Saturday, July 16, 2005

Symposium

I would really like to post right now, but it is a beautiful, searingly clear Seattle morning and out there in the wider world there are coffeeshops and parks and pines and blue shining bays. I mean, really, which would you choose? Unfortunately, today, I have some five hours of rehearsal, during which I will NOT be sailing across Elliott Bay to some distant island and watching the Olympic mountains come closer and closer, and drinking rosé. (Yes, I have a standing offer, which I have to refuse). The coffeeshops here ... I just stepped out of one, with a large Americano in my slightly singed hands (no java jackets!) ... and the people in them seem to be perfectly typecast for coffeeshop-people: a blondish, late twenties fellow with a pensive look and a Hawaiian shirt, smoking in his flipflops on the entrance ramp, probably contemplating his next short story for workshop; a dark-haired fellow with an intense face, looking like a hipster evolving into a therapist; a pert woman with red hair, numerous piercings, a blue t-shirt and a Red Sox cap, joining a much larger table of pert, sassy ladies... They are like extras, hired by some producer (God perhaps, the God of the Pacific Northwest) to appear charming and fascinating (though indigenous), grungy yet sexy, to make you want to sit over a big creamy dark cup of espresso and stare at them, and write silly blog entries.

Anyway, I said I wouldn't post, but here are some bits from The Symposium that I am really enjoying:

...

"No god is a philosopher or seeker after wisdom, for he is wise already; nor does any man who is wise seek after wisdom.

Neither do the ignorant seek after wisdom. For herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no want...

Who then ... are the lovers of wisdom, if they are neither the wise nor the foolish?...

They are those who are in a mean between the two; Love is one of them. [Emphasis shamelessly added] For wisdom is a most beautiful thing, and Love is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a philosopher or lover of wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom is in a mean between the wise and the ignorant."

...

Love itself (a "great spirit... intermediate between the divine and the mortal") is just one (!) of the myriad lovers of wisdom? I "love" that. I'm sure this translation is mangled, but somehow I don't care. (How often do you read one translation of a poem and you go to another and the line you loved is suddenly totally flat? This happens to me a lot. Which do I prefer... my own happiness or an accurate translation?) At one moment, also, Love seems to be a great spirit, at another, a kind of poor relative of the other gods, at another, Love transmutes from person to principle. Love is one of us! But not.... This business of love as a mean, as an intermediary, not as an absolute ("neither mortal nor immortal"), but something in between, relative, connecting, is opposed to this (more expectedly Platonic) conception of beauty: "beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things." Another extraordinary, paradoxical image. I'm a sucker for paradoxes. I am now looking out the window longingly from the computer/piano room: through the window, the beauty of the sun outside and Seattle waterscapes; to my right, the piano, the beauty of (for example) the slow movement of the Mendelssohn d minor Trio; and if I jump in the car, the beauty of the people happening to be in the coffeeshops, their ever-changing congregation. How can I possibly choose?

One more quote:

All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry.

Why do I feel that even my choice, what to do today, how to relate to the sunlight, what coffee to drink and how to savor it, how to play certain Andante tempos, how to quell my jealousy that my computer illiterate hosts just bought a 17-inch Apple Powerbook ... all of this passes from non-being to being, is being created every second (against, or with, my will)... all of this could be my poem of the day.

8 comments:

lorelai said...

Nehamas and Woodruff did a pretty darn decent job with translation, don't you think?

constantsia said...

Oh, how I would have liked to hear your Brahms Waltzes this Friday...
But Seattle is just so far, far, far away. Why don't you just stick to the east coast, say D.C. or Maryland?
By the way, that's some impressively large amount of repertoire you've got in your fingers. Amazing, really.

such stuff said...

love the wandering

rb

HJ said...

I still think u should go sailing. Forget the rehersal, forget the wisdom, and forget the people on the street. Just go on the boat and sail away to the beautiful island and ur love.

Anonymous said...

I thought you might like this poem -- have you seen it? "At the Children's Violin Concert" by Susan Cataldo. It's here: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/docs/2005/07/11/#friday

Polly said...

Dude, you should totally do "poem of the day" with us next may - see:
http://maydaypoems.blogspot.com/

Have finally made my way over here and what can I say, impressed by the sheer number of words in your thoughtful meanderings. Writing to no one and everyone - bravo.

TCho said...

My favorite coffee place in Seattle is Vivace. At least I think that's what it's called..

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