Monday, April 23, 2012

Annotations 2 (with Illustrations)

I've been reading Laura Wittman's The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Modern Mourning, and the Reinvention of the Mystical Body, and it has reminded me of my love of the accoutrements of academic writing: introductions, forewords, terminology ('bellicist'), the overuse of the inverted comma, and most especially, the notes. I love them. To read the notes - the many many pages of notes - is to see the strata of the study, cut across the page like layers of rock thrust up along a fault. And why are they there in such quantity? Merely to entertain readers like myself? Or only to protect one from the terrifying charge of plagiarism?

It's unfortunate that, in music, it is difficult to provide something analogous: a stream of musical and textual references that flow with the performance, guiding the ear and mind to the proper references. For example: "when I wrote this passage, I was stirring my tea, thinking of the phlogistonic diffusion of the heat, liquid-like, flowing combustibly through the metal of the spoon, from tea to thumb to painful pointing finger." Or: "I purloined this set of harmonies from such and such, except I added a few and used them in reverse fashion."

But, now that I read this, I think maybe it wouldn't be so interesting, or at least not interesting enough. But let us press on.

When I wanted to write of the young LaShaun/Erling, I wanted to put it in her voice. Two things came to mind: the baby tuckoo section of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and this passage from How We Write: Writing as Creative Design, which recounts a story written by an actual young person. Note the mixing of stories and that some important elements are missing:


My, that reads an awful lot like this unfootnoted and clearly plagiarized section of the libretto:
One day in the street, a man was talking about Jesus. The sun was so bright it hurt the little girl's eyes. She was going to school and her grandma said take this lunch money. The man was talking to everyone, telling them what to do. But she knew that it was too much and she spent some of it. She was afraid of the man. When she got to school the teacher said where have you been. The girl said nowhere sorry. The light was bright behind his eyes. At home she took the toy out of her pack. The man told her to buy it. Her mama said go to bed so she did.
Ahem. Cough. I can only say I am heartily sorry for these my offenses. And also for those to come.  When I came to write the music for the my chosen section, I had a thought, a thought of a structure reminiscent of the openings of these two works:









and that is what I used, again unfootnoted and unquoted:



Oh, and up top, the "layered representation of the Lorentz transformation" of my friend Logan. On his neck reads: Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem [the only safe bet for the vanquished is to expect no safety].
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