Friday, March 14, 2014

Belief Systems

1. Things do not go well any more than they go not-so-hot or in poor progression.  They go.  They progress.  Things are Reality, which progresses. You, and others like you and not at all like you, supply the adjectives and adverbs, the attributions.  Many things escape your scrutiny, yet they go, perhaps to be observed, felt, and commented upon by others.  Such comments may work their way into commentary by historians,  You may read some of these commentaries, try to visualize the element under commentary, then arrive somehow at a decision:  That event was awful or mind-boggling, or not-so-hot.  

Even such tangential things as Stock Market averages or closings are mere aspects of reality.  For every share holder who felt the day's closings were bad, there were those who bet against them, sold short or in some other way profited from "bad" closings.

2.  When you were a student in the John Burroughs Junior High School in midtown Los Angeles, you were somehow dispatched by someone to deliver a note to Mrs. Perry, known to you as The Music Teacher and also as Director of the John Burroughs Junior High School Band.  The errand changed your life. 

All Mrs. Perry's classes met in a bungalow at somewhat of a remove from other buildings.  For obvious reasons, this makes sense.  Approaching the bungalow to deliver your note, you heard the band practicing a military march you came to recognize in later years as a composition of Sir Edward Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance, which, at the time you write about, was often played at graduations.

Approaching the bungalow, the John Burroughs Junior High School Band in full, musical and military éclat, you became suffused with a sense of mirth and what you would in later years come to understand as cognitive dissonance.  Upon entry into the bungalow, you not only heard the Band in full attempt to pluck orchestration from an overwhelming sense of disarray, you saw Mrs. Perry, a short, nervous woman who wore frameless glasses and tied a thick wisp of bronze-gray hair into a knot.  She stood on a small platform, waving a baton at the Band as though trying to prevent it from escaping.

You knew enough at the time to wait for the Band to finish whatever it was doing before approaching Mrs. Perry.  But you knew little else, not by any means enough to keep your growing sense of mirth from spreading across your face to the point where it became a tangible give-away.

To this day, all beginning and intermediate bands convey to you the argument rather than concert of reeds and brass, with strings trying without success to mediate.  Many conductors--and you have seen quite a few--remind you of Mrs. Perry.  You cannot even type the name Pomp and Circumstance without breaking into a grin.

You have attended many ceremonies in which the convergence of a live orchestra, Pomp and Circumstance, and a devoted sincerity were present.  Thus you have had to live with your own remonstration as you came to understand the nature of your laughter and the indelible nature of your associations. 

Indeed, Mrs. Perry was quite correct in her assessment of you.  "Well.  What on earth do you wish, to come in here like this?"

Mrs. Perry, the Band, and Pomp and Circumstance were nothing if not sincere.  They were the embodiment of sincerity.  And yet more.  They were, in your eyes, too sincere.  And thus you began to see the basis of humor in exaggerations of sincerity.

Many times in your life, sincere individuals have asked you if you were laughing at them.  In some cases, you were with complete honesty, able to assure them the cause of your laughter rested on the preposition with rather than the preposition at.  In other cases, you said nothing, because you were acknowledging fact.  In yet other cases, you were filing away information for the future, classifying what you began to see as an entire spectrum of sincerity.

3.  Part of your belief system takes into account the relative presence of sincerity between Mrs. Perry, the Band, and a conductor such as, say Charles Dutoit or Esa-Pekka Salonen, whom you quite admire, or the 1940s swing orchestra of Claude Thornhill, the jazz of Count Baisie or Gil Evans.  These latter individuals had to begin somewhere in order to reach the levels of simultaneous daring and originality they achieved.

Fair is fair; you are able to laugh at some of your earlier tastes in music.  There is a different kind of smile on your face when you recount how you enjoy composing while certain composers and performers can be heard in the background, but you cannot listen to most of J.S. Bach, say The Well-Tempered Clavichord, or The Goldberg Variations, or any of The Brandenburg Concertos because of the way his compositions call your attention away from you and into them.  You find it a near impossibility to listen to his music and do anything else but enter it and allow it to enter you.

4.  Part of your belief system takes into account the exquisite beauty you find in so much music and how grateful you are to so much of it for allowing you to be able to work while listening to it.

5.Part of your belief system takes into account the things you read that caused you to experience your own conversions, in the semi-acridness of Southern California rather than the more Biblical sense of conversion, to story, to words and images to wrap about the armature of characters.  In a real and frightening sense, this was a conversion that you could do these things as well as the men and women who caused you to halt in the semi-arid Southern California, then suppose you could do it, too.  Because they made it seem so easy.

6.  Part of your belief system takes into account how, for so many years, you thought it was easy.

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