Sunday, September 25, 2005

Arpeggios from my Notes

SUNDAY 9/18: Watched "Degas and the Dance" on PBS, which had typically uninteresting commentary by specialists, who blahed a great deal while saying little, except that Degas "shocked" or "infuriated" or "disgusted" the bourgoisie. One wonders that he wasn't lynched peremptorily. This is the customary myth of the bold artist flinging his unconventional insights into the face of dull tradition. It's David Stove's "They All Laughed At Christopher Columbus" theory applied to the arts -- even if somewhat true, the stolid dolts and mindless critics surely must have been equally dismissive of at least as many other works that were indeed disgusting, mediocre, and so on. The giveaway is that the willfully blind critics and fussy public are always characterized by the words "many" or "some," as in, "Many critics saw his work as a threat to the established order," etc. This really doesn't make much of a claim, but does surreptitiously insert the holy rebel myth.

In any event, after twenty minutes of this, I put on my headphones and listened to The Muffins' Open City while watching -- much better. The CD was overly busy, as in the manner of much ca. 1980 jazz-influenced prog, with much doubling and tripling of rhythmically complex lines. The best tracks were the two produced by Fred Frith for Gravity, which were both whimsical and witty. The quality of humor does seem decidedly absent from The Muffins' music on their own records -- a lack which can be overcome by character and originality, qualities which were only occasionally on display here.

Just to complete my multisensory submersion -- I hate not having anything to read, no matter what I'm doing, though I sometimes hate what I'm reading when I'm doing it -- I glanced through the latest Harriet Carter catalogue, which offers a truly bizarre selection of bland and needless items for (if the photos are anything to go by) bland expressionless 35-year-olds who will buy anything. One obsession of the catalogue seems to be that one have "enough" toilet paper -- "up to" four rolls -- and that these spare rolls be hidden away in some sort of cutesy storage facility, possibly with the head of a cat. Wouldn't do, I guess, to have guests run out of toilet paper and then not have to search for it. Another obsession seems to be "extra storage space" for "unused corners" and such. Buy enough stuff from H.C., and there'll be no more storage space, not even for extra storage space.

Became momentarily repulsed by blogworld on Friday, due to -- the last straw -- a rather interesting blog I discovered that nicely and smartly discussed intelligent music of an obscure kind I happen to follow. Scroll down and find out that among the links is "Michael Moore." Not the jazz bassist or the clarinetist - I checked - but the deranged fellow for whom no conspiracy theory is too preposterous, and for whose theories no facts are so inconvenient as to be beyond repair or replacement. Call me illiberal (but call me), but I find such linkings akin to being at the home of a seemingly-sane acquaintance, then having a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion pressed upon me -- "Really. They run the world. It's all true. Even if it's not true, that's what they want you to think, because it serves their purposes. You must read it." Ha. Right. Got to be going now. Don't call me, I'll call you.

This is not the first blog to steer me to political wackyland, and certainly one of the least offensive; he merely linked and made me wonder about his secret totalitarian fantasies. But this one got to me, and I declined to bookmark it.

Not that I am exactly politically engaged. I have come, via the Internet, to find every sort of political commentary tiresome, repetitive, and depressing -- including sound writings by sensible folk. It makes me wish to confine my news intake to a few obscure print journals and leave it at that. It worked for many years, and I'll just have to get out of the Internet habit, which is all that it is. Yes, yes, these issues are very important -- aren't they always? -- and I'll state my views when necessary, and no bones about it; but it does not seem that having an excess of information and commentary much contributes to their character and formulation.

Back to BlockBuster: Fellini's 8 1/2 and the delightful (and incredibly meaningless) Shaolin Soccer. Up next: Hotel Rwanda.