Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Modernism has always been tied to kitsch because both modernism and kitsch are defined by wishful thinking: extreme forms of intentionality. Modernity, illustration, kitsch.

The "chains of music itself."
Rosen contra Brendel
Brendel: The lyrical hymn in A flat that carries the piece to its end becomes more and more euphoric until another, ultimate liberation is achieved: finally, after an exertion that surmounts two fortissimo diminished seventh chords, the "chains of music itself" are thrown off. This last extreme effort amounts to a kind of musical self-immolation; it needs to be conveyed by the performance before silence takes over.

Rosen: I agree that the lyric euphoria of the final page of opus 110 is extraordinary. In his letter, however, Brendel has now added the additional metaphor of "musical self-immolation" which is less persuasive. It is not so much its lack of clarity that is unfortunate (who is being immolated, Beethoven, the pianist, or the sonata itself?) but the Wagnerian resonance which can be applied to Beethoven only with a certain lack of tact.
Books have been written on the argument taking place in those two paragraphs, but few of them make the division so clear. For Charles Rosen, the classicist, the thought of escaping material form -linguistic, musical- is irrationalism. Beauty and communication are made possible only through form. The desire to escape either is both illogical and a betrayal. For Brendel the desire is a source of beauty.

But that's too simple in this case, since both Brendel and Rosen are performers of Beethoven ["...a certain lack of tact."] For Rosen too the desire is a a source of beauty, but the thought that it can be achieved, and through an act of [self] destruction is the betrayal.

Keeping it simple: The experience of the sex act is social, formal, communicative, and if the world is seen as the social realm, world-creating. Orgasm is aformal, asocial (isolate), ecstatic and if the world is seen as social, world destructive. Sex as performance is a form of art, orgasm is artless. The pretense of an 'art' of orgasm is vulgar.

As I've said before, The Body in Pain is a stupid book.
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Continued here. All included in the essay linked on the right of this page. Or here: [pdf]

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