Friday, December 14, 2012

This pure reflection of our crime

In the post-traumatic stress
disorder of living conscious-
ly in America, we continually
turn to each other and ask,
as if Vito Corleone in a gang-
land summit hosted by Barzini,
how did things get so far? 

In one capacity, at least, I
trust we are all alike. We do
not favour the annihilation,
ever - or as the President of
the United States put it this
afternoon, prematurely - of a
human's innocence.

As must be apparent, I openly
and energetically differ with
St Paul, on the honourable con-
dition of thinking as a child.
I resist demands to put away,
childish things, if their sub-
stitution brings a consensus 
of fabrication, delusion, and
ferocious self-interest. But
I proffer no boast in this im-
maturity, no rant of risible
puerility. I merely cite that
state of nature into which my
Lord deposited me by accident,
in longitudes of endless fal-
sification of His favour. To
think of the one picture here
today, without consciousness
of the other, is untenably
ridiculous. And who will now
give himself sleep, with this
pure reflection of our crime?

But I'm a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him, .. or if he's struck by a bolt of lightning, then I'm going to blame some of the people in this room. And that, I do not forgive.

Francis Ford Coppola, director
Mario Puzo and
  Francis Ford Coppola, script
The Godfather
Paramount, 1972©

Michelle McLoughlin, Reuters©

Senate of the United States

Suppose it were Friday lxvii: And it were our river

    Time is a game played
  beautifully by children

Kozák Lajos
Boys at the Margaret Bridge

André Kertész

6th Century BC
Brooks Haxton,
op. cit.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sunrise at SPIA: speaking truth to power

   I cannot doubt, the heart of every 
   Princetonian fills with pride in 
   Duncan Hosie, and embraces his mat-
   riculation with confidence, hope, 
   and gratitude. Justice Scalia has 
   had his Joseph Welch moment, and 
   we can be glad to trace his down-
   fall to a son of Nassau Hall.

   They are in what we used to call,
   Spia, which rhymes with Spear in
   an arch accent: the school of pub-
   lic and international affairs, hon-
   oring Woodrow Wilson and designed
   by the architect of the World Trade
   Center, Minoru Yamasaki.

   The Manichaean heretic of sadistic
   jurisprudence has come to twit his

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A time to take notice

Do you remember, Hercule?
Our sweet Gretchen, Auguste.

    Who knew, a Choirmaster
    at Winchester Cathedral
    would launch a Counter-
    Reformation on ice this
    Advent -


  would inspire research to heal
  leukemia in time, just in time
  for the parade?

The Reverend Robert Walker
  Skating on Duddingston Loch
ca 1798
National Gallery of Scotland

Emma Whitehead
At home 

Ivan Terestchenko
Parade in Manhattan

Emanuel Picoli

Monday, December 10, 2012

Charles Rosen

I have given no book to more people, literally or by sociable recommendation, than The Classical Style, written by Charles Rosen and published by Viking Press in 1971. I cannot, and would not dream of venturing to forget my astonishment, not yet a year from the college where we both had studied, that the music I had so come to love could be unveiled so endlessly by a single mind. This afternoon I discovered at the website of The New York Times that he had died in New York; and I find this evening that he has been remembered by National Public Radio, as he has been by the newspaper, as a "polymath" and musician of rare capacity.

The foregoing three sentences are alike in their misdirection of the superlative. The character in which Mr Rosen not merely excelled but convinced, lay in his articulation of the precedence of structure in the coherency and power of all art and of its indispensability to the giving of pleasure. With his distinctive book on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, he extracted from music of accepted stature the Rosetta stone of classicism, of why it spontaneously works, and laid before the common reader, with a transparency and fire to make one gasp, principles of criticism of such diverse portability that they afford the same insight into the longevity of wine, the viability of states, the contentment of people in their dwelling, and in the shirt on their back. 

It was no more than typical of him, engaged in a month-long debate with Alfred Brendel in The New York Review some 16 years ago, on the reading of a manuscript marking in a Beethoven sonata, to invoke a musical commoner in his argument against applying "too many dynamic accents" in a 24-bar phrase of no dynamic indications at all, as tending to "forfeit the simplicity that Proust's grandmother justly claimed was the way to play a Beethoven sonata, as well as the way to receive visitors and prepare a steak with potatoes." Mr Rosen belonged to a world of taste that was modest but could be audacious, learned but could be humble, and was sublimely indivisible. A gentleman of the mind, as fine and indefatigable a companion as it may wish, and so generous as to stay, for which one gives indebted thanks.

Charles Rosen
The Classical Style
  Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
The Norton Library edition,
  with a new preface by the author,

The expanded Norton Library
  edition, 1997©

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata, Op. 110
  1. Moderato Cantabile,
  Molto Espressivo
Charles Rosen, piano
American Academy of Arts
  and Letters, 1996
Norton, 1997©