Sunday, May 17, 2009

Intuitionism

Bath-time this morning was facilitated by an iPhone 3G® in a Ziploc® bag - thanks to my friend Nicole for enlightening me of this wonderful invention - and a circuitous path through those intoxicating days early in the last century where Hilbert and Brouwer led the fight over the non-finitary law of the excluded middle (see photo) and other such issues.

As a boy, I was so interested in all of this. The issues seemed so important and, later, as I became a composer, I faced them again, feeling a pressure from above to maintain an intellectually rigorous Germanic methodology in all my musical decision making, a certain belief promulgated by my betters that there was a notion of music that existed in a Platonist reality where deep truths live separate from the dirty business of breath and bows and spit and turntables and stylish hairdos, and that compositional progress was in the furtherance of passage toward this Utopian Ideal.

But I was, deep down, more tolerant, and shall we say more Dutch, and believed that music really was purely an act committed by people for their own amusement, that it existed in this world and not the other, and that it had benefits beyond an explication of existence, namely (0) transcendental beauty here on earth (1) encouraging teen pregnancy through passionate embrace (2) a devil-may-care use of drugs (3) hearing impairment in the elderly (4) separation of fools from their money (5) penis casting (6) nonpareil spirituality and mystical joy (7) creative jouissance (8) and so on, and that music was concerned with the grit and chaos and noise of sound, and that it was, at its core, an inexplicable and impenetrable pursuit, evading all attempts to capture it, drop it in the killing jar, and to pin its beautiful wings to the setting board. The theories I learned as a student did not attempt to cover anything except what I found to be the most superficial aspects of music, the voices and pitches and rhythms, and I was left to find the rest myself.

One of the reasons I started writing - English rather than notes - was to try to explain what I did day-by-day during the compositional process, thinking that in so doing I might capture the uncapturable. But I've failed every time that I have tried. I can't really say easily what I do. There is no process to speak of, and the moments spent in the compositional state sneak by unseen to end up in a piece that I no longer feel my own.
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