Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Diminished Blogging

I haven't put quite as much time into blogging the last little while for several reasons. First, I have had other responsibilities that have taken up quite a bit of time. Also, I am working on my piece for violin and guitar in which I am wrestling with some compositional problems that I have avoided until now. The piece is now titled Dark Dream and I read through it in its current form with my violinist friend last Sunday. It has some unique problems of ensemble.

I am also reading Jordan Peterson's new book, 12 Rules for Life which is, astonishingly, the most sold nonfiction book at Amazon. That would be worldwide! Pretty good for a guy from Fairview, Alberta. That's in the Peace River country in northern Alberta about twenty miles from where I was born. He also graduated from McGill, as I did. I do recommend the book, by the way. It falls into a odd sort of category: it has intellectual substance, but it is really about the practical problems of life.

The other project that is taking up time, most delightfully, is listening to Haydn. I'm up to the Symphony No. 17 which means only 155 CDs to go!

I do intend to get back to Sofia Gubaidulina pretty soon and to continue my series of posts on aesthetics, which have been in abeyance for much too long.

Just to get back to Peterson for a moment. I think one way to describe what he is up to is a revival of what are some hard truths: life is suffering, humans have the capacity to create a hell on earth, and you need to tell the truth, or at least, avoid lying. He connects totalitarianism with the propensity for human societies to allow a web of deceit to slowly develop over time to the point where everyone, nearly, is living some sort of lie. Yes, it is often, perhaps even usually expedient for us to avoid confronting the truth, but that road leads to a place that no-one wants to go.

The sorry fact is that the rise of various forms of relativism over the course of the 20th century allowed for the development of ever more sophisticated forms of lying. A lot of criticism of Peterson is along the lines that he is repeating worn-out platitudes and he lacks nuance and sophistication. It is interesting to watch some of his YouTube videos, especially when he is speaking to a non-university audience as you can hear the wry astonishment of the listeners as he tells them some pretty hard truths. We have become all too used to the empty recitation of comfortable deceits. I might well have put this up before, but here he is exploding some of the most popular of those regarding oppression. I want you to notice how the fellow on the left is reacting when the camera pans in that direction.


Will Wilkin said...

Glad you are composing more violin-guitar duets! I've already told you I love the ones you published and recorded already.

And I'm glad you feel a certain call to continue blogging, because I benefit greatly as a reader from not just your original and thoughtful short studies, but also from the dialogue with you and your other readers. I almost always answer your articles in my mind, but due to the press of time don't type it out. Even now, I'm on the run....

Bryan Townsend said...

Your comments are always much appreciated. Regarding my new violin piece, it might not be to your taste. I find that I am having to confront many problems of composition so it is what you might perceive as "experimental." When it is complete, I hope that my violinist will record it with me, just an archival version, so I can put it up on the blog.