September 25, 2014
Your lack of strength and backbone shocks me. I think the only reason that I let you be around me is that you’re an inspiration to me. I note everything you do here, and I mediate on that list, and eventually I will do the total opposite. If you turn left, I’ll go right. If you go back, I go forward. I wake up each morning to read your Facebook page, because it is exactly like watching a car accident in slow motion. One knows the end of the narrative, but I can’t help myself watching the gradual drain down the sewer pipes. That is your life. You have an instinctive genius in doing the wrong things at the moment when you should make changes for the better. I wish that you were big or important enough as a subject matter to take a bet against in Las Vegas. Your predictable choices and how you follow them are a peaceful meditation for me. But that’s here or there.
I mostly spend my time comparing the two versions of Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations.” The first version in which he recorded in 1955 is perfection. Yet, just before he passed away in 1982, he did a new recording of the work. Gould studied and learned this piece entirely without his teacher. He instinctively knew that he had to slow down the work. What is interesting is that he made a comment that “the mental imagery involved with pianistic tactilia is not related to the striking of individual keys but rather to the rites of passage between notes. ”
With respect to the second and much later recording, Gould felt that the initial recording of the piece was too much of a pianistic affectation, and that it needed a more introspective interpretation that included more calculated phrasing and ornamentation. What is fascinating that he had the ability to look at his work, and willing to take and accept the time difference, yet, he is still working on it. “I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
What appeals to me regarding the two versions of The Goldberg Variations is that he takes his past and makes something new out of it. The past is still there, but he added either a footnote or a totally different work, based on one’s past. William Faulkner wrote that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The need to make up one’s identity is just as important when you deal with your past. That is the reason why I get so annoyed with the nameless artist above (the first paragraph), because he chooses to whine about his condition, instead of doing art or making his life better. He knows what he can do, yet, he rather plays to his audience. Going back to Gould, he makes a good comment: “I detest audiences - not in their individual components, but en masse I detest audiences. I think they’re a force of evil. It seems to me rule of mob law. ”
Robert Bresson, the filmmaker, wrote beautiful advice in that “the most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine.” To dwell in one’s misery for the purpose of bringing you second-rate attention, is surely, over time, will make you lose your audience. And that is a bit of a problem. Because you only live through your audience, not your now so-called art.