I was thinking about Melanie Safka, the composer of “What have they done to my song, ma?” The lines:
If I could find a real good book
I wouldn’t have to come out and look
were ringing through my head. I remember being quite fond of Melanie in the sixties.
I notice that I have been doing a lot of reading of fiction, lately.
It definitely feels like escape reading.
I finished re-reading “The Right to An Answer” by Anthony Burgess last night.
My copy looks nothing like this. It is an old worn hardback.
This is a book about UK race relations in the 50s. The main character is a man named Mr Raj who is a Sri Lankan who has come to the UK to study race relations.
His observations and actions are the heart of the book. The book is comic and tragic and ultimately sort of profound.
Even though this book is over fifty years old I find it interesting that the problems are still so fresh. Hard to believe that it was written a decade before the civil rights struggle in the U.S.
I also spent quite a bit of time on the piano yesterday. As I played through many pages of early Debussy piano music, I realized how my technique has improved even in the last ten years.
I now insist on much more accurate rendering of the page. And there is a slight increase in facility of this rendering.
I have been struggling with a bit of a mood of melancholy. In the face of this mood I thrust my reading and music. I am reminded of John Hartford response to his diagnosis of imminent death. If I understand correctly he began practicing harder than ever. I am charmed by this.
I also visited mature Beethoven and late Mozart on the keys yesterday.
Not sure what it all means but I do take solace in fiction and music.
Today is a cold rainy day in Western Michigan.
I will be taking my Mom to the shrink this afternoon. She is also suffering from depression which I take to be much deeper than mine.
My blood pressure readings were a bit better this morning (123/84). I consciously lay in bed relaxing my body before getting up to take it. I think my melancholy increases my stress and probably affects it. But who knows?
I bought some Hibiscus tea because I read recently it might be efficacious in helping blood pressure and cholesterol. The label on the expensive little can of tea bags suggested three cups a day. I tried to use one tea bag for two cups yesterday, but the second cup barely tasted of the tea at all. Hmmm.
I also have been working on composition lately. This is especially difficult when one is dealing with a bad mood. The notes mock the creator. They seem suddenly cold and pathetic. Time to put it aside, I guess.
Tomorrow I have church meetings and I am dreading them a bit.
I keep pondering Burgess’s little meditation on life. At one point he has a minor poet give this little speech.
“Now, said Everett, ‘I enter, I hope, on my last phase. A poetry more rarefied, perhaps, full of mature wisdom, an old man’s benediction for a sinful world, a poetry calm in resignation.’ He extended his arms in blessing. ‘A poetry which says that none us really has a right to an answer.’
‘An answer to what?’ I said.
‘An answer to all the questions that ultimately become one question, and that question it is not easy to define, although we all know what it is.'”