adventures in dysthymia

Monday, October 31, 2005

ALL THINGS

Knowing it would come to this,
I labored. Knowing it
would end. As do all things,

as do all things. Five years:
they were yours and I
will not begrudge a minute.

Rest now and God speed.

In memory of my father, who passed away last night
Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tired of the same old Republicrat candidates? Then vote for Zod in 2008!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

THIS SONG

Only the finest all natural ingredients
Went into writing this song
Organically farmed, no dolphins were harmed
That just plain would be wrong
Only the most politically correct
Words are used in this song
Don’t be alarmed, we have disarmed
Can’t we all get along?

It’s a folk song for today
You can hear it in any café
Offense is not our way
So we’re careful what we say
It’s a folk song for the new age
Not a trace left of our rage
We smile and step on stage
And lock the door to our cage

Only simple pleasant thoughts
Will be found in this song
Won’t give you pause, won’t stick in your craws
And never seem too strong
Only the best of good intentions
Went into writing this song
It’s for a good cause, it breaks no laws
We want everyone to belong

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Maybe just a throwaway. It reminds me too much of some of my acquaintances' tedious attempts at humorous songs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

PRISON

Down flights of darkness
he dwells, the angry,
violent man.

I chiseled his cell
painstakingly,
casting aside

each cold splinter
of my soul
to leave only

uncaring rock.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

THE MODERN SYNTHESIS
some thoughts on Modernism, Post-Modernism and What Comes Next

We live in the Modern Era, a period of time that starts around 1910. I am speaking of broad cultural movements that span centuries; these 'modern times' certainly have some steam left in them.

Indeed, previous such eras have lasted, in general, over a hundred and fifty years. We have the Romantic Era -- which includes Romanticism, the Neo-Classical, and the proto-modernism of the late 19th Century -- lasting from somewhere around 1750 to about 1910.

Before that, came the Baroque (enveloping the so-called Enlightenment), which began circa 1580, give or take a decade, and the Rennaisance starting somewhere in the period between 1400 and 1420 -- ideas moved a little slower when we go further back, though the actual eras seem to last about the same length of time. I suspect the human lifespan, which has never varied that much from the biblical three score and ten, is a factor there.

So, similarly, there is the Gothic period of the late Middle Ages, lasting through the 13th and 14th Centuries, and before that the Romanesque (to use the name art historians would apply) starting almost at the turn of the first millenia.

Now, as I have implied, there are always movements within these eras. Often, these can be seen as a dialectic, e.g. the thesis of Classicism reacting with the antithesis of Romanticism within the Romantic Era and eventually resulting in a synthesis toward the middle of the 19th Century. Then comes the inevitable 'what next' question, the 'mannerism,' the searching for a new direction until the new Era is born.

It should be noted that, although the Classical and Romantic would seem to be worlds apart, they truly shared a common outlook. Neo-Classicism took a nostalgic and idealized view of antiquity; as with the Romantics, the Classicists prized sentiment.

Could one see Modernism and Post-Modernism similarly as the thesis-antithesis of the Modern Era? I would come to just such a conclusion. Naturally, there are such dialectics being worked out on a smaller scale constantly in the movement of the culture. The push and pull between abstraction and surrealism in Modernism is an example -- which perhaps reached its own synthesis in the Abstract Expressionist movement.

What is Post-Modernism? It is, among other things, another facet of the Modern, rather than a break with it. Most would date the beginning of the P-M period to around the early 60s; Pop Art and 'confessional' poetry are pretty much Post-Modern. The Beats might be seen as the last 'big thing' in Modernism or even as a transitional phase. The major difference is in the attitude taken toward the world, the environment, the cosmos for that matter.

It is implicit in Modernism that we are in control. We can understand and define the world. We can seek the perfection of ideas, expressed in austere architecture and theory-driven art. We are born as tabla rasa and can be what we wish. Psychoanalysis will free us of all our hang-ups.

Nope, says the Post-Modern world. It's all too complex to ever truly understand. We carry a billion years of hereditary baggage around with us. Our attempts to control fate are laughable. So let's laugh! Or cry or whatever; the thing is to recognize that there are other roads to reaching a personal understanding of life.

Here we are then with about fifty years of Modernism and a similar amount of Post-Modernism. Have we reached the point of synthesis? Have we already gone by it without noticing?

The one defining characteristic of the Modern -- like the sentimentalism of the Romantic -- is its embrace of the conceptual. In this respect, it is more truly 'classical' than the Neo-Classists of two centuries ago and harks back more to the attitudes of the Rennaisance. This will likewise be a trait of whatever synthesis, whatever Modern nexus, is developing.

Post-Modernism has sometimes tried to throw the Modernist out with the bath water, but the ideas survive. Indeed, they underlie what P-M has accomplished, even while trying to break with its past. Have we gone as far as we can in turning Modernism topsy-turvy in search of new insight? I suspect so; the time is here for rebuilding.

Nothing more than some simple thoughts on a complex subject that I decided to jot down. Notes, perhaps, toward a more ambitious essay down the line. Occasionally I have to let my inner art historian out to play.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Went off to Thomasville this past Sunday to see a production of Guys and Dolls put on by the TOSAC theater group there. My friend/musical partner Karen is involved with them -- she served as assistant director and stage manager for this show -- so I was able to get a free ticket (and be at the post-show cast party). A pretty decent performance; being close to the big college town of Tallahassee helps with the talent pool!

Speaking of college towns, I'll be off to Tuskegee again on the 30th of this month to do a recording job. Dr Wayne Barr, the head of the music department, has asked me to record his organ recital for the second year in a row. It's nice to know that your work is good enough to get repeat business, even though it always sounds lacking to my ears. And, killing two little birdies with one stone, it gives me a chance to see my friend Lynda who also teaches up there. Nothing like being paid to go visit a girl, is there?

Today is my mom's birthday. 87 and going strong. That most certainly calls for a chocolate cake and a bottle of good wine, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

"The Celts boast. And why should we not boast? Read Celtic mythology; every Celtic hero tale is boastful. We have to stand up and announce how strong we are because poetry in the 20th century was looked down on with derision; a poet was an effeminate, weak creature who should have a real job. Standing up and banging a staff was the ancient pagan way of the poet announcing himself. So boasting in my book is totally honest."
~ Donovan (in an interview about his new book, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, marking his 40th year in the music business)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

THE PLAY

The drama in nine acts
plays again, on stages
from Fenway to barrio streets.

Each performance differs:
each actor finds his lines
written in the red stitching

of a fast ball conversation.
Give me the signs, again,
and I’ll remember summer.

I’ll remember the nights,
the high flies swarming up
into webs of light;

I’ll return to the crowded
bleachers, lukewarm beer,
and long forgotten rookies

of every hot afternoon.
The play’s the thing, you know;
it always has been.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Well, the playoffs are here and Steve's muse turns toward baseball -- the only team sport to which I pay any attention. I like the dramatic element of the game; it holds my interest because I can actually see the individuals interacting.