One of the best things about Erik Satie is that after a certain point in his life he started to pepper his piano miniature scores with all sorts of bizarre performance instructions meant to destabilize even the most seasoned performers.
Stuff like “With conviction and a rigorous sadness,” “With a healthy superiority,” “Don’t eat too much,” “Hypocritically,” “Shake like a leaf,” “Do not cough,” “Go away,” or “Like a nightingale with a toothache.”
For years I had heard about these directions, but without any kind of authoritative list of them I decided to download all the Erik Satie scores at IMSLP and screenshot my favorites. There got to be so many that I had to present them in this sort-of-powerpoint format. This collection isn’t anywhere near exhaustive, but it’s a nice introduction. (The translations are for the most part my own, and I welcome any corrections.)
Oh, and if you’d like to read a nice introduction to Satie’s life, the proto-postmodern invention of “furniture music,” that time he founded his own religion, and the piece he wrote with 840 repeats in it, click here.
The doll, with 6,000 parts and programmable actions, might be the first computer. That’s because it was created in the 1770s. This incredible little robot called simply The Writer was designed and built by Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz with help from his son Henri-Louis, and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. The simple barefoot boy concealed their true pièce de résistance. At the time, ‘automata’ or little mechanical moving figures, were common in homes of the elite. But Jaquet-Droz’s is the only one so complex scientists argue whether it is the first machine worthy of the name computer.
"We’re not ones for busting through walls"
One thing that I am beginning to focus on more and more is creating new options, new fantasies. We are in an odd situation where music classified as experimental has a larger platform than I have ever seen, and yet music itself seems to be as politically and culturally inconsequential as I have ever known it to be. There are many reasons for this, however I think one major culprit is that our current modes of expressing emotion, eroticism, intelligence, contemplation, etc. are so quantified and stale—we seem to be happy to find new and shiny ways to communicate the same things. I’m interested in creating new options, and new fantasies, for music—which again speaks to an awareness of the “here and now.” What roles can music now play that we could not have previously imagined? This discussion appears to be more advanced in visual arts, computer science, and design, and I feel like music is long overdue a reevaluation in that respect.
Really a great interview.
The Irish Modern Dance Theatre are performing this piece by Merce Cunningham & John Cage for the last time on Saturday night at the Peacock. Trying to scrape the money together to go. Might have to just rewatch it on Youtube instead -_-
I don’t like this expression ‘First World problems.’ It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.Teju Cole (via thewhiskeypropagandist)
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am, I wouldn’t understand what I understand, were it not for certain books. I’m thinking of the great question of nineteenth-century Russian literature: how should one live? A novel worth reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.”
—Susan Sontag, born today in 1933.