The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, November 10, 2005


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At last - someone understands what I've been driving at this last couple of weeks. Thanks, Eppy!

I qualify things a little in my comments to Eppy's post. I absolutely agree that I probably got a bit carried away with the whole "walk down the street and then Bang! Messiaen". Although this example is actually based on personal experience - I do believe that Messiaen's music has changed how I see and hear and feel the world - it's probably not a very good standard for judging the value of a particular piece of music, or we'd be having life-changing experiences every week...

However, I do want to retain some aspects of what I was getting at. I was fortunate enough, a few days after writing my last post on this applicability business, to be at an authors' talk with Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson on the subject of myth. Now, the fact that myths are literary objects that have some sort of power to sustain throughout centuries, even millenia, is not something in doubt. What the three writers got across as an idea is how myth remains, ahem, relevant today. It's absolutely not about slavishly reconstructing the literal story, confusing the discourse of, say, theological storytelling for a discourse of science, it's about the myth depositing - in Armstrong's image - a nugget of truth inside you, that remains for long periods of your life; and as you live your life that nugget grows until it begins to take on some practical value for you. Being a literary event, the three writers on stage only priveledged literature with this ability, but my own experience is that music - in exceptional cases - can do the same thing. It is not, therefore, something I would wish to rule out of music's discourse (or any of the arts'); music is strengthened if we admit this possibility. Why would we wish to deny it?

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