- I remember being born. (Explained elsewhere on my web site and on another WordPress blog.)
- I invented a game of scrimmage football, played on any vacant lot. One kid, standing with his back to the other kids, throws the ball over his head to the gang behind, who catches it and runs through all the kids without being tackled.
- At the age of twelve, or thereabouts, I and my three younger brothers went alone to Chicago for the day and ended up on a boat going from Chicago across Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids, MI, and back to Chi. We spent all our money (50 cents) gambling on a slot machine. We had our train tickets back to South Bend —the fare was 6 cents round trip per child— and we got home to a very permissive mom very late, in one long day.
- I earned some change selling fruit and vegetables door-to-door off a truck from the House of David which came down from MI once a week in the summer.
- I ushered football games at Notre Dame stadium a couple of years.
- Actually, with the armed forces in Europe, I had my full season of football. We “USFA Travelers” went to every far corner of the occupation zones, Vienna to Bremerhaven. I played “quarterback”, first team. I did ALL the play-calling. I also played on defense, the farthest away from that action to stop any play that gets past the other players on defense. They did not want me to get into the thick of defensive play. I had one spectacular interception; I ran it back for 30 yards. I can still hear that ball as it hit my shoulder-pads. A truly wonderful memory.
- I remember Fred Snite in an iron-lung being backed into the football-field runway, Notre Dame Stadium, to allow him to see a game from the end-zone, looking in a mirror above him.
- Someone had a garden of beautiful vegetables in a lot on a corner next to our house. I would once in a while pick some cucumbers, put them in my red wagon and go door-to-door selling them. (My allowance was ten cents a week, from Mom, not from Dad, a tightwad. Tho it was the depression.)
- One Christmas I got a green wagon that had head lights!
- I once took baton-twirling lessons from Blaine Gamble, the drum major of the high school band. I never got the hang of rolling the baton over the back of my hand.
- I can see today the sight I caught just as I heard a crack across the street when Mrs. Fagan fell out of the top of her cherry tree. She subsequently died.
- Bob Fagan was tough. I witnessed him in a huge fight in the dust of the Battell school playground. He whupped a big bully, in a dusty circle of a great number of shouting students. Bob’s father ran the shoe-repair store downtown. His father was my Sunday school teacher at the Baptist Church. I was proud to know Bob as MY FRIEND. (Oct.,2014: I just read in the Mishawaka High School newsletter that “Fagie” has died. How well I remember him. It gets us all. Much admired was he, by me. That newsletter is the very best! In the nation. My unqualified judgment. You should be so fortunate.)
- I never got bullied. My brother did.
- I won a blue, box camera as second prize in an amateur contest in grade school (4th grade). I imitated Joe Penner (“Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Wanna buy a duck?” or something like that. Also, I imitated the instruments that played in Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers”. There were other parts of my act. First prize went to Rocco Germano, Miss Koch’s prize violin pupil in grade school. He went on to become first chair violinist for the South Bend Symphony. I could never use the camera. It came with no film. It was the depression.
- My Dad had a violin. I sat with it two times in Miss Koch’s violin instruction group held after school. I sat far away in the back. Then I dropped out. But that fiddle, a copy of the Stradivarius (sp). Can’t remember the date, possibly a 1914 copy a I read it, which was quite hard to read inside through the violin fancy-carved-curve on the top side, which must have a fancy name known only to the experts. I continue to kick myself in the rear for doing that–makes me kick myself every time I think of it, that I sold it!
- I was a “robin redbreast” in one of Miss Koch’s operettas. Mom made the costume, of which I was very proud.
- I once drove a “Tin Lizzie”, a Ford Model T. The family of an acquaintance ([?Something?] Brown, I think) owned one. Flip on the magneto (?), located on the steering wheel, along with other levers for other functions like engine speed — there was no starter — and go to the front of the car where the radiator was and down below was a built-in crank. Give it a crank, and watch out for kick-backs! A source of many injuries.It was domiciled in the Mishawaka hills south of town. We got in it and took it for a spin. Coming down out of the hills into a flat city was no problem. But when we drove it back into the hills, it did not have the power to make it up the hill. What to do? We turned it around and backed it up to get it back to its home. Reverse gears were more powerful than forward, it seemed.A car expert can tell me if my memory has served me well.
- Going to the Senior Prom was a problem. I was a very shy person. I never went steady. I did not date. Maybe once or twice. I wanted to go to the prom, but who to take? My half-sister had a step-daughter (Kate Wallis). I asked her. But first I had to ask her to teach me how to dance. So we went to the prom, and I danced. My brother’s wife—they married at 18; their kids were almost like brothers and sisters to them. (My joke.)— once told me that several high-school girls had a crush on me. “NOW YOU TELL ME!” was my retort.
- In the vicinity of the “tin-Lizzie” time and the “Senior Prom” time (circa 1943), I was reminded of another episode, that of my first kiss. I was “sweet 16 and never been”. I was riding my bike around on a calm, warm, full moonlit night, a few scattered, misty clouds scratching the moon, a mile from home. (My memory of this has some holes, but I remember the setting perfectly.) She was sitting on that slab of cement encasing the front steps of her house. I stopped and engaged her in conversational small talk. I knew her from school and had always admired her from a distance — ’twas ever thus — with her light sandy-reddish hair over a cherubic face. Very, very pretty, as moonlight will have it. We sat and talked a bit. I, on impulse, leaned over and kissed her lightly on her lips. She set my lips afire with a strange, new experience, lasting five moments. – — – I never got with her again, but I always admired her from afar, and smiled on passing in the school hall. Where are you now, Patty Airgood? (p.s., I recently found out in our alumni newsletter that she had passed away. I put that reminiscence of mine about her in the Newsletter, not identifying myself by name. Beautiful moments like that stick in memory, flushed with all the colors of an evening’s moon and shade, finely detailed. What a fun-filled mental drift! One who appreciates the art of kissing, always wants to get back to that “virgin” expression, not the heavy and too hot of a long history of doing it. But “touching”, dramatic, without extreme eagerness and heat, telling sincerity of emotion, not heat of sex, individually tailored just for her, not a copy of the hundreds in memory, avoiding at all costs the smash-mouth sort of too much experience doing it. That was my first kiss, and I wanted to return to it. But my woman is now gone, after 54 years. I do wish I could have that sort of “virginal” kissing experience again. I miss it. It would mean “loving” again. True attachment. Blazing comfort in relationship. Being side by side. Glances, of knowing. That cushy comfort of lips meeting meaningfully, hers and mine together, longingly to stay that way. Love. Mine for you, only. You for me, only. That way of doing tells me it excludes all others and I am inside that exclusive circle of the one and only. AHHH, knowing.)
- I, now, the widower, alone, with two sons and their families, my only social outlet. Reminiscence in old age. Limbs of support severed.
- My last “kiss” being a squeeze of my hand by my dying wife, her last gesture of her love for me. My word at that moment was, aloud, to her, simply, “eloquent”.
This is the response that I will give for some comments that seem to me to be “boiler-plate” or standard-form comments, easily copied and pasted. No effort involved. No character involved. Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.
I, JFD (author of this blog), have concluded that many comments are manufactured and offered to subscribers as quick and easy bundled copy-and-paste “boilerplate text” comments, as judged by the exact same language used by many different commenters. Am I right? Or are commenters copying comments of other commenters and pasting them as one way to save labor in commenting?
(1) I have no other social media, none of it but this blog. (A question often asked.)
Also, I use WordPress.com, which is FREE, and provides some beautiful themes to choose from, also FREE. I chose WordPress because I read that it was very highly rated by critics.
(2) I get that phrase, “brain dead”, a lot, as a comment on comments on my blog essays. I explain some cases as people not writing in their native language, which would explain some of the problems of diction. I am wholly inclined to understand and tolerate. Others, as I keep saying when I have responded to that comment elsewhere, are not careful with the grammar of English. It seems to me that the informality of web-talk gives a license to write like fugitives from their old ogre English teachers, so they slop through their comment-message with a devil-may-care vengeance! On the web, anything goes, they believe. I cannot forgive that. They are not brain dead; their brain has taken a long vacation from personal responsibility. Then, too, they probably are desperate to fit in like all the others who have a fear of putting on airs for fear of ostracism. OR, bad grammar is what you get from commenters who are in a hurry. The “slap-dash” response on the run. Okay. I get it. Yeah, if it is basically understandable. Better than nothing!
Think in depth what that “brain dead” accusation means. Take it seriously. The writer of it might really desire to read the best English style, as I do, and is offended by that tendency to lower standards of English diction. If that is the motive, it is admirable. There must be a craving for good diction on the web. Hooray! Punish bad diction wherever it is seen! (With that one proviso.)
But try to distinguish bad diction from “typos”! That is an order! My mistakes are nearly always typos. I try to correct them. All. Me no type too good. Well, then, I should re-read and make all corrections, as my duty. I know I have failed in that respect.
(You know what! This is sounding like it might be a part of a style guide for all would-be weblog writers. Eh?
I will now select and copy this and save it for the next one who says that thing about brain-dead contributors, my social media (nada, zilch, zero, nichts,). WHOOPEE! Now I never have to type this out ever again. Just select and paste. AH-h-h-h-h–yes! I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS LONG AGO!
(3) “Brussels”. Anyone know what it is? The phrase shows up occasionally like an imbedded secret message to others of which I am innocent. I always erase it.
(4) Also, once in a while I get the comment that my blogs are RIFE (excessively abundant) with misspelled words. I might as well include my objection to that charge. There may be “typos” because I am a “hunt-and-peck-er”. But I am an excellent speller who uses the dictionary regularly. If you must make that charge, give one example when you make the charge, and where it occurs, or I’ll have you arrested for ___?____, maybe, wrongful conduct as a critic, whose duty is to make the criticism relate to the specific case.
I erase all comments that I judge to be an “advertisement”. Isn’t that called “spam”? Spam was served to me in the service. I think it was invented for service meals during WWII. Guess what? My dear Mom mailed me a box of treats when I was overseas in’45. In it was a can of Spam. The home-baked cookies arrived wrapped in wax paper ON TOP OF THE BOX, believe it! The flimsy suit box had been torn open by the rough handling. I wondered if any cookies had disappeared along the way, but it didn’t seem so, oh, maybe one or two. HONEST HANDLERS! Dear MOM!
This blog, “The Deliberative Mind”, is my main blog. So far, there are:
- 246 Posts; 11 Pages
- 1,342 Categories; MY SUGGESTION IS: Go to the long list of categories and click some that may interest you. I did that myself and found one that I reread. I’d forgotten that I said that! (“Your Life from Your Mom and Dad’s View” About talking to your parents about their lives. You could also talk to your spouse the same way.) And it bears re-reading.
- 4,093 Comments by visitors to these web sites (with SPAM eliminated).
- 73,242 Spam Comments (Whew! I erase them all.)
- 258 Views, busiest day
- So far, 42,269 views
- When I started in November, 2006, I had no idea it would come this far. You can access my very first blog entry.()
- Please keep an eye out for my book when it comes out. (Not soon.) Its aim is to overturn the soil of our entire society and plant something new in place of the old crop staple.
- I AM DEEPLY APPRECIATIVE OF THE GENEROSITY OF THE FOUNDERS AND OPERATORS OF THE WORDPRESS ORGANIZATION FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO HAVE THESE SEVERAL WEBSITES, AS OUTLETS FOR MY CREATIVE ABILITIES IN SEVERAL AREAS. I CHOSE WORDPRESS BECAUSE, WHEN I STARTED, THAT ORGANIZATION, AMONG A NUMBER OF POTENTIAL HOSTS AT THE TIME, WAS VERY HIGHLY EVALUATED AND RECOMMENDED BY REVIEWERS OF THIS SORT OF AVOCATION. THE THEMES YOU OFFER ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL, FREE! YOU MAY ACCESS MY VERY FIRST BLOG ENTRY OF 2006, CONCERNING: “Alexander the Great in Iraq”. THANK YOU, WORDPRESS. YOU ARE THE BEST. (JFD, AUTHOR OF ALL THAT APPEARS ON THESE SEVERAL BLOGS THAT I, MYSELF ALONE, WRITE.)
I have nine more blogs on special subjects.
Click on the links below to read them.
We would like everyone who knew her to write a comment about her. This site was intended to take the place of a memorial service at some local chapel because Alice had friends and former students scattered all over the map and this method would allow all to participate as those sorts of meetings usually go, people standing up and testifying to the qualities of persons passed away. However, the news about Alice has, apparently, not gotten around. No comments by former students have been written. I will let this web log stand for a while, hoping to see some comments about her, just as they did in her yearbook comments, nearly all of which claimed she was their favorite teacher of English, poetry, and diagraming, as well as a witty, tireless worker and unforgettable teacher and year book advisor.
To an opera empresario: PRODUCE THIS, OUR OPERA!
CHAUVIN, SUPER-PATRIOT An Unproduced Opera, Libretto by J.F. Deethardt. Or, alternatively, may be produced as a Three-Act Play.
The composer is Malcolm J. Hill, Bath, England. The title character was the origin of the eponym, “chauvinism”.
To an opera empresario: PRODUCE THIS, OUR OPERA!
OLYMPIAS, QUEEN OF MACEDON, MOTHER OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT An unproduced Opera, Libretto by J.F. Deethardt. Or, alternatively, may be produced as a play. The composer is Malcolm J. Hill, Bath, England.
BLOG: Poetry of John Deethardt
BLOG: On Teaching, or Pedagogy
BLOG: A Potpourri of Ideas
BLOG: Memorial Blog for My Wife, Alice Pfeiffer Deethardt.
ALSO: Please read the PAGES listed to the right side.
There was a young black man named Freddie Gray. His voice, in the most authentic expression of the tragic moan I have ever heard. Such a sound usually appears on the stage, acted in the dramas of the ancient Greeks and Elizabethan tragedies. When I heard the loud moan coming out of Freddy’s throat as the policemen picked him up, a moan, authentic, deeply felt, by me, as his tragedy expressed itself arising from his great pain in the midst of those human beings committed by oath to protect and keep the peace, I thought, immediately, “Those men have no empathy!”
Imagine, a group of men trained in the evils of crime who have no empathy, any ability of feeling with the victim, the sufferers of what issues from crime. They had prejudged that person as one guilty person who had no need for justice and its trials to decide criminal behavior. No, let him suffer. They picked him up, he moaning unforgettable cries of pain surging from his broken back, and I, deeply empathizing that pain, screaming at those unfeeling monsters on the television screen.
They were impervious to that cry for some basic human care. “Let him suffer!” they must have been thinking.
Now, I hear that cry, and I am suffering with a deep, empathic reverberation of it.
The larger meaning may be clear. Enforcers of the law may have had their capability for empathy irreversibly destroyed by their everyday encounters with the lawbreakers of our society. I wonder if the spouses of officers of the law suffer from their daily interaction with men and women who must deal with the criminals who have no feeling for the victims of their evil actions.
The hazards of law enforcement. For our guardians. Was there no training in the emotional sides of policing? These days, I feel certain that that may become a concern of police-chiefs everywhere. They must be questioned about the apparent lack of instruction in “appropriate” empathy as a significant part of their “dirty” job in dealing with all sorts of miscreants. I do not know, but I presume that chiefs have already entered that side of policing.
That cry! That pain! I cannot forget it. To them? It was nothing. Prejudgment! Freddie! You deserved better treatment. Policemen! You must have the course that will have to awaken your judgment of what is right and wrong, regardless of your pre-judgment. Freddie deserved better. The way you picked up that kid was not right. You just have to withhold any temptation to rub it in. Or if it was not prejudgment, then stop doing a medically trained person’s job.
I am old. I do not feel old because I am (knock on wood) healthy. What has gotten me here healthy? Study skill in habit formation. Reading skill and breadth. Listening skill of selective attention. Avoidance. Determination rather than going with the social flow and recognizing bad influences and urgings. Owning and creating my self concept. Prudence. Cerebral control. I could go on. I will get to the point.
I always felt smart, in a quiet way. I was not conscious that I had a good brain. But I felt that I should always be in charge of it, and it, I know now, was prudent because I seemed always to be self-directed. I had some sense of right and wrong, for me, what I could do. What I might do. What I must not do. I believe a permissive mother allowed me to be on my own some or much of the time. Early experience going to church, begun by my very devout mother, inculcated in me a fact that there is a very distinct difference between what you do is right or wrong, what you do is bad and what is good, moral or immoral, in general. So there was good and there was bad. I had to judge, with a big nudge from fundamentalist religion.
I have since realized that that religious nudge was too overpowering, not allowing me to think and judge for myself what would condemn me to eternal hell-fire and damnation. Church people were not real, too “other-worldly”, rather than “this-worldly”. They used extreme, scarifying tactics on the mind that I could examine and question, and examine and question I DID, eventually. Especially in the realm of “sex”. Sex and sin. Sex as sin. Sex is sin. Wrongo dongo! Sex education there was none. There was never a Sunday school lesson referencing sex. Taboo subject matter, only for sniggering. Religion let me down in several areas, but especially that. Science is a better, more reliable guide. I like its “this-worldliness”.
Subsequent study and exposure to literature contributed that “humanism” that I, and all people, need. They meant well, but they went too far. And that may have been the good they ultimately did for me, in their being too threatening and unreal. “Sinners in the hands of an angry God!” fundamentalism. They are always there to spread their flame.
The goblins ‘l getcha if ya don’t watch out!
Too much gluten is the principle of my new religion, the diet. Do-it-yourself health study. You are your own devil and deity. Nutrition, diet. Exercise. A good marriage. Study. Degrees. Good employment. Friends who are models of intellect and health and habit.
But here is my point, at last. All that above is prologue. I have made much of my life. I have written my history in brief form, and it looks loaded with accomplishment. I am now a widower. Alone. After more than a half century of a partnership with a good woman. “Ve get too soon old und too late schmart.” The silence now is deafening. We had a gluten-free marriage. And in that state of being I can think more clearly, if too late.
I look at a knife on the table for my lonely breakfast of tea and toast. It is our stainless steel. Then I look at a knife from her side of the family, silver, with a fancy carved “J” on the handle. From her family’s Victorian mansion, where we lived the first six years with only her aged mother the survivor, who died after several years. All that family history and well-being has come down to me alone. There was more to it than I now realize. And I let it go, unexamined. My wife the daughter, her mother, and me, living in that great, four-storied house. My mother and father long gone. I missed it, with my own family in Indiana, and with what remained of her’s, her mother. Why was I so dense? Now I live with all the leavings of that home in a state far away from it in distance and time. I look at the silver and the pieces of furniture that have come down to me, at this too-late stage, and crave what I cannot have. What is my regret? Oh, I know it well. It haunts me. There is no remedy. If I only knew then what I know now! This is when silence is deafening.
But I will tell you this. These are my wishes that would have filled a void I feel in my history. My old mother. My old dad. Her old mother. (Her dad died at the conclusion of the war. The town druggist. Worked hard during the war. Smoked.) What I should have done. What I omitted in my life story as I put it together. Now realized, too late as I sit here recalling what I could, should have done. A very important communication act. I am bitter that I did not do it, as I sit in that old chair in my living room where she sat in it daily in her waning years, quietly, watching her daughter and me go about our business as usual.
Go to her. Sit beside her, or across from her. For a visit. Ask her. Take from what she says, and make a comment, and a question. Learn from her, what she has to teach. She was a principal. What was her view of education, my game? Listen to the anecdotes. What was her view of learning? Who was her best student? And why? How did she raise her daughter, my wife? On what principle, or principles? Was she a good student? And so on with all the how’s and why’s. I am sorry that did not happen.
Just the act of engaging her was what was important. It may have dignified her opinion of me and may have done her some good. And that principle, to me, is important to operate in all my interactions with whomever I have conversations. In each interaction, try to raise the level of it to some general level of principle. That person may give you some important insight. We learn by insight. A chimp will see outside his cage a banana the fell too far to reach. So he sees a stick as a tool to pull the banana within his reach and a banana feast. Human insight in far more complicated matters is important everyday. There are so many insights that we lack. We must always be looking for insight. Everywhere. Do not discount old people. And thus I shake my didactic finger. Mostly at myself.
This is something I do at home alone to the music called “Classical Music”. It is good exercise. It is participatory. It demonstrates to me, myself, and I how much I appreciate, love, and revere that kind of music, ever since I was, oh, maybe, six or eight years old, when I found the large records of Mme. Schumann-Heinck hidden in an old, 78-rpm Victrola at a lake cottage in the 1930s. And that smell of oil lamps burning is remembered even today, in my olfactory sense dating way, way back. (Regarding “smell”, I once “complimented” a girl, much to my chagrin, as I danced with her, that she reminded me of the wonderful smell of the barnyard in the country farm I was privileged to visit once — with never an invite for a return visit. Same for the young lady. On reflection, I am mortified. (Simple, naïve, ingenuous, innocent, honest, tactless, etc. But I do love that smell, amended by hay.) The girl shunned me ever after. Pretty, too.
Are There Such Beings as “Closet Conductors” Out There?
I have no other musical skill, save this here described. I sing, whistle, hum, and wave hand and body a lot, aloud or sotto voce in crowds
I commend this as an audience-participation event at any concert once a season or every other season. The orchestra will play “Finlandia”, for example, announced in an article well before the concert. The audience is invited to come forward as guest conductors. I am sure very few will do this. But, perhaps, it might be arranged in advance to have one or two persons to come forward. As “plants”? Just a few to start the ball rolling. If the plants see that a few are doing it as instant volunteers, then the “plants” might not come down. (If such a stunt were successful, then the orchestra could safely drop the “pump-priming” bit. Such a concert might prove successful and need no “bit”. It might flop or it might be eagerly anticipated. Eh? I am thinking simply of people “getting into the act” and suggesting it as another form of “exercise”, of body, of mind, of fantasy.
The volunteers (I hope that there would be at least two) should be invited to come forward, face the audience and begin with conductor’s downbeat to improvise their interpretation of gestural commands to the melody and harmonies and orchestrations, and of all and sundry of orchestra directing for the music selection chosen by the regular director. The “director” in everyone should have its day! Could it be a crowd-pleaser? Should the audience applaud the “winner”, as determined by a hand above the head of each performer. It must be the audience-participation event of the year. Everyone may get into the act.
This would demonstrate how deeply classical music can get into the blood and body of a person. I know, by heart, hundreds of melodies and harmonies and orchestrations attending to the sections of string, woodwind, brass and percussion parts taken into memory from music called “classical”, operas, arias, ballets, symphonies, string quartets, concertos, songs, tone poems, marches. I have never heard a concerto for juice-harp, or kazoo, or penny-whistle and orchestra.
This is my “wild hair” for the day, a wanna-be conductor given the performance chance of a life-time. There may actually be seen some very fine and nuanced and seemingly expert and very dramatic acts of many who have never had that opportunity, until NOW! From someone who shines shoes for a living. Or throws pizza dough into the air. Or whistles classical melodies a lot, along with the accompanying orchestration of string, woodwind, brass or percussion ditties.
I must tell you this. At around the age of twelve, I took part in an amateur contest for youngsters in the elementary and junior high level, to be held in the auditorium one evening, so parents might attend. I won second place. The first place winner went on eventually to become first chair of the violin section, and concert-master for the South Bend (In.) Symphony Orchestra. (Rocco Germano) What was my talent? I “imitated” the famous selection, the “Waltz of the Flowers” from the “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky, jumping from featured orchestral instrument to instrument. The second prize was a blue, Kodak box camera. I could not afford to buy the film for it and got only a few pics from the demonstration film that was in the camera when handed to me. To tell it now, it seems very unlikely. But thus spake the judges.
It sorta fits this essay about anyone and everyone wanting to “conduct” a large symphony orchestra. I’d bet there are many who have that fantasy, turning on the radio at home and waving their hands artistically. If you don’t, it’s not really in your blood.
This is my snowball-in-hell contribution for the day.
I must say this: I have become very proficient at following, with my hands and arms flailing, all of th movements that go into and with the orchestration of the music, my mimicry evoking every nuance of emotion to be extracted from the orchestral parts, exactly what the composer has reached for and hoped would be perceived.
HOWEVER!!! (Some time later. NOW: 3/12-2015) Since I wrote the preceding, I have had a brainstorm to further this concept. I believe that there are “closet conductors” out there, who like to gesticulate along with the classical music piece to which they are listening with a very high level of involvement. For instance, the “New World Symphony” has very familiar passages, for great melodies to hum. I would ask the conductor to invite “guest conductors” in the audience to stand and “conduct” with phrase-appropriate hand and arm movements, just as if they were leading the orchestra, standing on the conductor’s podium. An audience-participation concert! It would be fun to watch such an exhibition of people getting “bodily” into the spirit of the music. I do it at home, where I can nuance every familiar orchestral passage, just having to express the depth of my feeling of the music. I catch the orchestration pretty well. It’s fun. (Good exercise, too.)
God is the central, highest authority in the universe, as pronounced by religious, self-styled “authorities”. Human beings needed that authority, it was felt,
for appeals from savage ways of dealing with one another. Just up from apery, the need was felt for a very long time. And LONG time was really long, while the mind was developing ways of coping with a cantankerous environment where there was no general, discernible order. Day after day after day after after after —- just the whimsy of the capricious cloud and wind and water falling and piling up in spots. So “we” (as we were then) had to have some sense, some order made up, some authority to manage the chaos. Habits of dealing with it. Repetitious work at control, at routinizing responses that made sense because what worked before continues to work and deliver safety and in time, long time, unmarked time except seasons unnumbered, imagined by sun and moon movements by exceptional persons.
No measure by month, year, decade, century, just time as the nickname grunts for some oppressive force, some entity of authority who subjects others to undue pressures and comes down hard on the one who has not coped well or knew what to do in an exigency from wind and water and fire and beast and rising and falling earth and rock. All that muck grows a personification in the primitive brain, packaging the good and packaging the tumult in one grunt. Uh-huh. Yeah. Ole ” ” (with a grunt). Over decades, centuries, over longer spans of time. Pre-God Time. With “god-like” entities.
Then God grew, because there was a need for some grand authority of control. We now must remember how long the time was for our primitive ancestors to cope with the whip and lash of climate and shifting earth. And very probably the very, very strong and overriding and desperate and even insane desire for some miraculous assistance in designing defenses against the whiplashes of nature and other enemies to appease or praise nature’s bribery.
Even today, that praying for some God-like intervention is sought.
Finally, the ultimate arose, with a place of solitude for a home. We see portraits of nature, landscapes of heaven. And dwell on that solitude. Unlike the cave paintings with stick figures of primitive life. There is that one central authority managing the whole of the universe. With different forms here and there, and doctrines, and rituals, and other accoutrements. For some. For many. For the majority. But what is there for those not in the majority?
“God” was in the uncontrollable force and mysterious appearance of willy-nilly wind, not understood, whence, why, how. No science yet. Allegory. Tales told. A force hitting the blank slate of murky mind. Then “personification”. There was that one God-like figure that came along with his sacred name, and He had the opportunity, presented by a follower of His, to recognize science as the art of demonstrated proof, in pointing to “evidence” as the proof. But He rejected the opportunity to produce proof and ridiculed the one who stood in need of that proof to prove his fidelity. The disciple was put down and ridiculed for what ought to have been a very early demonstration of the scientific impulse.
Eventually, the discipline of science demanded that impulse for proof, from evidence.
THIS POSTSCRIPT ADDED ON OCTOBER 20, 2014
It is apparent that people still need God. But, in a way, government has become the growth form that is taking over the tasks of religion, gradually, as it encases in laws what was formerly the function of religion. Man-made Order and Virtue and Morality are now governing society very effectively. Those functions of religion were, from ancient times until recent times, paired with totalitarian forms of governance, were the usual social controls. Those two needed each other to maintain order. Thank you, Religion, you have done well, but better forms of government, especially the democratic form, can now take over from here on, and what government does not do can still be reinforced by your preachings for the “goodness of self control”. When it comes to social virtue, there cannot be too many influences. Looking back, it appears that religion paired with the lesser forms of non-democratic government did not do as well together before democracy was invented.
This may be one essay that you might not like at all. In it, I am setting myself up for lots of nay-saying. And yet, I feel obligated to make my statement. It is something I feel very strongly about because I have experienced it first hand. I have lost my wife. I was with her a very long time. It was an excellent marriage. We did many really good things together. It was the only marriage we each had, and made at a mature age. This idea I have has grown out of much grief. Out of that grief, I have had to confront a great many thoughts about life and death. The greatest thought is about some way to see her again, to have her back, somehow. Religion offers the only pathway back to her, doesn’t it?
But I have been an agnostic for most of my life. I was baptized in the First Baptist Church, oh, maybe, at the age of 10 or 12, in a huge tub in the down right corner of the main auditorium. The water was warm and I wore some white sheet-cloth pants and shirt for the full immersion. I took religion very sincerely, and it gave me a strong introduction to morals. That is something everyone should have as a dominant sense inculcated early in life, no matter how it comes for you. But it is also a sense to be modified by basic education and higher education in literature, history, philosophy and scientific understanding. You cannot take the message of religion literally as kids will do. However, there are an awful lot of very bad kids. There must, always, be that counterweight to evil in the educational up-bringing of young people. Religion should be tested and handed out so that it becomes a matter of enlightened choice, rather than a result of coercive persuasion, as happens to many young ones. I say “coercive” because the very young have no choice nor counter-culture to the religion that has been chosen for them.
Yes, religion is a force for “good”. I learned that. But it covered with guilt some human acts that are very normal, some more than others, having an inhibiting effect where it can damage normal understanding by attaching a sense of “sin” and “damnation” onto some very human behavior, perverting the functions of what are very normal ways of responding to other people and one’s own natural urges. Those perverting and inhibiting pressures on the behavior of any youngster are powerful influences bending the youngster’s character, for life.
Now I see one function of religion may be to promise a way to go to seek its power for seeing her again. Many people sympathizing with me have said that very thing. I think that may be one of the most important functions of religion, its primary force, its greatest promise, in spite of all the guilt it causes. However, I am completely satisfied to retain my doubting unbelief. Upon seeing me say that, I am sure the true believers will be thinking, “Poor sap. He’ll be roasting for eternity in Hell.” I can only say that I can’t see myself burning up over and over a billion times and more just because I was of a different mind. Otherwise, how can you burn in hell and not burn up? Think of the excruciating pain that must go on and on, ad infinitum. All because I questioned and refused to believe something. That’s JUSTICE?! How perverse. Once I am burned up, must I be reconstructed in order to be burned up again and again and . . . . . forever? Religion wants to punish me for having a different way of thinking about life and death. That’s the powerful draw of religion. The urge to see her once again. In paradise. For eternal bliss. That could get old, too.
I will continue to miss her. In my own way. In recall. With no hope for anything other than that. That is life. I can be moral without religion. Is being moral the same as believing? I do not think so. Without believing, I can still be put into Hell, even if I have strict moral behavior. Thou shalt believe! There is only one way to Heaven, but there are two ways to Hell.
I am lonely. Since she died. I have two sons, with their families, and for them life is good.
What are the things we must endure in life? “Endure” connotes “suffer”, or “withstand with fortitude”, or “undergo as a penance”, “put up with”, or “go through for the time being”. I am in this situation and I see no way out. It is not exactly torture and it may not end, but if not, then there are the makings of a loss of life before losing my life. Loss of hope. And the mood becomes dim. Then dark. Then very dark and hopeless.
What are those things? Loss of something, not just a hundred dollar bill. It is more like a house-fire. A loss to an earthquake. A virtual mud-slide. An automobile accident. I can identify with the losses in the news. To forces of nature. Or to murderous deeds of human monsters whose only solution to their problems is killing, or rape, or theft, or other ghastly exertions against the rights of others to life, liberty and happiness. I feel losses more generally now.
But if one has that dark mood, the causes are multifarious.
What is the way out? For the victim of the darker mood, you name it. Hamlet analyzed the dilemma of his tragic situation. Resolved with Shakespeare’s solution. Taking arms against a sea of troubles and by direct action end them. Is that a way out for me, some direct action?
Everyone at some time will have that dilemma to resolve. I believe that for most of us it will be after the loss of a loved one. That makes it a nearly universal fact of life. Some simply say, “Just get over it!” Yeah, big help.
There is counseling. There is commiseration, in the company of friends, but that goes soon away. There is psychotherapy. There is something called, simply, fortitude, in the endurance of mental pain. Not everyone has that sterling trait of character, or knows how to build it up. Where does one find the character of fortitude, a certain strength of MIND that enables a person to cope with nearly intolerable forces with courage? That preparation, I believe, is done all along in more normal times, storing up resistance to the inevitable, by looking at the present joys and thinking momentarily of the evanescence of all good, like the evanescent joy of a morning mist or a bird-song in an enchanting evening. There also may be a source of “practicing” courage in active empathy with the heroes of endurance reported in the news about everyday living beings. There are models we read about which make us ask the questions of ourselves, our chances in the same predicament.
Catching the moment and rejoice in it, somehow. As (the German author) Goethe’s Faust said in that one precious moment, constituting his salvation in producing a magnificent and selfless work for the betterment of mankind, beating the Devil at the last, “Verweile doch! Du bist so schoen.” (“Tarry a moment. This moment is so beautiful.”) For the enjoyment of that one blissful, most beautiful moment, he wished his joy in his great deeds of construction contributing to the good of mankind might last forever. He was contemplating the unspeakable beauty of his project playing out down far below in his building of dikes for the greater good he had done with the supernatural powers given him in his bargain with the Devil who coveted the soul of Faust. (I would never think that the Devil would be that hard-up for human souls. Unless “it” thought it would hurt God. The Devil being an “it-“force, not a “he-“force for evil.)
I, too, am missing something that was a great beauty. I am missing some conversations we never had. I live now with the silences of her absence. I cannot get over the mistakes I made, in retrospect, during our time together. I should have helped her more, washing dishes, pots and pans, after the evening meal. Tired after a work-day, I would plop down to watch the news on TV.
I could have had longer talks about our experiences together, finding new interpretations of our meetings of friends. Of her past and my past. What our lives before marriage were. Of her hopes for the times coming up. A trip. A visit. The long missed friends out there. What we still had to do. Beliefs. Wishes. Hopes. Attitudes about issues in the news, our differences and agreements. Our mothers. Our fathers. Our parenting. Our politics. Our forebears, ancestors. There was so much more to share. Our self-congratulations. What we did well. Our losses, mistakes. My “character” and her “character” in our eyes. Plumbing the depths of our relationship, somehow finding some summary meanings. I may give the impression we had little of that, but, NO, not so! I just miss it so much now that I wish for more now. Ever the teacher of speech communication!
What “love” means. What the “future” means. Where we might have improved on our togetherness for all those years and what we might still do.
Too late, with her gone. I will do it alone.
Putting this up now is like erecting a lighthouse in the sea of matrimony for the lives of others still navigating those choppy waters.
I wish I had had such a hint as this before we launched our personal ship of marriage.
We had a good marriage. I am sure she thought so, as well. You know what the best word is for what we had? Loyalty. We stayed together to the end, with never a punctuation of even one fight. One always wonders about fidelity because that can be violated in thought as well as deed. One more often can know more about the “deed” part than the “thought” part, but one will try to make a good guess about that fidelity test. One knows what one’s self has done on that score.
I remain tearful.
Still, I, and I am sure she would also say “we”, had a great marriage. A gold-cup winner. Our golden anniversary was six years ago, and I consider our marriage to be unfinished.
I have heaps and piles of loneliness here.
But our two boys and their mates help. Good guys, and ladies.
I have my blogs. And I am writing two books. (I need an editor.)
I write all of that solely as a hint to other married folks. I hope it helped.
Which of these words do you believe accurately describe the kind of person you are?
1. Over the span of your life to the present, which of these words could you honestly say accurately describe the character you have exhibited in your everyday behavior?
2. Which of these words describe what you consciously have tried to become? That is, you are self-aware of who you are. You have held these words up high as labels for what you have tried to achieve in the many acts of your everyday living, through the many experiences over your life span. They bespeak your personal catalog of virtues.
3. Some others may have even used a few of these words in respect to one’s everyday behavior. Which are the words that you would be exceptionally pleased to hear when others make references to your character?
A stem-winder Ambitious Amusing Articulate Aspiring Athletic Available Clean Compatible Competent Creative Cultured Decent Dedicated Disciplined Easy-going Efficient Egalitarian Eloquent Enthusiastic Even-tempered Faithful Friendly Fun Funny Generous Go-getter Graceful Grateful Helpful Honest Imaginative Independent, but can become Interdependent Initiative Intellectual Intelligent In-the-know Inventive Leader Learned Literate Loyal Mature Neat
Open-minded Perfectionist Persistent Picture of health Probing Prudent Reasonable Resourceful Self-sufficient Serious Sharp Skillful Smart Sophisticated Thin Thorough Thoughtful Virtuous Well-read Witty
What labels would you affix to yourself?
I must confess that I have tried to present my character in most of the items listed. I am not religious, but I once was. I once was labeled a “stem-winder” by a very significant person in my education, a long, long time ago. And I had never thought of that before then. And over the years, it was true. That labeling was not the starter of it, but it was true. And I often thought of that later. I thought only at this time of other merit badges I have taken on, and how others must be seeing themselves. I believe it is a worthy exercise, both for youth looking forward and for old folks looking back at what defined them.
It is an exercise in a study of one’s personality profile, both after the fact, at retirement, and before the fact, of the very young before having fully developed one’s profile, a chart for summing up, but more important, a chart for youthful aspirations.
Judge for yourself where you stand in terms of how you rate, plus or minus, on each characteristic, and then try to see yourself as others may see you, how they might rate you on each characteristic. Then declare some sort of objective for you to achieve in one or another area of your personal development.
I have had what some may consider a long life. Looking back is what I do, mostly, and I am comfortable with that. I do wish that I had . . . . And I am glad that I was . . .
The essence of what I was, and am to this day, may be called “my soul”. I am only “immortal” to the extent I am remembered, I believe. I may be remembered only by any imprint I have made on others as a teacher or model of behavior, and that is the function, and meaning, of “soul”, or “spirit”. My “psyche” or “noesis”. I say all of that only to get you to think of your psyche.
Conscience is a moral and ethical system internalized in the human organism to prevent ungoverned acts. Criminals have lost it somewhere along the way, the thinking ethic, the reasoning ethic. There is that old bearded guy in the stars and stripes costume, and he is U.S. The conscience habit had a momentary twitch.
U.S. sees bodies. Baby bodies stacked like cordwood foaming at the mouth. Very still infants wasted on … Who else sees them and feels the sting of a needle making its way through the body? Thread that needle and repair the torn ethical fabric that ought to be in there somewhere. How was it missed?
Only seen by U.S.? Yes. War weary U.S. Conscience fatigue draining our treasury. Like we cannot afford to have the conscience that keeps prodding us to “DO something!” If not U.S., who? Syriasly! Kid bodies. Chemicaled by the boss man himself who “owns” his people and can do anything he desires with them, a dictator’s toys. HIS KIDS! Conscience gassed everywhere.
The global conscience? Well, at least we made the grand gesture by simply hinting at a response.
We have a screw loose, somewhere. Does democracy have anything to do with that? I think so. It is called representative democracy with party politics. More politics than democracy, I’d say.
I am going to try something here. I am going to try to define “goose bumps” without looking it up using the www-google resources. Afterwards, I will look it up using those resources to see how close I came to what is there on the WWW. I think in terms of the “operational definition”, what actually happens in a step-by-step sequence of physiological events, or the operations that produce an effect. That is my trained response to events. That is my habit. That is my understanding of science, of having a scientific approach to problems, and since I had the experience of “goose bumps” yesterday, July Fourth, 2013, I thought I would use that experience in this way, to demonstrate the operational definition, Just now I have no idea what I am going to write.
I experienced “goose bumps”. I had a perception that produced that phenomenon and immediately wondered about goose bumps, a strange feeling affecting the skin. I saw something that almost immediately went to my skin. I had not experienced goose bumps like that in a very long time. I must have had them before because I recognized them for what they were. My skin, it seemed all over my body, erupted with a reaction that created very small bumps all over, almost like an erection in and of the body skin especially all over the trunk of the body. And they sorta felt good.
Perception is defined as a response involving sensory and nonsensory components. I have this penchant for scientific ways of defining human responses to life’s situations, especially related to human verbal and nonverbal communication, that is, speech communication. I became convinced that the operational definition is the most reliable way of dealing with all concerns for humnan communication.
Remember, sensory components are the five exteroceptors that we have, taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing, and the five interoceptors are pain, balance, pressure, temperature, and kinesis.
But there are also the non-sensory components in a perception that come from memory, past experience retained and effecting a quality to be attached to our present sensory experiences. You may have an experience for the first time for which there are no previous experiences as referents. In that case, you might doubt your experience, having no word for it as a portmanteau. But you want to name it, somehow. Think of young children at a loss for words.
Regarding my “goosebumps” experience, I saw something, a United States flag on a stick stuck in my yard on the morning of July Fourth. I wondered how it got there and immediately felt the goose bumps. I had no idea how it got there. I immediately made up a story, a covering cause. I thought that the American Legion came around and put flags on every home address of a Veteran. At that moment I got goose bumps, that excitation that shows up all over the skin.
What a strange response. It felt sorta good. I recognized it immediately and saw that cause. But which part of the cause caused the reaction. If by the American Legion, of which I am a member, then I immediately thought, “what an honor in recognition of my service”. So I went outdoors to look at the stick. I immediately looked to see who in the neighborhood the veterans were. Lo and behold, every home up and down the street had a flag. So I was immediately disillusioned. The note attached to the stick gave the address and picture of a realtor. I will sue for engendering false gooseflesh excitement. But before my disillusionment, that was a strange and very good feeling. I think it goes back to the time when we were all in the promordial soup with something like quills or feathers, like porcupines, sea otters. You tell me.
It is said to happen in moments of extreme arousal in such as experiences of strong emotions, fear, nostalgia, pleasure, euphoria, awe, admiration and sexual arousal (a h.o. of the skin, so to speak). My moment was filled with the pleasure of complement, or admiration.
I had a slight goosbump experience a long time ago when I was honored with a surprise dinner at my retirement from university teaching. That was the last time. This time I felt very odd when i saw the realtor’s note. VERY strange!
Here it is, the day after the fourth. It’s still there. I’ll go now and bring it in with negative pimples. The imploded kind, in reverse. And laugh at myself. For what I am. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes)
Thank you, Terry Carter, of Tear-y (my connotation) Carter Homes, for exposing to me myself, my vanity, in accomplishment. (I did enjoy the bumps.)
What fools these mortals be! (Puck) As I was fooled by the nonsensory components of my perception. Totally.
As soon as I turned on the TV this morning (Wednesday, 6-26-13) and heard what our U. S. Supreme Court had decided about gay marriage, finding the California Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, I felt the fever of an essay coming on. I had many questions brought on by this decision. Now, everyone’s consciousness has been rather suddenly RAISED.
Equality today has a new dimension, as directed by the supreme arbiters in the court of last appeal, except the voice of the people and how they will reflect the supremacy of the Court’s judgment. A new sensitivity has been injected into the blood stream of life in the United States. The Court has overturned the decision of politicians in California who sought to define marriage as a legal bond between opposite-sex couples, that marriage between same-sex couples is illegal, not having all the benefits that go to opposite-sex couples.
Today’s report of the decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. is earth-shattering. We now must look at marriage bonds between two people that do not hinge on sexual orientation. Earthshaking, indeed! To be recognized nationwide, and by every mind that exists in the population of the United States. I think that will also go out to minds of other nations and cultures as well
I am not gay. So I will have some questions. In such a same-sex marriage, who is the wife and who is the husband? Will those designations have to be dropped? Does it matter anymore? Will “wife” or “husband” be terms relevant only to opposite-sex marriages? There is that question now of nomenclature and the getting of children. How will we know which person has the father role and which has the mother role. Are those designations now irrelevant except for those marriages of opposite-sex couples?
The whole science of sexual orientation has to answer so many questions that are cultural. “Culture” I have defined as “code sharing”. Now that equality, justice, fairness and the equal protection of the law has defined and made prominent a new cultural community which has a new legal standing and with which all U.S. citizens will and must interact and share codes, the nomenclature, the system of words used to define and describe the new cultural community, must be made known nationwide.
The same process concerning the black people had a development. The same process concerning those many cultural communities that constituted the “melting pot” had to be, over time, experienced. Peace had to be made, invented, instituted.
When I pose these questions, I am certain my naïveté will become apparent. (Be kind!) How do same-sex marriages work? How will those marriages be populated to become families by the getting of children? Will they use the designations for husband and wife that are used in opposite-sex marriages? How will family trees develop? “Are “male” and “female” still appropriate designations for all instances?
There will have to be a wider, societal awakening for many of such questions. I cannot anticipate all of the questions that must be proposed, for the general good.
Please pose your questions as comments below. I also hope some answers will be given (in comments below) by those who are members of this newly recognized cultural community.
PLEASE ENLIGHTEN US!
Here I am, ageing fast, but not acquiring desirable qualities by being left undisturbed for some time, like a pound-ball of cheese. Or not maturing with age like a good wine would.
More like, the experience of the death of a life’s partner will age one with the pins and needles of grief piercing the mind. I have never before thought so much about religion since that passing. It is my choice to believe or not to believe, thanks to the open, free, non-coercive culture if this nation. Not the case with many who were given the parents’ choice before they could think for themselves about the choice, nor where the vast multitudes are compelled to take the religion of the nation and the larger regions beyond state.
This North American culture is more difficult to live in and follow those monumental lines of reasoning and thinking and making a choice. Here, the pressure comes from living with those life closings of those we love and cling to. We know what a variety of religions offer. For the most part, there is the offer of paradise for an eternity or burning in hell for eternity. Paradise is a palliative. Hell has been depicted by those threat mongers in the pulpits defining sin in lurid detail. ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is the Puritanical treatment. And my early dose of First Baptists-ism.
Think of it, eternity in Paradise, Heaven. Perfection, the most powerful palliative ever invented. Meeting all your saved relatives and friends. The best goad ever invented to make human beings be and do good.
Eternity. Paradise. Perfection. How boring! I would prefer another go-round with a rebirth on Earth. With that promise, would everyone become concerned about the coming global warming? You bet! We’d have a higher stake in working NOW toward achieving climate control for future generations. Being Earth-bound futurists would make the best religion if we thought we might become another generation of humans, instead of lolling around in the perfections of paradise.
I am certain the concept of paradise was the invention of people living in the ages before the human brain invented scientific and technological reasoning.
I can hear some saying, “Let God do it! In an afterlife, with all those I knew before standing around me in the perfection of heaven, forever and forever.” I say, “Ad nauseam!!! How dull. All right at first, but then, the punishment of eternal ennui and mental and physical torpor. Someone would have to invent some interesting deviltry, in paradise, to offset and define the perfection. Or else puncture the brain to de-activate it before entering those pearly gates.”
It is melody that brings the ultimate magic to music. And what lies behind that magic? It is memorability. Memorability I define as a special string of notes on the music staff having an inherent capability of making that string memorable, easily recalled, for the purposes of the individual admirer in humming, whistling, or any other vocal or sub-vocal recounting the notes of that melody, wherever that person may be without any artist musician to play that string, at work, at play, drowsing before sleep, recalling an emotion attached to the meaning of that emotion, accompanied by knowing and hearing in some background all the harmonious instrumentation buttressing the melody and especially the beat.
I, personally, have hundreds of melodies stored in my memory for humming and whistling along, from opera, concertos, symphonies, art songs, marches, ballet suites, oratorios, sonatas, masses, tone poems, — you name it! And I know all the flourishes of orchestration that go with the melodies, imitating the carrying instrument. I know exactly where the melody is going and how it goes. That quality associated with that composer is an immortalizing quality, given to that composer for his eliciting strong emotions that accompany the melody. That music almost instantly becomes a classic, meaning, without doubt, long “staying power”. Emprasarios (Spanish for entrepreneur) seeking to mount an opera production, know what turns people on. The melodies in all sorts of music stick in memory. There are two kinds of composers, in my book, those who have it and those who wish they had it, the art (intuition) of the melody, the “master stroke”. Wagner’s opera, Die Meistersänger von Nürnberg, dramatizes the art of melody-making, one character who has it and one character who missed that boat. Some melodies please me to tears of enjoyment, such as the last scene in Der Rosenkavaklier by Richard Strauss, among many others. The heart is deeply involved and affected.
In classical music, for me, there is more complexity in the text of the classical orchestration. Opera provides words, making the context more specifically tied to the melody. I do not demote in any way the melodies in popular music. The current effect in popular music is the very, very, very strong BEAT, incessant, extreme, pounding the melodies to death. The beat is a slave-master whipping any melody within an inch of its life. The beat and its extremely loud perpetrators say it all, for this generation of youth. It hangs like a dose of cigarette smoke or a haze of hemp over the youth of our time.
I have a special appreciation for Miss (I kid you not) Winifred Wunderlich (a German word for strange, odd, singular, but I always took for WONDERFUL), my fifth grade teacher of music, who required a notebook of all the great composers with pictures.
I once saw on a television program a classroom of the very young sitting and auditing a small group of male and female opera singers singing famous operatic arias, quartets and choruses. Think of those great, strong, powerful, male and female voices belting out great melodies of opera in a small elementary classroom. Those children were enthralled. I must say, they may have been made opera fans for life with that life-forming experience. They never again will demean the art form of opera, an ultimate form of classical music.
I wish to define for you what I hear as “classical” music. Let me begin by saying that “Classical Music” is NOT a period-of-history thing. It had a historical beginning time, but it has flourished ever since, with phases.
I have fully appreciated classical music since I discovered it at about the age of five-eight. My brother and I were playing with a Victrola. That is a very, very old player of recordings. It was a cabinet that was as tall as I was at that time. Put a 78 RPM (rotations per minute) recording on the turntable, turn on the rotation lever, and set the needle down on the outer groove. There was some scratching noise and then whatever intended sound there was on the recording began to be heard through something like a megaphone. The needle may have been either metallic or reed. The former lasted the longest. They had to be changed often.
We were at a cottage on a lake in northern Indiana. Our lighting was by kerosene lamp, which had a distinct oily smell when burning. It gave a very rich light, not white, but sort of creamy, and it flickered when a small gust of air hit the flame, tho it was protected by a glass vase, ever darkening from cast off dark smoke from the flame.
Every last week in July and the first week in August was my father’s choice for a vacation by a lake, usually going north into Michigan. He loved to fish. We were taken along as his grunts to row to the spot which he believed was the spot for best luck. When he finally bought a motor, we were asked, no, told to lug that to the boat that went with the rental cottage.
We usually got up at break of dawn around five a.m., ate a breakfast of eggs and toast, and then geared up the boat and headed for the spot where we had put an X on the boat to mark the best spot; no, actually using the shoreline markers cross-referenced. If they weren’t biting, his sure-fire cure was to take out the Bull Durham tobacco pouch and start to roll a cigarette. In the middle of that he once or twice had a bite and the tobacco went flying, so that was his physical mantra for catching one.
Other than fishing and swimming, I enjoyed playing the old Victrola, listening to whatever the owners had on hand. There was a recording of arias from operas, performed by Mme Schuman-Heink, whose discography ranges from 1906 to 1930. That was my first experience of what was called “classical” music, quite different from popular music. The latter could be heard everywhere. The former was rare. But what did I know!
Classical music is “art” music, as opposed to “popular” music. The two general classifications, in my mind, are separated by simplicity and complexity in lyric or message, melody, rhythm, instrumental ensemble, orchestration of the piece, length, structure, harmony, and more. (I am not a musician. I sang in choirs, but I do not read music.) You can read more distinctions by going to Wikipedia under “classical music”.
Listening to Schuman-Heink on that recording took me to a life-long affair with that kind of music so different in many ways. Somehow it separated me somewhat from the crowd of popular music lovers. I was not aware of popular music of that time, the thirties. I was basically “music-less”, except for church hymns and childhood rhymes and jingles. I liked popular music a bit, but I had found a new dimension of delight in music that seemed more important somehow. I once, probably in about the fourth grade, Battell School (K-6), Mishawaka, IN, won second prize in an amateur contest imitating the orchestral instruments playing Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers”. (Prize: A blue Kodak box camera. But I couldn’t afford the film at Went’s Drug Store.)
Most of the melodious classical music I can hum along with. I might be able to lead, not follow, a symphony orchestra, in several pieces, all the great works I have heard over many years. I have a large repetoire of orchestrations in memory. Well, okay, not lead, but follow very closely, almost like leading in many places.
But just today, as old as I am, I discovered a new distinction for classical music. I had my favorites in the classical part of my music experience, and then there were those classical compositions I did not care for very much. Listening to the local classical music broadcasts of the Public Broadcasting Station, I began to distinguish two bins of what I liked and what I did not like. So, just today, I was able to find word-labels for my distinction: “emotional” versus “technical” classical music. The emotional type is music I can more closely identify with by humming the melody, detecting the rhythm, and the instrumentation. I find little melody and rhythm that is memorable in the technical stuff. The radio station plays the emotional type, but then it becomes a matter of playing music round the clock 24/7/365. Those stations have to fill a lot of air-time. The filler tends to be the technical type, small ensemble and specialized instrument pieces played overnight and early a.m., for which there is also a large audience, but not me. That’s when I turn to my recordings, where I can find all the emotionally satisfying music adorned with classical melodies, rhythms, orchestrations, and “emotional coloring” in volume and rhythm variety.
I do have a large collection of popular music, but with a distinct taste for the classic popular music of Broadway and film classics and the popular music of the Forties, classic popular which had “great”, for me, lyrics and melodies. The definitive tune for me was, and is, Cole Porter’s “So in Love”. I memorized that and once sang it to my wife at dinner. (I still sing it to all I have left of her, pictures and a portrait.)
I am having a hard time picking out the elements that appeal to me. I am not a musician. I do not know the “lingo”.
The technically classical music is probably found interesting only by musicologists and the players who have a variety of technical skills to showcase. At certain times of the day’s broadcasts, the classical music is a dull heap of ups and downs, fast and slow, dots and dashes, dittys and dottys, virtuosic jumbles adding up to, “well, okay, but have I been improved in mood, exhilaration, recognition and reinforcement?”
There are elements of music that are punched up to capture that youth demographic, a lucrative market. What must music have to please youth? The beat. The loud, incessant percussive beat. Music for youth is now actually stereotyping youth having a common denominator musical imbecility in the sexual power of the beat associated with youth. How many younger adults also have that adolescent character? Some of that character there is in and about technical, classical music. It is a complex composition of classical music to use mechanically composed tricks of instrument and rhythm for the practice of instrumental virtuosity. I hear more woodwind and percussion instruments in the kind of classical music I call technical classical music, without much blend with string and brass instruments.
Nah! It’s just a technical rant. Much ado about nothing. The sure sign of a technical composer with few ideas for melody, or should I say little talent or genius for melody, except shaking peppercorns on a sheet of paper and where they stick on a staff, play that!
(O my! That’s cruel! Sorry, guys. Grind away. I will listen. But it just makes the non-technical stuff stand out more. Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up and hit the radio “on” button to hear what’s playing. Technical stuff, mostly. Off button. Back to sleep. Now, today, it’s Mahler, “Das Lied von der Erde”. Ah, the romance of melody and orchestration. That’s classical. I’ll hum the rest because it’s memorable, easily memorable, no arbitrary, technical ups and downs. The mood is romance.)
I actually feel sincerely sad for everyone who does not have the beauties of the more complex music echoing in their everyday memories of the magnificence of the splendid and grand and ennobling, exalting joy I feel in listening to the richest, emotional sort. It is a superior carrier of emotional variety, and I am a glutton for it.
In sum, The heart of truly “classical” music being the melody, what melody is so important in giving the listener, is in these outcomes, besides the ones I have already noted: popularity where orchestras love to play and soloists love to sing because they take a free ride on the popularity of the piece; instant recognition, in hearing the audience stir with excited anticipation; natural, but of course; instinctive in hitting a resonance in the mind; suspension in time, please do not ever stop; living in the moment, the highlight of my day; timelessness, always there especially in these days of recordings with time, place, artist favorites. Haunting, like a ghost in the room always there. Moody, uplifting beauty.
Do not hate it. Try it. At first you may hit the wrong ones. Find one piece as an entry, and go from there, exploring. The melody is the treasure buried and always looked for. If a composer cannot invent a melody, he can always fall back on technical static in the background. Melody separates the virtuoso from the artist. I guess if you are the virtuoso, you do not want to compete with the composer, so you bypass the works known for melody and take up those works known for something else like the technical skill required to play them. (I feel a whole bunch of hate mail headed my way.)
May I take a moment to excoriate the background music found in most movies for screen or television. The producers have gone insane by asking composers and orchestras to produce organized noise for dramatic enhancement. What they have done is to obliterate the dialog in favor of giving their dramas more “heft”. They know not what they do. They are driving away understanding to get “heft”? Poor slobs.
BOTTOM LINE: It is melody that brings the ultimate magic of attraction to certain works of musical composition. It brings memorability of that special string of notes one can whistle, hum, even hear in the mind’s capacity to hear without any sound. Only a list of special composers have that ability. You can name them, easily. All composers are looking for that string. I believe that, when Brahms sat to compose his Requiem, he intuited those strings of melody from the artfulness implanted at some time and in some special way in his brain’s mind. And the same for Mozart in his Ave Verum Corpus; he had it. Every composer wants IT. Not every composer gets it, that magical intuition. I’ll bet it is the greatest feeling on Earth to click with IT, that magic, and know you have done it. And the assurance that you can do it again. And again.
Am I getting too snooty for you? Perhaps, yes. Ah cain’t hep it.
If you ever intentionally seek to teach the young to gain, for life, an appreciation for classical music, I hope you start the instruction by exposing them to those compositions that have the greatest melodic lines and that have been used in the popular media, such as cartoons, Christmas stories, patriotic programs, and so forth. It works best if there is a sixth grade teacher who asks pupils to make a small scrap book of composers, pictures, and programs of classical music.
To review: What was my discovery? “Technical” classical music. Technically speaking, it is music classified as “Classical Music”, technically speaking. Filler stuff, if you broadcast 24-7-365. And for those who have a special appreciation for the technical virtuosity of the performers.
The Human Body as a Collection of Functions, Making one Special System of the Five Billion Systems of a World System
The human body, as a system, has a collection of functions. It has the (1) interoceptor system which has the sensors for pain, balance, pressure, temperature, and kinesthes, and the (2) exteroceptor system for sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Those two internal systems are the sensors that are sensitive to the various internal and external data that enter our conscious attention after they have responded automatically to some change in our internal or external environment for actions to maintain some homeostasis, or balancing adjustments. One such stimulus might be the sudden startle response that happens when a gun is fired near us. That is a sudden emotional activity transpiring without conscious control. We may become conscious afterwards that the normal balance in one or more of those senses has been upset and requires some response to regain equilibrium.
There are some systems in the intellectual realm of human activity, such as (3) religious belief systems, (4) a sexual orientation system of habits, the (5) health, eating and nutrition system of habits, (6) speech communication or reading or writing systems of linguistic habits. Name them all, (7) living and shelter systems, (8) locomotion systems, (9) dressing systems, (10) study systems, (11)work-for-pay or economic systems, (12) moral systems, (13) accounting systems, (14) marriage and family systems, (15) political belief system. Among others that systematize all mental and physical experience. Many individual problems arise from poor or incomplete systematization in habits and skills.
Taken all together, the human body acquires a personhood profile over many variables of different systematic approaches to the world in which they have to live and organize their experience of being human. Choices can make one a criminal, a saint, a competent, an incompetent, a leader, a team player, a good sport, a Christian, an accident going somewhere to happen, a loner, a a homless person, a failure, a celebrity, a joy to be around, a procrastinator, a loser. You get the idea. Your individual system has a profile over all the systems interacting in the body you inhabit, yielding one individual personality system as an individual collection of functions. It is very difficult for anyone to be the common person, a stereotype, a non-entity.
Anyone who sells another human being short, as that saying goes; that is, to not consider someone or something to be as valuable or as good as they deserve.
Could that work in reverse? Could someone oversell another person, or consider some person more valuable than that person deserves?
The larger problem is over-valuing one system operating in the human body to the exclusion of most of the others. That raises the really tough problem of ordering the systems along some system of value or importance to be given to each functioning system in the individual collection found in one body. Then there is the problem of the discrepancy between the valuation given by another person compared to the valuation the person gives him- or her-self.
People will make judgments!
I have a different religious belief system from most. My political leanings are different from many of my acquaintances. I am tolerated for my other qualities. (I think.) (Then again, I don’t really know for sure.)
Is there a rule in your home never to talk about religion and politics?
Would the majority of people reject another persons’ friendship or even acquaintance on the basis of some single system-profile difference? What is the most important habit or trait difference that would cause you to reject another person?
What important consideration have I overlooked?
This comes down to how tolerant you can be of others of your acquaintance. Or even of someone who is a candidate for becoming your spouse. Or your political leader.
I know you all as the benevolent spirit of nature that created the conditions for the possibility of me. With that spirit and that set of conditions still viable, I have the faith and belief that more like me will continue to be produced.
The trouble is, those potential beings like me may have all the attributes of people like me, but they may be missing some good sense of reason and, with a flawed reason, find their nefarious, or extremly unreasonable thinking process leading to ways of action that undermine the reasonable majority, for example, affecting the climate to such an extent that Goldilocks may have to die, that millions must be afflicted with the terror of improvised death, that some will experience gut-wrenching diseases, and mind-blowing inhalations, and the parade toward extinction will thin out to a few hardy souls, crying, “Why couldn’t they just go and leave us few behind, healthy and reasonable and wholly competent to make life rightly lived?!”
What would a life “rightly lived” be?
For that answer, I must bring up the parable of “Doubting Thomas”. It was one of the stories told by Jesus to convey his religious message, straight from the Bible. This point in time has given us the historical dichotomy between faith and reason. Thomas wanted to see the wounds of the Crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails . . . I will not believe.” (John 20 ).
Jesus answered, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Does that imply no blessing for Thomas, perhaps even a curse, or some severe affliction or evil spell on Thomas, as the opposite of a “blessing” on unbelievers? Or was it meant simply as a mere slight? No, I think it was something more powerful and hurtful than that. (I know how seriously “scriptural” people take these things.) I think there is something hurtful in a “non-blessing”. It says to me that Jesus, for all his deified presence, did not anticipate the modern era of scientific reasoning, or he could have, or should have, given his blessing to the desire of Thomas for proof in reliable, not rumored, knowledge.
At that point, it seems to me, faith and the power and hope of science part ways, two divergent pathways to truth. A state of being of two minds, is that possible, or healthy? Schizophrenic? Mentally ill? Bipolar, certifiable, confused, demented, deranged, diminished responsibility, insane? The scientist being a Christian?
And yet, I believe people have found some way to live lives in two different compartments, without feeling any need to reconcile the two opposed behaviors. How do they do it, have two ways of thinking, faith and/or reason, a scientific method and “creation”? Some have created “creation science”, or the “science” of “creation”. The acceptance of a creation beginning was the result of the methods of poetry, which prevailed long before science presented a different method of observing phenomena. Early scientists came under the murderous hand of believers who had the upperhand in society. Society made the atrocities of the purgation of heresy happen. It could not happen in present society, could it? Orthodoxy will continue trying, won’t it?
However, the dichotomy still exists, not so much between groups of people, but more within individual people.
How would you agree or disagree?
I believe that any imagineable deity would be accepting of a life-form which, through a species-magnified intelligence, creates an environment that advances survivability for that life-form, or adapts to a given environment that furthers the survival of that life form.
The powers that led to the prosecution and killing of scientists have themselves been “killed”, by the fruits of the labors of the “doubting Thomases” of the healthy skepticisms, living in harmony side-by-side the true believers. Science: “Don’t tell me it can’t be done!? I will prove it to you.” Technology: “I am telling you, this must be done! I will show you how it’s done.”
If a claim to know is spoken, the voice of reliable knowledge in good science and technology will ask you to believe and then deliver, saying, “You will be healthier, safer, because there is a demonstrable way. I will show you.” We must all become “Doubting Thomases”.
The brain carries mind, thought, consciousness, concepts, language, with much else, and putting all that it holds together in perceived wholes of relevancies and goes-togetherness yields each person’s individual art. Some arts are works of genius, and some are works of those lost in the darknesses of atrocity, the mass destructions of infants pounding all without a sense of worth, value, rarity, the precious and dear. Reason on the one hand and the antithesis of reason on the other.
I ponder where reason has been lost. But mostly I ponder where to install reason. In order to fit the human bod with it I have come up with a list of NEEDS of and for the brain to prepare for the direct installation.
Broad Background of Experiences
Study. Practice. Luck, coming with the moment. Good fortune, coming over the long term.
Serendipity. Coincidence. Intuition.
Habits carefully groomed. Study personal grooming refinements, cosmetics, dental health, clothing, personal hygiene. “Reason”, its definition and techniques carefully examined, closely related to scientific method. Coaching. Stimulating model. Mentor. Regimented dicipline in physical exercise and in fields of study. Write some poetry. Write a short story. Study Geography, Evolution, Entropy, Weather, Statistics.
Write the “history” of your famly tree and diagram it. Interview your parents and all your relatives about family origins and family tree, and write it up. Gather all the photos of all the family members and compile an album of them all. Do not forget to get the dates as well as the illnesses that took their lives. Pay attention to the “collections” that each family has.
Problem-solving Skill Studied. Aims (long term: win the championship). Goals (intermediate term: win the game). Objectives (Immediate term: make the play). Nutritional Health. Broad exposure to concerts, especially of the classics.
Optimum environmment. Genetic Inheritance, and Bloodline, researched and recognized.
Read the big books: War and Peace; Moby Dick. Read all the main novels in the tradition of the English novel, under guided instruction. Read all the main novels in the tradition of the American novel, under guided instruction. Read all the main novels in the tradition of the Russian novel, under guided instruction.
Memorized poetry. Oral reading to an audience. Taking a role in a play. Public service. Scouting as in B.S.A. Dancing. Singing in at least one choir. Memorize a song and sing a solo to a group of people.
Swim in an ocean, a lake, a pool. Diving stunts. Go sailing and feel the wind power.
First Aid Instruction. Common Labor Job(s).
High School diploma, and aim for the honor roll in some study or overall. College degree. Course in Public Speaking. Course in Small Group Discussion. Course in Interpersonal Communication. Courses in Intercultural Communication. One or two foreign languages. Course in Voice and Articulation.
Hiking and camping. Life Saving Instruction. Saving and Investments. Working in a Factory or Other Business. </h3
Library Study. Voting. Officer in a Club. Member in a Society. An Award for Scholarship. Experience the Scientific Method. Write a Scientific Paper.
Whistle tunes. Play a Musical Instrument, even if a harmonica, or ukelele. Develop friendships with a variety of people, elders, youths, non-believers, diverse political parties, diverse religions, diverse cultures, diverse races.
Choosing Play and Recreations (Horseshoes, Bowling. Golf. Family Board Games. Celebrating Holidays with Rituals.
Chore responsibilities, involving plumbing, electrical, sanitation maintenance, and lawn and garden grooming.
What would you add? I would bet you thought of several items you would definitely add.
That is your inventory of experiences you ought to have. The point is to become a well rounded individual. The diversity should begin early and carry up to entry into a specialization.
One major outcome of having wide experience is prudence. (I wrote an essay on that previously. Origin? My Mom. Giving us the reins, generally.)
Organize a new club. Write a constitution for it. Learn Roberts Rules of Order. Chair a meeting. Read the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Buy a pocket edition and keep it handy, always. Memorize the Preamble.
Start a long-term savings account. And study other prudent life habits.
I just realized how “endless” this is. Think of developing some habits of collection, choosing special items that you treasure. Could be a treasure trove somewhere down the line.
A Letter from the Woman of the House
Imagined by a Man Who Did It,
and Wished He Had Done More!
For Mother’s Day
Sunday, May 12, 2013)
(She has been gone over a year now, but I reminisce like this.)
(I am certain that a woman would have written this better than I have. I merely wanted to drop a hint to the man of the house. I am hoping a husband will read this and rise to the occasion, on his own initiative, doing the right thing, at the right time, at the right place, with the right spirit, without being told. That’s initiative!)
Since I am your wife and helpmate, I need to ask you for a favor. We have already had several years together and I have been cooking for you, and there are more years to come. Perhaps a thousand more meals a year. Which you have appreciated, as you said. I enjoy taking food into recipes that we all like. And I certainly appreciated the many times you have complimented me. And made me feel rewarded for having shopped and stored and assembled all those ingredients in dishes you have relished with appreciation.
Since we are going to be together for five years more, and a lifetime after that, that would be 1,825 days, and counting. Three meals a day would be 5,475 potential breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Discount that by 30% for eating out or dropping some for other reasons, and you still have 3,833 meals, for which I would be cooking, washing dishes and all the other kitchen duties, shopping, baking, and so on. Roughly. Go figure! I am not complaining. I do it gladly. I like to cook. If that is the picture, and I have watched a lot of women do it and have helped them, at times. And I cooked for myself for many years.
There is an important thing you can do for me and I would appreciate having your help. I know you work hard to bring the income to pay the bills. But I need to ask you to rescue me from some drudgery, your help, above and beyond. This would be a huge “pick-me-up” (off the kitchen floor) if you would please help me with the scraping, cleaning, drying and storing the dishware and cookpots and utensils after we eat?
Maybe the kids could take over one of those chores, like the scraping, the drying or the storing, and carrying out the garbage.
I know after work you are tired and want to relax, sit down, read the paper and watch the news on TV, while I clean up. But I would also like to do those things. And I could, if…. And we could do them together.
That would be lovely. And lovingly done. And another chance to talk. About the day. Gossip. Problms. Ideas. Chat stuff. The great imponderables of the world and life. You know, getting along, without the newspapers and tv. Just the two of us in review. Love. Over the chores we share. I’ll wash. You wipe.
No, you wash! I’ll wipe.
Yours, Truly, Forever, Regardless.
Recently, the “Boston Marathon Bombing” catastrophe occasioned an inter-faith service. The meeting was appropriate and beautifully spoken by all the presenters. Impressive. But I must demur. In each of the last two services, A PRESUMPTION HAS BEEN MADE that ought to be corrected, forever! One segment of the population was omitted. What is that presumption?
It is consistently and continually presumed that humanists or agnostics have no faith. That is a prejudgment. WE DO! Therefore, they had no presence in YOUR inter-faith services. YOUR blind thinking wants only organized religious denominations to be represented. Agnostics do have a belief system, called a philosophy, and a faith even though they may not have an organization with a power in organized numbers behind it to compel attention.
It is a faith “at large” with the method of reason promoting human welfare and humanitarianism. Yes, it may be secular, a cultural movement, and highly individual, but we would recognize and identify with some one speaking about that school of thought that puts the individual human being gazing squarely into the face of evil, and mayhem, and unreason, and speaking for the force that buoys up a large segment of human life on this globe.
There are many great humanists who should be asked to speak and represent us humanists.
People of religious faiths have failed to include, twice now, a humanist or agnostic or atheist to represent a growing segment of the population of the United States. Your premise that overlooks some great members of this society is fatally flawed with what? prejudice? ignorance? denominationalism? supernaturalism? narrow-mindedness?
Please, in the future, show some of the competence of reasonable adults! Do not be afraid of independent thinkers who may use different pathways toward the same end as the doctrinaire. Believe it, there are some great thinkers in our society who share my view. You show yourselves fearful, of what? That service about the bombing of the marathon was good. But there was some representation missing. I felt it. I resented it. I wanted to hear my point of view applied to that moment. There may have been a humanist among those attacked and hurt or killed.
I hope we do not have to have another such memorial rite. Without that sort of wickedness we can do. But —