all you need is love… and beethoven… and greek


I inter-library loaned bell hooks’s book, all about love: new visions. Les Back mentions it more than once in his The Art of Listening (which I have finished but am still pondering).

all about love arrived yesterday. This morning I read the introduction. It looks like I’m going to make it my next book to read.

Although I recognized hooks name, I’m not sure from where. From poking around on the web it looks like she is primarily a feminist culture type critic.

I am attracted to her brand of feminism and her lucid prose.

We seem to wonder about some of the same things.

From the introduction

Our nation … is a culture driven by the quest to love (it’s the theme of our music, movies, literature) even as it offers so little opportunity for us to understand love’s meaning or to know how to realize love in word or deed…

[S[chools for love do not exist. Everyone assumes we will know how to love instinctively. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we still accept that the family is the primary school for love. However, this love often eludes us. And we spend a lifetime undoing the damage caused by cruelty, neglect and all manners of lovelessness experienced in our families of origin and in relationships where we simply did not know what to do.

hooks was born the year after I was (1952). bell hooks is a pen name derived from the name of her grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. (link to wiki article where I learned this stuff).

I began this morning listening to a Beethoven string quartet  and doing the dishes (The one in Eb major, opus 127). Later I pulled out my score and listened to the first movement again, studying the score. Beethoven has been on my mind recently for some reason. My trio has been playing some of his work and I continually turned to his piano sonatas during my spring break. His piano trios make his up his Opus 1.

I find this benchmark interesting: the first Opus. The romantics naturally enough kick off this nomenclature (part of this kind of Romanticism being an idealizing of the past). What will be my first work for the ages ask the Romantic composers who helped invent the concept (music for the ages…. the whole idea of posterity being an aesthetic resource comes into being in Western culture in the 19th century… not an innate concept in the other cultures or even the past about the arts).

Caspar David Friedrich, <I>Wanderer above a Sea of Fog</i> (c. 1818)
Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above a Sea of Fog (c. 1818)

Chopin’s first Opus is a piano rondo which I have played for years. Or maybe I should say have attempted to play since it’s not all that easy for me.

After making coffee, I turned to my daily Greek study. I am finding it no easier but am enjoying this study. It fits nicely with my interest in classical studies and even Beethoven now that I think of it.

I am still processing the experience of being involved with the performance of my piece for Marimba and Organ that Rhonda and Dave played Sunday.  I have lost the habit of thinking that there are many listeners that are interested in what interests me as a composer and musician. So it was an odd feeling to be in a room with performers and audience connecting with one of my pieces.

Although this piece is eleven years old, it came back at me in a pretty fresh way through this experience reminding me of the times I have composed music I am proud of.

I have not chosen any conventional path of being alive. I was once told that the reason people find me confusing is that I am more a “one of a kind” person. I have found this insight (from a person who described himself as one of the “liturgical jet set”) helpful and bewildering.

Helpful when I’m staring at my navel (so to speak). Bewildering when I realize that I think everyone is “once of a kind.”

Conventional or not… my life is good.

Before I close I want to share one of Les Back’s ten aphorisms for grad students pursuing their doctorate: READ PROMISCUOUSLY!

When I lived in a basement as a teenager (my parents moved away when I was in High School but allowed me to stay in Flint with friends), I was close to a young man with a brilliant mind, Les Oliver. I would marvel how Les would pore over stacks of moldy books at a used book sale and then pick out one that he had never of and whose author was unknown to him. Many times these books turned out to be fascinating and I added them to my list of books to read.

Les read promiscuously. I aspire to it.

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