Mountain Calm

It’s with much hesitation that I approach writing these days because a whole shelf of readings for school looks at me with disdain. But any reason to read is a good enough reason to write. Besides, the writers (and perhaps the texts themselves) would hate it if we said nothing or reacted with apathy towards them, yes? That said, I’m really enjoying Barzun. It will take me much longer to get his thoughts down pat and absorbed but so far, he seems to be providing the much needed guidance…My younger self would have loved the tutelage of such a thoughtful historian but it’s never too late to learn, I suppose.

I found two other books worth studying. One is about art and how it’s been transformed through time and the other was love at first glance. The title, Listen, gave credence to the text since it provides an overview of classical music and the different movements. The recent interest was sparked by my new friend Nox on Tumblr. I found him while searching for insights on Edward Said–whom I think always falls into the trap of being equated with the concept of Orientalism. He’s much more than that as you’ll see if you go through Nox’s posts.

Classical music can be a bit daunting, though. Unlike in high school when we were encouraged to learn of it or at least be exposed to it through various recitals, college seemed to miss out on its value. It’s often classified as elitist with commentators likening the audience of this type of music to a homogenized group of snobs. Here’s where I disagree. Classical music isn’t just for the rich though sometimes it feels like it is judging from the cost of compact discs in the market. You’d have to earn a fortune to get a sizable collection but listening to it is definitely rewarding. Given the amount of crap we’re already subjected to on a daily basis by virtue of radios on jeepneys, taxis and various other seemingly “ambient” noise, it’s actually a welcome change, a break if you will, from all that junk. Also, considering how hard musicians work to actually achieve this kind of sound is a reason in itself to go out and listen. This is not to say that artists falling under other genres do not exert the same effort. They do actually, but unlike classical musicians, they aren’t subject to the stigmatization of the public.

Another reason why I’m posting this has to do with a friend who just went to his first (correct me if I’m wrong) concert. His post was another revelation because he belongs to a younger generation, close to my own, but still one that is often criticized for being detached, naive etc. etc. The older people get, the more colorful their descriptions become. But at any rate, here’s a guy who likes Coldplay, sings in a band and yet, still manages to enjoy classical music. His post can be read here.

Something can also be said about watching a concert live. The affective nuances of performance are often lost when you just listen without seeing the person performing. Of course, there is value in both but imagine the magic that ensues when someone like Yo Yo Ma (sorry, I’m too smitten to not mention him) performs. Watching him on Youtube makes my spine tingle. A decade ago, one of my mom’s good friends saved enough money to watch him in concert. He looks back on those day glass-eyed and visibly moved despite having a huge chunk of time pass.

So yes, there’s value in those tunes that might sound the same. In fact while listening, you might even hit the pinnacle of boredom and fall asleep but regardless, in that vast selection of performances, there is something for everyone. Whether you prefer the quiet and soft or melodious or strong, there’s something there waiting to be discovered. A monster waiting to be loved, as Rilke puts it.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you might like a wonderful autumn mix that’s a joy to walk with. I haven’t heard everything in its entirety because I can’t afford all these tracks (not now at least). 😦 But they’re worth sampling especially now that it’s getting windy and there are showers here and there.

Oh and about the photo, I took this earlier in the year on our way back from Baguio. We stopped by the lion head because our companions wanted their pictures taken. I have enough shots of the head taken from my childhood so I avoided that. Following the lion’s gaze however, one will find this immense view of mountains. Its range and intensity was just breathtaking. I promised to post it here, even without words because the clouds seem to say all of what I can’t articulate but I’m talking already so let me just say: if I could wake up to this or see this at least once every year, there would be more reasons to be happy.


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