Now and again I dip back into past trains of thought and wander around for a bit. Today's venture was inspired by a first listen to the first disk in Allen Lowe's stupendous jazz history (That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History [1895-1950], but available from him directly for considerably less), which led me to revisit the logfile I'd constructed as I prepared to teach a final iteration of Cross-Cultural Studies in Music (winter term 2005). And there I found a link to a page I'd made one morning when the DSL was down. Always interesting to meet one's own former self, and a pleasure to find that one approves of what the former self was thinking. A home-made aphorism gives something of the flavor you'll encounter if you click that link:
Taming the babbling brook or the raging torrent is a vain hope, and really one must settle for dipping the cup.
If you have any taste for eclectic acoustic guitar music, you'll surely enjoy Chris Lydon's interview with Ghanaian master Koo Nimo, an hour which includes many live examples, redolent of a brew of influences that spans West African traditions, Cuban and Brazilian and American jazz and blues descendants, and even bits of classical repertoire.
I'm making my way slowly through the Marcus and Sollors A New Literary History of America, savoring the articles in chronological order, and visiting territories I had no idea I'd find interesting. This morning it's Christian Wiman's "1915: Robert Frost leaves England for America" in which I find this lovingly constructed meditation on the essences of Nacirema culture:
One of the great ironies of American literature is that in a country in which, some new survey always seems to say, 95 percent of the people don't simply believe in a personal God but can count the whiskers on his chin, so much of our best work should be so consistently fraught with anxious unbelief, galvanizing absence, spiritual terror... a spiritual energy that is both passion and plight, a metaphysical compulsion as fervid as it is unfixed. But this is perhaps not so surprising, since if one American impulse is toward a kind of spiritual vertigo, an equally strong one is the impulse to disguise this feeling with optimistic personae and evangelical enthusiasm. So much of American literature is about buried intensities because so much of American life is a mask. (pg. 537)