Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Book, Part VI

But what makes a good melody? How can a melody be crafted to a higher degree of purely musical perfection than other parts when it is not even required, in purely musical terms, to exist? To answer this question, it must be noted that the non-melody parts in a piece of music are not constructed to emphasize the fact that they are things-in-themselves with an identity of sorts. They do not exist for any purpose besides the harmony of which they are a part. A melody, on the other hand, does have a purpose beyond the harmony; it exists for itself as well. If there were no harmony, the melody might still be.
Because it exists for itself, it is imperative that melody have a distinctive nature. Harmonic notes are made what they are because they “fit” the harmony. Melodic notes are made what they are, however, not only because they “fit” the harmony but also because they “fit” they melody. Our ears tell us when notes belong to the wrong melody, so this does not need to be discussed. Our ears also tell us when a melody is not a melody; such as when it is merely chaos, or merely a mathematical equation.
Metaphysically, there are four divisions of quality of melody. Now God knows all possible sequences of notes, therefore all melodies have an identity and can exist as a combination of matter and form insofar as they can be identified with an Exemplar in the Mind of God that results from God’s knowledge of their possibility. Some melodies only have this level of existence, but some have higher levels. The higher the level, the more melodic the melody and the more suitable they are to play the role proper to melodies in music’s section of the Divine Economy.
Now among merely possible melodies, there are two types: the kind that can be extended indefinitely without repetition while remaining the same thing (such as the alto parts of Bach chorales), and the kind that cannot (such as the soprano parts of most Bach chorales). The second type has more identity and is the higher melody because there are far more things that it is not.
But some melodies have a higher existence still, namely, they exist because they are good melodies, intended for or especially deserving of the sublime, actual mode of existence that composers provide (Veni Creator Spiritus). These are the highest melodies of all, as they have both non-limitless identities and an Exemplar that exists as more than a possibility. Any sort of melody can also be a corrupted or imperfect version of any of the previous three types, occupying the place below the place occupied by that which it is a corruption of.
Also fascinating, however, is the problem of the foreign melody: the melody that does seem crafted to one group of people, but not to another. This is my piano teacher’s complaint with eastern music and my mother‘s complaint with Han Chinese music: that it all sounds the same; or, in other words, that it is not crafted to be its own unique thing. But to the Han Chinese, this is obviously not so, as it would not all be popular if really was all the same. For popular implies unpopular, and when music is all melody (as Han Chinese music is) the fact that the other melodies were of inferior quality would be the most probable explanation of why the popular ones had the status they did. How can both perceptions be?
It is really quite simple. If we spoke Chinese, we would find Chinese words to be intelligible. We don’t speak Chinese, so we find it to be random noise. If we heard music “In Chinese” we would find it to be intelligible; we don’t, so we find it to be monotonous noise. Alternatively, the first Chinese composer perceived music as “Chinese” and composed in “Chinese,” just as the first Greek composer perceived music as “Greek” and composed in “Greek.” But chaotic melodies are not based on any such self-evident tradition; they are based on nothing of any musical value. All we have heard is the music of our own tradition, so all other traditions seem foreign to us. But music that is based on no tradition can probably be judged fairly by any of us. Most likely, we would judge them to be worthless. The melodies of music within our own tradition give self-evident testimony to their value as individual beings. But this perception is not a perception of goodness, emotion, or quality, merely a perception of unity.
How this unity can be achieved is beyond the scope of this work. Many of the conventional methods, such as motives, repetition, dramatic and melodic shape, etc., may prove to be valuable tools. In the final analysis, however, it is the perception of those within the valid tradition that is the final judge of the quality of a melody.
These are guidelines of reason; those who follow them ought to achieve a level of musical beauty that is reasonable. Hopefully, they will make themselves, their listeners, and their music more like God in the process and product.

End of Part One.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Greatest Era

I will ask a simple question: which era in musical history is
the greatest? Now hold on! Before you say the baroque era
was the greatest, let's examine what we are judging these
eras on.

I think there are two key factors in this comparison.
Intellect and emotion. Now, which is the greater of the two?
Is one really greater than the other? Those of you who are
mathematicians would probably say intellect is greater.
However, I will leave this be, since I do not really have the
answer. Christ said to open our hearts instead of our minds,
but I 'm sure I can think of thousands of quotes from the
Bible and writings of the saints that would lean in favor of
the intellect (what the conditions are for either one
presiding, I do not know). So I will let more knowledgeable
people than I answer that.
What I will do is analyze the musical eras. For the sake of
simplicity I will say there are six eras. The Baroque, the
Classical, the Romantic, the Impressionistic, the Contemporary,
and the Modern eras.

The Baroque

The land of fugues and cantatas. Some of the most intellectual
music was written during this period, and the intellect was
usually of higher priority than emotion. Music was considered
more of a science then. So (in my opinion. Feel free to offer
alternate opinions), I would say on a scale of 1-10, that the
intellect would number 8, and the emotion 2.

The Classical

Here comes the symphony!!! Music was still very intellectual,
but emotion was beginning to be applied within the rules.
Music was still a science however.

Intellect: 7

Emotion: 3

The Romantic

Opera was in full force by this time, at least in Italy. It's hard
to define when the Romantic period first began. Many people
think it started with Beethoven, but I'm not sure when it ended.
Music was still somewhat of a science, but many composers
began to compose with feeling instead of following the rules exactly.

Intellect: 5

Emotion: 5

The Impressionistic

Emotion was pretty much all out in this period. It's true that
there were new ideas and rules that were followed, but
emotion was at it's height.

Intellect: 2

Emotion: 8

The Contemporary

The contemporary period presents us with an unbalance.
Perhaps music was very intellectual, or maybe not. Emotion
might not seem to be a part of the music, but it could very
easily be. The contemporary period was more of a radical
conversion of the Baroque period, so it strikes me as martian
music. :-)

Intellect: 7

Emotion: 1

The Modern

Here we come to film music, jazz, Broadway, pop, folk, and
many other different styles (including rock, but I won't
analyze that). Much of this music (depending on the style of
course) seems to have returned to the essential roots of
music (believe it or not). The hardcore rules are used extensively.
But emotion is now a top priority because music is no
longer enriched scientifically (to a certain extent).

Intellect: 6

Emotion: 9

So which is the greatest? Is it the period that is perfectly
balanced? And who is to be the judge of that? Learned scholars?
Experienced musicians? Knowledgeable professors? God is of
course the ultimate judge. So, which era would He pick?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Goal

I'm sure we've all heard the reasoning that "the ends justify the
means". Well, how much of this is true? I'm sure those of us who
take an active role in this blog would say it is not true or just. But
is it all black and white? Do higher goals justify more less than
savoury means than lower goals? Again, I would say we all would
reject that. But when it comes to the highest goal - namely
salvation - is this still true?

Now, logically, you can't use immoral means to get to Heaven.
So, that means the ends don't justify the means in this particular
case. But, maybe you can use means that people would find
distasteful for salvation, right? So the ends justify some of the
means? Well, let's see:

What exactly do we define as "the means"? The means are the
action(s) used to bring a certain outcome. Okay, so what means
are distasteful? Who is the judge; and how do we know if they're
allowable? Is this question really worth asking? Maybe not. But I
think it's worth mentioning in our day and age, when we can be
deceived into using immoral (not distasteful) ways to bring a moral
outcome. But, since God uses trials and evil times to bring good,
is it still true that the ends don't justify the means? Maybe it's just
that we can't use that philosophy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Humble Acession to Mr. Lundahl

If any of you have been following, Hans Lundahl and I had an extensive debate about something. It boiled down to this:

OFL: You cannot trust commonsense's approval of "dissonance only up to so far," because this judgment is of a nature that is easily changed by experience and because other things that people react to in the same way are things that people who have not been jaded by exposure to vast varieties of music disagree upon.

Lundahl: You can trust this because the fact that experience causes the approval of the more dissonant music points to such experience being a sort of jading that dulls the perceptions of common sense.

The argument hinges around whether or not the perception of the non-jaded falls under the ground of undeniable common sense. (Undeniable common sense also includes such things as:
Our 5 senses tell us useful things about the world, the rules of logic are valid, etc.; but not things such as things always fall when they are dropped, it is good not to offend people, etc.)

Now perhaps it can be proven that this judgment is common sense (and thus Lundahl wins). But even if it cannot, unless it can be disproven, it can be proven that it is more likely that the statement is true rather than false. Here's how:

1. Consider any statement that has no evidence for it being either true or false. (example: Our senses provide us with useful information about the world outside ourselves.)

2. You cannot consider this statement, by itself, to have less than a 50% chance of being true.

3. Theoretically, it is possible that you could construct multiple proofs (or prooves) based on another statement that has no evidence for it being true or false that, if the second statement were true, the first would also be true. (For example, the statement in part one would be true if common sense were a valid guide of human thought OR if there is a Benevolent God Who would not fool us by giving us senses that didn't do anything real. This assumes, of course, that there is no evidence for or against God, a statement that is quite false but that we are pretending is true for the sake of argument.)

4. Each of these statements and proofs also cannot be considered to have less than a 50% chance of being true.

5. For the original statement to be true, any of the secondary statements must be true. But for the original statement to be false, ALL of the secondary statements must be false. Therefore, it is more likely that a statement that has no evidence whatsoever concerning it is a true statement than a false statement. This argument ought to hold up (though not convince) under the fire of any musical modernist skeptic.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Debate. An Allegory

In the hall of he’vnly king, a sumptuous feast is spread
With many foods, del’cacies, and also wine and bread.
One by one, the stewards bring dish after subtle dish
The rich beef, taste-soaring birds, and all-important fish.

Two people stand at either end of this table fair
Woman with a mind of truth, to call foods rich and rare.
A man also who, well-schooled in all of reason’s ways,
Tests all foods for poison, that no lives may be erased.

For in the palace dwelleth, in diseased shadows hid,
An evil, scheming villain, who for men’s lives does bid.
Hidden as great high chef, he inserts substance vile
Into his favorite dishes, such is his treach’rous style.

With malice black as shadow formed by sea and ink a squid
This schemer does in fact intend to world of happiness rid.
For this feast is part of the Fair Woman’s wedding-day
And over one great feaster’s his heart she, so lovely, sways.

First come the primal hors’douevers, more basic than they seem
With loving care they are designed men’s appetites to preen
They cause the food-prude to forget future foods ‘gainst his taste
So that his enmity toward them may glad’y be erased.

Next comes an antipasto bar, within whose domain good
Are meat and cheese and vegetables, bare essences of food.
With comprehension of these things the meal must begin.
If you don’t know what food is, how shall you reach el fin?

One small bite of everything both man and maid must take
To see if its nutrition is genuine or fake.
Is poison in the deli ham? Is it in roast beef?
If one takes a bite of it, shall he complete the feast?

Next comes a bowl of oat-grain gruel, with grayness all entwined
Which fills temporal human mouth, and boggles every mind.
One might conceivabaly eat, and never ever cease
Unless one knew that other things were at this gracious feast.

Next comes a tow’r of fat and dough, a sav’ry funnel cake
Which in the shape of Nile-tomb has been masterf’ly baked.
On mind-seen bottom layer this great edifice does lay
But without this bread-foundation the rest would exist, stay.

Of these foods, these life-givers, that have come by so far
Which ones of goodly stuff are made, which ones of poison are?
With loving heart and cloudy head and aching, burning eye,
They must needs wait and watch the twain as the meal goes by.

Next comes a visual tour-de-force, a gift of vine and grape
A bottle of red Riesling wine blown into peacock’s shape
With each fair feather carved and fine, and seen in high relief
And filled with inf’nite bubbles, charming, random, and brief.

Then, from an artful, loving hand comes a sea-fish with sauce.
With aroma heavenly it puts expression at a loss.
The meat’s fair hue is equal to the sands of lands of Jew
And vegetables, in profuse life, surround it cooked just through.

In the flavor of the sauce, one tastes essence of fish
(The way to make the fluid is to cook them in one dish)
The sea-creature flavor, moreover, is lent its unique taste
By the azure, living waters where all fish do always baste.

(One course is left, and still the guests are hanging in suspense
To know which foods the poisoned are, and where evil ferments.
For perhaps the poison’s small and slow, will not show its face
Until time is passed far by, love’s healing is too late.)

The final course, the sweet dessert, is fruits of marzipan
Which please the tongue with magic spun of dolce sugar-sand.
All the pastries like pom’grante look, each more than one before
Lovely and lov’lyr still, till fecund’ty our eyes sore.

The ever-better sequence bright places in mystic trance
Anyone whose fort’nate eyes upon them happ’ns to chance.
Till in our bott’mless hunger for the true reality
Over a real pomegranate deadly war fought would be.

The meal is all over, the plates are put away
Slow comes the moment waited for long through trying day
When love and food and life and death will come to be unveiled
And who is dead and who is live will sol’mly be beheld.

But first the lib’ral man must speak, his verdict to pronounce
About the merits of the food (if there were no poison pounce).
Only with Ladies Taste and Health is his stomach in love
Their importance may be small, but naught should we be above.

“Friends and neighbors, Man and minds, hear my judgment,” he spoke,
“These marvelous means of sustenance our faculties have awoke
But two things at this meal large ought not to satisfy
The grayish slop so infinite and the funnel fried.

For any food that can be made in such great quantity
As the pudding ought by mortal man never eaten be.
And though the taste of funnel-cake may please the human bite
Fat in the hole need not be stored to cause the same delight.”

Then comes the final find of night, when the maid shall speak
And say upon whose beings poison has worked its freak.
Upon all men a silence falls, for to them, death is all
Unless they are her allies great, for then in love they’ll fall.

“You all know of what I like,” the terr’ble woman said
“With riddle I like to tease you, tho’t seems I’m on my head.
Come up to my dais, where a second feast’s bespread
The greatest feast of all, for it has both wine and bread.

Your thrice-frail minds are now quite like the taut string of drawn bow
As you wait for regal Death his hell-curse to bestow.
You ask me rightly which of you my ’ternal lover be
To which I only answer: come up and taste and see!”

And so to Berlioz tune they march, thinking its double-speak
Wondering if they shall be now proven strong or weak
Wondering if there will be a mystic marriage-join
And wondering if from them their life shall be purloined.

With nervous hearts and hands in dreadful careful craze
The diners sad on whom fate rests bread to their dry mouths raise.
The bread that holds the golden key to antique Book of Life
The bread that holds the final test to gain Her as a wife.

And as we watch we see with dread the secret now revealed
Those who ate of the pudding grey: their blood shall be congealed!
Even now, upon these future dead unlucky souls
They cannot eat the common bread, nor drink wine from common bowls!

Only those gallant hon’rable men who dwell within the pay
Of the logic of the man who pronounced earlier today
Were graced with wisdom great to see the fall’cy of the oat
And have been deemed wise enough to wear a handsome marriage-coat.

For divine bread and hevn’ly wine they are able to drink
And with these common food elements they are able to think.
Praise be the LORD Who, always wise, gave us a test so true
Through which we might find the thrice-blessed measure of what we do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Something More Relevant

I will discontinue the Phantom and Les Mis discussion for now, as it
hasn't really gotten anywhere. I'll try to post something more interesting
(and relevant to philosophy) this weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"The Book" part V

All this of course seems very conservative, a seeming which is, in fact, false. Although we assume no tradition whatsoever (a very foolish thing to do), and although we give tradition no quarter (a very liberal thing to do), tradition has shown itself to be not merely tradition but truth, beauty, and goodness as well (a very irrelevant to conservativeness set of things). What else do the “Conservatives” say? Are they right?
In particular, let’s take a look at the aesthetics of Andrew Pudewa.

Music must be:
Unified but complex. (empirical observation of all of creation applied to music)
Melody-dominant, harmony 2nd, rhythm 3rd. (Sequence based on the fact that melody strengthens the mind, the governing human power, harmony strengthens the emotions which are secondary to the mind, and rhythm strengthens the body, which is lower than either one.)

Music must not be:
Monotonous or chaotic (both were shown to be harmful to life).
Non-melody dominant (rhythm dominant music is harmful to life).
Persistently syncopated (harmful to life).

Obviously, Mr. Pudewa has a very practical system of aesthetics. It is useful. It works. However, its great weakness is that the last three points have nothing to do with the music itself, but with the effects of the music on earth-life. Whether or not syncopation, chaos, monotony, or dominance add beauty to music is ignored. The only thing considered is whether they add beauty to us. This is a very worthwhile thing, but it is artistically flawed. If it is good, true, and beautiful, do it, and let the viewers make prudential judgments about whether to view it. The relationship between this prudential judgment of the viewer, the prudential judgment of the artist, and the existence of beauty in the music will be discussed later, as will the unified-but-complex element. Melody and rhythm (we have already discussed harmony), however, deserve to be mentioned now.
It is obvious that melody must exist, for music, as an arrangement of sounds in time, not only has simultaneous sounds, but also has consecutive sounds. This “thing” makes up a melody.
From this, it is obvious that each “part” of a piece is its own melody. Therefore, music is always melody-dominant (unless non-pitched sounds are included), as it is always made up of melodies. If non-pitched sounds are included, melody/rhythm dominance would be determined (in our case, not in the psychological case Mr. Pudewa actually uses) by whether the behavior of the melodies directed the behavior of the rhythms or vice versa. As pitched sound is more ordered than non-pitched sound, melody ought to be dominant over rhythm to place justice in the music, although if the rhythm is part of the melody, there is no conflict.
When we ask the question “Ought melody or harmony be dominant so that the music itself may have justice?” however, we come to a much more difficult problem. As has been demonstrated, harmonies may never actually have dominance over melody, as the harmonies are made up of melodies and behave as the melodies behave. However, there is a twofold difficulty with this simplistic interpretation. One particular melody may be dominated by or dominate the harmonies, and though individual harmonies never dominate the melody, the harmonic system can do so.
The difficulty with the first question disappears, however, when we remember the role of the composer in relation to his music. The composer is related to his music as God is to Creation. God is the Maker and Author of Creation. As such, he made one species, the humans, to be the lord and master of creation, disposing of it as they see fit as long as they do not offend its dignity. The composer, therefore, may choose one melody over the others to craft to a higher degree of perfection that it may rule over the others. If such a melody exists, it must be dominant by nature. There is, however, nothing in the nature of music that requires it to exist.
On the other hand, melody should not be so independent of harmony that it ruins the harmony (not harmonies) by making them move in non-harmonic fashion, for this is an evil done to the harmony (which is greater than the melody, as the melody is a part of the harmony). Nor should the melody disregard the harmony altogether, for the melody is a part of the harmony (yet supreme over the harmony besides itself), and cannot ruin what it is a part of without doing evil to a thing greater than itself. Nor should the melody be a decorated version of the harmony, for if it is, it does not display higher craftsmanship (merely different, fancier craftsmanship) and is a part with ADD, not a melody.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sarcasm on the Symbolism of a Popular Work of Art

And I mean really really really popular! What is this work, you ask? The Obama O!

And yes, it is art, after a fashion. It is filled with subtle symbols that only the aesthetician would care to read.

In the first place, consider the fact that it is a sun over the horizon. At the Constitutional Convention, George Washington sat in a chair with a sun over the horizon on its back. At the end of the convention, Benjamin Franklin said something along the lines of: "Throughout the convention, I wondered if it were a rising sun or a setting sun. I see now that it is a rising sun." Now, however much we might want to, we don't live on Tatooine. Therefore, the sun has to set after it rises before it can rise again. Therefore, the sunset in Obama's O is a setting sun.

Second, consider the fields below. They are red and white. I can think of two sorts of fields that are that way. Obviously, there are those fields that have blood on snow. Less obvious is are the red and white fields of communist China. (Explanation: in the opera Nixon in China, the proletarians sing "When we look up, the fields are white with harvest in the morning light." White for harvest, red for communism.)

Finally, consider the overall shape of the picture. It is round, and at the core of its being lies the shape that is roundest of all: O. Chesterton says that the snake eating itself in the shape of an O is the perfect symbol of pantheistic fatalism.

Therefore, what does the symbol mean? It means that Obama wants to put America into decline by killing people and turning the country into a Communist agricultural powerhouse. The end result? The eventual taking over of the world by pantheistic India.

It's amazing how much you can learn by reading the inner secrets of art. Or can you? Hee Hee!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Request, a Falsehood, and a Wishful Thought

In response to Dr. Thursdays request posted on "The Flying-Ins," I have written a work of verse fiction, "The Writing of the Ramayana."

Background info.

In real life, the Ramayana is one of the great poems of Hindu India. Ostensibly written by the poet Vlakimi in a drugged stupor, it recounts the story of Rama's rescue of his beloved, Sita, from the devil Ravana. Traditionally, Rama is seen as one of the seven incarnations of Vishnu (one of the three cheif deities of Hinduism and one of the three chief symbols of Brahma, the pantheistic deity).

When I read an abriged prose version of the tale, I was very impressed by the story, but I thought the Hindu theology ruined it. Therefore, I have written a fictional (but not historically impossible) account of the real intentions of the author (I misspell his name throughout both here and the poem itself), and the circumstances of the poem's writing.

The poem is filled with Chestertonian allusions, especially to The Everlasting Man

The Writing of the Ramayana
By Old Fashioned Liberal

Canto 1:

With trumpet blare and flourished flare
Elephants bouncing round the square
Heralds cried, selling verbal ware:
�Behold, our king shalt be sat there;

Returning home in majesty,
From conq�ring rival Rajahstie,
He commands joy and minstrelsy
From all you standing here!

Make merry, wear the colored cloth
Saris, uneaten by the moth
Rejoice as at a plighted troth
And then your lord revere!

� Another herald, swift and sleek,
From eating vegetables, not beef,
Came to the house of Vlakimi,
The poet, old and sage.

�Great sir, I speak great news� he said,
Our king is vict�rous, live, not dead,
Feast of his power you must bespread,
For the people, for a just wage.�

Vlakimi locked himself inside,
While lab�rous mirth took place outside
Ritu�ls ornate by law implied
Laws local, neither just nor fair.

Canto 2:

With travels wide and knowledge great
Poet Vlakimi�s mind was sate.
Both things of will and things of fate
Things of early and things of late.

Of word and wonder this poet knew,
Of myths and gods in magic zoo
Convoluted. Color and hue
Men, women, justice, and evil�s lair.

Of one thing other, Greece in name
Vlakimi knew through word and fame.
In search of wisdom�s hidden flame,
He had sent a scholar there.

Cross marches wide of oven sand,
Mountains, valleys, and fertile land,
Where man first looked, and found him Man,
The learner bore his gift.

Beauties, arts, and cogitations,
Traditions of generations,
Subtle thinkers� generalizations
He listened for to sift.

From these, he picked one precious pearl
Good unfurled, but with evil swirled
In drama great to shake the world
The Odyssey was its name.

Bearing this seed of mind and gladness
Good, bad, and poetic madness,
Cross mud and mount and musty sand-dust
The traveler finely came.

Possessing eagle-poet-sight,
Vlakimi pondered days and nights
Pondered on wrongs, and pondered rights
The epic work revealed.

Then, by reason�s mannerism,
He saw his culture�s aneurism:
Deathly-sweet slav�ry: pantheism!
Occult by rite concealed.

So when the man with burnished belly
Told him to start �story-telly�
No meats from this psychi-deli
Would this tale relate!

Canto 3

Who walks in robes of fleshy green
Through halls of occident court-scene?
Whose thin chests, heads near burst at seams?
The Brahmins, wise men of the king.

Their presence makes a fair court foul.
Their heads that bear the dot, not cowl,
Have schemes to beat Greek Female Owl.
And the king carries them out.

They are the prop behind the throne,
Under them, royal pow�r has grown,
So even kings are overthrown,
Their armies all in rout.

Under them, lower castes chafe,
With arrows they the children strafe,
High taxes make the land unsafe
For thieves are everywhere.

Lands near and far this fear have felt
(Sometimes their towns have badly smelt
Of burning flesh, dead human pelts)
When they fall in the snare.

So deplorable is this state,
That even beneath soul-crushing weight
Of pantheism, they feel hate!
Of revolution, some do sing!

Canto 4
With Greek treasure, and skill assured
And knowledge of pol�cy deplored,
Vlakimi took his writing-board
And his imagination soared.

No praise-song to Brahmin war-king
In fact, would this sage minstrel sing.
Of Rama, great in everything,
Would he speak instead.

As praise of war-chief would they see
This poem, but one thing would not be.
This time, from Hindu triune three,
Rama would not be descended.

Whate�r as praise to Rama cried
Would by the people be descried
To the king! Politic suicide
Would sadly be prevented.

For if the king was seen as god,
More of the people�s hard-worked sod
Would be put under tyrant�s rod
In worship perverted.

But if with hints subtle with pow�r
Vlakimi hid in poetic flow�r
Links twixt king and Ravana, devourer
Goodness could return upboard!

Canto 5

After the poet had racked his brain
Every Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain
Into the night-aired town-square came
To hear the epic be proclaimed.

And on that moistly summer night
When carn�val torches mixed their light
With mithril moon and stars so bright
Vlakimi began his lay.

He told of Rama ruddy-brown
Who, on a quest to holy ground
Learned of the soul, of earth flat-round,
And where his heart would stay.

Past tale of jungle fierce and green;
And rite heart-stealing (A Catholic�s dream);
And piquant god-fight, where magic screamed
Its wrenching war-cries; Rama traveled.

And then, enchanted, Rama sees,
Fair Sita among her fair lovelies.
Like a gazelle among the trees,
He saw her; and his heart unraveled.

Simple, sweet solitude they chose
A forest life near woodland rose
(The tale seems done, but on it goes)
Distributist in form.

One tingling day, when He was out,
And She was wringing laundry out,
A Brahimin came, with begging pout
Seeking a dry dorm.

When she acceded gen�rously,
However, it was not to be!
The Brahmin�s form changed swiftly
Into Ravana�s shape!

His powers carried her away
The god-fouled wind, not fair airway,
Proved dec�dent bed, nightmare of day
And she, unwilling freight.

With aid of beasts both smart and strange
Rama a war on the god arranged.
With monkey-king and bird free-range
He crossed the water to Ceylon.

From sapphire water, fertile-deep
He raised the sand-bars from their sleep
Their swirling forms above waves peeked
Summoned by spell long-gone.

And crossing forth, to Rav�na�s isle
Where Sita languished in ill style,
Rama, filled with male warrior-bile,
Began the epic charge.

First came arrows by Euclid tamed
Next, flung siege-stones of burning flame
Third, the chief part of the war-game
The clash of armies large.

The bright sway-clash of steel on steel
Where fear and courage dart and wheel
Is where Lady Vict�ry does conceal
Her two-edged draught of blood.

A Eucharistic cup that makes
Two things of those whose thirst it slakes
For some, their honor bends, then breaks
Others find their perfect good.

Rama, in the last part of fight
Was one of these, the second type.
With aid of magic good and bright
He brought Ravana down.

(In the fair world of fantasy
Magic need not occultic be.
Rather, it reveals nature�s glee
In �laws� within it sown.)

Bright stars of every color fair
Came hurtling down from sky. Beware
Ravana! In that land there
Space-sparkles shall explode thee!

And when one hit him�Pouf! He went!
In blinding spark and smoke�s ascent
He vanished, never more to fret
The world and you and me.

From that day on, the dark-fair twain
Kept their love through sun and rain.
As king and queen with endless train
Of children, so they lived.

And so they died, and then, and then,
Eastern Beren and Luthien
Spent their days in thrice-high heaven
Every sin full-shrived.

The tale then ended, the crowd then sat
In lesser ecstasy thereat.
Still lost in lit�ry �rolls of fat�
Only the wind then stirred.

Then came applaudic rain of sound
Swift as wind over the ground
Into the poet�s ears they found
Their way, and they were heard.

And then, in terr�ble surge undue,
Another noise wormed its way through
The sound of Brahmins grew and grew
In evil, vile word.

�Blasphemy!� their mouths proclaimed
�Incorrectly the story�s framed!
Against our dogmas you have claimed
More than is your pay!�

A plot it was (of course); the crowd
Was silenced from their applause loud
No praise for blasphemy would be mouthed
This night of yester�s day.

Up to the podium Brahmins brought
A potent dose of opium-draught
Up to his place to seal the plot
Why must the Brahmins win?

As they came, the poet pondered
How he could escape. He wondered
What to say his fate to sunder
From their coming sin.

�Friends!� the poet cried �Have a care
Fall not into pantheism�s snare
Come breathe the fresher, purer air
Of paganism, rich and rare!�

�Against the king you thought you rose�
They said, raising drug to his nose,
�You did so well. May we impose?
Sing the song again!�

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Les Miserables" or "The Phantom of The Opera"? - Part One: Music

Okay, I changed my mind and decided to be lazy. I won't post anything
about the individual numbers simply because this post would be a
hundred paragraphs long if I did. I'm guessing you have all heard the
music to both Les Miserables and Phantom of The Opera.

I'll wait a week until I post the next part.

"Les Miserables" or "The Phantom of The Opera"? - Part One: Music

The first category in this discussion is music. The music to both is
very well done, and quite beautiful in many places. I personally love
the music to both. But is there more than meets the eye? What is
the philosophical background here? Let's look at the composers first:

Claude-Michel Schönberg:

Here's the link to a short biography in Wikipedia:


It doesn't tell us much about his philosophical background, but one
thing that jumps out at me is his work on a rock musical. If you ask
me, much of Les Miserables' music also has a rock influence. It
would appear that Schönberg has more of a rock influence than a
classical one, or maybe even more than a Broadway influence.
However, I haven't heard the rest of his work, so this is merely my

Andrew Lloyd Weber:

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him:


Well it certainly looks as though he has a lot of classical influence,
and he is definitely much more prestigious and accomplished than
Schönberg. Unfortunately, though, I don't know as much about
Schönberg as I do Weber, and neither does Wikipedia. So that
doesn't leave us with much except that Weber appears to have
musical roots in classical music and Schönberg seems to be
a rock songwriter (please post a comment if you know anything
else about either of them). So let's move on to some of the major
numbers. I'll put these in a separate post.