Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mostly Mozart

posted by PeterAtLarge

(I am so tired of your rhetoric, Bush. Your press conference is in progress as I sit down to write, and I am so weary of your rhetoric of "war" and "enemies" and "victory"--repeated ad nauseam as though they made some sense. You keep dressing up your tired old thoughts in new language, as though that helped. "Stay the course" has now become "get the job done," but it's the same old stuff, isn't it? Really? Be honest. You hold another press conference to say the same old thing, and it's all political, isn't it? I'm tired of it. Here's a poem about Mozart. Mostly. It's called...)

Mostly Mozart

So go with me, Bush, take
just a few minutes from your "busy
schedule", give me perhaps
the hardest thing of all
gifts: a moment of attention. Go with me
as I went last night with my wife, Ellie,
to the spectaclar Disney Hall,
downtown Los Angeles, that new,
grandiose, glittery,
yet genuinely intimate space
where music soars. Okay. A Mozart concert.
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Emmanuel
Ax, piano. Okay? Well,
I sat there enchanted, Bush,
bringing my attention to the music
as I could, and watched
my mind wandering, as it does, inevitably,
back... this time
recalling how it was, years ago,
before I was old enough to know
I was not so smart
as I thought I was; how
this hip-smart critic, poet, thinker,
essayist--whatever--came to share
his wisdom with my students
in a program that I taught; it
had to do with art, and poetry,
and music, film, architecture... with culture,
really, at large, everything, all the arts
brought together in a single
jumbo course. Well,
here he was--bear with me--this smart-ass
critic fellow who took
obvious delight in sharing
with us his view that everything
was "irrelevant"--that was
the catch-word, Bush, back then,
remember? The late sixties, early
seventies, everything was
from the past, especially such outmoded
frivolities as classical music,
ballet, opera... Well,
he succeeded wonderfully in maddening
my colleague Robert who was our music man
in this class, a composer
of some note (pun
unintended, sorry, Bush) who
no matter how hot and argumentative
he got could not
begin to match our glib-tongued
guest, nor the delight
of our students watching
their professor's impotent
rage... He sputtered. Our guest smiled
his superior smile, he knew
he had the students in his pocket.
They'd teethed on rock, for God's
sake! Dig it! And Bush,
I have to tell you--I was recalling
these events last night as I sat listening
to Mozart--I myself
was as convinced as they were. I judged
a lot in those days by its
"relevance" to our contemporary
life, to what
WE had on OUR minds... and I found--
truth time, now--I found
Mozart wanting. Wanting in
relevance. To re-enact
his work with a whole goddamned symphony
orchestra seemed like
an empty exercise to my young(ish!)
self, who knew so much
in my superior way about the world,
about the arts, about... well, life! Right?
And when you think about it, Bush,
in this light, there IS
a certain irrelevance to Mozart's
perky wit and elegance; I mean
when genocide is a very real reality
in Darfur, right? When bombers
detonate their IEDs in the crowded
streets and markets
of Baghdad? When you and your people
fiddle on in some insane world of fantasy
and spin in Washington
DC while the rest of the world
burns, you could say, I guess,
with some semblance of the truth, that
Mozart is "irrelevant." If you discount
the deep inner veracity
of elegance, that is;
if you choose to ignore the lessons
of measure, say, and cadence; if you
make light of playfulness and light-
heartedness; if you
deny beauty, if you know
what I mean? Well, all of which
has a purpose, of course, Bush,
you know me well enough by now. (It's all
"relevant!") Because
what I was really thinking
as I sat there listening to Mozart's
piano concertos and recalling the profound
wisdom of my youth, what I
was really thinking was
about your own seemingly casual disregard
for the lessons of the past, Bush,
in your political
action, in your
diplomacy--can we call it that?--
how you would seem to regard
history itself as "irrelevant"
to your purposes,
how you would seem
to believe with that same
brash dismissal that what
the world needs now is (not "love
sweet love"--remember that sweet,
dopey ditty?!) but a dose
of your new American elixir
for the twenty-first
century. It comes in a bottle
marked "Freedom" or "Democracy"
and in your great sagacity,
Bush, you have flushed all the old
tried and trusted remedies
down the toilet and now,
Doctor Bush, you come along waving
your own big spoon and you want
the world to swallow it. Or worse,
you deliver it in the form of a
rectal suppository, Doctor
Bush, shoving it
up the collective ass
of the nations without ceremony
or apology. Ah, well. Forgive
the crudity of my language,
Bush. We were talking
about Mozart...


denn said...

P: We caught some Mozart in Salzburg. His father taught him to please people. And that he did. If you want relevance, listen to Beethoven.

But perhaps Mozart is just what is needed. Some respit for your weariness. Some relief, Eine Kline Nacht Musik.

PK said...

;D... good post Peter...