Saturday, January 01, 2005

We'll take a cup of kindness yet....

I'm listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the moment on WFMT (Chicago), and it just headed into the full-chorus final few pages, after that slight hesitation, that sense of just coming over the hill in the early morning light, you know?...

I have to say, I love this whole piece, but it generally isn't for the quality of the solo vocals in the last movement--they really have to have a consummate strength and relative purity of tone in order to not sound unbearably unwieldy. The chorus itself is always a joy of texture, most of all so when it approaches the absolute-music quality of the orchestral passages before--but most of all what this piece does represent in my mind is a triumph of human liberty and dignity and release--they got this definitely right in Immortal Beloved, in that flight through the city and woods to float among the reflected stars--really, completely worthy of its most historically significant usage, to celebrate the falling of the Berlin Wall. It does get me a bit emotional whenever I listen to it, because it has so much attached into it now, and I thoroughly approve of it being the classical New Year's anthem, more so than any waltz by the Strausses--though I've gotten a bit better about tolerating the unmitigatedly "happy" music of the occasion.

If this doesn't sound too cheesy, Beethoven's Ninth reminds me of that line in "O Little Town of Bethlehem"--"The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight." And I prefer my music like that, to have the tension and longing together, beauty acute enough to cause a pang...that's always the proof it works, so to speak, if you can have so much pleasure in music that it's almost pain to feel so much. Tears are the christening of highest art in this world.

I missed hearing any singing of "Auld Lang Syne" tonight, but there's another one that gets me right where it matters. Such a simple little poem, and a simple tune, but one that (no small thanks to Frank Capra) really gets at the core of what's most important to hold onto in this season. May sound like I'm waxing maudlin, but I'm deadly serious--well, and perhaps this year it doesn't sound so trite at all. We have to value each other--that's the end of it, or the beginning, end, and middle of it all.

Even if our leaders don't, and those who are supposed to be speaking for us. I hate to shove it in people's faces (okay, so that's not exactly true), but Osama bin Laden was right in reiterating one basic truth: our futures lie in our own hands. And it is the test of humanity now to cut through the crap of religions, political machines, and so-called "moral values"--a worse euphemism was never coined, save for "compassionate conservatism"--and get to the real work of actual civilization.

You know, that thing that Gandhi thought would be a good idea in the West...

I wish all who happen across this not-so-humble blog a good and fulfilling New Year, with health and prosperity and harmony. May all be better than before, and better for us all than we dare hope.


dancing idiot monkey said...

(the idiot monkey here again:)

Where is democracy working relatively successfully these days? I was thinking about that and thought, perhaps some of the European nations? If other nations had an example of a working democracy to look up to perhaps it would be a feasible idea.

Autocracies and dictatorships aren't too bad, but they're not brilliant either. Problem with my country (Pakistan) is that people aren't united enough, and they're too apathetic. Everything is, to quote Adams (whee I sound intellectual!:D), "an SEP" (Somebody Else's Problem). So Musharraf is SEP. Corruption, poverty, low standards of education are all SEPs.

What the America is doing isn't "bad" as such. America is *the* superpower at the moment, and is trying to solidify that position, which is perfectly normal. It's just that getting on a moral high horse is hypcritical and extremely irritating to the rest of the world. But might is right and that's a maxim that works (that HAS to work) whether you're a caveman or a nation of cavemen (this mean all nations). You can't have it any other way.

If you're not strong enough to fend for yourself and survive then you only get what you deserve. I wonder just how much nature can be suppressed/changed.

What's the point of ideals if they never work anyway?

Aureantes said...

Well, I'm not very fond of who's running my country at the moment, especially seeing as they profess to be *against* terrorism and tyrants (*cough* hypocrites *cough*)...

My take on America is that I like the way it started out, but I think its principles been largely misinterpreted by most people ever since it got out of the founding fathers' hands.

As the most glaring example, this widespread assumption that America is somehow a "Christian" nation. This is simply not true--if anything, yes, it was founded most clearly on the principles of Freemasonry. Which have in their basic precepts that it makes no difference what nominal religion a member practices so long as they believe in a Supreme Being or guiding principle. In other words, they do have to believe there's a point to it all, to be members in that society. It may cheese strict atheists off as well as Bible-thumpers and their myopic ilk, but that's what that idea of "freedom of religion" derived its place in our Constitution from. The fact that the specific people involved in framing it were Christians anyhow and spoke most naturally in that language, is a matter of cultural circumstance, *not* of specific endorsement.

Personally I abhor the lack of demonstrated human ideals in this present administration, and think it is likely the most insidious and pestilential undermining *of* humanity within this country. Never before has a President been so openly and flagrantly unconcerned with the true needs of the people that he was--and will be again this Thursday--sworn in to serve.

And the reason that I and so many other people complain about this state of affairs as wrongs is not because we don't "love our country"--it's more a matter of feeling acutely betrayed that it has turned so far away from its own ideals, and the spirit of its existance as a 'great experiment' to create as perfect and just a nation as possible. It is *not* "the greatest country in the world", as some well-insulated people say--because it's not a state of static and petrified being. It's slipped, and badly, away from *trying* to be the best in any essential and responsive way, especially since the end of the Cold War (and would we really *prefer* a "hot" war?) with the reality of being a virtually uncontested military superpower. Power corrupts--especially when the people in charge happen to have things like retrogressive social and cultural agendas in mind, and a Texas-sized case of arrogance that can't admit either defeat or even constructive criticism into its view of reality. That's a problem. And it's an even bigger problem considering the vast scope of his influence.

So...well, I *am* an idealist, though in realistic terms, and survival and a nation's maintaining itself are one thing, but the first thing to think about for any decent ruler or legislator must always, *always* be the absolute well-being of the people themselves, and in a long-term sustainable way. Anything else then that is (more or less) losing sight of the point of having civilization at all. Rulers possess their power at the need and on the sufferance of their people--not the other way around.

Here's the things Thomas Jefferson said on the necessity of internal conflict to a healthy nation:

Of course, if there weren't so many ways of *tampering* with the voting process--and so many people misled or willfully ignorant in this nation--I might not have reason to complain...