First ten minutes of my father’s piece
A few days ago Fjordman wrote in the Gates of Vienna (GoV) forum:One title you could look into is How the West Was Lost by Alexander Boot, an ex-pat Russian who fled the Soviet Union in the 1970s, only to discover that the West he admired no longer existed. He traces the development of Western civilization through art and ideas, but especially music.
You can successfully track the rise and decline of Western civilization through music. There are other ways, of course, but music is as good as any, and better than most. Through the likes of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven we created greater music than any civilization on this planet has ever done before us. During that same time period Europeans also made advances in science and technology which went far beyond what any other civilization had ever done before.
Europeans could still make good music in the nineteenth century, although we did not quite match the names of the eighteenth, and a few names were produced in the early twentieth century, but hardly anybody in the second half of the twentieth century. By the early twenty-first century, not only do we not produce anybody remotely close to the greatness of Mozart, we don’t even listen to the ones we once produced. The only people who take European Classical music seriously today are, ironically, East Asians, and maybe, just maybe, some people in the eastern half of Europe, the only half of the continent that still actually looks like Europe. If you want to see a simple illustration of cultural decline you can listen to basically anything by Mozart and then turn on the TV and see some young men doing drugs, talking about their “gangster” lifestyle and their prostitutes. Alexander Boot has a very Christian view, which I do not always share, but he brings fresh and unusual perspectives, which is good. His basic conclusion is that the West is dead, but as a Christian man he also believes in life after death. Maybe that’s not a bad conclusion. The West is dead. Long live the West!
Fjordman’s post fascinated me and I pointed out that there’s still some good music, such as the “symphonic call to civil war”. What I didn’t tell GoVers in that thread is that my father composed the music I linked. In a previous GoV thread, “A History of European Music”, I had commented:_______________
(Note of 25 August 2010: I have slightly modified some of my comments below)
Music is one of the psychological markers from which an extraterrestrial could know the level of cultural development of a species, or if their culture is degenerating. Since the last decades our musical culture has been degenerating: a claim impossible to demonstrate objectively, since music is an intra-psychic, psychogenic evolutionary mystery of the emergent species. (If you ignore the new age nonsense that Robert Godwin wrote in his book One cosmos under God, he has some good points about what music is; and Oliver Sacks’s 2007 Musicophilia is quite interesting: some people are a-musical: they cannot grasp subjectively what music is.)
My father started his career as a composer of classical music. His orchestra pieces were played in the early 1960s in the U.S. (something horrible happened and he interrupted his very promising career). My mother has been a piano teacher since she was a teenager. My brother gives music lessons to children in Paris. One of the problems with intra-psychic emergency is that it cannot be communicated downhill; only equals can understand it. I don’t want to elaborate much this point. Suffice it to say that, just as a classic ballet dancer can dance everything but a disco dancer cannot dance ballet, someone who understands classical music can understand all musical genre including disco music, even if he abhors it.
Music represents states of psychogenic development. When Solzhenitsyn said in the U.S. that some American pop music was disgusting, or that it was better the regime of Francisco Franco than the ultra-liberal regimes in Germany or France, he seemed totally detached from reality.
But he was right…
It is no coincidence that the 18th century Europeans who treasured classical music would never have allowed masses of incoming Muslims into European soil. Every time I listen the garbage music in Spain’s supermarkets—where I’m living for the moment—I “know” for sure that Europe is committing cultural suicide. I place quotation marks because this is a subjective knowledge, impossible to express by rational arguments (that’s why I referred to the books of Godwin and Sacks). Conversely, if the westerners still identified themselves with Bach, Mozart or Beethoven (personally I also like Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Stravinsky) it would be easier to detect the bull of politically-correct multiculturalism. Psychogenic emergency is like Moonwatcher touching the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
But oh destiny!: instead of a Star Child, in the year 2001 we got a gigantic evolutionary step backwards: September 11. Nowadays cultural relativists almost want us to believe that the heights of musical achievements are on the same level of black rap, and Muslim polygamy or homo marriage at the same level of a stable heterosexual marriage. Instead of the promised Star Child what we are getting in this century is degenerate music and a legion of Neanderthals.
Chechar, the points you are making are very thought-provoking. I wish you could elaborate about intra-psychic emergency. Personally, I can only listen to classical music. All other “music” is the worst sort of torture to me. I am literally languishing in the modern world that is subject to noise pollution. Pop music is everywhere. It is pouring out of my neighbors’ windows, it is in all the shops, hairdresser stores, cafes, restaurants, public transportation, business waiting rooms, on-hold telephone signals. It is inescapable. And on top of it, people walk around with ipod earphones glued permanently to their ears! It is like the world is terrified of silence and the more gentle sounds that it reveals. Students do their math homework while listening to music. What kinds of problems can they solve? Only the ones that can be done automatically. What kind of genius ideas can the world come up with if it is constantly listening to music? To think that smoking has been practically eradicated, but no one attacks noise pollution. I want to go to sleep and wake up in another century! Thanks for listening to my rant.
It’s not a rant but the pure truth. And thanks for sharing: it’s good to see that there are still people of my own species in a planet which is becoming more and more like the planet of the apes. I also suffer incredibly on the streets and even in the complex of flats where I am presently living when I listen to what we may call Neanderthal music.
I alluded to the film 2001 in my previous post. Let’s follow the film’s metaphor. “Moonwatcher” is the character name in Arthur Clarke’s novel for the Australopithecus guy who first touched the monolith. If a member of our tribe doesn’t touch the monolith—symbol of a psychogenic leap forward—s/he would never have a clue of why latter-day Moonwatchers, i.e. Starchilds, cannot stand miscegenation (ethics) or junk music (esthetics). The leap belongs to the aesthetical and emotional intelligence rather than to our cognitive faculties.
Free Hal said...
Hi Chechar, Felicie, and Laine. Western music, of the three branches of art (visual art and literature the other two), is the best evidence of the grandeur of western culture. The breathtaking genius of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert may one day be surpassed but we can’t see how right now. Two very good essays from Theodore Dalrymple (classical music at least makes people no worse), and playing Bach clears hooligans away... As you know, Chechar (please see my “Rollback” essay) I think there may be ways to prevent Europe entering a dark time.
After a couple of months of not posting in that thread, I finally posted an abridged reply of what I say below:
Orchestral music is not only the classical rococo of Mozart and Haydn. Writing about Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, Pierre Boulez stated that it was the comeback of barbarous hordes in our century, what I may call the Id’s revenge.
In the 1960s my father was influenced by Stravinsky. Carlos Pellicer’s poetry in my father’s symphonic piece “La Espada” (The Sword) is an homage to Morelos; its spirit glorifies independence wars. Since Beethoven’s Eroica many pieces have been composed that broke away with the Ancien Régime and the zest produced by classical rococo. While several other classical composers composed war-like music, present-day music that produces a sense of zest is, in a certain sense, analogous to the rococo, albeit of a much inferior quality.
But I don’t want zest. I have stated that nations are born stoic and die epicurean. What we need in the following decades is the most austere form of Roman severitas. This painting of Roman swords represents pictorially what I have in mind musically.
People in the counter-jihad movement are not warriors. Like the rest of the westerners they smile. In contrast, the above-linked painting depicts a solemn owe to Roman swords. In the acclaimed Civilisation Kenneth Clark commented about that painting that after the Enlightenment there were “no more smiles”. In his 1969 TV series it was Clark the one who first showed me the need of Roman severitas during decadent times. In a recent post I spoke of the necessity to overthrow most Western governments through civil war. Of course, although “the true Viking spirit is that two is enough to make it happen”, as I quote a GoVer in the longest entry of this blog, I perfectly knew that I was talking to myself.
Music conveys the psychic state of a man like no other art. While my father had in mind the 19th century civil wars—listen to his music: the link is at the top of this entry—, in the 21st century I am still imbued with this symphonic call to belligerent action; and I find it dismaying that counter-jihad bloggers, like the pacifist Hal and many others, are deaf to it.
Postscript of 25 August 2010:
“This chapter began with Houdon’s statue of Voltaire, smiling the smile of reason; it could end with Houdon’s statue of Washington. No more smiles.” —Kenneth Clark
Although my father’s music refers to a Mexican war, I never really felt like a Mexican. I’d like to say that, from this time forth, until an American revolution arrives there is no reason to smile.