Welcome to everybody coming here for the Peter Schjeldahl thing, and thanks to Modern Art Notes, James Tata, Marja-Leena Rathje, Anna L. Conti, and Washington, DC Art News for linking to it. If you're new here, please stay a while and come back often.
So, Kyle Gann at PostClassic wrote this, which made A. C. Douglas at Sounds & Fury write this, which made Scott Spiegelberg at Musical Perceptions write this, and that got Alex Ross at The Rest Is Noise to join the fray. Then they all just kept writing more and more posts. What's the big deal? Writing about music, which ACD thinks is, well, let me just quote him directly so I don't incite him to write a response to my response:
Alone among the arts, music addresses and speaks directly to the center of feeling, bypassing altogether, and with no need of the interposition of, the intellectual faculty. For one to imagine that one could capture and transmit even the smallest part of the essential character of such a thing through the agency of a medium that requires the fullest interposition of the intellectual faculty to even begin to comprehend is, well, unimaginable.Alex Ross justly calls this sort of thinking "an elegant paraphrase of Schopenhauer," but it also made me think of Proust's ideas about music uttered by the characters in À la recherche du temps perdu (In search of lost time). How can intelligent people, who are not untrained in music, really think of music as so ineffably mysterious? It is ironic that Scott Spiegelberg, who as a music theorist studies music in the most concretely musical terms, should come to the defense of historiographical analysis. I suspect that when ACD says that "technical language or comment [is] useless [...] in explaining how the music works to affect a receiver in the case of absolute music," it is the sacrosanctity of his own views on music he loves that he so zealously seeks to defend. Let us remember that ACD, without the slightest trace of irony, has labeled his beloved Wagner's Ring "an immortal work written by a music immortal." With the same certainty I have in the superiority of Scott's side of this argument, I equally believe that Scott's ideas, while interesting for the rest of us to read on the sidelines, will not make any impression on a mind that is so convinced that music is a locked mystery, to which it holds the only key.
Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber links to an article (Inside the ivory tower, September 23) by Jim McClellan for The Guardian about blogging and the classroom and has some things to say about the phenomenon in this post. Very interesting to compare experiences, as I am in my third week of experimenting with a class blog for my course on Opera in the Twentieth Century.
For all my French newspaper reading, I learned from this notice at The Literary Saloon that author Françoise Sagan has died. The Francophone tributes are rolling in: Libération, Le Figaro, Le Nouvel Observateur, France 2, Le Monde, TF1, La Libre Belgique, La République des Lettres.
Finally, from the Department of Francophilia, in this article (Le budget de la culture augmente de 5,9 %, September 23) from Le Monde, Clarisse Fabre reports on the ways that the French Ministry of Culture plans to spend its 5.9% budget increase for the next fiscal year. As I've said before, we need a Department of Culture, folks: let's make art and music, not war.