literature (and all art including music) is equipment for living


Once again I have scheduled a bunch of work for my day off. But it’s good stuff and I enjoy doing it which is why I have allowed  myself to do this. It does mean that I can’t take as much time on the blog today as I might like.

Image result for attitudes towards history by kenneth burke

My copy of Attitudes Toward History by Kenneth Burke arrived yesterday.  I immediately sat down and began reading it. Burke was quoted at length in Albert Murray’s interview in the December 31, 2016 issue of Paris review. “I believe, after my good friend, Kenneth Burke, that literature is equipment for living.”

Both of these men are dead. I am reading works they wrote many years ago and finding them very helpful and applicable to today.

In the Paris Review interview, Albert Murray also says this: “In Attitudes Toward History Kenneth Burke talks about frames of acceptance and frames of rejection.”  Specifically Chapter One in the book begins: “To ‘accept the universe’ or to ‘protest against it.’ William James puts them side by side as ‘voluntary alternatives’ between which ‘in a given case of evil the mind seesaws.'”

I am writing the morning after President Trump reissued his vile ban on immigrants, the morning after the Republicans introduced a  non-health care bill (called Obamacare light by the far right Reps in the House). Also this past weekend President Trump accused Obama of tapping his phones without providing evidence not gleaned from his particular Breitbart echo chamber. On this morning, Burke writing in 1937 (before WWII had really taken off) puts it clearly and helpfully: “in a given case of evil the mind seesaws …. ” acceptance and protest. Now is obviously a time America needs us to protest.

On a happier note before I close, I was listening to Abour Zena by Keith Jarrett this morning and began fantasizing about how cool it would be to transcribe sections of it for my piano trio for use in upcoming recitals. I checked online and discovered that the composer Thomas Oboe Lee (whom I have never heard of before) wrote a piano trio in 2014 dedicated to Keith Jarrett. Woo hoo.

I have found sheet music I can purchase and download. This video seems to be the ending of the piece. The video is by Mr. Lee himself who has a channel on YouTube which I instantly connected with.

The reason I’m stopping is that this Sunday the choir is scheduled to sing my setting of Psalm 121. My violinist has indicated to me via email that she is planning to dive back into playing this Thursday and Sunday. Last night it occurred to me that two of my compositions would probably work as prelude and postlude for the second Sunday of Lent. The prelude would be a transcription of based on the hymn “A Saving Grace.” The postlude would be returning a string trio I have written on the tune Sharpethorne to a string arrangement. This piece originated as a string trio I wrote on the tune in the 80s. A while back I made an organ piece out of it. Now I can easily use old files to make piano trio versions of these pieces. As I said above, this means my day off will have a lot of work in it. But it’s good stuff and I enjoy doing this immensely.

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