Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Talking Heads, Eternal Love, Music of all Kinds and The Rainbow of Rock Music at Round Valley Reservoir

Couple of weeks ago, I pulled into my neighborhood to hear "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)" by The Talking Heads as it played on the radio. Appreciating the artfulness, the melody reminded me of a girl I knew in high school. I walked inside my house and ordered from Amazon Speaking in Tongues by the Heads. For the past week on the road, I've been absorbed in the music, especially "Pull up the Roots."

Poet, statesman, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that he was God enough to descend to the daughters of men. Such apparently pompous language doesn't do well today, so the Heads seem to express the same notion in an oblique way. Baby likes the people playing suggests it. Women put the checks on men's God possession, which, without the community implied by children, would alienate a man from the earthly mortal he is, or move him to commit unjust acts. Adolph Hitler believed his mission was ordained by Jesus Christ.

That may be a strange way to interpret Goethe and the Heads. But what I really mean is Goethe wasn't being ironic, as if what he really felt was contempt for women, while being one with God was what mattered instead. He meant the whole of life, sex and divinity alike, are valuable. God allows rather than denies. But it can be taken another way and that's the twist I played with. The religious righteousness motivating some has led to the likes of the Nazis who wanted the people killing for a thousand years' glory of their Fuhrer. If any worshiped Hitler it was sick indeed. But isn't some other worship besides a lust for power?

I have to hear the Head's instrumentation as the vocals slur, partially producing novel lingual patterns, and certainly challenging rational faculty by interesting twists, rather than my getting much of anything by reading the lyrics on the web. The Heads are masters of driven beat and subtle percussion. Both techniques accompany youthful zest, impulse itself not being something to repress, but master by allowance. I have seen sophisticated dance in this music. "Pull up the Roots" features rising and falling tones--the crescendo of the refrain may be transcendent--that give the impression of wise, knowing restraint.

Whatever happens is fine with me if I do my best, which isn't to say I wouldn't like to see people do better. Whatever is finer than the place we live in is simply its imagined abstraction, implying the possibility of achievement. I breathe Round Valley air as I fish while otherwise reading Camus, and my lungs expand while I know that no division exists between this atmospheric dome and outer space. I feel astonished, as if I have taken my first breath of life. The dark side of the moon is a return because it is embraced by the planet I stand upon. I like dipping bait in this water of window pane clarity. I "still" fish like I did as a young boy.

I spend hours all week on the road absorbed in music. My first semester of college, I took a classical music class, and naturally felt interested intensely. Music had always been in my life, my father a musician. The professor was a wonderful man who told the class that a college education is necessary to understand how the world we live in works and has come to be. And then he looked directly into my eyes and said, "Unless you are a genius." This wasn't really news to me. I had been thinking very hard on what to do as my alternative to the conventional route of professionalism. In his notebooks, Camus remarks that a bookshelf is a university.

Musical appreciation, the professor explained, is itself at least a talent. I add that it is an interaction between form, energy, information; an activity which, of course, partakes in reality, since music heard is the fact, although music is not only received but enacted. I pointed out in a recent post that existence is eternal. But the orchestration of reality that a fine appreciation of music implies is limited as an event, a situation like any other. Pink Floyd is famous for pointing out in Dark Side of the Moon the senses are all life can be. This is not to depress, not in my experience, but remind the listener that everything does come down to the ordinary.

Otherwise, I might as well be the Voyager Space Probe, taking in information as well as letting it go, revolving observations and ideations like a wheel inside a wheel, which is absurd. I had a friend in the choir my father directed who absolutely loved the B-52's "Rock Lobster," similar to the Talking Heads, which he may have also appreciated. Euphony happens with another or others; it never really happens entirely alone. Love--whatever and whomever it's for--is a cosmic power felt, but not in essence an emotion. Evaluations, emotions about things, people, situations are bodily, while love moves the spirit beyond, before it must come back. Love is the unifying  power of existence, which human beings enact as if they are gods, whatever or whomever loved absolute, a yes to something eternal, which cannot be negated. 

Values certainly may seem to get negated because affirmations must always slip away as time overtakes the past. But the return, at least of the essence of people and things we love, is inevitable.   

I was not the greatest vocalist in my father's Episcopal choir, although I sang with passion and by rigorous criticism. My father had favorite performers. His artistic standards stood at the highest level in his profession, the choir world class. A boy two years my senior expressed artistic excellence as a soloist, which I didn't envy, but admired greatly. I always understood that my true asset as a chorister (for 13 years) was my head. If I used it primarily to sing, I certainly did also to understand my situation.

A woman with bows in her hair has no comparison: violin tones of a bow on strings tie indelible knots, just as physics theory suggests that the universe is a string vibration like music. Nothing is better than this.

To consider value, it's important to remember no known entity in the universe is as complex and powerful as the individual human brain. All the computers in the world are like Thomas Aquinas's naming his own work chaff by comparison to the brain: certainly computers prove worthwhile, but not better than man himself.

Round Valley all to myself today. I caught the 24-inch rainbow photographed.  

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