December 27 2017

Jazz and Friendship

It's hard to put into words, but my friendship with Bix was one of the fine things in my life. It's probably tough for anybody outside of the jazz world to latch on to its real meaning. When you're a kid and your first millennium falls on you - when you get in a groove that you know is right for you, find a way of expressing something deep down and know it's your way - it makes you bubble inside. But it's hard to tell outsiders about it. It's all locked up inside you, in a kind of mental prison. Then, once in a million years, somebody like Bix comes along and you know the same millennium is upon him too, it's the same with him as it is with you. That gives you the courage of your convictions - all of a sudden you know you aren't plodding around in circles in a wilderness. No wonder jazz musicians have an off-center perspective on the world. You can't blame them for walking around with a superior air, partly because they're plain lonely and partly because they know they've got hold of something good, a straight slant on things, and yet nobody understands it. A Bix Beiderbecke will. He knows where to put the "Amen's."

- Mezz Mezzrow

December 10 2017

Bob Ingersoll versus Mahalia Jackson

"I'm gonna save you, too, Studs." It isn't the first time she offers this challenge; nor is it the last. It is to become our Chautauqua debate: believer versus atheist . . . I always lose. Don't misunderstand. I have never in my life thrown a match of this nature. I am, in this instance, pitifully overmatched. All my Bob Ingersoll arguments are demolished by her soaring song. And her humor.

- Studs Terkel on Mahalia Jackson

November 29 2017

Divine Justice

In 1831 Hector Berlioz and Felix Mendelssohn were walking in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, arguing about God. Mendelssohn was defending God, while Berlioz was expressing skepticism. When Mendelssohn tripped on a ruin, Berlioz said, "Look at that for an example of divine justice: I blaspheme, you fall."

November 12 2017

There's a Lot of Platitudinous Bumble

We can't make use of our minds at full capacity unless we have some idea of how much of what we think we're thinking is really thought, and how much is just familiar words running along their own familiar tracks. Nearly everyone does enough talking, at least, to become fairly fluent in his own language, and at that point there's always the danger of automatic fluency, turning on a tap and letting a lot of platitudinous bumble emerge.

- Northrop Frye

November 08 2017


Since reality consists in the uniformity of calculable reckoning, man, too, must enter monotonous uniformity in order to keep up with what is real. A man without a uni-form today already gives the impression of being something unreal which no longer belongs.

- Martin Heidegger

November 08 2017


MISOMUSIST. To be without a feeling for art is no disaster. A person can live in peace without reading Proust or listening to Schubert. But the misomusist does not live in peace. He feels humiliated by the existence of something that is beyond him, and he hates it. There is a popular misomusy just as there is a popular anti-Semitism. The fascist and Communist regimes made use of it when they declared war on modern art. But there is an intellectual, sophisticated misomusy as well: it takes revenge on art by forcing it to a purpose beyond the aesthetic. The doctrine of engagé art: art as an instrument of politics. The theoreticians for whom a work of art is merely a pretext for deploying a method (psychoanalytic, semiological, sociological, etc.). Democratic misomusy: the market as supreme arbiter of aesthetic value.

Milan Kundera

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