Monday, May 19, 2008

It all comes back again

In several ways. First, I've been catching up on all the posting. But it's hard, with several other things vying for my attention:
*I cooked dinner for the co-op today. The cake literally took over an hour and a half in the oven. But it was tasty.
*I have to give my run-through of my Vertigo paper for the Music and the Moving Image Conference tomorrow. Next time I decide to do a heavy analytical pitch-class tonal trajectorty nonsense paper project, remind me not too. Sibelius and I have gotten re-acquainted.
*I've started my part-time summer job working with the Robert Altman archives here. This stuff is great! I'm starting with just getting my hands around the stuff, but even just reading the descriptions of the boxes (which I will have to rearrange all 800-something of) has told me several things about what he did or didn't do. I'm excited for this. And library research in a week or two.
*Planning for my research (and friend visiting, show seeing) trip to the East coast. Philly, NYC, and DC. Still working out logistics about housing, which is driving me slightly nuts. Only slightly though.
*The satisfying end-of-semester paper toss. Everything must go! Also some books I have no idea how I ended up with, but won't read.
*Reading for fun. At the moment, Nicholas Baker's bizarrely miscellaneous The Mezzanine. Cute.

So, I'm a busy boy, but there's one thing that I grabbed my fancy as I was catching up. Greg Sandow had a recent posting responding to some comment about why we return to familiar music. He's certainly right that one shouldn't only bask in the familiar, though I'm not sold that anything like that is in danger of happening. And basking isn't a simple replication or not; good performances have the ability to render the familiar fresh and surprising again, bad ones can disappoint. So why do we return to familiar music? I think the flaw here is in the question and answers both, it treats all music the same. Sandow has a rather gloomy opinion of basking: The classical music business, as we know it today, is among much else a glorious basking pool. We can love that, if we want, but we shouldn't confuse this with art. Art should have a broad definition. It should include basking, it should include challenges. I agree wholly with Sandow when he says these new films can hit us where we live, because they mesh with the world we live in. But old films do that too, and I think that is closer to why we return to them, because they can still have that impact. To reborrow the cliché, no you can't step in the same river twice, but hey, if you like getting wet, that shouldn't stop you.


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