Not too much to report today. I can feel the pressure of work breathing down my neck via emails about tomorrow’s staff luncheon, choir members emailing me about upcoming absences (and hey! When does choir start?), and the November Joy Huttar Memorial Concert Artist emailing me after a long silence.
This is will all easily wait until tomorrow except I did answer the email about what I want for lunch tomorrow since the church is buying. It’s unusual for the office administrator to email staff the day before to ask what the church should get for your lunch.
I finished reading every word of Nabokov’s Pale Fire. As with Morrison’s Song of Solomon, it will stay with me for a while as I continue to attempt to understand it. But the difference is that it’s essentially a comic novel. I couldn’t find anything helpful to me online about it. This morning, I exercised to part of a recording of some book club or group of students discussing it on YouTube. I didn’t really learn anything from it.
After poking around online, I decided to interlibrary loan Brian Bond’s Nabokov’s Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery. It sounds thorough, but I wonder about thorough, academic treatments of a comic novel. One of the commenters about this book on the Amazon page for it was filed with remorse for laughing at the poem which is part of the book. She said that Bonds thought it was a great poem but when she studied it, her friends took turns reading the poem portion of the book and laughing out loud at it.
It strikes me that Nabokov would probably like that.
Anyway one more summer read done. I’m still closing in on the end of Lepore’s These Truths. I’m not sure how much i will read in it this evening since Eileen and I are going out to eat at her favorite restaurant, El Rancho.
I played through Debussy’s Children’s Corner yesterday. Now when i play this I think I will be reminded of this summer’s Dublin trip. A copy of it was in the piano bench of the place we stayed and I played through it while we were there. I actually thinks it’s quite good. Gollywog’s Cakewalk is contemporary with the great Scott Joplin.
Uh oh. I just googled this and discovered that once again I am participating in unconscious racism. Fuck.
I have owned this work for years. I just looked and my current copy has the above cover missing. I remember it well. I admit that I did not notice how demeaning this cover is. I barely registered that the balloon coming up from Jumbo was the head of a black person.
Golliwog was apparently the name of a Minstrel doll presumably owned by Debussy’s daughter to whom the work is dedicated. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. insists that we must unearth and face these demeaning images that are so much a part of our past and present.
I was googling because I was curious what Debussy might have known about cakewalks and how that might relate to American music. I found a good article on this page and have downloaded the pdf to read.
I guess now when I play this piece which I love, I will also remember it’s racist origin.