September 28, 2016

Some Help, Please

I had deeply hoped I could avoid this before publishing some new work; unfortunately, I can't. With just a few days to go before the first of the month, I have only half of what I need for rent. And I have nothing at all for anything else -- internet, phone, electricity, food, etc. I have some basic foodstuffs (bread and the like) that will minimally sustain me until next week, and then ...

So the donation bowl is out. I would be tremendously grateful for anything people might be able to contribute. As I indicated earlier in the week, I am working on some new posts. I've been slowed down by this awful heat wave, which has been truly unbearable, but the heat should be dissipating over the next several days. So next week looks good for further thoughts on tribalism, "politics" in our time (I begin to feel that quotes are necessary when speaking of "politics" now, because I'm not entirely sure what the hell that word designates any longer -- it feels as if we've all been locked in a continent-sized ward for the criminally insane), and other matters.

Many, many thanks for your understanding, and for your great kindness.

September 26, 2016

While You're Watching Torture Porn ...

Tonight, you can, if you choose, join many others in watching one of the most important events of your lifetime. Indeed, it may be the pivotal moment that will determine our future. All our leading and best-known commentators, without exception, solemnly announce the event's significance, which it appears is not to be questioned, at least not by those who are "informed," "knowledgeable" and "civilized." Tonight is crucial to, like, everything. A few lonely contrary wags might be heard to mutter their view that it will make no measurable difference in the long run (by which they mean longer than the next year or two, or even five or ten!). One or two of these opposing voices might offer their opinion in cruder terms, perhaps noting that this universal insistence of the transmogrifying, metaphysical import of Monday night is akin to observing that everyone urinates and defecates. They then look at you, baleful contempt and defiance in their eyes, and sneeringly ask: "So what?" A few of these party-poopers will undoubtedly use still cruder language to denote urination and defecation. We would never use such language here. Mercy me, certainly not. Fuck, no.

Alright, my friends. You want transmogrifying and life-altering? You want your soul to be shattered? Would you like to immerse yourself in an event that had and continues to have countless effects, large and small, on music, theater and culture generally, that made much of the century (and more) following its first performance possible and inevitable? If so, fuck politics. Politics, certainly in our time, is where the soul, the intellect, and culture go to die -- or, if you prefer, where the long-decaying remnants of once-living things will be found in a nausea-inducing, fetid mass suffused with the blood of countless victims. Say it with me: Fuck politics! That's it. You may be ready for our counterprogramming.

The Metropolitan Opera opens its season tonight with a new production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. It stars Nina Stemme, one of only two or three worthy exponents of Isolde today, and, more importantly to me (and to many others), it is conducted by Simon Rattle. Advance reports are unanimous in ecstatically proclaiming that Rattle is working miracles of a kind rarely encountered. And, lucky you, lucky me, lucky us: you can listen to the opening night performance absolutely free: right here. (That page contains a schedule of the free broadcasts, which are offered once a week for the duration of the season.)

As you will see, the broadcast begins at 4:55 PM EST. Now, you might think that the performance will therefore be concluded long before the 9 PM EST start time of that fetid farce. Ah, but this is Wagner, and this is is perhaps the most famous example of long-delayed gratification in all art (certainly sexually, but not only sexually). Depending on the length of the intermissions (which Met management unforgivably allows to stretch unto eternity), 9 PM will probably put us somewhere in the midst of Tristan's death (which also takes a long, long time), that is, in the middle of Act III. And you can't abandon the opera performance until you've heard the famous Liebestod, which concludes the work. Here's one performance of the Liebestod from recent years which has become very famous, with Waltraud Meier. And for those who may not know Tristan, here's a brief, very beautiful excerpt from Act II (this is Brangaene's Watch, as Isolde's servant warns the lovers to beware of those who seek to find and separate the lovers, performed by the divine Christa Ludwig).

Here's a synopsis of the opera. If you want to read the full libretto, or -- even better -- the score, you can find both of those easily enough in just a minute of internet searching.

Oh, I'll see the whole debate fetid farce, but on my schedule, not theirs. I'm sure I'll have some comments on it, so I will need to see it, unfortunately. (I admit that it does hold a certain grim fascination, but I find it's on the order of torture porm: that is, something I would not voluntarily choose to see except in extraordinary circumstances.)

And don't worry: I'm working on several other posts. Given my continuing extremely rotten health, it's taking me longer than I had anticipated, but some new posts should be ready for publication in the next week or so. Also, a hideous heat wave has descended on Los Angeles. It's going to be over 100 today. O joy! O wonder! O shit. It's supposed to be gone by the end of the week.

I realize that many of you will choose to watch torture porn tonight. I understand. A pity, but I understand. Chances are, it will be deadly dull. If both of them had total meltdowns ... now, that would be fun! I'm also sure many will watch hoping that will be precisely what happens. Extremely doubtful. I bet on boring.

However you choose, I'll see you on the other side.