “make friends with the unfriendly.”  By faith in the One who overcame death.  Music, Bach, puts it best in his cantata Christ lay in death’s dark prison BWV 4:

It was an awesome thing that strife,
When death and life did wrestle;
And life did the vict'ry win,
For it hath death devoured.
The Scripture foretold it so,
How one death the other ate;
To scorn has now death been given.

John A. Sarkett is the author of Obscure Composers;  Obscure Composers 2:  another meditation on fame, obscurity and the meaning of life;   Bach and Heaven:  The Promise of Afterlife in the Text of the Cantatas;   Death in classical music:  making friends with the unfriendly;   Amazon category best seller Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph and Success, and other titles to be found here and at Amazon.