It's Saturday night, 9pm and I'm working right now on the Good-N-Loud website. I don't know if any of you have heard Arvo Part. He's a composer from Estonia. I'm listening to his music right now and I'm finding it hard to concentrate on the work I'm doing. I know, you're probably saying "Well, turn it off then! Why complain about it to me?". Well, I'm not complaining. The music is just so incredibly moving. Simple sounding in the way Erik Satie's music sounds simple.
I watched the German film, "The Lives of Others", last night and I'm reminded of a scene. The protagonist, who is a "borderline subversive" playwright living in early-80's East Berlin, is seen sitting at the piano. He's just discovered that a dear friend and collaborator has just hanged himself after being blacklisted by the GDR. A few nights previous this friend had given him the score to a piece of music entitled "Sonate vom Guten Mensch" as a gift on his birthday. The protagonist is playing the piece and speaks. "Do you know what Lenin said about hearing Beethoven's 'Apassionata'. He said that if he continued to listen to the music he would never be able to complete work on the revolution. Can a man hear this music and be entirely 'Evil'"? Much of the impact of this scene comes from the music, which was written for the film. However, what our protagonist doesn't realize is that he's under full surveillance by the Stasi. In the scene we see the officer listening to this event. This typically 'Evil' man is awestruck by what he hears and begins to weep. He weeps for his own life which has become that of a marionette, hollow and directed. He has bartered away his own humanity.
Arvo Part's music is like this. So achingly beautiful, so direct in it's connection to the 'soul'. An entire piece is derived from perhaps a single, simple major triad, the foundation of Western music. Simply arpeggiated by a piano, or sung in wordless harmony. All melody, motion and decoration is assembled from the overtones of these three notes. As if trying to reach the ear of God in a whisper. The cold, frightened, tired whispered prayer of a man lost in the darkness of his own life. An action, painfully sacred. I can hear my own self reflected in this pool of sound.
I am inspired by the lack of selfish ideas vying for attention. I am delivered to the place I imagine and hope someday will be my life . The delight of these dreams gilded with the heartache of wavering commitment. Why is the glorious simplicity I hear so heart-rendingingly difficult to achieve. This is why I will always choose art over religion, psychoanalysis, patriotism, sex, money, politics, meditation or any of these things humans trust to lend meaning to their lives. Art is all and none of these things.