silly me

One lesson I never quite learned was the importance of surfaces. Appearing to be something can carry so much more weight actually being it in life. Some how I got cued in early to this. But found that “being” and “content” ended up being what interested me.

This probably began as childish naiveté but turned into my approach to life. Appearing a certain way always seemed the easier way out. It helped to be a white, male who wasn’t poor.

But I developed a taste for hidden content, looking beyond the surface of people to search for what and who they were. It didn’t occur to me that others were often more interested in the appearance not content.

For example, Henry Cowell started his academic life as a janitor in a music department of a college. Or at least that’s the story I remember. Someone figured out that on the inside he was a composer.

I always liked that story. It’s most probably apocryphal but I still like it.

I never quite learned the lesson that to go along was to get along. I had too many questions at least inside my head even if I didn’t say them to people.

Last night I dreamed I was teaching a music theory class. It was dream like of course. Sometimes the room was dark, the chalk was fuzzy as I tried to explain things to the class. The content was clear to me in the dream as it is on waking. I understand music theory.

At one point I went around and put up little signs at Hope College about tutoring music theory. My motivation wasn’t so much the remuneration but talking to somebody about something I like. It seems like I had at least one person respond interested in getting some help. All I can remember is that after I taught them the differences between the types of augmented sixths (German, French, Italian), they lost interest.

I can still remember how to teach that. My point here is that I didn’t really learn the lesson about appearances. I figured since I had the knowledge and skill that was enough. Silly me.

For me an academic degree now has aspects of appearances divorced from content. Not all degrees are like that, but I continue to be amazed as I ponder my life how often my content was missed by others because the package (my appearance or lack of degree/certification) was wrong.

This may be one of the biggest lessons Holland had to teach me. There were a few people who seem to get tha I had something to offer. But in retrospect it seems so very naive of me to miss that fitting in is so important.

But no matter. Toujours gai, archy!

This relates in my head to the determinative nature of appearances in current popular culture. I only notice because I am often bored by it. But style, presentation, and manufactured personality ARE content when considering popular music and the arts.

I cling to my antiquated notion that the way music sounds is the most important thing about it, whether it be popular or academic. This preoccupation with sound keeps me interested in music, both new and old.

It feels lucky especially since appearances are sometimes so important.

I finished a second read of Kunzru’s Gods Before Men. As I got further into the book a second read didn’t seem so important once I had drawn some connections that I missed the first time in the first half of the book. But I finished it anyway. I started Red Pill which is Kunzru’s latest. Weirdly it reminds a little bit of Thomas Mann. What’s up with that? I am enjoying it.

Red Pill: A novel: Kunzru, Hari: 9780451493712: Books

what day is it?

Today is only the 21st day of my so-called retirement. I miscounted a couple of days ago. It’s the third Sunday I don’t have to go play a church service. I just gained nine days of life from miscounting.

It’s getting cooler here in Western Michigan. Eileen turned the heat on because she was cold. Last night she shut it down again and opened the windows and doors because she was warm from moving parts of the new wardrobe from the back of the car to the house. I helped.

We are missing one board of the wardrobe. Eileen said she would check to see if she could order a replacement. It’s the back of one the drawers so she continued assembling it. This is something she enjoys. it’s a bit like a puzzle for her. She does love puzzles.

She stayed up late last night finished assembling a lot of the new wardrobe. It’s laying down in the study where I am typing. It looks much too heavy for one of us to bring upright. I’m sure she has a plan. Together we can probably set it upright for further assembly.

I planed through a Bach prelude and fugue last night, the fugue first. It was the one in Bb major from the first book of the Well Tempered Clavier. I am finding it more difficult to pull these piano pieces off with my bad hand. Even my right hand has new troubles.

I mentioned to Eileen it’s a good thing I’m not performing in public with such diminishing abilities.

But my love of music is not diminishing. This morning I pulled out a recording Beethoven’s first symphony conducted by Simon Rattle in 2003 and did my stretches to the first movement while watching the Liszt piano transcription. I exercised to Hari Kunzru’s podcast about punk rock in East Germany. I was surprised when Kunzru quoted a lengthy passage of Thomas Merton on solitude. I didn’t see that one coming. It made me want to dig up some not religious Merton, maybe the book on solitude. I have read a ton of Merton. In the past he hasn’t alienated me very much. I’m not sure how I will read it now being free of thinking much about church and religion.

Jen, my former boss, was in my dreams night before last. She was talking about the benefits of having a condo. I think she may have been trying to talk me into getting one for me and Eileen. Then i noticed she was very exhausted and stressed. I wondered aloud if some physical exercise might help her. The people in my dream were confused. I explained to them that I had found ways to help Jen in the past.

I know it doesn’t make sense. It’s a dream.

When I sat down at my desk this morning, I felt a strong urge to read a bunch of poetry. Which I did. I will probably read some more after I finish this. Emily Dickinson was on my mind so I read some of her. Then some living poets. I subscribe to Poetry magazine. I like to dip into the latest issue but it means if I like a poem I can’t share the link here because the latest issue is often not online yet.

Ashley M. Jones was a guest editor of Poetry for three issues this year. I found more poems than usual that I liked in those issues which I am still working my way through. Here are a few I like.

How to decide which human gets your last ventilator… | Poetry Maga

by Emily Gallacher Viall. the bio in the back of the issue says that she is a nurse and poet. It goes on “On the second day of the second month of 2021, she gave birth to twin boys, which she thinks is pretty cool.

Everglades 2020 by Annik Adey-Babinski | Poetry Magazine

Claxton Projects - Rose Marie Cromwell | Eclipse
from Eclipse by photographer Rose Marie Cromwell

Swimming Pool 2020 by Annik Adey-Babinski

These two poems were subtitled “After Eclipse by Rose Marie Cromwell

Claxton Projects - Rose Marie Cromwell | Eclipse
from Eclipse by photographer Rose Marie Cromwell