Sunday, December 24, 2006

Unblunted By Snow

I'll be the first to admit to experiencing a certain lethargy (antipathy?) about the holiday season, this year. Not for lack of loved ones, or lassitude, or as an expression of disgust; more nearly, I'd say it was confluence of simpler impulses, all clicking into place at the same moment. However those may be parsed, I've had Hell's sweet time, getting it into gear (in any conventional sense).

While waiting for my umpteenth cup of coffee to finish being nuked into potability, I started fiddling with the damned knobs on the radio. Whirling past a bunch of random squawks and squeals, I came upon some choral music, a performance of Handel's Messiah (considered by many to be traditional Christmas music, despite its mercenary origins), which is normally a beautiful adventure to hear. Normally beautiful in its composition; an adventure, because its gorgeous soloes and a capellas are variable in performance, and vulnerable to obnoxious renditions.

The plaintive beeping of the microwave didn't even register, until about forty-five minutes later. I'm not sure whether it was the broadcast itself, or the acoustics of Verizon Hall, but it was difficult to pick out vocal landmarks during the recital. Oddly, this didn't diminish its beauty, though what may have been silk came out a bit more flannel.

Attention spans are ethereal things. My feet were getting cold, like the forgotten coffee, but the anonymity of the chorus had me wondering: Wonder what this sounds like to people who haven't come up in an Anglo-Saxon tradition? It might be hard to translate the songs into some sort of regionally equivalent messages, but the Messiah isn't particularly heavy-handed or preachy. Wonder what it would sound like, in Farsi, Arabic, Mandarin, or Malay? Forget about exact translations or political sculptings; What if the same grainy, inexact sounds I got were what other folks heard, no matter where or how they lived their lives? I'm pretty sure that I lead a life which rates either envy nor enmity, and that things I hear about others' lives miss many essential details. Set it aside. What does this music sound like? Is it a threat or insult to others? Is it offensive to you, personally?

Cold feet, cold coffee, warm thoughts. One out of three are better odds than I would have given. I'd be interested in any comments folks might have about our different takes on things.

2 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

Sometimes I feel like I have a nearly empathic connection to a person. Not any particular person, but just some person I come across, possibly in a situation I'm familiar with, but possibly not ... I think ... wow, that person really is feeling crappy/elated/mauve/etc.

Other times, my brain-breaker trips as I ponder how absolutely incomprehensible any given person is, how infinite the distance between the way I perceive the world and the way the world is perceived by ... say ... my sister. Or myself a year ago. Or whatever.

8:06 AM PST  
Blogger grumblefish said...

Howdy Matthew:

'Incomprehensible' is a pretty good way to describe the sensation.
It's more like zig-zagging across
the paths of others, often enough
that you start recognizing the landmarks, even when everyone else
is wondering about the terrain.

5:57 PM PST  

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