Friday, January 6, 2023

third notes on reading, 2022

Donald Francis Tovey:
But the caution which seems so obvious to us was not noticed by his contemporary critics. We may leave out of account the oft-quoted fact that several Viennese musicians objected to his beginning his introduction with chords foreign to the key; such objectors were pedants miserably behind the culture not only of their own time but of the previous generation. They were the kind of pedants who are not even classicists, and whose grammatical knowledge is based upon no known language.
Gustavo Gutierrez:
The author is telling us in this way that a utilitarian religion lacks depth and authenticity; in addition, it has something satanic about it (this is the first appearance of the irony that the author handles so skillfully). The expectation of rewards that is at the heart of the doctrine of retribution vitiates the entire relationship and plays the demonic role of obstacle on the way to God.
Nicholas Till:
A fantastic hotch-potch of the sublime and the ridiculous, the spiritual and the popular, quasi-religious ritual and street comedy, formally Die Zauberflöte reflects the abandonment in much of Mozart's late music of the integrated complexity of classicism in favor of a sometimes almost childlike simplicity of expression, and (as in the Requiem), a juxtaposition of musical languages, with little apparent desire to achieve formal integration or homogeneity. Charles Rosen noted Mozart's renunciation of harmonic colour in Die Zauberflöte, and whereas in Idomeneo (an aria-based opera) twelve out of the fourteen arias employ sonata form, Mozart virtually dispensed with sonata form in Die Zauberflöte. If we consider Le nozze di Figaro to have represented the high point of Mozart's classical synthesis, an artistic expression of the last, supreme moment of social optimism within the Viennese Enlightenment, it is significant that after 1786 he wrote only two further works in the genre that best conveyed the classical ideal of integration: the piano concerto.

Theodor Adorno once described Beethoven's late style as a disintegration of the heroic bourgeois synthesis of individual and objective reality that Beethoven had achieved in his middle-period music; a reflection of the social and political polarization in post-Napoleonic Europe. In his late string quartets Beethoven abandons classical dialectic (in particular, sonata form) to represent a fragmented, objectified landscape lit by, but no longer integrated with, the artist's own subjectivity. 'Beethoven does not bring about a harmonious synthesis of these extremes. Rather, he tears them apart,' says Adorno. In Beethoven's late music the alienation of the individual from the real world is graphically conveyed in unrelated stylistic juxtapositions: baroque counterpoint alongside quasi-sonata forms, sublime serenity alongside rustic dances. Something similar seems to have happened in Mozart's late music, the effect not of intimations of mortality (as is so often sentimentally implied) but of the bleak social and political climate of his last years.
T.J. Clark:
It is above all collectivity that the popular exists to prevent.
John Dos Passos
today entails tomorrow
Franco Moretti:
Thus is dramatically realized the ideal of every restoration culture: to abolish the irreversibility of history and render the past everlasting. Social relations, no longer fraudulent and productive of uncontrollable events, are reformulated in a transparent and spatial - that is, static - form.
Edmond Caldwell:
For most of her life she had been invisible, and while she hadn't complained she could not say she had much liked it, either. Ungrateful girl! And thick-skulled too, her mother was right, but at last she had learned her lesson: it was best never to be seen at all, to be small and unimpressive and ignored, to go at all times and in all places unregarded and incognito, was the greatest of boons. To be unseen was to have a little ground under your feet - very little, it is true - but to be seen was a trapdoor. To be unseen was to have almost nothing inside that you could call your own, but to be noticed, to be caught in this searchlight, was to be . . . turned inside-out. She was being seen. And not just by any pair of eyes but by the eye in charge, the eye behind the eyes, not the eyes you're seen by but the eye that's your horizon, the condition not only of your visibility but of your very being.
Job (King James Version):
Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
Antonio Gramsci:
How the present is a criticism of the past, besides [and because of] "surpassing" it. But should the past be discarded for this reason? What should be discarded is that which the present has "intrinsically" criticized and that part of ourselves which corresponds to it. What does this mean? That we must have an exact consciousness of this real criticism and express it not only theoretically but politically. In other words, we must stick closer to the present, which we ourselves have helped create, while conscious of the past and its continuation (and revival).
Denise Levertov:
all history
burned out, down
to the sick bone
Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman:
The discovery that there are formally indemonstrable arithmetic truths does not mean that there are truths which are forever incapable of becoming known, or that a mystic intuition must replace cogent proof. It does mean that the resources of the human intellect have not been, and cannot be, fully formalized, and that new principles of demonstration forever await invention and discovery.
Friedrich Engels:
It is the old story. First of all one makes sensous things into abstractions and then one wants to know them through the senses, to see time and smell space. The empiricist becomes so steeped in the habit of empirical experience, that he believes that he is still in the field of sensuous experience when he is operating with abstractions. We know what an hour is, or a metre, but not what time and space are! As if time was anything other than just hours, and space anything but just cubic metres!
Virgil (David Ferry):
Here is a beautiful shepherd's staff, the one
Antigenes often asked me for and was
Refused, though then he deserved my love. The knots
Are evenly spaced, the rings are brass, Menalcas.
William Shakespeare:
Though the seas threaten, they are merciful.
I have cursed them without cause.
Patricia Highsmith:
The window gave him nothing but his own image.
Helen DeWitt:
Eloise had written a book and been made to have discussions in which the phrase 'flesh out' was used of characters. She was just out of college. She had been reading Robbe-Grillet. She had recently seen Dogville. In a moment of weakness she had attached to four characters the sort of name that is affixed to a little primate at birth. Each was also provided with hair, eye, and skin colour, a wardrobe, some sort of plausible history. A favourite TV show. What with all these plausible names and histories, the characters went plausibly about their business like impostors in a witness protection programme.
Søren Kierkegaard:
Repetition and recollection are the same movement, only in opposite directions; for what is recollected has been, is repeated backwards, whereas repetition properly so called is recollected forwards.
W.H. Auden:
Mine the art which made the song
Sound ridiculous and wrong
Marcel Proust:
And at night they did not dine in the hotel, where, hidden springs of electricity flooding the great dining-room with light, it became as it were an immense and wonderful aquarium against whose glass wall the working population of Balbec, the fishermen and also the tradesmen's families, clustering invisibly in the outer darkness, pressed their faces to watch the luxurious life of its occupants gently floating upon the golden eddies within, a thing as extraordinary to the poor as the life of strange fishes or molluscs (an important social question, this: whether the glass wall will always protect the banquets of these weird and wonderful creatures, or whether the obscure folk who watch them hungrily out of the night will not break in some day to gather them from their aquarium and devour them).

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