Friday, March 11, 2011

Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Wikipedia; public domain
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a small symposium on music. The papers presented covered musicological, theoretical, and compositional subjects within the field of music study.

Sounds heavy and boring, doesn't it?

Not so! The keynote speaker, a talented professor by the name of Steven Rings, from the University of Chicago, gave a beautifully poetic and philosophical talk on Vladimir Jankélévitch's thoughts on French composer Gabriel Fauré.

And who is this Fauré who has captured so many poetic hearts?

Among the things Dr. Rings presented were these two beautiful quotations that fit with our world-building theme this month. He has graciously allowed me to share them with you here:

"There is something that is, so to speak, the bad conscience of the rationalist’s good conscience, and the ultimate scruple of strong minds; something that protests and 'murmurs' within us against the success of reductionist enterprises. This something is  comparable . . . to the malaise of a conscience unsatisfied before an incomplete truth [i.e., science]. There is something obscure and indemonstrable . . . whose invisible presence fills us, yet whose inexplicable absence leaves us curiously disquieted, something that does not exist and is yet the most important thing among all important things, the only thing that is worth saying and yet precisely the one thing that cannot be said! . . .

"The nostalgia for something else, the feeling that there is something else—this pathos of incompleteness animates a type of negative philosophy that has always been on the margins, though sometimes at the center, of esoteric philosophy. Plato—who knows, when he says unsayable things, to abandon dialectical discourse for mystical narrative—Plato speaks in the Symposium of 'something else' . . . that cannot be expressed, and that can only be suggested in riddles."

---from Le Je-ne-sais-quoi et le Presque-rien
 (Presses universitaires de France, 1957, vol. 1, pp. 11-12)
Translated by Dr. Steven Rings

"The 13th Nocturne sums up—not at all biographically (for Fauré never related such a thing) but ideally and retrospectively—the general sense of a human life: the Nocturne, in contrast to the life of Fauré himself, begins with anxious searching on paths where one stumbles: 'I went along dangerous paths, painfully uncertain…' . . . And then there is the future, the takeoff of hope, the ardent youthfulness of a confidence left intact. 'The sea is infinite and my dreams are wild.' Winter has ended, and with winter the agoraphobia, the fear of great open spaces and the vast plains of the world. All of the air and all of the sea! And to finish: uncertainty pulled out of itself, lifted free [hors de ses gonds] by the wind of wild hope and transfigured into serene resignation. To have known by turns fear, hope and despair, infinite weariness, and, at the trials’ end, acquiescence and wisdom, —is this not the destiny of man?"

---from Fauré et le inexprimable
 (Librairie Plon, 1974), pp. 249-50.
Translated by Dr. Steven Rings

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1 comment:

Miss Val's Creations said...

What a beautiful composition! These quotations are wonderul. ~Val