March 31, 2006

Clash of Civilizations

Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order presaged what was manifest before the eyes of all on 9/11. In Europe, it is one of the main political themes of the day. Yet the role music plays in this conflict is seldom regarded by the disciplines concerned, like composition or musicology. This theme will occupy future blog postings here. Other art forms are more prescient, today's example being Iranian visual and video artist Shirin Neshat (b. 1957). Neshat's distress regarding certain aspects of the new, huge MoMA exhibit on Islamic art is expressed in an online article from the New York Observer that begins, "As an Iranian-American artist who was effectively exiled from her homeland, Shirin Neshat was happy to be included in an exhibition of artists from the Islamic world. But when the opportunity came—Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking opened at the Museum of Modern Art on Feb. 26—Ms. Neshat was upset." There is a good introduction to the exhibit here To be continued...

March 30, 2006

Tea Lesson in Stuttgart

There are some small treasures to be discovered in Stuttgart. One of these is on the second floor of the Linden Museum, a stone's throw from the Liederhalle. There, several types of Japanese tea houses have been constructed. And it is there that Omotosenke Sensei Yaeko Heinisch holds her tea ceremony lessons. One of the reasons I wanted to take tea ceremony lessons once again was that Heinisch Sensei speaks of Wabi and its relationship to tea ceremony (Wabicha). Wabi-sabi, it seems, is a form of Japanese aesthetics that is difficult to transmit in words. It is at the basis of chanoyu, the way of tea, and of ikebana and other Japanese art forms. It also has a close tie to Zen. In her somewhat limited German, Heinisch Sensei said yesterday, "Wabi is beauty, but you can't see it. It is difficult to explain in German, because in German you describe something you can see as being beautiful. But Wabi is something that is missing, and the heart must complete it. That completing is Wabi." At least, that is what it seemed to me she didn't really say... Perhaps an approach that can be aesthetically helpful today
Click on the sweets below to download video clip (2MB).

My Vlog Begins

In 1990 John Cage (d. 1993) said at Darmstadt, "In the morning after taking care, if I can, of my bodily functions, I water the plants... Some days I don't write music. I do graphic work or literary work. I also shop and cook... My idea is to go on living as long as I can. I want to experience the changes that will take place in humanity's relation to the earth on which it lives, if, that is, humanity on earth is to continue."

Lin-chi (Japanese, Rinzai, d. 867) is reported to have said, "Just be ordinary and nothing special. Relieve your bowels, pass water, put on your clothes, and eat your food. When you're tired, go and lie down. Ignorant people may laugh at me, but the wise will understand... As you go from place to place, if you regard each one as your own home, they will all be genuine" (A. Watts).

This morning I got up, relieved my bowels, ate breakfast, and started this video blog.
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