He opens his mouth and canned applause comes out.

I realize that I spend my life in the company of ideas and art. I find it satisfying to be in conversation with poets, musicians, writers and visual artists. I also know that this is not enough. The reality of actual relationships to flesh and blood people is basic to living. Fortunately, I have this as well.

These ruminations occurred to me this morning after reading poetry and non-fiction.

Part of living at this time in the U.S. is the unreality of life around us.

We are surrounded with falsity. People hide themselves. They don’t let themselves be seen. They are ashamed of who they are. It takes some educated guessing and discernment to see beyond their masks and the goofy fakey stuff in our lives like movies and TV.

You’re Going to Be Told

“I mean, you’re going to be told lots of things. You get told things everyday that don’t happen. It doesn’t seem to bother people…. The world things all these things happen. They never happened.” –Donald Rumsfeld

You never had a brother. Your family:
a crackpot conspiracy theory, your mother’s
death from blood poisoning staged
on a Hollywood back lot. If you squint
at the memory, you can see the boom mike
dipping into the top of the frame,
the cardboard set wilting in the stage lights.
The man playing your father can’t
remember his lines. He says, I forgot
her purse. We’re out of leftovers, buy
yourself some burgers on the way home.
The money he gives you is just scraps
of newspaper dyed green. The brother
you never had drives the car, his face
fuzzed out like some obscene gesture.
He drives the car around the hospital
three times, and the building is only
a facade propped up by two-by-fours,
stuntmen in chaps and black Stetsons
perched on the roof. You make guns
with your hands and shoot them off,
and they sail down to the pavement
to the tune of a slide whistle. The brother
you never had giggles. He opens his
mouth and canned applause comes out.
He keeps driving around the hospital
in wider and wider circles, until you
are orbiting the earth. He looks out
the window and says, Death is the only
man-made object visible from space.
You say, None of this ever happened,
but even as you say it you can’t help
looking down into that small room
where your mother is dying in the middle
of the camera crew’s cigarette break.

from We Don’t Know We Don’t Know by Nick Lantz

After I read this poem, I ordered my own copy of this book of poetry.

The music went pretty well at church yesterday. I purchased corsages and boutineers for my choir members and put a thank you in the bulletin with their names. My boss made a fuss over them (and me) as well during the announcements. I hope they feel appreciated. I know I do.

I played the prelude and postlude pretty well. I realized that I needed another week on the C major Prelude and Fugue from WTC II in order to nail it. So I wasn’t too hard on myself when several little goofs happened.

I love Fiona Apple’s take on “Mistakes.” I have performed this piece in local coffee shops.

I have been thinking an awful lot about Brene Brown’s ideas of shame.

I realize that this is a significant thing for me, personally. I have been monitoring my own inner monologue more carefully and find that I do give myself multiple messages of shame throughout a day. It’s not so much in my art as in general little thoughts about my own foolishness.

It’s helpful to realize this, because my conscious self concept is one of acceptance of self. I don’t really want to fit in, I want to be who I am. But still the little negative messages are there I find. Now I argue with them.

It’s a step in the right direction.

I think of a performance where there are errors as a direct result of preparation. The trick is to continue to preserve the musical gesture as one has an accident of a wrong note or two. I think this happened yesterday.

The prelude was extremely exposed. My boss has me start later if she expects the crowd to mosey in and be a bit late themselves.

After church, at least one parishioner told me they enjoyed listening to the prelude.

I figure that means that I didn’t distort the music so much that a listener could not hear the voice of Bach in it. Bach notoriously holds up well in less than perfect renditions. Thank goodness for that.

I remembered to take a mental breath before starting the first hymn after the intensity of the Bach prelude and fugue. This helped immeasurably. When I performed the Debussy “Danse,” I plunged into the first hymn and fucked up more than usual. Yesterday this didn’t happen.

The choir sounded pretty good. I was glad I had scheduled the second anthem for communion. It was “O Come Thou Sweet Redeeming Fire,” a lovely modern thing by Daniel Gawthrup. If you’re curious, this choir sang it yesterday as well.

I think they are going a bit too slow myself. But they manage to do it very nicely a capella. Also the director’s phrasing is different than what I chose, but it’s quite credible.

The postlude came off pretty good. Again, I would have liked to have had spent more time preparing it, but you pays your money and you takes your chances.

‘Those Who Have Borne the Battle,’ by James Wright – NYTimes.com

I saw several intelligent Memorial Day pieces  separating out appreciation for people in uniform from the devastation of war.

With the United States more or less permanently at war, Americans profess unstinting admiration for those serving in uniform. Yet the gap between soldier and society is wider than at any time in our history. from linked article


No Place Is Home – NYTimes.com

This eloquent essay about the madness of our immigration policies nails home the notion of Kafka is alive and well in the U.S.A.


First a Black Hood, Then 81 Captive Days for Artist in China – NYTimes.com

More Kafka, this time courtesy China.


First Book’s Kyle Zimmer, on Rewarding Good Ideas That Fail – NYTimes.com

This business article interview struck me as full of wisdom. Unusual for me to find that in the business section. Heh.


I’ve found the people who have tried things on their own and struggled are the ones who are least protective of their work and the most collaborative. Kyle Zimmer in above linked interview


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